In Memoriam: T.C.

February 9, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
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June, 1990 – February 8, 2008

For the first time in seventeen and a half years, I am unable to claim ownership by a cat. T.C. finally began suffering the effects of chronic renal failure, and so I made the decision to have him put to sleep.

T.C. - May 31, 2007


T.C. and John
Photo Credit: Carol Stanley, Faith and Danger Photography,

Surely I could own no sweeter cat, no more affectionate cat, no more forgiving cat. And perhaps no tougher cat. Tests done earlier in the day revealed levels of BUN and creatinine much much higher than normal, and much higher than cats generally tolerate.

I adopted T.C. from a coworker’s pet store as a kitten, in July or August of 1990, between my first and second years at Indiana University. He lived long enough to see me finally graduate college, in August of 2007.

T.C. also saw me get married, moved with us to St. Louis, moved with us to Austin, saw the purchase of our first home, and the birth of our daughter. In fact, save my parents, I have lived in the company of no living being longer.

One of my favorite memories is the time I came home to find he’d knocked a bag of flour off a pantry shelf. The kitchen floor, and his black fur, were covered in flour. How could I be angry; it was so cute! Then there was the time he decided he didn’t like eggs, so he dragged the shirt I’d dropped on the floor, over the plate which formerly held the eggs, which I’d also put on the floor.

He had, until his later years, a compulsion to hide in empty boxes, and empty bags.

He liked to sleep beside me in bed, until Ellington usurped his place. He started sleeping beside me again a few months before he succumbed.

He would greet me with a chirp when I entered the room. Woke me up reliably around 4:00am if he had eaten all his food. Remained playful until nearly the very end.

Groomed my beard, my hair, my arms – sometimes to the point of causing discomfort.

Insanely protective of his turf, he once took a chunk out of my face when I interrupted his warning caterwauling at a feline interloper on the other side of the apartment door.

Ever a cat of sensible intuition, I knew to head for cover if he sought a safe place during severe weather.

He enjoyed sitting on the papers on which one was working, and sitting on one’s lap, even if the timing was inopportune. I even found him, in his last few months, curled up on our laptop computer keyboards.

He liked head butting, sometimes fairly forcefully, and rubbing cheeks. I’m no fool. I know he was marking me as “his.”

He also answered to “Goof” and “buddy.”

T.C. was preceded in death by Ellington, an intruder who he generally tolerated fairly well. But – not always. Ellington was supposed to be a companion for play to help keep T.C. trim. T.C. instead taught Ellington how to be chunky.

T.C., you too, will be missed, sweet boy.

Children’s Books reviewed on NPR’s “Weekend Edition, Saturday”

August 13, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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These we have:

  • Henry Climbs a Mountain, by D.B. Johnson
  • Guji Guji, by …

These we’ve checked out at the library:

  • Mooses Come Walking, by Arlo Guthrie, illustrated by Alice M. Brock

These we…haven’t:

  • Little Old Big Beard and Big Young Little Beard, by Remy Charlip
  • Slithery Jake, by Rose-Marie Provencher, illustrations by Abby Carter
  • And Here’s to You!, by David Elliott
  • The Pelican Chorus and Other Nonsense, featuring poems of Edward Lear, illustrations by Fred Marcellino
  • Wind in the Willows, (New Abridged Version) by …, illustrated by Inga Moore
  • Three Stories You Can Read to Your Dog, by Sara Swan Miller, illustrations by True Kelley
  • Mr. Blewitt’s Nose, by Alastair Taylor
  • Jellybeans, by Sylvia van Ommen
  • Bake Shop Ghost, by Jacqueline Ogburn
  • How to Be a Good Dog, by Sara Swan Miller
  • Bats at the Beach, by …
  • The Picture of Morty and Ray, by Daniel Pinkwater, illustrations by Jack E. Davis.
  • A Day in the Life of Murphy, by Alice Provenson
  • The Red Wolf, by Margaret Shannon
  • Farfallina & Marcel, by Holly Keller
  • Arlene Sardine, by Chris Raschka
  • Little Babaji, illustrations by Fred Marcellino.
  • The Frog Wore Red Suspenders, by Jack Prelutsky
  • Davy Crockett Saves the World, by Rosalyn Schanzer.
  • Another Perfect Day, by Ross MacDonald
  • Yellow Umbrella, Jae-Soo Liu


Some observations about Birdwell Island

August 6, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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The improbability of Clifford the Big Red Dog’s size aside (and, oh yeah, the talking dogs), I’ve noticed some an interesting thing about the denizens of Birdwell Island:

  •  Dr. Din is apparently single
  • Charley’s dad, Samuel is  apparently single
  • Cleo’s owner is apparently single
  • Sheriff Lewis is apparently single
  • Jetta’s mom is apparently single, and has two children!
  • Birdwell Island’s librarian is apparently single

In fact, of the characters on the show, only Emily Elizabeth’s parents and the their neighbors, the Bleakmans, can be confirmed to be married. Although their teacher did get engaged…and moved off the island.

What is it about Birdwell Island that makes it so hard for its residents to get or stay married?

From the Department of Product Safety

July 19, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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So I’m looking at the Radio Flyer #36 Classic Red 10″ Bicycle. Just, you know. Because I’m looking.

And I look over the list of “features.”

  • Classic bicycle styling
  • 10″ steel spoked wheels with real rubber tires
  • Chain drive
  • Sturdy steel construction
  • Padded, adjustable seat
  • Chrome handlebars and fenders
  • Ringing chrome bell
  • Training wheels
  • No brakes

So that all looks pretty goo…wait a dang minute…no brakes!? What the?!?!

“No brakes” is a “feature”? I hope they mean “no brakes like you’ll find on a ten speed,” and not “No brakes like they just failed on our 72 Gremlin, but we’re broke and gonna drive it anyway, so look out for us!”

I think I’ll see what Schwinn has to offer. Something with, oh, I dunno…brakes, maybe?

Uncarved Block

June 17, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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Once a statue is finished,
It is too late to change the arms.
Only with a virgin block
Are there possibilities.

It’s not easy to to raise a child. You have to set an example all the time. Sometimes it is important for both child and guardian to understand that a child should not do certain things that the adult does. This is not hypocrisy. It is wisdom.

There was once a child who responded to his father’s admonitions by saying, “You do the same things.” The father took his son to a carver of temple figures. In the yard were great blocks of camphor and rosewood. Inside the studios were deities in various stages of completion, from gods still with fresh chisel marks to brightly painted and gilded masterpieces.

“I am older than you,” said the father. “So I am more like one of these finished statues. I have my accomplishments, and I have my faults. Once this figure has been carved, we cannot change the position of its arms.”

“But you, my son, are like the pieces of wood in the yard, still to take shape. I do not want you to have the same faults as I do, so I do not let you do certain things. Look at me. Yes, you say I still do certain things, but doesn’t that show how hard it is to undo a mistake once it is carved into you? Don’t copy me, and don’t make the same mistakes that I did. Only then will you become more beautiful than I.”

Ming-Dao, Deng. 365 Tao: Daily Meditations. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992. 281.

Golly. Remember the good old days?

June 15, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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Ahh, those good old days, when kids would play “Cowboys and Native Americans”


Instead of “GIs and Unlawful Combatants”?

Curse PBS! A Pox on PBS!

June 8, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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Nice little “Barney Bomb” they leave for us unsuspecting parents. Bring the kid in from pre-school. Kid wants to watch “Clifford.” We’ve got it DVRed. Turn on the TV.

Awwwww kuh-RAP! It’s on PBS because we were watching Frontline last night (or Curious George this morning), and they are airing BARNEY.


I guess I’m STILL not a member of the “club”

June 5, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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Before my lovely bride and I got married, one of her neighbors had a child. We stopped by to give our regards, and a discussion on being a parent ensued. The father suggested that being a parent is like being in a club. Many things become clear once one has a child of one’s own. Parents are able to nod knowingly at one another, and are able to weather the whithering stares of the young and unchilded. The thought is usually a variant of “they’ll understand once they have a child of their own.”

I recently received an e-mail from an acquaintance, and he opined that he didn’t know what he’d been missing before he and his wife had their first. But upon having their second child, he felt a measure of sadness that there are others who choosing not to experience the additional joys that a second child brings. His aim was to do his bit to convince us to have another.

But we’re not planning on having a second, for a number of reasons. I guess I’m a little sad too, since we’re apparently still not members of “Club Parent.”

A Poem I think of from time to time

June 4, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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My son, my executioner
Donald Hall

My son, my executioner
I take you in my arms
Quiet and small and just astir
and whom my body warms

Sweet death, small son,
our instrument of immortality,
your cries and hunger document
our bodily decay.

We twenty two and twenty five,
who seemed to live forever,
observe enduring life in you
and start to die together.

That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.

Update: Ha! a friend of mine asks “Uh, everything OK?” When I think it’s because I haven’t had my IM client on in several days, he says “No I mean the about death poem on your daddyfu blog.”

So I sent him this snippet that I sent to a pal of mine earlier today, when we had a short discussion on mortality:

I’ll tell you, as bad as it is hearing about someone younger than you kicking it, having a kid sure puts a fine point on one’s mortality. Don’t bring up that to an e-mail list full of stay at home dads. They all think you’re dying or something. Like living isn’t terminal.

He chided me: “Living’s terminal, but when you have a blog about your kid and you post a death poem… dude… that’s not nice to other people that read it and have… empathy. 😛 Especially when you haven’t been on ICQ for like a week. 😛

Oh, he sagely opined, it won’t snow on Easter

May 25, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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I was looking for an update to the Twilight 1.0 theme, used hereon, so I checked out the author’s homepage, and ran across a post about massive snow silliness. Notre Dame? I’m guessing her city is South Bend?

My wife grew up in Mishawaka and we live in Austin, because we don’t want to subject our beautiful daughter to more than one snow event a year.

Silly us – we drove up to South Bend for Easter, and as we were on the Crawfordsville (my folks) to Mishawaka (her folks) leg, I asked our three year old daughter, Emma , what we were going to do at Grandma Theresa’s house.

Remembering Christmas a year and a half ago, she suggested we’d play in the snow.

“Oh,” I sagely opined, “I don’t think we’ll have snow at Easter.”

Mother nature sure showed me.

Flower, wilting in the Easter Snow


Emma playing in the Easter Snow

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