August 21st, 2016

by himself

Ave et vale: Lightning

Lightning has died. I came home overnight to do some laundry and get some rest. He was fine at 4:00 p.m. Thursday, August 19. He came up to me to get his butt scratched. I packed up and set things in order and left for Wilderstead about 5:30. I was last upstairs about 5:00.

Deanne got home about 6:00 or so, and was looking for Lightning to give him his pill about 7:00. Hera was impatiently waiting for them both to be fed. Deanne went upstairs a little after 7:00, and found Lightning at the head of the stairs, dead and already stiffening. She called me on my cell phone as I was passing through North Vernon.

"Lightning's dead!" she said, in a frantic tone of voice. I pulled over to talk. She asked where I was and if I could come back and get him to bury him in the holler. I explained that I was two hours down the road; if I returned to fetch him and then went on to Wilderstead, I wouldn't arrive to dig his grave until midnight. So Deanne called in at Middle Way House to excuse herself from service that night, placed Lightning in a pillow case and put him in the trunk of her car and starting driving for the holler.

I arrived at our cabin. The sun was going down behind Akes Hill. I fetched a shovel and headed across the creek to the Hallows. Luckily, I had mowed the trail to our little pet cemetery -- even mowed around the cairns -- two days before. I finished digging the grave just as the light failed. Deanne drove up to the cabin some time just after 10:00. I put Lightning in a wheel barrow and took him across the creek.

As I was gathering him up to place him in his grave, I pulled back the pillow case. His head was as handsome as ever. He seemed to be merely sleeping. I tucked him back in the pillow case and snuggled him down into the bottom of the grave. Then I carefully packed the dirt in around him and filled it in. I left the wheelbarrow upside down over the grave overnight, since I didn't want to go blundering around the creek in the middle of the night, gathering stones for a cairn.

Deanne stayed overnight in the cabin and looked over his grave in the morning, before returning to Ellettsville. I went on to do lots of other work in the holler. As the evening was coming on, I gathered several loads of creek rock and built his cairn. He rests besides Sassafras.

His sudden death was probably some sort of heart attack, but we'll never know. Deanne and I were both very sad at his passing. We thanked God for the gift of his life, and we were glad to have been so faithful in our responsibility for him.

Lightning was a shelter cat. We got him and Hera in early 2010. He was the younger; in fact, he was probably too young to be separated from his momma, too young to be neutered. The vet warned us that he would have some developmental problems because of his hurried start on life. He certainly had personality problems. Deanne described his attitude as "I hate you -- don't leave me." He could be affectionate, on his terms. He liked being petted, but hated being held. And he would strike out on a whim. He would even chase James. We had to fit him with SoftPaws while the boys lived with us.

Here are a few pictures of our boy Lightning, the White Leopard. The first is an early one, from his kittenhood. The second is one I took just a couple of weeks ago. The last is a typical pose. We didn't dare leave the butter out; it was about the only human food he would get into.

Dinner for one

Dinner for one

Who, me?

Who, me?

I want lots of butter and sour cream

I want lots of butter and sour cream
fudd hunter

A little target practice

Just for the heck of it, I got out my B-B gun while out in the holler and took a few shots at -- oh, big leaves and such. I figured I'd see the leaves ripple as I shot them, but B-Bs move so fast, they punch through without a quiver. In fact, at first I thought I'd just missed entirely.

But out of seven shots, I could see seven little pinholes in that dinner-plate-sized leaf. Funny thing, though, they were all off about three inches to the left of the center I was aiming for. They were up and down a bit, too, but then, I was shooting standing up with no support. It was the consistent off-to-the-left pattern that concerned me.

So I aimed at another leaf and ripped off seven shots left-handed. Years ago, a rifle instructor diagnosed me as cross-eye dominant, and I got better scores when I shot left-handed. Now, I thought I'd learned to correct for that, but when I went up to this leaf, I saw six little holes, still up and down, but all of them in the center of the leaf.

I shoot better left-handed. It feels really awkward, but my dominant eye sights in on the target so much more easily. Whether it's B-B gun, .22 rifle, or bow, I just do better when I switch. Except for shotgun, which for some reason I do as well right-handed as I do left-handed. Maybe because it's more instinct, and less about lining up the sights.

It's not a feature, it's a bug.

Had a couple of these big ol' things in a sapling by the side of my drive at Wilderstead. Nearest I can tell, it's a Cecropia Moth caterpillar. They mostly eat maple leaves, but are found in other trees, as well. This one and its companion were in a box elder sapling. Box elder is in the maple family, for what it's worth.

Cecropia Moth Caterpillar

Cecropia Moth Caterpillar

I don't keep track of bugs much, but I saw a Diana Fritillary in the holler, along with some grasshoppers, a wasp or two, etc. I'll be waiting to see the Cecropias one of these days.