Nourishing the soul  

Posted by Cat in the road

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened.”

The cast of characters are: Gracie with the bandanna, CB as a kitten, Wendy as a puppy, Bandit with the balloon caption, CB as a kitten in a tree and last but not least Jingles laying on her back

Who is "Cat in the road?"  

Posted by Cat in the road

Who is ‘Cat in the road?’ The nom de plume (pen name) I chose to write under is dedicated to all the four legged friends (cats and dogs) that have blessed my life. Each one of them was a rescue. The only question is...did I rescue them, or did they rescue me?

My son once said that all the animals that came under my care had a good life. My dogs always had a place to run, a shelter built especially for them and an abundance of love.
Prince – The dynasty begins
During the ‘70s and 80’s I worked a part of NYC known as the ‘South Bronx’. In this God forsaken hellhole I encountered many strays. I always carried dry cat and dog food for these forgotten souls. For this good deed I was branded the nickname ‘St. Francis’ by my partners. (See more stories on my BLOG - "Four Footed Fury Felines")
The cavalcade of pets that enhanced my life started off with a dog named Prince. As a young teenager we lived behind a vacant lot. In the summer Prince and I would venture into this primitive paradise and each go our separate ways. We'd cross paths now and then, exchange pleasantries, continue on our separate ways and returned home at dinner time.

Two other dogs enhanced my life, but alas I have no photos of them.(Spotty1 & Spotty2)

Then came Wendy. This dog was the runt of the litter. She was in and out of hospitals the first month of her life. No one ever expected her to survive, but she lived to the age of 16. For her entire life I rarely had to use a leash. My son said I commanded her with what he called - "The Voice." She always obeyed me with only verbal commands. On hot summer Sunday mornings I would take her to the Long Island Sound where she would swim to her hearts delight.

***Now onto the feline section. My cats had a privileged life style. I made provisions for them to come and go as they pleased since they are genetically programmed to do so. They could leave the house, wander the streets and return at their will. Now that doesn’t mean that they didn’t have close calls, but they always managed to survive. I do have to note that all of them used up all of their 9 lives at one point or another.

CB = Charlie Brown

The first rescue was 'literally rescued' from the back of a garbage truck by an alert sanitation worker. Some sadistic SOB had thrown out a box of new born kittens. Since I was always a dog person this was a new experience. I brought him home and named him CB, since I was into CB radios at the time. That name later changed to Charlie Brown after the antics he started to pull.

I lived on the 2nd floor of a garden apartment complex at the time. One refreshing spring day I had my bedroom window open and couldn't find him. I started searching high and low and finally heard a meow coming from the tree outside my window. Apparently he jumped up to the window and climbed onto a branch resting on the outside ledge. As I frantically ran around for help I had no idea that he could just climb down by himself. From then on I opened the window when he wanted to go out, and closed it when he returned.

The 'Bandit'

The next Frantically Frustrated Feline was Bandit. He made his appearance when my partner and I searched an abandoned building in the South Bronx during the '70s. (He has his own story on one of my other BLOGS) This was a cat that slept in a closet during the day. Then he would get pissed off when one of us had the nerve to close the door. And he had an interesting way of letting us know when he wanted to go out. He would scratch his claws on our metal screen door producing a sound with decibels high enough to break glass. He almost always got his way.

Jingles  =  Cat in the road

The idea for these BLOGs and the 'pen name' is in memory of a fury feline named ‘Jingles.’ She had the unusual habit of sunning herself in the middle of the road, thus the title; ‘Cat in the road.’ I can’t tell you how many times cars would slow down and beep their horns for her to move. When she was ready she would get up and casually saunter away.

Now on one occasion she dashed across the street just as a car was speeding by. The driver was courteous enough to stop and we both expected to see some road kill. Luckily there was nothing decorating the ground. We looked around and saw her sitting on a neighbor's lawn. She had a look on her face as if to say: “What’s up guys?” Neither of us could figure how she survived. We both saw her run directly under the moving vehicle.


Today I’m taking care of another fanatical fur ball named Gracie. Her owner had to leave her behind when she moved. Now here’s something interesting about all the cats that were in my care…One-way or another they always found a way up to my roof. How they got up there and how they got down is a mystery. And none of them has ever divulged the secret. These days Gracie is carrying on the tradition.

I'd like to make one last observation as both a dog and cat owner. If you happen to be in a supermarket buying pet food you will see dog owners pick out a product and then move on. Now walk down to the cat food section and it's a whole different scene. There's usually a cluster of people looking at each label and mumbling to themselves. The usual comments are: "He doesn't like those" or "I forgot what she likes." That's why I'm reluctant to say cat owners, because they really own us.

Since this story is coming to a close I’d like to end it with a joke. A dog looks at it's owner and says: "Wow, he feeds me, cleans up after me and takes care of me...He must be God" --- While a cat says: "Wow, he feeds me, cleans up after me and takes care of me...must be God."

The fog rolled in...  

Posted by Cat in the road

The fog rolled in
by Cat-in-the-road

An eerie fog has settled in for the night,

The street lights radiate a halo through the mist,

The air is cool and permeated with a sweet fragrance,

Distant sounds echo on the silent sidewalk,

This night is reminiscent of an eve in London,

There’s a strange calm and serene feeling,

The afterglow of the Supermoon still holds its place in the sky,

But no longer has the main stage that it held three nights ago,

Though chaos reigns supreme in far off distant lands,

My little corner of the world seems mystically at peace. 

The invisible man  

Posted by Cat in the road in

The hustle and bustle of tourists fills the streets of Key West. The merchants try to entice shoppers to spend their vacation money. Modern day minstrels fill the air with songs at the open bars. A pet shop displays 5 adorable puppies in its storefront window. Helmet-less bikers cruise up and down the main boulevard. Yet no one notices the invisible man.

A homeless soul sits upon his bicycle taking a cigarette break. The child’s wagon behind him is filled with all his worldly possessions. His fateful canine companion lies down under a tree to shelter himself from the rain. A sea of humanity flows by and yet no one seems to pay any attention to this nomad.

I stood across the street and watched this scenario unfolding. The first thought that crossed my mind was, “Did this lost soul ever imagine that this was how he was going to spend his golden years?” Where would this vagabond make camp for the night? How would he acquire food for himself and his loyal comrade?

When he finished his smoke he would probably venture off again. Wearily his four legged friend would follow in stride. If I had the time I would have liked to hear this man’s story. I’m sure his life’s tale would be an interesting one.

The night beckons the lone wolf  

Posted by Cat in the road in

The calendar may say early December, but the thermometer begged to differ. The night was clear and still. No clouds roamed the sky and the cold air was invigorating. As I stood outside thoughts of my childhood flashed before me. The theme song from Zorro danced in my head. I felt the need to be on top of two wheels, the desire to ride was overwhelming. The Lone Wolf had been beckoned from his den.
I ventured out with black leather donning my skin for protective measures. Where shall I go, this night can’t be wasted? With no destination in mind I let my red chariot decide for me. As I came upon Fort Totten my eyes caught my newly desired challenge. The superstructures of the Throggs Neck bridge loomed in the night sky. The wolf was being called to the mountain.
As I approached the 'On Ramp' my mind started racing. Adrenaline took control and my thought processes started to accelerate. I could feel my heart beating in my chest as I downshifted for my initial surge. My right hand cranked the throttle and the road started to rise before me. The screaming engine beneath me pumped me even harder. All rhyme and reason were gone. My primitive instincts kicked in and a howl bellowed out as the bridge became mine.
Then the thought came to me...“This is why I ride.”

The Bandit, a South Bronx survivor (RIP)  

Posted by Cat in the road

One cold day in December my partner and I ventured into the basement of an abandoned building. During the 70's this was a common sight in the South Bronx. Little did I know on that day that a new addition would be added to my life. A soft blanket of snow lightly covered the ground and your breath was frozen in midair, it was a bitter winter. We walked down the deserted alleyway towards the entrance of the old tenement. Every step ever so cautious since the unknown lurked around each and every corner.

The door was unlocked and fresh footprints disturbed the new fallen snow, we were not alone. With finely honed survival instincts I slowly open the door. A few stones were tossed inside to scare away any rats that may have taken up residency in the building. When no scurries were heard we cautiously entered.

Both of us walked with the distinct knowledge of expecting the unexpected. The dark, desolate, rooms were illuminated only by the flicker of our flashlights. Each step was taken softly since we didn't want to make our presence known.

As we reached the center of the building a sound caught our attention. It was coming from an old dumbwaiter. I glanced over and saw that my partner’s eyes were as wide as mine. With our flashlights leading the path  we slowly made our way towards the source of the sound. Hand signals were given as I approached the door from the hinged side. With the nod of heads the non-verbal signal was given to open the door. I knew I was covered, but what lay inside?

Holding my breath and with one quick motion the door flew open, my heart was pounding in my chest. Suddenly the sound of my partner's laughter filled the room. OK, this was not the reaction I expected. What could be so funny? As I peered through the slit I saw a comical sight. A stray black and white cat stood guard over the carcass of a dead rat.

As I walked around to the front this ferocious feline stared at me with a blood thirsty look. It was as if to say, "I'm the one in control." Sitting on his hind legs and swiping his claws through the air he wanted to make it clear; “Don’t fuck with me man.” He showed us who was boss. At that moment I couldn’t help but think of the scene in West Side Story were the Sharks meet the Jets in a knife fight.

Living up to the reputation of my patron saint (St Francis), I offered him some dry cat food that was hidden in one of the pockets of my field jacket. Little did I know at that moment that a lifelong friendship was about to develop. Once pacified by a full belly my new friend was as docile as could be. That’s when I learned, once you feed a cat, you’re stuck with him for life.

The most suitable name for this character was, "The Bandit," and he lived with me for ‘21’ years. He was an outdoor cat who fought many a skirmish. Some he won, some he lost. He used up all of his 9 lives. My kids feared him, my dog respected him, my ex-wife was his servant, but he knew that I was his master.

Towards the twilight of his life he became more passive and my kids were finally able to cradle him. As the days ticked by and his end came closer it was apparent that he knew something was wrong. I find it ironic that he died on Veteran's Day since he was a warrior his whole life. The day he died I knew I had lost one of my best friends.

Memoir of the lone rider  

Posted by Cat in the road in

I think I was born with the motorcycle genome. The appeal of a motorized bike had its roots at an early stage in my life. When I was young baseball cards would clatter in the spokes of my bicycle. Of course that wouldn't have happened if I had known what they would be worth years later.

I've been riding for over 40 years. The distances I travel now are much shorter than in my heyday. But there is no amount of money that can compensate for those memories. I traveled solo as, 'The Lone Wolf.' The funny thing is, I was never alone. Looking back in time an angel was always on my shoulder.

The driver of a car merely travels from one point to another. His destination is set by the paved highway. A motorcyclist on the other hand has the curiosity of a cat. A beaten path off the main road holds the allure of adventure. I wonder where that leads? Will I see some hidden beauty of nature nestled in the back woods? Two wheels give more freedom than four. We may share the road with the four wheelers and the giant 18 wheeled behemoths, but we are individualists.

My mechanized magic carpet was also my best friend. It took me wherever I wanted to go. New horizons were opened. A lure prevailed to explore the unexplored. There was also an unsung brotherhood. Back in the '70's when riders passed each other a sign of solidarity was shown. A raised arm with a clenched fist signified two brothers of the road.

On many a long and lonesome highway I would encounter another steel mounted equestrian. Whoever had the lead would gesture to double up. Two independent souls found themselves riding side by side. No verbal words were ever spoken, but a spiritual dialogue ensued during the entire encounter. Each of us kept a safe distance, almost as if we were repelling magnets.

When we finally parted a wave signaled our sign off. In that short period of time a kinship evolved. We both shared an experience with a stranger. Again the Lone Wolf ventured on. Cars cruised by with parents fearful to make eye contact, yet the children gave the peace sign. Truckers passed showing respect of the road as they gave a blast on their air horns.

 Looking over the handle bars you peered off into a distant focal point. Yet glancing down you saw the blurred asphalt racing past your feet. Slowly lowering your foot to kiss the ground caused the souls of your shoes to be sanded away
at 65 miles an hour. There was a unique freedom. Your racing steed was at your command. Goose the throttle and endorphins surged throughout your body.

As I watched America roll by on both sides of me, I viewed parts of this country unappreciated by the hurried traveler. Time and age have taken their toll. I no longer have the stamina to trek the long distances I once mastered. One thing is for sure though; those memories will comfort me until the day I die.

The road signs of life  

Posted by Cat in the road

Life doesn't come with a manual, we have to figure it out as we go along. Although sometimes there are road signs that seem to direct us. Along my journey I have noticed some subtle hints that have guided me. I choose to be open minded.

Sometimes that 'STOP' sign, the 'Caution Light', or that obscure posting you catch from the corner of your eye can be an indicator. We've all heard of the metaphorical 'Red Flags' that seems to pop up when something doesn't seem right. How about that article we just happen to read that's relevant to an important facet of a new project. Yet most of us are so preoccupied with the trials and tribulations of everyday life that we chose to ignore them. Either that or we're preoccupied with some technological device.

Awhile back an acquaintance mentioned that she was seeing a man but didn't know where the relationship was going. One day while driving she found herself preoccupied with this thought and wound up on a 'Dead End' street. Looking up at the sign she realized in what direction her love life was heading.

Over the years I have spoken to many people who tell similar stories. Some call it spiritual, others supernatural, or the subconscious telling us what to do. We're all looking for answers of one sort or another. Sometimes we just have to look under our noses.

The Bronx is burning  

Posted by Cat in the road in

At the height of a turbulent era for NYC during the ’70's I was lucky (or) unlucky enough to be working in the South Bronx. At the time disco was at its peak and Boom Boxes were the rage. All the local shops up and down Southern Blvd had 6 foot high speakers blaring, one louder than the other to draw customers. This period was also infamous because, "the Bronx was burning.”

By that I mean landlords were hiring arsonists to torch their vacant buildings for the insurance. You never knew if the building you were walking into was on the list that particular day. It made life interesting to say the least. Engine 82 was one of the busiest fire houses of the FDNY. It was also made famous by a former member of the company, Dennis Smith, who authored 'Report from Engine Company 82'. This book highlighted the war years of the Bronx.

While rummaging through some old photos I came across these lost glossies and memories came swarming back. Ah the good old days. On one particularly balmy summer’s day I was sent to a job on the Blvd. While climbing the steps my partner came running out yelling, “It’s a bomb.” Sometimes these pyrotechnical nuts were actually courteous enough to call in a warning before the fun began.

Fire trucks appeared in no time and the street was closed off to traffic in a matter of minutes. Here’s the part that really sticks with me, as these bastions of bravery donned their bunker gear one of the shops just happened to play, ‘Disco Inferno’ by The Trammps. As firemen gathered their gear and ran hose lines the local residents spontaneously broke out into a street party.

Imagine if you will, fire trucks scattered up and down the street, firemen running in all different directions, red lights flashing, people dancing and smoke belching from boarded up 6 story walk ups…all to a deafening disco beat. Now the song 'Disco Inferno' by The Trammps was never intended to be a rally cry for destruction, but it’s ironic how coincidences work. It’s amazing how I can look back and see the black humor in all of it today. For me it's a walk down memory lane, bazaar as it may seem.