Cally Quinn, 1999-2017

It has been a long time since I last wrote.

2.5 years, in fact.

I have thought of you all consistently, and the space between these words and those have bookended many, many experiences.

However, this post is not about those 2.5 years; this post is about Cally.

Last weekend I drove to White Haven, crunched into the driveway, and my family met me in the kitchen. JQ, long hair, overalls, having come in from the yard where he chainsawed with Dad, hair short-cropped, grey, sweatshirt, Mom straight-spined, sad-smiling, all of them kind-eyed. Later, we called our far-flung desert sister, Erin, and we all cried as a unit to celebrate our dear friend Cally.

When I was 11, capping a long line of cats who met sudden, tragic endings, our family adopted Cally from Cat Row (as my dad likes to say). I have dim memories of the animal shelter– hamster smells, peeking through cages, Cally wavering towards us with her butt in the air. Her previous owner had been very old, died, leaving behind a young Cally, homeless.

If I was 11 that means Erin was 8 and JQ was 5– and both of them were terrified of Cally at first, her perpetually winking eye glinting at them from beneath beds or couches.

We all came around.


Her name was Cally but she had many aliases, including “Kitten, Meow-Meow-Meow -Meow”, “Round Cat”, and “The One-Eyed Reilly”, the latter following The Quinn Brothers’ early 2000s first (and yet only) recorded CD of traditional Irish folk songs.

She was kind, assertive, shy, round, winking, purring, stove-bound. She hid, slunk, sauntered, and, in her later years, flopped boldly in front of the fireplace or on the couch, splayed.

Long after our family leaves the house on Fern Ridge Road her claws will mark the doorways to the garage or my dad’s office to show that she has been here, we all have been here.

Cally Quinn was sister to Keen Quinn and Netty Quinn, curious observer of various reptiles and amphibians in our household, and was the would-be-liberator of a crayfish I once tried to save. She warmed our feet, chewed my mom’s hair, silently kept my dad company after we’d long been to bed. She was Olive’s opponent for Christmas 2015 and busted out the bottom screens of the hallway windows on perhaps more than morning in early spring throughout our childhoods. Her toes click-clacked across the floorboards.

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In her last years she would open her mouth and no sound would come out at all. She lapped delicately from Dixie cups and requested to be placed upon surfaces no longer scalable.

Last May, when I was home for a week to help my dad recover from hip replacement surgery, I stayed up late each night in my childhood bedroom, windows open, breathing into the breeze that would bring the rest of my life in the days before my siblings arrived. You could almost see our family photos flutter on my corkboard walls. Cally was fine company each of those nights, hogging the pillow, purring loudly into the ether.

Rest in peace, dear friend. We have space saved for you on our couch cushions, sweater piles, and on the rugs in front of our crackling woodstoves. Meow.


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Smoke Breath



Lying in the driveway in search of meteors, bellies filled with turmeric and lentils, we watched our breath tumble through the beam of a flashlight, held our hands up to the sky to see the moon color our palms. 

In these first cold days and nights when the yard is strange and moonswept or frosted with dew at dawn I am thinking both forward and backward, savoring each plate of eggs or cup of coffee as if it’s the one previous or the one yet to come. 

Jake stirs sugar into his coffee and early light soaks into his smile. Dogs are barking, cats are mewing. The sun climbs higher in the sky and the moon hangs over Jono, whose stars are different, Sarah notes. 

Last year Steve registered for me the URL, a web address that reroutes to this very blog. I was touched deeply by this action. “It’s like naming a star for someone,” I commented. 

Last night in our sleeping bags on the pavement, surrounded by towering pines, we watched the stars stand still for long enough that they seemed to be moving. 

I am filled with love and experience. 


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This pair of cool mornings has my mind wandering into autumn, when I will be not just Mrs. Quill but Professor Quill, and Bartendress Quill as well. My mornings will be early and my nights long, but each day will be words and pictures and the new grown-up clothes I recently purchased at a discounted price.

However, until fog breath and woodsmoke it is summer still, and today, like all the other Thursdays, I will ride through the hills into town and organize and sell vegetables, eat nachos thereafter and drink a beer with Helena, and ride home with my panniers filled with greens, cheese, sourdough. Sun pushing through thunderheads, the dark cold creek, gravel road crackle, our funny yellow house, the yard patrolled by chiggers and ducks.

In many ways, life has never brought me more.

Let’s catch up.


Scenes from the Farmers’ Market


Sweet Annie’s


Momcat, cat, wine.

Erin, the Huntingdon High School art teacher/my local art education confidant/guru introduced me to some visual aids she had inherited-- many of them heavy on the cats.

Erin, the Huntingdon High School art teacher/my local art education confidant/guru introduced me to some visual aids she had inherited– many of them heavy on the cats.

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Spying cats at the Greek Orthodox Monastery in White Haven.

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En route to Denver, CO.



While Jess and I patrolled The West, Sarah brought the dogs here to visit Olive.












Black Panthers hot sauce, as seen in Grand Teton National Park.



Auntie Jo tells of cats in far away lands.



Gimme all them cats.



As witnessed at the Ten Sleep Brewery in Ten Sleep, WY.



Our cabin in the Bighorn National Forest was rife with incredible forest fire prevention posters, like this one.
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Badlands museum, where nature gets real.



At Crazy Horse, where our money must have gone to pay for these golden gatos.



Upon returning to Pennsylvania I went immediately to a wood fired pizza party at the Cook-Huffman’s where barn cats were adorable, acrobatic, and ready for adventure.

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Wherein Archie refuses to go anywhere with me ever again.



All the news that’s fit to print.



Updated cat lady t-shirt collection– this gem, from Zee Padre de Jake. He mysteriously sent the following text via email, and a few days later the shirt appeared at our door.

Is this just a crazy catspiracy theory?
The All-Seeing Cat Eye is out there. Watching. Monitoring. Meowing. It never rests, except to take an afternoon nap.

There are many conspiracy theories about the Eye. Many believe that its use on the $1 bill symbolizes the influence of the Freemeowsons. However, the jury is still meowt on that.

Some have even suggested that the Eye dates back to a race of cat aliens, who have shaped human society to serve their needs. Which kind of makes sense if you think ameowt it.



Posted in Mixed Bag O'Cats, Sightings!, The Cats of Others, The Cats of Summer | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer Hairdos and Westward, Ho!

Well, as luck and experience would find me, I find myself back on I-80, facing the Wal-Mart parking lot to which The One Who is Bearded delivered me just a few hours ago. Enormous storm clouds, summer pavement, sloshy McDonald’s coffee in the cup-holder, Jake’s grey shirt.

My back is to our bus’ destination, New York City. In this place where we once lived I will sleep and eat and leave again, for tomorrow I join my Girl Cousin/Adventure Partner on a plane bound for Denver, where we will find Erin, Garret, and the forever puppy, Netty.

From there we will drive deeper into what Will Smith has called The Wild Wild West, and so tonight I am saying goodbye to my lush, dense Pennsylvania as it smudges past this row of windows. Stands of sculpted tree-tops, the aching sun setting over the backs of lumbering tractor trailers. The world goes blue, then black, then it’s all road sounds and tail lights until I reach the great glowing city where my friends sleep.

Here are some pictures of Erin and Garrett, our gatekeepers of the West, and Mufasa, who is shaved for the summer.



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This Home of Mine

Saturday morning, after wishing well to the Bearded Companion who motorcycled out of the driveway, I set off into the great green world with my weekend bags and cup of coffee, and proceeded to undertake the dreamy, familiar drive to White Haven on I-80.

Long, gently twisting highway, muddy rain skies giving way to technicolor fields, endless sky, billowing clouds over generous, blinding green. Lost in my thoughts and tea, munching on a sourdough roll, throwing orange peels out the window.



I had the immense pleasure of spending the weekend with some good ones, admiring the mirror lake, dappled sunshine through the leaves, the sand and sky of water of our lake, where I was lucky enough to spend many of my days growing up.



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Going Down To The Lake was something we did often when this address was my address, and that place is lined with memories from many stages of my life.


Fishing, c. 1996

Fishing, c. 1996

Please admire my band-aid. Maybe 1998?

Please admire my band-aid. Maybe 1998?

Like a moth to a flame, taken probably not long after my parents moved here, in the late 80s.

Like a moth to a flame, taken probably not long after my parents moved here, in the late 80s.

Devil watermelon children. Sometime in the late 90s.

Devil watermelon children. Sometime in the late 90s.

The most excellent Dziadzi.

The most excellent Dziadzi.

Picture of a picture.

Picture of a picture. Not sure if Momcat is holding me or someone else? 

Bike gang, c. 1997?

Bike gang, c. 1997?

Snow days at The Lake, c. 1997.

Snow days at The Lake, c. 1997.

Swinging. C. 1993 or so.

Swinging. C. 1993 or so.


Those gauzy, endless days of summer which so slowly blended into fall saw us at The Lake almost daily, plastic bowls full of cut-up fruit, colorful beach towels, now threadbare, the faraway sound of trucks rumbling from the Turnpike. Paper bag instruments in the pavilion, exploring the backwater nooks and crannies for turtles and frogs, rough skin saw grass, leeches on our ankles below the dam. Long streams of smoke into the evening and grill food upon grill food, and our friends, to whom I was The Pickle Girl long before our families would become acquainted.

All the tenets of this life now carry over into the one I am living, and it pleases me so to revisit the source.

While I was away, Jake and Olive got in some good alone time.



Posted in Charming Anecdote, Olive | 2 Comments

Bailey Stanley

Long ago, in the belly of winter, Adam Stanley submitted something for the approval of the cat blog society. Now, nearing the solstice, I finally stop being disorganized and post it.

Please, meet Bailey. (In Adam’s own words.)


BK looking down your shirt

California Pussy (You can edit this title I GUESS if your mother reads the blog or something)

By Adam Stanley

I estimate it has been over 80 degrees in my apartment for a few days now. With the windows down and the radiator hissing uncontrollably, the houseplants cling to what green leaves they have left in anticipation for spring. Every morning, a Super from across the street rips open the throttle of his pint-sized snow blower, moving today’s pile of snow to yesterday’s spot. This dance will continue until we have a good melt.

Bailey bats my face with his paw. I’m awake already. His purring rivals the snow blower, and I kick him off the bed. Hunger purrs.

BK on the vinyl BK still on the vinyl


He wears his mittens and boots year round, and seems to be particularly fond of the colder months. I can’t blame him. This apartment turns into a sultry damp mess during the summer, quite different from the dry, cool air of his California hometown.


LA with foster cat Sampson


Bailey was adopted in 2010 from the Los Angeles Animal Shelter. He’s lovingly named after the Mighty Boosh character Old Greg’s obsession with Bailey’s Irish Crème, and we celebrate his birthday on St. Patty’s day. The shelter estimated he was about a year old.


LA in my socks


He was kept in the top row of cages when we first met eyes. Quarantined because he just arrived, the “look-but-no-touch rule” would remain in effect for 5 days. Los Angeles has an incredible shelter system. It quarantines new animals to check for diseases, then aggressively adopts them back out to the community. It does this via an animal rotation scheme with all of its campuses in the Greater LA area. I guess if you ever need to set up a shelter system in a big city, check out LA? Shut up.




For the next 5 days, I checked in to make sure he was still there. He remained in the top cage, poised, gazing down on all the absolutely mental, squealing cat people who visit the shelter daily to check in on the kitties!


LA with Donny Carpenters Fat Cat


On the 5th day, they removed his balls and handed him over to me. I carried him sans carrier to my car, completely unaware of my unorthodox cat-owning behavior.

“Don’t you have something to put him in?” the clerk ridiculed. 

“No, I’ll just carry him out!”


LA with my Board


He didn’t cause any trouble. I put him in my car, and he quickly scampered below the dash, crying until we got home.


Im happy hes not

This one titled, “I’m Happy; He’s Not”


Originally submitted before Valentines’ Day, this gif is appropriate in any season.

Thank you Adam and Bailey, the both of you bi-coastal beauties.


Happy Vday



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Cats Belonging to Others

Long before we had Olive,



other people owned cats and I visited them with great glee, living vicariously through the perceived happiness of their owners. Two years into life with our three-legged wonder, I balance puke on the carpet with nose kisses, and the way she grinds bugs into the floor, then scoops them into her mouth and eats them.  (As a result, we don’t have a bug problem.) #noregrets

Here are some other people’s cats– imagine their joy!


from DAVE

Sent to me in response to sad news, JFKat (aka The Biggest Cat in the World) is here for cheer and kindness.

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My Baltimore soul sister sent me this little photo-montage of Tsi-Shi & Co. when I was last at the ancestral home of Jake and Iggs, visiting zee Madre and zee Padre, scooping Jake from his river/Bay adventure. All of the good things.




from ERIN

ENORMOUS CAT, fantastic sea-star. Mufasa, king of the desert.




And, I’m not sure if I blogged this incredible picture before, but even if I did it’s worth revisiting. Mufasa guarding our dear Babci on her venture out west.

Mufasa and Babci




That former roommate of mine recently traveled across the country with her furry friend, who appears to be lovely but camera shy.




from KAT

And the grand finale, from an email appropriately titled, “The Cats of Kat’s Life”.


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“And Romeo, for good measure.”


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Some Cats I Have Known

Good morning!

I am drinking coffee and we are getting back to it.

Suddenly it is Summer now. Yes, we called the weeks previous to this “summer” (though it’s not yet the solstice) but the last two days, oppressive, dank, big sun, billowing storm clouds– this is summer in Huntingdon. It is disgusting, but I have a great fondness for it. We have done it many times before– whirring fans, Boxer’s dark, neon, late night, the cold green lake, muddy bottom creek-water.

I am severely backlogged on cats (cat-logged?) and I must continue to deliver them to you in a timely manner. There are so many to celebrate.

We’ll return with a classic– Some Cats I Have Seen (the original alternate title for this blog).

Carol Peters' cats-- lovers. Huntingdon, PA

Carol Peters’ cats– lovers. Huntingdon, PA

I told Seth, "I saw a kitten!" Tyrone, PA

I told Seth, “I saw a kitten!” Tyrone, PA

This tiny, tiny kitten. Tyrone, PA

This tiny, tiny kitten. Tyrone, PA

GAHH. Tyrone, PA

GAHH. Tyrone, PA

This cat don't want to go to the vet. Huntingdon, PA

This cat don’t want to go to the vet. Huntingdon, PA

Honesdale, PA

Honesdale, PA

Honesdale, PA

Honesdale, PA

Roy's farm cat. Honesdale, PA

Roy’s farm cat. Honesdale, PA

White Haven, PA

White Haven, PA

In her old age, Cally has become fond of squeaking so that she may drink water out of a Dixie cup. White Haven, PA

In her old age, Cally has become fond of squeaking so that she may drink water out of a Dixie cup. White Haven, PA

Zee Basker. Lusby, MD

Zee Basker. Lusby, MD

Important news. Lusby, MD

Important news. Lusby, MD

Cat mint! A delightful gift from zee Madre. Lusby, MD

Cat mint! A delightful gift from zee Madre. Lusby, MD

Huntingdon, PA

Huntingdon, PA

Discovered alongside Rothrock. Huntingdon, PA

Discovered alongside Rothrock. Huntingdon, PA

Huntingdon, PA

Photo by my Cat Watching Companion, Jake. Huntingdon, PA

Huntingdon, PA

Photo by my Cat Watching Companion, Jake. Huntingdon, PA

A cat in her natural habitat. Huntingdon, PA

A cat in her natural habitat. Huntingdon, PA


And, these are not cats I have seen but they are cats sent to me by a dear Blum. And that is worth about a million points.


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Events Past

It has been awhile.

I am reeling, somewhat, for now suddenly it is summer and my mornings are slower, or at least different– the bedroom cool and damp and the world outside a humming green, coffee, stacks of books, the creek sliding by. It is in these moments that I am trying to collect myself, to gather and remember, to be thankful and to prepare for all that is to come.

On May 23rd, while I was painting paper plates in a Central Pennsylvania field with children on a field trip, Grandpa, our great pal to all, passed away.

Grandma and Grandpa


Talking to my dad on the stoop of our woods house that afternoon I thought that maybe I didn’t feel anything, the news of it expected but still so strange to hear. I sipped a beer numbly, heard the kettle inside rumble towards a whistle. At the end of the call I began to cry. Later, Grandma called to say You Better Have That Party, and reminded me that Grandpa was the greatest party animal of all, and he would be disappointed if I conducted my life any differently.

On May 24th I turned 26 and the guests began to arrive.

There were some already, of course– Ken and Christina had been staying with us for a few weeks, and their camaraderie in those days leading towards summer feel so far away now, but I am remembering them with great poignance.

The New York ones pulled into the driveway in Saturday’s earliest hours, the Ohio ones in the morning, and then the SoMD ones and the Baltimore ones and the White Haven ones whose bodies I held and hugged the longest. The town ones came, one by one until we had gathered in great numbers and Helena, the fellow birthday buddy arrived and then it became a party.

Steamer and Krenth

Steamer and Krenth



My rocks.

My rocks.

Good ones.

Good ones.



Driveway full of lovelies.

Driveway full of lovelies.

A true lady.

A true lady.

Stephan KenDall

Stephan KenDall

Good hair.

Good hair.

Most of the people.

Most of the people.

JBro & Co.

JBro & Co.



The musical stylings of Steven "Steve" Kendall

The musical stylings of Steven “Steve” Kendall

Adam and Caitlin take a nap.

Adam and Caitlin take a nap.

Beautiful living room.

Beautiful living room.




These events so close together– news of death followed by raging birthday party weekend followed by funerary proceedings, of night sounds and hugs in the driveway and phone calls and notes and dance parties both lying down and upright, of the breeze in the kitchen and friends scattered about the house, of drives across the state and sneaking food in the funeral home back-alley, of red carnations, of whiskey, of frankincense– were a lot to take in.



These cats– of condolence and of celebration– are just another example of how lucky I am that we can be a place for a beautiful people to congregate.

Thank you, to all.


from JQ

Refrigerator letter.







from zee MADRE y PADRE de Jake 

This is an oldie but a goodie– received this past Christmas, “CATS” can currently be found on our coffee table, bringing happiness to all.




Also from these fine folks…

Madre knitted me a leaping cat… with three legs! So, finally, Olive has some representation on the family altar.

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So painfully adorable.



That great lady thinks of me every day, but especially when in Europe, and when confronted with these fine felines.




from JON & KAZIA

Books to read while visiting the bass room.

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from IGGS and FRANC’

A cheerful addition to my mug menagerie. Going strong since 2006.




from Auntie L

The late great Aunt Lauri’s ceramic cats came up from Maryland in a black and white straw basket, nestled together. We have hidden them about the house for love and for luck.

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And, a fancy scarf to accompany a Christmas present from our other sibling.



from BABCI

A letter so simple and lovely it made me cry in public.



from JONO

And, last but not least, from our New Zealand wonder.



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Puzzle Cat

Straight from New Mexico comes this, the Spirit of Saturday.

It is the weekend, it has been a long week. There will be more from me soon, but for now I will share pictures of Erin’s Mufasa, my puzzling cat-nephew.

Have a good Saturday, dear ones.

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