Many Things in Few Hours

Day 10

Day 10


They have made fantastique progress!

This evening as rain pattered off the roof of the porch and the first greens swelled and weighed heavy on branches, the phone rang and it was Jake, calling from a boathouse in Rock Hall, Maryland.

It is official and plans are being made– this weekend I will go down to Southern Maryland to scoop them and return them to this place.

It was welcome news to receive as the frogs peep and the creek rolls swiftly by and as I am so very tired, fresh from an impromptu trip to Brooklyn, driving all night, on a whim, the red tail lights ahead spare, passing through the Tunnel into downtown Manhattan, any windows above the tenth story hidden in clouds, creaking over the Brooklyn Bridge and its fog river, crawling into bed with Sarah and Steve at 7 am, giggling. Our two days of dogs and oysters and friends whose scrawled notes and shared apples say more than any spoken words, of barbecues and string lights and sea shanties, of Smash Mouth and pizza and Crazy Woman Canyon and sparkly eyes and wrestling rivalries is over, and I spent another day in the buzzed brain sleepy drive, dreaming across bridges as I traveled those familiar roads.

I bought a coffee, drove thirty miles in the wrong direction, laughed as my compass spun, New York rising in the distance at me, again.

I miss yins all.


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Olive rests with her back against mine– never willing to say she is glad I’m home, but I know she means it. She chases me into the bathroom, scratches at my bare knees. She howls and yowls for food, but I know she is just hungry for companionship. Her eyes close, she is restful.

Here are cats from some of my finest companions of some of their finest travels.

from ERIN

Garrett and Rachel, on the New Mexican constituent’s recent trip to New Orleans.





Some European treasures.

Gonga 2 Gonga Gonga1




… to New Mexico. Holy cat!

Mufasa and Babci


from HANNA

A kitten from Hanna’s continued travels through Swede-land.

Hanna Hanna2

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Beginning of the Technicolor Days

Day 6

High winds forced us off the water yesterday. But, we did another 30 miles today. We’re camped on the Safe Harbor Dam. We’re only 32 miles from the Chesapeake, with this and two other dams in our way. -Uncle Jeff

Day 6_2


Please, examine the brave travelers’ progress thus far.


Day 6

Purple: done. Green: not yet done.


This trip is not about cats, of course, but I do feel compelled to share their progress on zee blog regardless. I am so excited for them, proud of them, and I know Olive might agree.



It is pleasantly cold tonight and Olive and I are curled together on the couch watching murder movies, one of us in her jammies. I have been enjoying these long days of solitude– filled, of course, with school children (hands covered in paint or glue) or friends who drink beer and eat custard and climb cliffs and sip coffee, wear sweaters. But it is unusual to return to a house that remains quiet when I am here and when I am gone.

Our world has been technicolor lately, zinging greens of first grass, rosy flowering trees, the violent yellow forsythia, like the brilliant one that just exploded at the end of our driveway. The sky, great and big and blue.

These days are gifts: painted bottles filled with beans, children playing outside of windows, the river roar above the train, hummus pitas, mornings pouring golden across the yard, soul music, hugs through seat belts, laughing.

There have been other gifts too– gifts about cats.



I was fortunate to receive this bracelet from my dear parents a few months back, which has become Olive’s feeding station totem– it now hangs proudly above…



from zee MADRE y PADRE de JAKE




Yes, now Olive’s feeding station is complete. Bowls from Erin, kitten totem from Momcat and Dad, and Jake’s parents throwing down the setting for it all– a mat of cats.

A second, most beloved gift also came from zee Madre de Jake. On her birthday this past January she gave us all gifts and this was mine.



General Catton. I wear this guy often and it is met with rave reviews! It has quickly become a favorite in my limited/spirited wardrobe.



Finally, a mug to match one’s cat dress! Baby, where do we find these things?




Our favorite Baltimoreans gave me a subscription to Art in America for Christmas… and wasn’t I surprised to find this, the April issue, in our creekside mailbox.





And, okay okay, this is not a present for me but THIS IS my Babci celebrating her recent birthday– with a new pair of sneakers and Cioci Tina’s cat, Rider.

I come from good people, and am glad to be surrounded by them still.


Rider and Sneaks



As my SAW would say, be well.

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Day 5: Nearly into Big Water

Tonight they camp somewhere in here, approximately five miles upriver from Three Mile Island.

Tonight they camp somewhere in here, approximately five miles upriver from Three Mile Island.


There have been sightings!

On Sunday, Day 2, Jeff sent me this photo of Jake applying sunscreen.



On Monday night, Day 3, Marcia drove down to Newport to meet the river travelers, to drop off milk and a smattering of forgotten supplies. Jake was in need of a bug net, Jeff was in need of a cord to charge his cellphone–  which he will ultimately need to call me and say Hey We’re Done; Come Pick Us Up.


Jeff: loving milk.

Jeff: loving milk.


Marcia reports on their good spirits and also about how cool they are. I tend to concur.

Photos courtesy of Marcia– I look forward to meeting you!

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Today, Day 5, while at Boxer’s with Helena and Evan I received a phone call FROM JAKE, the memory of which is my most recent primary source document. (I am a person who very rarely receives such things so you must imagine that it was a great thrill.) It was at this time that I was informed that it is very windy, that they are well, that they are very happy, that they miss us.

They are missed, certainly and dearly. Olive and I are sleepy, the house is dark, and soon I will sink into these feathers and watch my dreams slip out of windows. The stream that quickens past our house runs into the Juniata which runs into the Susquehanna, which will push them into the Bay. I have been gazing fondly at water in these days.

Here are some cats from fellow Huntingdonians, sending goodwill from this half of the trip’s doors.

from IRIS

Iris, who is both my student and just a great human being, made this comic called Muffles and Mo just for this blog. I am honored.

Also, cats wearing bathing suits– my goodness.

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This is nothing short of amazing. A cat drinking a milkshake, straight from the archives of Huntingdon’s fantastic history. via the Huntingdon County Historical Society.


“This cat came to Black’s Drug Store every afternoon for an ice cream soda. It was the era of the first ice cream sodas and all the drug stores were selling the sodas.”


Goodnight to all.

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Easter Saturday


Day 1

I will give river updates as they come to me. Day 1– Huntingdon to McVeytown.

Primary source documentation, sent by the men themselves.

Primary source documentation, sent by the men themselves at the conclusion of the first day. 


As promised, we woke early.


About to kiss them white cars.


After meeting Evan and Helena in the back lot of Rothrock we headed into the dawn for an early breakfast at Tops where some of us ate enormous Belgium Waffles and others of us laughed.

I took it as a good sign that this guy was parked right out front.




In the pre-departure hours of Jake and Jeff’s Excellent Adventure I was reminded, as I often am, of how wonderful our friends are. Over coffee in that slanting first light through great mirrored windows or, later, shaded from mid-morning’s fullness on the back porch of the shop, feet up, sipping from mugs still we laughed much, created conjecture about where Jeff was, admired Jake’s packing strategies.


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Jake, Boat, Boat’s Real Dad


Trip Outfit


We watched the two businesses into which our lives are so intertwined, Boxer’s and Rothrock, slowly creak into the workday, readying for another dazzling spring weekend in Huntingdon. The blues channel played at the bar, stools still up, when I went back and forth through the kitchen to get more coffee or update Tony and Paula as to the trip gentlemen’s departure plan, soup stirring, onions chopping. Phones started ringing at the shop, air hoses were dragged out of the basement, and Dakota showed up for work wearing this. I became further convinced of the universe’s plan for us.




Then, Jeff came.


Grinning. And yes, those paddleboards say YOLO.




It was a grand send off. To make the trip truly door to door, Jake and Jeff carried their vessels across the 4th Street bridge over to Riverside Park where they packed three weeks of provisions into their hulls and said happy goodbyes.



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They slipped into the blue Juniata, and I waved at them and called a farewell as I crossed the bridge and waited for the train to pass, screaming and unfocused, so close to the tracks.




Following their departure I disappeared from view too, north and east rather than their south and east, and within a few hours I was drinking coffee again, this time with JQ and Momcat as we watched The Silence of the Lambs and waited until we could be with our family again, to sit all together and to hug and to laugh and celebrate our grand, spunky patriarch with his wise eyes and hand holds. My fellow trail gypsy pioneer woman sat next to me at dinner as we all traded stories, plotted, smiled as a table about eggnog and Captain America. I was so warmed to be with these people whose features I share.

After navigating the snaking, black roads that lead to our ancestral home, we arrived to find Sarah in the driveway, her orange sweater and rose smell and hugs abundant. Wine, John Prine, and the annual Easter rat decorating party followed, with Erin and Garrett beaming in their entries from New Mexico.

It is Easter now, we are together in as numerous a group as we can be this year, with our loved ones in deserts or rivers, interstates or hospital beds. I am thankful for all of you.




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100% Cats All Cats All the Time (On Rivers and Last Evenings)

Jake Route

Crudely drawn map to show you a route that may be loosely approximate to the one they will take.


I am sitting cross-legged on the floor of Rothrock as Jake consolidates three weeks of camping food (salted nuts, Ramen packets, dried fruit and the like) into gallon Ziploc bags, as he laminates his various maps and as we make a birthday phone call to his dear Padre prior to the great morning voyage that awaits.

In twelve hours Jake and Uncle Jeff will put onto the Juniata which will become the Susquehanna which will become the Chesapeake, and they will finally fulfill the trip of which there has been much dreaming– to paddle from the back door of Rothrock to the back door of his parents’ house, on the Bay. Walking in the cool train sounds river air tonight, Jake said he decided to do this trip before he even decided to go to Juniata, after examining a map of the waterways connecting his childhood home and the town that would eventually keep him.


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Please note: Cat

I will be brief for now because it grows late and we must rise early, before dawn, to eat eggs and say goodbye. But I will keep interested parties apprised of the travelers’ movements as they snake farther south towards the dog who smiles and the cat who stares.

Love to all.


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262 Miles and All the Air Between


It is a dense rain day here and the yard is turning green, slowly. Olive stares out the window at the empty birdfeeder and watches the creek slide by.

Often when unwillingly watching time escape I think in 24-hour sets– where I will be when the sun and moon have cycled and I am in the same part of a different day. 24 hours ago Sarah’s Sarah-It-Works slow light and bird clock brought her room into focus and the six of us bunked in there– on the bed, along the bed, at the foot of the bed, and the dogs wedged in between people heard her from the kitchen rifling through dishes, the whirr of the coffee grinder, the kettle screaming until she appeared with an enormous tray of cups of different shapes and sizes brimming with coffee and we all sat up in our pajamas and spoke and laughed and peered at each other from over blankets.


















I have a difficult time readjusting after weekends like this one. I am afflicted with a big-time buddy hangover.

It is strange, because though each of my visits to New York are poignant, I am increasingly reminded of why I am not suited to live there, and the longer I stay in Huntingdon it just continues to speak to me, give to me. But oh, oh do I miss all the ones we left there when we drove away last May. And that place still holds something for me.

We slid out of Manhattan when the sun glinted against all the windows in SoHo, telling stories of another time we drove this way. Traffic started and stopped, the tangled street ahead of us dotted with red. And then we drove under water and were gone and as we crossed through New Jersey and into Pennsylvania the sky smeared with pastels and increasingly the air smelled of woodsmoke and river. On the side of Rt. 22 between Mount Union and Huntingdon our car’s dim headlights caught a man in orange walking on the shoulder, pushing a wheelchair with a dead deer draped across it. After leaving Helena at the shop and Jake with his motorcycle, I drove home through the fields with the windows down to hear the peepers peeping, our town’s only radio station singing old songs back in response.

From the front porch I could hear Olive yowling, welcoming us home.

Here are some cats from just some of those people.


Andrew WK, complete with kitten companion.




from BLUM

Sent in anticipation of this very visit.




from SARAH




The one, the only… Scooter. A “tangential associate” of Mike Shea.






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Okay With Myself (and full of eggs)

Maybe it’s just my lung re-inflating, but I have been feeling curiously contented lately.

The snow is melting from our soggy yard and through the big glass doors to my left the creek is running high, green, spring thaw. To my right there is a couch with an enormous orange and brown afghan, purchased in 2007 by Roy and I, $5 each, and on top of this afghan is a sleeping cat, three legs, tiger-shrimp stripes rising and falling. Behind me is a wall of books and through that wall of books there is a bed with a sleeping companion under blankets filled with feathers, lazy yawning, off day. In front of me is a picture of this same companion, younger, hugging a different tiger shrimp cat and above this picture is a constellation of others– Dog Dungeons and New Mexico lightning and Dick & Jane pages and blurry pinhole Polaroids and a Portrait of Roy as a Young Man.

I am sipping coffee, bathed in grey light. The world outside our windows has changed so much in just one year’s time.

Yesterday, sifting through shoeboxes I’ve kept beneath my childhood bed, I read old letters and was reminded of how grateful I am for each person I know, for my brother whose child-scrawl wrote to me from the orthodontist’s office, for my sister who marked up polka-dotted cards with inside jokes and chit-chat, for my parents who wrote to me wisely, empathetically, each in their own distinctive handwriting while I was first away at college. Notes to accompany the Great Babci sweater or to flesh out Bright Eyes lyrics (from Techno) or in handmade envelopes (from Mufasa) or sealed with yellow duct-tape (from Sniffer) or scrawled on restaurant checks (from Pop), little drawings of birds from Dave, jokes in Matt’s ball point pen and blunt business envelopes, a postcard of a streetcar from Aunt JoAnn, a hunk of Uncle Willard’s hair, pictures of Rachel from Uncle Mike, newspaper cut-outs from Gerri and Julia’s familiar, careful handwriting. Birthday cards from Grandma and Grandpa, Babci and Dziadzi, and their strings of exes and ohs.

I was reminded of the John Prine song–reading these old love letters did bring me tears, and I know I am so squashy but thank you, all of you, for your words and companionship are at the center of what I care about.

Some cats from and about some of these folks.

from ME 

Ken, from his most recent visit, reading Auntie Lauri’s book.




from ERIN

Scenes from New Orleans. Rachel vs. Lobster





Visiting a kitten.




from JONO

This is where the kittens be.




from JQ

Found object.


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I am returned to my family for a period of twenty-five hours, for parade lunches and the second-to-last row at the movie theater and raw oysters and belated birthday pies for deserving fathers.

There is something so nice about sitting awhile with the majority of one’s immediate family, sipping wine and listening to 700 Hobo Names while others peer at maps, read DIY kefir packets, play ancient versions of some Pokemon video game. We are missing Erin, of course, and whichever form her idleness might take.

Tomorrow there will be another drive, ice wind will blow the car from one end of the state into its center, but for tonight we are slugging in the manner best accomplished by those who are Quinns.


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At Dawn, Before Ken

The snow in the yard is blue still, the sky tinged with pinks and orange and for now I am drinking coffee, watching the cat hunkered down on the rug. The both of us will be glad when spring comes; we are waiting for the thaw.

Our days have been filled lately– leafy courtyards and champagne, dark cabins and woodfire, music blaring, a couch strapped to the roof, laughing along the road illuminated by headlights, a grinning smiley alligator-dog houseguest spooning with Olive on the couch, Uncle Roy sleeping in the spare room and giving blue flowers and licorice allsorts to a new baby and his brave mother, driving up on Mondays to watch an old baby play Shaq-Fu with his father, pots brimming with popcorn and x-rays and construction paper confetti.

In the last month we have: welcomed (1) new baby to the friend-family, taken in (1) Roy and (1) enormous dog, found (1) enormous dog a home, been approved to set up (1) educational/community darkroom, been stricken by (2-3) bizarre afflictions, have prepared to throw (1) raging party. Also, I learned how to make sourdough bread. And Ken comes tonight. And it is Erik’s birthday.

Here are some pictures about cats.



Cats in a weaving shop in New Orleans!

Cats in a weaving shop in New Orleans!

This cat's got style.

This cat’s got style.

Rachel, the feline resident of the grand, grand house on St. Charles Avenue.

Rachel, the feline resident of the grand, grand house on St. Charles Avenue.

For a few days in February we didn't wear sweaters.

For a few days in February we didn’t wear sweaters.



Marie Catoinette and friends Annie Chokely, Sargent Pepperspray and Aunt JoAnn with a crab hidden on her person all ready to go to the ball-- Where the Vile Things Are.

Marie Catoinette and friends Annie Chokely, Sargent Pepperspray and Aunt JoAnn with a crab hidden on her person all ready to go to the ball– Where the Vile Things Are.

Thrilled to have lost my head.

Thrilled to have lost my head.

We met some people.

We met some people.

Rachel on the morning of the bourbon sipping/cigar smoking/shoe decorating/all day mimosa brunch.

Rachel on the morning of the bourbon sipping/cigar smoking/shoe decorating/all day mimosa brunch.

Gato in the Garden District

Gato in the Garden District


One fifth grader's shapes collage! Aghhhhh

One fifth grader’s shapes collage! Aghhhhh

Louie came to live with us, for a little while.

Louie came to live with us, for a little while.

Louie goes to his new home and immediately, inadvertently, trees the cat.

Louie goes to his new home and immediately, inadvertently, trees the cat.

Sadie: not sure for that.

Sadie: not sure for that.

My SAW would say, “be well”.

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Nawlinz Valentines


Good morning from New Orleans, where the washing machine whirrs and smoky jazz creaks out of the kitchen radio and the same music emits from the backyard, green leaves tossing, generous sun, cool breeze.

The walls of this house are painted in various jewel tones (each room called by its color, not its purpose as their purposes shuffle frequently) and these ones are a rich blue, very high and covered in local art, trinkets from parades past, children’s drawings.

It is a wonderful place to return to, and this year Auntie Jo and Willard and David and Ingrid and Franco are my Valentines.

Rachel too.



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