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The Observer and Longcat 

Spring beauties in the yard. Purple martins in the sky. Mayapples up, covering hillsides. Fiddlehead ferns unfolding. Ticks. No turning back now.


The Observer has seen him twice now as we turn off Markham onto Maple Street, only a few scant blocks from The Observatory: a cat with wee little legs. He looks just like a normal cat — black and brown fur, marbled like ... well ... marble, regular length body, regular length tail, regular size head — but with these stubby little legs. If it had been dark, we would have sworn it was a dachshund dog, but this was in broad daylight. Put away your butterfly nets. We know what we saw. Scurrying along on those stumpy little legs, the cat crossed the street in front of The Mobile Observatory on a fine March afternoon and zipped (without even stooping) under a nearby car.

What would you call that kitty, anyway? Weeniecat? Lowcat? We don't know, but we know we want to know more; would have jumped out, lain on our face by his/her hiding car and taken a closer look had we not been afraid the folks who got so up in arms about the Stifft Station Catnapper awhile back would come after us with torches and pitchforks.

Both times we've seen Lowcat, we've burst into The Observatory and breathlessly told Spouse about our sighting. We don't think she quite believes us, possibly suspecting we've been taken with a bout of Spring Fever, or maybe something purchased in a paper sack down at the liquor store. She always smiles, giving us the pity-nod when we expound on the fact that Lowcat would make quite a pair with our current feline, Mister Kitty — the round mound of sound — who started out a regular-sized, mostly-black kitty cat from the Pulaski County Humane Society, but who eventually grew to a whopping 26-pounder who hangs off both ends of the ottoman while snoozing.

Anyway, The Observer is here to say: Rock on, Weeniecat. You're an inspiration to us all, and you don't seem to be letting your short little legs slow you down. If only The Observer could say the same for our own self.


The Observer wanted a motorcycle early in life, but our dear old Pa — God bless him — talked us out of it by relating tales of Harley-riding horror from his youth, with bruised noggins, busted bones and road rash galore. By the time we got old enough to legally own and ride a two-wheeler on the street, we were content to stay planted on four wheels, thanks. Takes too much thinking to stay safe on a motorcycle, we think. That's especially dangerous for The Observer, who is prone to zoning out and getting some of our best contemplatin' done while driving. Regular tales of bi-wheel carnage in the newspaper always catch our eye, and lead us to believe that we've made the right choice so far to disregard those snazzy commercials that make riding a motorcycle seem like the best thing since sliced bread — equal parts testosterone, Brut cologne and gasoline.

We got yet another lesson on why we never need to ride anything with two wheels that isn't pedal-powered the other day. Walking to the freebie parking lot down by the freeway on a fine, spring afternoon, we were crossing River Market Boulevard at Third Street when we heard the familiar putt-putt-putt of a motor scooter. We looked up and saw a fella approaching the stop sign: a 40-something in business attire, astride a blue scooter, crowned with a white cue-ball helmet with full face shield. The helmet didn't do anything for his sense of style, we thought, but we sure were glad he had it a few moments later. Still in the crosswalk, we were looking out toward the field of cars under the bridge, searching for the white lump of the Mobile Observatory, when we heard the screech of tires and then an awful thud and crackle. We turned, and saw the scooterist lying in the street 20 feet away. His machine lay nearby, having apparently bucked him off after hitting the slick streetcar track. We headed for the accident scene as quick as we could, which for us is slightly faster than mosey.

Though we feared the worst, the gentleman quickly righted himself without help and then did the same for his cycle. He re-fired the beast, and — to our relief — was quickly on the road again, muttering something about "dangerous" as he passed.

Be careful out there, two-wheelers. Gravity is everywhere, and the world is full of slick spots waiting to take you down. The same goes for the rest of you as well.

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