Kramer and I have been together for many years...ever since I moved to the Old Ranch. He used to get up with me every morning and accompany me as I fed the horses and the dogs and Ashes--the mean old billy goat.
Kramer is the coolest cat in the world and everyone who has met him has said so.
John Carpenter, the man who owns the house that I live in, here in Montclair, is alergic to cats but he likes kramer so much that he’ll stop to pet him for a while and then shower.
Kramer talks to me all the time even though I already know what he’s gonna say. I’ll talk right back at him too, even though he knows what I’m gonna say.
During one of the early days in Montclair after I had moved with Kramer from the Ranch, I was approached by a neighbor from across the street. He saw Kramer sitting, attentively, in front of me as I was practicing some six-string on the porch. He asked “Is that your cat?” When I replyed in the affimative he smiled broadly and said “Man, that cat is the coolest cat in the world...He comes over to my house, walks in through the back slider and hangs out with my dog and me--we all just chill.”
He's that magical friend of yours who creates from thin air: a language, a culture, a whole new reality--right in front of you. I had to smile all over again but I couldn't have been less surprised. I stopped being surprised by anything that Kramer did a long time ago when I finally realized...
Kramer can do anything.
Kramer burst onto the neighborhood scene and into about seven different nearby households. He made friends fast in the new neighborhood. He only got fatter faster...really, really fat--city cat.
After only a month, John Carpenter told me that it was just recently had he met several of his longtime neighbors; for the first time in all the years that he had lived here, there was now a real sense of community. And who, according to Mr. Carpenter, was responsible for this new sense of community? ??
I had been living in Montclair for nearly half a year when I learned that the elderly wowan next door was dying. It had been a long slow illness and all concerned, except perhaps the sick woman, seemed relieved that the long ordeal might be ending soon. Weeks later, I learned that the woman had indeed passed on. Again, while sitting out playing music with Kramer in his usual spot, next to Pokey the plastic horse, I noticed an elderly woman slowly making her way down the road on the side of the house where I live. I watched her look up briefly as she passed, her eyes lighting up at the notice of Kramer. She stopped and asked me “Is Kramer your cat?” Hearing the usual, she said “Your cat is the coolest cat that I have ever met in my entire life...he offered Mrs. Smith great confort in her final hours”
So not only do I credit Kramer with saving my life on the Ranch but he is apparantly also seeing people to the door now too.
When I had first decided that I would take Kramer to the City, Gil wasnt't too pleased with that idea. He told me about a personal experience, presenting it as a fable of great wisdom.
Gil told me about a coffee cup he'd once had. It was a beautiful ranch mug depicting some strong horses, healthy landscapes and Bee--Looooooo sky. Gil still said that that cup was the best ever...by far. "Rowdy" he'd say "...somhow I lost that cup in the shuffle but one day I saw it again on the desk of a friendly woman who loved the cup as much as I did...its beauty was so obvious" he added with the pride of some past owner of precious jewelry. "I could see it in her eyes that she would be wounded by its loss but insisted on it being returned to my hand".
"You know, Rowdy, somtimes its better to leave well enough alone when it comes to things that you care about...just leave it be." Gil laid it on thick as he continued, "I took that cup from where it had been--safe for years--and put it in my truck and went home." Oh, he was in rare form. "When I got home I grabbed the towel that the cup was wrapped in and watched the mug spin to the ground shattering into pieces, splinters and chunks."
The truth is: The city is no place for a ranch cat. And even the greatest efforts to find a low-flow traffic area couldn’t keep Kramer out from under a passing car. He mashed up his foot pretty good but that’s what happens when the road looks more like a comfortable warm spot than anything else. After Kramer got hit I came to know from all the talk of visiting neighbors and well-wishers that Kramer would routinely lay out in the road and not move for anything-unless perhaps it looked even warmer and more confortable than the road he was on. The drivers would stop, get out of their car. pick Kramer up, and place him on the side of the road...and then they would do it again on their way home.
So its back to the ranch for Kramer. He almost died out here too when he presumably bit off more critter than he could chew. He made it up the tree to the porch but then collapsed from loss of blood. He barely pulled through that one-thats for sure. I guess the bottom line in my decision to return him to the ranch is that Kramer is going to have enemies everywhere he goes. At least on the ranch he’ll be able to recognize them. Or as Gil puts it: “If he dies here, he’ll die proud...with his claws on”.
So here we are in Davis. I attended and graduated UC Davis not too long ago. Mac and I spent the night at the second of two ranches that I lived and worked in during my UC days. Back then, from around 1991 to 1994, I’d lived in 1963 Ford Falcon Van for two years before hearing about a ditch diggin’ job at some ranch. I took the job immediately and eventually it turned into a live-in ranch workin’ deal. I’ve already mentioned the Owner of the Ranch, Gil York. He paid me to feed his horses, dogs, cats and single Billy Goat-Ashes and liked to call me Rowdy...Rowdy Yates. I lived in one of two 100-year-old adobe two-room worker’s quarters. For a while, my brother, James, lived with me and one day while I was at school he hooked up an old black and white TV to see what he could get. It was very strange but the old box only got only one channel. It all came through crystal clear but everythign was old--all black and white.
The old shows like Leave it to Beaver, The Andy Griffith Show and Howdy Doody probably made the old TV feel young again. But our favorite show was Raw Hide and I must confess after I finished taking care of the animals in the morning, I was right there with my brother in front of the Boob Tube waiting to here the familier Raw Hide theme song. We thought it strange that it only could get one Channel of all old shows--a channel, incidently, we could not get on any other television in Davis. But we counted our blessings that we seemed to be the only people in town that could enjoy watching Raw Hide while eating breakfast. We called it Ranch TV.
Yep, the Ranch was a pretty cool place to live and like I said, I’ve never seen a ghost. The closest that I've come to any sort of chilling introductions to that world occurred in that ancient structure; that hundred-year-old servant's quarters where I lived.
One night while standing outside in the long blonde grass of the Davis Sun-fed plains, my brother Jim, my friend Mike Waterman and myself suddenly touched a synchronous chill so incapacitating that we barely laughed our ways back, without consciousness, into the four-walled security of my adobe abode.
We’d been wondering about all the people who, like me, had through the years somehow found themselves living on this ranch. I remember quipping "well..if walls could talk, they wouldn’t be talking about us." we all agreed to that but then started thinking about what the walls might find more interesting......like who died here.
That was it. That’s when the chill came through us collectively. It came down hard. All of a sudden, I felt my blood turn to chilled cherry ice. Looking at the others it wasn’t hard to guess that they felt it too. What had been an animated and upbeat conversation, just a few seconds ago, turned into an unbearable silence. Without discussion we languidly retreated indoors.
It sure felt like a ghost to me.
Well, Mac is flying up route 50 out of Sacramento heading towards Placerville. Placerville, after the discovery of the "Mother Load" became the most important trade center in the region during the Gold Rush. Of course, back then it was called "Hangtown"-you figure it out.
We’ll be traveling from Hangtown south through the heart of one of the richest vains of gold during the rush on Route 49. Diamond Springs, El Dorado, Plymouth, and Mokelumne Hill will be just a few of the towns we’ll be passing through. What all of these town have in common is this: Its been all downhill for them since the Gold Rush ended.
Didn’t find to much in the way of leftover structures on Route 49 but what I did find appears here:
Heading into Santa Barbara, tomorrow, to see the Summer Solstice parade tomorrow and perhaps run into some old friends. I lived there for about seven years while attending City College. If I am going to find ghosts this might just be the place.
‘Till then this is Jon Pedestrian.....tripping in reverse...signing off......peace.