Go Ask Daddy About Dendrologics, Cool Ballers and Bikes vs. Cars

stormtrooper forest tree
Off the beaten path at Squirrel Lake Park disc golf course.

This week we say goodbye to our last kitty.

GAD GRAPHICBrownie, the runt of the bunch, survived two brothers and a sister. Leo, then Babyface and Cubbie preceded her over the bridge, as they say. Brownie beat them all by several furlongs, but suffered from diabetes and got increasingly weaker in the past few days.

The toughest decision is the one to make the call.

Brownie was one of four kittens I found while driving home from work nearly 14 years ago. They sat lined up on the sidewalk. I walked toward them and they ran away. I walked back to my car, and they came back to me, crying.

our cats
Clockwise from the top: Leo, Cubbie, Brownie, Babyface.

I could hear owls in the trees, and figured a big enough one could make a four-pack of snacks out of these kittens if I didn’t get them home.

They came home, and stayed. Pets teach our kids so much about responsibility and loyalty. They also teach lessons about mortality and saying goodbye. Brownie also reinforced in me the power behind a strong will and perseverance, right to the end.

We’ll miss you, Brown Brown.

1. Have you heard of hawthorn tree?

No. And I suppose the answer could end there.

That’s not what we’re all about in this post, though. Isn’t Hawthorn Tree that U2 album? Heck, no, that’s Joshua Tree. Hawthorne’s Pizza also isn’t a tree, but we have destroyed a large cheese there once or twice, am I right?

What’s not to like about a hawthorn tree? (Even if it has nothing to do with pizza.)

They grow pink and white flowers. Songbirds hang out in them because they also have delicious berries. (So it’s like a nice restaurant.) Winter King or Washington varieties of hawthorn trees are less prone to diseases common to the variety.

I’ll see if Trees Charlotte has Hawthorns next time. Twice a year, this organization gives as many as two free trees to Charlotte residents in an effort to plant half a million by 2050. We’ve gotten four gorgeous trees so far, and I wish we had more room!

Learn about Trees Charlotte here.

See a hawthorn tree here.

photo credit: Erik Daniel Drost via photopin cc

2. Both feet have to be in for it to count as a catch in football?

In the pros, yes. (Unless you’re Santonio Holmes in the Super Bowl. Then one will suffice. We’re not still bitter about that, though, right Hayden? She’s the resident Cardinals fan.) In high school and college, you need just one foot in bounds for a catch.

In modern America, you’d think, with 17 camera angles, the mystery of feet-in feet-out would have gone the way of the dinosaur (and the Colts’ playoff hopes.) Normally, it is. The NFL’s catch-vs.-incomplete conundrum now revolves around 37 factors.

There’s actually a catch rule now, with sundry components. It shall be deemed a catch if a player:

secures control of the ball in his hands or arms prior to the ball touching the ground;
and touches the ground inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands;
and maintains control of the ball after (a) and (b) have been fulfilled, until he has clearly become a runner.

Commentators like to drone on about a receiver needing to perform a “football move” with the ball in order for it to be a catch. What actually is a football move? A Heisman pose? A stutter step? A pirouette and double salchow with jazz hands?

Maybe by the time there are 500,000 trees in Charlotte, we’ll have goal-line (and sideline) technology on players’ shoes to solve the catch debate.

3. What is the B for in World B. Free?

Man, kids – you would have loved the 70s/80s. Maybe not the short short basketball shorts and The Ropers spinoff of Three’s Company (or hell, maybe even Three’s Company.) But basketball was slick and personality laden and not so much in the diva light.

We had dudes like Pistol Pete Maravich and Dr. J, Daryl Dawkins and a superstar we called The Ice Man. Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld and Alex English … those were the days. Also, we had Lloyd B. Free, who came to be known as World B. Free.

Sounds like he should play for the Harlem Globetrotters. My man played well into the 80s, too, kind of a beacon to yesteryear as the association gained popularity. He was Cleveland Cavaliers basketball before LeBron was even born.

It might disappoint you that B stands for Bernard, but it shouldn’t. A friend on a Brooklyn playground called Lloyd “world,” because the cat could hit shots around the world. The name change was a technicality – Lloyd had been World since junior high.

Once, in Dallas, the PA announcer refused to call him World. He introduced him as Lloyd B. Free. Cavaliers officials reminded him that Lloyd had changed his name legally. I’m not calling this guy World, he insisted, and he didn’t. World refused to take the court.

Until he did, and then he was pissed. Every time he played the Mavericks, he went off.

4. Are there water snakes in Lake Wylie?

Little-known fact: North Carolinians get bit by snakes more than most other states.

They don’t tell you that when you move here. Lake Wylie stretches into both Carolinas, and yes, water snakes live there. Cottonmouths live in Lake Wylie, but they’re not the venomous kind. Still, if one chomped on me, I might forget that fact in the moment.

It’s not so much water snakes that you should worry about at Lake Wylie – it’s copperheads. They, like NASCAR drivers, like to live around Lake Wylie. They’re venomous. The snakes, not the NASCAR drivers.

I stepped on one once. It felt like a tree branch with loose bark. I don’t know why he didn’t bite me. This was in Colorado. There were probably rattlesnakes around, too. I wish copperheads had some sort of warning, too. Like a ringtone.

kids bike
photo credit: Alison Faith via photopin cc

5. If you hit a cyclist in your car, who gets in trouble in court?

Well, it depends on who is at fault – and if it goes to court at all.

Cyclists still must obey traffic rules. Motorists often forget to treat cyclists like motorists. Probably half of cyclist accidents happen in intersections, although the open road – with distracted drivers and impatient drivers – seems a pretty good peril, too.

Who is at fault in an accident? It depends on who has the right of way.

Even though a bike isn’t as much a physical threat to a car as a car is to a bike, cyclists can become liable. Cyclists should never ride against traffic, always with it. And motorists need to give a cyclist a wide berth if they pass them.

I always treat them as if they’re as big as a car.

Years ago, I had a couple of close calls with cars, and this was before everyone’s nose was attached to a smartphone. People passed me inches from my elbow. My bike riding days ended when my pedal broke just before I turned on a busy road.

I hung up the bike, and have been Eli B. Motorist ever since.

phillips quote bicycle

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  1. I’m so sorry to hear about Brownie. My sympathies.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Susan. The house is kinda quiet without Brownie!

  2. stomperdad says:

    Exactly… Bikers are just motorists without the motor (or human motored?). A lot of people treat them as pedestrians. NASCAR fans aren’t venomous but Little League parents can be (or *insert sport* parents for that matter). Wish there was a Hawthorn Pizza round here! Love the handing out of trees idea! The boys and I just planted 6 maple trees in the living room (in pots, not the floor).

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      The bikers don’t have airbags and seat belts, though! I don’t think I’ll ever ride again. Sports parents are all bite and no sting, mostly.

      You can even get Canadian bacon on your Hawthorn’s pizza, if you want. It might make you feel more comfortable, especially if you’re planting maple trees! (So typically Canadian, my friend!)

      1. stomperdad says:

        Nah.. most sports parents are more buzz than sting. No bite. Canadian bacon is just fancy ham. Sometimes not even fancy. Maple trees are big and shady and 100% Canadian 🙂

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        We like our maple cookies around here. And we still think the hockey name Maple Leafs is dumb. Almost as dumb as the Savannah Bananas. (That’s a team.)

      3. stomperdad says:

        Yeah… the name “Leafs” doesn’t make one intimidated. Savannah Bananas sounds fun to say! Also, there is Salisbury State University who just removed “State” from their name because everyone called it Salisbury Stake University. Sounds like a delicious Uni!

      4. Eli Pacheco says:

        There’s a team called the Modesto Nuts, I think. And there was the Macon Whoopie. Seriously, how is a ballplayer supposed to make time with the ladies when he has to try and impress her that he’s a crawdad, a sand gnat or a grasshopper? (Thosre are all in the South Atlantic League alone).

  3. ksbeth says:

    so sorry about your kitty, that is such a sad transition .

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thank you Beth – we miss her, but are grateful to have known her.

  4. Sorry about your cat. Losing pets is hard. My dogs are my babies.

    There are so many snakes in Colorado. I jump over them when I run because they like to sleep on sidewalks. I’ve almost been hit by a car twice while riding a bike. Once was on a dirt road in Florida. The other time was in the mountains.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Aj. It was a tough decision, but we had a lot of love to share with her. They really are our babies, aren’t they?

      Colorado does have its share of snakes, but apparently we here in Carolina are the lucky ones on the ends of their fangs!

      We saw a rattler in the mountains here that stretched nearly the width of a lane of traffic. We know this, because he got squished there.

      Did you ever jump over a snake riding your bike?

  5. Beth says:

    I’m so sorry about your kitty. Always hard to say goodbye to our pets when they go over the bridge. I loved these questions and answers as usual!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thank you, Beth. I’m glad we got to have her as long as we did. The girls have some great questions still in the hopper … stay tuned.

  6. So sorry about your kitty. Losing a pet is so difficult.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Sheri. It’s hard, but it’s so worth having a pet, isn’t it?

  7. Charlotte says:

    That quote at the end is hilarious. Who knew about N. Carolinians getting bitten by snakes so much?! No, thanks 🙂

    Awww, Eli…. ❤ I'm so sorry to hear about your kitty. But I'm so glad you rescued all four and that your kiddos had cats growing up. I think it's great for children to grow up with a pet. *HUGS*

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I wish I had thought of that quote when I was little, Charlotte. We’re a snake-bitten state, apparently. I’m still bite-free.

      Thanks about Brownie. How many feral cats get to spend a lifetime in luxury with their siblings?

      These cats taught my girls so much.

  8. Brownie – I’m sure you knew how lucky you were to have been a part of such an amazing family. They seem like some of the best to me, even though I’ve never met them. I’m sure you were loved in all the best possible, wonderful ways. I hope you are somewhere comfy and beautiful, lazing under a lovely and unique Hawthorn tree, one that not only has lovely blooms, but berries that taste like fish mixed in with a little catnip.

    Eli – These posts, so full of questions and answers, speak things that the untrained ear would not hear: wonder and curiosity and love and the amazing approach to life that reminds us we should never, ever stop questioning and learning and desiring for more. And even when our days get clouded over with sadness or darkness and sometimes knock the wind of our sails, I love that here you are, still seeking answers, and there your girls are, still yearning for more. They are part of your legacy, and it’s a wonderful one.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Once, I joked that I was going to cut all the hair off Brownie’s tail with scissors, and she scratched me! Apparently she knew English.

      Her go-to late in life was canned chicken. I made the mistake of buying Wal-mart brand once. Never again.

      Oh, these girls make a living of questioning and learning and desiring to know more, although they think they’re too cool to admit it.

      (That’s why I’ll never, ever run out of questions for these posts.)

      The questions and the answers keep us moving and thinking, about what’s “important” and what’s not.

      I love this legacy, tons and tons, Corey.

  9. Court says:

    There’s also a novel I think I had to read for school ca”ed Under the Hawthorne Tree and it’s supposed that Hawthorne trees have ties to the otherworld. I didn’t read the follow up ones, but the book wasn’t unlike the Homecoming series by Cynthia Voight.

    Sorry about your kitty. HUGS.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Woah, I need to check that book out. I wonder if the series includes poison oak.

      Thanks on the condolences, too.

  10. *tears* I am so sorry about Brownie. You are such a great dad. I feel privileged to read these posts. Thank you for sharing them.Hugs.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Annie, for Brownie and the kind words. I feel privileged to have you read my posts. Thank you for being here!

  11. Kim Munoz says:

    Im so sorry to hear about losing your kitty! They are called pets but they are family and saying goodbye hurts. Snakes hurt too! I can’t believe you stepped on a copperhead. OMG I would have died anyways. I have a love hate relationship with snakes. They fascinate me and I love taking photos of them, but they are also my biggest fear.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Kim! She was definitely family. I kind of feel bad for snakes, though. I will always wonder why that copperhead didn’t bite me.

      People want to snuff out a snake on sight!

  12. that’s heartbreaking about brownie. i’m so sorry. those cats were lucky to have found you.

    and i’d never heard of world b. free. thanks for posting that video. he was amazingly gifted. :]

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Jenn. She had a good life, and it got to the point that we didn’t want her to suffer. We’re definitely lucky to have had them all in our lives!

      World B. Free was All-World. Glad you liked the video! So much fun to watch that guy.

  13. akaleistar says:

    It’s always so hard to say goodbye to a pet.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Especially her, Ashley – she was the last of the bunch with us.

  14. mimi says:

    My condolences on the loss of Brownie.

    It would have been the bicyclist’s fault, but the dirty look he gave me as he almost hit me going the wrong way on a one way street told me he would never have agreed he was to blame.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Meems, on Brownie.

      He might not have been *around* to take the blame, and it would have been all his fault!

  15. 15andmeowing says:

    I am so sorry about Brownie, that is very sad. How kind of you to have saved the whole family and given them a good life.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Ellen. She has a great life, and added to ours, too.

  16. Joyce Lansky says:

    Sorry for your loss. Pets are part of the family.

  17. I’m sorry about your kitty.. 😦
    That quote at the end is so hilarious!!
    The bit about a “football move” … Ugh.. I think it’s probably Jon Gruden you must be referencing, right? If he’s not talking about the perfect grass or praising the Packers (and I’m a Packer fan), he’s making dumbsh** comments like “football move blah blah blah’….

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Katherine. And I’m glad you liked the quote! Sounds like perfect logic to me.

      Oh, Jon Gruden. There are many times I’d just like to hear the game without commentary. Give me a way to keep stats and draw my own conclusions (and not make up words that aren’t part of the English language, such as “homered” and “birdied.”)

      Blah blah blah indeed.

      1. When I was growing up (mostly in Green Bay), my dad would mute the Packer games on TV and turn on the radio commentary – which was always much better!!!

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Good idea – although I’ve known the radio guys to be ultimate homers, which can go either way!

  18. Laura says:

    So sorry about Brownie. Loving and losing pets is one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn to handle, especially in front of my kids.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Laura. She and her siblings have taught my girls so much.

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