Obituary for my Dad

I dunno what they are doing in Knoxville, but I thought I’d make my own obit with some photos to stand as a permanent post for my father, Richard Andrew Pratt.

Since there will be no services for him, I felt I should make sure that there was something coherent written about him that google would find if someone searched.

The obituary and a small slide show of photos is permanently located on his page here.

Meet Romeo!

It’s been an interesting month here at the Weasel Lair. Losing Rhonda was shocking and sucked, but as with most things, where there is suck, there will soon be celebration. I believe the Universe strives for balance.

After losing Rhonda, we came back here and I started poking around to see what few stick shift vehicles I could find. The dude in Charlotte was on vacay the week after we got back, so I casually looked around the intertubes while I waited for his return.

I found a few cars; some Honda SIs, some Mazda SPEED 3s. I’d lined up a Mazda and a Honda to go look at over the weekend, but I was still counting on the Hendrick Buyer in CLT to find me the perfect ride.

I had the Mazda lined up first because it was closer, then had the urge to see the Honda instead. So I rescheduled the Mazda and we drove down to Bellamy Strickland Chevy in McDonough (about 45 mins to an hour away) on Saturday July 1. I was looking at a blue 2012 Civic SI with 62k miles on it for $12999 (asking price). Exactly my criteria.

The pretty sales woman takes us to the SI on their lot and I start it up. The noise about knocked me out of the seat! I looked at the sales woman and asked “Why didn’t you tell me this car was modded??!!” She had no idea. I asked her if she’d ever BEEN in a Honda before?? My heart sank, since where there is one mod, there are usually several more. Nonetheless, we took the car out for a spin and it was FUN FUN FUN. Very fast, very loud and very Honda in the overall feel of the car. I am VERY partial to Honda clutches and transmissions, I’ll tell you. Say what you want about Honda being an average ride, but I’d be happy to blow the doors off your compact car any day. ;)

We got back to the dealership and tell them that the deal goes no further until I have my mechanic check out the car for other modifications and such. They said, OK, here are the keys!! I was puzzled and said “What?” They said, “Go ahead! You can take it home and have your mechanic look it over on Monday, or if they are not there (July 4 holiday), you can keep it until Wednesday, no problem!” I could NOT believe it. I signed ONE SHEET of paper and drove off with the car. !!

The drive back to Tucker took about an hour, so I got to be up close and personal with the car in traffic. The lack of muffler was DEAFENING. But I will admit, being in Ricer Mode was growing on me! The car was a pleasure to drive despite the racket. I thought that there was a modded intake since it had SO MUCH power and I noticed the suspension was tight – we’d seen the red springs, so we knew something was up.

I parked the car, but I already knew his name: Romeo. He was working hard to convince me that HE was the one! LOL

Meet Romeo!

Monday rolled around and the mechanic was open, so I took Romeo down. He had no muffler and the suspension had been replaced by Skunk2 springs, but the intake was stock. I was surprised that the car was that zippy STOCK. It does have a 2.4L engine, but DANG. It will blow your hair back! To put him back to stock would cost me about $3500 (muffler and suspension), plus he needs his 60k maintenance which is another $400. The suspension doesn’t harm the car (other than kill the shocks, which are already dead), but it rides like a log wagon. You can’t really see the lowering visually, but you can FEEL it. I got all the paperwork and we prepared to go negotiate on Wednesday. The repairs were my bargaining chip with the dealership.

Wednesday came and we headed South to Bellamy Strickland. I’d still not heard anything back from the dude in CLT, so I was prepared to make an offer on this car. It’s a goddam unicorn and I’d be damned if I was going to miss this opportunity. We sit down with the used car manager and I present him with the cost of putting the car back to stock and therefore raising its value back to what it should be. By my research, the mods take it from being a $13-14k car to a $10-12k car. At first, the manager was like NOPE, I’ll just wholesale it. But I said “OR you can sell it to me!” He went and priced out the car (to get what he had in it) and when he brought me those numbers, I saw that he’d put brand new tires on the car, as well as done full brake job and turned the front rotors. THESE things made the deal for me. He said he’d need about $11,700 to break even and I said DONE. Even with the repairs needed for the car, I’ll be right in the range of its actual value ($14k). I wrote a check for $3115.50 to cover the $1700 down payment and the taxes. We got a loan for $10k at 2.89%, which is stellar for a used car. Our payment is only ~$176/mo and we can pay off at any time w/out penalty.

Hello, handsome!

I am VERY happy with the deal I got on Romeo. The car is clean as a pin and the mechanic said that it has been cared for – despite the Ricer mods. I got the muffler put back on immediately and I’ll do the suspension in a few months, once we’ve recovered financially from draining the savings account. I just have to be VERY careful driving him over rough bumps and avoid speed bumps until then. Don’t want to mess up the shiny new $500 muffler!! Romeo has SIX gears, so it’s been fun learning to drive him. I don’t have the muscle memory yet, so I’m often wondering which gear I’m in! I’ve not hit 4th rather than 6th any more, tho, which is good. I’ll also share something with you: I kinda LIKED the Ricer sound. It was annoying at certain RPMs, but it was fun to have a loud ass car. I can see why the kids do it. :)

I sent an email to the CLT dude, explaining that I’d called him several times Monday and Wednesday and I had to make a decision, so I did. He has not responded, so I assume he’s butthurt that I’d buy locally rather than drive back to CLT. I would have totally driven to CLT had he been able to get me a deal like this one. The stuff he’d had for me had been a Scion and a Mazda 3. No Hondas. And they’d been $14k+. I don’t feel bad about taking the GIFT that the Universe handed me, but I am disappointed that the guy didn’t even bother to respond. Meh. He DID finally respond and was lovely about the whole thing. :)

I love my new ride, Romeo, and I think we’ll have a long time together. We’ve established that I keep cars FOREVER. Which is why I get attached. Long live Romeo! Welcome to the family!

RIP Rhonda Honda 1994-2017

I met my little red Honda in 1995. A bubble headed blonde girl in Knoxville was selling her because her husband had two cars and hers was an extra and had the largest payment. The Honda had about 20k miles on her, if I recall. I paid about $11k for her, which was below loan value. The girl was mad that she had to sell the car, so she sold it for literally what was left of her loan. It was a good deal. I got 22 years of service out of that car, so yeah, it was a VERY good deal.

That was back in the olden days before cameras in phones, so I don’t have any baby pix of Rhonda. The only ones I could dig up were these shots, taken right after her repairs and paint job about 10 years ago:

She was a beauty!

The last few years had been fraught with repairs. Last year I sunk about $2k into her with new parts and a new tranny/clutch. It seemed like a good idea at the time… I knew I should’ve sold her right after I got her repaired, but I let my laziness and attachment get the best of me. That, and I was distracted with the VSG surgery.

So, last week, we attended Heroes Con in Charlotte NC and took the Honda. I knew I should’ve taken her in for a once over and oil change, but decided to take her without that. Bad move.

After the con, we were checking out of the hotel and she was acting strangely. She’d start, then die. I called AAA and had her taken to the nearest Honda store: Hendrick Honda.

We sat there all day while they worked on her. They found some issues that I assume were left over from the big service I had done last year and fixed them. They replaced the master circuit and said she was good to go. It was 4:30pm, drive time, but we got in the car and took off for home. Less than 10 minutes later, in 70mph traffic, the car just turns off, which is what it had been doing originally. Fortunately, there was a hole in traffic and I got her to the end of the merge lane against the guard rail. Apparently, people in CLT drive in this lane.

A couple of minutes later, an Estes truck sideswipes my drivers side mirror. The wheels were literally about four inches from my face and the whole car was rocking. I’ve never been so scared! I’m screaming and freaking out and the truck just keeps going. Fucker. I try the car again and it starts, so I move up and over to the shoulder. Apparently people in CLT drive on the shoulder, too, as I was almost sideswiped again. The car was still running, so I pulled up and over into the grass. The Hendrick tow truck guy was busy, so I again called AAA. But this time they were total DICKS to me and I had to pay $45 for the goddam tow. We had to wait about an hour and a half for the truck to get to us, but the car was idling fine, so we had A/C at least.

We drop the car back at Hendrick and head back to the Hampton Inn. Shout out to our AAA driver who shlepped us over to Hampton – ssshhh, it’s a secret! Shout out to Andrew at Hampton Inn for handling the room booking and cashing in my points to pay for it. He took care of everything and that helped us out immensely. And another shout out to whomever at Hampton comped our dinner that night. We just now (3 wks later) saw that the receipt was comped. THAT, my friends, is SERVICE. They did not have to do that, but they did and didn’t even say anything about it. WE LOVE YOU HAMPTON INN CLT UPTOWN!!!

Next day (Tuesday) we get the Hendrick shuttle to come get us and we sit in the dealership all day. They tried several parts and worked heroically to save Rhonda. They could not. We thought we had it for a minute, but I knew that we couldn’t trust the car to get us back, so I had a rental lined up. We entertained the idea of shipping her back since it was only $250 for a running car, but then she refused to start up. Now the shipping was $450. I talked to my mechanics here and we went over some things it could be, and it boiled down to this: it would cost me about a grand to find out what’s wrong… IF the things we tried worked.

So. No. I had to let her go. It was just like a movie: pouring rain, me crying my eyes out, my poor little Honda sitting there w/out her stickers and tag. Tragic.

Last look. Sob.

The people at Hendrick Honda in CLT are the most amazing bunch I’ve ever seen. They worked for TWO DAYS on my car and would not let me pay for labour. They reimbursed me for the $45 tow. They even took all the parts back. My tab was something like $150. Since the car was 22 years old, the top dollar they could pay for the car was $500. But since she wouldn’t start, the actual offer was $250. BUT the used car buyer (Dorian!) gave me the $500 anyway. They didn’t have to do any of this stuff. But they did. THAT is what I call customer service. The used car buyer is also shopping the auctions for me, since what I want (a stick shift) is very VERY hard to find. He did not have to do that, either. I’m pretty sure I’ll be buying my car in CLT. Unless he just cannot find a thing, I plan to drive up there and buy from that store. They have earned a customer. [I found my unicorn here in ATL. I apologized to Dorian in CLT, but he was a prince about it. <3 ] I hope my Rhonda gets bought by someone who will get her fixed and maybe make her a little street racer. She did start right up for me when I went to remove her stickers, which infuriated me and broke my heart at the same time. She'd not started up for anyone all day. I'm not sure if that was her flipping me off, or if it was her telling me that it was OK and she'd find a new home. I'm ok with either. So for the first time since I'm 15 years old, I do not have a car. It's strange. I do not look forward to being $12-14k in debt, but that's what it's going to take. Cars are too fucking pricey now. I am grateful for all the help I'm getting looking for a car and for Rob letting me borrow his Subaru while I'm carless. It'll all work out. But it's been a very stressful and heartbreaking week. I hope my car fu will work for ME and I'll find a good deal on an SI or Mazda 3. But right this minute, I'm exhausted and spent. I don't even feel like car shopping, which I normally enjoy. The experience was just like losing a pet. I felt like I'd been sitting in hospital for two days while they tried to save her. Horrible. But it will all work out. The Universe is telling me to get the fuck over it and MOVE ON. So I am. Sigh.

Once again, life goes on…

I got Missy’s ashes back yesterday. I put her in the pretty purple urn I found on ebay. I put her collar on top, like I do for all of my cats. Below is a shot of the memorial shelf with paw impressions on the left, then DJ in green, Missy in purple and Dickens in black – with their collars on top. There’s also one of Bernadette’s collars (the purple one), since she disappeared. I’ve got Hobbes’ paw print in with the others on the left. (Hobbes was Andy’s cat who went to CA with him, but Andy gave me the paw print to keep.) Hobbes’ pic is on the left, the other grey stripey on the right is Dickens.

Memorial Shelf
Memorial Shelf

So, Missy has been laid to rest. I only cried a little at bed time. I think I’ve cried it all out for now. But she is still the first thing I miss in the morning and the last thing I think about at night. Sigh.

Life goes on. We drank wine and plotted our next moves with Player One last night. You just gotta keep moving forward. It’s not easy. But you’ve got no choice, really. Sigh.

Missy Kat: Dec 2003 – Aug 10, 2016

Today, we say goodbye to our old girl, Missy Kat. She has been on a steep decline in the last month and today she can’t even get up, so our vet is coming here is meeting us at the clinic to put her out of her misery this afternoon. She was unconscious all day, and the vet wanted $250 for a home visit, so we opted to take her in, which was still $125. I consider that VERY pricey and a little rude, actually. I had a big cry last night and I’m sure I’ll cry more today. It is going to be a long day. We said goodbye at around 3:30pm then took her to Deceased Pet Care after. The cremation service is $185 plus $45 for a terra cotta paw print. I cried all day.

Missy at Maplehurst 09

Missy showed up at my door when we lived on Derrydown, back in 2003. She showed up in the early fall and would come in and out with the herd o’ cow cats that were in the neighborhood at the time. I would leave the back door open and the neighborhood cats would come and go. One day, this little cow cat with a heart shape on her nose came in. She was very friendly and made herself at home. She was already spayed and in good health, so we have always assumed that she was an old lady’s cat and was abandoned when the old lady died. Of course, they always say that a cat is “around two” when you find them, but my vet and I think that Missy was more like 5 when I got her. If you do the math, that makes her around 18 years old, which tracks with her overall health. She’s been an old lady for several years now, since before we left Maplehurst in 2014. She has not hunted or been interested in going out since we’ve been here and she has been mostly deaf for over a year. So, she is VERY old for sure.

Missy stayed around the apartment and when it got colder, I’d let her in. One day she joined me for a nap, put her head on my elbow, and that was it. When we bought the house on Maplehurst in Dec 2003 and moved in Jan 2004, we took her with us along with Dickens (who died in Feb 04), DJ (May 2014) and Bernadette (MIA 2009). They were all so freaked out by the move that they actually SHARED the bed for a few weeks! It was a tight squeeze at night.

Dickens, DJ, Bernie and Missy 04

All my cats from this era are now gone. Time marches on. Sigh. I really didn’t want to have any pets after Missy, but Shasti turned up and, well, I still have a cat. She sort of came with this house. The neighbor told me that she’d been around for about six months when we moved in (Jun 14) and she is so pretty, I started feeding her. She is what I call semi-feral, but she has taken to being a mostly indoor cat very well. She chooses to stay in most of the time and I’m confident that she was an indoor cat: she’s fixed, likes knitted products and loves toys. I think she’s about 3 years old at this point. Shasti is very sweet, but still skittish and hard to handle – she is a big cat. This one will never take to being moved – hell, I can’t even get her into a carrier. But life goes on and cat bound I shall be.

Missy always slept on my elbow or shoulder. I called her a Pirate cat since she would lay on my shoulder like a pirate’s parrot. She has always been “my” cat. She likes lap and has always cuddled with me during naps. Missy has always had lots of personality and has always bossed around the other cats. She is my first cow cat. Her fur is soft like a bunny’s. She has pretty eyes and that heart shaped nose that I just adore. (Sorry about the verb tenses being mixed. I’m not used to being without her yet.)

Missy Kat Closeup

Missy’s shenanigans with chipmunks in her prime even made it to Think Weasel! I like this one especially:

And YES she did bring a chipmunk in and put it in the bathtub. Good times! She brought them in quite a few times, in an effort to sharpen my non-existent hunting skills, no doubt.

She also had an obsession with water. She’d climb into the birdbath, lick puddles and especially loved getting into the bathtub after we showered. Silly thing!

I am heartbroken that my Missy is gone. She was a great cat and I’ll miss her for a long time. Why can’t someone make a cat that lives as long as we do? We know that their time with us is limited and we know the heartbreak that awaits, yet we have pets because of the joy they bring to us. I always question whether it’s worth it when they die, but overall, I have to say YES it is worth it. Pets are pure love and remind us that life is short, so live every day the best you can. RIP Missy Kat.