Stewart's Twelfth Log
Stewart's Twelfth and Final log, Australia to Madagascar, By, Stewart The Cat
(Editor's Note: I am sorry for the delay in compiling a log for Stew. He never did create a final web log per se, but had reams of writings scattered about Iwalani- scribblings and poems, letters and entries in his own log book; all written in the peculiar backwards style which has taken us humans awhile to decipher. His trip through the Indian Ocean was frought by a continuous battle against a disease that would eventually take his life. Much of his writing we are still trying to decipher and figure out. The Doc has always told people that some of her four legged patients were smarter than their owners. She never imagined that she would be including her own cat in this category. We have put together a small selection from some of Stewart's last writings that we hope readers will find interesting.)
I find it peculiar that the reality of "why I can" escapes the Doc and Phil. But, I suppose that is why they are unique to the human species. They question phenomena others would ignore, opt to ignore most mainstream contrivances other human's can't live without, and in short lead a rather contrarian lifestyle. When I first began communicating with them sometime ago in the year 1996, they took it completely for granted. The Doc at the time had several small mice she had bottle fed and hand reared. If they began singing arias, I don't think she would have been surprised. The Doc had always assumed it was possible to communicate with any other creature. Part of the reason for venturing on this trip, I surmised, was to keep me away from exploitation and the Internet.
We met a couple from NASA somewhere in the South Pacific who felt that money spent on CETI was ill spent, since humans have only now been cracking the language barrier that exists between them and all other species. How could they even hope to communicate with an alien species? Math could be a universal language- but there is one other that is still more widely used.
Three separate events occurred which allowed me to have markedly developed communication abilities. The first two- infections from two distinct protozoan species. Toxoplasmosis, which I acquired at birth from my mother, and sarcocystis, which I acquired from a raccoon the Doc was rehabilitating. These alone would not have done anything to promote the acquisition of rudimentary language skills, but for the additional development of a slow growing anterior pituitary mass (brain tumor), resulting in a condition called acromegaly. This too has escaped the Doc's detection. She is under the mistaken impression that all cases of acromegaly must have diabetes, which is not always true, as I best exemplify. These combinations of parasites and tumor have resulted in hormones, neural transmitters and an increased blood supply to an area of my brain, which is poorly developed in the feline species. A fine line exists between a parasitic and symbiotic relationship. I am benefiting from all three at the moment, but I also know that eventually one will be responsible for my untimely demise. I just have to ride the wave.
Waxing moon almost full-July
Have craving for milk. That is all I want to eat or drink. Makes me have diarrhea. Don't care. Before we left Coff's Harbor the hobbit came over to our boat. "Big feet. Hair on his toes" He even lives in a Hobbit boat. Tiny parallel hulls one must crawl through. Offered the Doc some corned beef to give me that was a bit "off". Doc told them I could not eat the extra salt. What are people thinking? If they won't eat it themselves-sure give it to the cat!
The Doc has been giving me a lot of baths. I quite enjoy them. Cold morning yesterday. Tried to find the Doc to get warm. Became stuck for four hours somewhere on the boat. Can't remember much more.
New moon August
Doc's birthday. She has figured out that my problems may be more than just an injection of Baytril. Good publicity while in Gove though. Hopefully Bayer won't sue us. The dose of antibiotic she gave me was too low to cause problems. They said blindness only comes from high doses. The Doc is giving some consideration to my coming out of the closet. She has decided that touting my abilities in a public forum could benefit Ben and Nathaniel. They will need money for college tuition. I told her I would go on television if she and Phil went with me. I can't imagine that we can make money. A blind cat writing a book? Don't people have more important things to view on television? We are heading for Darwin.
Quarter moon waxing -August
Saw the vet in Darwin. Nice hospital- no men. The Doc tested my blood pressure. I knew all along it was normal. Do I look like a guy with hypertension? Really. Sent out blood sample for toxoplasmosis titer. Won't they be surprised when they get the results back.
The doc and Phil are trying to teach me to write with my left hand. They say I am writing backwards. Seems fine to me.
Waning sliver of moon- September
Arrived in Cocos Keeling a few days ago. The Doc gave me a bath. She put me out in the cockpit. I could see. For the first time in months I can see- palm trees, a long white sandy beach, blue green water. Lots of other sailboats, most of them with animals on board. Emma and Nelson the Chihuahuas from Australia, Sammy the Australian pit bull lab mix who is sailing to the Netherlands, a cat named Brizzy. The people on the neighboring island are Muslim. Sounds like a religion started by a cat. It is against their religion to touch a dog, or eat a pig. Sammy almost caused an International incident when she jumped all over the Australian customs girl (who is Muslim) and went to shore jumping all over the Muslim people.
The children come to this island for swimming lessons. They do not like the water. They swim in their clothes, not very far from shore. Muslim's can not expose their knees or shoulders, so they must wear lots of clothes.
We had a crazy trip here. Either no wind or too much wind, never just the right amount like the Pacifc.I don't remember much. The Doc said I was catatonic. (Must find out what that means a cat that has turned to fluid?) She turned me over every four hours and force fed me baby food every hour- plus I got sub-q fluids. I do remember seeing her with the needle of blue juice. Then she got sick. She tasted a teeny bit of canned "Cream of Chicken Noodle soup" before she realized it was regular chicken soup, but the can was so rusty the label was hard to read. She got scared, ate penicillin and drank alot of activated charcoal- but still the next day had blurred vision and a head ache. We were thousands of miles from anywhere. Classic signs of botulism. Why she would think of tasting anything from a rusty can is a mystery to all of us. She said it tasted fine! She would never do that to me! The results of my toxoplasmosis test came back through the inmarsat the next day after she was sick. Very high titer. Meaning I am making lots of antibodies to toxoplasmosis. The doc started me on a different type of medicine, in addition to Clindamycin. I think that is why I can see.
Very rough one night on the trip here. I do remember it, because it was very scary. A pirate ship tried to board us. The Doc was still carrying me around with her. I was in the cockpit. The pirates came right up next to us and looked us over with a spot light. The waves were too steep and the period between waves too erratic for them to get their motorboat close enough to jump on Iwalani. Thank goodness for "the annoying cross swell" The Doc turned on the engine and turned off all the instrument lights. Phil came up from sleeping and helped steer us downwind. We had Iwalani going over ten knots down wind. We were out of control. The Doc screamed to slow down. She was worried about broaching. I thought she said "roaching". She was going to shoot at the pirates with a flare gun if they got too close again.
Been writing a lot. I am enjoying English homonyms. They are similar and yet opposite to a cat's own language. English is so much more like concrete blocks and mortar than my language. Which may be why it will take humans a long time to understand one of our words. They do not know that the length of one of our words can give it an entirely different meaning.
Found out that Ben has been going to college completely on the Internet. Now why couldn't I do that? There is so much I still need to know.
I think I have become a medtom. The Doc has been complaining about migraines. That is the first sign that it has happened in a human. A medtom is a cat that has lost all its independence and has become totally dependant on a human. It is the lowest echelon in the cat caste hierarchy. If indeed it has happened, it means the transference has resulted in all my feline independence going to the Doc. She will have no fear, which may not be a good thing. I will not write down how it can happen, though the process can be duplicated through the ingestion of some common plants, (not the case here). The plant transference has been exploited through out history. The Egyptians knew of it and the early American colonists also practiced it. With the result of some innocent women and cats being burnt at the stake.
Before leaving Cocos we had to make a sign that got hung in the small shack on shore, commemorating Iwalani's voyage to the island group. I helped the Doc carve and paint it. Phil was simmering down below thinking we were wasting our time. He may have been upset because a man came to the boat with the radio frequencies all printed out. The man said that Cyrano had made the list and given him a copy. Phil had spent days compiling the list and gave them to Cyrano. He only now is discovering that humans like to take credit for things others do. The worst is writing that god created man in his own image. Where were the Egyptians when that nonsense got recorded?
They have decided to go the fastest route to South Africa, which is underneath Madagascar. We will not go to Mayotte or the Seychelles. The Doc is thinking about flying back to the US with me to see a neurologist at home, once we arrive in South Africa. Afterwards, I can fly back to the boat with no problems, we think.
Almost full- I think, September
Somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Raining non-stop for ten days. Raining flying fish. The decks are covered with them. Never thought I'd get sick of eating them. At sea now for two weeks. I am blind once again. The Doc says there is no reason for why I could see in Cocos. Blindsight she called it- because my eyes were as unresponsive as a fencepost. The doc has been experimenting with me. She put some of my cat food in one of those wretched zip bags, then fed it to me the next day. She doesn't understand why I won't eat it. (The static electricity alters the food, how human's can eat from those bags is a mystery to me, but it seems to make no difference to the Doc and Phil.)
Last quarter waning, October
Made it to Mauritius. We are tied to the wharf. Indian restaurant next to us, which plays the same record over and over. The music sounds like they are strangling cats. Huge head ache today.
Prison where Trim (Editor:Mathew Flinder's cat.) was last seen just a few feet away. Not found any descendants of Trim though, as no cats will come near us.
Following Day. I think it is now Thursday. Headache much better. The Doc didn't give me a shot, it went away on its own. The doc has received a ton of hate e-mail. She wrote some things about the president of the United States, which people didn't like. She received death threats, which upsets everyone. Me especially.
Brizzy the cat, tied up next to us in their small boat. Her owner tried to bring her over to Iwalani for a visit. She almost bit him in the process. She was hissing and screaming that there was a medtom on board. That confirms it. I am a medtom, so I cannot live without the Doc. I am totally dependant on her for everything. It's not so bad really, I can think of worse things in life. She takes the very best care of me. She says it gives her a head ache to go through my writings. I don't know if that is part of her being a medtom, or because I supposedly write backwards. Phil and she have been trying different things to see why I write backwards. I am completely unable to use the computer. Writing is difficult, as I can not tell when I have written right off the paper. People have to cross over our boat to get to their boat, tied on the outside of us. I have to be careful not to leave my writings around. Almost got caught the other day when some black-soled men came on board. Made it look like I was playing with some papers that had fallen on the floor. The Doc and Phil were somewhere on shore. I was working on my own letter to president Bush:
President of the United States
Dear Mr. President,
I have been traveling around the world for the past two years. During this time I have seen many countries, experienced many cultures, tasted many delicacies and learned a good deal about the world we live in.
I am worried about the war you are planning to wage on Iraq. While you are busy listening to your father and fulfilling his vendetta against a worn out leader, your real enemies are sneaking in through the back door and are creating irreparable damage to the United States. How do I know these things? Because I am a cat and it is our nature to know the truth.
If it is oil supplies you are worried about- I know how to make oil. Oil is more than the by-product of ancient dead plants and animals. It is produced by unicellular protozoa, which are ubiquitous in seawater, even to this day. In anaerobic environments and with an organic substrate (such as decaying vegetation) this protozoan produces, as a byproduct of its metabolism, a partially sulphated organic chemical, which under pressure, coalesces into long chain hydrocarbons, releasing hydrogen sulfide gas in the process. I have called this protozoa "bilgus petrichus". As it grows quite freely in the bilge of our sailboat. Because of my own personal circumstances, I am the world's leading expert on protozoa.
All the oil in the world will do no good if humans cannot learn to live with one another. People hate what they fear. And fear what they do not understand. Understanding comes with knowledge. And knowledge comes from learning. It is imperative that in order for humans and cats to enjoy continued success in our country, human children must become better educated. Good teachers are few and far between. If the human that I live with, represents the best of higher education in the US, then the United States is in serious trouble indeed.
I propose that in order to attract the very best in the teaching profession, tax free incentives must be undertaken for educators. Perhaps all teachers could receive massive income tax breaks, provided they pass a National test, which assesses their own knowledge and abilities? Scores would not be given- only a pass/fail status. Teachers that are scared to take the test, or who don't pass- must pay taxes like the rest of the population. Those that pass, get a break from all taxes for five years, at which point they must take the test over again. Additionally, tax breaks should be given for children in higher education, either through the elimination of capitol gains for funds that are going towards tuition, or the elimination of tax on income that goes toward repayment of student loans. Teaching will become the profession of choice for many. The old derogatory adage will be replaced with- "Those that can do, those that can't won't, all others will teach."
It is ludicrous that for every tax dollar spent- sixty cents goes toward National defense and six cents towards education. Americans are going to be nothing more than gun toting morons.
Well, that about covers it. Thank you for any time given this letter.
Stewart P. Wood
P.S. Your brother's cat is my neighbor out on the rock.
New moon October
Still in Mauritius, moved to Grand Baie. We have been here a few days, just North of the big city. The Doc and Phil were worried that something was going to happen to me from all the boats rafted to the outside of us. At least here there is no screeching Indian music. Very early though, just when the night is starting to shed off its dark cloaks, a mournful crier announces it is time for all the Muslim humans to go to prayer. Today a new man was doing the call. He is not as good as the first man. I do not feel the urge to rush out of bed and pray with this fellow.
I do not blame the Muslims wanting western culture to leave them alone. If every country had MacDonalds or Kentucky Fried Chicken in every town and dogs as pets, life would be terrible. If all the women went around wearing tops that are too small and had fat rolls falling over hip hugger jeans and a pierced naval, no one would want to look at women. Too much human flesh is not attractive. I do not mind all the clothes that Muslim humans wear. It is more comfortable to sit in their laps. But, the women should be allowed to have the choice on what they want wear. Losing ones ability to have choices is the very worst thing that can happen to anyone. As the Doc's big brother wrote "Freedom means having a choice". I no longer have any choices. I have to be with the Doc. I could not leave even if I wanted to. I am a prisoner of my own brain.
A few days ago the Doc and Phil left the boat at ten in the morning and did not get back until after eleven at night. They said they had to go to shore to neuter a cat. This amount of separation is not good for a medtom. I have to admit I came unglued. I can go at most, six hours and then I must have contact with the Doc. I have lost all the feeling in my tail and my back legs.
I do not have reverse in my gears anymore. I can only go forward. I got stuck against the ice cream maker and the wall. I thought if I walked forward under my legs I could get unstuck. All that happened was that I ended up stuck upside down on top of my head- for five hours, I was like that until the Doc and Phil finally came home. Very stiff the next day.
The doc gave me a shot and I felt better.
Some French cat food here. But not the same as the food in New Caledonia.
Full moon October
In Reunion now. One nights sail from Mauritius. Tied to boat with French man. He had a stroke and his brain is much like mine. He starts a project then forgets what he was doing. His boat looks like many unfinished projects. It is also alive with cockroaches at night. They are beginning to come onto Iwalani.
The Doc and Phil met some really nice French vets. They helped her by giving her some injectable antibiotics for me- so now I don't have to take these horrid pills she makes herself. Left Reunion before anyone else. Last night the Doc was making chicken soup. The handle for the pot got caught under the stainless bar in front of the oven and all the hot soup poured on top of me. I didn't mind it. In fact I would have liked licking it off, but the Doc gave me another bath. No wind, but cyclone to the North.
The weather here is crazy. Humans do not understand that trees are what control climate. That is why the east coast of Australia and the east coast of Africa have such wild weather. The prevailing wind gets heated up on the hot soil of the tree-less continent and makes wacky weather to the east. That is why the Southern Atlantic has relatively mild weather. All the lush vegetation in South America keeps the weather systems sane. If the Amazon rainforest disappears, so too will the benign South Atlantic. The weather east of Madagascar is getting crazy because of all the tree cutting on Madagascar. Trees would stop global warming. Humans are cutting trees for firewood and to make charcoal to cook their food. Too many humans not enough trees. The Doc designed a solar cooker- an oven and pot that uses the sun to cook food. Then she went on the Internet and found you can already buy them, but they are expensive. She said hers can be made for about seven US dollars. The cookers would help save many trees, but would make more cooked food. Humans would eat better and then make more humans. Which is not a good thing. The doc is too worried about saving humans. I am trying to teach her that this is not a good thing. Why humans are so worried about neutering cats, but do not take steps to neuter themselves is a mystery to me.
The Earth can support one more doubling of the human population and that is it. I know all this because it is the same with me. I have a very slow growing brain tumor, all of the cells can divide one more time and then that is all. There will not be enough room in my brain to fit the tumor cells, they will push on the good cells and kill them off. There will not be enough blood to feed the tumor cells, they too will start dying off and when this happens, I will die too. Humans are a lot like a tumor on the earth. They have tentacled their way into every part of the planet. Eventually they will outgrow their food supply. Humans will push their way into all that is good on the planet killing off other species, by taking over land for farming and shopping malls, factories and tree farms. The wild places on earth will slowly disappear.
My mother was a Maine coon cat. Maine coon cats are not cats that were crossed with raccoons- we came from Viking ships that long ago sailed the coast of Maine- (long before the Doc's ancestor Giovanni Caboto, who history thinks was the discoverer of North America) My great grandmothers were on board to protect the ship's grain supplies. When the grain ran out the cats were "let go"on shore where they made families with the indigenous bobcat population. Later, other cat's arrived from ships. These cats had long hair and flat faces, and were called Himalayans and Persians. They formed families with my earliest ancestors and created my mother's family- the Maine Coon cat. My brothers and sisters all had long hair, I was born small and with short hair, they called me the runt.
My mother was very smart and passed all of her knowledge on to my siblings and me. She said that there is a continent that is shaped like a human skull and it is where all humans first came from. Big cats still live there but are slowly loosing their ground. Humans kill these big cats and then hang their heads on the wall, or they kill them because the big cats kill the calves of their cattle. The land is not meant to support slow moving lumbering cattle, but fast moving antelope. Because the land is poor it takes many acres to grow one cow which can feed few people. My mother said that the earth will end when the last cat has been removed from the last wild place. She said that many cats will die from a disease that will be spread by insects. But this is all far in the future. In the mean time, I will not eat any more beef.
The island of Madagascar smells like limes, diesel and wet mud. How I wish I could smell the coast of Maine one last time. Hay scented ferns, balsam firs, fish scented fog...
Sliver of moon-November
A cold front came through last night. Very rough seas. Lots of rain, thunder and lightening. Phil stayed in the cockpit. I stayed down below with the Doc, lying on her stomach the entire time. We had to check the radar and announce our position on the radio every fifteen minutes. The seas were too high for any other ship to see our lights, even on top of the mast. Since the radio broadcasts twenty miles in any direction, any boat in that circle with their radio on would hear us.
I am famished. The Doc gave me some dry French cat food and said we would have a feast in a few hours once we get into Tulear. It is almost time for a nap.
(APW: So ends the last entry in Stewart's own log book. He had several versions of his last poem scattered about the boat. He never gave titles to any of his poems- that job has fallen to me. Below is a sonnet version found on the corner of some newspaper and I think the most interesting. This final version seems to have been written on the morning just before he died. He knew how I hate that time of day when the sun disappears over the lip of the sea and a pall of loneliness seems to settle over the boat.
The spelling of "son" is also his- I can only assume it is meant to be him.
Someday, Phil and I will return to Tulear, Madagascar. Literacy was so very important to that little cat. Higher education, something he longed for, but was denied because of his circumstances, was something he felt everyone should strive for.
With profits from Stewart's book,(once it is published) I would like to set up a scholarship fund in his name, for one Madagascar student to enjoy a higher education.
Stewart's pet sitters also want to set up a foundation in his name that will provide funds to groups that are involved in conservation and the protection of endangered species.
Someday we would like to put up a bronze statue of Stewart looking out to sea, to commemorate all that he represented. Someday, maybe we will learn from what he tried to teach us.)