A Castle Fit for a Duke

Mister Duke, about a year ago.


Hi and welcome to the blog.  I upgraded the server plan so hopefully the blog will run a little quicker.  If not, the hosting company will get a call, for sure!   I’m not sure why the comments and responses stopped appearing.  I’ve put a patch in place and am investigating…

It’s been a really tough week.  Kitty Duke, the beloved black tomcat, is dying from liver failure, but he’s doing it with his usual class.  Nearly every day Duke has slept with me, sits with Daddy while I get dressed, and tries to purr.  Most cats hide as their time approaches.  This little guy and I are spending more time together than ever before.

The tortoise shell cat, Jenny, has stepped up and is more affectionate.  She feels the loss as well.  Those two have been very close.


Uncle Earl, 1915 to 2001


But something happened this week that’s brightened this difficult time… a posthumous idea from a deceased great uncle.  Uncle Earl  a.k.a. “Pooch” was a wonderful man, a World War II vet, a great family man, and a person who loved everyone.  I believe he was a machinist.  As I think about life, I remember how he and Grandma’s German side of the family had just as much influence on this child’s life as did the fishermen in Grandad’s family.  What a blessed childhood back in the 70s!


A very old pattern that will be used to make a unique tribute to a great fur baby.


Decades ago Pooch made a beautiful cat castle, the plans for which date back to around the 1970s, perhaps even earlier.  When Dad died 7 years ago, I found the documents and saved them.  Yellowed from age, they still are completely usable and contain the information needed to construct another such royal structure… and that is going to happen very soon – a castle dedicated to Duke.  It will sit on a 5 foot tall 4×4 post with a spiral set of stairs.  I know Jenny and any future cats will love their elegant residence.

Pooch had given our family a cat castle that we enjoyed for many years… I’m guessing that was around 1978 – 1980ish…  We no longer have it.  In fact, I think I might have given the old castle away… but another will be started very soon.  It’s a project that will help pass the time and keep the hands busy.


The Express van at Menard’s…



I was in Cedar Rapids earlier this week and purchased some items needed – high quality oak plywood, various boards and hardware, and things needed to start.  Early this next week construction will begin.  There will be some upgrades, perhaps some little “scroll saw” flourishes, and such.

The castle will go in the corner of the living room where Jenny often likes to hang out.  Once completed, it will have a small plate with an inscription to Duke.  On top I plan to put a stuffed black cat and an urn with his ashes. My best friend Brooke, who is my “cats guardian” (in case something should take me to Heaven), agreed to make sure someone would enjoy the castle if it every needs a new home.

So as much as profound sadness has descended, there is hope and a plan to do something positive.  I will miss my little buddy dearly but fur babies won’t last forever.  We have been so close and he loved me as much as I loved this little guy and gave him a good home.

That’s about all for now.  I will probably post closer to Christmas.  Of course, there will be progress posts as the castle project begins this week.

Take care and thanks for visiting today!  Happy Holidays!  Safe and happy travels!

Brad and Jenny and Duke
Jones County, Iowa


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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

5 Responses to A Castle Fit for a Duke

  1. Bradford Harris says:

    This hosting company sucks… LOL. Test comment from Bradford

  2. Laurie Stewart says:

    I am so sorry about Duke…I know how hard it is to lose them. I’ll be interested to see the castle…I want to make a screened ‘catio’ outside one of my windows so they can go outside and sniff the air, but be protected. Have a good holiday and a peaceful New Year. -Laurie

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Laurie! Merry Christmas! It’s heartbreaking watching him decline. I asked him to stay with me through Christmas and the little guy seems to know. He’s been on my bed the whole time, knows me, and tries to purr when I touch him. It’s been comforting. But things happen and he has to go to the “rainbow bridge” very soon. I love the idea of the catio! I am going to work on the castle as soon as the holidays are over. It’s been crazy busy at work with Covid and the dining options in this area being at a minimum. Take care! Enjoy the holiday! — VT

  3. my_vantasy says:

    Merry Christmas! What a wonderful way to honor and remember Duke. I hope creating the castle keeps your mind and body busy enough to process your profound loss. The Little Dog and I are praying comfort for you and Jenny.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Terre! Thanks for the note. Duke is fading each day. But yesterday he head-butted me for attention. I make over him each day. So much of the grief is over. I got into it with the neighbor who said to put him down. He wants to be with me. Such a loving little guy.

      The wood project will be a cool endeavor for the cold Iowa months. Jenny and future cats will enjoy it.

      God is good, life is worth living, and tomorrow will bring another sunrise…and snow in Iowa.

      Take care and thanks for the note! I hope you had a Merry Christmas!

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