Monday, June 27, 2011

Losing a Friend

I generally and purposefully do not blog during the end of quarter sessions at work.  Mainly because I get so wrapped up in the craziness that I totally forget.  So instead of beating myself up for forgetting, I just started giving myself two weeks off at the end of every three month cycle. 

That appeared to be how this quarter was going to go down as well.  I didn't even think once last week of taking the time to be eloquent.  I was too busy burning other candles at both ends.  Have you ever worked with sales people?  Then you know the drama with a capital "Holy Crap" that ensues whenever deadlines loom and approach.  Lots of hand-holding.  Lots of hurry up and waiting. 

And I would have totally been okay with a non-blog week. 

Except words keeps running through my head over and over - sort of pointing me to do some blogtherapy.


This is me avoiding.

If you know my family at all, you know we are huge animal lovers.  We've had all sorts of dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, turtles, ducks and who knows what else - I'm sure I'm missing some pet somewhere along the way.  But now matter how many animals you have - one thing never gets easier. 

Saying goodbye.

Now, in a way, I do think it can be a little less jarring when you are expecting it.  When you have a pet who is way up there in years or is sick or has become decrepit - it takes the teensiest sting out of it.  It really isn't much, but it's something.

But over the weekend - we lost one whom we weren't expecting to lose.  And that just sucks.

The week was a great one actually.  My brother and nephew were visiting from Pennsylvania.  We had set up shop with my parents out at the lake.  We were a campsite full of people ~ plus three dogs and a cat. 

The cat, Putter, had recently made a return to campground life after taking a few years off for bad behavior.

But by week's end - we'd lost him.  To what?  We don't know.  Probably never will. 

Putter adopted us 12 years ago.  He was actually part of a 'master plan' in which Mom and Dad fulfilled my niece's wish have her very own white cat.  Her birthday was going to coincide with a family visit and the perfectness of it got my mom's mind ticking.  And so we were off to the local animal shelter to find a white cat.  We found Putter - tiny, white, playful...and with a bit of a runny nose.

It was pure coincidence that we had a camping trip scheduled on Putter's first weekend at my parent's house.  Surely they couldn't leave a kitten home alone - so, much to my father's dismay - we packed tiny Putter up and took him camping.

By weekend's end...the cat was no longer for my niece.  Putter had taken up residence in my dad's lap for the weekend and soon the question came...."Can we find another white cat for Jamie?".

So luck struck for the first time in Putter's life.  Because not 24 hours later - a neighbor with new kittens was knocking on the back door.  He was holding a white kitten and asking if we wanted it.  Fate won.  Jamie got her white kitten (if you are giving away a kitten, I recommend a gift bag rather than a box) and Putter got to stay in the Carolinas.

It didn't take long to figure out why fate put Putter in my parents' hands.  It had to do with their wallet and ability to afford him.  Evidently, upon arriving on earth, Putter heard loud and clear that cats have nine lives - and dang it if he wasn't going to make sure he used each and every one of them.

I walked into the living room once just in time to catch him hanging himself from the blinds string.  Actually hanging.  Swinging back and forth style.

As a toddler cat - who was snuggled with Mom as she worked on a quilt - he swiped the needle and thread straight from her hand to his mouth.  Xrays showed them both in his belly - removed with surgery.  The twist here was that after having his belly shaved for surgery - the hair grew back orange.  Apparently, he wanted to try out different fur colors as part of his nine lives.

He spent much of his time as a young cat on cliffs.  He preferred to lay on the tops of doors.  Or peering down from the Grandfather Clock.  The only glitch was you never knew when he was going to use your body as a launch to reach these places.  If you spent anytime with Putter, it would end with scratches in strange places.

Later in life, again...just trying to help...he jumped onto a pan of frying bacon - toppling it straight onto his head.  Now we had a white cat who was slowly turning orange with singed ears. 

And so Putter went through life - living dangerously and on the edge. 

In his later years, some may have called Putter cranky.  He became a big-boned cat with an attitude to match his twenty or so pounds.  He'd lost his privileges on the camping circuit when he started removing his collar and spending most nights throwing himself against the door to get out of the camper.  He loved to be petted - until he was over it and would kindly let you know by latching his teeth into your arm - often drawing blood.

Not everyone could have handled Putter.  We could.  We love him faults and all.  And there was a lot of 'all.'

Over the last year - my parents started spending more time in their camper and less time at home.  This meant Putter got to make visits to my house or receive visits from neighbors.  But then his camping privileges were given back - first on a trial basis and then permanently. 

He forgot about knocking on the door at all hours and got real content with being a camper cat.  He spent his days sleeping in one cupboard or another - always asking to be lifted to the higher spots instead of using our backs as a ladder.

And so he seemed to once again grab another life - this one with a new attitude.

We just never thought our time with it would be so short.  He seemed to just have a bit of a stomach bug ~ we've all had those nights...and if they made Pepto for cats we probably would have dosed him up and sent him back to the cupboard. 
But they don't, so we didn't.  Instead, Mom made the hike back home to leave him with the vet for the weekend - where he could get the medicine he needed and we could get a good night's sleep.  Who knew?

Saturday he seemed to be doing well, according to the vet. 

And then he wasn't. 
Then he suddenly a cat in need of oxygen and resuscitation. 
Then he suddenly became a cat who had run out of lives. 

We were floored.  We thought he was a jerk for dying. 

And then we remembered all the living he'd done.  How he went through all nine lives, checking them off, one by one ~ perhaps even knowing he'd spent them all.  How he was lucky enough to be thrown into a family who didn't care that he grew bitchy or heavy or lazy.  How he skirted death time after time - and that only counts times we knew about. 

I know my dad was sad last night.  Lounging on the couch without his buddy. 
I know my mom will cringe the next time she opens a can of tuna and no one comes running.

But I also know how lucky Putter was to have adopted us.  And how lucky we were to have loved him.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Diddy's Day

After bombarding you with the history of Mother's Day last month, I would really be shirking my duties if I didn't offer the same blog space to Father's Day.  Which - as you probably Sunday.  You're welcome.  I could have saved the posting of this blog until actual Father's Day - at which point you may have read the headline and panicked because you had forgotten all about it.  But see, I'm a good friend to you, so I've given you a few days notice.

I always feel like Father's Day kind of gets the short end of the stick.  I mean, it makes sense to me why it does - women tend to be a lot more 'in' to Hallmark Holidays than men are.  If you don't believe me...please refer to any Valentine's Day.  The hype often outweighs the actual day.  And if you want to see how much either holiday really means to a lady - just don't give her so much as a card.  You'll never underestimate the power of a pink envelope again.

So as I suspected, the whole reason for Father's Day was to give equal recognition to our mothers' male counterparts.  Like, "Oh nuts!  What about our Dads?".  This, no doubt was followed quickly by Grandmother's Day, Grandfather's Day, Kid's Day, Pet's Day and so on.

Just like Mother's Day, Father's Day is celebrated on a variety of dates around the world.  And, according to Wikipaedia...involves gift-giving, special dinners to fathers, and family-oriented activities.  Well, for me, this is only true is my father is actually in weekend visiting distance and not off gallivanting with one camping club or another. 
My father taught me that just about anything can be funny. And that the most important person you can laugh at is yourself.

For my dad, this year is going to be a stellar family-oriented activity.  I'm taking him to a Father's Day Grilling Clinic at the Angus Barn.  Which is his favorite restaurant.  Actually it's the whole family's favorite restaurant, I think.  As usual, this was supposed to be a pretty simple event - drive up, have our class, head out.  But then we all realized that my brother and nephew's visit started the same weekend so this has become an event of crazy logistics organizing which people would be where at what time and where the camper would be parked when.  If there's one thing my family loves, it's a project.

My father taught me that you can make a project out of just about anything.  Including getting ready in the morning.

Right.  Back to the history of Father's Day.  The first observance of Father's Day took place in Fairmont, West Virginia on July 5, 1908. It was organized by Grace Golden Clayton, who wanted to celebrate the lives of the 210 fathers (downer alert) who had been lost in the Monongah Mining disaster several months earlier. Now, if you remember your times and places...and I'm sure you do...just a few weeks before this was the celebration of the first Mother's Day, right around the corner. 

So while Clayton was probably influenced by that first celebration of Mother's Day - it also happened that her father's birthday fell in June ~ thus her pick for the third Sunday in June. 

My father taught me that it's okay to be a Daddy's girl. Even now that I'm forty.

Clayton actually go totally hosed because her 'invention' of Father's Day wasn't officially recognized until 1972.  In the meantime - all the credit went to a lady named Sonora Dodd out in Spokane, Washington who admittedly started the celebration of Father's Day in direct response to our old friend Jarvis' invention of Mother's Day.

My father taught me that if you do get totally hosed, sometimes it's just the universe telling you to regroup and get back to the basics.

It wasn't until someone saw Nixon's proclamation of Father's Day, realized the mistake in credit and worked to restore the correct legacy of Clayton's first Father's Day service. Of course, in the meantime - back in 1913 - a bill asking for national recognition of the holiday was introduced in Congress.  Still, it was a no-go for several years as Congress was worried that this might be yet another holiday to become commercialized.  Which makes me think that back then, Congress was a lot smarter than it is now.

My father taught me that farting is funny.

In 1924, Coolidge recommended the day be observed by the nation, but stopped short of issuing a national proclamation. Then things started to get heated....and in 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers, thus "singling out just one of our two parents."  Finally, in 1966, Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday.

My father taught me that sneezing out a giant ball of snot is even funnier than farting.

Now, here's a fun fact ~ in addition to Father's Day...International Men's Day is celebrated in many countries in November for men and boys who are not fathers.  I don't get it.  Is that just a day to celebrate being a man?  Because I think it takes it a bit to the "Aw, c'mon, really?!?!" side of the coin.  I mean, it just sounds pretty random - hey, let's have a day to celebrate me being me.  Guess what - that day was already invented.  It's called your birthday.

As with Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, Easter, Halloween and, really, any day on the calendar with a special notation...Father's Day did become commercialized.  This day can thank The Associated Men's Wear Retailers.  They were the first to put together a council to help people celebrate.  And, while I couldn't find written proof - I suspect this was also the group that put together a council to help people pick out the appropriate tie to give their fathers on Father's Day.

My father taught me that ties...well, he just doesn't wear them anymore.  I'm not even sure he has any in his closet.  I mean, it was fun when he did - to pick out super unique and humorous ties.  But we don't have that easy out any more.  This year I bought him a (nice try,'ll have to wait).  Anyway, I like the non-tie-wearing version of my dad better.

The council scored - because although people were well aware that they were commercializing Father's Day, they still felt compelled to participate in the gift giving.

Here's the trend by the numbers.  In 1937 the Father's Day Council calculated that only one father in six had received a present on Father's Day.  By the 1980s, the Council proclaimed success ~ the one-day event had become a three-week commercial event, a "second Christmas". 


Dad...this does NOT mean you get to hang out a stocking on Father's Day Eve. 

My father taught me that I've always got someone to call for advice, laughter and a shoulder.  My father taught me that it's okay for men to cry - especially if it involves animals.  My father taught me that he will listen when I need an ear - but that he will also laugh at me as needed, even (or especially?) when I may be making a mountain out of a mole hill.  My father not to be afraid to explore ~ a lesson I'm finally just getting the hang of ~ and not to worry if they road you are taking looks a little mucky.  My father taught me to always stand by those you love, no matter how much they are driving you completely bananas. 

Not that I ever drove him bananas. 

That's just crazy talk.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What Would YOU Do?

I went to a lovely party last night where I was reminded of several things:
* It's possible not to see someone for actual years, yet still consider them a good friend.  That probably has more to do with them being a good person - but the feelings the same.
* Pigs in a Blanket are delicious.
* Anyone brave enough to adopt a child on their own amazes me.
* Playing tennis in 90+ degrees is a great idea if you want to spend the rest of the day sweating bullets.
* I know a lot of people who aren't thrilled with their current career choice.
* There is such a thing as too much icing.
* There's nothing wrong with a late, late nap.

The party of topic was at an old friend's house.  Old in that I met her years and years ago when I first moved to Raleigh.  Another one of those folks who I cross paths with often - either in person or, lately, via conversations with mutual pals. 

I hadn't talked to Gina in ages - until a year ago when I started following her increasingly exciting life via Facebook.  It was a year ago that her daughter, Ella, came home.  Hence the party -last June Ella landed on Carolina soil - adopted from Russia by Gina in what I consider to be one of the bravest moves ever made by someone I know.

And for the past year, I meant to go meet Ella.  I really did.  I thought about it just about every time a new picture popped up on Facebook.  But I never quite made it there and, somehow, a whole year passed.  So it was a bit embarrassing when I plugged in Gina's address to my GPS and realized she lived a stone's throw away.  Whoopsie!

Ella is wonderful.  Full of bounce and energy and curiosity - and, actually, very wise.  As I learned while she explaining the need for water based on some coughing she was doing.  It's impossible to see a hint of her past life.  Ella even resembles Gina with her sprightly eyes and the skip in her step. 

The party, for me, was awkward at first because I didn't know anyone.  Normally this doesn't bug me at all - but for a few minutes I had that out-of-place thing going.  Thank God for the food spread as I quickly forget my suddenly misplaced mingling skills and focused on the actual vat of pigs-in-a-blanket.  Did I mention I'm back on the eating healthy wagon?  Did I mention how quickly I forgot that at the sight of these tasty treats?  How many is too many, really?  Because I'm sure I passed it.

Before long, my partner in many-a-crimes showed...fresh from a tennis match.  Did I say fresh?  What I meant was, Kathy was learning what happens when you try to go from two hours of hitting balls in 90 degree temps to a public place without leaving the proper 'chill down' time in between.  What happens is - the flow of sweat that started hours ago cannot be stopped with a cold shower, cold beer or air conditioning.  Don't mind the girl in the corner - it's not heat stroke, we promise.

We claimed the kitchen table and were soon joined by other buddies.  And the topic turned to our jobs.  It turned there with a screech after Kcat announced that she had walked out on hers a few weeks before.  This is what I love about Kathy - to her, everything is very matter of fact.  "Oh man, I'm never going to stop sweating.  This is like when I quit my job at the end of May.  Can I have some water?  No, no job lined up - just left. How many of them little hot dogs are you going to put back?"

Yeah - she totally up and left her job because she was MISERABLE.  Wait.  We can do that? 

Thus, the analysis started.  CAN we do that?  Can we just quit our jobs with no prospects because we can't take one  more day of waking up and praying to the lottery gods before slipping into our sensible shoes?

I mean, I know I can't.  What with that pesky mortgage check due every month.  But if it were an option, would you?  It makes you think about the misery level.  I mean, I'm not so miserable that I'd just up and leave my job without something great lined up.  And Kathy is a superstar - one of those people who will not only walk out of her job but walk into one that is 900 times better.  We hate her.

Once we all panned our careers, I asked the question that keeps popping into my head.  Why can't a bunch of us just quit our jobs, move to the beach and open a bar?  I mean, it seems like a really good idea.  Especially now that I've become addicted to House Hunters International (on HGTV) - where most stories start out with, "(Insert Name) decided to give up his/her life in (name a place) and fulfill his/her dream of living in (insert place that is beach laden, beautiful and affordable.  Or maybe not so affordable)."

People really do this - they really do just pack it all in and start over.  I guess I did that when I moved to North Cackalacky.  I mean, no job, no home...just a gal with her uHaul heading back to her mama's.

What would you do?  Would you trade it all in and go start somewhere new?  How do you even start that process?  How much do you have to have saved before you're not considered an idiot?  I'm pretty sure I don't have that much - whatever the number is.

My brother and I talk about the day when he'll move south and we'll buy land and throw on some houses.  He'll have room to drive his ATVs around (I mean, when he gets them) and I'll have room to start an animal rescue.  Of course, then I wonder - what are we waiting for?

Oh right.  Lottery. 

This conversation continued past the pigs in a blanket and into cake time.  If you know me at all, you know I have an icing addiction. 

Last night, I hit my wall.  Turns out that weird icing that's all rage right now isn't meant to be eaten in large, sticky finger quantities. 

Turns out that while it's good for making shapes and structures and turning plain cakes into master pieces - it's not so good at, um, sitting in your stomach and behaving.  Turns out that kind of icing just becomes a giant blob of goo in your stomach - no more fancy shapes - just a ball of paste.

And that's how I ended up forgoing the conversation on what our career moves should be and finding my way to my couch for a late day nap.  Because even though the sugar low was forcing my eyes to shut - I refused to give up on myself and just go to bed. 

Instead, I opted for a 9:30pm nap.

Which seemed awkward what with my 11:00pm call time for bed. 

But hey - if I can't up and quit my job, I should at least be able to take a nap whenever I want to right? 

Wait.  Can I do THAT at my job?  Will keep you posted.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A little of this, a little of that....


I was just sitting on the couch wishing there was something GOOD on TV and I realized I hadn't blogged yet this week.  I went through a dozen or so reasons as to why this was okay.  Like who would really notice?  Or don't I get holidays off?  Couldn't I just do it tomorrow?  But then it just kept nagging at me.  Along with the thought that generally follows the 'time to blog' time.  What the heck to write about.  Generally I have a few ideas bouncing around in my head.  Today. Not. So. Much.

I should start off with some catch up.  I know - you probably think I'm going back to my California trip since I haven't quite finished that yet.  But no....

I spent Memorial Day weekend with two of my best buddies ~ Anne Marie & Jack.  Anne Marie being the only one qualified to be my best buddy.  Jack, however, gets to be a guilt by association buddy.  I mean, he really doesn't get my moods yet, but I'm sure that will come in time.  Like when he's visiting his mom and I at the fogey home in a few decades.  ("Oh, I just went to see my mom and her moody friend - yeah they were out in the rocking chairs making fun of people again.")

Sweet, sweet Jack. 

Who is clearly being raised perfectly right because he already knows that when you go shopping with the girls, you must assist in the hunting and gathering.

Even if it is a hot and sweaty day.

In the old days, Anne Marie and I would wake up exhausted from staying out too late.  In a bar, for example.

Things have changed. 

I was exhausted every morning from waking up excited to snuggle with Jack.  Who didn't want to snuggle.  Who wanted to continue whatever conversation we were having when he went to bed the previous night.  While playing with a truck.  No, make that the easel.  No make that the scooter.  No, a book.  No, it's time for a Popsicle.  Some cereal.  Chalk.  Plane. Plane. Plane. 

Oh.  THIS is how they roll in their two's. 

Sign of a good friend:

She dons a swimsuit among a party of complete strangers thus maximizing her Jack Time.

While Jack's mother gets to stay fully clothed.

So she can chase Jack around said party for two and a half straight hours while he played with a pool noodle.  No, a ball. No, the mud. No, the noodle.  Watching the local deer.  Watching the big boys.  Running down a hill.  Eating a hot dog.  Feeding the hot dog to the real dog.  Time for cake.  Time for chips. 

Holy moly does he ever stop?  No.  That would be a 'no.' 

God Bless Anne Marie.

I'm super proud of her.  And whenever I think of how well she does as a single mom with a toddler - I become tired in a Pavlovian way.

I've now upped my adoption age.  I'm going to wait until Jack's five or so and THEN get a five year old of my own.  Maybe a seven year old.  Someone who isn't so much on the go, anyway.

Moving On.

What really motivated me to get crack-a-lackin was watching the Today show.  Yes, that's right - I record the Today show so I can watch it at my leisure.  This is especially effective on weekends when I want to sleep in.  Have I mentioned 'sleeping in' apparently goes away as soon as you turn forty?  Suck ass.

Right - so today's concert on Today was...wait for it...sit down...deep breath...not one...but two...BOY BANDS!  NKOTBSB to be exact.  Not hip to that?  Living under a rock? 

New Kids on the Block and Back Street Boys.  Well, alright.

While watching, I was once again mesmerized by Joey McIntyre.  And was reminded of my plans to marry him.  Whoopsie.

Which then got me thinking of all the dudes I was going to marry.  I mean, really and truly, I was 100% convinced that I would rather die than not be with these guys.

Put your comfy shoes on.  For we are going to stroll down Memory Lane.

Shawn Cassidy.  My first love.  

 Numero Dos:  Leif Garrett.  Look at those locks. 
It was either his poster or Shawn's that I used to 'brush' the hair on.

John Taylor.  Duran Duran, people - stay with me. 
See, this is where I got smart. 
 All the girls were going to marry Nick Rhodes. 
So being brilliant, I saved myself for John - who would be sad and lonely because he was leftovers.

Marty McFly. 
Or Calvin Klein.
I'd have called him whatever he wanted.

 My tastes changed her - I started going for the short haired guys.
Joey, Joey, Joey. 
Again - strategery.  He was the young and impressionable one.

Apparently at this age, I was allowed to go to the movies.
Stay Gold, Ponyboy.

I gave up on my theory of the underdog at this point -
and decided to go straight for the star.
Oh Maverick.
If only I'd known.

First Hockey Love.
RIP my friend - Peter Zezel.
Who taught the whole league how to play with
their jerseys tucked in just a bit.

And my forever Hockey Love. 
Who has now gotten married twice without inviting me to the altar. 
I feel like he's trying to tell me something.  Doubtful.

Shortly after realizing I was falling for Justin Timberlake,
I realized I should aim for someone closer to my age.

 Someone dark and brooding perhaps.
Reality Bites.  Really.  It does.

And then with one flick of his brim - I was a goner. 
Brad Pitt - you win the prize.
Even through your, um, phases....I still hold out hope for us. 

I guess I'm getting more realistic in my old age. 
No sense living on pipe dreams. 
Just aim for giggles and smiles and a good sense of wonder.
Don't be weird - of course I'm not going to marry Jack.  But here's a guy who loves me for me.  And my access to the Popsicles.  Here's a guy who thinks I'm funny and wants to hang out with me.  So maybe he's two-and-a-half.  He makes me happy and sometimes that's just good enough.