Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Goosebumps

May we all experience something that gives us "goosebumps" this season...like this video :-)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Winter Wonderland

I always say "I'd hate to be a weatherman (or is that weatherwoman? weatherperson?) but this time, they were right on with the prediction. 18 inches overnight, started about 9pm last night, and still coming down. Yes, I should have gone in to work last night before it started to do payroll instead of waiting til...tomorrow, hopefully. I am heading off to Oregon on Monday, and by then the weather here anyway is supposed to be partly sunny and no more snow, but we all know how snow anywhere can "snowball" into problems with flight delays etc.

  I leave D.C. at 8:30am and have a 3 1/2 hour layover in San Francisco, and arrive in Oregon at 4:40pm. I usually don't sleep the night I leave on a flight, by the time I get done doing stuff, it hardly seems worth it to sleep a few hours and have to get up, and I can sleep on the plane when I am that tired.

  I am so looking forward to 10 days away, sleeping in and reading and shopping and being with my family. I will have time to catch up with blogs, and even post to mine, though posting photos may have to wait til I get back home. I look forward to visiting Ashland and Jacksonville, always decorated so festively at Christmastime. And there are some new restaurants I will have to try, as well as some old favorites, GEPPETTO'S and OMAR'S and BELLA UNION and visiting some old friends, too. I won't feel guilty because I am not getting to chores that need getting to at home (because I won't be at home!) and making a resolution to dig in when I get back, welcoming in the new year with some changes. I met with my new therapist and am looking forward to what we can do together, getting me through this sadness, which I have let isolate me too much, like a fog that rolls in even after a sunny day...

  So, today I am enjoying the day, being inside, packing for my trip next on my list, drinking green tea and watching the birds enjoy the seed and suet I put out...oh, and digging my car out while the snow is still fluffy, tomorrow it might be harder!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Snow Day

So quiet, so peaceful, so nice to be inside and look out at it. I bought some new bird feeders and seed mix and tried my best to get a photo while the snow was falling, but of course, every time I tried to snap of photo, the birds flew off! And it was beginning to get dark! So these photos were the last ones I took, gave up on getting one of the birds ON the feeder!

The past couple of months have been a little stressful for me, and I have started to compose a post numerous times and then just think "I don't have the time or strength to go into details" so post nothing...but that in itself somehow weighs on me, so time to write and lighten my heart.

I did have a wonderful visit with my mom and the love in her life, in Philadelphia in November. They are both nearing 80 and we had a scare when he was diagnosed with colon cancer in October and I thought that maybe this planned trip from Oregon would have to be cancelled. But his surgery went well, no evidence of mets in any of the lymph node biopsies and his recovery very smooth, so they flew out to a week long Elderhostel Arts and Music seminar and I was able to join them for symphonies, museums and great food as their seminar came to a close.

They are both near 80 but in great shape and health and are very active, traveling the world, going to film festivals, motorcycle meets and have a trip planned to France in the spring. But this scare has me worried and pondering what it will feel like when she is gone, that the presence, the feeling that knowing if I needed her if I was in trouble...would be gone.

The night that Mike died, she was on a plane in hours and was here for me, helping me through those first couple of terrifying weeks, and gave me the strength to carry on. I lay awake feeling anxious and sad sometimes, and am so glad we have these times together now.

Here's some photos of some of what we shared in Philly (click on them to biggify)

Outside the Barnes Collection Museum-lovely crisp fall day and memorable museum. THE BARNES FOUNDATION

One of the many murals dotting the city, all unique and telling a story of the city. MURAL ART IN PHILADELPHIA

The area reminded me of Portobello Market neighborhood in England!

Old City Hall, love the swirly clouds in this photo

How they light up downtown at night!

The Reading Terminal Market, had to have a real Philly Cheesesteak, of course.

Phillies fans getting face painted on the streets by an artistic entrepreneur.

Mom and I in a beautiful arched entry to a church.

Inside the Masonic Temple, my second favorite place we visited, after the Barnes Museum. GRAND LODGE OF PENNSYLVANIA

You might remember me talking about Sunny, the kitty I got back from a home for "inappropriate urination", how I had found a new home for him that after all, couldn't adopt him. Well, a family here who recently had to put their Cornish Rex to sleep because of a mediastinal neoplasia (a tumor in the chest) was willing to give him a try. They had no other cats and loved the breed and missed their kitty deeply. Unfortunately within a few days, Sunny was spraying and not using the box again, even though they followed my "introducing a new cat" instructions to the letter, so I took him back in.

I had so hoped he would be happy in his new home (his third--forth, including me) with no other cats around, but it wasn't to be. I did not want him to spend the rest of his life in a room by himself--that is not living but existing but he was fearful with other cats and I already have issues with one of my cats spraying, so having him have run of the house here wasn't an option either. All the medical tests proved it not to be a medical issue but a behavioral one and he was on Paxil even.

I made the difficult decision to euthanize him, not wanting him to go from home to home, feeling anxiety with each. He is at rest now, and I think it was the right decision, but still very hard for me to let go of.

Mike's birthday was November 3rd, and he would have been 61...funny, but he will always be 58 to me, ageless like Marilyn Monroe or Paul Newman. I have mentioned this before, but on those special days, somehow it slips by without me actually celebrating that day...but he is always on my mind. For a moment, I feel guilty about that, not remembering on the day, but there are reminders of him here everywhere, not sad ones, just sad he is gone...note: those headphones were so I didn't have to listen to the WOW babble, sweet guy he was!

And work...I'm still having some problems with frustration and irritability and my boss talked to me again. I think Mike was a de-fuser for me and enabled me to cope with the stressors at work. I remember hearing at a seminar one time that "The best way to be happy at work, is to marry the right person" which you can take to mean Happy Relationship, Happy Workplace...no matter whether that relationship is with yourself or a significant other.

She said some of the staff are afraid to come up and help me because I "bark" at them. She said to let go of having everything perfect or done "my" way. She said it was devisive to teamwork, and yes, she is right. But the texting, the gossip, the time wasting is what frustrates me the most, not the quality of their work when the are working...but I am not managing this practice and do need to let go of that (is it snippy to add...if the boss is ok with it? Yes)

Much of it may have to do with the fact that I am in my 50's (for a little while longer, thank you) and they are in their 20's and well, I will never be able to change that...so "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference".

I have talked with two close girlfriends and they say I have been having this conversation with myself and them for the past 6 months or more, and need to change to get through this. So I made a call to one of these friends therapist, and have made an appointment to meet, and that is a step in the right direction (see flow chart below--which I found on another blogging friends blog and then couldn't find where--what did we do before Google?). Just remembered, it's one one of my favorite blogs (got to buy the books!) 37 DAYS

Another funny aside, I downloaded the flow chart and then couldn't find where I put it...ever happen to you? Turned out, I had made it my desktop picture instead of downloading it TO the desktop...so I just left it there to remind me everytime I am at the computer...which is often!

I think we will be compatible, see things from a similar perspective, as she lost her husband and is in the midst of caring for a beloved dog with serious health issues. The year after Mike died, I had a good friend calling me daily, getting me to accomplish one task at a time and not letting me flounder in quicksand. But as needed, he cut me lose after a year and let me try to fly on my own. And I did, dealing with the responsibilities of home ownership on my own (believe it or not, before Mike, I had rented the same house for 18 years and had never owned a home), replacing the roof, the HVAC system, the Flood! And just recently the Prius' battery died (the big, expensive one) but luckily it was under warranty still.

This past year I have felt like I have been dog paddling in a lake with the shore quite a distance away, grasping onto flotsam floating by, catching my breath. Not that I haven't accomplished anything. I have kept to my goal of downsizing the cattery, placing kitties with friends and have gone from 13 cats to 5; cut back on cat showing and breeding; have made time to visit family and friends knowing that some things you will regret in life if you put them off for a "better time".

But I sometimes find myself feeling like "Is this all there is" and trying to find direction again, not really knowing how, worrying it will be the wrong direction, and on and on. I used to feel like this sometimes (pre-Mike) when I was younger and single and scraping by to make ends meet, and wondering where I'd be when I was 64...and that's not too far away now and while Mike did "provide" for me, and I have been able to stay in my house, pay off my debts and put enough food on the table that I've gained 15#, it's still daunting.

The cats and my job give me a lot of pleasure and satisfaction. I spend a lot of time counseling clients and even fellow bloggers on how to take better care of their cats. I'd love to do that full time, have a cat healthcare blog, but manage to squeeze things like that in someplace! One friend said I need to diversify, but I don't know if that would make me happy, either, so I am hoping that seeing a counselor will help me put things in a perspective that will work for me.

Some friends say I am too hard on myself. Some say my frustrations come from wanting to accomplish everything in a day and not taking it a "corner of the room" at a time. I think that is true, too. There's that basement that I can't break up into little accomplishments so never get anywhere with it. I need some direction and guidance...a guidance counselor, teehee...I am fortunate in so many ways, I need not wallow in my misfortune. I compare what I feel sometimes to nail biting, regretful and mad at myself for biting my nails, like I wanted to feel bad.

So, December is starting out to be a good month for me. I will be in Oregon for Christmas with family, bringing in the New Year with them, hopefully rested and ready to get on with it! Family gatherings can involve their own stress sometimes too, but just the change, the shedding of the responsibilities I have at home for a little while, will be a gift, just like the travels I made to friends over the Thanksgiving holiday, being with people who care for me. So think of me, in front of a warm fire, sipping Holiday Cheer and smiling a lot.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween...Kitten Style

It's been too long since I posted, lots going on, have to catch up...but when? Til then, here's a sort of seasonal photo. If I go out tonight, think I'll be... The Crazy Cat Lady!


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Almost October...

...and I am happiest that fall has begun to arrive--falling leaves (which I am actually enjoying getting outside and cleaning up after...); cooler nights (and open windows) and thoughts of corn chowder and flannel sheets. I am feeling a bit less stress as some put off tasks have been completed (no, not the basement, yet) and I have some goals both at home and at work to meet before winter arrives and with it shorter days (which could mean depression for me if I am still floundering and frustrated).

  The trip to St Louis was both a nice getaway from cat care and work, even though it was to attend a computer training seminar for work (remember, at a cat hospital) it's just nice once in a while to eat out, have someone else make your bed and not have to scoop litter boxes. Three of us went, one doctor and one assistant and me. We were compatible and amiable travel companions. 

One never knows, even when you work side by side, if sharing a hotel room will bring out the worst or the best in people. Both of them smiled when I told them I brought candy, air freshener, and everything needed to make gin and tonics when we got to our room, including the lime! We stayed right downtown and had a view of part of that amazing arch from our 17th floor room, so we actually left the curtains open so we could enjoy it all night when we were restless. 

The seminar took most of our daytime hours, but we did get in a little walking, looking for a nail salon to have a treat of a pedicure--no luck there as at least we found downtown SL to be hotels and the ballpark with not the usual traffic, pedestrians or businesses that cater to them.
  We ate at the hotel mostly but did go out one night to a nearby brew pub (not too memorable) and on our last night in town, for "Pan-Asian" food and were pleased to see a full bar (not of people, of liquor) but after a bit of back and for queries, found out they had no bartender that night. Gee, I would have been more than happy to make us a gin and tonic! So, at the hotel, I offered to buy us 3 girls a round of nightcaps and we all sat down at the small bar in the front of the Hilton and had the most outgoing, interesting bartender named Carrie Ann (it's what's your game, not what's your name, she told us--guess guys always started with that line...). Turns out she has tended bar there for 25 years, and when I asked for a Amaretto Sour, saying one of the young girls I work with called it a Grannie drink, she said she loves making drinks like Gin Rickeys and Manhattans and thanked the TV show Madmen for bringing them back. She said all the young bartenders know how to make are--and I can't think of what she said, but Flaming Monkeys Balls comes to mind. She says she scours places like Goodwill for old brandy snifters as the new ones just don't "roll" the same, and with that, put on a nice show of making our drinks with said snifters.
  She also told us she is renovating a hundred year old victorian house they bought for $85,000 and I asked if she had photos and out they came. Wide verandas, intricate gingerbread and a lovely wild garden. She said it was on the tour of homes at Christmas and I can see why...I just kept thinking of relaxing in a rocker on that wrap around veranda! And we should have stopped at the bar the night we arrived instead of the last night, because she also told us about a couple of places we shouldn't miss eating at--an oyster bar that makes a muffaleta sandwich by hollowing out a loaf, filling it with goodies and "corking" it back up!
  MUFFALETTA SANDWICH And right across the street from the hotel was an expensive Italian restaurant but she said the secret was to eat at the little bar downstairs and get the same great food for a bargain. If I ever go back, I know where I'll be going first! Oh, and did we learn much? Well, yes even though it wasn't hands on, we came back with proceedings that are far better than the manuals the system came with.

  I took a few extra days off work and that felt good too, not to have to get right back to it. I slept in, bathed all the cats, did some yard work--weed eating, sucking up and mulching leaves; had another fun S'Mores evening at my petsitters house (White Chocolate with coconut, and strawberry marshmallows are scrumptious as are ones made with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups). While we were sitting out on their patio, we all looked up to see this bright light in a mist of fog in the sky (which was clear and starlit). Turns out it wasn't a UFO, but some sort of weather rocket launch. At least that's what the government is saying. 

I rented a couple of movies--no to Goliath, yes to Enchanted, and then this weekend, in between rain showers, managed to get the car washed and waxed and vacuumed out--one of those tasks I never seemed to have the time or the energy to do. I used to be so diligent about taking care of my car and used to give Mike such a hard time about not taking good care of his, but I have been more than lax about even going through a car wash. Trying to turn a page here...

  I am hoping getting those things done will help me get back to being the "Old Teri" my boss and friends know is inside me somewhere. When my boss (who is also a very good friend to me) came to me and said "I need to have dinner again with you and see how you are feeling and see why you are not so much yourself lately. Just relax and be like the old Teri who is the cat expert that lets our clients know they have brought their cat to the right place." 

Maybe it's time I sought therapy, I don't know but do know that procrastination affects both mind and attitude. FlyLady.net recommends "Go shine your sink" and that worked for me and I'm trying to keep up the routine...it's a start.

  I'm also currently petsitting one of our clients elderly diabetic cat. He is a bit of a pill to medicate, what we call "cage brave" work, and for 3 days, he was a perfect angel but I think he now either knows what's up or feels as though the large cage I have him in (4ft high x 4ft long x 2ft wide) is his territory now. It's a bit of a manuever to surround him in the large cat bed (think Cat Burrito) and give him his twice a day insulin injection, but luckily he loves Greenies Pill Pockets and gobbles down his blood pressure pill in one bite. But he is doing well, so his owner can relax and have a nice vacation. I am thinking I'd like to take the petsitting money and get some more slate stones to put in the garden out back, around the plants to both protect them and to slow the weeds growing (another thing that's been on my "to-do" list for months!

  And you might remember Sunny, the kitty I got back from a home for "inappropriate urination" back in April. He has been doing 98% better with his behavior, had met and been spoken for by a nice young couple in Delaware (he owns an Eco-Friendly surfboard company) but just after they met, he came down (the human, not the cat) with a respiratory infection that landed him in the hospital and now he is having problems with asthma. So until that subsides, his doctor says "No Pets". Poor Sunny, he is lonely and needs just a home like they were offering, so he could be a happy only cat. I don't have anyone else interested in him at the moment, so I'm kind of thinking it's like he's on lay-away for them...hope it works out, as he's a lover and needs that second chance at happiness.


Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11...Always Remember, Never Forget

That day did change all of us, forever...after that I never left my husband without saying I love you, never hung up the phone without telling a loved one the same...because that sad day showed us how you never know if it might be that last time you see someone you love. That day, filled with observations that speak volumes, from people all around the world. 

For me, Mike had moved out to Washington DC in July, I had to stay on in Oregon until October due to work. I didn't know much about where he worked except that he could see the White House from his office. My sister woke me up and asked if I'd heard from Mike and to turn on the TV. It was a horror to watch, and I remember later hearing the sounds of so many firefighters alarms on their uniforms going off, that sound was overwhelming when you knew it meant lives lost. 

Mike was fine, I finally heard from him in late afternoon after he was able to get out of DC and 3 days later I flew out to him and spent a few days. We just had to be together...just had to. Memories are all that are left for some of us, but we will never forget...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What I've been up to...

How have 49 days passed since I posted a "Goings On" post?? Last time I went a month without posting an update, people were calling and emailing to make sure I hadn't died. Now, I guess they just assume I'm 1) Boring 2) Buried in cat litter 3) In the witness protection program and just as I would, people have gone looking for more fertile blogs to enlighten and stimulate them. Just as before, when so long went by without me "journaling" I really have to concentrate on what I have been doing to even remember some of it. AND, these lapses really negate the positive effects that journaling is supposed to do for oneself. No wonder I feel stagnant a lot of the time. 

Since mid-July, four kittens have grown up and journeyed off to their new homes. That is pleasing to me and I am happy that they are happy, too. Toby has settled in to his new home in Iowa, with no spraying behavior there! And Sunny has been spoken for, but as I just changed his and Disco's anxiety medication, I would like to wait a couple of weeks to see if it's helping so he can go off to his new home with a prescription to ease his transition. I am getting frequent updates on them and photos, too...here's a couple of Henry Oliver, Jasper and Clover, and Toby: 

I had a mini-vacation thanks to one of the kittens. I flew down to Charleston SC to deliver a kitten to a couple who have one Furrydance cat already and they have become such good friends, I feel so fortunate to have them in my life. The weather gods smiled on us and it wasn't terribly hot or humid and I was grateful for that. We did a carriage tour of Middleton Place, a plantation, which was both interesting and peaceful. Middleton Place The grounds were lovely and I took lots of photos. Here's a couple of my favorites:

Just to give you perspective, the mansion you are seeing is just what is remaining of the place--the main house and left flanking wing were destroyed by fire and then an earthquake! Saturday, we did our own little walking tour of Charleston, ending up getting thoroughly soaked by a downpour, but it was warm and we dried off before long (thank goodness for gauze shirts and tencel pants). I did have squishy sandals for a day or so afterwards, though. 

We went by a new rescue & adoption shelter and I was very impressed with the facility and how warm and welcoming it felt. I didn't take any photos there, but here's a link to them PetHelpers.org and here's some of the photos I took around Charlestown (that lovely street with the pastel painted houses is called Rainbow Road and as a side note, the shelter had their cat cages made to look just like them!

  We ate at a wonderful "Low Country" restaurant and I had to have Yellow Grits and Shrimp and it was divine! Kristynn and Tommy told me I had to have Boiled Peanuts, too Goobers and I am not sure what I thought a boiled peanut would taste like...but it was like any other legume that had been boiled--mushy and bland.

  That being said, after the third peanut they sort of grew on me and as we drove along back to the house, all of us were digging into the paper sack on the console of the truck! Tommy goes to The Citadel College and we drove around the campus and managed to be there right as the afternoon parade began, and then the downpour began and I got the funniest video of the cadets marching in the rain, didn't slow them down one step, as they had to end the review and head back inside--heads up, pace even, uniforms soaked!


We rented movies, ordered Chinese take out, BBq'd steaks one night (and I found a new favorite liqueur--a Sweet Tea infused Vodka called Firefly, which made a nice Southern version of a Long Island Iced Tea), had a big breakfast one morning of Tommy's great french toast and I got to sleep in and not have the worries of home/work/life in general. I am so glad I got away and got to enjoy the company of friends and see new places, and knowing my cats were in the care of my wonderful catsitter, made getting away possible. I was disappointed that I didn't get to meet a friend of theirs they have been telling me about for months...a laid back, birkie wearin' Doctor who lost his wife to cancer about the time that I lost Mike. We'd corresponded a little and even if we didn't "spark", I was looking forward to seeing if he was as warm and friendly as Kristynn said he was. But after initially saying he'd love to come over for a BBQ, he begged off at the last minute due to... a flea infestation (that's a new one) and then said he was shy around women and could we meet up for coffee (and then never responded to Kristynn's page)...sigh. Must not have had time to read Miss Manners.

Henry Oliver, the kitten my friends were adopting, settled in amazingly fast, even getting used to their dog and sharing the couch with her after only 4 days. I think he will be quite a different personality than their first kitty from me and that will be fun for them--he is clingy and a purrbox, where Teddy is more of a restless teenager. Here's a couple of photos of Henry and Teddy:

Work at the Cat Hospital has been frustrating due to ongoing new computer software issues, but we are making headway and in a couple of weeks, three of us are flying to St. Louis for a 3 day training seminar. Hope I come away with lots of shortcuts and new ideas...and can then relay them to those who couldn't attend (that's the hope anyway, that nothing's lost in translation...).

And as this is Labor Day weekend, I also get an extra day off (I'll need it since I've been on the computer most of the day) and am invited to a BBQ out in the country and with the weather being fantastic right now--cooler and almost like fall--I am going to relax, eat and drink (and am taking along my sleeping bag just in case I have to "sleep over", sharing floor space with Silly and Tango in their little abode...