Monday, July 30, 2012

Ella Fitzkitty

I said good-bye to my kitty today. She had not been eating or drinking for quite a while. Honestly, I'm not even sure what was keeping her alive, but I could not let it go on any longer. I tried everything to tempt her: treats, turkey, milk, cheese, canned food, etc. For a while, she was eating a few treats a day. The illogical part of my brain thought maybe I would just feed her treats instead of food, but obviously that was not a good long-term solution. I was also concerned about the fact that she was no longer drinking any water. I was still giving her the Pet-Tinic, and I believe that was the only fluid she was getting. I have not needed to clean her litter boxes in quite some time.

She did something very strange the other night. On Saturday evening, we had gone to a concert in the park. After the kid had taken a shower and headed off to bed, I settled in to watch "48 Hours Mystery" on TV. Now, the cat door has always been left unlocked, but Ella seldom came upstairs. My husband was sitting at the dining room table, fondling the comic books he had purchased at the convention earlier in the day. We heard the cat door swing open and then close with a thunk. Ella ran under the dining room table. The dogs were lying around like a bunch of carcasses and didn't notice anything. Nonetheless, I ran over and scooped her up before the Boxers regained consciousness.  She was just a jumble of bones covered in striped gray fur, all jagged angles in my arms. I settled back into my chair and held her in my lap. She climbed onto my shoulder and nuzzled into my neck. I am allergic, so I started sneezing shortly thereafter.

Now, Ella has never been a touch-feely sort of girl. That's why this event was so unusual. My husband has always joked that Ella is like a stripper - she can touch you, but you can't touch her. Over the years, sometimes she has permitted me to pet her and sometimes not. Sometimes she would allow me to run my hand along her spine just once and then she would hiss at me. Occasionally, I would even get a sound swat from a claws-out paw. So, it was definitely unusual that she would climb into my lap and then stay there for a while.

I held her until I couldn't stay awake any longer and then passed her to P. It was bittersweet to spend that time with her. I could tell she was in a lot of discomfort. Any time I shifted in my chair, she would mew in a way that told me there was pain there. The dogs, oddly enough, were leaving her alone. I don't know. Maybe she knew she was dying. Maybe they knew she was dying.

She died in my arms this afternoon. There was not much left to her, so the fatal fluid took effect very quickly. The veterinarian checked for a heartbeat and confirmed that my little tabby was gone. Dr. S left me alone in the room so that I could finish my good-byes. I laid Ella on the blanket-covered gurney. I arranged her tiny body so that she looked . . . comfortable, I suppose. I covered her still, small form with the baby blanket I had brought along. I placed my right hand on Ella's ribcage and clutched a wad of Kleenex in my left hand. And then I cried longer and louder than I have in a very long time. Finally, I leaned down and kissed her cheek and said, "I love you, Ella Fitzkitty. You were a good girl."

I will miss my strange little cat. My ninja kitty, who could hide in spaces seemingly too small for a gerbil. I hope they have some good hiding spots on the other side.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

First "Big Girl" Bike Ride

P spent the day looking for his soul mate at a comic book convention out of town, so the kid and I did some mother-daughter stuff. We hit the farmers' market and then headed to a bike trail. It's a nice trail; it runs alongside a river and is pretty scenic. Today was the perfect day for a ride because it was sunny and only around 73 degrees.

We rode 6.5 miles in total. I was pretty proud of my little sprite. I had no idea what her stamina would be like (or maybe her attention span was more of a variable than her stamina was). From our starting point, 3.25 miles took us to a park with a playground that she loves. So, it was the perfect place to hang out before turning around.

I did warn her that a lot of the people on the trail are trying to exercise and may not want to chat. She nodded, but then still forced every passerby to say hello to her.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Game of Thrones

My husband and I finally found something we can do together: watching "Game of Thrones."  We are currently working our way through Season 1 via Netflix.  There are a lot of beheadings and gratuitous sex, so we have to make sure Short Stuff is asleep when we watch it. In one episode, even a horse is beheaded. I'm sort of wondering how many of the characters will still have heads at the end of the series.

P and I don't watch a lot of TV together. I have my shows and he has his (I swear that he only pretends to be reading comics while I watch "Dance Moms," though - I've seen him sneaking a peek and then shaking his head like he is disgusted. Ten bucks says he can name every mom on the show.)  We aren't really united in music either, now that I think about it. We have a few interests in common but sometimes I'd swear we are from different planets. [whispering] He's a Republican, you know.

I think one reason he doesn't like to watch TV with me is that I ask a lot of questions, as if he got there before I did or perhaps possesses some secret filing cabinet in his brain that somehow stores facts about shows we haven't watched yet. Five minutes in, I am asking stuff like, "Wait? Who is that?  That's her brother? Who was that other guy then?" I'm pretty sure he finds it maddening. 

So, I have done my best to pay careful attention to "Game of Thrones."  And let me tell you, there are tons of different characters in each episode and it is a challenge to keep track. Sometimes I visit HBO's website and read the synopsis for the most recent episode I've watched, just to make sure I "got" it. Anyway, we're really enjoying the series. I can see why it cost a gazillion dollars to make.

Now, if you have watched the first two seasons, don't tell me if Khal Drogo dies. Even if he does, he will live on in my memory because he is deeeeelicious. As I understand it, he gets it on with Lisa Bonet in real life. I realize this diminishes my chances somewhat.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Updates on stuff

Remember the sleepover from last week? It turned out to be a bust. My daughter got homesick and insisted on coming home at around 10:30. My daughter and her friend were both in tears, and the night ended with a couple of broken hearts, I think. I guess the good news is that they'd had a lot of fun earlier in the evening, when they saw the new Ice Age movie and ate some junk food.

Honestly, I am not sure why my daughter got homesick. She has always been pretty independent. In fact, she got lost in a crowd at the farmers' market yesterday morning and I was the only one who was upset. When I finally found her, placidly wandering through piles of produce, I hauled her behind a cheese truck to yell at her (I mean, I had been legitimately frightened when I could not find her). She looked around at all the people walking by and whispered, "MOMMY!" I was embarrassing her, apparently. "I DON'T CARE IF I AM EMBARRASSING YOU! YOU HAVE TO STAY BY ME!" So yeah, I briefly turned into that mom, the one who screams at her kid in public.

Now I'm not sure how to know when she will be ready to sleep over at a friend's house. How does one know? I guess in the mean time, I will just invite her friends over for sleepovers periodically. This plan does foil the whole "kid at sleepover = date night that doesn't involve paying a baby sitter" scenario, but I'm sure we'll live.

In other news, my kitty is still kicking. I fear I will have to make a decision soon. I am continuing to give her the vitamins that the vet gave me. I've perfected the art of getting the brown liquid into her without having to wear the liquid on my shirt for the rest of the day. She is eating very little. I found out that she is willing to eat kitty treats - and more specifically, Whiskas Temptations ("crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside!"). Part of me thinks, "Well, I guess I'll just feed her treats then." But part of me knows this can't go on forever. She is vomiting quite a bit and seems pretty lethargic.

Finally, I'm sure you are dying to know how my massive tomato is doing. It is now about the size my daughter's head was when she was born. I continue to fondle it a couple times a day, but it has not started to ripen.

As a bonus update . . . you remember the Pride festival I attended last weekend? Well, I totally won a raffle package! I got the call a couple days ago. Ever since I won Michael Moore's Twitter contest (which earned a $10,000 donation for the Boxer Rescue organization for which I volunteer), I am somehow convinced that I am extraordinarily lucky. I buy tickets for every raffle that comes my way. Anywho, I won a package that includes: a $50 gift card for an Italian restaurant (which is actually pretty pricey, so I need a $50 head start to go there regardless), a $50 gift card for a performing arts center (I think I'm going to take the kid to the Nutcracker Ballet in December), and $30 towards services at a local hair salon. I was not familiar with the salon so I looked it up online. All but one of the employees are African-American. They specialize in cornrows and other ethnic hairstyles. Now, I have never been lucky in the hair department. I have about eight strands of hair in total. My hair is unmistakably . . . white girl hair. So, I am not sure what they would do with me. However, you know I cannot let $30 go unspent, so I might just head over there sometime. I hope cornrows are okay at work. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Too much drama for this mama

I'm just gonna say this outright: girls are more dramatic than boys. I am not big on gender stereotypes in general, but I can declare this one to be true with absolute confidence. You see, I grew up in a home with sisters (no brothers) and I was sometimes the root of the drama. With three girls, there was a lot of it to go around. I've noticed that my nephews don't seem to engage in a lot of drama. They may choose to invest their time in non-productive activities like punching each other in the head or making weapons out of Legos, but they don't usually stomp down the hall with a wail of "You don't even love me!"

With my daughter, I get the full package: the stomping, the wailing, the eye rolling, and the dramatic statements meant to turn my cold black heart into something squishier and more easily manipulated. What scares me the most is that this is not a phase. I fully expect it to continue until she becomes a mom herself. Honestly, I cannot wait until my daughter's future child - my grandchild - sits down at the dinner table, pokes the homemade food on her plate, and solemnly announces that she couldn't possibly be expected to put it in her mouth and swallow it.

I'll give you a couple of examples of the drama. On Monday, I picked my daughter up early from daycare. Since it was over 100 degrees outside, I took her to one of our local public pools. It was incredibly crowded, just as I knew it would be - wall to wall bodies. This is not my kind of scene. I don't want anyone touching me while I'm in a pool. However, I took one for the team, because the kid really wanted to go. We were there for two hours. I even bought her some lemonade and popcorn.

Later, after dinner, I gave her a bath to wash off the chlorine (and God knows what else). By 7:00, she was in her pajamas and I was hoping for an early bedtime.  However, three of her friends knocked at the door at precisely that moment.  They wanted to come in and play.

"Oh, I don't know," I said. "You're in your pajamas, the dogs are freaking out, and maybe it's just not a good time. Some other day."

She threw herself on her bed, crying mightily.  "THIS IS THE WORST DAY EVER!" she wailed.  The pool, the popcorn, the lemonade . . . all a distant memory now, I guess.  And really, the worst day ever? The very worst?  That doesn't leave a lot of room for war, 9/11, expired coupons, empty cookie boxes, etc.

I ended up letting her friends in for a brief play date. Because I'm the worst mom ever on the worst day ever.

On the last day of school, I picked her up from daycare and took her to the farmers' market downtown. She complained incessantly about wanting something to drink. I finally relented and bought her a lemonade. She took exactly one sip (because she was, you know, so incredibly parched and all). I decided we weren't having much fun, so I walked her back to the car. I told her I was tired of  the complaining. She cried all the way back to the car.  When we had to stand on a corner for a while as a train passed, she wailed, "This is the worst last day of first grade ever!"

When my friend was here last weekend, we took a day trip on Sunday. We had a great time, but my daughter's mood turned sour as we got closer to home on the way back. By the time we pulled into the driveway, she was in a full-on snit.  She refused to come into the house and pouted in the van instead.  It was hot in the garage so eventually I made her bring her act inside the house.

"What is the problem?" I asked.

"You don't care about me!" she accused.

Me: "So, you can tell I don't care about you by the way I took you out to lunch today. Is that it?"

Her: (shaking head)

Me: "Or maybe it was when I bought you the ice cream cone at the candy store. Is that when you could tell I don't care about you?"

Her: (shaking head)

Me: "Oh, I know, it was probably when I took you to the park and let you play as long as you wanted.  Then I let you get in the water even though you didn't have a swimsuit. Was that it?"

And so on it went. Periodically, when she's been told "no" in response to one of her many requests, she busts out this old favorite: "You should just sell me and get a daughter you really want!"  There are a few variations on that.  I'll have to check and see if Craigslist has a "sell daughters you don't care about" section.

p.s. After I typed this blog entry, there was another meltdown, this one involving my refusal to take her out for frozen yogurt this afternoon. She told me that she was going to pull out her hair because she's "soooooo ugly!" Ten minutes later she hugged me and told me that I'm the best mom ever.  She swings like a pendulum, this one. It is hard to keep up, ya'll. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Friend, Wine, Pride, Food, Water (and Sand)

An old and dear friend of mine flew in from DC on Friday morning for a visit. He flew back out this morning. I took Friday and Monday off work.  I could probably go in to work today but I need a day to recuperate from the weekend.

On Friday, we spent the day bopping around town. He stayed at a hotel downtown, which just happens to be within walking distance of a winery. So, we hoofed it over there and tasted the various wines. We had lunch at a vegetarian restaurant.  Later, we picked up my kid from daycare and headed back to our house for pizza. And after that, my friend and I went out for a little while. Another friend of mine joined us. Yes, at a bar. Don't judge!

On Saturday, we went to a local Pride festival. My church had a booth there, so I volunteered to help out (I also volunteered my friend, because I'm helpful that way).  The last time I attended this festival was two years ago.  We had a searing heat wave both times. My friend and I left mid-day to get lunch (there wasn't much at the festival I could eat). After lunch, we accidentally went to an air-conditioned bar for a couple of drinks. When we headed back to the festival, the temperature was still astronomically high, but we minded it slightly less.

It was a fun day. A lot of interesting people stopped by our booth. There were only a couple of protesters. I really dug these kids, who just quietly stood next to them with their banner:

I hope their parents are proud of them, and I mean that in all sincerity. They didn't rant and rave or yell at the protesters. They just stood there respectfully, making their point oh-so-well.  As for the protesters, I didn't read their signs in their entirety, but they were the usual fare - wordy posters with bible verses and the word "sodomy" used liberally. It occurred to me that they may as well picket every event, everywhere. The definition of sodomy includes oral sex and I'm pretty sure one or two or a hundred million heterosexuals have engaged in that as well. So, the protesters should really consider showing up at every public gathering, just in case someone there might be doing something behind closed doors that would not meet with their approval.

On Sunday, the three of us (P didn't go) headed to church. It was a very moving service. Some of the ladies of the church recently completed a "Women of Wisdom" curriculum, and they shared their experiences and expressed joy at moving into their crone years.  I never realized that the term actually reflects a very positive and empowering rite of passage. One of our church's wisest and most cherished elders spoke eloquently about the possibility that it may soon be time for her to "fold up her wings" and I cried because she means so much to all of us. Adding to my tears was the death of a member of the fellowship a few days before. 

After church, we took a day trip. We had a nice lunch and then headed to a park that featured a little beach. My daughter splashed around at the edge of the water while we sat in the shade nearby. Thirty seconds later, I looked over at the beach to see my child submerged in water up to her neck. Fully clothed. At first I was going to yell at her and then I remembered that its summertime and that rules don't apply. One day last week I let her eat ice cream twice in the same day. Anyway, it didn't take too long for her to dry off since it was so hot. She probably still has sand in various crevices, though.

It was a fun trip and the breeze off the water was a welcome reprieve from the relentless heat. I wished I could jump in the water myself. We finished up the day back at my house.  The kid dragged my friend into her room to play while I made dinner. She forced him to check out some books from her library and then required him to return them immediately. 

All in all, it was a fun and memorable weekend. I feel so fortunate to have a friend who would fly across the country to visit me. I know he reads my blog so . . . thanks for coming, mon ami!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What passes for a garden around here

So, you may be thinking to yourself, "Self, I wonder if Claudia tried to grow anything this year?" (And if you truly did form that thought at some point, you may need to re-assess a few things in your personal life.) As you may recall, I have an inexplicable determination to grow tomatoes.  This is my third summer of trying. Last year, I learned that some tomato plants are "indeterminate," which means that they keep growing until they take over whole cities. Apparently, that was the kind I had last year and I was ill-prepared at best.  Because I have a smallish yard with three big dogs running around (and peeing) in it, my only real hope is to grow stuff in containers.  I am currently growing tomatoes, green beans, and possibly zucchini.  I say "possibly" because I got a late start with the zucchini and don't really know what I am doing. I feel like I am slightly more prepared with the tomatoes this year, though. I bought a bigger cage thingamajig.  I actually have a couple of plants going - one with cherry tomatoes (gift from a friend) and the other with the big slicing variety. So far, so good - both have lots of tomatoes hanging from them, although nothing is ripe yet. I go outside and poke and fondle the tomatoes at least once a day, just in case that might help to speed things up.

Oh, I should mention that the green bean plant technically belongs to my daughter. You would know it is hers from the way she ignores it completely and has never watered it once. She planted a seed at a children's festival back in the spring. I didn't think we'd actually end up with a plant in as much as she spilled most of the dirt out of the cup before we ever got it home. But, lo and behold! We've got a green bean plant. She doesn't care for green beans, however, so I've been snapping them off and eating all of them myself. At my house, I don't get a lot of competition for the vegetables.

So yeah, I've got a bunch of stuff growing on the deck. I recently did a bit of Googling on the topic of container gardening.  I found lots of articles that seemed helpful, except that they all talked of buying lots of products related to the garden and building trellises and whatnot. Call me old school (or maybe just stupid) but I have been relying on dirt + sunshine + water for my plants. After all, I could just buy tomatoes at the farmers' market so I don't want to make a major investment here.That's right, I'm stupid AND cheap.

I know I am probably setting myself up for failure when it comes to my gardening efforts. The main reason is that I'm entirely unwilling to do much homework or to take helpful advice from friends. I just plant stuff and hope for the best. It's no wonder that the haphazard approach hasn't done much for me.

Anyway, here are a few things I'm attempting to grow (or, at least, trying very hard not to kill).

Check it out - I grew these zinnias from seed!

The tomato I fondle twice a day.

One of my lovely lilies.

And last but not least, my assistant gardener, Gideon. He follows me around while I fondle the tomatoes.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Will wonders never cease?

After countless practice sessions involving many tears and a few minor injuries, Short Stuff can ride a bike. She cannot steer well and cannot properly apply the brakes, but she's riding. Hallelujah!  

For weeks I have been practicing with her off and on. I can handle bending over and I can handle running, but I can't handle running while bent over. There were days when I thought my spine would snap in half, but she would have a coronary event if I let go of the back of her bike. So, I held on and jogged along behind her, offering encouragement as we went.  We live on a cul-de-sac so it was easy enough to have her practice in the street. She would get frustrated a lot, though, so the neighbors had a front row seat for several meltdowns. I never got upset with her at all, but the kid has a low frustration tolerance.

Finally, the ability to balance kicked in and my baby was riding.

Her dad and I have been belting out "She's a bike rider" to the tune of "Heartbreaker" by Pat Benatar, but she is not amused.

She's a bike rider
Dream maker, love taker
Don't you mess around with her
She's a bike rider . . . 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sleepovers and Festivals and Whatnot

For only the second time ever, our daughter spent the night away from both of us on Saturday. The first time was when she was a baby. We needed to repaint our living room/dining room/kitchen and didn't want the wee lass breathing in paint fumes. So, my friend Mary took her overnight. Mary has fostered over 100 babies so at the time, she was one of the few people I trusted with my little one. Now I'll just let any random stranger take her. Kidding, I'm kidding!

We dropped her off at our niece and nephew's house Saturday afternoon. A typically gets along well with their daughter, who is a year older. A has been invited to a few slumber parties with friends, but I've been really hesitant until now. She can't (or won't) comb her own hair, still needs help taking a shower, cries at the drop of a hat, etc. In short, I feared her maturity level (both physically and mentally) wasn't quite high enough to meet the demands of an overnight stay. However, we figured leaving her with relatives overnight would be a good test, since relatives are essentially obligated to put up with each other.

As it turned out, I need not have worried. I told the kid that if she needed to talk with me, she could ask her cousin (my niece) to help her use the phone. I never heard from her. When we picked her up on Sunday, my daughter told me that she thought of calling me but then "I would forget a minute later," she confessed.  So yeah, she was pretty broken up about being away from the 'rents overnight.  She has been invited to a slumber party at a friend's house this Friday, so I guess she's good to go.

As for us, we went to a music festival. It was a couple hours away, so we stayed overnight.  The music festival itself was verrrrry crowded.  I think the fact that this bothered us means we are getting old. As we were watching a couple different bands, we were surprised at how many people climbed over and around us to get to . . . wherever the hell they were going. At one show, we were standing (no seats available) and one douchebag after the next squeezed by me so that I was forced to have full bodily contact with each one. At times I thought, "Cripes, I don't have this much physical contact with my husband!" Other than the secondhand smoke and the involuntary intimacy with strangers, we had a good time. We parked a couple miles away because we were too cheap to pay $20 for parking. ("We could drink that money instead!" we told ourselves.)  So, we had a long walk when we left, but it was fun to watch some of the inebriated lightweights and youngsters stumbling through the streets.

P and I had a nice weekend together. We also went on a brewery tour (I don't drink beer so I slipped my free drink tokens to my husband - shhhhh) and went out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. It was nice to stay in a hotel room with no dogs or children in it, at least for one night. I slept until 8:45 a.m. on Sunday, which is something the dogs would never allow at home. The hotel offered a free breakfast and I knew I'd never get my act together in time to get downstairs before it ended. So, my husband went down and got some food for me. I asked him to get me some fruit and the man came back with a banana in his pocket for me. I tell you, sometimes the jokes just write themselves.

I'm actually sorta proud of the fact that even after 20 years, we still like to hang out together pretty regularly. I know I am often guilty of complaining about what my husband does or does not do. There is a nag list on the refrigerator that he has been ignoring for two years. I mean, I am not cleaning the gutters myself. That is a boy's job and my boy had better get it done. But, I digress. He's a good egg.  We made a list of all the places we want to visit someday, probably after our daughter leaves for college (well, unless she wants to go to Graceland with her old, uncool parents). We truly do see ourselves visiting Seattle together a dozen years from now. That, I think, is a good thing.

Meanwhile, it appears that sleepovers are a go, so let me know if you want a chatty girl with unruly hair and picky eating habits at your place overnight.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

It's hot, but I carry on . ..

I haven't posted in a few days because, well, I haven't done all that much. Or at least, not anything very exciting.

Since my last post, I:
  • Complained a bit about the heat. Normally, I am not one to complain too much about the weather because it's pointless - I think it's best to reserve the kvetching for situations that can be changed. But seriously, ya'll - it's hot as fuck.
  • Went to yoga three times. Each time,  I broke a sweat before class even started, just from the exertion of rolling out my yoga mat. 
  • Had a date night with my husband. We rode a roller coaster and then went out for drinks and dinner. My beloved said the wrong thing to me at the bar and then I had to go all silent treatment on him for a little while. You'd think the man would learn after 20 years.
  • Went to church. The sermon dealt with confronting racism and gave me a lot of food for thought.
  • Took my daughter and her friend to a water park (I had free passes that I won in a raffle).
  • Went to the garden center to see if they had any sod. When the surly teenaged clerk informed me that they didn't have sod and that she had no way of knowing if they will ever have sod, I bought grass seed instead. 
  • On a related topic, I gave my daughter's sandbox to my friend Mary to use for her grandchildren. She gave me a batch of snickerdoodles when she picked up the sandbox, and that seemed like a fair trade to me.  The reason I gave it to her is that we bought it for A a couple years ago and she used it approximately three times. Then she spotted a spider in the sand one day and never touched the sandbox again.  Ahhh, that was money well spent. Anyhow, once the sandbox was gone, I was left with a sizable grassless spot. Hence, the need for sod.
  • Went to the farmers' market Saturday morning and bought spinach, peaches, and mushrooms.
  • Went to a second farmers' market with my friend Karen after work on Tuesday. It was so hot at the market that we went to a nearby restaurant instead. The server informed us that we could have all the wine we could drink for ten bucks and we said, "Yes, please!"
  • Went shopping for a dress to wear to a formal event that I am attending on Friday. Not wanting to spend a ton of money on a fancy dress that I'll never wear again (because my husband never takes me anywhere good), I headed to Goodwill.  And, lo and behold, I found a very pretty Evan Picone dress that's perfect for the occasion and will also work just fine for a funeral, should such a need arise.
  • Spent the 4th of July mostly indoors. I took my daughter to a movie (Mirror, Mirror) at the budget theater.  There were a bunch of activities going on downtown all day, but we opted to wait and head down there just in time for the fireworks. 
 Now I'm all confused because I had a day off work in the middle of the week. That is all.