RESOLUTIONS

I actually didn’t plan to make any New Year’s resolutions this year.  Yet somehow, I ended up making some anyway.  They fall into three different categories which I am calling: the body, the schedule, and the mind.

THE BODY

  1. Eat more fish and less beef
  2. Eat more vegetables and less carbs
  3. Visit the gym at least weekly

THE SCHEDULE

  1. Clean the cats’ litter box every morning
  2. Clean the house every week
  3. Make the bed every morning

THE MIND

  1. Be less judgmental
  2. Be more kind
  3. Be more giving

Lesson Learned

You know that stupid saying?  The old standby to whip out when you’re thinking about NOT taking a risk: “it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.”  Of course, there are other variations.  My personal favorite (and adult in nature) is: “it’s all shits and giggles until someone giggles and shits.”  I guess the phrase is usually referring to people having a good time…maybe too good a time.  But really ANYTHING can be all fun and games….until someone loses an eye.  It doesn’t have to be an obvious risk.

Can you tell that right now I’m speaking from paranoia?  Well, I used to love driving.  I loved driving myself places so that I could go by alone if I wanted.  I loved driving for the convenience of it. I loved feeling productive in driving.  Right now though, driving is probably my absolute least favorite thing.  So yes, it was all fun and games until someone lost an eye.  In this case, until someone (read: me) hydroplaned on the interstate.

I was heading home to Chapel Hill on Wednesday morning after Christmas.  It was raining, and I was feeling really worried about hydroplaning. Well, lo and behold, about 10 songs into the new Adele CD gifted to me by my brother, my car hit a sheet of water and spun out of control.  I honestly don’t remember anything but screaming my head off and then seeing that I was in the guard rail.  My driver side airbags had deployed with efficiency, and I was saved from any significant injuries via the windshield thanks to my seatbelt. The first responders that pulled over when they saw what happened told the responding officer (who was really, truly kind and gentle with me) that I spun and hit the guard rail three different times.  It’s really astounding that I didn’t hit anyone else or injure myself more seriously.

What I did come out with was severe whiplash, slight head trauma, and anxiety.  The real effects didn’t really start to manifest themselves until the next day when I woke up stiff as a board.  Of course that hadn’t been helped by the fact that the night before I had a small breakdown when I couldn’t sleep because my brain insisted on replaying what I did remember of the accident. So I went to the doctor, and they gave me something for it.  The magical somethings worked, and I stopped taking them.

What I’m now realizing though is that even though the worst of the whiplash is leaving, the anxiety and tension remain.  I was driving in the rain tonight on a twisty road when I realized I was having a sort-of panic attack.  In a fifty mph zone, I was clocking thirty-five because I was terrified.  My shoulders were tense and my neck was stiff.  Every curve gave me a minor heart attack.  So, I immediately retreated to a friend’s house that I was close to and gave in to comforting hugs.  

Maybe I don’t deserve this.  After all, I wasn’t speeding when I hydroplaned.  I wasn’t driving crazy.  I was being careful.  But I guess it happens to all of us.  However, while I might have been a little more cavalier in my driving habits before the accident, now I’m firmly in the camp of “better safe than sorry.”  The main lesson I’ve learned though is that there are aftershocks.  And my experience as of day six post-accident is that the effects of an accident like that are long-lasting.  The hard lessons we learn don’t hurt because of what actually happens.  They hurt because of what they continue to do to us. 

So, this new year, everyone please be safe.

‘Cause it’s all shits and giggles until somebody giggles and shits. 

Thankful

Today is Thanksgiving, and my Thanksgiving break has maybe been a little more dramatic than I would like.  Regardless of whatever else is happening though, there are a few things that for which I will always be thankful.

  1. A relationship with God.  This is what has led me to be thankful for everything else in my life.
  2. The unconditional love of my fiancee and best friend Ben King.  No matter what, he’s rooting for me, picking me up when I fall down, talking me through my ups and downs, pushing me a little farther, holding me close when I need comfort, and giving me a new adventure each day.
  3. The true friendship I enjoy with three very special ladies: Jane Martyn, Anya Abashian, and Rebecca McDaniel.  These three women are each special to me in different ways but they see me and understand me for who I am, even when I’m being a brat.
  4. The fellowship I enjoy with Howard and Donya McLeod and their children Katie and Max.  They have welcomed me with open arms and watched me transform during my time in Chapel Hill.  Their family means more to me than they will ever know.
  5. The always cuddling, purring, grooming, snuggling love of my fur children: Pippa and Louis.  Their love is so simple but so heartwarming.  They are my own little family.
  6. Finally, with the prospect of being repetitious, I a

    Pippa!

    m so so so thankful that God has provided for me in every way.

Below are some pictures of those for which I’m thankful.

Louis!

Anya in Ann Arbor, MI. Miss her!

The lovely and fun Becca.

Howard, Donya, Max, and Katie McLeod in Belize the Spring of 2011.

Ben and I in Carrboro, NC.

Jane and I in Charleston before eating at Poogan’s Porch in October of 2011.

Louis the Mischievous

It took a while to move on after putting Guy Noir to sleep.  Picking up his kitty paw print was hard.  It actually still sits on my bookcase with his old collar (that he actually never liked but looked fantastic with it).  Every time I look at it, I’m a little bit sad.  Actually, let me be truthful, whenever I have to explain to people that I’ve adopted three cats but I only have two, I start to get that same sad feeling I had the day we took him to the vet. I sit there and remember how we took him with his favorite blanket. I remember how he purred and kneaded the blanket and butted heads with us before we left the room.  I’m actually tearing up now.  My point though is that no matter how much time passes I think I’ll always be saddened by the memory of having to put little Guy to sleep.  I have to say that it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

All of that said, I don’t regret having Guy or taking care of him or putting him to sleep.  We made all the right decisions in trying to give him a comfortable, loving kitty life.

He’s a riot. This is one of his rare still moments.

After several weeks we decided that Pippa (not to mention the two of us) had moped enough. So after breaking the news to Jeanie (who we had adopted both Guy and Pippa from) we broached the subject of adopting another boy kitten.  Jeanie, who was I think equally heartbroken as we were, was a complete sweetheart and offered to help us adopt a second cat and without the additional costs.  We looked EVERYWHERE for the perfect little boy when we both realized that we were looking for Guy all over again. Needless to say, we weren’t going to find him and it was useless trying.  Instead, we ended up at the place furthest from the environment through which we originally adopted Guy and Pippa.  Jeanie directed us to the Caswell County Animal Shelter.  It was a sad little place where the kittens were literally caged.  You could tell that the volunteers there were so sad and made so much effort to make the lives of their little charges better. We petted, played with, and snuggled endless boy kittens.  I was starting to get worried that we were going to leave without a cat.  Part of me wanted to save all of them, but we could only take one home so we had to find the perfect one.  I thought we might have to go home and think about it when the lady at the shelter walked out of back room holding “Dart.”  Dart was evidently due for his playtime and he wasn’t really even on her radar to show to us.  But when Ben held him and he started purring, we were both goners.  So we left that day with Dart the kitten.

Dart was renamed multiple times in the car and when he got home.  Several of his name variations were: sherlock, skippy, skippy jon, and fritz.  We settled on Rambo for a day before deciding that didn’t work either.  Finally we decided that this little man was definitely a Louis (pronounced frenchyfied).

When we brought him home, Pippa was much more blase about the whole thing but Louis was completely rambunctious.  Finally free of a metal cage, the little black and white kitten ran back and forth across the apartment with boundless energy while Pippa watched perplexed.  When he hopped up to her aggressively with his back arched, she was shocked but took it in stride by batting him to the ground with her paw and stalking off.  Point made, Pippa.

They are quite the pair now.  They snuggle together and play together.  Sometimes I think his idea of snuggling is a little bit different from hers though.  Hers: let me hold you and groom you.  His: let me flop on top of you and bite your neck.   Well….I’m sure it’s just a miscommunication!

Guy Noir: April to August 2012

So today, Ben and I took Guy Noir to the vet for the last time.  When we got there, the vet we saw (Dr. Marin, another wonderful Vet at the clinic) confirmed what we already knew: Guy most likely had FIP.  Even if that wasn’t what he was, he was extremely sick with something else.  That said he was a textbook case of FIP and no matter what he really wasn’t going to improve.  His quality of life was going down.  Ben and I had already noticed that Guy had been mewling in pain a lot more, his energy had flagged, he was despondent, he wasn’t pooping, and his abdomen made a lot of things uncomfortable for him.

Even though Ben and I were prepared for the inevitable when we went to vet, I still burst into tears when we asked Dr. Marin if she thought it might be kinder to just euthanize Guy.  She told us that she thought we were making the best decision for Guy and for ourselves.  The poor thing was still purring while I signed the form, but I do know Ben and I made the right decision.  We gave him a few last cuddles before we left the room (I couldn’t stay).  We’ll be receiving a pawprint in clay (at no extra charge) from the vet in the next couple of days.

I feel horrible because in some ways, this came on so suddenly.  When we got home, Pippa greeted us and started sniffing the crate…which of course led me to burst into tears again.  I don’t know if people understand if you’ve never had an animal, but Guy was a loveable companion in my house.  I know he’s just a cat in the long run, but he was sweet and caring and fit in perfect with my little family.  I don’t know how I could have gotten through this without Ben by myself.  I’m sure I would have just broken down at the vet and then buried myself in my bed.

We’ll miss Guy, and I feel horrible that his little life was so short. But what Ben reminded me does make me feel better: he was a shelter cat. So giving him a loving home, even if just for a little while, was the best gift we could give him.  He knew he was loved, because he sure was.

Kitty SOS

First of all, I am so glad that I decided to get my first cat: Pippa.  She’s a sweetheart and a joy.  I’m infinitely happy that I got my second cat: Guy Noir.  Guy Noir is a 5 month old black kitten with a penchant for mischief and a purr as loud as a motorcar.  Unfortunately, the sweet ball of black fuzz that’s taken over part of my heart may have FIP: Feline Infectious Peritonitis.  We’ll be finding out for sure (more or less) tomorrow when we take him back to the vet.  The poor thing has a swollen and distended abdomen and belly but is quite boney up top.  He seems to have less energy and sleeps more.

You can find out more about the horrible FIP here: http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/brochures/fip.html.  I found this website to be the most informative and helpful website.  I am by no means trying to diagnose my poor kitty myself though.  We took Guy Noir to the vet yesterday where the vet (at Carrboro Plaza Animal Clinic with Dr. Anne Gavin, the best vet I’ve had yet) told us the possibilities for Guy’s symptoms.  A) he could have a parasite (i.e. worms).  To be safe they went ahead and gave him a dewormer.  B) he could have a liver problem that’s causing fluid build-up in his abdomen.  C) he could have FIP.  The plan of action tomorrow for when he goes back to the vet is that they will take x-rays to see what’s going on inside and take a fluid sample that they can send off for testing.  Unfortunately, there is no definitive test for FIP.  FIP is essentially fatal in most cases, but cats that contract it can live 2 to 3 years.  Depending on what lil’ guy’s got, we’ll see what happens.  However, through this experience I have now learned that FIP is about the worst acronym you can drop to a cat-owner.  When I emailed the foster mom I adopted Guy from to let her know what was going on, she sent me back a sympathetic email: “I truly hope it isn’t FIP!!!”

Because I’m feeling on the pessimistic side at the moment, I’ve already had a couple bouts of crying into Ben’s chest while Guy mewls plaintively at my feet.  Unfortunately, I feel like the meows aren’t so much “Mommy, pick me up!” as they were “Mommy, I hurt….”  My heart breaks every time.  I’m also trying to resign myself to the possibility that Guy may need to be euthanized.  Such a sweet kitty!  Ben has been reassuring me by reminding me that at least we gave him a wonderful, happy home for a while.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it’s something less serious that Guy can push through.  In the meantime, we’re loving him up, and Pippa is constantly bathing and snuggling with him.  At least the circle of love in my house isn’t broken by a few tears from my sentimental heart!

Cat Lady in Resident

I can wholeheartedly say that a cat lady is something I never wanted to be.  Yet here I am with two cats who I talk about more than anything else like they’re my children.  Well, guess what? I’m happy to say that I have two lovely, adorable cats and I am proud of it.  I can’t say I’m too happy at being associated with the stereotypical cat lady who has ten cats each named a variant on “fluffy.” But at the end of the day, when Ben picks me up from work and takes me back to my apartment, I am extremely happy to see my two cats racing to see me and eager to be loved.

I love this picture because it exudes such a sense of peace and love. They are most often like this in the morning when I’m waking up.

Hummingbirds, butterflies, and a lizard named Rango

So, by my estimation, the garden is flourishing.  How do I know?  Because we’ve had multiple hummingbirds visit the hyssop, tons of butterflies, and a resident lizard that we’ve named Rango.

 

So, the Hyssop has definitely been a big draw for the hummingbirds and the butterflies.  The small trumpet shape is just perfect for hummingbirds as you can see below.  

This is the type of hyssop we have.  It’s called Root Beer Hyssop (or Agastache rupestris).  However there are lots of different types, and they all have wonderful properties.  This is a nice link on the qualities of hyssop and what it can be used in and why it’s so good to have in your kitchen garden: http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/hyssop48.html

Being Thankful

Every year around November, turkeys begin to appear everywhere while people begin to ask, “What are thankful for?”  Often my glib response (or what I hope is glib) is about being alive.  Well yes, being alive is definitely something to be thankful for, but I realized recently just how much I have to be thankful for and how little gratitude I show.  

Springtime (or Summertime here in Chapel Hill) has brought out in me a thankful attitude as I’ve realized what I have.  Let’s start with the garden.  I have a blooming, bursting, bountiful, beautiful retreat from the world right behind my apartment.  I mean, I’m thankful that everything grew to start with, but I’m also pretty grateful that my boyfriend Ben did all of the heavy lifting and planting.  Suddenly, feeling grateful seems to make the garden that much more enjoyable!  I mean…the raspberries certainly help though.

So, I started realizing how little I had to complain about…and then, reality: there is ALWAYS something to complain about–especially at work.  Besides, ranting and raving a little bit always serves to make me feel better.  But at the end of that, I realize just how glad I am to have a job. More than that, I’m glad to have a job that I truly enjoy.  How many people can say that? And regardless of how many people can say it, I can go home at the end of the day being happy because I feel fulfilled.

Have I mentioned how glad I am that I got a cat?  Well, I am ecstatic.  When we got her, I was afraid that Pippa was going to end up shy and reclusive.  Low and behold, she has become my little shadow as she follows me around the house mew-ing at my heels while she isn’t playing with Ben.  SCORE!  She is the world’s coolest cat.

May I also add how happy I am that Ben and I are continuing in a productive relationship?  I think it’s fantastic that both of us are working on our issues as well as staying in touch about them.  I think it hit me the other day just how wonderful things have been of late… and I hope they only get better.

More than anything, I am thankful to feel a sense of purpose in life.  This has to be one of the most important aspects of any life according to Victor Frankl (Holocaust survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning).  I must say that I agree with him wholeheartedly.  So, I am grateful for finding meaning and I hope I continue to enjoy and define it.  

I guess I started thinking about this whole thankfulness thing when I was at Barnes and Noble the other week and saw a five-year journal for one sentence a day.  The journal’s instructions were to write one sentence each day about what you find beautiful.  Well, I may not write it down every day, but from here on out, I am determined to think each day about what I find wonderful!