Thursday, September 30, 2021

Obsessed

I'm praying for poop
I have been thinking a lot about poop. Last night, in fact, I woke up pre-dawn, worried about it.

I took Connie to the vet Saturday. It was bittersweet, since it was an appointment I'd made for poor Reynaldo. But she needed her rabies shot, and hadn't had a good, thorough once over since Summer 2020.

There's good news and bad news. The good news is that her weight is fine, her eyes are clear, her heart and lungs sound good. Yay!

The bad news is she needs dental work. Not a surprise, not unusual. AND Connie was constipated. Palpating her belly and gut, the vet could feel the stool. Again, that was Saturday morning.

Since Saturday morning (it's now Thursday afternoon) she's only pooped twice. According to the vet, this is not normal. She sent me home with a laxative gel and said our goal was to get Connie defecating daily. She said in passing that if we can't establish a more stable pattern, we should do x-rays and see if there are tumors or obstructions. 

Now she said this as she was drawing blood. She was offhand about it. But naturally, coming so soon after I lost Reynaldo, it captured my attention. So I've been dosing her Miralax, which is tasteless so it's not an issue. The laxative gel is a no-go, Connie simply won't have that. I've been giving her pumpkin straight from the can, which is a natural kitty laxative. Sometimes she'll eat that, sometimes she won't.

And I check her litter box. Obsessively. Hoping to shovel poop. Mostly I'm disappointed.

Trying not to freak out. First of all, while Connie is not young (she's 9, or 52 in human years) she's not as old as Rey was. So problems won't become dire as quickly for her as they did for him. Secondly, the vet did a complete blood panel and everything came back good. She's lively and affectionate, cuddling and playing with me every day. Also, where Rey was a thrill junkie who actually enjoyed car rides and being handled by the vet, Connie is a stereotypical fraidy-cat. It exhausts and stresses her. Exhaustion and stress aren't good for gut trouble.

So we're taking a wait-and-see approach. I'm keeping a diary of her meds and her poops (unfortunately still more meds than poops) until Saturday the 16th. Then we return to the vet for next steps. Hopefully by then her output will be fine and we can schedule her tooth extraction.

Yes, I've just written a 400-word Valentine to cat turds. The things we do for love!


Sunday, September 26, 2021

Sunday Stealing

Stolen from Bun Toting Librarian

1.      When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought? "No zits."

2.      What shirt are you wearing? The TCM t-shirt I wear as pajamas.

3.      Do you label yourself? I could think of adjectives that describe me, if called upon to do so.

4.      What does your watch look like? It's an old school Timex with a purple band.

5.      What were you doing at midnight last night? Sleeping.

6.      Last furry thing you touched? My Connie cat.

7.      Favorite age you have been so far? 35. My career had really taken off, I was in love and felt very sexy.

8.      What is your current desktop picture? A New Yorker representation of my work-from-home life.




9.   If you had to choose between $1,000,000 or to be able to fly what would it be? I'll take the money. If I was younger, and could look at a longer lifetime of flight, I might choose differently.

10.  The last song you listened to? "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"

11.  What do you do when vending machines steal your money? Pout

12.  Would you move for the person you loved? Yes

13.  Name three things that you have on you at all times? Every time I leave the house I have keys, glasses and mask.

14.  What’s your favorite town/city? Chicago!

15.  Does anything hurt on your body right now? Hurt? No. But my back itches.


 

Saturday, September 25, 2021

"I remember Cub games with you!"

So said both of my friend Kathleen's kids to me today. We were celebrating her son (now -- gulp! -- 30) and his bride with a belated couple's shower in Kathleen's backyard. Naturally the groom's kid sister (now -- gulp! -- 27) was there, and very proud of the desserts she made for the party. I've known them all their lives but haven't seen them in years. 

I held Kathleen's hand at the hospital when she went into labor with her daughter. I stayed with her until her husband got there, then I went to the daycare center and picked up her son (now the bridegroom!). I'm the one who told the preschooler that he had a sister. 

I can think of birthday parties and trips to the zoo with these kids. Their dad is a Brit, so over the years we've celebrated Boxing Day together. Yet they each mentioned to me separately that they had "the best time" at Wrigley Field with me. There are worse ways to be remembered.

On a separate note: today would have been my uncle's 80th birthday. It was nice to celebrate on this day again. And in person! I realize that Zoom has helped us stay in touch and has enabled business as usual during the pandemic, but I have missed seeing people in three dimensions.



September is the cruelest month

... or at least the most expensive. So far this month, I've spent about $900 I hadn't intended to.

•  Easing Reynaldo out of life cost money. It's part of being a responsible pet parent. I don't regret trying to keep him as comfortable as possible as long as possible, but that means trips to the vet and the ER, plus the cost of Uber rides.

•  Keeping Connie legal cost money. Gotta keep my girl cat legal, and today she got her 3-year rabies shot. In addition, I asked the vet to do bloodwork. She's getting older, too, and I want to keep her healthy. I should have budgeted for this, but I didn't.

•  My new Moto G Power phone cost money. I suppose I should have seen this one coming. Wednesday, when I was at the ER with Reynaldo, my phone was very glitchy. I got it to work and kinda forgot about the problems. This morning, it was losing power even as it was charging. By the time Connie and I were ready to leave the vet, it was dead. Fortunately it was a beautiful fall day and we could walk it so I didn't really need my phone. But I'd need it for 1:00 this afternoon, so off to Target I went. I would have preferred to pay the $7/month offered by Consumer Cellular for ordering online, but because I was trying to beat the clock, I had to pay for the whole thing at once. (The Consumer Cellular phone rep helped me get up and running in less than an hour -- their customer service is stellar -- and it is a good phone for the price. I just wasn't prepared to spend this.)

I've got about $900 in my emergency fund, but I don't want to use that. I save that for household expenses -- like appliance repairs or an emergency condo assessment -- where I may need to pay cash. So I put this on my credit card.

It used to be that I looked at purchases like the ones above as why I have credit cards. The closer I get to retirement, the less sanguine I am with carrying debt. On the other hand, as my neighbor told me when I told him my tale of woe about the phone, "We do what we need to do." He's right. I don't see how I had any choice with any of the above. It won't take me that long to pay this off. And it's money that had to be spent.

Photo by rawpixel.com - www.freepik.com

Friday, September 24, 2021

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Cardigan (2020)

1) When she's feeling low, Taylor Swift compares herself to an old cardigan, forgotten under the bed. Do you store anything under your bed? Or do you try to keep that area clear (except for dust bunnies)? Yes. There's stuff under there. I've volunteered on quite a few political campaigns and there are buttons and posters, etc. down there.

2) The lyrics begin with a reference to a new phone. Do you foresee yourself getting a new phone before 2021 ends? Or are you happy with the one you've got? My current phone is fine. I may get a new one, but only if the price is very right.
 
3) She sings that her lover haunts all of her "what if's." Have you recently wondered, "what if?" What were you musing about? I was looking back over how I used/endured/wasted all the time I've had at home during covid. Am I the only one who didn't redecorate her home or learn to bake sourdough bread?

4) Taylor Swift admits that she rewinds after concerts by watching Friends reruns. What do you do to relax? Watch baseball or cuddle a cat.

5) Thinking of TV shows, Taylor appeared on a 2009 episode of CSI. That series was about crime-scene investigators who use forensics to solve murders. Do you enjoy crime shows? Yes. I can always get into Law & Order or NCIS.

6) Taylor grew up on an 11-acre tree farm where she learned to ride. Her mother was a horsewoman and hoped riding was a passion they could share. When she was 12, Taylor admitted to her mother that she really wasn't that into it and wished she could spend more time on her music. Her mother was supportive. Tell us about a tough conversation you've had that turned out well. Last month I had the "Naomi Osaka" conversation with my friend, Mindy. I told her I wasn't OK, that I'd been struggling with things emotionally, and I really needed her to be my friend. She stepped up 100%. I was relieved, since it's hard for me to be vulnerable.

7) She enjoys good, old-fashioned mysteries, especially those by Agatha Christie. Are you currently reading a book? I'm reading a massive biography of Joseph P. Kennedy, head of the clan we all know. It's a roller coaster. Just when you're sure he's the crummiest guy ever, he does something so wise or so creative that you rethink him.

8) In 2020, the year this song was released, Jeopardy host Alex Trebek died. The search for a new host has caused interest and even controversy. Would you enjoy the job? No. I cannot bear the thought of seeing myself on TV. Remember Chandler's joke when he saw home movies of high school Monica? "The camera adds fifteen pounds," she said defensively. "How many cameras were on you?" he asked.

9) Random question: Of Superman's three superpowers -- tremendous strength, the ability to fly, and x-ray vision -- which would you choose? Strength. Imagine, never again having to wrestle with a jar.

 


Friday, 9:30 AM, and I'm still in bed

 

"Take some space, Gal." So wrote my boss in yesterday afternoon's email. "The Cubs are playing tomorrow, right? Order some takeout and watch the game." 

If we'd all been at the office, I would have taken time off to recover from losing Reynaldo because I cry unexpectedly. But with work-from-home, I'm able to write and sniffle. So I have been. But that night when I decided I couldn't let Rey live this way anymore, I knocked off some digital banners* and sent my ideas to my boss Wednesday morning. At 6:30 AM, as I was getting ready to take Reynaldo to the Emergency Vet and the end. In my email, I told my boss I'd check in with him again, via email, after I returned home, carrier empty.

He of course responded that I didn't have to, but I thought I did. He and his girlfriend just moved from an apartment to a house, he hadn't taken any time off, and was working amid boxes. I didn't want to be unfair to him.

Rey in meeting prep
Yesterday I sent him my revised manuscript and asked him for input. He responded that he would take care of it from here, and that I should "take some space." I know he kinda knew Reynaldo because my cat used to crash our Zoom meetings all the time. My coworker Jane refers to Rey as "the boss." But still, this was an extraordinarily kind thing for my boss to do.

I've been surrounded by kindness. Which is good, because I need it.

•  Wednesday morning, in the drizzle, as Reynaldo and I were waiting for the Lyft and his final car ride, a couple walked by, sharing an umbrella and looking like a greeting card. They stopped, the woman peered in and asked his name. "Reynaldo is a cutie," she said. He always liked new people, he knew his name, and even though he was very weak, he turned to lock bright eyes with her. I was grateful that they stopped and that she used his name, not "Kitty."

•  Shortly after he was gone, I was outside at the Emergency Vet, trying to get my phone to work so I could call a car and get the fuck home. Phones always crap out at the worst time, don't they? Anyway, as I was fighting with it, a woman came up beside me and said, "Hi. I'd kill for your hair. Where do you get it done?" Now it was still humid and drizzling, and she still liked my hair! As my phone was restarting, I told her how to find Tony. It was a nice respite from how awful I felt with that empty carrier beside me.

•  People slag Facebook all the time, but I have to tell you that reading the condolences truly made me feel better. Real-life friends, people I met at the TCM Film Festival but haven't seen since 2019, coworkers who drifted away, even both of my sisters chimed in. I loved seeing the parade of names and comments.

•  My oldest friend sent me flowers. She told me she admired my courage in doing right by my little man, and that now Reynaldo was atop The Rainbow Bridge, merrily knocking shit over as he waits for me. She is broke, she has health problems, and yet she did this!

• This blog. Lisa, Country Dew, Kwizgiver, Stacy, and Project 19 all chimed in and lifted my spirits. Thank you, ladies.

He weighed less than 5 lbs. at the end, but my buddy had a larger-than-life impact on me. And I am so grateful for the kindnesses I have received since we had to say goodbye.

*Someone actually writes those animated ads that appear off to the side of the web page you're looking at. Someone like me. And we're usually on a deadline because clients tend to only think of those ads at the last minute.


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

OK, so he wasn't a good boy

Reynaldo's last photo, Tuesday night
 Reynaldo died this morning. We ended our time together as we often dozed off together: "holding hands." Ever since he was a kitten, he liked squeezing my finger between the pads of paws.

I loved him very much and I miss him enormously. My home feels desperately empty without him. But I cannot honestly say he was a good boy.

From where I sit I can see the gouges on the furniture as he jumped up where he didn't belong to knock items noisily to the floor.

When I get up in the middle of the night tonight (as I invariably will) I'll have to remind myself that it's now safe to flush. For if Reynaldo heard me, he'd come bounding into the bathroom to herald the dawning of the new day. He'd be so insistent that it was time for fresh water, breakfast, conversation and head rubs -- even if it was 3:30 AM -- that I was afraid to alert him.

I'll never again be frightened by a crashing sound from the kitchen. Rey would have to get up on the counter to knock down the drip tray from the George Foreman grill. There was salmon juice in there once. It could happen again!

The handled basket in the dining room? It's falling apart. Why? Because if he was bored and I wasn't paying attention to him, he'd slither across the dining room table and knock it over. I'd yell at him and he'd stare at me, eyes bright. Any attention was good attention to Reynaldo.

The photos I once displayed are now in a box because he turned the frames into cat toys. I got tired of cleaning up the glass and then replacing them.

To the world, he was my cat. But he and I knew the truth: we were roommates. He never fully accepted me as the alpha. We were equals. What I considered "naughty," he regarded as his only response to my bad behavior.

But he was endlessly affectionate. He literally loved my face. He would gaze at me, nuzzle my ear. He often reached for me, touching me with a white paw, just to reassure himself that I was here and I loved him. 

And when confronted by all the unconditional love, I could not stay angry. So I learned to be patient. I learned to accept. That was Reynaldo's gift to me.

He wasn't a good boy, but he was my perfect buddy. 



Tuesday, September 21, 2021

WWW.WEDNESDAY

WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To
 participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here.  

1. What are you currently reading? The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy by David Nasaw. Today he's known as a father, and his brood of overachievers included a President, two Senators, an Ambassador and a world renowned philanthropist. Not bad! But, as this book points out, his story would be worth telling even without the accomplishments of his kids. Imaginative and relentlessly ambitious, he made fortunes in banking, investing, real estate and motion pictures. He was a public servant and diplomat. Just reading about him is exhausting. The man was a tornado.

Jacqueline Kennedy once said that "men are such a combination of good and evil." She may have been talking about her father in law. Example: Joe Kennedy did everything he could to stay out of WWI. Simply because he didn't want to go. He was a draft dodger, it was no more complicated than that. He took a job he was unqualified for at a Massachusetts shipyard and used connections to have it declared vital to the war effort, getting him a draft deferment he didn't deserve. Legal, but amoral and sleazy. Then during the Spanish flu epidemic, he worked tirelessly to convert the shipyard dormitories into infirmaries to quarantine the sick. It was a creative solution with literally life saving results. His whole life was like this. As I read, I ping-pong between, "shame on you" and "way to go!"

This is a reread. I'm not sure why it called out to me so noisily, but it did, and so here I am. It's a fair minded and fascinating read. 

BTW, Joseph Kennedy wore many hats professionally but he was NEVER a bootlegger! Nasaw puts that one to bed rather neatly. If you read much about the Kennedys, you learn to separate the wheat from the chaff. But this is one of the most baseless yet most tenacious false charges. It annoys me because Nasaw is able to debunk it so completely. Why do other biographers keep lazily picking it up?

2. What did you recently finish reading? Convicted by Lisa Scottoline. This book has everything! Murder, scandal, dark secrets, romance and a trial. It's one of those books I couldn't wait to get back to.

Back when Jason was just 12 -- young enough to still play with Legos -- he receives a draconian sentence for a minor infraction. Bennie Rosato represents the kid but it all goes terribly wrong and Jason ends up spending his teen years in juvie. 13 years later, Bennie's the head of one of Philadelphia's top law firms and Jason is the suspect in a gruesome knife murder. She takes his case because a) she feels responsible and b) here's her chance to make it right and c) SPOILER! it involves the man who got away.

This book tackles important topics, like whether incarceration ever rehabilitates a kid and who profits from for-profit prisons. But it's got enough Christmas shopping, candlelight kisses, and old-fashioned courtroom drama to keep you hooked. I really didn't like the ending -- it was more Perry Mason than Law & Order -- but I still recommend it. Even if you're not familiar with the characters in the series, this entry stands alone.

3. What will you read next? I don't know.

 

He's resting comfortably

But is Reynaldo enjoying his life? I look at this photo of him from 2019 (or so). He was so happy and excited to wander between the shower curtain and liner that he had to sing about it at the top of his lungs. Nothing makes him this happy anymore.

All he does is sleep, walk on wobbly legs to his litterbox, and eat. He acquiesces to snuggles, but he doesn't really care. He ignores Connie Cat completely. In short, he's not really Reynaldo anymore. 

Is sleeping a lot (though, importantly, without pain) fair to him? I don't think so.

I have spoken to the vet and, on Saturday morning, I'm going to learn how to administer fluids to him at home. I'm told it's not that hard, and the vet believes that a regular (weekly? bi-weekly?) infusion will make him feel better. 

If the fluids don't work, I'm going to let him go.  

All I want is to make him happy again. Just "alive" is not enough for my little madman. He deserves better than this. It's my responsibility to see that he gets it.

I love him very much.



Sunday, September 19, 2021

Sunday Stealing

More of Those 5,000 Questions

1. If America is one nation under God then are atheists citizens? Only if they were born before 1954, when in our nation's 178th year, we suddenly noticed we forgot to mention "God" in our pledge. I'm being facetious, of course. The USA was designed to be a secular country. That's why our Constitution says there "shall be no religious test" required to hold office. The wisdom of this can't be questioned when you listen to how rabid and un-American many evangelicals can be.

2. Is there anything that you believe should be banned for any reason? I'm not a big fan of banning.

3. How often do you eat too much? All day, every day.

4. If you died tomorrow, what mark would you have left on the world? Every day I try to live my Christian faith -- or, in pop culture parlance, I want to be more Melanie and less Scarlett. I fall short, but I do try. So I'm confident I have done good in small ways that made the lives of others a little better.

 5. Are you a city person or a country person? City person

6. What annoys you the most about yourself? I am lazy

7. Who was your childhood hero? A toss up between Abe and JFK. My family often took weekend trips to Springfield to see the Lincoln sites, and it's a tradition I've continued because I just love that man and walking where he walked. So wise, with so much to teach me! President Kennedy was assassinated on my 6th birthday, which was traumatic for me. It was a gut punch to the nation to be sure, but when you're young and the world stops on your birthday, it leaves a mark.So as I was learning how to read, I began reading about JFK. It's another lifelong tradition (I'm reading a massive biography of his father right now).

8. With nearly 100 channels why is NOTHING ever on? I can always find something I want to watch.

9. Would you adopt a stray kitty wandering through your neighborhood? I kinda did. This is Jeri, the kitten I found under the wheel of a parked car. I took her to the local no-kill shelter. I like thinking of her as a fat cat in a forever home.

Jeri was so tiny, her litter pan was a Lean Cuisine tray

 
10. Which Lord of the Rings movie has the best ending? I have no idea

11. What are you missing in your life? Discipline

12. What could you make a sculpture out of that's in the room with you right now? I have nothing for this, sorry.

13. Do you believe in the lost city of Atlantis? No.

14. Have you ever read The Little Prince? Yes.

15. What fantasy book would you like to see made into a movie? I don't read fantasy books

 


 



Saturday, September 18, 2021

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: I Left My Heart in San Francisco (1962)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This song is a valentine to the city of San Francisco. Songwriters George Cory and Douglas Cross moved to New York to find fame and fortune and found themselves homesick for the city by the bay. Have you ever been homesick? Or, in the parlance of the song, where have you left your heart? As Eddie Vedder sings, "When you're born in Chicago, you're blessed and you're healed the first time you walk into Wrigley Field." I have not watched a Cubs game since management traded all my favorite players during the infamous 36-hour blood bath/salary dump last week in July. I've followed Anthony Rizzo and have been watching the Yankees battle for a wildcard berth. It's been entertaining -- September baseball with the playoffs on the line! -- but Yankee Stadium is too new. Too slick. My baseball loving heart is still among the bricks and ivy. When I get over my pout, probably in spring, I'll come back home.
 


2) Cory and Cross were buddies with Ralph Sharon, a piano player who often worked with Tony Bennett. Ralph brought the song to Tony and the results were very happy for all involved. Have you more recently done, or been on the receiving end of, a favor? I suppose I most recently did a favor. I changed my schedule a little to go to the vet after closing to pick up Reynaldo's prescription. The vet tech finds it easier to mete out the meds when there are no patients in the waiting room.
 
3) The lyrics compare San Francisco to Paris, Rome and Manhattan. Have you visited those cities? I've never been to Rome. I visited Manhattan and Paris and very nearly moved to San Francisco back in the 1980s. Listening to the Yankees on WFAN makes me want to go back and revisit New York.


4) This week's artist, Tony Bennett, sang professionally for the last time in August. He retired after performing at Radio City Music Hall with Lady Gaga. Their musical collaboration dates back to when they both performed at President Obama's inauguration. Though 60 years apart in age, they became fast friends based on their shared love of jazz. Do you find that most of your friends are older than you, younger than you, or within 5 years of you? Almost all my friends are within 5 years of me.

5) While Lady Gaga grew up listening to Tony Bennett, as a young man Tony recalled listening to Bing Crosby, Judy Garland and Joe Venuti. Which singers did you enjoy during your teen years? Who I listened to at 13 was radically different than 19. I was seriously into bubblegum in junior high (Bobby Sherman and The Partridge Family). I discovered Barbra Streisand in high school. As my 20s loomed I was seriously into Paul Simon. Through it all there was Sir Paul, as a Beatle and a solo artist and frontman for Wings.

6) While he's famous for singing about San Francisco, Tony is a proud son of New York. Born in Queens, he chose to end his career at Radio City Music Hall and was excited to perform "New York State of Mind" with Billy Joel at Shea Stadium in 2008. Do you have a favorite Billy Joel song? This was me during my partygirl days. Looking back, I was too picky because I was emotionally unavailable. I wish I'd said yes more often.
 
 
 
7) Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra may have been competitors but they shared mutual admiration. Sinatra called Bennett "the best singer in the business," and Bennett did a Sinatra homage album called Perfectly Frank. Think of people you have worked with over the years. Tell us about someone who has impressed you, and why. My new boss. I don't always agree with his choices, but it's obvious that they always come from a place of integrity. This is a big deal. I work in advertising.

8) The 1970s were a difficult period for Tony. During the days of disco and Studio 54, he said singing new songs made him feel like his mother, a talented seamstress, when she was forced to make a cheap dress. OK, so Tony doesn't like disco! Is there a genre of music you just don't care for? Opera and/or classical. If I can't sing along, I'm not interested.


9) Random question: Imagine you're the passenger in a long car ride. Are you more likely to be calm or fidgety? I tend to doze off.


 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

WWW.WEDNESDAY

WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To
participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here.  
 
1. What are you currently reading? Corrupted by Lisa Scottoline. Benedetta "Bennie" Rosato is a successful attorney. She's more than a litigator, she's the head of one of Philadelphia's most successful firms. She doesn't like to lose. And now she's face-to-face with one of her losses: she defended Jason when he was 12 and in trouble in the juvenile system and the case went awry. Consequently, he spent his life in and out of trouble with the law and now here he is, 25 and accused of murder. He calls Bennie, because he's got no one else. Here's her chance to make it up to him.
 
The Rosato & DiNunzio series, about an all-female law firm, is very popular but I'm not always a fan. Two of the central characters, Mary DiNunzio and Judy Carrier, feel more like "types" than real women. But I've always liked Bennie Rosato, and so far she's center stage. When warned, "Don't get mad, get even," she replied, "Why should I choose?" That's my girl!
 
2. What did you recently finish reading? Dorothy Parker Drank Here by Ellen MeisterPoet, essayist and critic Dorothy Parker is bored. She's been dead awhile and is haunting the bar at the Algonquin Hotel. At first when she died, she passed on Heaven because the idea of eternity with her "loved ones" doesn't appeal to her, but now she's lonely. She needs to find another spirit who would be satisfied with forever trading bon mots with her at the bar.

She sets her sights on Ted Shriver, an extravagantly talented  but scandal plagued author. He has a brain tumor and decided the surgery to remove it isn't worth the risk. His friends can't believe his decision and try to convince him to fight for life. Mrs. Parker knows the secrets that are motivating him and begins meddling.

As Ellen Meister portrays her, Mrs. Parker is sharp, sad, and witty. The plot is complicated and some of its messages are surprisingly sophisticated: about family and faith and obligation and eternity. I enjoyed it.

3. What will read next?  A biography.


When a lie becomes the truth

Rey upon his return Monday afternoon
I admit it: I was never going to attend my niece's wedding celebration next month. I went to her wedding last October -- an intimate affair in her in-laws' backyard. Seeing her happy and content meant a great deal to me. The guest list was covid-short, and I was touched that she wanted me there. 

The celebration next month will be the wedding reception she long planned. I'm happy she finally gets to realize it. I also know that, with (I believe) 150 people, I wouldn't get to see as much of her. She'll be partying with her friends, dancing to the DJ. 

And, frankly, I can't bear the thought of both of my sisters in the same room. Even a really BIG room. They don't like me, I don't like them and they only sporadically like one another. I don't need this agita.

So I told my niece a plausible lie: I couldn't afford to go because I had to help my oldest friend financially. First, my niece knows my oldest friend. When my niece was still in high school, she helped my oldest friend around the house for money. My niece understands how important my oldest friend is to me. Second, my oldest friend's life has been one crisis after another for the last decade, so what's not to believe?

Then fate intervened and made the lie true. Now I can't afford to go. 

Reynaldo needs to see a kitty cardiologist. Who knew such a thing existed? We had a very bad weekend, and I was prepared on Monday for him to rendezvous with the vet's green needle. I carried his limp, skinny body around and took him from room to room, telling him stories of mischief he'd made. I let him amble down the common hallway he used to run. I snuggled him and told him I would miss the way he squawked at me, bossed me around and tormented me. I reminded him that I have always loved him since that snowy evening we met at the animal shelter in November 2004.

We got to the vet who felt that, even though Rey is sick, it's not his time yet. Sure, he suffers from glaucoma, chronic thyroid and kidney disease, and arthritis and now a heart murmur, but his lungs sounded good and his gastrointestinal tract is OK and he was alert. Tired, but alert. 

He was dosed with intravenous fluids and given an appetite stimulant and we came back home with a referral to a cardiologist. Rey may have a good year or two left, after all. 

He started showing improvement as soon as we got back home. This morning he woke me up, complaining about his empty food dish. (And Saturday and Sunday, I couldn't get him to eat!) He's back to knocking shit over to get my attention. My dictatorial little monster is back!

But now I've got to get him to a specialist to maintain this. 

Now my niece understands my attachment to Rey. He's been my cat since she was in middle school. She and her bridegroom are also very committed to their own cats. She is 100% on board with me putting his welfare over her second ceremony.

"After all," she keeps reminding me, "You saw the real wedding!"




 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Well, that was a dose of drama

Our lead minister left. He'd been with us for 18 years which, I guess, is a long ride. His departure seemed sudden to me, but I wasn't that affected by it. I appreciate how he made Sunday School and religious education a priority in our congregation, and he made me more aware of criminal justice reform and the plight of those trying to re-enter society. I'll always remember his oft-repeated admonition: "Don't judge a whole life by its worst moment." 

On the other hand, I don't care that much. I joined this congregation because of Rev. Jay. I adored him. He challenged me to always remember that I'm part of a congregation, a village, a state, a nation and a world. What am I doing for "the glory of God and service to man?" 

Twenty years ago in October, Rev. Jay left. He postponed his leaving by two weeks to help us heal after 9/11, but he left anyway. He wanted to go home to Massachusetts to be near his mother, who was in failing health. I recall taking this very badly, saying to myself, "But we're your family, too!"*

After 9/11, we invited Chicago's Muslim community to worship with us. I'm still proud of that. There was so much bigotry then (and it remains; remember Trump's "Muslim ban?") but not in our house. I remember that as Rev. Jay's last fabulous moment.

The new minister arrived in 2003. Because of the impact Rev. Jay had on me, he was always "the new minister," just didn't engage me intellectually the way Rev. Jay did. Because I wasn't especially involved with him, I didn't notice the fissures between him and congregation. 

Oh, did I find out about them today! Our interim minister is meeting with all of us, in small groups, and she fielded questions. Here's the obvious: the lead minister's parting seemed so sudden. Was it?

Yes and no. It seems there was a revolt of sorts over problems that had been there for quite some time.

•  The paid administrative staff had been asking for job descriptions and formal reviews for years and never got them. 

•  Volunteers felt burned out and were getting embarrassed by always asking the congregation for more money (OK, I noticed that one, but I thought of it as inflation, not mismanagement). 

•  The associate minister felt like an employee, not a partner. 

•  The choir director felt she had no support. Music is a big part of our congregation.

•  There's the cottage next door. Rev. Jay had lived there. The new minister refused to because his wife didn't want to live that close to the church. OK, but it's been allowed to fall into disrepair. The Religious Education team has been using it for Sunday School. Six days/week it's empty, and it's been unused during covid. Meanwhile, we've taken office space on the other side of the tracks. Why? It's a cute little 2BR, 1BA house with a small yard. Why don't we fix it up and make it our office? For some reason, the new minister kept the cottage at the bottom of his list of priorities. Since 2003.

I appreciate how frank the interim minister was, but I felt kinda like a dolt for not knowing all this was going on. 

And I was exhausted when the Zoom ended. I'm not used to this kind of drama in my spiritual life. Work? All the time! Church? Never.

I hope our next new minister touches a chord in me like Rev. Jay did. 


*Rev. Jay died in July of last year at 74. After his mom's death in 2006, he became an interim minister, going from congregation as needed. He retired in 2019. I feel bad that he only got to enjoy six months of retirement before he died. On the other hand, he was such a passionate crusader for human rights that he might have missed this pulpit.

Sunday Stealing

More of Those 5000 Questions

1. Who do you take for granted? I realize I have taken my cat Reynaldo's spirit for granted. It is not indomitable, after all. He is reaching the end and I am heartbroken. (See post below.)

2. Short, knee, or ankle skirts? I don't wear skirts.

3. Do you wear a hat? Very seldom.

4. Who's your favorite cartoon character? Mr. Peabody, with his boy, Sherman, of course. Every dog should have a boy.


 

5. Does break dancing impress you? I suppose. I mean, I realize it's hard to do. But I haven't seen anyone break dance in years (decades?).

6. Are you a miracle? In the sense that we're each a miracle.

7. Have you ever eaten tofu? I suppose it's been in a salad or on a sandwich I've consumed.

8. Does the moon have an effect on your mood? I have never noticed. But I have friends who believe strongly that it does. It's possible.

9. Many people will say that the Harry Potter books are pure fluff with no literary value. Do you agree? I've never read one. But I'm very much in favor of books that encourage young people to read.

10. What are you doing next Wednesday? I'm having a Zoom with a lawyer about my new will. (Jealous, aren't you?) In December of last year, I signed up for the group legal plan through work. $15.90/month. I enrolled because $190 for a will drawn up by a local lawyer -- not one I do myself through an online template -- is a good deal. (Investopedia says it generally costs $300 to $1,000.) However, it's not a good deal if I don't get off my ass and actually use the benefit. I mean, here it is, September already! For pity's sake, do it, Gal! And so Wednesday, I shall.

11. Why do so many people think Elvis is still alive? Good goobies! I haven't heard this one in years! I'm not sure anyone really thinks this anymore.

12. Are your hands cold? No.
               
13. Have you ever given blood? Yes.

14. What SCI-fi books do you read? I don't.

15. Have you ever belonged to a sorority or a fraternity? Nope.

 



Yesterday was not a good day

Friday, Reynaldo was very interested in his food. He greeted me at the door when I returned from running errands. He knocked things off the dining room table to get my attention.

Saturday, he did none of those things. 

All he did Saturday was sleep or, when awake, stare. While this morning he joined me for some snuggles, he seemed unsteady on his feet as he ambled away.

He is not enjoying his life. I know that. We've been together since he was a kitten. I know all his moods. He may or may not be uncomfortable, but I know he is not happy.

I am going to call the vet in the morning. I don't want to wait until Rey-Rey is in pain to do the right thing. On the other hand, I don't want to say goodbye if all he needs to feel better is a short course of meds. 

He is never going to get well. I accept that. He is 17 -- 84 in human years -- and he has a litany of maladies: glaucoma, arthritis, chronic kidney and thyroid and now heart troubles. I know that.

I truly wish he would die overnight. In his sleep. Peacefully. That would be our happiest ending right now.

That's not likely to happen though, is it? Life is seldom that kind, and it seems I have a lesson to learn here.

I pray I do right by him.


 



Friday, September 10, 2021

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: Jose Cuervo (1983)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here. 
 
1) In this song, Shelly West sings that she woke up late on a sunny morning. How's the weather in your part of the world? I'm doing this Friday night. We had a beautiful day. Sunny and 80ยบ. It'll be cool enough tonight to sleep with the window open.

2) She wonders if she started any fights while under the influence. Who's the last person you quarreled with?
Well, I snapped at a jerk who passed me on the sidewalk. Does that count? He came up behind me, out of nowhere, and snarled, "Choose a side." Scared the crap out of me! I snapped, "Get over yourself."  "You were walking down the middle of the sidewalk," he said with disgust, as though I had broken some law. "OOOH! A pedestrian on the sidewalk! Alert the media!" I called after him. He may have had a point. But you don't come up behind someone like that and growl. Not with crime the way it is these days. He's lucky I didn't elbow him in the gut. Besides, I'm a fat old lady. I carry an AARP card! When do I start getting old lady respect?

 
3) OK, margaritas for everyone! Shelly sings that she likes hers with salt. What's your order? Classic or strawberry? Salt or sugar on the rim? Classic with salt, thank you! I do love a good margarita.

4) Jose Cuervo was a real person. He was one of the first to put tequila in bottles instead of barrels. Since bottles are easier to ship, it was a good decision. Tell us about a recent choice you're glad you made. I bought a "value pack" of six chuck tender steaks for $10.40. I'm a terrible cook and culinarily ignorant, so I wasn't sure what a chuck tender steak even is. It turned out to be a good purchase! Yummy, filling and affordable.

5) This week's featured artist, Shelly West, decided upon a career in music while still very young. She went on the road and sang backup for her mom, country music legend Dottie West, when she was still in her teens. When Sam was in her teens, she really didn't give her professional future that much thought. How about you? Did you already have career ambitions when you were in your teens? I was going to be a crusading reporter. I think every kid who was a student during Watergate wanted to be a crusading reporter.
 
6) In 1983, the year this song was popular, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. Do you ever fantasize about being an astronaut? Nope.

7) Also in 1983, quarterback Aaron Rodgers was born. The NFL season is just kicking off. Do you have high hopes for your team this year? It's September! I'm still watching baseball!
 
 
My favorite-most Cub is now a Yankee and they're fighting for a wild card berth. I'm glad Yankee fans have embraced him and am impressed that, in little more than a month with the team, he already had his own bobblehead. It's a good likeness as bobbleheads go, but the fact of it hurts my heart.
 


8) In 1983, Motorola introduced the first cell phone. Do you have an easy time adapting to new technology? No. I'm kind of a Luddite.

9) Think of the last potato chip you had. Was it plain, sea salt, barbecue, sour cream and onion ...? It was plain. Not memorable, really, except that the container of Stax was on sale and near the register and I recall my complete lack of restraint as I grabbed them. 





What they died for

On 9/11/01, 33 civilians and at least 2 crew members staged a revolt aboard United Airlines Flight #93. The plane had been hijacked. These ordinary people did something extraordinary. They stormed the cockpit, and crashed the plane into an empty field in Pennsylvania. Their heroism very likely saved The Capitol from a terror attack like the ones that hit The World Trade Center and The Pentagon.

Imagine getting on an early morning flight to San Francisco and finding yourself facing death. Imagine rising to the occasion and saving lives and a symbol of our democracy. 

Imagine being the loved one of one of those passengers, watching this unfold at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.



The House Minority Leader doesn't want to cooperate with the investigation of the January 6 riot. He doesn't want his phone records to reveal whether or not he spoke to The President of the United States that day, because the President of the United States that day had addressed this "loving crowd" immediately before they attacked the Capitol, promising, "I'll be there (at the Capitol) with you."*

Remains of UA 93
So imagine you're one of those who lost a loved one in that field on 9/11, who saw the twisted wreckage and knew they died to protect the Capitol.  Say a prayer for them tomorrow, certainly. This 20th anniversary must be excruciating.

But also say a prayer for them every time you hear Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger vow to get to the bottom of what happened on January 6. As a nation, we owe them at least that much.

 

*As per usual, Corporal Bone Spurs avoided physical conflict that day.


Still

Thursday I ran a quick errand at lunchtime. It was a beautiful afternoon. The sky was blue and the clouds were fluffy white. I was enjoying it thoroughly.

Until I saw the jet.

I don't usually see planes flying this low. It looked like it might be headed east. Which would make sense if the pilot was headed to O'Hare. Also if the pilot was a terrorist headed toward Sears Tower.

Blue skies. Fluffy clouds. Low-flying plane. That's what New Yorkers saw on the morning of 9/11, 20 years ago. I was suddenly scared. I kept checking my phone to make sure nothing tragic had happened.

Some wounds don't heal.