November

How can I describe November? Disappointing? I fell asleep for a couple hours on election night and woke up to a crazy dystopia. We took 2 kitties to the vet and guess what, there is nothing physically wrong with the crazy one, he’s just crazy – so now he gets drugs :/ I did a big vendor event for my side business that had the most horrible load-in – luckily GG was able to meet me afterward and help me take things back out! Thanksgiving was nice and we had lots of family together, but meanwhile in GG’s family there was a medical emergency (everyone’s ok) and his dad and brother were in charge of making dinner, which actually turned out surprisingly well (we said they’re in charge of stuffing from now on). We went to MB & A’s annual Friendsgiving the week after, which is a little different now that everyone going has tons of kids running around. And I did my Christmas decorating early, since we’re having our holiday party earlier this year.

October

It’s been such a busy month, and I don’t even know what I did! I traveled to DC for a training event for my 3rd side biz. GG, and I, and the cats all had various doctor’s appointments. He got his boot off and can now begin rehab for his fractured ankle! We spent a weekend in Maryland for a wedding – wedding was beautiful, family drama was awkward. We went out to MU for Homecoming and had a lovely day, including a visit with my very first roommate who I hadn’t seen probably since we all graduated! Plus there was a special reunion for all alumni from my fraternity, which was pretty neat. And GG had a big, exciting, life-changing thing happen, yay!!

Tonight for Halloween, we once again handed out full-size candy bars for the kids. We didn’t scare anyone this time, but did also offer hot apple cider (topped with whipped cream!) for the adults :o)

March

This has been a really tough month, understandably, but it’s had ups and downs. Some of the ups:

  • Had a nice off-season trip to OCMD with GG and his family to attend a hotel and restaurant convention (aka: excuse to eat and drink all the samples). We found a nice new (to me) restaurant down there, Hooked. And it was nice to just get away for a few days.
  • Went to a middle school play… The play itself was cute, but the real highlight for me was my band friend C yelling at the rude middle school boys next to us during the intermission, then ending with a threat, “You don’t know who I am, but I know who you are, and I’ll see you when you get to high school!”
  • Had another great event for my second side business! I’d been working with this hostess for months, and she just did not have any confidence in herself – so it made me so happy to see what a great turnout and event she had, and how that made her feel better about herself, too!
  • And of course … the new guy. I’ll have to write more about him later.

January

Highlights of the month:

  • Rang in the new year on the couch with GG, my BIL, and his girlfriend.
  • Have been very angry at the new coffee makers they put in our kitchens at work (supposedly an “improvement,” but coffee mugs don’t fit in them, and if you’re a tea drinker like me, just getting hot water is a pain).
  • Maybe that doesn’t matter since I never made it to work for a full day all month – thanks, endless snowstorms!
  • I finally used the cart escalator at our new Target! (I am probably there an average of once a week, but maybe that’s the problem: I never got enough in one trip that I needed to use a cart.)
  • Made our annual trip to the Pennsylvania Farm Show with L and S. We’re old pros at this now, and know the areas to focus on, e.g. the food hall (for that early morning milkshake before the lines get too long), wine tasting booths, and the aisles of food vendors. We also learned a lot of about nuts and tree grafting, and bought a ton of stuff. (Blind Spot Nut Butters are fabulous, try the Sea Salt Caramel!)
  • Had a terrible experience with Ideel.com and cannot dis-recommend them enough! Why would you let me buy something you don’t actually have? And then not tell me when the order couldn’t go through? And then let me buy it again? And then tell me it was shipping soon when you were never even going to have the item? Oh well, it probably wouldn’t have fit me, anyway. But I will never be shopping there again.
  • After a long time on my wish list, I finally bought a spiralizer. Love it! I’ve been spiralizing everything.
  • Went to the Philadelphia Home Show and saw Josh and Brent, the Beekman Boys! GG even ended up really liking the talk they gave on what they’ve learned about life from raising their goats. (Also, in person, they are exactly like they were on their show.)
  • After three years, Ivan finally figured out how to get into the basket under my office window! Now Sacha has some competition for his favorite sleeping spot.
  • Celebrated the official launch of my second side business I’ve been working since August!
  • My Christmas gift from GG was a gift card to one of our favorite restaurants. What I didn’t know was that he made plans for a limo to drive us there and home! (And while I kind of wish I had known in advance that our plans were set in stone, it was super sweet of him and really fun!)

November

  • Went to a Halloween party with GG and some friends – we dressed as a cat and a ball of yarn! One of my other favorite couple costumes there was Miss Frizzle and the Magic School Bus!
  • Celebrated my BIL’s b-day with a decadent dinner at the Capital Grille.
  • Took Ivan back to the vet because he pulled his stitches open and kept licking his incision :o( So he got antibiotics, and ointment, and a cone! (But he hates the cone.)
  • My work BFF J had her breast cancer surgery and she is already doing amazing! She asked everyone to wear pink for her, so I organized a bunch of people at work to wear pink and take a group photo to send her.
  • Had a fun girls night out (first one in like 2 years)!
  • We had a house guest for a week, which was actually really nice.
  • Did some Socials and events for my second side biz! It’s definitely keeping me busy… Making lots of great connections, though!
  • Had a crazy Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws.
  • We saw Foxcatcher. It was mega creepy. Channing Tatum and especially Mark Ruffalo were great and really dead-on accurate.
  • Went to Friendsgiving at MB and A’s – now an annual tradition the Saturday after Thanksgiving :o)

October

  • Added a new member to my team for my second side biz, and helped her launch!
  • Also did a bunch of activities and events for both of my side jobs… Very busy!
  • Went to my first Miche party (very dangerous for a purse addict such as myself…)
  • We found a little bump under the skin on Ivan’s tummy, right in his favorite spot for scratching – it felt like a little marble. The vet thought it might be a tumor, and if it was, it would be fast-growing, so we had it removed. Good news – it was a benign hemangioma! They removed it all, and it will not grow back :o)
  • Saw Gone Girl with my grandmom and my friend J, both of whom I’d gotten to read the book. The movie was great! Just as good (and frustrating) as the novel…
  • Had a beautiful, warm day for Homecoming at MU! It’s always nice to hang out with my college friends (mostly L and S, who we meet there every year), and fun to see how things change from year to year. This year we were able to get a tour of one of the fancy new dorms they’ve built! (Soon all our old dorms will be torn down and replaced by these things.) Private bathrooms! (I still don’t understand how they expect college kids to be responsible for keeping these things clean, but whatever…) And they have a late-night campus food truck now?!
  • Went to the Ren Faire with L and S! Another lovely day! We did our usual activities (pickle on a stick, the falconer, the Circus Stella acrobats…), and some new things (glassblowing demo, paraffin wax hand treatment…). And our friend J works there, so it’s fun to get to visit with her, too!
  • When I got home from the Ren Faire, there was an amazing gift waiting for me! A magical fairy had stopped by and left me a KitchenAid mixer! (The exact one I wanted!) …Ok, it was my mom, and it was sort of a thank-you gift for helping out with some stuff the previous week, and we’d been talking (for years!) about how I wanted one, but that was still extremely generous of her!
  • As usual, we gave out full-sized candy bars for Halloween this year. We sat out on our porch, but for some reason, some kids were scared to even come up to the house…?



Katrina

As I mentioned before, Katrina had been sick for a little while. She had stopped eating and was throwing up a lot several months ago, but I got some anti-nausea medicine from the vet and that seemed to take care of the problem. She’d lost weight, wasn’t eating as much, and she just wasn’t herself, but they couldn’t find anything else wrong so we just chalked it up to her getting older and her appetite and attitude changing.

Even though she had gone back to eating mostly normally, she continued to lose weight. I got her some supplements to help her put on weight, fed her extra meals, and asked about it at the vet. They said I could bring her in some day and just put her on the scale to check her weight. So I brought her in one afternoon in mid-December, and asked if maybe while we were there, the doctor could just take a look at her again. This time… the vet noticed something. There was some kind of mass in her abdomen. It wasn’t there when she’d been to the doctor a few months before, but just as a cat’s lifespan is compressed compared to a human’s, things that could take months to develop in a human could develop in weeks in a cat. They referred us to a specialist for an ultrasound to see what it was and figure out next steps.

A couple days later, we took Katrina for her ultrasound. They shaved her entire belly and a good portion of each side. The vet there came back and gave us the news: she had the feline equivalent of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a tumor, her liver and kidneys were enlarged, and she had fluid in her chest. Treatment would be chemotherapy, but the chances for success were not good, and even if the treatment were successful, the cancer would come back. GG and I talked about it, and decided not to pursue this treatment, and instead keep her as comfortable as we could for as long as we could. We spoke to our regular vet later that day and she confirmed that that would be the best thing to do (in fact, she didn’t even mention going forward with any other treatment).

So we tried to enjoy Katrina as much as possible over the holidays. The nice thing was that GG and I were home a lot, so we could be with her and keep an eye on her. She went downhill pretty quickly, though. She’d already not been herself, but it got worse. She slept in random (seemingly uncomfortable) places, she couldn’t jump up onto furniture anymore, she ate less and less (despite drugs to help her appetite), her weight continued to drop (petting her was basically like petting a spine with fur). The vomiting had pretty much stopped at this point, but the amount of bloody diarrhea went way up. So we got other drugs to help with that, and they worked, but she continued to avoid using the litter box. Then I guess the fluids in her chest kicked in and she started sneezing and wheezing. It was all the time, but especially when she ate or drank (maybe leaning her head forward made it worse?).

The vet hadn’t told us how long we might expect Katrina to live, but I don’t think she was too optimistic. She gave us medicine about a week’s worth at a time. Finally, on Friday, 1/3, I made an appointment to take her to the vet the following Monday. I figured we’d let them check her out one more time; if there was something that could be done to improve her situation, of course we’d do it. But most likely, we’d be saying goodbye. She was barely eating, and I don’t know if she was drinking. I was worried we’d come home one day and find her dead. And most importantly, I know she was not comfortable. She was all bones, and she couldn’t even do her favorite thing: eat.

On Monday, 1/6, I ended up working from home so I wouldn’t have to rush home from work to get her to the doctor. So I got to spend one more day with her. GG met us at the vet’s office, where she was examined. The vet said she was dehydrated, which confirmed my theory that she wasn’t even drinking anymore. We could all just tell it was time. I’d been planning to stay there while they gave her the shot, but by that point I was crying and GG said he couldn’t be in the room and I didn’t want to just be there crying by myself, so we left her with the vet staff. Everyone who works there is so nice, I didn’t feel bad about it or like we were abandoning her. I just wanted my last memory of her to be a good one.

Everyone immediately asked if we were going to get another cat, like we need to maintain a level of three cats at all times. I think we will just enjoy being a two-cat family for a while. I’m pretty sure Katrina was the reincarnation of my childhood cat, Harry. They were both fat ladies who did their own thing, but when they felt like being snuggly, they were such loves. Harry used to suckle on my pajamas (we think because she was taken from her mom too young as a kitten), and while Katrina never did that, she came so close a number of times, like one little lick. Also, she would have been born around the same time we had to put Harry to sleep. So my theory is, someday, I will meet a cat that was born in January 2014 with that same cat spirit.

As for the boys, I don’t think they really noticed at first that Katrina was gone. She had pretty much checked out in those last few weeks, and they weren’t really spending a lot of time together. For a long time, the saddest thing I could think of was the fact that Ivan and Katrina were so close, and one of them would have to die first and the other would be so lonely. But I don’t think Ivan really realized she was gone until a week or so later. Then he started walking around the house meowing, and he seemed very concerned. I think both he and Sacha are ok now, though.

Katrina, you were my little love and my beautiful girl. You shed more than any cat I’ve ever known. You were the only cat who would willingly let me pick them up and carry them around. You had an attitude, but when you were in the right mood, you were so very sweet. And of course you were a good sister to Ivan. You were kind of the worst cat, but I love you and miss you, my little baby girl >^..^<



“It’s a special night of anticipation, the moonbeams strong on the old band shell”

Christmas seems to have suddenly attacked! The first week of December I had a cookie bake-off at work (which I organized, and which got rave reviews!), and then that Friday was my annual Christmas shopping day with MB and L. This year was a little different, because I actually started my Christmas shopping really early (like, back in July) and picked things up as I saw stuff that would make good gifts. Much of the rest I’d taken care of online. But I still had a couple things I wanted to look for, and of course it’s just nice to spend a day with a couple of my good friends. We ended up hitting the Philadelphia Premium Outlets, Ikea, and the KoP Mall, followed by an early dinner at Seasons 52 before we all crashed. (And I didn’t even have an hour+ drive home, unlike the other two!)




Last week featured what I’ve been calling the “mandatory party” at work (hastily organized by our department across multiple sites, due to jealousy over our successful cookie bake-off); it wasn’t actually so bad. There was a good turn-out and people brought good snacks and we played some word games. We were scheduled to have our first two concerts of the holiday season, but the first was cancelled due to snow and ice, so we just had one, which went well.

On Friday, I hosted what is probably the best party I have ever thrown or will ever throw. From the beginning, it promised to be good: guests were invited to bring a dip for a “battle of the dips” (I provided chips, veggies, and other dippers); we had a “photo booth” area set up with a backdrop, hats, signs, props, and a camera on a tripod; but what nobody knew was that I’d scheduled a special performer. Tons of people were canceling on us at the last minute, and all I could think was, “You’re going to be really sorry when you see that you missed a clown!” I’m not sure exactly where this idea came from, I was talking to a coworker about wanting to do something special for our party, and somehow came away with the idea of hiring a clown. I got bids from a couple performers, and ended up going with this company that books all different performers, so I didn’t know exactly what I was going to get. The party was going great, everyone had been there for an hour or two, when there was a knock at the door. GG knew he was on door-answering/coat-taking duty, so he opened the door. If nobody else had come to the party, I really just wanted to see the look on his face when he saw the clown. He did not disappoint! He turned to me and asked, “Um, did you hire a clown?!” Yes! The clown wasn’t really decked out in a full clown outfit, which was slightly disappointing. Also, she was there to make balloon animals, and the only shape she could make was a dog. If I’d hired her for an actual kids’ birthday party, I might have been upset that she couldn’t do all the shapes and things, but as it was, it kind of added to the silliness of it! First person asked for a dog: easy. I asked for a cat: also a dog. B asked for a T-rex: it’s a dog! S asked for a giraffe: a dog with an extra-long tail (yes, tail)! It was a super fun night, and I think everyone had a great time! I don’t know how I’m ever going to top that. Oh, and the winning dips were MB’s Bacon Jam, JB’s Baked Brie, and JH’s Cookie Dough Dip (which I will be making for myself soon)!





After all that excitement, GG and I had planned to go to New York for the day the following day, but the gross weather scrapped those plans – and I’m glad we stayed home, because I was beat! This week, we have more holiday concerts, parties for band and work, a pre-holiday family dinner, and GG and I are seeing a live performance of David Sedaris’ “The SantaLand Diaries.” In addition to all that fun, I now also have cat stuff to deal with: despite getting her appetite back and not throwing up all the time, Katrina has continued to lose weight. I had her back at the vet today, and they examined her and found a mass in her abdomen that wasn’t there a couple months ago. Apparently, tumors and things can grow faster in cats than they do in humans. It could be an enlarged organ or something, but to make sure, she’s going for a kitty ultrasound later this week :o( I don’t know what we’re going to do, I guess we’ll see what we find out. Send good thoughts for my little girl this week.


“I really, really want to thank you, for dancing ’til the end”

As is usually the case around this time of year, things got very busy, very quickly. At the beginning of the month, we had some lingering Halloween activities and our friend S’s book release party. Then it was GG’s brother’s birthday. Then I had my band concert, which, although I’m no longer on the board, still consumes a lot of my time between rehearsals and my design and printing work. (Although this concert program was one of my least favorites and felt really slapped together, I got tons of compliments on it, and our director said people asked him who is their graphic designer!)

I got tied up in organizing a chili potluck lunch at work, which turned out to be a big success! (Believe it or not, it’s tough just to convince people to come into the office.) It went so well, I’m organizing a cookie bake-off next month. We’ve also continued our virtual book club at work. We’ve read a few books together, with varying degrees of success. We’re kind of on hiatus now until the new year.

Ivan had a little scare with the vet – just like his sister did a couple months ago, he started throwing up every meal and eventually didn’t even try to eat. I took him to the vet and they x-rayed him to make sure there wasn’t any blockage (there wasn’t), so they just wanted me to keep him separate and make sure he pooped to confirm he’s ok. Well, he started eating fine, but being stubborn, refused to poop. I had to give him kitty laxatives (from the vet) to get him going. He’s fine now, but meanwhile, while he was incarcerated, Katrina started throwing up all her food again. Everyone seems pretty stable now, but I’ve been giving Katrina some high-calorie additive stuff since she seems to have lost so much weight. Hope all my babies are ok :o(

I did a couple things with my side job, but that’s been pretty slow lately, which actually is fine with me. I originally had intended to just do this as a casual thing, and then it kind of took off so I rode the wave, but the wave seems to have crashed and I’m actually fine with that.

By the end of the month, we will have had three Thanksgiving dinners: one with my family (which was actually probably the best Thanksgiving meal I’ve ever eaten, we all brought something, and everyone got along and we all sat around and talked for a long time and it was really nice), one with GG’s family (also fine, though it turned into a late night drinking and music blasting session until I decided it was time to drive GG home), and a “friends Thanksgiving” with MB and A. I did not do any Black Friday shopping, but I did get a really good deal on something for GG in a pre-Thanksgiving sale. I’m almost done with my Christmas shopping, and I still have my big shopping day with MB and L coming up in the beginning of December, so I think I’m in a good spot. I started collecting things early, just picking things up as I saw them.

We’re also still meeting with our trainer. It’s been a couple months since we started, and while I haven’t actually lost a pound, I feel less fat, which is fine with me! If nothing else, doing this has increased my confidence in my athletic abilities. My whole life I dreaded gym class, organized sports, and any kind of public physical activity, but I’ve learned that I’m actually not as inept as I thought. I’ll probably sign up for an actual gym at some point, and I don’t think I’ll be as self-conscious as I might have been had I not had this experience. We signed up for 10 weeks (due to a scheduling error on our trainer’s part, plus our free intro session, we are actually getting 12), and that will take us into December, so we’ll see how it goes and how we carry on after this.