#Caturday: Portrait of Defiance

It took mere minutes for Marcel to discover the warm laundry just removed from the dryer. And when I went back down with my camera to document his trespass (which will result in white hairs all over my sons’ new dark-colored sweatshirts and socks), Marcel didn’t budge, despite his aversion to cameras.

I guess that cat is more averse to attempts to shame him into moving than he is bothered by the paparazzi. Another guess? There’s a lint roller in my sons’ futures.

So long, Saturday

This week brought ice, snow, and frigid temperatures. But in classic Colorado style, today was blue skies, sunshine, and a balmy 55 degrees. My sons and a friend joined Emma and me on a walk around the neighborhood this afternoon, and the weather was so delicious I wanted more. When we got home, I put on my running togs and ran around the neighborhood streets.

Final light of the day hits neighbor’s roof as melting snow falls in jeweled strands.

And even though the sun has disappeared behind the hills, I’m still feeling good. Thank you, sunshine and endorphins!

On your marks…get set…bake!

My son Zebu had all four wisdom teeth removed yesterday, so I’ve been on ice pack and medication duty. Every 20 minutes, he applies two bags of frozen peas to his chipmunk cheeks. The peas are held in a sling we made using the leg from an old pair of my flannel pajama bottoms which is then tied around his head. After 20 minutes of ice, he goes another 20 minutes without. Ice on, ice off. I’m the timekeeper which means it’s easier to stay close.

So how are we spending our time? Watching the Great British Baking Show, of course.

Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, Noel Fielding, and Sandi Toksvig | Netflix

Actually, I’ve never watched the program before even though all sorts of folks on Twitter rave about it. A show about baking? Who cares? I’m the woman who can’t get cakes out of pans in one piece and so spackle with tons of frosting to hold them together. I enjoy eating baked goods, but couldn’t care less how they come about.

Well, I stand corrected. It’s a very interesting and entertaining show. In fact, I haven’t really accomplished much of anything today besides watching those brave people create amazingly beautiful baked goods (along with some Tracy-worthy disasters). Zebu is napping now, but I’m confident later on we’ll tune back in to see how the remaining bakers fare.

The one downside to the Great British Baking Show? It makes me very, very hungry.

Stockholm from the bus

May 2017

I’m in the process of deleting gazillions of emails from an old account and just came across this photo. I’d forwarded it after taking the pic with my phone. It’s not a great photo, but it reminds me of the anticipation I felt as we arrived in Stockholm.

 

The next day we’d be seeing son Zebu who was studying at Uppsala. Oh, happy day!

Sunday Confessional: I’m having more fun than Marcel

Soon after adopting feline brothers Marcel and Loki in October of 2013, son Zebu vowed to buy me a baby sling to carry our loving, snuggly cats. Despite my frequent reminders of his promise to me, years went by with no sling. And then this past Mother’s Day, Zebu surprised me. It’s safe to say he also surprised Marcel.

This photo was taken in May during Marcel’s initial and longest stint in the sling. But you can tell by his ears that he’s less than thrilled with the situation. I tried putting his brother in it last night and he wasn’t having it. At all. And then Marcel humored me for all of fifteen seconds before escaping.

Maybe they’ve figured out it’s technically a sling for small dogs and are philosophically opposed to debasing their royal cat selves.

Or maybe they just really, really don’t want me carrying them around like babies.

Monday, Monday can’t trust that day

I started my day at one of my favorite places on the planet, Kapok Park. I wandered around with my camera and came upon this sign that reminded me of Zebu. I’d taken a photo of him next to that same sign when he and I visited the park a year ago.

So when I saw the sign today, I missed my son and decided to take a quick pic to send in a text. I stepped closer to the sign and focused on framing the shot. Suddenly I felt a burning, stinging sensation in my left ankle. I looked down and noticed ants crawling on me. Lots of angry, biting ants.

I’d somehow neglected to see their enormous anthill-home and stepped in it with my big shoe.

The good news is I had a lovely visit to Kapok Park where I managed to avoid molesting the alligators. The bad news is I caused considerable distress to an ant colony.

Happy Monday!

Sunday Confessional: I don’t care about Game of Thrones

So the final season of Game of Thrones starts tonight. My mate and my son just finished watching a recap in preparation for the first episode. Their excitement is palpable.

As for me? I’ve watched a total of maybe a couple hours over the years. Game of Thrones is not my cup o’ violence. However, if I happen to be walking through the room when Peter Dinklage’s character is onscreen I always stop to watch.

Photo credit HBO

Confession: I don’t even know his character’s name. And that’s okay by me.

In the eye of a bomb cyclone

I’d never heard of “bomb cyclone” until yesterday and now Zippy has repeated that phrase so many times Zebu and I are debating drinking a shot every time he says “bomb cyclone.” Might as well have some fun with it, right?

The wind is blowing hard and swirling every which way. Windows on all four sides of the house are affected.

 

North. South. East. West. Everywhere I look is a snowy-blowy mess. Bomb cyclone.

Oops, everyone take a drink!

 

Sunday Confessional: I miss Zoey and am also glad she’s gone

As Zippy and Zebu watch football right now, this photo from my phone reminds me of another recent football Sunday. On that day in November, Zoey and Emma were Zippy’s (napping) football buddies.

It’s been almost two months since we said goodbye to Zoey and I must confess her absence has been easier to handle than witnessing her decline. I’m grateful for the years we had together and thankful she’s no longer suffering pain and confusion. (Bonus: she’s also free of all Broncos games!)

Happiness is . . .

Zippy and I ran around the neighborhood with Emma this morning. Lots of sunshine. The rest of the day was filled with NBA basketball viewing plus a last-minute decision to bake cookies. We had (just barely) the ingredients for oatmeal raisin cookies and I made those while the games played in the background. Wildebeest and Emma napped together partway through the afternoon. Zebu went downstairs to shower in preparation for a family photo, but that was a couple hours ago and we haven’t seen him since. My best guess is he’s now napping, too.

Pretty much an ideal day.

Abandonment issues

I went outside with my camera to find something interesting to post and came across a whole lot of stuff stashed on the patio below our deck. This is just a sampling of what’s there. A long-dead garden hose. Zebu’s bike that he can’t ride for another 3-4 months when he’ll be fully recovered from ACL/meniscus surgery. A broken piece of flagstone. Two sawhorses.

Is there a better place for all that stuff? Probably. But in our defense, those piles of pine needles and leaves found the way there all on their own.  And I’m holding onto a slim hope the wind will somehow launch them into the neighbors’ yard.

However, the hose is probably too heavy to make it over the fence.

Photo-induced memories

The top left photo shows Doug Chase (and the program director) at the soup kitchen in 1999, our first year volunteering with Grant Avenue StreetReach.

I’m taking a break from writing after writing 50,000 words last month. I intended to do nothing but read and then remembered the enormous stash of photos I swore I’d organize so my sons wouldn’t have to deal with them.

So I started scrapbooking and quickly felt a sense of overwhelm. My family has SO many photos. Then I asked for/demanded help. As a result, Zippy and Zebu have stepped up and helped round photo corners and put sticky tape on their backs while I crop and organize the next pages. It feels a lot better to share the load. And it’s good for me to let go of my perfectionist tendencies.

The page I’ve highlighted here shows Wildebeest playing chess with a man named Steve who taught both sons to play. This page is also bittersweet because it contains the only photo I have of our friend Doug who died in 2009. He was a lovely man and today I miss him all over again.

I frequently curse the number of photos needing our attention, but finding Doug in the stacks was like striking gold.

Saying goodbye to an old friend

In a few minutes, a kind veterinarian is going to arrive at our home to help us say goodbye to Zoey. She’s lived with us the past 13+ years which is more than half of Wildebeest and Zebu’s lifetimes. This morning Wildebeest said goodbye before  heading back to his home that’s a six-hour drive from here. Zebu will be with Zoey at the end.

Zoey’s last trip to Westcliffe. August 12, 2017

We’d originally hoped to say goodbye to Zoey tomorrow because it’s my birthday today. But when the vet offered to come this afternoon it seemed the best option. Zoey’s tired and has had enough, and it felt wrong to delay the inevitable. We’ve definitely made the right decision for her, but the mood is less than festive.

Rest in peace, our sweet Zotato.

Don’t fear the pumpkin

Zebu and I carved pumpkins last night. When he was little Zebu had some tactile issues that made it unbearable for him to do stuff like fingerpaint or clean out a pumpkin’s innards. Carving pumpkins wasn’t a positive experience.

We remedied that last night. Zebu and I talked and laughed as we grabbed handfuls of pumpkin guts, squishing stringy orange pulp through our fingers. Zebu handled the sensations just fine and turned down the offer of a wet rag. I was the one who felt compelled to rinse my hands during the process. (Pumpkin makes the skin feel tight, yo!)

And here are the results. Zebu’s Jack Skellington on the left and my triangle head on the right. Here’s hoping they look as scary in the dark as they do in the light of day.

Happy Halloween!

Finding the balance

Some days are so hard that I’m tempted to give up and assume the fetal position. Over the last couple days a  young relative was diagnosed with a health condition and then a neighborhood family suffered a heartbreaking tragedy. I’ve felt overwhelmed and weepy. But I’ve also experienced joy as I hugged my son, watched a magpie take flight, and listened to my snoring dogs as they snuggle together in their bed. I’ve made progress on my new writing project and shared laughter with my visiting brother-in-law. I didn’t give up and curl into a ball.

Life is a series of sunshine and shit-storms, and as long as I remember to think of it that way, the better I cope. The key (for me, anyway) is tapping into the light amidst the dark. Finding the balance. I was reminded of that as I struggled to balance the light and dark in this photo of Marcel.

The result is nowhere near perfect, but then again, neither is life.

Twofer Tuesday: Zebu edition

Yesterday Zebu had surgery to reconstruct his ACL. We were all rooting for ACL-only intervention because that would mean a mere 10 days on crutches. Alas, while poking around in Zebu’s knee, the surgeon confirmed a couple tears in the meniscus which means Zebu is now on crutches for six weeks. The good news is the surgery went well.

This morning a nice man delivered and set up a Continuous Passive Motion machine that will help Zebu’s circulation and flexibility. He’s supposed to do a minimum of six hours per day. That’s a lot of hours. But as I pointed out: he’s got nothing better to do right now.

I had no idea way back when that basketball could be so incredibly hard on the body. Would it have changed anything? Probably not. Basketball was his passion.

Still. I probably owe an apology to football.

Feline sabotage

Today my son Zebu and I washed all our windows, inside and out. As we traveled room to room, Marcel the cat followed us. At one point he got up on the sill next to a newly-gleaming window and proceeded to sneeze. On the glass.

I’ll admit, it wasn’t quite as bad as this Pexels photo. Marcel didn’t shower the entire window with his snot. Instead, it was contained to a rather orderly row along the lower portion of the window. Zebu and I were mildly annoyed, but laughed about our silly feline friend as we recleaned the window. Then Marcel followed us to the next room and sneeezed on another window. Zebu and I were less amused.

And when Marcel sneezed on the third window Zebu stated the obvious: “This is feeling deliberate.”

Yup.

Visiting Denver Botanic Gardens

Today I met a friend at the Denver Botanic Gardens. She has a membership and treated me (for the umpteenth time) to a guest pass. Here’s one of the dazzling flower and plant displays at the entrance:

There were many plants I recognized and many more I did not. For instance, what is this?

In my photo file I labeled it “Poky Plant,” but I’m nearly 100% sure that’s not the right name.

Then there’s the Dragon Arum otherwise known as Dracunculus vulgaris. When I showed this photo to Zebu he said the exact same thing my friend had remarked: “Dracunculus vulgaris is a Harry Potter spell.”

It was a lovely couple hours at the gardens and now I’m back home in front of my computer, getting psyched up to tackle my revisions. 

May my thoughts stay still longer than the water spiders in that last photo.

Group plank

This afternoon I was hanging out in the basement with Zebu, Wildebeest, and Wildebeest’s friend, Kyle. We were sitting on the carpeted floor before Wildebeest and Kyle left to play soccer. When Wildebeest started doing stretches, I asked if he’d done his daily plank yet because I hadn’t done mine. He replied that he hadn’t and begrudgingly agreed to do one then. I hollered upstairs for Zippy to come join us and he (also begrudgingly) came downstairs.

Wildebeest set the timer on his phone and turned up some music as the three of us got in the planking position. Then Kyle joined us.  Zebu, feeling the peer pressure, set down his container of mixed nuts and assumed the position. (Emma and Marcel were also in attendance although their planking form was suspect.)

Verdict? Group planks are more fun than solitary planks. Maybe next time we’ll up the ante and try building a human plank tower.

I get to hug my son

Zebu in summer of 1998

Today is Zebu’s birthday and I’m feeling especially grateful. He (and our other son) spent their entire childhoods with Zippy and me and while those years certainly held challenges, we remained intact as a family. The four of us were never forced to seek asylum, we were never denied refuge, and our children weren’t ripped from their parents’ arms. That kind of unspeakable trauma was never part of our lives. Not because we’re exceptional or more deserving, but because we were fortunate enough to be born in the United States. That’s it. Sheer luck.

Today is Zebu’s birthday and I get to hug my son. I’m weeping for those who can’t.

We all scream for ice cream

I’ve spent the day cleaning my writing room and am getting close to being done. I have a definite “paper problem” and hold on to all sorts of unnecessary stuff which means it’s a relief when I find an expired coupon because . . . EASY DECISION!

I unearthed one gem, though. On the surface, it doesn’t appear to be anything special:

I was getting ready to put it in the donation pile when I turned to the last page.
Apparently, Zebu’s one and only favorite rhyme was:
Ice crem smis crem

Makes perfect rhyming sense to me and, in fact, Zebu and Zippy both immediately decoded the inventive spelling when I showed it to them.

(This reminded me of years ago when a friend was plotting a weekend getaway for the two of us and I reminded her of my responsibility to my young kids. Her reply? “Kids, schmids.”)

Who’s laughing now?

I’m in Florida with Zebu, visiting my mother (his grandmother). Today we went to the beach in Honeymoon Island State Park and I brought my camera in hopes of seeing lots of shorebirds and maybe a pelican or two. The only birds I saw were Laughing Gulls and I snapped a total of three photos.

When I saw this, I thought it was a freakish and somewhat unsettling image because it looks as if the head was pasted on another bird’s body. But when I showed it to Zebu (who doesn’t have a great appreciation for birds in general and even less appreciation for gulls because  of “their beady eyes and shifty behavior”) he thought it was a great shot.

Go figure.