Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year -- Year In Review

2008 was one of those interesting years, in the Chinese sense. This seems like a good time to sum it up.

1) The Husband moved to South Carolina to start graduate school while I stayed in Florida to sell the house. I spent a lot of time with my mother in law and tried to remember how to live alone.
2) Sold the house in April.
3) Discovered just how much stuff I actually had, despite several pack-n-store trips made in 2007, as I packed for a MONTH SOLID and still didn't get it all.
4) Moved to South Carolina into a teeny rental because, well, we had to find something in 3 days right BEFORE the end of the semester.
5) Developed severe tendinitis in both arms.
6) Edited my first sold story.
7) Developed problems with my right knee.
8) Spiraled into some fairly serious depression
9) Could not get a job, could not go back to school, could not write
10) Went into therapy because killing myself was starting to look like an option
11) Discovered summer in South Carolina barely rates the name, at least in Florida terms
12) Had legitimate reason to wear a hat and gloves.
13) Adopted a fierce stray cat
14) Semi-adopted a lovy, squooshy cat that was very ill and had to be euthanized.

I think I may have cried more this year than I have since my dad died. Still not sure what to do with myself and my life, still battling the obstacles in my head that make it hard to think my way around things, still prey to days when I don't leave the couch. Still have no where to go around here and next to no local friends.

However, I don't plan to stay like this. First, knees. January starts our insurance over and I can FINALLY get some answers on what's wrong with my knees. Arthritis? Detached cartilage? Tiny demons?

Second, writing. And Reading. More of both. Have plans.

Third, since jobs are scarcer than snowflakes around here, and grad school is an expense we really can't swing right now, I'm looking at tech school. Probably too late for this semester, but I can look into it. I'm sure there's a skill or two I can add.

Otherwise, since The Husband is spending large amounts of his time at school or traveling for Tokyo or other things, I'm getting much better at being on my own. This isn't a skill I particularily wanted to revive -- I didn't get married to live on my own -- but I guess it is useful since I have no choice.

I fully expect 2009 to be a year of more changes, more loss, some gain, but change all the same. So, here we go.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Pome

Haiku2 for formyselfandstrangers
christmas trees in my
life has ever been a church
a general store
@
Created by Grahame

Coincidence?

MIL goes home. Caliban comes back from the vet. A long 4 days of rain and clouds starts to clear. Today it is sunny. Coincidence?

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Loot Report

In addition to The Book of Lost Books, a long sought Georgette Heyer biography, omnibus editions of both Lewis Carol and Mark Twain, and a Sims2 add on, I got a Sony Reader. Oh, and an 8 gig expansion card.

I think I will be reading.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Seasoning

Happy Holidays to one and all.


Should I have said Merry Christmas? Some people get mad if you don't say Christmas Then there's Chanukkah. Should I say Happy Channukkah? I want to be fair and equal about this. Should I mention Yule? What about Solstice? And Kwanza? Should I include Kwanza? Is there a Non-denominational gift giving day? Secular Humanist commodity exchange day? Will someone get mad if I say Happy Holidays? Will I get boycotted? Will someone stage a weblog protest? Am I going to get in trouble because I missed someone or I wasn't diverse enough?











Ah, screw it. I smell gingerbread. Let's EAT!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Solstice 2008

Today, 15 years ago, my husband and I handfasted in a ceremony in our backyard, with friends and family around us. Many of those friends are distant now, and some of the family has gone, but we are still together.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Day .05

The Husband comes home this evening! Yay!

He brings with him the Mother-In-Law (MIL to you guys). Yay.

Really, I do get along with MIL. It's just this time she's planning for her own practical reasons to stay with us for about 9-10 days. YARG! Yes, it was practical for her to drive back with The Husband and yes it is practical to stay until Christmas and yes it is practical not to drive home the weekend right after Christmas, but...

We boarded Caliban. We just don't want to deal with the potential argument. So we don't get to have him for all this time (but we can visit at the vet).

The biggest thing I've worried about with MIL here in this small space is that there is that she is Activity Woman. She must be Doing Things -- and there is nothing to do. No garden, no yard, no house projects, nothing to build or plant or paint. There's no golf, no tennis. She has no friends up here. And the weather predictions are for rain, rain, wind, rain, and more rain, so even going walking with The Husband will be limited.

Ah well. We have some stuff to go back to the storage unit, so that will fill up a morning. We are planning to day trip to a few places. Other things we'd thought about will be weather dependent.

I just know from past experience that after about 4 days in tight quarters with nothing to do (at least nothing she wants to do) MIL gets irritated and bored and hard to be around. And that means she starts picking at everything and inventing things that Must Be Done.

*sigh*

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Stairs and Christmas Trees

So, this past weekend The Husband and I traveled to Asheville, NC to meet up with TOAS and Bookpimp for some socializing and a trip to the Biltmore House.

First, some background. My mother and her large family mostly lived in and around Asheville (Black Mountain, Swananoa, Old Fort), so I visited the area frequently as a child to see aunts, uncles, cousins, and my grandmother. I have not really been in the area since I was 15, which was the year before my mother died. We didn't go up the year I was 16 because my mother had been ill for a while. So, my memories of the area are quite old now, yet the place felt vaguely haunted to me. Still, as a kid I'd never heard of the Biltmore. My mother never mentioned it, nor did anyone else that I can remember. I think it was so far away from their life experience that it never occured to any of them.

Alright, now, back to the Biltmore. You can read about it on Wikipedia. There's plenty to know about it. The parts that are most relevant to this little blog o'mine are -- they do not allow photography of any kind inside the house, the house has a MILLION stairs, and I've never seen so many full blown Christmas trees in my LIFE.

The estate has a lot more than just the house -- there's a winery, a 'farm', restaurants, nature walks, and an inn. We were allowed to take pictures at the winery and farm, which were the two parts we visited before our tour time (yes, you have to get a tour time to go through the house).


This tree was at the winery. Very pretty, but NOTHING compared to the 25-30 foot LIVE tree (hung with giant ornaments) that is in the Banquet Hall (the room with the row of three fire places at the opposite end and even WITH the tree, a full sized banquet table that would sit 20 EASILY).
This weathervane was also on the winery. V for Vanderbilt, ya know.



Part of the exterior of the house itself. House -- ha! It isn't called one of America's Palaces for nothing.


That building used to be the stables. Now it's where all the gift shops are.


This is the area at the far end of the grand driveway up to the house that goes to some gardens and walkways. Pretty impressive view, wouldn't you say?

The tour takes you through about 60 rooms on four floors. The stairs seem endless. Every room except the basement/kitchen areas had glorious, fully decorated Christmas trees sized from 2 foot high to that incredible giant. You'll just have to look at their website to get an idea. I even bought the book about the place (to make up for NOT buying the book for Blenheim Palace when I was there...)

We upgraded our day pass to the yearly pass. They hold concerts during the summer, as well as the huge Flower Carpet put on the front lawn, and there's plenty we didn't see there. It's about a 2 hour drive from here, which isn't bad for an overnight trip. TOAS and Book Pimp got year passes as well, so I'm looking forward to hanging with them as well.

I'm not looking forward to the stairs, though.

Where the weirdos are

Police: Armed burglars demand man's eggbeater - Yahoo! News

Sometimes my home state does make me wonder what is in the water...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Countdown

We've had our teeny-but-real tree up for over a week now. Presents are wrapped and tucked under it (as much as possible). Only one ornament broken via cat so far. Might be a record.

We are taking a quick trip north this weekend, to meet up with friends and see the Biltmore House all decked out and beautiful. I will take many pictures.

Sunday The Husband will fly to Florida for the whole week. Yay. Not particularly happy about this, but then, I'm rarely happy when he's out of town. In fact, I hate it greatly. But that's my lot in life. My ambitions are currently to clean the house and read a book.

When he comes back, MIL will be coming back with him for the following week, Christmas and all. Gas is so low right now ($1.44 yesterday) that we are planning several day trips. We have to. Mom likes to keep busy and there is NOTHING for her to do around here except make us crazy. No yard to mow, no house projects, nothing like that. I am sure there will be plenty of time for her to be unhappy with my lack of a job, my increased weight, my hair, the number of books I have, etc. Quite certain of all that.

What she will not have the oppotunity to be unhappy about is Caliban. Poor kitty will be at the vet for the week, just to avoid it. The Husband and I agreed that there was just no point in having to deal with it. Boarding is actually pretty cheap at our vet, and we can have him tested gain for the Feline Lukiemia and AIDS. He was out there with Cow Kitty for we don't know how long and while his first tests were negative, it doesn't hurt to check a second time. He probably won't like it much, but thus it goes. We've been told we can visit, so we just have to think of reasons to sneak off without Mom in tow. Like I said, there is not much for her to do around here, so she wants to go along on every trip to the store and errand. She even wants to go in to school with The Husband to see the lab. He wasn't planning on going in to school, but now he is.

It won't be that bad (I hope). We've got things to do lined up. I just hope she decides to leave on Friday rather than Sunday. 5 days is about max, especially in this tight space.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Once More Into the Breach

Friday night turned out a lot more fun than I expected. We went to a local restaurant called Calhoun Corners, which has been around forever -- the building has been a church, a general store, and a community center. It also burned down once and was rebuilt. The food is quite good (and far more Greek inspired than I would have expected here in the Upstate). The only downside was that half the dining area is up a flight of not-so-shallow stairs. I, of course, wore heels. Up was ok. Down was not good.

I so much need new knees. All I want for Christmas are knee braces.

Anyway, only one of Jay's lab partner's could make it, so she and her fiance met with us. The Husband and The Lab Partner would dive into discussions about school, printing technology, and so forth, requiring frequent nudges from The Fiance and me. We eventually started talking about movies, which lead to a side trip to meet her cats and his beagle, a change of clothes, and a drive to our place for movie indulgence. Singin' in the Rain has been introduced to yet another generation.

Yes, it was awkward now and again, the generational differences appearing. I am now a member of an older generation. My comfort is that, with luck, every new generation will experience this.

Apparently I did nothing horrible or embarrassing, because Lab Partner and Fiance want to do a more casual meet up this week, probably for pizza or something.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

My Feet are Cold

The Husband has cleaned out those things Cowkitty related so I can go into the garage without pangs. I pang easily.

Everyone else is currently taking that all important late evening/before bedtime Nap. I can actually see from this spot four cats. I know two of them are not visible but are in the room -- one in the little bed under the window seat and one on the giant dog bed under the coffee table. Bea always loved Calico's big round dog bed, so I kept it when we divested of things doggish. She spends a good portion of each day in it. Pooty is on the couch. Caliban is under the couch. Ben in is the other cat bed, LaGuz is on the heated window seat (the other one, further away, is vacant for the first time in hours).

All is well in the Kitty world.

Caliban went to the vet on Monday -- a much more positive trip, really. The worst of it was when they wanted a stool sample. He has had diarhea for a while now, and with all the litter boxes used in common, it's not exactly a simple thing to 1) identify whose poo is whose 2) collect a lab worthy sample of said toxic substance. So, they took him into the back to get a sample.

He did not like this. I could hear his screams of protest. I fully expected to hear the doctor and technician scream, too, but he only managed a small bite on the tech. When they returned him to the examination room, he was NOT pleased. Luckily, there were so many noises and smells and corners to explore that he forgot about the unpleasant experience quickly, and was a very well behaved cat. He got medicine -- wheee.

Caliban has already learned to eat the Pill Pocket while spitting out the pill. Clever kitty. He's still a biter, but now he sometimes grabs, bites, then regrets the hasty decision and starts licking whatever it is he has grabbed (usually my hand). He will also cuddle for up to 5 minutes while I scratch the magic spot on his throat.

Ophelia's blood sugars, it turns out, are well in the normal range, so we have her insulin dose at the right level. She's still on a very low dose, really, but I still worry about the strain on her kidneys and other organs. Still, good news is good news. They said she stayed in the 140's the whole 5 days.

The Husband's lab partners are having an end of semester dinner thing -- with partners, it was specified -- so tomorrow I must bathe, put on nice clothes, and be social with strangers much younger than I, with whom I have little in common. Again, weee. I guess it's better than staying in the house watching old movies. A bit.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Goodbye Cowkitty

The stray we'd been caring for outside went to the vet this morning. We called him Cowkitty for his orange cow spots. He was a goofy sweet cat, so soft and just wanting to be pet and loved.

He has Feline AIDS and Leukemia.

When I took him in this morning, I said (as pet lovers will) that I would see him later and everything would be fine. Instead, about now they are putting him down. We can't care for him and he will get sick eventually. In fact, he already had a cold and an eye infection.

I feel terrible. I feel as if I betrayed him. We did give him a few weeks of love and regular food. I tried hard not to fall in love with him, but I did, a little.

Now to hug all my other cats and hope that Cowkitty's spirit will move on peacefully.

Monday, December 01, 2008

December

My life is somehow more boring and less blogworthy than ever I thought it was before. Not that my life has ever been a bounty of excitement, intellectual stimulation, and comedy gold, but at least *I* was interested in it. Now? Not so much.

Caliban went to the vet today for a check up. He seems fine and healthy, but he's got some meds to clear a digestive problem (I won't go TMI on you). And he didn't draw blood on anyone.

Ophelia was boarded at the vet's while we traveled over the weekend. Her sugars are in the normal range, so we have her insulin in the right dosage. She celebrated her homecoming by shitting in her carrier while in the car (Ok, so that was TMI, but I'm sharing the suffering. That stuff is TOXIC).

Cowkitty goes on Wednesday for a check up and (all guys, you might want to skip this) to get his fuzzy little balls clipped off. He's reproduced enough. Besides, to persuade Mom to take him, he must be healthy and neutered. He's still very shy of hands near his face, but he will happily rub himself against us and lay to be pet for hours, and he loved the food. Oh yes, food is his favorite thing.

As for my life? Well, I don't know. I could find a job yet. I can retake the GRE and try for graduate school again. I can work on the jewelry and try to sell that. I can keep writing (well, I know I will keep writing, but I mean I can discipline myself to writing instead of futzing around with it like I have.) Some hours, I don't know if I can. Other hours, everything seems possible. The travel time from one point to the other is exhausting. I spent so long in that holding pattern, it seems, that now I'm actually at the next point, I don't know how to do anything. And it's still just another holding pattern, since The Husband's choices will control what happens, where we live, what we will do. He doesn't like that when I say it, but I don't think he'd like it if it weren't true. He just doesn't like how it sounds.

Ah well. I have poop to clean up.