Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another year, another year-end meme

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?

I did all the flowers for a big fancy evening hotel June wedding, all by myself. Yay!

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I made a few last year, but I'm not going to go into that. I think in 2010 I'll be a little more go-with-the-flow.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Jive Turkey gave birth to Sadie Rose Turkey. That was pretty awesome. Two of my cousins had their fourth and third babies, respectively.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes. Petra Cat Kitty died on December 10. That sucked major ass.

5. What countries/places did you visit?

January: Went to NYC and Connecticut, adding two new states (for me).
March: California (Bay Area and LA)
May: California
July: Road trip through Wyoming to Yellowstone, and through Montana on the way back (one new state)
August: Traveled around CO for work; went on a weekend mountain-climbing adventure near Aspen.
October: Road trip to Austin and San Antonio, TX, adding Oklahoma to my new state list.
December: Road trip to CA through Utah and Nevada both ways, though we took different routes (the way back was mostly Nevada and Wyoming)

No other countries. :(

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

A new job in a new state. And a fetus.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Obama being sworn in as the president in January was a pretty momentous occasion. Dan graduated in May, so that was pretty good. June 6 was the big wedding I did flowers for. And Petra died on December 10.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Ever-so-slowly learning patience. Also, my little sister and I exchanged teachable Christmas presents: I taught her to knit and she (re-)taught me to drive stick. I plan to actually get good at driving my own car in 2010. Also, with the exception of a small car loan nearly paid off, I became debt-free.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Same as last year (the lack of new job and losing camera), only this time I lost the camera out of my backpack here in Denver.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Thankfully, no, not really. I had a couple of minor colds and some annoying neck pain flareup, but that was about it.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I didn't buy a lot. We mostly tried to save money and pay off debt. But I found a pair of walking shoes on our recent trip to California that I am thoroughly smitten with and think they'll probably last me a long, long time.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

I don't know if behavior is the right term, but Dan finishing his degree was hella awesome.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Sarah Palin. Several other "celebrities."

14. Where did most of your money go?

Paying off debt, savings, and vet bills.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

My 30th birthday in March. And doing the flowers for that wedding.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?

Vampire Weekend, "M79"
Beyonce, "Single Ladies"

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
Sadder for several reasons.
b) thinner or fatter? Fatter. Feh.
c) richer or poorer? We have a lot more in savings, so definitely richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Travel. Swimming. Wedding flowers. Being content with where I am and not being so impatient about The Next.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

TV watching. We got cable and we have a pretty TV and it's so hard not to take advantage of it.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

With my family in California.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009?

I fell more in love with Dan. 21 months of marriage and we haven't killed each other yet, woohoo!

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Mad Men. Glee.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I try not to hate. It hurts the hater more than the hate-ee.

24. What was the best book you read?

I read a lot more books than I ever wrote about on here (including three in the last couple of weeks) but I think my favorite was Anathem by Neil Stephenson.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Dan discovered and shared a lot of new music with me this year, much of it local (the Hollyfelds). For some reason in 2009 I got interested in music again. I'd even heard of most of the music at that fateful awards show where Kanye got up on stage while Taylor Swift was accepting an award. Also, I realized I like Lady Gaga. She is wicked talented.

26. What did you want and get?

More social opportunities. We have become friends with quite a few people that we only knew tangentially last year. Having parties to go to is fun!

27. What did you want and not get?

More than I'll go into here. Best not to end the year on a downer note!

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

I don't know if I could choose a favorite. We saw so many good movies this year! The ones that stand out in my mind include Star Trek, Up, Away We Go, and Where The Wild Things Are.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I had a tea party where people dressed up in costume or wore mad hats, and I gave the attendees unbirthday presents. I was 30 years old. My sisters dressed as tea bags, which was awesome.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Petra not getting sick and dying.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?

A hot mess.

32. What kept you sane?

Dan, and liquor, once again!

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I don't know if anyone really tickled my fancy this year.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

GLBT rights (again).

35. Who did you miss?

I missed everyone in California from May until I got to see them again in December. I'm never going that long without a visit home again.

36. Who was the best new person you met?


37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.

Patience is a virtue, and I often forget to just enjoy what is.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

"It's going to take a little time
While you're waiting like a factory line"
--Vampire Weekend, M79

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

So, we went to California...

Hello, internet!

So...we kind of got in the car on Monday the 14th and stayed overnight in a $30 fancy-ish hotel room right off the strip in Vegas and then ended up in the Bay Area on December 15th. I so, so, so needed the break - having not been to California since May, I was extremely homesick. And we both needed to get out of town and away from our sad, Petra-less house. The drive out was relatively uneventful, the first day of which I spent approximately ten hours finishing a knitted giftmas present for my sister and her husband. We did not, as one might expect, gamble, or do anything other than eat and crash in our hotel room in Vegas.

The trip was exactly what I was hoping for - evenings spent visiting with friends and family, days spent visiting our Berkeley and San Francisco haunts. We spent an entire day in San Francisco on the 17th, topped by an awesome dinner at a Burmese restaurant with Monkey, up in NorCal for work. We slept. We attended birthday parties and threw parties of our own (complete with rockin' mamas and wombats); I baked cookies in one sister's kitchen for the other sister's first hosted extended family gathering in their new house. We met new doggies and patted old ones; we got loved up by Linus and drooled on by toddlers and saw some live bluegrass and had actual facetime with so many of the people I love most in the world.

It wasn't a white Christmas. It was green, and sunny, and warm-ish. It only rained on us once. We had sushi; we played games; we went to the movies (Avatar!) and slept in four different houses and opened presents and VACATED. And when it was time to pack up the car, late on Christmas Day, I was ready to come back to Denver, recharged for another little while. The trip back was also uneventful, and we spent most of both days driving listening to Alice Sebold read The Lovely Bones via downloadable audiobook. Dan picked up Loki yesterday and last night the three of us slept in our bed, still missing our sweet girl, but happy to be back together as a little family again.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ten Good Things about Petra

1. Due to her origins as a rescued, injured, shelter kitty, we never knew what Petra's breed was. It's possible she was a ragamuffin or a British shorthair - she had a round, pumpkin-faced look, and the softest, thickest fur I ever felt on a cat. She was black and white, but not like most black and white cats. When you saw her fur in the sun, you saw how true black and true white she was - no hidden stripes underneath. She felt like a rabbit when you petted her, and was incredibly docile - she let us hold her like a baby, hold her upside down, and she enjoyed being petted backwards. Petra had perfect kitty eyeliner, a black nose with a tiny pink spot, and black freckles on her white front legs.

2. Petra was a fighter. Despite all odds, at around 8 weeks of age she managed to survive either an attack by an animal or a run-in with a car long enough for someone to find her and rescue her, and for the shelter to remove her leg. The vet who cared for her liked her so much she fostered Petra herself until she was well enough to be adopted out. Then, when she swallowed the needle, the only indication we had that anything was wrong was a couple of days of coughing like she had a hairball and a recurring respiratory infection. As soon as the needle was out, she was back to her normal self again. In this final illness, she lived longer than either of us expected, and even rallied a couple of times toward the end before her final decline.

3. Petra loved to sit in the sun and watch the birds and squirrels outside - we called it the kitty show. She made little "excited, want to hunt" meeshing noises whenever she saw something really interesting, whether it was something on the Kitty Show or a moth or other bug inside or a reflection of light on the wall. Seeing Petra get excited about something was one of my favorite things, ever.

4. From the very first time we met her, it was obvious that Petra loved Dan the most. When she was a kitten, she had a habit of sitting on Dan's chest at 4 AM, purring and making biscuits, and giving him head butts. Dan called it "morning lovey time." The first time we left her for a few days, when we came back, the first night she woke him up with lovey time about 6 times. Her habits revolved around getting Dan to pay attention to her, and he was the one who could calm her down best when she had scary phantom-limb pain episodes.

5. Petra was very particular about things she liked and things she didn't like. Sitting on laps: bad. Throw rugs on the floor: good. She was never much of a talker or vocalizer but there were a few things she said that were unlike the way any other cat said them (brrt moo brrt, for example). The last six months or so, most of what she said was moo. The loudest we ever heard her vocalize was on car trips to and from Dan's parents' house - man, did she ever hate that, and she let us know about it.

6. Our kitty had a great talent for fitting herself into unusual places, whether that be sitting on spiky box lids or finding hiding places where nobody would think to look. Last Christmas we stayed up at Dan's parents' house for several days, so of course we brought the cats with us. When it was time for us to leave, we managed to corral Loki into his carrier pretty quickly, but we couldn't find Petra. We looked in all her usual hiding spots and everywhere else we could possibly think of, multiple times. We knew she couldn't have gotten outside, so we were pretty much at a loss. Finally, I found her hiding up inside an old desk; she had squeezed through a little hole and crawled up behind one of the desk drawers. I don't know how she managed it, but her hour+ of run-around was that much longer that she didn't have to be in the cat carrier.

7. One of the most important things to Petra was cleanliness. She insisted on bathing herself multiple times a day - up to 10 times, maybe, on some days. She also bathed Loki quite frequently; I think part of the reason why he is so soft is because she gave him baths. Bathing was like a meditation for her and sometimes she'd fall asleep right in the middle of one.

8. Along with the cleanliness issue came a distaste for just about anything that she thought smelled bad. If Petra smelled so much as a molecule of poop or old food or something else she deemed offensive, she'd cover it up with the nearest throw rug or piece of paper. We often came out in the morning to find one of the living room throw-rugs folded over because something on it didn't smell right to her.

9. Because she didn't have her left back leg, Petra would often sit with a glazed look on her face, stump twitching, when her left ear itched. Every time we noticed it we told her that she didn't have that leg, and we'd give her an ear skritching.

10. Petra was all about making good trades. She gave us a trick and we gave her treats. We gave her pets and she gave us purrs; it was the best trade we could imagine and we always felt we were getting the better end of the deal. The last few weeks while she'd been so sick, Petra never purred, even when we were petting her, so we knew she didn't feel well. This morning, after we'd made the appointment to bring her in, both of us sat next to her, petting her in all the best places. After a few minutes, she started to purr. It was the best thing she could have given us.

Read more about Petra here.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Radio silence

This past week has been a scary roller-coaster ride of emotions, primarily when it comes to the cat. She went in for a vet visit on Wednesday and her kidneys were smaller and she'd gained a little weight, which seemed like promising signs. The labs came back on Thursday and the tiny bit of hope we had was dashed to pieces, as they told us that her kidney function has declined significantly (again). (We did manage to get rid of her e.coli infection, so that's something I suppose). She didn't eat much on Thursday or Friday and was lethargic and disoriented, so we had some friends over for dinner to say goodbye to her, since what we were doing, pallative-care wise, seemed not to be doing much for her anymore. She did eat a little bit of rotisserie chicken on Friday, but we didn't have high hopes that she'd ever do much getting out of the little nest she made for herself on the couch.

On Saturday we talked about our options, and made some plans for her end-of-life care that would have put Loki at Dan's parents' house, us in the car driving to California, and Petra in the ground this Thursday. We watched with tears in our eyes as Loki bathed her and kept her warm in her little couch nest. Sunday we saw Dan's parents and asked if we could bury her at their house, and then we went to the same Christmas tree farm as last year and found our Charlie Brown tree. When we got home, Petra seemed more energetic and far less disoriented than she had in days. She actually looked and acted like herself again, going so far as to do her trick for kitty treats eight times in a row last night, eating and drinking, using the litter box, and stretching out on the throw rug in the kitchen. She even begged for some chicken from my dinner plate as I was sitting next to her couch nest while eating last night, something she'd never done before.

The only thing we can think of is that she's rallying a bit thanks to several days of prednisalone treatment, a steroid we're giving her to help control her kidney inflammation. It won't make her better in the long-term but I guess in the short-term it's helping her feel a little better. The form of cancer she has is very aggressive and cats don't tend to live very long; she's already outlived the 4-6 weeks generally cited.

So now we don't know what to do. We want her to have as much good quality of life as we can. We know now for sure that it's renal lymphoma so she doesn't have very much longer at all, and we're (for the most part) at peace with that. But how do you know when is the right time to say goodbye?