The first post of the year

DSC01304I like to spend the beginning of the new year reflecting on accomplishments of the past year, and setting goals for the new year…  I’m not quite ready to share any of that yet, however, I will share my “new” journal with you. It was a gift from my Uncle Johnny who passed away just before Christmas. He was my great uncle, my grandmother’s sister…  the youngest of the five siblings and the last one.  He was a brick layer and he lived on the farm he grew up on in Sedley Virginia– if you look close enough at the picture on the right you’ll see his hat says, “Been there Done that– Sedley” which is pretty funny considering Sedley, Virginia has a population of probably less than 2000 near as I can tell. It’s not even a town, more of a community in South Hampton County.

Note:  Sedley is home to Hubs Peanuts, the best peanuts in the world.

His wife, my aunt Lucille passed away a few years back, she had diabetes (Type 1 I believe).  Their son Curtis also passed away a couple of years ago (he was also a diabetic).  Uncle Johnny did have a grandson and a newly born great grandson.  He also had an adopted daughter who lived across the road, Anita. She called him Pop and looked out for him.  Uncle Johnny had a long life, he was 90, but he will be missed none-the-less.

CIMG1676So back to the journal.  I haven’t been journaling, and I’m not sure why… it’s a good way for me to process what’s going on in my head, to create starts to stories and to work out problems with pieces in progress.  And so, one of my goals for 2009 is to start it up again.  I pulled off the shelf this lovely journal that Uncle Johnny sent as a thank you gift after he visited my sister and I in San Diego two years ago. We had a fantastic time, touring him and Anita around.  He went back and told the whole town what great tour guides we were–  which resulted in more folks (I mean distant relatives) from Sedley visting and looking us up, but that’s another story.

CIMG1677So thank you Uncle Johnny.

I’m sure you received a warm welcome in heavan from your sister Ruby (my grandma),  Lucille and Curtis, your sisters Virginia and Shirley, your brother Tommy, George (my Dad) and many more.

Maybe they even had a big ole plate of fried chicken for you…  rumor had it that you could eat an entire chicken on your own.

PS:  I almost forgot to mention, that the best package ever received in the mail came from Uncle Johnny in 2006.  I mean seriously, you can’t go wrong with a hundred Audrey Hepburn stamps, can you?


filled with Hubs peanuts

(not so) Wordless Wednesday

Backrow L to R: Granddad, Grandma, Dad, Mom, Great Grandma Simpson, Aunt Betty and Uncle Ray.
Front row- Cousin John, Debby. I seem to be MIA. Or not here yet. Since I am four years younger than Debby (look at her posing for the camera in her red dress and matching tights) I am pretty sure I am not the one taking the photo.

Aunt Betty passed away the day before yesterday (she sure was a dish!). (Uncle Ray is still with us but he must be sad. He and Betty were married for over 50 years for sure) She was actually my great aunt, my granddad’s very much younger sister. The last of the Minnesotan Simpsons. We had not been close the last few years. She and my Uncle Ray had moved from San Jose to Modesto. They were older and didn’t travel much. I think they stopped travelling all together. And I didn’t have much call to go to Modesto.

I was busy with my life. (you know how that goes– work, home, writing, friends, busy busy). I think the last time I saw them was for Granddad’s funeral in 2004. (This is a problem with my family– too many funerals and not enough weddings!) The truth is I didn’t make the time to go visit. And except for the occassional Christmas card, didn’t make the time to keep in touch much either, relying on my sister or my Aunt Mary K and Uncle Bill to keep me posted.

My fondest memories are of going up to their house when I was a kid, swimming in their pool. I could say I’ll miss Betty… but really I’ve missed her for a long time I guess.

Quiet Endings


I’ve been quiet on my blog lately for a lot of reasons, but mostly because I had to put my little friend Alex to sleep last Saturday.

I knew it was coming for a long time. I’d posted about her various health problems over the last couple of years, first with diabetes and me having to give her insulin shots twice a day, then on to the never ending urinary tract infections. She couldn’t walk very well because of nerve damage from the diabetes, and so she couldn’t use a litter box. But last year, since I was busy grieving my Dad’s passing I didn’t have the strength to make the tough decision to put her down.

Earlier in the year I decided that if there was another health crisis it would be time. A couple of months ago when Alex had the last urinary tract infection I was able to simply get a prescription over the phone rather than take my kitty in. You see she really hated going to the vet, and they were never able to handle her well enough to get a good sample so mostly I would haul her in, she would growl and hiss a lot and based on the symptoms I described the vet would prescribe antibiotics.

Alex spent most of the day Saturday outside in her box enjoying the sun and the birds and the ocean breeze. In between laundry in and out of the garage, I would poke my head out and check on her. In the late afternoon I looked out and she was on her way in, but her back legs had collapsed and she was meowing. I went out to the garage to switch out some more laundry, then back into the kitchen for some ice tea, and Alex still hadn’t made it back into the house, and when I looked closer she wasn’t meowing but rather panting, tongue out and everything. I rushed out to see what was up, maybe she was trying to hock up a hairball (these things happen on occasion) but when I went to pet her she was really in distress and then she had a convulsion sort of flopping like a fish.

While I went to get the cat carrier, I called my friend Karin who I was supposed to meet for a beach walk and I told her that I wouldn’t be meeting her, that I was taking my baby to the vet and I was afraid I wouldn’t be bringing her back home.

Karin said she’d meet me at the vet. Then when I was at the vet, my sister called and I all I could do was cry… so she said she would come. Debby called Ralph, who then called me and said he was on the way up.

The vet told me that Alex had a really high temperature, they had her on oxygen to hopefully relieve some of her respiratory distress, and they would need to do more tests to determine the problem. That it was possible that the infection was in her brain which caused the convulsions… And so I said I didn’t think it was a good idea to put her through all that, only to maybe have me bring her home for a couple more months until the next urinary tract infection. Her quality of life was not good.

This was the hardest decision I have ever made. Alex was a special kitty. at least to me.

When she was a kitten she used to wake me up in the morning by sitting on my chest and licking my nose. She was smart too. When she first played with the kitty dancer (cardboard thingy on a long flexible wire that you dangle in front of your cat to make her crazy) she was watching it in the mirror, and instead of charging the mirror she flipped around and attacked the real one.

She used to love to drink from a dripping faucet, in fact, she loved water. When I lived in Chicago I had one of those big claw footed porcelain tubs and she liked to walk around the edge of it while I took a bath. Until one day when she fell in. (let me just say ouch– she used my leg as a launching pad to get out).

She also loved ice. Sometimes I would put some in her water bowl so she could fish it out with her big (I mean seriously big, like 1 1/2″ wide), fur lined paw, then batting the ice cube around the kitchen floor until it melted. I forgot to tell Ralph about her penchant for ice cubes. When he took care of her while I was gone he was sitting there in my living room, his nice scotch (on ice) was sitting on the floor and along came Alex, dazzled by the ice, reaching her big furry paw in to scoop out a cube, only to be thwarted by a vigilant Ralph… not sure if he was saving Alex from the scotch or saving the scotch from Alex….

Alex drove across county with me (and Karin) and survived the car accident in Nebraska (when we hit a deer). She survived being attacked by not one but TWO Chows. She comforted me when my Grandma died, when my Granddad died and last year when my Dad died. She let me huddle over her and cry into her long soft fur.

Her favorite thing to do was to play Sunday paper. I would read and toss the pages and she would dive under them… she enjoyed this even lately… it may be awhile before I can read the Sunday paper again.

I miss mer more than I can say. She is not waiting in the kitchen for me to feed her in the morning– and in fact I’ve been buying my coffee from Starbucks on my way to work because I can’t stand being in the kitchen. And she is not waiting for me at the door when I come home from work– so I’ve been working late, and running lots of errands after work. There’s a big empty spot in the living room where her box was, and a big empty spot in my heart.

But wait, there’s more

If bad things come in threes I’m in trouble.
I’m bummed because my plans to have FUN this evening were cancelled.
and so I worked late, great talk with my boss, brainstorming, planning, shooting the breeze, finishing up some stuff…
and then my roommate called.
Alex, my cat, has another Urinary Tract Infection. It’s bad. She’s bleeding a lot.
So I fly home as fast as my little turbo-charged beetle can take me, to take care of my cat. It’s bad.
Her little kitty bed (lined with newspaper) is red with blood. Bloody urine.
and her little kitty but is drenched in urine soaked blood.
I gave her an antibioitic I have left over from the last UTI.
Then I called the vet.
I really don’t want to take her in.
It’s traumatic for everyone.
And Expensive.
And I’m broke.
and all this reminds me what a Bad Kitty Mommy I am.
She’s 14 years old.
And costing me a fortune.
I’ve renamed her “Down Payment.”
And I don’t want to put her down.
Because I’m not sure I can do it.
How do you know when the time is right?
Every 3 or 4 months we go through this bloody but thing.
And she can’t walk very well.
But she still loves me.
And she still likes to play with the newspaper, especially on Sunday Mornings when we play hide the kitty in the paper.
And she purrs.
And she has her box that she stays in most of the time.
And when there’s dinner involved she can get to the kitchen in record time, even if she is dragging her hind legs behind her.
So is it time?
And how can I force her into the cat carrier and take her to the vet where she hates everyone and will hiss and growl and try to bite and then they will kill her?
shit shit shit shit shit.
Probably a good thing my plans got cancelled ’cause I am NOT good company right now. But still, it sucks having to do all this shit alone.