Sunday, January 20, 2008

back from the dead

You'd think having not posted for nearly three weeks that I would actually have something to show for it. And I guess I do. I've been working on my personal statement for law school and I have to say, I'm fairly fond of it. Now I'm in the process of dusting off my resume. Soon I'll send them both to the folks I hope will agree to write me fabulous letters of recommendation. It's a step I planned to have complete in January (though applications aren't available until September) so, sorry, internet friends, but it's been my priority. I'm actually kinda nervous cuz I'm not sure my former employer will feel allowed to write a letter for me (as it is against company policy to give employment recommendations) and my academic contact (now a partner in a top 100 law firm) hasn't heard from me in fifteen years. Still, both men thought highly of me back in the day, so I'm hoping for the best.

In the meanwhile, I enjoyed a lovely visit with the niecelets who came by Morro Bay on their way home from San Diego. Of course, Morro Bay isn't exactly on the way home from San Diego, and sadly, they drove out during the worst storm California's seen in a while, but still, I think it was worth it. That's easy for me to say as I wasn't the one stuck in the car with no crackers and zero visibility. I was just thrilled as the girls picked me over Disneyland. I think I made it worth their while.

Although I wasn't on the seal schedule during their visit, we had the good fortune of getting to see the first animal of the year, a sea lion named Castelanetta. We were invited to feed him breakfast on the 3rd. Though none of us was eager to be up that early (Maddie almost ditched), I think it was a highlight. Castalenetta, having had the good sense to bite the hand that tube fed him the night before, was being offered whole fish instead. That made things much quicker and easier for everyone involved. I'm pretty certain I broke some sort of rule letting the girls throw the fish into the pool but since they were perfectly safe (in the next pen over) and totally silent (a big concern around sea lions), I figured what the heck.

Afterwards we came home and built graham cracker castles. Maddie and I accidentally destroyed our first attempt. (It collapsed when she leaned over it to reach some decorations. As it came crashing down she yelled, "it was your idea roof!") We were much better off for the misfortune, however, as we built a significantly sturdier second version. Can you see our coy ponds and the fire pit in the foreground? And the Tootsie Roll wood pile? And the stained glass windows made from Pop Rocks and sprinkles? And I know you are digging our sun deck.

Meanwhile Erik teamed up with Savannah and built a huge spread complete with a roller coaster. Though it looks rickety, their house was pretty solid and it even had graham cracker floors. Maddie was disturbed that her sister's house was overrun by gummy rats. I was just jealous as Maddie wouldn't let the rodents anywhere near our abode. Still, we teased them, claiming that our house was owned outright (paid for by insurance, no doubt) and theirs was surely mortgaged to the hilt. Only after the girls left did Erik and I exchange kudos for the house our spouse had built.

Later we learned that Savannah is a cat whisperer. Monkey really is a belly cat, but this was ridiculous. I can hardly believe he's nearly ten pounds now, though this picture shows you where he carries it all.

A couple days after the girls left, I got a sea lion of my own. Jiffy, seen here on the ramp up in Sausalito (where I went the weekend of the 12th), is not necessarily going to make it back out into the wild. Her fate isn't sealed, but since she is very likely a long term domoic acid victim, they are not certain it is worth the effort to remove her damaged left eye. But at least she's getting fed something other than peanut butter (which the public was reportedly offering her before I got there) and she won't become shark bait.

After my visit to Sausalito, I swung by Oakland to see the older nieces. They were busy, as they tend to be, with softball and school and boys so I mostly spent my time getting their wireless network up and running. (They got iMacs for Christmas...) Sounds like I could get to see Zoe next weekend if I go down to Santa Ana with her mom. I may take the train home early, or flake altogether, we'll see. The visit is for softball, of course, so that saps some of my motivation. I'm also thinking I may drag Zoe out to the East Coast this spring to visit colleges together. As much as I feel that Berkeley remains my first choice (especially as I would graduate the same time as Sadie), I realize I have to seriously consider the other top schools (despite the weather). I'm thinking it'd be pretty nifty to end up the same place as Zoe, and she is definitely not staying in California. She's probly mortified by the idea that I could follow her, but so far she has been too polite to hint at it.

Anyway, on the home front, it is official - Mom is fine. Her echocardiogram came back normal. Rumor has it she and Dad will be the next to drive down to California. They're heading out on Leap Day (my first real wedding anniversary) for a quick dose of sunshine.

Amazingly, OC is also fine. He's nearly completed his fourth month of passing unfettered feces. He's so much happier than I've ever seen him before, though he really hates Monkey and I know he misses dry food. I also don't think he realizes yet that our next door neighbor moved away last week. She fed the birds along the fence line which in turn fed OC. I don't know if his hunting has suffered yet or not, but he could use the challenge anyway.

I guess the only other news is that I've downloaded an online Spanish course, trying to get my language skills back. I've always done pretty well in the present tense (though I have a serious Valley Girl accent) but other than that I'm pretty lost. I'd like to be fluent-ish before law school - partially as a resume builder, but mostly because Erik keeps claiming he wants to move to Florida after graduation. He has no appreciation for the humidity / hurricane factor. All he knows is he's been cold lately.

So I guess that's it. My month in a nutshell. Congrats if you made it this far. Lord knows I nearly didn't.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

out with the old

I know blogging is not a competition, but if it were, I'd have to admit my blogging buddy, MerryMe, is kicking my butt. We had both fallen into the predictable post-NaBloPoMo slump (causing me to wonder if 30 posts in November is really worth 5 posts in December. Wouldn't a nice steady every other day for two months be nicer?) and then suddenly, wham, she makes three posts since Christmas. If it counts for anything, I've revisited this post at least 3 times in the interim. I just never got it done.

So anyway, I'm home now (no thanks to United Airlines - I had to drive myself home from San Francisco or be stranded AGAIN just as I was the last time I trusted them...) so I am out of excuses. My life is back to normal and thus my posting should resume its regular snail's pace. My niecelets are coming to visit tomorrow night (fun, fun), so that could count as an excuse. Today I bought party favors - silly string, feathered fans, googly eyes, candy rats, and a great number of graham crackers for making gingerbread houses - and tonight I clean. Perhaps that is my inspiration for finally blogging? Just a way to avoid doing something else. Either way...

I guess we should start with the good news. All of my sister's cats are still alive. Nobody ever got sick (though Ringo pulled his IV catheter and made quite a bloody mess in his pen) and the lily loving roommate is gone for good (on her own accord, of course, nothing to do with the accidental poisoning...). Better still, my sister is still talking to me even after reading the family Christmas letter. Apparently she's got some favor to ask of me in the future (didn't ask the other night cuz I was a wee bit grumpy on the phone about other stuff...), so I am sure I will pay in the long run, but what is family for if not for getting even?

Anyway, other good news is that Costco took back Mom's confusing new coffee maker. We realized that machine was all wrong for her the night she announced that she'd like a cup of coffee but didn't feel like making one... Kevin has since ordered her a more expensive machine off the internets. Can't wait to hear all about it.

And then the not so good news. Mom spent Saturday night in the hospital after having an arrhythmia in the morning. Blood tests revealed low potassium levels (Dad blames her diuretic) which is way preferable to any sort of structural damage. I think we were all a bit freaked by the event but dealt with it in the classic family ways. Dad complained about the $15 he had to spend buying her a second copy of her book club book (cuz she'd left hers at home). Kevin quipped that Mom might not have to worry about her impending Alzheimer's after all, as she might just drop dead. Mom realized for the first time ever that Dad just might out live her (what a sad widower Dad would be) but otherwise took things in stride, mocking Dad for having difficulty finding her pulse and lamenting that the event had ruined her first true day off in weeks. As for me, well, I had a drink and called my sister...

And I can't really say that my last bit of seal action really counts as good news either. A sad 71kg sea lion was brought in Saturday night (a few hours before my shift started, so I opted not to help with intake especially due to the aforementioned drinking...). Courtney had a horrible double prolapse, as bad as this summer's "Prolapse Girl". Apparently she was a bloody handful fresh off the beach, but she was a regular sweetheart for her 7 am pain meds. By 8 am we had gotten hold of one of our veterinarians (in town on vacation, the real life girlfriend of my Fish & Game boyfriend...) and she was able to come down and perform the euthanasia on site. (One of only a few euthanasias we've been able to do down here and one of only two I've ever helped with...) I'm so glad we didn't make the poor girl drive 5 hours before she got to cross the rainbow bridge. Unfortunately, my camera died, too, so no pictures of Courtney for you.

Anyway, my other excuse for taking so long to post is that I wanted to be able to scan in the hilarious graph paper diagrams my brother and I made to convince our mom to rearrange her living room. Sadly, much of the detail is lost in translation (like the four distinctly different kitties - two snuggling Dad on the couch), but this is the room before. We have no pictures of the actual arrangement, but those who have been there can testify to the suckiness of the teeny tiny TV, the penned in recliner that was unable to recline, and the avalanches of unread magazines.

Anyway, here is the diagram after. Perhaps you have noticed we added a new piece (the very square "Mom" sitting in her chair)? This was to ensure that Mom would be able to walk around the new tight corner (from kitchen to living room)... And a couple pieces are missing (we banished two chairs and a whole bunch of clutter). I think my favorite part of the whole project (besides knowing my mom loves it) was overhearing my mom tell my dad that he had to "be tough" with his clutter. From then on we would call every item we threw out a "tough decision." Sadly, I have a lot of "tough decisions" at home. Why is it so much easier to toss someone else's crap?

Anyway, Wendy insisted that I ought to have real live pictures to go along with the diagrams. So here's the new TV. Doesn't it look fancy? Notice how Kevin is in Mom's chair? It's the new hot spot now that it can fully recline.

Here's the view of the kitchen. Sadly I didn't capture the newly uncluttered window - formerly obscured by the butcher block thingy (aka "Pee Island") in the top right corner. Just another benefit of the new arrangement - many additional bird sightings (my mom has great feeders)...

Finally, here's a slightly better angle featuring the horrible cloth door that used to be the focus of the room. If you look closely, you can also make out Missy Moo (in her basket by the fire). This may be the last picture ever taken of old Missy. She's like 18 now (just a kitten when I adopted Fabe - in fact, she was supposed to be mine but she was too young for a college student... whew, dodged that ugly cat bullet...) and she rarely moves. Every time she sneaks up to the third floor (what a trek that must be), Mom is convinced she's gone off to die... This could be true, really, or it might just be that it is warmer up there when no one is home to light the pellet stove.

Anyway, for MerryMe's benefit, here is my mom's version of the Christmas pig. Not sure where the Santa hat came from, but it's pretty cute.

Fun as all the visiting was, I'm glad to be back in my normal world. My kitties and my husband missed me. My hummingbirds were hungry. And my bed is just so comfy...

As for new year's resolutions, I'm not sure I'm actually making any. Last year's didn't go so well. Sure, I stole a couple notable pens (Levitra is my favorite as it becomes erect) but I can't exactly say I was a "better vegetarian" (especially since I let myself eat Lil smokies with Wendy. What can I say? I think they really went with Mac n Cheese and Maker's and Coke...). I pretty much find resolutions intimidating and self defeating. Still, I intend to work towards shedding the weight and the clutter, I just won't "resolve" to do it. And, of course, this will be the year I am obsessed with my law school apps. (Next steps - approach my would-be recommenders and finish my personal statement...) I'd also like to be more grateful, so on that note, the top 3 things I am grateful for right now:
  1. My mom is okay.
  2. OC hasn't been to the vet in more than three months. (Normally, I'm not fond of exclamation points, but, Yay!!!) and
  3. Was going to be my chiropractor but really, it's got to be my hubby. This whole law school idea hasn't been easy on him, but he's been really supportive (sometimes in super cute ways - like the good luck clover mosaic he made for me out of jade. Seriously, he never does arts and crafts...). Now he wants me to promise I'll practice in Florida or Texas after I graduate (since we will surely be cold cold cold during school...). Sounds reasonable, I guess, though I'm rooting for Florida...
Oh, and I am grateful that I am done with this blog. For now. Though that just means it's time to clean my bathroom.