Monday, February 28, 2011

Summer madness in February

Today is the last day of February, but amazingly, we are planning our summer already.

I guess it's not that amazing anymore. In today's society, where kids aren't allowed to just explore on their own anymore, and parents are constantly finding things for their children to do (instead of the kids discovering things to do on their own), it's inevitable that parents must plan summer this far ahead.

The first salvo in our summer planning was buying waterpark passes. Screamin' Daily Deals had an offer for seriously cheap waterpark passes that also included tickets to soccer games, arena football games, motorsports events and a few hockey games. Though I was perturbed the waterpark is under new ownership and won't be open Sundays (f--ing Utah!), it will be nice to be able to go and not make it an event -- there will be no pressure to stay all day to get our money's worth.

But it's not just the waterpark passes. We need to plan vacations, swim camp, maybe swim team for Eldest, soccer camp, baseball, a trip to Lagoon, and maybe another camp for both kids. Once we get it all figured out, all that will be left to planning summer is enjoying summer. The challenge is to ensure we have fun when we aren't scheduled, because the unscheduled summer is just as important.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Remembering Iago

Losing Desdemona was rough. Losing Iago was tougher than I ever imagined.

Iago had been sick for a couple years, but he remained stubborn throughout. After his diagnosis with Cushing's disease and diabetes, and after he was placed on medication to treat him, he regained some his swagger -- swagger we hadn't seen in years.

That swagger is what I'll always remember about him. He was a demanindg, meowy cat. If you didn't pet him, he'd meow at you: "Why aren't you petting me?" If you did pet him, he'd meow at you: "Why did it take you so long to pet me?" He had his opinions, and he would tell you them.

Here's my favorite Iago story, when he was about 7 months old. Wife and I had found our first apartment together, and we were moving in one Saturday. The kittens were understandably freaked out and weren't yet to explore their new, much bigger apartment. We had our front door open, and a neighbor came by to introduce herself, and her cat strolls in to say hi as well. This cat was big and walked like a bulldog. Iago wasn't full size yet, but stared this bulldog cat down and hissed at it. The other cat, probably thinking he wasn't in the mood to deal with this overconfident kitten, turned around and walked back into the hallway. After that, Iago and Desi embraced their new home and ran around the hardwood floors all night, keeping us awake after a long day of moving.

We originally were just going to come home from Wife's parents with one cat, but she was concerned the one cat would be lonely. So we picked Iago because he looked like the most out going of the remaining kittens. Over the years, with due respect to Wife's love for him, I always felt he was my cat -- which meant something considering I had never owned a cat before. He would always come to me first with that obnoxious meow, and maybe I gravitated toward him because he wasn't like those cute, shy cats I had known.

That's why Iago's death hit me so hard. We were still mourning Desi and then we lost Iago. His skin split from the Cushing's, and this time, it couldn't be stitched back together. We noticed it on a Monday night; by Wednesday morning, his skin was falling apart so badly that there was nothing that could be done other than euthanize him. Unlike Desi, who had been going downhill for a couple weeks, I didn't have time to get used to the idea that Iago was going to die. And unlike Desi, he was stubborn until the end -- we needed to make the decision for him to let go of that swagger.

I brought him home from the vet the night before he was euthanized - basically, so we could say goodbye -- and I sobbed on the way home. I sobbed like I never had at the thought of a loved one's death. I didn't want him to go.

What was sad too is that the cats might have been the last link to the life Wife and I had when we were first dating, when we lived in Milwaukee together in the mid-1990s, when we lived in Madison and got married. It was always us and the cats. And though I'm not lamenting that those times are over -- because we have wonderful kids and a happy life here in SLC -- but it was a sober reminder that this part of our life will end someday, too. The boys will grow up, Maggie will grow up, and we'll move on to the next phase, which will bring its own joys, but will remind us that nothing's permanent.

The cats' passing did bring about a good thing -- we adotped Maggie, who hopefully will be with us well into the next decade. We're looking to getting a dog, too, in the next few months. We'll never forget Desdemona and Iago, but their spirit will live on in our love for Maggie and future puppy.

Remembering Desdemona

Though we love our new cat Maggie, I still sometimes find myself in disbelief that our last two cats are gone. It just happened so quickly that I haven't got used to the idea that they aren't here anymore.

Wife has already blogged about the passing of Desdemona and Iago, and I'm not going to add too much more. I did want to write a little bit about them, starting with Desdemona.

Wife wanted a new cat after her previous one had died, and I had never owned a cat before. Her parents had a cat who just delivered kittens a month earlier, and we were going to take one home with us. There were three kittens in the litter -- two orange tabbies and a black and white shorthair that was the smallest of the three. I picked the black and white cat up for the first time and she looked at me with the cutest little kitten face that I melted. This was going to be our cat.

Over the years, Desdemona was always a little shier than her brother, but she was always so sweet. She had the cutest meow, would purr loudly when she was happy, and would tap you when she wanted to pet her. If you shooed her away, she would come back and tap you again, adding a cute meow that said "I know you really want to pet me and just don't realize it yet."

Desdemona was a good friend. That cute meow, and that cute look she would shoot at you, will always be missed.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The February night

Here in the middle of February, I find myself looking back at a winter 23 years ago -- my senior year of high school. I'm not sure why, though I think being outside at night -- even if just going from the car to the house -- is taking me back.

So this was February 1988. I remember listening to Z95 in Chicago a lot. I remember going out with my friends almost every weekend night. I remember the cold, crisp evenings -- the last ones before spring would finally and thankfully arrive. I remember visiting Marquette with my friend Mike for a scholarship essay competition and an overnight experience(I'd end up going to college there, Mike wouldn't). I remember buying a navy P-coat at The Alley for $10. I remember "Just Like Heaven," "Pump Up the Volume," "Tell It to My Heart," "I Get Weak," "Don't Shed a Tear" and "Never Gonna Give You Up." I remember playing too much "Legend of Zelda."

Finally, I remember that this was the beginning of maybe my happiest time of high school, maybe all of the 1980s. I was feeling confident. I knew school was ending soon. I looked forward to college right around the corner. I was passed all the emotions that came with my parents separating. Maybe most importantly, I was having fun -- fun that wouldn't abate until really settling in at college and realizing how different everything was. And not that my first year of college wasn't fun; I just didn't feel like da man like I did for about eight months, starting around February 1988.

It hasn't been as cold in February 2011 in Utah as it was in February 1988 in the Midwest. But Orion is still in the sky, and the Moon is still as clear through the cold night, and I can still see my breath at night. It's February. Spring is just around the corner.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Easy Saturday

This was our Saturday -- a Saturday that we had didn't have as much planned as a normal Saturday:

-- I woke up late after working late last night and after being kept awake by the kitten.

-- Wife and boys went to the food co-op to get our purchase for the month.

-- Boys played video games with neighbor friend for a few hours.

-- Friend watched boys and took them to a movie while Wife and I saw a matinee play.

-- Dinner.

-- Eldest watched Ghostbusters 2 on Netflix; Littlest and I played Sorry Spin and War while watching the NBA All-Star festivities.

-- I'm now blogging.

Yes, that's a few things, but compared with our normal Saturdays, it was sparse. I'm looking forward to an equally sparse Sunday.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wake up, Maggie

This is my first post of 2011, and so far, 2011 has not been kind. Our 93-year-old neighbor died, our car was broken into and also needed some unexpected repair work (with two major car repairs coming), and well, it's been winter. But the worst part of 2011 has been both our cats dying three weeks apart.

We got Iago and Desdemona as kittens in 1994. Iago had some health problems but had been doing well, and Desi was her usual chipper self at Christmas. But Desi's kidneys failed in early January, and Iago's skin began splitting again just as it had when he was first diagnosed with Cushing's disease two years ago -- and this time, it couldn't be stitched up. We sadly had both cats euthanized.

The house the last two weeks had been lonely without any pets. Lonely until today.

We started looking for a new pet last weekend. We wanted to get a new kitten or a puppy (eventually we'll get both). A couple nights ago, I took the boys to Salt Lake County Animal Services to see if they had any kittens. There, we met Maggie.

I believe finding Maggie was fate. We were in the room with all the cats for adoption, but Maggie, a 5-month-old kitten, was in a cage near the front desk, and I only saw her as we were about to leave. She was curious and playful as we approached the cage. I asked if she was up for adoption, and one worker said no, but then another said, yes and that her adoption fell through. I took her picture and sent it to Wife and said we might have found or next cat.

Today, Wife and I went back to the shelter while the kids were at school. I really just wanted her to meet Maggie to get an opinion. The cat was just as curious as two days ago, and she started purring as soon as Wife held her. Within that first minute, Wife knew this was our new cat. It was fate. Maggie has an ulcerated eye that might heal, and it's not affecting her vision, but we wonder if this was the reason the last people who were going to adopt her didn't.

The boys already love Maggie and played with her for a few hours today. I think Maggie loves them too already. She's still a little skittish around the house, but she'll get used to it. The picture I've posted was after her long day, when she finally tired out. Eldest didn't want to stop playing with her, and we reminded him he'd have years to keep playing with her, that tonight was just the first night.