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Today we buried Apollo. He was one of our seven cats. All loved. None purposefully acquired. You know how that happens. First we took in two brothers who having just been neutered for Feline Hope were riding with the vet when he came to treat our sick cat, Willie. They were the last of the litter. “We’ll take them both,” Donny told the vet. “They shouldn’t be separated.” Both solid black. They came with names, Huey & Henry.

“Mom, you were almost free of cats,” Emily laughed. It was her Willie, who had come to live with us after he lost his way to the litter box one too many times, that was sick and would not survive.

The next two to arrive were actually Lewis’ cats. One being Apollo. Gray & white Ares came first. A gift. Lewis decided to name his cats after Greek gods. When a beach goer found a wandering kitten on the beach and could not keep him, Lewis, lifeguarding at the time, stepped up. “Mom,” he phoned, “there’s this kitten…”

“Bring him home.” And so Apollo joined the consortium.

Next my sister had rescued a litter from under a trailer and when we stopped on our way back from California to visit her, she asked if we wanted the last two, Blaze & Pumpkin. “We’ve got enough already,” we told her. She understood. A few days later I called to say we’d take them if she still had not found them homes. They shouldn’t be separated either. Sucker for the family connection.

Lastly is Remus. This time a friend of a friend of Hilarey’s had found a cat while pool cleaning and could not keep him. He became Donny’s Father’s Day present. Hilarey told her dad that Remus was his Father’s Day present too, not being presented with a kitten. We called him the Kitten That Lived Under the Couch because he did and was so tiny and grey that no one could find him.

Cats on the porch the three yellows

But this story is about Apollo. It’s just that they are a consortium and operate as a group, most of the time. Apollo┬áliked to think that he was in charge. And he was unless Ares, the wanderer, was around. Apollo with the squinty eyes could fool his brothers into thinking he wasn’t paying any attention and then smack them into doing whatever it was that he deemed important at the time. He was first to meals and pushed everyone out of the way to get to the best bowl. He was lovable. He purred louder than any of the others and would offer you a wet kiss anytime you asked.

He stopped showing up for meals this past week. At first I thought he had just found something better. They all live outside. On a covered porch. With a custom built condominium. But when he kept hanging out in unit 102, the one with the heat light, Lewis decided that maybe he needed to come inside. We brought him in. The next day I messaged the vet. They were in Vegas at a continuing education seminar. She advised me what to do and arranged for some meds. We kept him inside in a quiet room. I checked on him a lot. Yesterday I decided that he was lonely and carried him around like a baby all wrapped up most of the day. He helped me win a lot of on line games of Dominion. He still wasn’t eating but he seemed better. He watched Justified with us last night. He told Lewis goodnight and as it turns out goodbye. When I looked in to check on him this morning he was in the same spot where I had put him down. I don’t think he moved, just drifted away to the ethereal cat consortium.

Goodbye Apollo. We’ll miss you.

ares & apollo

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by | February 18, 2015 · 6:49 pm

It Was a Romantic Way for a Mouse to Die

Recently good friend Valerie had some troubles with a Mouse in the House thanks to girl cat Lila bringing her new toy inside before Val could stop her. For days Val heard and saw the critter scamping around in the kitchen and pantry. Lila was having no part of finishing up her mousing duties.

So Val gets a handful of humane traps and sets them. No luck. Next she tries Snap A Trap. Still no luck. She and Robert can hear the mouse finding all sorts of treats in the pantry. After a day or so all is quiet. Val figures the mouse has moved on. She gets a bag of pretzel chips like these from the pantry to have a snack.

mouse chips

She retrieves a handful from the almost empty bag. The second handful is more exotic. One dead mouse body. A rushed trip to the bathroom and then a call to Robert, who adores his amazing wife and would do anything for her. “Oh poor mouse,” he offers. Val is aghast, “Poor mouse? What about your poor wife? I called you for sympathy. I think we’re done here.”

This fun to hear not experience story brought to mind one of my favorite Anne of Green Gables scenes which goes something like this. Anne has made the sauce for the plum pudding but neglects to cover it instead using the cheesecloth to pretend that she is a nun. Marilla tells her that she is lucky no mice got into the sauce. Anne is gathering her courage to tell Marilla that a mouse drowned in the sauce when Miss Stacy, the local teacher, knocks at the door. It’s dinner time and Marilla invites her to stay. Anne tries to convince Marilla that the dessert puddling will be fine without the sauce but Marilla brushes that silliness aside. Anne reluctantly serves the pudding and then at the last moment screams, “DON’T EAT IT, MISS STACY!” Everyone but Marilla get a good laugh. Anne sighs and says,”Well I suppose it was a romantic way to perish, for a mouse.”

(PS If you don’t see the clip that follows try another devise. It’s short but fun. I never could figure out a way to get it back onto YouTube.)

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by | January 28, 2015 · 2:08 am

Searching for Brian Boitano

Nationals in Greensboro! We have tickets for both the Senior Ladies and Mens finals. But we want more. We. Want. Star. Sightings. We want Brian Boitano.

We begin our conquest by watching the senior men on the specially built practice ice rink. Jason is incredible. When you’re on practice ice each skater gets a turn to run through his program but the other skaters can remain on the ice working on elements, they just need to stay out of the way. It works.

Fan Fest is fun. We munch free foods, the girls do a free photo opt. We would like to get on the concourse but you need a ticket. Pairs competition is in progress and our tickets are for the evening. We decide to get some lunch at the Stanley’s Barbeque across the street. It’s good and cheap.

As we’re leaving, the girls spot Max Aaron just sitting down to the counter with his dad. Flashing ahead I can tell you that he secured fourth place on the podium. He was so elated when he finished his skate that he sank to his knees and then lay face down on the ice. He’s adorable. The girls are shy. We tell them he’ll be flattered. He is very gracious and just like that we’ve scored our first notch.

Back at the coliseum, Emily goes to find power for her phone charger. We have quickly learned to do this at every opportunity. I decide to try for the concourse again. They’re queueing up folks outside the lobby doors waiting for the pairs ticket holders to exit. I’m near the front. We’re trying to get a good spot in line for the mens’ autograph session. Em & Lydia join me. By this time the line is crazy long. Finally we’re in and we bolt for the autograph line. By the time we find it, we just miss the cut off by about four people. “Do we know anyone?” I ask. We start scanning the line. “Yes!” shouts Emily. She has spotted a skating friend who kindly adopts Lydia. That was close but we made it. Max was at the signing table too. Lydia reminds him that he already signed her book. “Dinner,” his memory clicks in place. They share a laugh.

lydia and jason girls and max em & rohene

While we’re waiting for Lydia to get her autographs, Emily spies Rohene Ward, choreographer extraordinaire. A former champion, Rohene is Mr. Flexibility and he can spin in both directions, little things like that. Another photo opt.

We find our seats and for the next two hours watch some amazing skating by the top twenty-two ladies. Karen Chen is so tiny. She looks like she’s about Lydia’s age. We stay for the awards and then head for the hotel.

Sunday morning I get separated from Em & Lydia and find myself in the Schiffman’s Diamond Club exclusive parking lot. Upon entering the building I’m told that I need credentials. Or a ticket. I’ve got my ticket. “That’s all you need,” says the lady at the desk. She scans my ticket and puts a pink wrist band on me. “This will let you go anywhere today.” I thank her and head upstairs. I’m on the concourse. I’m in the arena! I see the champs practicing for the closing number. I go closer for a better view. There’s hardly anyone around. So many top notch skaters in one place! I text Emily.

They’re at Fan Fest making posters waiting for public time on the practice ice to start. I know how to get them into here. I go get them. They’re skeptical. Trust me I say. We trudge around the building looking for my parking lot. We walk and walk. Emily is totting the skates. It’s a big building. Finally we get there and they get their pink wrist bands. We go upstairs. Now the ladies are practicing for the exhibition. We sit front and center and watch. Again there’s hardly anyone around.

We decide to get some lunch. We pick random seats to sit and enjoy our snack. We assure the attendant we will be gone long before the ticket holders arrive. “Is that Gracie?” I ask Emily spying blond hair on a tiny girl standing in the next section over. She looks. “It’s…ASHLEY!” She and Lydia throw everything in my lap and bolt. Success. A private moment with Ashley Wagner.

lydia & ashley

It’s time for public practice ice. The girls lace up and hit the magic ice. There are free skates for you to borrow, but as one little skater proclaimed. “These are so dull. I feel sorry for anyone that uses public skates. I can’t skate!” Our girls can, they are looking good!

The girls skate for a good while and then the ice gets crowded and they’re finished. Right where we leave the ice is the back door curtain to Fan Fest. I tell Emily we could cut through there. She says we’ll get stopped. We go the long way around and once there discover a chat session with the ladies’ champions. It’s fun to watch. Then as they are wrapping up Emily figures out that they will exit through the shortcut curtains. “Run,” she says to me and Lydia. I offer to tote the skates but she shakes me off. We run. We get there just as Karen Chen is coming out. Score! And Gracie! Double score!!

Karen & Lydia gracie & girls girls with gracie

We’ve done so well. Still no Brian Boitano but everyone else!

It’s time for the men’s finals. We settle in our seats to watch the top twenty. They do not disappoint. About half way through the participants we notice Ashley and her boyfriend sitting not ten seats away from us also watching. All the girls around us are grabbing photos and paper for an autograph. We smile. Our moment was better. The guys do not disappoint. Everyone earned their place on the podium. We’re hoping they’ll stick around for awhile after the ceremonies but they need to get ready for tonight. We are happy. As we are leaving, Emily says, “Look Mom, it’s Brian Boitano.” He is on a panel on the concourse chatting for the Icenetwork. We could stick around and chat with him but Emily is trying to beat the forecasted ice and snow. Goodbye Brian Boitano, we hope you had as much fun as we did!

ashley strawberry winner


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by | January 27, 2015 · 5:20 pm

The Never Ending Christmas

It started on Christmas Eve, family wise anyway. Lewis, Hilarey, Donny & I took the bait and downloaded The Interview because our new Roku made it so easy and just really why not? It actually was entertaining if you kept your expectations low.

Followed by a typical Santa filled Christmas morning with L&H and later dinner with the usual cast of characters.

Followed by a Second Christmas visit from SS&EM the weekend after Christmas. In which E & M introduced my thighs to a new level of intense workout on the trampoline. “Jump as high as you can!” followed by looks of, “You can do better than THAT,” no matter the level of bounce.

Followed by Third Christmas aka New Year’s weekend with DT&S and ME&ML. In which Sea Bass reminded everyone how well he can chant, “Grandma Sandy…”-insert-“Where are you?” or “What can we do that’s fun?” In which M&L got to take home a newly adopted kit-teen.

And wrapped up by what I am calling Fourth Christmas although we already exchanged gifts via USPS because we still have this Dr Seuss delight gifted to us by Hotline not put away in the attic just yet. (Too much Valentine potential.)


Enter AJ&BZP who took advantage of a four day school weekend to make a dash for the OBX.

Highlights include PJ greeting his pizza dinner at Slice with a huge grin and, “Hi pizza!”

Adventures to Sandspur Hill which is what we have renamed Run Hill and then a less prickly adventure to Jockey’s Ridge where the Sand People emerged and guided us to many Star Wars planets.

All in all, cliche intended, it was the best Never Ending Christmas.

I know right? Cheers to 2015 and love to all!



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by | January 21, 2015 · 4:04 pm