Saturday, November 24, 2018

here come the holidays

It's been a lovely, long weekend around here. My mom hosted Thanksgiving dinner and this year it was us, my sister and her family, our cousin, Greg, and my mom's neighbor-friend who otherwise would've been alone that day.

Brian and Greg had the honors of carving the turkey and ham.

I tried to get a selfie with Tim, but he wouldn't have any of that. Instead, I got a photo of lots of hair. ;-)

As always, we were blessed with an abundance of delicious food. We had turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, homemade rolls, stuffing, and veggies (I made a corn casserole, green beans with gremolata, and roasted carrots and parsnips with honey and fresh thyme. They got a little burned when rewarming them in my mom's oven, but no one seemed to mind). Mom also made a layered Greek dip as an appetizer and two homemade pies ~ french silk chocolate and pumpkin.

It was a low-key few hours of good conversation and laughter ~ what family and friends are all about.

 No Black Friday shopping for us the next day. We chose to browse a few little antique shops about 20 minutes north of us. Low-key, no crowds, no mass merchandise. My kind of shopping. (Besides online shopping.)

See the set of four wooden Santas towards the front bottom right of the table? They are vintage wooden bells ~ and they came home with me. 

The only other thing I bought was a 9 ft long vintage garland made of red and green wooden beads.

We tried going to the lighting of the Woodstock Square last night. This is where the movie, Groundhog Day was filmed. It's a beautiful, small town in our County, just 1/2 hour from our house. Little did we know this once-small, neighborhood event has now turned into a commercialized frenzy of thousands of people due to social media. We looked for a parking space for about 25 minutes, driving blocks away, to no avail. There were throngs of people walking everywhere and crossing streets in the was just nuts. We gave up and went home.

(Google images)

We ended up watching several episodes of The Kominsky Method on Netflix last night. We loved it! Great acting with Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin, with a lot of laugh out loud moments. Can't wait to watch more tonight. Too bad there's only eight episodes.

We are due for a whopper of a storm tomorrow. Depending on how it tracks, we could get as much as 8-14" of wet, heavy snow ~ what they call "heart attack snow". And winds will be whipping at 45 mph. They are saying with the wet, heavy snow being on power lines and the high winds, a lot of people could lose power. The contractors that are working on building our new front porch/little deck are supposed to be back on Monday to finish up. They said before they even started the project that they work in the snow, so we'll see. Sneak peek...porch demolition.

Obviously, we're staying home tomorrow. We didn't have any plans, anyway. I think it will be a good day to dig out the Christmas decor and start decorating, though it will be minimal. I swear, it seems like I just packed all this stuff up and put it away. Doesn't it seem like Christmas comes quicker every year as you get older?

Here we go...

Monday, November 19, 2018

thank you ~ and a frenzy of activity

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to those of you who left heartfelt comments on my last post about the passing of my beloved cat, Zippo. I cried reading them but yet felt the love. I know a lot of you can relate. Our hearts are slowly healing, but we all still miss Zippo terribly and it's painful to look at his photos. I know this will get better as time passes. Heck, we've certainly been through a lot worse with the passing of Phil - our son/Tim's brother nine years ago. Actually, there is no comparison of the pain and loss in that regard.

But, the passing of a beloved pet - which is indeed a family member - hurts. A lot. And now that it's been a week since Zippo's passing, we are now able to realize how sick he truly was before he passed away. It breaks my heart to realize how much he must've been suffering. The thing with cats is, they don't show when they're in pain. They're very good at hiding it.

Two days before Zippo passed away, Tim moved out of our house into his own apartment. I had taken a spur-of-the moment shot into Tim's room as he was packing things up and I didn't notice until I looked at the photo later, that Zippo was sleeping on his bed. Tim had spread out a towel because Zippo's nose was bleeding. 
See how Zippo's head is hung? He was doing that a few days before he died. He couldn't fully relax enough to curl up into a ball or even put his head down to sleep. I wonder if it was because he was in pain? I know I'll never have answers to these questions, but they're just ones that have gone through my mind.

It was a crazy 48 hours with moving Tim into his apartment. It started late Friday night with him getting home from work and packing more stuff up and wanting help doing last minute things, to Saturday - moving day - helping pack up the U-Haul and our cars and carrying load after load of stuff up three flights of stairs - 34 to be exact - to Sunday when we went shopping at Wal-Mart to buy a ton of needed stuff for his new place.

We hadn't seen his new apartment until moving in day, and we were pleasantly surprised. There's a nice galley kitchen...

 and a large open living and dining space, with a small balcony and storage room off the dining area.

 The vaulted ceilings and open concept looking into the kitchen make the apartment look and feel more spacious.

 Tim also has a huge bedroom, his own bathroom (same with his roommate, who has the same on the other end of the apartment) and a big walk-in closet that I'm envious of! He's only two miles down the road from us, so it's nice still having him nearby.

My mom had asked if Tim was going to hang any of photographs around his apartment and I tried to explain to her that Tim was a single guy moving into a bachelor pad with his friend. Neither one of them are exactly into decor. This was the extent of their current decor the night they moved in. Ha!

How are you all doing with Thanksgiving prep? I went to two grocery stores today and was surprised to find that both of them weren't as crowded as I feared. And the one thing I love about holiday time is that most people in public are in good moods. The shoppers and checkout people were extra-friendly and all wishing each other a Happy Thanksgiving. In one of the stores, the man in front of me let me go ahead of him since I only had a few items. I paid the kindness forward by giving extra in the Salvation Army bucket on the way out of the store.

I am going to a Friendsgiving celebration tomorrow night and bringing a corn casserole and these pumpkin bars. Thursday, we will gather at my mom's house and I'm making another corn casserole, green beans with orange-almond gremolata, roasted carrots and parsnips with honey and fresh thyme, and a pan of brownies. 

I also made a big pot of soup today and will be making a pot of chili tomorrow. Not only are they for our lunches and dinners up until Thanksgiving, but some of each will be packaged up and delivered to a friend who's mostly housebound right now, as her husband is on hospice care at home.

What else...oh yes, of course the contractors we are dealing with have both decided that this week is the perfect time to work on our house! This afternoon, the roofers were here (yes, that project is still ongoing...they have been quite incompetent) fixing some last-minute stuff that they didn't get right the first time and tomorrow morning at 7:00 AM, the deck builders are going to be here to start ripping out our front porch/deck.

One of my blessings in life is the many friends I've made through this blog. Thank you for your kindness, support, words of wisdom and love over the years. 

Happy Thanksgiving from my house to yours. 💗

Thursday, November 15, 2018

my heart is broken ~ zippo

It pains me to tell you all that my beloved Zippo passed away on Monday night, November 12th. My heart is breaking. I couldn't even write this blog post until now.

He had rapidly gone downhill since my last post, to the point where he was even refusing to eat baby food (chicken and turkey) or his favorites, tuna and pumpkin. He'd either just give a half-hearted lick or turn his head away. His nose also never stopped bleeding. On Monday when he was drinking a ton of water but then losing control of his urine and it was mostly water (which we found out was renal failure), we knew he was at the end and he was suffering.

I wanted Zippo's transition to be as peaceful and comfortable for him as possible, so we laid him on towels and blankets on the floor and I quickly Googled mobile vets who could come to our house to administer euthanasia. Unfortunately, because it was the last minute, no one could come out - they were all booked. A couple also wouldn't travel this far. We were starting to get panicky. We really didn't want to have to bundle him up when he was in so much pain and have to take him out of the house to an emergency vet and be put down in an unfamiliar place if we didn't have to. Finally, one vet called back and said she could be at our house between 8:30 - 9 PM.

Those four hours of waiting for the vet dragged on forever, but me, Brian and Tim spent those four hours lying on the floor with Zippo, petting him over and over and telling him how much we loved him and what a good boy he was, in-between our bouts of sobbing.

Tim later moved Zippo to mine and Brian's bed, thinking he could snuggle with him one last time, but that was fruitless. He was too sick. 

The mobile vet was so kind and compassionate and calm. She explained every step in great detail and always waited until we were ready. She let us take as much time as we wanted in-between every step, always stayed off to the side and never said anything as we cried and petted Zippo more and talked to him. She answered all our questions patiently. She encouraged us to let our other two cats, Monkey and Clementine, come and go as they wished. She said they needed to know what was going on, too. When Clementine jumped up on the bed after Zippo passed, she said to let her sniff Zippo...that cats know. And they mourn, too. 

After the vet gave Zippo the sedative, he ended up throwing up a little bit and there was blood in it. She said that was either from him swallowing so much blood from his bloody nose, or else that he had cancer. When we think about it, this whole Upper Respiratory thing that he had going on could've indeed been nasal or sinus cancer and not just a URI. We'll never know, so I'm only guessing.

I just happened to snag this shot of Zippo in the sunbeam on Tim's box spring this past Saturday, on the day Tim moved out. I thought it was very poignant that this was where Zippo decided to lie down that day.

Back to the mobile vets that administer euthanasia at home: I highly recommend this if you should ever be in this situation. For the pet and for you to be in your home in the pet's favorite, comfortable spot (you can even be in the yard, if you wish) instead of a scary, sterile exam room in the veterinary hospital is worth every penny. I was actually surprised how peaceful the whole process was, though of course, extremely heartbreaking.

We chose to bury Zippo in our back yard instead of having him cremated. Bless Brian's heart...he dug a very deep hole in the bitter cold that night.

(Brian and Zippo when he was a kitten ~ August 1999)

With Zippo being so old for a cat (19-1/2), I knew that my time with him was limited and that I'd be very sad when it was time for him to go, but I never knew how much it would hurt until it happened. I am not a stranger to the grief of pets passing away - it has happened to me numerous times since I was a child - but I have to say that Zippo was probably my favorite pet I've had in my entire life. He was definitely a one-of-a-kind cat; a true companion. He was one of those cats that loved everyone and vice-versa. He was a people cat. A snuggler. Like my aunt said, "He was the family cat."

(Tim and Phil with Zippo ~ Feb 2000)

My heart also breaks for Tim because he was the one who found Zippo (and his two brothers) on our property back in 1999. We kept Zippo and a friend took his two brothers. So Tim always had a special bond with Zippo and even up until the week Zippo got so sick, Tim would lay in his bed watching TV, with Zippo snuggled into the crook of his arm.

(Tim and Zippo ~ August 1999...and I also noticed when I saw this photo, that Tim's artwork was above his bed. He was only 8 years old. No surprise that he ended up majoring in Art and Photography!)

Since Zippo passed away just three days ago, we've already had four signs from...whatever or wherever you want to call it: The Universe, Zippo's spirit, God. I never used to be attuned to signs, but I now believe they're all around us. We just have to be open and aware to them:

  • On the night that Brian was burying Zippo in the back yard, Venus was shining brightly in the sky right overhead. Venus was the Goddess of Love.
    (Sorry for the formatting problem on this bullet point - I've given up on trying to fix it.)
  • The next morning, Brian was in the bathroom getting ready for work and as he was getting dressed, he had the very real sensation of a cat rubbing against his leg. He said it totally freaked him out. And no, it wasn't Monkey or Clementine. They were sleeping in their beds in the basement.
  • Monkey slept in the blue wicker chair in the living room on Wednesday evening. That was the chair that Zippo slept on all the time. Monkey had never, ever slept in that chair - until now.
  • This morning, my neighbor across the street texted me to tell me there was a pretty kitty in-between my house and my next door neighbor's house. She said to look out my kitchen window. I did so, and didn't see the cat, so I opened my kitchen door and stepped outside. It was then that I saw this cat that I had never seen here before. And it was standing right by Zippo's grave. I know this photo is blurry, but I had to zoom in to get the photo of the kitty so that I didn't scare it away.

RIP, my beautiful Zippo.
May 7, 1999 ~ November 12, 2018

Friday, November 9, 2018

friday zippo update

In my last post, I told you about Zippo being so ill. The day after he saw the emergency vet, I followed up with our regular vet who agreed that Zippo most likely had an upper respiratory infection. Even though the antibiotic that he's on won't help a virus (just like in humans), hopefully it will ward off a secondary bacterial infection. He also got a vitamin B12 shot and a Chinese herbal powder to sprinkle on his food to stop the nose bleed.

Interjection: we woke up to this nasty white stuff already this morning. And it is cold this evening. We're down to 13 degrees with the wind chill. It's way too early for this nasty winter-like weather.

Back to Zippo. I haven't seen much improvement. Every night I've been going to bed thinking I was going to wake up and find him dead. He's so congested and his nose keeps bleeding. I can't tell you how many towels and blankets I've washed, as well as having to wash Zippo's front legs and paws from the blood dripping. I read online that you can steam a cat's sinuses just like a human, where you boil a pot of water and then hold the kitty carefully over the steam with a towel over both your heads. I did that twice today and even though he got a little antsy after a few minutes, I think it did help. I'm also putting coconut oil on his raw nose to help it heal.

It's hard for Zippo to eat because he can't breathe when he eats. I heat up his food so he can smell it (cats won't eat food that they can't smell - it's a survival skill to avoid spoiled food or food that's been tampered with) and then I sit next to him with his bowl of food right underneath his nose and coax him to eat. I learned that when cats are sick and not eating enough of their food, you can give them turkey or chicken baby food. So I went to the store today and got a jar of each. I've been mixing some of it into his cat food. Believe it or not, Zippo even loves pureed canned pumpkin, so I've been giving him a spoon of that every day, too. And he's drinking water.

But. He's not out of the woods. Far from it. At his age (19-1/2), he could easily succumb to this URI. Or, if he gets worse, of course we will bring him in to the vet to have him put to sleep. I won't let him suffer.

Tim is moving out tomorrow (into his own apartment - sharing with a buddy), and I'm afraid that is really going to affect Zippo, too. Tim and Zippo are very close. Zippo sleeps on his bed every day. Now there will be no bed in Tim's room for Zippo to sleep on. I'm thinking maybe Tim can leave his comforter behind and take another one from our stash of extra blankets stored away in the basement.

Thank you all so much for your well wishes and prayers for my fur baby. I know a lot of you understand how much pets are a part of the family and how my heart is hurting. Blessings to all of you. Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

dreary weather and zippo

Here in northern Illinois, it has been dreary and rainy for days now. A lot of the trees are already bare. I took this shot out my front door this afternoon. No editing. It's really that dark and gray. And then with the time change, it's now dark at 4:30. I hate it. The evenings are sooo long. My body takes at least a week to get used to each time change. In this case, I'm still going to bed at the same time - between 11:00 - 11:30, but I've been waking up much earlier than I normally do.

I crave light and sunshine. I want to be working in the yard and hanging out on the patio. Guess I'll just have to live vicariously through those of you who live in the warm, sunny parts of the world.

 This past weekend, we went to a shop that had its Christmas Open House. I don't decorate for Christmas until after December 1st, but I was more interested in some of the antiques in this shop. Unfortunately, there weren't many. It was mostly cheaply made decorative items from China. No thanks. Brian did find an antique map of the Chicago railway system. It's already in a mat, so we just need to find a frame.

I'm very worried about Zippo. He's 19-1/2 now, so I know his days are numbered. He has hyperthyroidism and slight kidney disease, both of which are very common in older cats. He also has glaucoma and a cataract, but those conditions are actually doing really well under the care of a wonderful eye vet. However, a couple of weeks ago the eye vet discovered he now has high blood pressure, so he's on medication for that. Why he developed it, we don't know. It could be from the kidney disease. At the same time, I also noticed Zippo was drooling a lot from the right side of his mouth. The eye vet tried to look at his teeth and gums on that side of his mouth, but she couldn't really see anything. That's not her area of expertise, so she told us to take Zippo to his regular vet.

(Zippo in better days ~ March 2017 ~ my loyal companion after my knee surgery)

We had an appointment to see the regular vet (Dr. C) later this week, but in the meantime, Zippo is now sneezing a lot and is very congested in his head. Even worse, yesterday his left nostril started bleeding. I talked to Dr. C's office this morning and unfortunately, he wasn't in. They said it was up to me whether to take him to the emergency vet or wait to see Dr. C on Thursday. His nose bleeding was worse today, so I took him in to the emergency vet.

(Zippo snuggled up with Clementine a few nights ago.)

The emergency vet thinks it's an upper respiratory infection but is not 100% sure without putting him through tests - a scope and/or CT of his sinuses to see if he has a tumor. For now, they put Zippo on an antibiotic and I'm following up with Dr. C tomorrow. (I was able to get Zippo's appointment bumped up.) The emergency vet said his thinking is that if the antibiotic doesn't help, it's probably something else. And at his age, we'd have to think do we really want to put him through tests to find out what would most likely be bad news. (Of course not - especially since nothing could be done.) So then we'd have a very hard decision to make. This emergency vet did say it didn't appear like Zippo was in pain, so that made me feel a little better. He's also eating, drinking and using the cat box, so those are the other good things.

(Me and Zippo - 2017)

I'll know a little bit more tomorrow morning. I have a lot going on - including Tim moving out into his own apartment this weekend - but I hope to do a blog update on Friday. 💗

Friday, November 2, 2018

hello november

Hello moody skies and beautiful, changing trees ~

Hello filtered sunlight ~

Hello to the outline of the neighbor's maple tree ~

and to the red leaves that are now carpeting the ground ~

Hello vintage hand with the chipped nail polish that I found in a little shop ~

Always a hello to my kitties, especially when they're snuggly ~

(Zippo and Monkey)

I'm not quite ready to say hello to the holidays and Daylight Savings Time, though I know it's all coming...

What are you saying hello to this month?