Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Good Time Was Had By All

My mother's 90th birthday party went well and it seemed that everyone enjoyed it. There were some who couldn't make it for various reasons, but it was great to see those who were there. Mama never asked who had responded and who would attend, so I just kept mum and she seemed genuinely surprised by the turnout. It was nice to have the whole thing catered, with little to worry about.  We both enjoyed being able to chat with everyone, but the time was all to brief.  It was well worth it and if everyone enjoyed it half as much as I did, then it was a success.

We drove back down here the following day (Monday, the 20th) and my mother had three medical appointments within the week. She looks and feels better than she has in 3-4 years and all appointments thus far have gone well.  Her final one is tomorrow and we're hoping it keeps the string going.  In between all of that, we'd done our usual sewing projects, cooking, etc. to keep us busy.

In the spirit of "no good deed goes unpunished", I've gotten a rotten head cold.  Am not sure where it came from but started doctoring it as soon as the symptoms hit.....but not soon enough.  Felt bad yesterday and terrible today, especially this morning when I thought my head would explode.  Am heading to bed early tonight in hopes of sleeping it out.  It started with a sore throat after walking in the smoke from fires in Georgia and Florida that filled our air for days.  So, it was a full fledged cold by the time I realized it wasn't from the smoke.  It did make me wonder what it must be like in Arizona and Florida where fires have burned from weeks.  Hope friends in those areas will update us.

My little injured kitty, Chloe, is still impaired a month later.  Today was her third visit to the vet and, while there is no definitive answer to her problem, its seems that she has dysplasia (sp??) in her rear hips.  She appeared to be walking better (limping less) when suddenly it seemed that it became difficult for her to raise her rear end, or it collapsed after minor stress.  She was low in potassium, which might also affect that area, so I'm to give her that twice a day.......and give it more time.  Needless to say, she also needs to lose weight, which I will tackle when my mother and her cats are back in NC.  It makes me feel so sorry for her and I hope that she is able to fully recover.

I'm sure there was more to share, but I'm brain dead and feel that I'm falling behind with this is a (half-brained) effort to catch up.  Hope this finds you all well......I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Week of Meeting Nice People

Immediately after returning from DC, my time was devoted to taking Chloe to the vet, having my car repaired, yard sprinklers repaired, etc. After treating myself to the trip (which I totally enjoyed and needed), it was a perfect example of "no good deed/time goes unpunished".  The cost of the trip was double in the three days after my return!!  But, my car and sprinklers seem to be working fine, so my major concern was Chloe.  She needed 10-14 days of "rest" - no jumping, climbing, etc.....and she needed to be safe from Mama Mia.  So, she was confined to a crate unless I was there to supervise things......and I try to let her out as much as possible.  She has been such a good patient and not complained about it; in fact, I think she feels safer in the crate at night (although I miss having her on the bed).  On Tuesday it will be 2 weeks since it happened and she is still limping, which concerns me.  Tomorrow I will call the vet again and find out where to go from here.  I hope it is something from which she can fully recover.....if not, she will forever be at the mercy of Mama Mia and I will always have to know where everyone is at all times, which isn't easy with cats.  Chloe is shy and fearful at best and it breaks my heart that this happened while I was away......I feel like an unfit mother!

Socially, this has been a week of meeting some very nice people, beginning with Southeast SC Eat without Meat Group.  I found out about it from Cheryl, who is a friend from  Living Liberally and posted the info on Facebook.  A couple who moved here from DC was interested in getting together with other vegetarians, as they had done in DC.  I thought it might be a source of reinforcement and information, so I attended.  While being another all-women group, it was the most diverse yet  - both young and not-so; mostly white, but one lovely, young black lady; American, as well as Canadian, Argentinian and French.  Their interests were equally  diverse - yoga, Qigong, specialized breathing techniques, sprouting, dehydrating........I felt totally inadequate, but it was great.  We decided to meet once a month - which is as much as I want to meet with any group, following the Groucho Marx philosophy that "I don't want to belong to a group that would have me as a member!"  The monthly schedule immediately presented a problem as we couldn't decide on a July date that would accommodate most of us.  So, we held our July meeting last night at Roastfish and Cornbread, a local eatery whose chef is a native islander (Gullah) and whose menu includes southern/Gullah delicacies........and a vegetarian menu (not one item, but a whole page!).  Everyone except one showed up, with spouses, children, and friends.  It was a very good, welcoming group and I think I'm going to really enjoy them and learn a lot at the same time.

My second plunge into the unknown was with Palmetto Animal League (PAL), which I mentioned some time ago.  There were several false starts after I filled in the papers to volunteer some time ago .  I went out twice to help, but there was no one available who could get me started or give me direction.  Before going out the third time, I called ahead and the person at the desk told me that once my info was in the system I would receive emails notifying me of opportunities to volunteer.  So much time had passed that I had almost given up on it, when a neighbor who volunteers there (and whom I'd met when I took my kitties to PAL for a rabies clinic) stopped me on my morning walk and asked if I'd be able to help at weekend adoption fairs.  I agreed and he put me in touch with the right person.  Within two hours, I was set to help out today at PetSmart.  Due to the heat, the animals were inside the building, which limited the number they can bring........but it was perfect for me because they could all be easily managed.  It was wonderful to be with the animals......I loved handling the dogs and could have brought all of the kittens home with me!!  All of the people involved also seem very nice, caring and laid back.......which coincides with what I've learned in the neighborhood - the dog walkers are open, welcoming and friendly.  Anyway, it was a very good experience and I plan to go to an orientation (which I probably would not know about had my neighbor not hooked me up) on Wednesday.   I know how much I love my kitties (and all the pooches I had as a child) and I'd love every one of them to have a good home. Anything I can do to that end will not compare to the unconditional love they give.

To include a little local, Southern history, Caroline, the reddish dog in the PAL photos, was given her name because she is thought to be a "Carolina dog", which is indigenous to the South, also called American Dingo. You see many suspected decedents around, but Caroline had the strength, energy and alertness typical of the breed.  She was adorable.  You can find more about the Carolina dog HERE.

The coming week looks equally busy, with the mundane tasks of life, as well as the PAL orientation.  Cheryl and I are also going into Savannah for an Indian meal and the Tedeschi Trucks Band concert.  I saw them two years ago when they were here for the Savannah Music Festival.  I'd seen them on Eric Claption's Crossroads Guitar Festival Benefit Concert DVD and thought they would be worth seeing, and they were.  I'm glad to see them again.  On Friday I'll be going up to NC for my mother's 90th birthday reception on Sunday, which I hope will be a good afternoon for her.  So, think good thoughts for us and keep your fingers crossed!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend in Washington, DC

Following my own advice in the previous post to "change things up a bit", I decided to have three full days in DC. It wasn't until after all plans were made that I realized it would be Memorial Day weekend. I keep my calendar on a spreadsheet, combining my "engagements" with a "to do" type list; but, it doesn't contain the holidays. So, when I started planning this several weeks ago, the holiday had not popped into my consciousness, but it turned out to be a great time to go. There were lots of things happening and many tourists. The weather even cooperated! It was a great time to be there.

The husband (Jim) of my deceased cousin (Cissy) had several times invited my mother and me to come up and visit him and his son Justin. I told him that there was no way my mother could make the trip but that I would really like to come sometime. He suggested "the sooner the better" before it gets too hot. We had talked about it in April but that didn't pan out from my end, so we gave it another shot in May, which turned out to be the perfect time. I flew into National Airport on Thursday afternoon and was met by Anthony, a friend of Jim's, since Jim was working. Jim then took Friday off and our sightseeing began in earnest! We covered so much territory that it was mind boggling, beginning with a private tour of the Capitol. I had contacted Senator Graham's office about a tour of the White House, but could not arrange it as there wasn't enough time for full background checks. So, they asked if I'd be interested in a tour of the Capitol. That sounded good to me, though I really didn't know what to expect.....thinking they would group us with others and send us on our way. We arrived at his office at the appointed time and, as it turns out, one of his staffers took us (just Jim and me) on a private tour. We couldn't believe it and it was great. As luck would have it, we actually got to go into the Appropriations Committee's meeting room - even the staffer had not been in before. We were looking through a window into the room and a lady walked by and asked if we'd like to go inside, so we did!

The photos above are only a small sampling of what we saw.  The full album can be linked to below or from Photo Albums shown in the panel. We saw much more than can be covered here, and then only scratched the surface. Suffice it to say that we saw as much as we could see of:
  • The Library of Congress - absolutely beautiful inside.
  • The Capitol (private tour by Reese from Senator Graham's office)
  • The National Postal Museum - fun to see and housed in another beautiful building (the old Post Office).
  • The National Gallery (with exhibits of Metsu, Gauguin and Caneletto, as well as collections of Monet, Matisse, Picasso and many, many others.  So many great pieces in one place!
  • The Holocaust Museum - Stark, sobering, eerily quiet throughout.  Totally incomprehensibly as to how inhumane human beings are capable of being to one another......even now.
  • The Hirshhorn Sculpture Gallery (outside) - we had the perfect day for it.
  • Another outdoor gallery with modern art.  People were collecting there for a weekly jazz concert through the summer.
  • The National Museum of American History, including a great exhibit on Julia Child.  Everyone was enjoying clips from her cooking show.  We also saw the Inaugural gowns of the First Ladies and the (huge) flag from Ft. McHenry about which the Star Spangled Banner was written.
I'm sure I've forgotten something, but all of those things were covered on Friday and Saturday.  On Sunday we took a boat trip to Mt. Vernon, which was a little slower paced and thoroughly enjoyable.  There was so much to see, but one of my favorite parts was Lady Washington.  She was in a little cottage and just talked to those who stopped in, answered questions, etc.  She was so knowledgeable and had such a charming manner......I could have listened for hours.  We started and ended our boat tour at Harbourside Resort.  Once back, we had our final dinner at Fiorella's.  It was a nice way to end a totally enjoyable visit.

The above mentioned tours were only the day portion of the itenerary.  Jim had planned a play a night.
  • Friday was Old Times by Harold Pinter by the Shakespeare Theatre Company, followed by a delicious vegetarian meal at Carmines.
  • Saturday we saw Venus in Fur by David Ives at the Studio Theatre.  The subject matter was a bit risque but it was quite humorous and very enjoyable, with masterful actors.
  • Sunday we went to Columbia, MD to Toby's Dinner Theatre for Happy Days, which was totally delightful.  It started with a huge buffet dinner, after which the center area was cleared for theater in the round.  The waiters doubled as the actors, and they were excellent as both.  During the intermission they serviced the tables in costume (our waiter was Arnold, much better looking than the original!)....and the mechanics of it all was very impressive......a first rate show!
Needless to say, I had a fabulous time and had forgotten how energizing and exciting it is to be someplace new and exciting.  After telling my neighbor all we did, she said she didn't think she could do it I think I may owe Jim and Anthony an apology for running them ragged!  My walking seems to really be paying off as I had plenty of energy and stamina.  There was one day when my feet really hurt but, other than that, my legs, breathing and stamina let me go with ease.

The weekend was not without incident.  On the way to the airport, three warning lights came on in my car.  I was almost to I-95 and turned around and stopped by the Toyota dealership (almost home again!).  I went into the service office and said, "HELP, I'm on my way to the airport!"  The guy came out, checked the lights, tightened my gas cap, and told me the lights should go off (they didn't).  I could go on to the airport and if they didn't go off, I could stop in when I returned and they would reset the computer.  Upon my return, the lights were still on and I could tell that it just was not driving right.  So, the following day I went back and an ignition coil and two other "recommended" jobs were done to the tune of $500.  Please keep your fingers crossed that the problem is fixed and my car will go on forever!!

I also came home to an injured kitty.  My guess is that Mama Mia and Chloe had been into it and Chloe was having a lot of trouble walking, limping on one of her back legs.  They got into a fight the night I got back and I broke it up quickly, but it was so brief that I think this must have happened while I was away.  So, my first morning back, I took her to the vet (followed that afternoon by my car service).  He didn't think anything was broken but there is something torn that needs time to heal, without her jumping, etc.  So, she  is pretty much confined to a crate for 10-14 days.  Once Mama Mia gets settled for a long sleep, I close her off and let Chloe out of the crate to move around a little.  So far all is going well (Chloe has accepted the crate well.  I think she knows she's safe there), but I'm concerned about leaving them now.  The only real option I have is to close Mama Mia in my bedroom, bathroom and closets (where she usually sleeps away the day anyway), so that there will be no more fights when I'm away.  So, there's been excitement here too, but not the enjoyable kind.  Am hoping things have settled now.

If you're a glutton for punishment, you can see all my many photos HERE.  It was a wonderful weekend and I'm so glad I shatter my inertia and went.  A special thanks to Jim, Justin, Anthony and Diva for showing me a fantastic time.  It was unforgettable.

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