Introducing my library…

My one and only goal for this winter was to convert one of the rooms in my house–which was then being used as a default storage room–into a library. I knew I would have to buy some bookshelves, a comfy chair, and nice reading lamp. Well, my dad helped me get some bookshelves and I bought the comfy chair this week, so my library is 90% done. Pictures don’t do it justice, but here they are anyway.

My papasan -- the comfy chair!

It’s a small room and the bookshelves probably make it look smaller, but that contributes to the coziness of the place. And it smells just like a library should–like print books!

Not all of the bookshelves are being used for books, however. I have devoted two for displaying my various sci-fi geek kitsch. Here is the first one–the only full one. Also, note the autographed photographs on the tops of the bookshelves. I’ve got Majel Barrett (thanks to my college roommate, JenBo, who actually saw Majel at a con), Nichelle Nichols, Rene Auberjonois, Andy Hallet, Viriginia Hey (she was kind of flaky), Dirk Benedict (he flirted with me… A LOT), and Peter Tork with his folk band Shoe Suede Blues.

Geek shelf

My geek collection is displayed!

And my prized possession…

DeForest Kelley -- Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy

Yes, DeForest Kelley, personalized to my high school English teacher, Clyde Kincaid. Mr. Kincaid bequeathed this lovely picture to me as a wedding gift. He always told me I would get it; I thought he meant when he died for I could not imagine giving up such a wonderful possession in life. I was really honored, delighted, and touched that he gave it to me on the best day of my life. I guess he figured I’d take good care of it. And I do! I love it with all my heart!

I also have the autographs of George Takei and James Doohan in a magazine from the sixth movie. Since they are in a magazine, I don’t really have a good way to display them. But if you come over, I’ll proudly show them to you!

A shelf of McCoy.

The long wall.

When I first started emptying my boxes of books into my newly erected bookshelves, I didn’t quite get the concept of a full room within which to spread my books. So the first bookshelf I ended up filling completely. After that, I decided to spread out for visual balance. I have a whole room now, I don’t need to cram everything in one little space!

One full bookshelf.

I’ve even tried to loosely organize the books into sections. One of the shelves contains all of the memoirs I’ve acquired as part of my intensive memoir study (for possibly writing one of my own). Another bookshelf contains some textbook literature books (such as the cherished Riverside Shakespeare which I revere almost as highly as one would the Bible). I separated science-fiction from general fiction. I tried to give hardbacks their own area. I even have a small shelf for all my VHS (!!) tapes (that I can’t play because I no longer own a VHS player) and I kept the old space-scened shelves my ex-bf Ted gave me when he moved to Toronto to hold my DVDs.

Visual media section.

Incidentally, the Captain Kirk Bear was a birthday gift from blog-reader and friend, Bad Dog. Thanks, Bad Dog!

The fire exit. Or, well, the exit.

You are looking at future expansion of my action figure/geek kitsch in the empty bookshelf above. Yes, the library has given me freedom to BUY MORE geek stuff.

Another sweeping view from the door.

I obviously need to concentrate on a legitimate window covering (the ones shown above are not bolted in, they are left over from the old room before my dad put new molding around the windows). I tend to be lazy and just buy blinds. But maybe this room needs real curtains… for literary ambiance.

Another peek into the room.

Still looking for a good reading lamp, too. The floor lamp (shown in the left of the picture above) is an old one that was originally in this room as part of storage. It’s definitely not what I’m envisioning as the final lamp for this room. That one will probably end up in my finished basement rec room. Which is the next project on my home improvements list. I’d like to turn my guest room down stairs back into a guest room. It’s currently a storage room for all the stuff that goes in my basement while the basement is undergoing renovation. There’s also a bathroom in the basement that’s being remodeled. With a house, the list of things to renovate never seems to end… I fear that when I finally get my place to look how I want it, I will end up moving out!

Oh well. Until then, I’m going to enjoy reading in my library. Which, by the way, I’ve designated a No Technology zone. Laptops and cell phones must be left at the door. Maybe I should make a little basket for leaving cell phones in… HHmmm….

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Diabetes Cat + Volunteerism + Life = Stress

I have been searching for a pet sitter willing to feed my cats and give Cleo a shot twice a day… and so far, no luck in that department. The first person I approached–a pet-sitting small business owner–refused to take Cleo on because she’s apparently a “liability.” What the hell does that mean? If she dies in the sitter’s care, she’s afraid I’ll sue? Whatever. It makes me wonder if someone would be afraid to babysit a five-year old with diabetes. Too much of a liability risk? A cat? There must be some awfully bitchy, vindictive people out there ruining it for all of us.

I have to admit that I felt really hurt by this unknown sitter’s swift judgment. I mean, she claimed on her website to be able to administer medications to pets for the owners. Giving Cleo a shot is easier than trying to give a cat a pill. Or even eye drops, which I’ve had to give to Cleo for her persistent cherry eye. Cleo doesn’t even notice when I give her a shot. It’s barely a bother. Liability, my ass. I feel as though I’m the mother of a special needs kid who has been picked on in gym class by the popular older kids. Rejecting a potential sitting job from me is like rejecting my kid from a prestigious private school. I’m admittedly hurt.

And now I’m afraid other pet sitters will back similarly back off. So I’m freaking out because I can’t ask my friends to watch my cats unpaid for a week and a half while I’m in Seattle. Coming in twice a day is a lot of work. I’ve already got myself scheduled for three small weekend trips (just registered for Roscoe Ramble) in addition to my long vacation. I guess I’m going to ask my vet if any of the vet techs would like the job for $20/day. But I’ve been stressing about the thing all day.

I feel kind of trapped. I can’t help but feel this is the same kind of panic I would feel if I ever accidentally got pregnant. I just don’t like to be tied down by responsibility. I buck it the entire time. Even when I was married, I struggled to call my husband to tell him when I was meandering home from work or when I’d suddenly decided to meet up with friends somewhere. He bought me a cell phone because he never minded me changing my evening plans to go out, he just wanted to know what I was up to. Admittedly, I’m still bad about calling people to let them know I’m running late. I just like to be able to spontaneously change my mind about something at a moment’s notice. Some would call that fickle, I suppose.

On top of the stress of my cat, I’m currently in the middle of coordinating my bike club’s Adopt-a-Highway clean up project, the Memorial Day bike ride, and I’m filling in as interim ride leader for the Wednesday night ride while the regular ride leader recovers from an injury. Not that I mind doing these things–I’m ecstatic to be serving my club in this manner because I truly love to ride and I love sharing my love of riding with others by giving back to the club. However, in the middle of stressing about my cat, I’m also worried about pulling these other projects off right. All of them are mostly ready to go without much more work, but I have a few small loose ends to tie up, such as where we’re going to eat at the Burton lunch stop on the Memorial Day ride and letting Country Maid in Richfield (which is where our clean up area starts) and the county coordinator for Adopt-a-Highway know what day the club’s coming out to clean. Agggh!

I feel so much pressure to run everything perfect without any mistakes because the people in my club can often be very critical. And I never let criticism roll off of me; no, I hold onto the criticism and let it eat away at me. I’m also not one who takes criticism well. I stress constantly about perfection. I still love ride-leading; I love it better at the end when everything has worked out.

I’m also dealing with my own inner demons. In addition to enjoying the great people in my club, I have to deal with the presence of the ex-boyfriend, once friend, who hurt my feelings so badly that I have no desire to talk to him at all anymore. Ever. When I see him, anger wells up within me. The kind of anger that makes a person irrational to the point of insanity. The kind of insanity that makes you feel like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. NOT that I’d ever act on that sort of thing. I’m just saying, that’s how I feel. Feelings are one thing; actions another. All said, I’d say I’ve contained myself quite well. Not that I’ve acted civilly, either. I’m just not the type of person who can smile and pretend nothing’s wrong when I feel this kind of anger boiling inside of me. Mostly, I just play the fifteen year-old’s game of avoidance. I pretend he’s not there. Even when he’s talking to people standing right next to me. It’s dumb. But I’m so afraid that if I say something, I will say something truly awful and everyone will be shocked and deem me the total jerk. Or worse.

And I’m totally capable of being completely and utterly mean. The whole way home from a ride last weekend, I was imagining an entire dialog of madness with said ex-boyfriend after I spent the afternoon in the same room as him. I was so angry. I believe he was there with his new girlfriend, which just drove the knife in further. Oh, the email messages I wanted to write. It took everything I could to step back and just let the situation alone. It’s a good thing that vengeance demons (Buffy reference) really don’t exist because I could totally see how one could fall into one’s spell. It’s so easy to say things you really don’t mean when you’re angry.

It’s not all his fault, either. It was a mutual decision for us to break up. We gave it a good run of two years, but we were too different. Politically. Religiously. Some people say that opposites attract, and while that may have been the case at first, it really worked to totally erode our relationship to a point where I think we both started to really lose respect for each other. I can’t speak for him, but that’s what happened on my end. The final straw that broke the camel’s back–the one thing that ruined all potential for a relationship of any kind, even friendship–was just emotionally crushing for me. And it’s probably my fault for taking things so hard. The whole thing ended badly.. And I just wish to heck I didn’t have to run into him anymore. Especially when he’s decided to start bringing his new girlfriend everywhere (they weren’t going out, then they were going out again, I think)…

I’m working really hard on not being so angry any more. But I’m not perfect; I’m only human (or Martian) and I’m subject to human failings. I know that anger eats you alive and is really pointless to waste energy on. That changes nothing with how I feel. I hurt, I feel anger about the hurt. I can’t pretend it’s not there. I just have to learn to contain it. At least I’m able to repress the anger to show a good face. I hope.

Anyway, to make myself feel better, I went to Pier 1 tonight and bought the papasan for my library that I’d been obsessing about for weeks. Shopping therapy. Always works for me. I couldn’t fit the top part into my car, though, so I won’t have the whole thing together until my dad stops by the store to pick it up for me. I’m super excited about the way it will look in my library, how it will feel to sit in it while reading books. I got 10% off for opening a Pier 1 credit card. Eh, why not? I should have bought the foot stool, but I was having buyer’s remorse. Maybe I’ll go back later this weekend and get the foot stool. You need something to put your feet on to get really comfortable in a library, right?

My cycling’s been going well. I rode Monday and Tuesday evenings, topping off my Tuesday with a trifecta of the Valley’s southwestern hills: Wheatley, Everett, and Martin. Martin’s a real “pisser” of a hill. I actually said that under my breath when I got to the top–“This hill’s a pisser, ” I said, panting. It must be from watching too much Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Spike. (Did Spike ever say “pisser”?)

I rode to work Wednesday. It was a chilly morning. I had a flat on the ride home while climbing the hardest part of Truxell. I fixed the flat in 20 minutes so I think my maintenance lessons paid off in some way. I didn’t pinch flat the spare like I did last Thanksgiving and I made it home with daylight to spare so all is good.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do for riding this weekend. I would like to do two days of 50+ miles each (no more than 60), but I don’t know if that is going to be possible. On Saturday or Sunday, I need to take glucose readings on Cleo every three hours so that the vet knows where she’s at in her treatment. I figured I’d do this Saturday and maybe fit in a 55 mile ride to Bedford Reservation where I can climb Gorge Road. I’d like to get up on Sunday and do a 57-mile club ride, but I’m going to a spa party Saturday night and I don’t know how late I will be out or how I’ll feel in the morning (read: there will be wine to drink). Next weekend should be my 80+ mile ride before TOSRV. I’m going to try to either hit a club ride Saturday May 1st or do a ride with Medina Bike Club that starts in Norwalk or Oberlin on Sunday May 2. I’m hoping to get it over with Saturday because I’ll be at a play in downtown Cleveland that starts at 8pm. I can’t fathom getting up early enough to drive to Lorain County after coming home at 11pm the night before.

Either way, I’m probably in shape enough for TOSRV. I’ll probably have around 800-900 miles by the time the ride starts. I think I’ve been training adequately. It’s not that hard of a ride–the weather is the worst thing to contend with. I’m slightly worried about riding by myself if there’s obnoxious headwinds. I know it will work out somehow because I’m damned stubborn. Sometimes that’s a good quality. Most of the time, it just makes me a major pain-in-the-butt to be around…

A Requiem for 9 Years in Haiku

Memories fade like
Morning fog warmed by sunlight
Elusive specters.

I try to hold you
But fragments of you escape
Into time’s ether.

We are intertwined–
A part of me died with you,
As you live through me.

My heart still pounds hard
When I have some news to share
And you’re not here.

4-14-01
The day I lost my best friend
And everything changed.

Memories

So… maybe it’s the date to blame for all my Mike thoughts of the late… April 14th looms near. The date. That everything. Changed. Forever.

Last night I talked about the event in my life with Mike that clinched his position as my Champion. The walk down memory lane inspired a look through our old highpointing photolog. And here’s what I found. My heart bleeds looking at these pictures. I haven’t looked at them in awhile and hadn’t realized they would jerk my heart strings like this.

Mike at Pennsylvania Highpoint - 01/09/2000

Mars Girl at top of fire tower at PA highpoint - 01/09/2000

I just lost my job a few days prior… Does it look like it?

Mike at the Indiana highpoint - 01/15/2000

Ten years ago… ten… So hard to imagine…

Mars Girl - Indiana Highpoint - 01/15/2000

Who was this girl? She’s 10 years younger! (And, yes, I used to dye my hair red.)

Mars Girl - Campbill Hill, Ohio (Highest Point) - 01/15/2000

I still wear that jacket… If you’ve seen some of my skiing pictures. Mike’s father and step-mother gave it to me for Christmas. I think it was Christmas 1999. When this picture was taken, we were only married five months.

Mike - Ohio Highpoint - 01/15/2000 - My champion!

Not related to my last post, but later in 2000, this picture is one of my favorite of all of our highpointing photos. Mike and me at the Kansas highpoint–Mt. Sunflower–on December 22, 2000. Four months before he died.

Mars Girl and Mike - Happily Ever After -Dec. 2000

I’m not bitter. Just melancholic.

Mike & Mars Girl - Nebraska Highpoint, 12/22/2000 - The last days, the last highpoints together.

Same date… tri-state marker… I thought I was being cute, all Twister’ed between states.

Mars Girl - In three states at once - Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska

Alas… one happy memory… Mike, his step-mom, and myself–each on our own state. We were quite amused by the whole concept of being at the corner where three state lines met. Mike and I planned to go to Four Corners–where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado meet–one day. Someday, I’ll go there. (It’s surprising I never went when I lived in Colorado…)

I was also majorly obsessed (and spooked out) by the numerous nuclear silos scattered throughout the back country roads. I think most of them were disarmed but it was the first time I really became aware that the weapons exist (had existed) somewhere physical. And they were still obviously maintained by the military. Spooky. There was one within eyesight of the tri-state marker…

Some family... some time...

Swear, I’m not bitter. Just a little sad. Why does April 14th always attack me with the crazies?

A Champion

(Non-Buffy readers, please bear with this entry… it gets to a point about widowhood that’s well-worth wading through all this reference to a story you may know nothing about… I tried not to get into too much detail. And those of you who have never seen the final season of Buffy, and want to, this may contain spoilers…)

I finished the entire seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which was an endeavor I started in January because I felt that the series was a missing piece in my geek knowledge of the sci-fi/fantasy lexicon. After watching the entire series–sometimes 3-4 in one sitting–I have to say that I really can’t believe I never watched this series sooner. There’s so many great themes in it–redemption, loss, free will. As a widow, there’s many points at which the series really drags some familiar feelings out of me. And it’s not just when Willow lost her girlfriend Tara. No, there’s a point at the very beginning of Season 6 in the wake of Buffy’s death where I feel something very familiar about the emptiness of loss. Without words, the first episode of that season speaks to something I understand–something everyone who has lost someone would understand–about the empty spaces left in life when someone dies. When her friends defy nature by resurrecting her through witchcraft, I understand, too, the selfishness of the act. I not only understand why her friends do such a thing–in a fictional universe where such things are possible–but I also understand why they shouldn’t do it.

I think I could speak volumes of the way the show really portrays the many shades of humanity–pointing out our human weaknesses and strengths, contrasting them always with the demonic creatures. I have so much more to say about the feelings about widowhood/loss that the series drew out of me. But what I wanted first to write about the relationship between Spike and Buffy in Season 7 because it’s freshest on my mind and I’ve been thinking about it since I finished the series yesterday.

Spike is probably one of the only characters in the entire series who is truly and honestly redeemed. I say that because he had a long way to come. He was a vampire who spent some 80 years of his life causing destruction and human suffering. Unlike Angel, he was not cursed with a soul; he asked for his back because in his love for Buffy he ultimately wanted to be a better person. This made him a completely different man (or should I say, vampire) from his once companion Angel… And it completely changed the way I feel about both characters (because prior to watching Buffy, I had only watched the series Angel and had a thing for the lead character). Angel learned to live with his situation as a changed man–“ensouled”–while Spike willingly asked for his soul and dealt with the torment of his past in almost a much more noble, less sniveling manner. (Though it did make him go a bit crazy for a while… but that’s to be expected when you suddenly feel the weight of the pain you caused thousands of people you killed. If you’re a vampire.)

Throughout Season 7, Spike is Buffy’s truest ally. He’s the only one of her friends who stays at her side when the group has a falling out with her. He brings her out of her depression when she decides to just give up and literally lie in bed. And there’s something about that scene that reminded me of a situation in my own life.

I was fired from a job in January 2000. It was the first and only time I’d ever been fired from a job. It was my first professional position. I was a software trainer for a software company. To this day, I’m not exactly sure how it happened or why, but I think it was mostly political.  I learned later that it’s quite possible that I unknowingly walked into a trap door when I asked my manager to come off the road and change positions, about two days after a mandate came from the company CEO (that I never heard) that he would fire the next trainer who asked to come off the road.

Either way, I was devastated when it happened. I had gotten the job through my husband–he’d worked there several years before I met him and had, in fact, been one of the main four developers who created the software that became the company’s mainstay. As a result of my connection to him, I had established a lot of friendships with people who had fond memories of a younger Mike. We sometimes hung out with a group of them at a local pub and I brought him again to the company parties he’d missed in the years since he’d left. The HR lady was, as we described, like a surrogate aunt to us.  She decorated our wedding and assembled all my bouquets. Over a year later, she also was the one who had to deliver the news of my firing.

I made the tragic mistake of youth. I’d made family out of my workplace. I assumed we were all buddies. Perhaps I went too far with my what I assumed I could and couldn’t do at that company. Perhaps I took for granted that everyone had known and loved Mike. When I was fired, I felt utterly betrayed.

On top of the betrayal was the fact that I’d never been fired from anything before in my life. I was an A student in college. I was the kind of kid a teacher or professor wanted in their class. To me, getting fired from a job was like getting an F on a paper. Or having to walk around the high school with a hall pass (which, as a 3.5+ average student in high school, I never had to do). I wasn’t used to rejection or reprimand. Even at 25 years old. Pathetic, right?

Well, I cried my eyes out as the HR lady gave me all the exit paperwork. I left the building crying. I cried the entire way home. It was Friday and Mike was out-of-town for work, as was normal, but unlike his usual schedule, he was not going to return that evening. He’d been training in Denver all week  (he was also a corporate trainer) and was going to spend the weekend with his dad and step-mom, then fly directly to his next assignment in Chicago the following week. I would not see him until the following weekend.

I called him from my cell phone on my way home. Which back in 2000 cost roaming airtime for calling out of my area. The phone was only really something I used for emergencies. I considered this an emergency. I couldn’t wait the half hour to get home to use a landline. And I called his cell phone.

He was driving with his dad out to Sterling where his grandparents lived. I pictured him somewhere in that wasteland of plains I knew was the trip between Denver and Sterling. I could hear his dad slightly in the background.

Mike was calm. His voice was controlled and I had no idea what exactly he was really thinking as he listened to the story I told with my tear-drenched voice. I’m not sure he understood exactly why I was so hysterical. I don’t think I could explain why I was so hysterical. I don’t remember our whole conversation, but I let him go, telling him that he didn’t need to change his plans for me. I would work it out, somehow, once I got home.

I felt like such utter crap. When I got home, I opened a bottle of wine and pretty much extinguished it. I know that wasn’t the best way to handle a troubling situation, but I thought it would numb some of the feeling of inadequacy I was feeling. Of course, it didn’t; in fact, it only made me feel worse. So when Mike called me again a few hours later, I was a complete pile of sniveling misery, drowning in my own self-pity and self-loathing. It’s ridiculous when I look back at it now because I know that I could never get that upset about losing a job again. Heaven knows, there certainly are worse things to cry over in life. But back then, the loss of a job was to me a reflection of failure somehow. It was tied as close to my identity as my accomplishments in college. To me, it was almost as if someone had taken away my bachelor’s degree or something.

Anyway, on the second phone conversation, Mike tried to cheer me up. He pumped me with compliments and even said some disparaging words about his old company, even though previously he’d only had wonderful things to say. He was taking my side. Even if my side was wrong to someone else, he believed in me. I was still feeling pretty bad for myself and I wasn’t quite receptive to his attempts to make me feel better. He even put his dad on the phone to say a few words. I was having none of it.

Again, he offered to come home and again I told him not to. The last thing I wanted to be was one of those demanding wives who make their men come at their bidding. I was a tough girl–despite my state–and I could handle the week on my own. I just figured I spend the weekend brooding and regroup when the sting of everything went away. When I could no longer remember sitting in that office while the HR lady–someone I considered a surrogate aunt–told me that I was being fired.

After I got off the phone with Mike, I think I pretty much passed out and didn’t wake up until the morning. I felt a little numb, but certainly not ready to do anything more than crash in front of the TV. I was sitting on the couch, snuggled in a blanket, when I heard the key turn in the door. My heart stopped as I watched the door open. Mike stood in the door, his body eclipsing the January sunlight and looking almost as if he were engulfed in a heavenly halo. He dropped his bags in the door and came over to the couch to hold me.

Not only did Mike change his plans and come home on the weekend when he’d originally planned to stay in Denver, but he also had another coworker fill in for him in Chicago the following week (the benefit of being a middle manager, as he was). His willing presence in my time of need soothed me… and immediately I started to feel better. I didn’t know I’d wanted him–I hadn’t even asked him for anything–but when he came home to me, it changed everything. He was my champion. I’d never had a champion before.

After he was home for a little while, and I was feeling more myself, he made plans for us for the week. He proposed that we take a few day trips to some state highpoints we hadn’t yet done. So one day we drove and “summitted” Mt. Davis in PA–1/09/2000, 3:30 pm, according to our log. A few days later we drove to western Ohio to bag Campbell Hill (01/15/2000, 11:15 am) and then to Hoosier Hill in Indiana (2:00 pm). By the time the week was over, with more adventures under our belt, I was ready to start looking for a new job. I don’t think I’d have healed so swiftly from this wound–which was more serious to me then than it is now–had it not been for Mike. Which is why I’ve always said that the only person who could have brought me solace in my grief was the very man for whom I was grieving.

The interaction between Spike and Buffy in the last several episodes of Season 7 totally jogged this memory because I can see in Spike the undying devotion and loyalty to Buffy that I think Mike had for me. I’m not so sure that much was returned from Buffy towards Spike, but I know in my case I would have walked to the ends of the Earth for Mike, especially after that day he came home to me because I was so upset and hurt. He lifted me up when I was down. That’s what the best of a relationship is supposed to do. I’d have done the same for him in any situation. I would have traded my life for his, just like Spike does for Buffy at the end of the last episode.

But the scene that most jogged this memory was when Spike came to Buffy in her moment of need, when she had given up on the world and lay aching in the literal bed of her despair. He came to her, providing confidence and self-assurance and reminding Buffy who she was. He was her champion–and champion was the word they used in the show–and I think Mike was my champion too. Except that I really did love him. (Spike and Buffy’s relationship might have been more or less lop-sided.)

The sweetest thing to happen between Buffy and potential lover occurred in those closing scenes. There was nothing sexual about it. Spike and Buffy just lay together in each other’s arms all night. That’s all I wanted too. A little relief from the storm. Mike was my relief. And from him, I regained my strength.

I guess some part of me still seeks a champion. It’s not that none of the people I’ve dated since Mike couldn’t be a champion. And it’s not that I make them run the gauntlet to prove themselves to me. I’m just saying that when I think of Mike’s most sincere acts of love, I’m reminded of the sort of love I had and revive in me the mission of finding the right person again. I can’t ever settle. I should never have to settle. I won’t settle.

I know Buffy is just a fiction story. But true fiction–truly great fiction–reflects themes of real life and remind us of the human struggle in new and creative ways. Many people might dismiss the series as  pulp fiction. But those people haven’t really spent the time to examine the show in its entirety. I have so many emotions right now whirring around about the show because it really connected me to a bunch of feelings I’ve never been quite able to adequately explain. I guess several episodes just made me scream, “Yes!! I get it!!” I’m sure there will be future entries about this topic, once I’ve had some moments to re-watch some of my favorite episodes…

Cleo Update

Everyone’s asking me how Cleo the cat is doing and I must say that I really appreciate all the fond well-wishing and concern. I did take her to the vet on Saturday and, it turns out, giving her the insulin shot is pretty easy. In fact, it’s the least of my worries. No, the hardest part about this whole diabetes thing is keeping my cats out of each other’s food. Cleo’s new diabetic food is too expensive to let Nicki eat; Cleo cannot eat regular cat food. Therefore, I have to give them food and stand there and watch while they eat so that they don’t go for the other’s dish. Which is totally Nicki’s habit after she inhales her portion of the food first while Cleo picks away at her food–licking and nibbling.

Unfortunately, I made the drastic mistake of buying Cleo the canned diabetic food. I had to buy more of the canned regular cat food for Nicki. And now I’m pretty damned sure neither of them is ever going to eat dry food again. I went with the canned food to entice them to eat at the moment I put food down. I can’t leave food sitting in dishes all day like I could before. So they need to learn that when I put the food down, that’s their only chance to eat until the next time I put food down. It’s very exhausting. Cats don’t like to be molded into schedules or told what to do when. (Why, oh, why do I love cats so much? Maybe they remind myself of me? Is this the Universe’s way of getting me back for being a pain-in-the-butt to my parents since I’ve decided to not have kids? Arrrgh!)

Anyway, the insulin shot part is going much easier than I ever would have imagined. Most of the time, Cleo doesn’t even seem to notice I’m doing it. I will have to take a blood sugar reading on her this week, which will be a little harder since I have to prick her ear with a lancet and then squeeze a tiny drop of blood onto the strip. Normally, the whole idea of something like that would totally gross me out (I fainted once when a doctor was taking the same sort of blood sample on me) but I watched the vet do it and I didn’t get dizzy, so we’ll see how this goes. Her first reading at the vet was 450, which I’m told is quite high. I need to get her between 150-200. We may have to increase the dosage if it’s not working…

Everything is so expensive. The insulin–which my vet assures me will last about 3 months–costs $60. I wish I could put her on my insurance. A ten-pack of needles is $2.99 at the pharmacy, but I just bought a pack of 100 off the internet for $16. Some people say you can reuse the needles, but both the vet and my mom reiterated how bad of an idea that is because I could cause Cleo to get an infection. So I’ll play by the rules and dispose of the needles properly. It would be an awful shame if in trying to help her with one illness, I gave her another because I was trying to be frugal.

So far I haven’t seen a whole lot of change in her activity level. Interestingly, she’s taken to sitting on the bay window, which was what I’d hoped the cats would start doing when I replaced the regular window in the living room. No, I did not put a bay window in just for the cats… But I admit that it gave me pleasure to imagine my kitties sitting in the window, looking that squirrels and birds in the tree just outside. Like a reverse fish bowl–the “fish” looking out at the curious world. Except, even after I stuck a cat cushion on the window sill (color coordinated with the room, by the way), neither of the cats seemed all that interested in going up there. Until now. I hope it’s a good sign. The fact that she can even get up there is nearly an amazing feat in itself.

Now over the whole hurdle of anticipated difficulty with the insulin shot, I have to focus my energies on training friends to give Cleo the shot while I’m out-of-town… It’s really not hard. Admittedly, I’m a little apprehensive about leaving her in other people’s hands. Like a mother unwilling to leave her sick kid to a nurse’s care. No one else can take care of my baby like I can… No one loves her like I do.

Impromptu Bike Path?

On my commute home along the (Summit County) bike and hike trail, I encountered, to my surprise, this abrupt redirecting of the bike path to navigate around the road construction at Seasons Road and Sullivan.

An awkward redirection of the bike path.

Literally, the path went through the front yard of this person on the corner. Which I think is okay as it appears they were digging on said lawn. Still, I felt as though I were doing something slightly bad and disrespectful.

I did like how Beau just rolled through the grass like nothing. Squee!

Bike Path

I hope these people have a nice lawn service to repair the damage done by all the bikes traversing their lawn. As you can see, a nice path is already worn into the grass.

Homemade sign and everything!

The construction may have Seasons Road closed off to car traffic, but the bikes can get through, dammit! As it should be.

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Ride to Work Season

I rode to work this morning, which is the second time I’ve been able to do so this year (the first time being last week). Have I mentioned how much I love to ride to work? If not, here it is for the record: I absolutely *LOVE* the freedom of riding my bike to work. It’s invigorating exercise that accomplishes both a morning workout and the act of transporting yourself to where you need to go. I feel energized all day at work; I have the ride home to look forward to. It makes me feel much more motivated to be here. Endorphins are SssSoooooooOOO good!

This morning it was a little damp out from what I assume was a rainfall in the early morning. The pavement was half wet and half dry. The smell of wet dirt, leaves, and trees filled my nose on the bike path and down Truxell Road, triggering some distant memories of Girl Scout camp for some reason. I was in a thoughtful happy place. It was divine.

Because I was on Beau, and I could, I took the tow path from Peninsula to Boston Mills Road. A rare treat to only pass two other people on the trail, both walking dogs and coming at me in the opposite direction. The Cuyahoga River shimmered in the breaking sun. The stillness of the woods was broken ever few minutes by the scampering of little creatures. I am so lucky to live beside such a beautiful national park.

There is still some snow on “Mt. Boston Mills,” struggling to maintain itself against the warmer day, and losing the battle. I look every day to see how much more is gone and I await the time I pass and there are no white-brown patches left. That will signal to me that spring has finally come and summer is nigh.

Beau’s only fault is his weight as I lug him up Snowville Road. My ascent is slower–or so it seems–than when I’m on Black Beauty but as TDB points out, who’s in a hurry to get to work?

I don’t know if I will get to ride to work any more times this week as spring rains are promised and the cooler temperatures may return. I am thankful, however, to have had this day. There’s plenty of summer ahead and more chances to enjoy my commute to work.

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Easter

I don’t really celebrate Easter. It’s not a holiday that really has a secular value when you’re too old to get excited about the Easter Bunny bringing you an Easter basket. I try to get excited about Easter, but it just doesn’t mean much to me anymore. I want to say it’s because Mike died the day before Easter–which, in 2001, was on April 15th–but I’m sure it has more to do with the fact that my grandma E died that same year–in February–and she was the only person left on the planet with which I had any emotional connection about Easter. Maybe it’s the combination of losing both people that year. Easter festivities pretty much fizzled out for my family after that and we’ve really never picked up another Easter routine.

My grandma E was  a devout–but non-judgmental and not pushy–Lutheran. More to the point, she really loved the holidays. She had a tender, giving heart and no matter what her financial situation was, she gave us a million presents for Christmas and a fully stocked Easter basket.  Most of her gifts were ceramics that she had painted, little knickknacks purchased at bargain stores, and t-shirts or sweaters she thought we’d like. The ceramics she made tended to have particular significance to what she knew about you. The ceramics she made for me were little girls with blonde hair (the color of my hair when I was a kid)  in purple (my favorite color) dresses or cats or little blonde girls in purple dresses holding cats. You knew that everything she made for you was especially made thinking of you; even if I and my female cousins got the same ceramic, each one looked different based on the receiver’s preferences. Grandma E remembered everything–the books you liked, your favorite colors, your birthday, your favorite sports teams.

She always made homemade chocolate. Especially on Easter. Our personalized Easter baskets (which were macromaed in yarn of our favorite colors) contained one chocolate bunny, little filled chocolate eggs, and chocolate-covered nuts of every variety.  I never ate my chocolate bunny. I tried and tried, but I just have always felt bad about eating something that looked just like the animal. I’m no vegetarian, but if a cow were plopped on my plate in full form, I’d probably be unable to eat it. Even though I know a chocolate bunny is not a real bunny, I just could never get past the sad feeling I had whenever I munched on the ears… and moved down to the head and face… To this day, I still can’t eat a chocolate bunny. It makes me feel bad.

We didn’t celebrate Easter in 2001. We had fully intended to. Mike was supposed to fly out-of-town for work that day, but I’d made plans to go to my parents’ house to meet up with the family. I remember talking to my mom on the phone about it, as I remember everything about that last weekend. I was on the way to an indoor soccer game with my friends. It must have been Good Friday, I realize now; Mike and I lived a secular life and didn’t really recognize the holiday or the days leading up to it. I still remember, sitting in the passenger seat of Mike’s car. We were on the turnpike, headed east, for my game. My last moments with him. Every second of that last weekend is etched in my head.

My mom had called to ask me to come to dinner at their place for Easter. It was still going on, despite Grandma E’s death, and maybe one of my cousins would be there too. My mom, an ardent atheist, kept calling it an “equinox celebration” or a “celebration of spring.” I remember feeling blue that Mike wouldn’t be able to attend.

Mike’s death the following day kind of threw all thoughts of Easter out of my head. The day that actually was Easter was filled with confusion and family bunked in my house. Unanswered questions about what had happened. We wouldn’t learn those answers for months until the autopsy report came back. I always wondered why it takes so long to analyze that data. Why I had to spend Easter 2001 in utter confusion and despair, not even knowing why my energetic 32-year old husband had died. Some days, I still wonder if the explanation I was giving two months later was the real truth. Cardiomyopathy. Was it really conclusive? Maybe he just died. Maybe I’ll never really know why.

I don’t know who celebrated Easter that year. I’m thinking that not even my most Christian friends did. Or if they did, maybe they sat in church with the thoughts of other untimely death on their mind. Unlike Jesus, my husband was not resurrected. He didn’t rise from his tomb to affirm to us that there is a greater power out there somewhere that loves us all. The doubting Thomases stayed doubting Thomas. Mike’s heart was his Judas.

Maybe I still have issues with Easter that make me unable to celebrate it. I didn’t think the holiday itself bothered me because it moves to a different date every year. 2006 (April 16) and 2009 (April 12) came closest to the day he died–. Ironically, Easter was on April 14th (the day he died) in 1968, the year he was born. (I just looked it up, I didn’t know this off-hand.) Ironic? The next time Easter is on April 15th will be 2063… I’ll be 88. Will I live to see return of the tragic Easter in which I lost my husband? It’s possible. I wonder if that anniversary will run chills down my spine. Or maybe I’ll have forgotten.

I am celebrating Easter in a small way by going to my parents’ house for a barbeque tomorrow. It’s not much and I kind of hope no one brings up the fact that it’s Easter. This year, I chose to attempt to make my own traditions by attending a Passover Seder at my church last night. It was nice to think about a different religious tradition than the one I grew up in because I previously have had no association to Passover. But I learned something. And I think in the reflection of enslavement–and remembering those in the world who are currently enslaved–I was able to think outside of my own experience for an evening. Despite the sorrows that I often let weigh me down, I’m free. I’m living a relatively good life. There are people in the world who have more to worry about than a diabetic cat, a dead husband, and a long-loved grandma. I can eat every night. I have shelter over my head. I can make my own decisions. I need to remember that that is enough to be blessed.

I need to remember, even in my darkest moments, that what I had with Mike was something that some people never get to experience in their lifetime. Though brief, I should wonder at the blessing of having had it. I also need to remember that I’m loved by a great many people. My grandparents on both sides of the family shaped the person I am today. I was blessed to have experienced the love from both sets of grandparents all the way into my legal adulthood. I’m blessed to have parents who have always taken care of me and continue to take care of me, when I need it, as an adult. In the darkest moments of life, family, and a good community like the people in my church, may be all that I have. And that’s enough to live a good life. A blessed life.

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