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RIP Little Rachael

Rachael adopted us. No two ways about it.

It was a very cold winter night about 15 years ago. Mr. S and I had been out with friends at a favorite local bar. Toward the end of the evening we went down the street to our friends' house. As we approached the back door of the house, a little tiny cat came up and meowed at us quite demandingly. We asked our friends who the cat belonged to, but they didn't know.

Later, as we exited the house through the front door, there was the cat again and this time she was even more demanding. Cats don't speak English or anything, but it was very obvious that this cat was telling us she needed food and warmth right away.

I don't recall exactly how it all happened, but the next thing I remember is getting a taxi home. I am not sure how we convinced the driver to let us have a cat in the car, but we did.

I remember that our vet was a bit displeased with us that we just took somebody's cat off the street. At least, she was until she examined her thoroughly and discovered the evidence of frost bite, broken toes, multiple pregnancies and so forth. It didn't seem that Rachael had been living with people recently, and if she had, they sucked and didn't deserve to have her back.

The biggest challenge with Rachael was keeping her from overeating and barfing up her food. She had been a starving cat for too long and just couldn't quite trust that the food would always be there. She had to eat every bite right away. I think she did finally get over that in her later years, but it took a long time.

Young Rachael in her cat tree

Rachael was an incredibly lovey cat. She always wanted snuggles and pets. And as I mentioned in this post, she taught Frank how to purr again.

I got to cat sit for Rachael a few months ago, and I had a sort of gut feeling that it would be our last visit, so I spent a lot of time with her. I took my Kindle and my laptop with me so I could read and snuggle her for long periods of time. She was very pleased.

Sleepy Rachael

Last Saturday Mr. S informed me that it was time. Rachael would be making her last trip to the vet that Monday. She wasn't miserably sick yet, but clearly the end was near, and Mr. S did not want to drag things out until she *was* sick and miserable. I whole-heartedly agree with that decision.

Rachael had a good life with people who loved her. It was a much longer and more pleasant life than it probably would have been if she hadn't adopted us that night. Rachael was a real lover and I will miss her. I know Mr. and Mrs. S and little Z will, too.

My cats, Jules and Vincent are almost 9 years old now. Hopefully we still have another 6 years or so before I am faced with that decision, but I will certainly make the choice that involves less suffering when the time comes.

Hug your kitties, puppies or children for me.

Goodbye Miss Rachael. You were an awesome cat.

RachaelCloseup

I can't seem to open up comments on this post. If you cannot comment but want to say something, please email me.

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Runnin' up that Hill

This is a thing that's been rattling around in my brain for months.

This spring, on a sunny afternoon when I went for a lunch-time run, I had an experience. There was an older man on the trail, under the Higgins street bridge who appeared drunk and possibly homeless. I noticed him on my way out, but on my way back he decided to yell at me. As it often does, it took me a while to process what he'd said, and by the time I'd puzzled it all out I was already a way down the trail.

Unlike most drunks who yell at women running in Missoula, he didn't make a sexual comment. His comment was something to the affect that anybody who ran must be running from something. And he said it with rather a lot of disgust in his voice.

But the thing is, he wasn't wrong. I do run *from* things. I run from anxiety. I run from depression. I run from heart disease. And I run from whatever the hell you'd call what happened to my mom and her mom. I'm not sure how much I've talked about it, here or in person, but I imagine it's not an accidental secret. My mom and her mom were both more or less house-bound. For my mom, this started in her late 30s or so. She'd leave to go shopping, or run to the fast food joint, but that was mostly it. But with my grandma, as far back as I can remember, she only left the house for special occasions, and that was only once or twice each year. In fact, she didn't even get dressed. She sat around the house in her nightgown and housecoat all day, every day. She had no friends to speak of. Her sisters and children did her shopping and stuff. I don't think I saw her dressed and outside the house more than 10 times until she wound up in the hospital and nursing home.

I don't know for sure, but I imagine that both grandma and my mom suffered from pretty extreme anxiety, and that this is what caused them to live that way. If you can call it living.

I recognize those tendencies in my own behavior. I have anxiety, and I've gone through long periods where I only left the house for work. How much of that was learned from their modeling and how much is the anxiety itself, I cannot say. But running helps to control the anxiety, and the running club I belongs to helps to get me out and get me to socialize with people beyond my small circle of friends.

So yeah, weird drunk guy, I am running from something. And really, who wouldn't run from that?

Holy wow! I'm still here!

So here I am, doing my bit to bring people back to LJ.

I haven't posted much these last couple of years. I moved my running stuff to my running specific blog and I post a lot at G+ and FB. But LJ has some advantages over posting there, and I miss it.

I don't have any specific issue to write about right now, though, so this is going to be a general sort of update. My life is rolling merrily along. Things are generally good. My sweetie is still super awesome and I'm still very happy in that regard.

My running has been temporarily curtailed a bit, due to a wicked bout of tendonitis. But that is also getting better, slowly. I am pondering the Snow Joke half marathon in February. I would love to run it, but I'm wondering if the conditions will be good for my legs or not.

On the bright side, I've discovered that trail running is much better for my legs right now than running in town on the streets & paved trails. it's actually a whole different animal. The soft, springy earth under my feet, combined with the great variation in steps means I'm using my legs (and butt and back and core) very differently, and in ways that seem quite beneficial. I also find that I can run for longer periods comfortably, without walk breaks. I sweat more, without really noticing it's happening until after. And the endorphins! Holy buckets do they kick in fast!

So as always, life has ups and downs.

I'm enjoying the very brief break in yard-work season that exists between mowing time & raking time. Raking time will be starting up soon, and then it will be shoveling time. There's always something. :)

My cats are doing well, though I'm thinking about getting a toothbrush for Vincent. Yuck.

it seems as though a lot of people are having a rough time right now, though. The depression demons seem to be quite active. I'm trying to be a good, supportive friend but sometimes I feel like I'm saying all the wrong things.

Um... I think that's all I've got for now.

Self Doubt is a Bitch

If I could afford therapy one of the big issues I'd work on is my tendency to doubt myself all the time. 

I know where it stems from, and knowing is half the battle... but sadly, I can't quite pull off the other half.  See, when I was really young (from ages 3 to 8 or 9) I was an only child with a very permissive mother and family. I ruled the roost, pretty much. Then, my dad came back and married my mom (long story) and that's when things went a bit wrong for me in the self confidence & assertiveness department.

See, Dad was a great guy in a lot of ways, but he did some things wrong. Like you do, as a parent. They're not perfect. They're just people. In my case, my Dad didn't believe anything I said that contradicted whatever he believed, even if I could show him where I got the information from, like school books, the evening news, Carl Sagan, etc. If it came out of MY mouth it was deemed false without due consideration, and even in the face of reasonable proof. The other issue was that he demanded full capitulation when we had a strong disagreement or I committed some act he felt was wrong (whether I agreed that it was wrong or not). I had to bend to his will and apologize whether I was in the wrong or not.

Now, as it happens, it's probably predictable that I've ended up dating a couple guys here and there who were not dissimilar. Mostly I've been really lucky and these issues haven't come up, but in a few cases they did and so these patterns were reinforced.

The result is that as the end of my 30s draws closer, I'm sitting here having a near-panic attack induced by self doubt over an issue with the local bus company. I'm absolutely right and they are wrong (and also pretty dishonest), but it's next to impossible for me to actually believe that deep down. Even though logically I know I'm right here, deep down in my psyche I'm convinced I'm wrong and being unreasonable. I'm so unreasonable that I'm asking them to follow their own schedule. That's super unreasonable, right?

It's really frustrating to feel like this. And I can't even work out any demons by telling my Dad about this problem he helped create. No amends can be made. 

On the other hand, I am making a little progress. I recently stood up to one of the problematic Exes in a discussion about rape jokes, and he actually conceded the point. Of course, that made me super nervous, too. But I got over it.

Anyway, I just needed to get these thoughts out of my head, and it is actually helping me calm down so YAY! I just hope none of my friends raises their kids with these kinds of issues. Encouraging your kids to be confident and assertive, especially girls, is super important. 

Edited to fix a few whopping errors.

The spam-bots are out in force

I don't use this journal much anyway, so for the time being I'm disabling comments from anybody who isn't a friend on livejournal. 

I've noticed here as well as other places that the spambots are out in force at the moment, and I'm tired of having to delete the comments they're leaving here.   (They are screened so that only I see them, but they still have to be deleted.)

A Response to my Past Self

Every once in a while I poke around this journal to see what I was doing roughly a year ago (or six months or whatever). I still haven't gotten over the rather stark contrast between who I was and who I am. I found this old entry today from just over a year ago, and it made me laugh. 

Dear Past Self,
Surprise! You turned into one of those crazy M-trail runner people, at least in part. Then you went even crazier and trained for the marathon and ran that. Now you're grumpy because the half marathon you plan to run on Saturday might have to be canceled due to smoke (though the forecast is looking better, so hopefully not). Your goal is to keep a 13+ mile base at all times so you can run a half marathon at will, without having to train. Saturday morning breakfast runs are one of the highlights of your week. You lost over 40lbs and only gained a little bit back after the marathon, and it's going away again already. You really did well for yourself when it comes to making a massive, positive change. Thanks for doing that!

Hopefully in another year you'll have another marathon and more races under your belt. It seems like these changes are going to stick.

Love, 
Yourself. 
I'm still here. I haven't adopted a different method of long-form posting as of yet and may not. I just haven't had a whole lot to say that couldn't be said in short form on G+. 

I'm letting my paid LJ account expire. I think that might mean that you'll see ads. I'm honestly not sure. So I apologize if that's the case.

Quick update:

Life is good. The running continues and the running blog continues. I still need to find a new job if only for the novelty of dealing with different annoying/stupid people with different annoying/stupid problems. I'm still not putting in much effort on that front. 

The relationship is going extremely well. I'm still ecstatically happy in that regard. I think I'm managing to find a state of balance between that, the running, other social time and my need for introvert/quiet time. 

This weekend I actually played old school D&D (it was actually a clone, but I'm told it was essentially 1st edition D&D) for the first time in my life.  It was great fun and I'm looking forward to the continuation of our game. Maybe someday I'll play one of the newer RPGs.  We'll see. 

On balance, the good stuff vastly outweighs anything I have to complain about at the moment.  

That's it for now, really.

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Is this thing on?

Out of curiosity,

Is there anybody reading this journal that I don't have circled on G+? 

I'm pondering just moving the things I post here to over there.

Franklin was a Very Sweet Kitty

Fifteen years ago this month I was still living with Mr. S and Pearl the dog, in the big house on the same property I live on now. I had never been a cat person until I moved in with Mr. S a few years before that and met his cat Mouser. Up until then I'd never had the chance to know a nice cat that who had been raised by a loving person. I'd only met cats with crappy attitudes who would as soon eat your face off as get petted. But Mouser was great. He was everything a cat should be. He was loving and sweet and snuggly but also independent and had a fantastic attitude. But Mouser was old when I moved in so I didn't have much time with him. 

Then, one day, a friend of ours brought us a tiny kitten, just about eight weeks old and asked us to take him in. He was the last kitten in the litter that she had rescued from being drowned in a sack in the Clark Fork River by a very bad man. The others had all found homes, including the one she was keeping, but this one last kitty needed a home.  We were reluctant. We weren't sure we were ready for another cat yet, but in the end, there was really no resisting the adorableness of that tiny orange kitten with blue eyes. Sadly I don't have pictures of baby Frank to share with you, so this will have to do.

FrankPlants3

I'd never been around kittens much before. I'd only been around puppies and was NOT excited about the kitty version of toilet training.  Little did I know! I hadn't had any idea how easy it is to litterbox train a cat.  After we ran out & got kitty supplies, Mr. S put the little kitten into the litterbox, scratched his little paw in the sand and that was that.  The kitty knew exactly what to do!

With the onerous task of catbox training out of the way, we went on to more important things like deciding on a name for our new friend and introducing him to Pearl the dog.  It took us a while, but we decided to name our kitty Frank after Frank Sinatra, because his eyes had remained blue for a lot longer than we expected them to so we thought they'd stay that way. Of course, it turns out we'd estimated wrong and his eyes changed, but the name stayed. 

Frank grew into a very handsome cat, indeed. But he never got over being terrified of strangers. About a year later, we were adopted by another kitty (she'll get her own story at some point) and Frank got a "sister" or a "roommate" that we named Rachael after the character in Blade Runner. 

frankandrachaelsnuggle

After I moved out of Mr. S's house, at some point it was decided that I should do the pet-sitting when Mr. S and eventually the future Mrs. S were away, so that Frank could get some love, since I was one of the very few people who could get anywhere near him. So even though I didn't live with Frank and Rachael anymore, I was able to spend quality time with them a few times each year, and also see them when I visited Mr. and Mrs. S. 

Eventually I learned that Frank would have a much easier time adjusting to his people being out of town if I went to spend time with him as soon as possible after their departure.  Often times we would play a game where I would follow him around the house for a few minutes until he would get into his cat tree and let me pet him. And one day I made a fairly hilarious deduction about Frank. 

After our slow chase around the house, he got up in his cat tree and I started to pet him. Something about this was unsatisfactory to him and he kept making this half meow half "meh" complaint sound, but he made no move to get away, so I didn't think I was petting him in a way that felt unpleasant. After a few minutes of mocking his "meh" sound I started petting him with both hands and he stopped!  So I took one hand away and he started up again.  Both hands: no "meh".  One hand, "meh". That damned cat was just NOT satisfied with a single hand petting!  So from that time on, he generally got two handed pettings whenever I was visiting. 

I would generally also spend some time in the TV room while cat sitting, and after a while he would come in and get snuggles. The sooner after Mr. and Mrs. S's departure that I could get him to hang out and snuggle me, the better his attitude would be the whole time they were gone. Frank was a very lovey cat, but also nervous and terrified of strangers. 

This past Monday I received a call from Mr. S asking if I could meet him outside of my work, so I did. It turns out that Frank had some sort of major health event during the night. After bundling little Z off to her daycare, Mr. S got our vet (her business is house calls) over as quick as he could. She thought that Frank may have had a stroke or a heart attack during the night, and it was his time. I'm told, by Mr. S that before our vet gave him the shot, Mr. S gave Frank lots of love and got him to purr. 

I remember when Frank was a baby and he purred like a normal cat, but somehow, when we got him neutered, he forgot to purr after that for the longest time.  He wasn't unhappy, he just didn't purr. Then, after Rachael moved in, he learned to purr again, but it was a much softer purr that you really had to listen for. I'm glad he learned to purr again, though.

I'm going to miss Frank. He was the first pet I raised from babyhood and will always be special to me. And I'm sad for Rachael. She must be lonely now, without her friend. Little Z is a bit too young to really understand, but still, I'm sure she misses the kitty too.  And I know Mr. and Mrs. S miss him a lot, too.  

I've been giving my kitties, Jules and Vincent extra loves. They don't know why, but they sure don't mind. And I think unrulynarrator's cats, Carrot and Radish are getting extra loves too. If you've met Radish, Radish's chatter sounds a lot like Frank's complaint sound that he made when I wasn't petting him with enough hands.  Cats are funny.

And finally, here is my very favorite picture I ever took of Frank.  He's such a pretty cat.

franksun

Goodbye Frankenstein. I miss you.

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So I believe that I have personally spoken with everyone I felt I needed to speak to, and I've emailed the Denver and PDX contingents. I've even told some of my online buddies and a few people at work. There are a few people that I know will just end up hearing things through the grapevine, and I think I'm okay with that.

Not everybody has the details, of course, and that's because they don't need them. But the important thing is that I have found the right relationship for me.  

Yup. I have a super-awesome boyfriend and I am very, very happy. I don't think I'll be updating my FB relationship status, or un-hiding it for that matter, so this public post is sort of serving the same purpose, though probably not NEARLY as well.  But that probably doesn't matter, since the only FB friends I have who have given the slightest indication that they *might* possibly be disappointed to learn I have a BF and thus will not date them live in far, far away places. 

If I neglected to tell anyone that I should have told, I apologize.  Contact me privately for details.

But here's the thing: I think I've finally found my match. He fits me in all the important ways, quite a few of which I had given up finding all in the same person. Our relationship styles are very similar. He's basically my Unicorn.

This relationship will have a set of challenges that are completely new to me, but are 100% worth it. 

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