He did it!

I remember when our oldest son, Christopher, first went to school. He was cute, and smart, and on the quiet and serious side.

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We were proud of him then and we are proud of him today, on his last day of school*. He has successfully defended his doctoral dissertation at SMU. Oh happy, happy, very happy day!

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This was a long time coming. Chris and Lorna have had 3 children, bought and remodeled a house, and worked hard to survive during his journey through higher education. Steve and I are proud of his achievement on every level. Way to go, son!

*Chris’s area of study is the long 18th century of British literature. His dissertation is currently titled Primal Filth. I have not yet read it, but Chris is an excellent writer so I expect to be entertained.

Wow, life can change so fast!

A week and half ago my mom said she thought it was time to move to assisted living. I had seen it coming (but not by much) and had been checking out the possibilities. Sherman has several wonderful spaces and I had narrowed it down to two. Mom went for visits and made her choice. They had openings, she chose her apartment. Bam! Time to move!

In the space of 1.5 weeks, start to finish, we got her moved. I spent most of this time on paperwork, meetings, planning, and finally moving. I am very thankful that Steve, Lorna, and Chris were here to help. It would not have happened so well if they had not been here to take part. My mom left her house yesterday morning is now living in her new studio apartment.

Let me just say that my mom is amazing. She was a little sad when we drove away from her house (and most of her stuff) but that was it. She has embraced her new life where she doesn’t have to cook, there are people to visit with, and there are activities that she can do, or not. Family is welcome there, especially the rambunctious great-grandsons. Everyone knows everyone by name. This is a happy space.

Mom’s house and the stuff still there are my problem and she’s OK with that too. (Someday, my stuff will be someone else’s problem too.) What I realized in the last couple of days is that the stuff of mom’s that matters to me is not the big stuff. I finally, finally, got to take possession of these two silly ceramic dogs. I grew up dusting these bad boys and have no idea why I love them, but they are mine now :-).

And then there’s this bird with the umbrella. I have tried to make off with this for years :-).

We go along with our daily life thinking that every day will be like the one before. Sometimes that is true, sometimes it isn’t. I suppose that what makes life interesting, don’t you think?

 

Thanksgiving in NYC…

I am thankful for Thanksgiving, this one in particular. We got to visit Jeff and Celia in their city—New York City! Here are a few of the things we saw and did, not necessarily in chronological order…

Steve held my tea as I took photos pretty often. He is such a good traveling companion :-).

We went to see the balloons tied down the night before the Macy’s Parade. The weather was crisp, but nice and my oh my did the people come out for this event. Celia said it was the most crowded they had ever seen. It was really packed but there you go. It was a fun experience!

The balloons look a lot bigger up in the air.

We went to both the MOMA and to the Whitney museums. I enjoy the art. I enjoy watching people look at the art. I might actually like the people watching more than the art watching.

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I also enjoy the people who guard the art. They watch people looking at art all day long.

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There are great outside spaces at the Whitney where you can look out at the city…

We walked the High Line where there were still a few flowers blooming. I thought that was amazing for this time of year.

Jeff cooked a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. Celia took me to see the Rockettes! Steve and Jeff went to the northern end of Manhattan to see ‘nature’. We shopped and walked and visited Central Park. This is me, taking pictures of the leaves falling that didn’t turn out.

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Here we all are, in a picture Celia took using her tripod and self-timer…

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I hope each and every one of you had as nice a holiday was we did. Right now we are in the airport, waiting to fly home. While we are sad to leave the kids, we are still smiling from the time spent with them.

A shopping adventure with Elanor…

I made a promise to Elanor last year that I would take her on an overnight shopping trip to Dallas to celebrate her 13th birthday and the big day came last week. I booked a room at a NYLO (New York Lofts) hotel because it’s hip and trendy! Lots of concrete and exposed pipes and ducts, cool furniture, nice art—definitely not the usual hotel look.

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Elanor thought the all-black elevators were creepy, but I liked them. Industrial, functional, clean lines, fun textures… what’s  not to love?

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The rooms had tubular ‘mood lighting’. I was surprised that the light actually was good once it got dark outside. I thought it might be very orange, but it wasn’t.

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The bathroom, however, was the most fun. I can’t remember ever seeing a corner commode.

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The spare toilet paper had this fun cover. I am still pondering what sort of emergency use it could be put to :-).

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We shopped at Northpark Center both on Thursday afternoon and Friday. We found everything on her list (jeans, shoes, and boots). Some for her birthday, some for Christmas (because CHRISTMAS IS COMING!).

Besides the excitement of shopping, we had fire alarms in the night. They went off at 12:30am for a few seconds and then they stopped. After looking in the hallway and listening, it appeared to be an alarm problem. When they went off an hour later we went to the front desk to be sure. This was not a new problem and they were very sorry, etc.

Elanor, who was freaked out by the first alarm, was beginning to get over it. Good thing because they went off 4 more times, about every hour or so. To help us get over our lack of sleep, the hotel gave us complimentary breakfasts, which is better than nothing.

Instead of looking at the negative, we decided to embrace this as a positive experience. Elanor learned what an alarm in a place like a hotel sounds like—and what false alarms are like. She learned to always be aware of where the exits are (we had looked when we first got to our room). She learned to react swiftly and remain calm.

So, all in all, we had a really nice time eating out, shopping, and having a hipster hotel experience!

Piece O’ NYC: Our City Cats

This post is dedicated to the animals I love the most: cats!

When Jeff and I first moved in together, back when we were wee ones in Baltimore, I immediately told him we were getting a cat. Wisely, he didn’t fight me on this. I’m a bit of a cat lady. Most of my friends — ok, ALL of my friends — know that if they spot something cat related to show it to me or get it for me. I’m just one of those crazies.

So, throughout our marriage, Jeff and I have had cats. Sugar, our first cat, sadly passed while she was still a kitten. She was very sweet and loved us both.

Then came Carlton. His full name is Carlton Butterworth Livingston Goldsmith, I. (At the pound his name was “Cookie”…short for Cookie Monster we think…). He was hovering on 17 pounds when we got him, but is now a nice and husky 13 pounds. He’s a gentleman and a scholar, and as his time with us progressed, it became clear that he and Jeff would become the closest of buddies. So that made me feel ‘cat-less.’
Carlton with his buddy, Jeffrey. Probably talking about girls and football...

Carlton with his buddy, Jeffrey. Probably talking about girls and football…

FullSizeRender copy 2Since I’ve never felt right without cat love, I had to get my own. Back to the pound we went, and home we came with Millie, (Millicent Butterworth Goldsmith — if you think these names are funny, wait until you hear what we have in store for our kids one day ;p). Millie is the perfect cat. She’s super sweet and loving, you can leave tons of food out for her and she doesn’t over consume (Carl is a glutton), and she plays with all of her cat toys equally (Carl only likes his princess pillows or squeaky mice). She also plays fetch and does this!

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She’s pretty protective of this quilt… I wouldn’t try to use it while she’s ‘guarding’ it.

FullSizeRenderLiving in tight quarters with two cats does have several challenges, though. There are hair ball nuggets everywhere and no matter what you do, there’s never enough floor space for all of Millie’s toys or for Carl to lay out on. We have random corners where Carl has to have his cat bed — he’s big enough that instead of cat beds, we get him small dog beds. Plus, our litterbox is an eye sore. Jeff and I can totally see why many people here have dogs. (Jeff has never had a dog or puppy, but one day I totally plan on getting him one. One day when we have that house we’ve always dreamed of…).

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NYC is interesting for cats. Millie loves our high rise view and I know Carlton’s happy just as long as you feed him on time. Some people in this city walk their cats in strollers, and we’ve seen cats on leashes in the park. I really think Carlton could be down with this, but Millie is too much like a dog. She’d want to explore.
When Jeff and I talk about our marriage, we immediately think of the cats we’ve had during that time in our lives. For example, it was Sugar who comforted me as I scrolled through bridal magazines looking for DIY wedding ideas, but it was Carlton who moved with us to a new apartment in Baltimore as a married couple. Aren’t pets just the greatest?!

That’s my (youngest) boy!

Jeff, Celia’s husband, is a biostatistician on the faculty at Columbia. I try to understand what he does, and sometimes I sort of get it, but I can’t exactly explain it.

He goes to conferences to present papers often. I’ve never seen him speak until now. He gave a talk in Banff at the Frontiers in Functional Data Analysis Conference a few days ago and it was recorded. He said I could share the link with you!

Click here to watch Jeff’s talk. I find it interesting that it is the norm for a speaker to speak fast at these things—they have a time limit and a lot to fit in. I’m proud of the fact that Jeff is clear, even when he’s talking fast. I don’t think I could do it.

Here Jeff is, younger. It’s fun to show him in front of a quilt-in-progress on my design wall. I’m lucky that my boys, and my DILs, all love my quilts. And it’s interesting to me that they like different quilts so everyone get to be happy.

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FYI: That quilt went to American Patchwork & Quilting. They patterned it, and they own the quilt.

And now there are two…

Our eldest cat, Emma, went to heaven this morning. At least, I expect that she did. She was, after all, a meek and mild cat, hardly ever mean.

Emma is in the middle between Belle (front) and Dave (back).

Emma is in the middle between Belle (front) and Dave (back).

I think I’ve written before that Belle (in front) showed up starving and sweet-tempered. As she got stronger, she changed and ended up chasing the other cats out of the house.

Emma decided to live the back yard. Truthfully, the space has a pool with growies around it, rather than being a ‘yard’, but Emma had a very nice set-up in the shed. She loved lying in the pool chairs, moving with the sun. I think she enjoyed her 1 1/2 years of being the primary owner of the space.

About 2 weeks ago I noticed that she was very thin. We took her to the vet who ran tests but at the $400 mark the best he could say was she probably had cancer and it was a toss-up as to what he could do from there. I didn’t think that Emma was up for extensive cancer treatments so we took her home with extra-special food and did what we could to make her happy. Since Emma ‘happy’ looks like Emma napping, it was not hard to do. She was still a little perky then, looking happy to be alive.

I got home Sunday from California and Emma had lost more weight, she had not been eating at all, and she no longer looked perky. So, this morning, Steve and I took her in to have her… put to sleep? euthanized? killed? The words are tricky.

I’m not one for dressing up words for death. We all die, and that’s the word I usually use. It is to be hoped that we end up in a happy place, but that happens after we do the dying part. However, with that thought in mind, the phrase ‘passed on’ makes more sense. I’ve never particularly liked it, but that sums up what happened with Emma today. She passed on from this existence to the next.

We got a little teary-eyed but Dr. Locke assured us that we did the right thing. A mass had grown on her back in the space of a week and he said that whatever she had, he would not have been able to stop it. She never seemed to be in pain and the process went very smoothly. She seemed happy—or at least not unhappy. There are so many worse ways to go.

Emma is now planted in the front yard near Spike and Walter. I miss seeing her at the back door but she will live on in our memories.

Now it’s Dave’s who has a problem. It’s not a lethal problem, but he’s losing the hair on his face. Dr. Locke thinks it’s an allergic dermatitis. If Dave could see himself, he’d be very unhappy—but he can’t see himself! There are times when it’s nice to be blissfully unaware of circumstances you cannot change, don’t you think?