Sunday, January 30, 2011

RIP Sammy

Our oldest cat died in the wee hours of the morning. We really don't know how old she was but guess around 16. Sammy was always a difficult cat - a very bizarre creature. In a household of others, she always wanted to be an only cat and, for many years, have only me as her human.

Sammy's life with us began one cold late January eve. Ed had gone out to his school to pick something up over a weekend. As he came out he heard a car door slam, a truck roar out of the parking lot and then a pitiful mew. He tried to catch the little cat but she ran into a locked storage area, snuck under the chain link gate. When he came home, he said - "I probably shouldn't be telling you but..." Within minutes we were out the door with the cat carrier. I was able to bribe the little thing out with treats. She must have been starved. And she sure was shaken.

Sammy. Samuel Clemons - take a look at that mustache and wild hair and you'll realize how she got that name. She was a very unique (read: weird) looking cat. Her hair was so long that when she'd clean it she could never get her head back far enough to get to the ends. Her eyes were the most slanted I've ever seen in a cat. Ed said she looked like a little girl whose pigtails were pulled too tight. And her body - her front legs were quite a bit shorter than the back. We called her Stego-cat.

Sammy was the epitome of a scaredy cat. She must have been horribly abused by a man because she was never comfortable around most men. It took her 9, yes 9, years to finally accept Ed. She never was a lapcat but would curl up on the couch next to me. She never let another cat close to her. She had to have her space. If they came within 2 feet of her she'd spit, snarl, swat, growl.

About a year and a half after we found Sammy, we adopted 2 more cats. So then we had 5 (we lost 1 of the previous 3 that summer for those who are keeping count). One of the 2 new ones was Sasquatch - a huge orange long haired very confident male. He wasn't aggressive, not a mean bone in his body, but had this air of superiority about him. Sammy was petrified of him. We had just remodeled our bathroom and hadn't put the doors on the cabinet yet. Sammy moved in. No coaxing would bring her out. I put the doors on and she'd open them and go right back in. So she lived in the bathroom cabinet for a month. Then all the sudden one day she moved into our office. She'd jump from book shelf to book shelf to desk and would only come down to eat or use her box. After another month she finally came down to live with the rest of us and then she began to stalk Sasquatch. She'd be sure to stay a safe distance behind but it was pretty clear she was stalking him.

During this time the hair on her ears, which had been black, fell out. When it grew back, it was white. She had these long tufts coming out of and on the back of her ears. The weird looking cat got even weirder. Years later after Sasquatch died her ears went bald again and the hair grew back black. I kid you not.

Bizarre, I tell you. Bizarre. But that's why we loved her.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What a long strange trip it's been

Tomorrow is UNCG's graduation. But my graduate won't be there. He doesn't care, really, about the walk. He did that for one of his graduations, but more for his parents than for himself. No, he doesn't care about that stuff. All he cares about right now is being done. It was a long haul. In more ways than one.

You see, even though his first bachelor's degree was in English, Physical Education was where his heart was. So a few years down the line he got a coveted PE degree at San Diego State. He really wanted to go through the graduate program there but San Diego was an expensive city to live in and we had begun to feel closed in with all the freeways and buildings around for miles. It was time for a change.

We decided on a route through the southwest, up to Montana where we would visit my brother, into the Pacific Northwest and back down the coast, and from that trip we would choose our next home. I wanted to go clockwise on that route; Ed wanted to go counter-clockwise. We did what any normal couple would do when deciding where to live next - flipped a coin. Ed won. At the time we were driving his brother's VW bus; we left our Ghia in San Diego. Going across the desert the bus began to have problems. It really faltered in the Arizona mountains. Jerome. Finally we made it to Albuquerque and decided the bus would go no more. That's how we ended up in the Duke City.

The next few years were spent at UNM - Ed getting his teaching credentials and me my BAFA, living in the student ghetto, collecting cats, enjoying the desert. We visited Native American ruins, got hooked on green chile, knew when it was September 1 without looking at a calendar because the chile roasters would be out all over town - on every street corner it seemed - with that unmistakable aroma wafting in the air.
We finished at UNM in '91 and then were in search of the next place.

Ed went to the job fairs and applied to I don't know how many school districts, more marketable with 2 degrees, right? But it was a middle school English position that took us to Raton, New Mexico. Not really where we would have thought we'd end up but it was the best of offers. After living in large to super-large cities, Raton was quite an experience. We lived there for 6 months and then moved over the pass to Trinidad, Colorado while Ed taught middle school English in a school system that was still back in the 50s and 60s. He was able to teach one PE class but it wasn't a promising situation. Coaching helped him stay in touch with physical education. Life in Trinidad was better than Raton but the town was still so small and countrified I'm not sure how we lasted there 3 years. There was the time Ed was running by the railroad tracks and was threatened by a dog who charged at him out of the yard. Ed picked up a stick to defend himself and the owner came after Ed, threatening to shoot him. And the time I was running and someone followed me in a truck, then finally drove up beside me to ask what I was doing, why was I running, who was chasing me? But I digress. This blog isn't called "ramblings of a dome-estic" for nothing, you know.

Next stop, Grand Junction. Ed had applied for both Language Arts and PE again but PE is far more competitive - read: fewer jobs - so another
Language Arts position was in the cards. Grand Junction, as funky as it is, was good to us. The hiking was fabulous, the scenery way cool. Ed loved the school where he taught and the teachers there but, after years went by with no chance of moving to the PE Department, was just getting burnt out. Again, coaching helped stay in physical education but it just wasn't enough. I loved the job I had but wanted to be closer to family. So after 10 years, the longest we'd ever stayed in one place, we left Colorado for the east.

Raleigh. South Raleigh. Inner city school with lock-downs and warnings to not stay after dark or go there on weekends. Try teaching Language Arts to those kids. Ed's fondest memory there was answering a kid's random question and the kid said, "Mr. Migues, how can you stand to be so smart?" He stuck it out for one year but quit without another job on the horizon. Another round of applications out, to counties to the west. We knew we didn't want to live in Raleigh. (Have I ever told you how glad I am...) Inside joke.

That August we kept with plans to go back to Colorado to climb 14ers for my 50th birthday but hadn't counted on him still looking for a job. We checked email from coffee shops to see if there were any leads. One day, there was. Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, one of the best places to teach in the country. Highly rated, good pay (for a teacher). He got an interview set up for the day after we got home, already into the first work week for teachers. By this time Ed had pretty much given up on a PE job and assumed the interview would be for Language Arts. Not! It was THE job. What a happy camper he was. Shorts and t-shirts all year round, playing like a kid. Dream job. PE.

And, so, one year after he got that dream job, at a time when many folks our age are thinking of retirement, he went back to school for that graduate degree he had his sights set on 20 years before.

End of story? Nope. Not yet - hang on. During all that time - 4 and a half years - he struggled to find classes that he could take while still teaching and coaching, drove to Greensboro sometimes 3 evenings a week, learned how to be a student again (technology sure did change for a college student!), helped me the best he could with remodeling projects I sunk into and then - the dome. Ah, word to the wise, don't mix a grad degree and building an unconventional building in the same family at the same time.

So now, he's done. And all he cares about is that. He can read what he wants, will be able to coach more, sink into his teaching not having to write papers, read a zillion pages of readings assigned, and then plan for classes and grade until midnight. He's done. But he doesn't care about the walk.

He will kill me, of course, for this post. He doesn't want all this stuff spread around. But I'm proud of him so I do.

Congratulations, babe. I have been so impressed with all you've accomplished. You done good. Love.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

where did the summer go?

oh, man. it's the last day of august. school has started back up, evenings are cooling off, vacations are over. how did i lose the summer?

well, i spent it sitting in front of a computer, working on various projects and a traveling exhibit for my paying job. didn't even get to visit much with my sister when she was here. we DID get to go to the beach one day, however. and I DID get - not just one but three - mini-vacations. two to visit aunts (one in little rock, arkansas - one in las vegas) and a working vacation to grand junction.

now i'm home, most pressing projects are done (although there is a pile of dishes and laundry - no, not in the same pile). and i haven't even spread the word here...
you'd think i'd be jumping up and down, grabbing your virtual shirts...

the dome IS done!

but wait... there is no power to it yet. maybe that's why it is so anticlimactic. the power company has a waiting list (long story but it's just another wait like we've waited for various segments all the way through). so it doesn't feel done. when i get power and see those lights flipped on, can fire up my kiln and throw my pots, THEN i will be jumping up and down, grabbing your virtual shirts.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


So you know I was not lying in the last post.
Work IS being done, albeit slowly.

Door overhang 1

One down, one to go

Both done finally... and it snows.

First window in

Door in

More to come...

The dome is done!

Not. April Fool's.
Just had to do that.

I haven't posted again in ages. Not because the dome is done or work has come to a standstill but because Facebook is easier on which to post photos. Sure, I can write more here but, because of the amount of work to do still, I'd rather spend the time working on the dome than writing about it. Well, ok... I admit, sometimes I would rather be writing about it because it's hard work out there. But today, as crazy as it is because it is a beautiful day outside, I am taking a day off. It's spring break, Ed is golfing and I am beat from yesterday.

So, where was I when I last updated on the dome? Getting a roofer. Roofer obtained but not started yet. The weather was so cold and snowy there was no way to work on it for a while. And besides, the guy had another job to finish up. He was to start this week but looks like he had to go help his son move back to the area after getting out of the army. Glad for him and his son to be out of the army (and Iraq) but disappointed that my roof is still waiting to be shingled. Next week - it will be next week. I hope.

Other updates - in no particular order...
  • door and windows are in - Windows were not so hard to do but the door? Yowza. Had brother Andy here to help us and it's a damn good thing. I was sick with a sinus infection so Andy had to think for both of us. Sorry Ed, but you don't think construction. You grew up with a chef for a father, not a contractor. Anyway, we almost lost it at one point - the door, not our minds. (Although lots of folks probably think that has been an issue as well, especially regarding yours truly.) Long story short, what was to be an hour or two project turned out to be a 7 hour one. More of the same fudging that we've done all along because the slab is out of square.
  • got the pre-siding inspection approved - hip-hip-hooray! The county building inspector that we have is a great guy. All the horror stories we'd heard about building inspectors have not come true in our case. This guy has come out for numerous consultations and has just been an incredible help.
  • overhangs built, wrapped - How I figured those out I will never know, but I did - must have had Dad here guiding me along. Thanks Dad. I love and miss you.
  • sealed the bottom edge where water was leaking in under the sill plate with the most awful stuff to use in a caulk gun - OHMYGOD. My arms and hands are still sore from working that gun; that stuff was SO hard to do. Industrial stuff that should have been done with a pneumatic caulk gun (did you even know they make such a thing?!). But it worked. No more water leaking in. Yay!
  • grading - Working on it now. Well, actually that's why I am taking a break today because my arms feel like they would fall off if I came within 10 feet of a shovel. We need to create a slope away from the foundation. Shouldn't be too bad but, remember, this was once a wooded area. Roots. Roots. Carolina clay. And more roots. Tomorrow is another (shoveling) day.
  • siding - After finding out the price of cedar, I hit the internet for other options. Decided on a cement fiber board stuff that is more "green" than Hardi-plank and with a bit more substance. I had considered LP Smartside but read too many bad reviews on it (yeah, you gotta take personal reviews online with a grain of salt but...). It also needs a BREATHABLE weather resistant barrier behind it and the stuff we used is not. The thought of taking all that wrap off and redoing it - well, that is NOT an option. I also determined along the way that I couldn't use a vertical siding like we have on the house. I like the look of lap siding better but initially wanted to have the siding match the house's. But, because of the problems with the foundation bulging out (remember the cement grinding way back?) - I need to lap the foundation and vertical siding won't do it. So, lap siding it is. It was delivered Tuesday - as soon as we get a bit more grading done, we'll start to install.
That's all for now folks. I promise, I'll update again BEFORE months go by...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

dead blog?

oh my. my last post was in october and it wasn't even about the dome. i begin to doubt anyone is even keeping up with this anymore. and, since i talk to myself enough as it is, why blog?

although it may not seem like it, dome work has continued, albeit very slowly. the weather has not been conducive to construction and mucho schoolwork (ed), injury (mine) and a few other things have also held us back. what should only take a few hours takes a few days. this thing is beating me up.

we still have a couple window overhangs to redo and the main door overhang to build. ed, the perpetual optimist, says the next door overhang will be easy since i have it figured out from the last one. good thing he has confidence in me as i'm not so sure sometimes. windows and door are ordered so with a bit of luck (and good weather) we should be able to install those in a couple of weeks.

the roof? we had hoped to get the help and expertise of my nephew with it but he is unable to make it. given the fact that time and healthy bodies are not on our side, we decided to get professional help. no, not THAT kind - although sometimes i do think i need it. one roofer has asked more about the job and for a photo, another 3 have not returned calls. we'll see. wish us luck.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

tp bandit

i was in the kitchen yesterday and saw lily out of the corner of my eye, trailing something, prancing because she was so proud of her catch. my first thought was the animal spring toy she likes to grab hold of (the end is a tail) and walk away with until the spring can go no further and snaps back into place. but the toy hangs on a doorknob in the hall. couldn't be that. when i saw what it was, i was doubled over with laughter for a good 5 minutes.

but before i go further into it, you gotta know the story of lily - and why this was so hilarious. i found lily for adoption on petfinder in march. she and her mama had been rescued from a high kill shelter. she was slated to be spayed the end of march and then could be adopted. then she got sick, and wouldn't eat. she lost weight - not something she could afford to do since she was so small. her spay would have to be postponed as she needed to weigh 2# and she had gone down to 14 oz. her foster mom said she would give us back the deposit so we could find another cat. we decided to wait and got frequent updates on her health. it didn't look good a few times for lily. when she was well enough, we got to meet her. man, she was TINY! a true lilliputian. she weighed 18 oz. she curled up in my arms and instantly started to purr. then it was ed's turn - she crawled up on his shoulder and nestled in. we were sold - in love. we'd wait.

finally, she did gain enough weight to be spayed- she was 13 weeks and weighed all of 2#. we brought her home just a few days later. she was so so tiny i was afraid i'd step on her or the other cats would beat her up - they were none too pleased with this new addition. then she got sick again. took her to the vet, she got a shot, got better, then sick again - back to the vet. the poor thing had had so many anti-biotics in her short little life the vet was concerned. she would just lay on ed's chair and sleep, with her head back and her mouth open so she could breathe.

in time, she started getting better again and slowly gained a little more weight. then, she had a run-in. with the wall. had a HUGE knot on her forehead. back to the vet. seems she had a kitty concussion, looked like she had broken her nose. this kitten was going through her lives fast.

since the other cats wouldn't play with her and we didn't want her to grow up basically alone with no loving from other cats, we decided to get another kitten. what's one more? enter cato. choosing his name was so easy - he was just too much like his namesake. this guy is rambunctious, never-ending mischief, constantly jumping down on the other cats. the energizer kitty. poor lily wanted to play with him so badly but had gotten sick again. she would just lay around, sleep, watch, wheeze. i wondered if our lilliputian would ever be able to play like a normal kitten - she reminded me of a kid stuck in a wheelchair, wanting so badly to play ball but couldn't. she was feisty, though. when she did play, she played hard. she just tired so very quickly. and slept hard.

by this time, i had found out she probably had feline herpes - an upper respiratory infection (which apparently is common in cats - about 70% of cats have it). so i did what any granola mama-holistic person would do - looked into natural remedies and found that l-lysine was very helpful. easy to do, mix a little in her food. but she'd need it daily and it would take a while to take effect. so she'd get better, she'd relapse. little by little her breathing became easier.

just in the past few weeks has lily really blossomed. it's so fun to see her bounding around, jumping up, getting stronger. she's nearly 9 months old and weighs just over 8# - and is making up for lost time. she's recently found the *cool* stuff in the bathroom! loves to play in the tub after we've showered or in a trickle of water from the tap.


maybe you had to be there. but it was hilarious - believe me. now i wonder if i hadn't been in the kitchen if the whole house would have been toilet papered.