Thursday, May 31, 2007

Why have fun at work?

I was asked to be on an internal health and wellness committee at work. The goal being to put some effort into encouraing health efforts, seeing as how we are a health company and all. I think I was asked partially because I've talked to a bunch of people about organizing a group for the Manchester marathon/half marathon in November.

I ran the idea by my boss, and he essentially said no, citing that I already have a lot going on (true) and there are some big things coming down the pike (also true). I indicated that the time committment is small, and that I would make the time to participate because it would be (imagine this:) fun and team building, and he still is hesitating.

I find irony in this.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My first running group effort

Usually when I run, I am on my own. It is rare, even, that I see others on the road. In an effort to try to make some running friends and get over my fear of always being the slowest, I decided to check out a regular run hosted by our local running store.

I didn't know what to expect, but I like all of the folks at the store and, in general, I want to support them. So I laced up my shoes and headed down there to see what I would find. I assumed I'd be in the mid to back of the pack, and would simply just enjoy the company, and the space to talk about running with any random person.

In reality, here's how it went: there were three of us total. The store owner, a really chatty guy, and me. I was the fastest, and ended up holding back to keep the small pack of us together. Definitely at a chat pace. We ran a route that I am very familiar with (a segment of the Ichabod Memorial 4.2 miler). Some running talk, but not a lot. The chatty guy talked a lot about his dog, who has bad manners. The store owner and I tried to help him realize that he needs to train his dog if he wants it to be any different.

We also talked about some local races, including a series that I am planning on participating in over the next few months. There's a prize of a jacket if you run enough races in the series. As a closeted jacket whore, the prospect of a free one is very tempting.

It was a lot of fun, and I would do it again. Very low key, and a really beautiful night. The only down side was that I forgot my Nano, and this didn't track any of the miles on the Nike+ thing. This was both a blessing and a curse; on one hand I wanted to track the miles as I am currently keeping track of monthly miles. On the other, it was nice to run just for the sake of the run, and not think about pace or distance.

This morning, when I went out for a shorter (3.2) mile run, I thought about what a difference it made to have someone to chat with as we were moving along. I liked it, and it definitely gave the run a friendly edge. So I'll be heading down to Runner's Alley again for another chance to run with the small group. Perhaps I can convince a friend or two to join...

Monday, May 28, 2007

The nonstop that landed twice...

Went to a fantastic wedding in DC this weekend. Two people who truly belong together. I danced more than I have in the past 5 months combined. Spent lots of time with people I love.

The flight home was uneventful, until it came time to land. Due to winds, it was a bit turbulent once we got below 10,000 feet. And, to make it even more fun, I watched the plan half land (back wheels down), fly across the runway, and then pull back up in to the air. Landing aborted.

P, who is already afraid of flying, was a little freaked, to say the least. My reaction was to nervously giggle. I thought, "wouldn't it be ironic if we really did die in a fiery crash, which is P's fear every time we fly?"

The second time was the charm. Landed safely. It's good to be home.

In other news, I found out that our local running store has a Tuesday night running group. I chatted with them a bit when I was in the store last week. Seems like a good opportunity to meet some other runners around here. 95% of the time, I run alone.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The gift that keeps on giving

The neighbors who live across the street from us are an interesting pair. They are an older gay couple, who have been together for 40 years. Very sweet on each other. Both named Dick.

They are the type of neighbors who keep a close eye on your house. This is nice in that they are like a personal neighborhood watch program, but it gets a little creepy when they tell you about the daily activities of your cat. The cat is small - do they use binoculars?

Their names have always amused us, particularly when we are trying to distinguish them from one another. Tall Dick/short Dick? Big Dick/small Dick? There's just no getting around it.

They have taken a liking to us since the day we moved in, perhaps because we are another homo couple on the block, or perhaps because we are much quieter than the renters who live to their left. Whatever the reason, they have periodically gifted us with things, like firewood when they ripped up their floors.
Yesterday's gift, though, was one to remember.

I wasn't home, but P was. Tall Dick came over with a box in hand. He indicated that they were going through some things and preparing to give stuff to a local Goodwill-type store. This particular item, however, didn't seem like one that should go there... Plus, he said, we entertain a lot, and we might get some use from it. With that, he handed her the box.

Ladies and gentleman, I present to you: the penis mold.

How could we say no? Tall Dick giggled a bit, and P almost peed her pants. Both due to the gift as well as the absurdity of a 75 year old man presenting this to her with the thought that it would get good use.

Think about it: they sat in their house, potentially watching us, and discussed this item. "P and J would love this!" they said at some point. Then they had to find a good time to come over and present it to us...

What's a girl to do? Might as well put it to good use. So, as long as we are heading to the drive-in tonight (so excited for that, by the way), we made some brownies. Penis-shaped brownies.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Back on the pavement

I went running yesterday for the first time since last week. Bewteen feeling sad and traveling for work, I haven't made the time for it.

My route yesterday was a typical 4.2 mile run that I follow if I am taking off from my work parking lot. It is a lot of ups and downs. With fresher legs, I was able to tackle the hills faster than usual. It was also just good to feel like I was pushing myself, as I hadn't in days. Final mile time was just over 10 minute miles (including pauses for traffic and calf stretch at mile 3), and I thought that was pretty decent given that I took a week off. Get me on the mostly flat rail trail and I'll come in around 9:45 for the same distance.

I thought of this run as my Ichabod memorial run, given that yesterday was a week since her untimely end. Prior to going home that night, at just about the same time as I was running last night, I had been out on my motorcycle, taking a little extra longer to come home, enjoying the warm weather and blooming trees. I'd stopped to pick some lilacs, as they were finally in bloom. I remember riding home in a fantastic mood.

Things can change really fast.

Still, Icky was a total trooper through her whole ordeal, and as I was plodding along I thought about that route, and how she was really brave. I feel a little silly basing a run on my cat, but there you have it. The Ichabod memorial 4.2 miler.

Monday, May 21, 2007

IM brings out the weirdness

A coworker opened an IM conversation with me as follows:
"Speak severely to your boy and beat him when he sneezes. He only does it to annoy because he knows it teases. - I speak severely to my boy, and beat him when he sneezes. For he can thoroughly enjoy the pepper when he pleases. Wow wow wow - Lewis Carroll"

I wasn't at my desk at the time, and it was thus waiting for me upon my return. Nothing more than that.

What is the appropriate response to this?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Little tributes

This morning while shifting some laundry off the couch, I came across a perfect little paw print on the cushion. It was classic Ichabod - she was always hopping on things after going in the litter box (the corn based litter we use produces yellow dust which sticks to their fur) and leaving telltale pawprints everywhere.

I didn't have the heart to wipe it clean.

In my last post, I don't think I mentioned how much she loved to be dirty. She had a knack for finding the dustiest spot in the house (particularly basement corners), and rolling around until she was nice and coated. For such a pretty cat she had no regard for appearances. A good lesson, I suppose.

We got a card from our home veterinarian today. She wrote a really nice note, and made a point to say that our decision to euthanize was the kindest decision we could have made given the circumstances. While it made me cry all over again, I really appreciated it.

I've been really happy with this vet, with this card just sealing the deal. Last time we went, Abner got scared in the car and managed to poop himself. I wondered what the smell was as I was in the waiting area, and realized that it was one of mine.... Poor guy didn't even move - just froze in place.

I was a little embarrased about the whole sitch, but the vet totally turned it around. "Well, we know who's sample this is. That's helpful," she said, adding, "and from the looks of it he seems like a really healthy cat." Now I was semi-proud of my scaredy cat.

Never did get Icky's sample, but it doesn't really matter at this point.

We also recieved flowers from some friends with a really sweet note. While I know they intended the flowers to be the main gift, and they really are lovely, the box they came in was equally exciting. It had compartments, and a little rung of plastic was affixed to the interior side wall. It is still on the kitchen floor, providing a new fort and castle for Mr. Fabulous. He isn't quite as adept as the Ick, but he's trying. I'll leave it out a little longer so he can practice.

Abner, Fabner, Abs, Mr. Fabulous, Ab Fab, Fey Kitty... All the same guy. He's a cat - he could care less what we call him.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Icky la Picky Wicky - In Memoriam

Today is a sad day.

If today were yesterday, I would be sitting here at my desk with one of my cats, Ichabod (aka Icky), on my lap. But today is today, and Icky is sadly gone. She had just turned 5.

It all happened so fast, and was completely unexpected. In short, she had a saddle thrombus, likely as the result of heart disease. We always knew she had a slight heart murmur, but it never impacted anything she did judging by her playful actions. Once the episode ocurred, it went downhill very quickly. We did everything we could, culminating in a late night trip down to Angell Memorial in Boston (they were wonderful) to get a second opinion and see what options we had. In the end, it would have been a terribly quality of life, and a short life to boot.

It was, in a word, awful.

Luckily, we have good friends who were selfless and made the evening a little easier. P was on overnight call when this all happened, and one friend was able to come in and cover what is a pretty sucky shift. When his girlfriend asked what he was doing, he explained saying "she would do it for Mike." "Who's Mike?" she asked, having no idea. "He's the dog we're going to have one day." I thought that was really sweet.

Another friend drove P down to Boston from Concord (an hour and a half drive), so she didn't have to drive there alone. She even packed us a few snacks (none of which we could eat as we were both nauseous from the whole thing). She came in to the ER, gave us hugs, and left. Yet another friend sat on the phone with me while I was driving to Boston, assuring me that I was not crazy to make the drive, and just understanding what Icky's life meant to us.

How can you repay this kind of kindness? Having P there made all of this a bit more bearable - I did not want to have to go through it all on my own. Plus, P is a little braver than me in medical situations. Perhaps most importantly, I would have felt terrible if she never had a chance to say goodbye.

I write the above because I know people are always curious as to the cause and the story. However, from here on out I'd like to focus more on her life and how cool a cat she was. So, in no particular order, here is some of what made Icky, Icky:

Every night, around 10:30, she would drag a plastic dowel with a fleece strip attached up the stairs and into our bedroom. It would click up each step, and when she got to the top she'd loudly announce that she had arrived. Sometimes her pronouncement almost sounded like she was saying "hello" (although training her to say that on command was a total failure).

If it were colder outside, she'd then hop on to the bed right where my head lay. This never failed to scare me, even though I knew it was coming. She'd walk over my chest and stand on my right side, scratching at the blanket. That was my cue to pick up the comforter a litle bit so she could crawl under. She would then proceed to circle and plop down near my hip, instantly purring. When P was around, she'd sometimes fall into the small of her back. Inevitably, she would stay for about 10 - 15 minutes, and then crawl out of the blankets and hop off the bed. I considered this her way of tucking us in for bed.

I got so used to it, in fact, that now when traveling it is a little harder for me to fall asleep. I am conditioned to her gentle purr.

Of our two cats, she was the brave one. And the goofy one. She'd be the first to venture out and greet guests (they rarely meet Abner, the other cat, unless they are overnight guests). As a chatty one, she'd say her hellos and rub across your leg as a greeting.

The chattiness... I loved her voice, and that she always had something to say. We had entire conversations.

She had the softest fur of any cat I've ever known. It was thick and so silky that it was cool to the touch. Anyone that ever stroked her agreed.

She was incredibly curious. We purposely saved boxes a little longer to give her (and Abner) a chance to make a temporary fort. It generally took less than 10 seconds of seeing the box before she had to investigate. If at all possible, she would gnaw at the cardboard and spit out bittles of cardboard everywhere. I never minded picking that up; it was clearly a source of pleasure.

She was a bit of an adventurous eater. Our habit of late was that I would finish eating my morning cereal, and then leave the bowl for her to lick. She was particularly fond of Grape Nuts, and Kashi-type cereals that contained "twigs." She also loved nutritional yeast. Just yesterday I made toast with butter and nutritional yeast, and made sure to share some with her. Part of the reason I made it in the first place was because I knew she'd like some. I was a sucker for that cat.

She was a terrible jumper. Her body always seemed a little long for her legs (or maybe just her legs short for her body), and as a result she uncovered ways to jump in increments, using whatever she had around her. I will sorely miss the morning routine of getting out of the shower and leaving the shower curtain slightly open so she could hop on to the tub as her first step in getting on the counter. She would sit and patiently wait for me to do so every day.

She loved to rub her face on anything with an edge. I'd say we tested every edge and corner in the house. I'd pick her up to try a new one, she'd test it out with a good rub, and if the paws started kneading, we'd head back. Her favorite things, however, were rolled up magazines and the brim of a baseball cap. The baseball cap was a double bonus because you could steal some belly rubs as well.

Her hips were incredibly flexible. As someone with a history of back problems, I always envied that in her.

She was good to Abner. They are both shelter rescue cats, and we wonder what their first few months on this planet were like. She was found in a dumpster (which we think explains some of her eating habits), and he was found wandering streets. He has remained skittish, although not mean, and looked to her to help him understand what he should try out. If she rubbed her face one somthing, he'd try. If she wanted to check out a box, he'd want to check it out, too. If she was laying down somewhere, he'd want to be on top of her. She always let him cuddle in, and without fail was the spooner, not the spoonee.

She was my cat. She'd follow me around, and perch herself on or near me. If I was working, she'd nap or bathe or just hang around. Don't get me wrong, I love both of my cats, and am glad that Abner is still around, with all of his quirks and habits. But Icky and I had a special thing going.

That's just a small sample of the reasons why my heart is broken. It's hard to think of her in the past tense, as everything was just fine until, well, it wasn't fine. In a sense I am glad that she had a fantastic 5 years and went quickly, but that's small consolation compared to the fact that she's gone. I can't believe she's gone...
Abner is now sitting on my lap. It's a new day. It isn't quite the same, but I appreciate his kindness.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Oop is poo backwards

My mother in law used to say that Exeter, NH was a lovely town, except that it was full of people from Exeter. She was not one to mince words.

Today, P and I stopped in Exeter to get a sandwich at Me & Ollie's. They also have perhaps the best oatmeal chocolate chip cookie on the planet. Anyways, I went to use the restroom before we left, and the man that was in there before me was taking a while. On his way out, he opened the door and proceeded to pack up all of his stuff - computer bag, newspaper, coffee cup... He managed to remember everything except one little thing: to flush his poo.


Sunday, May 6, 2007

Picture Perfect

I am cobbling together a few raft posts that have not seen the light of day. Evidence of a long week at work, and too nice weather outside to sit and compose anything of meaning.

Last weekend was beautiful weather, and a great kickoff to spring. We had a successful yard sale and then spent Sunday checking out the Arnold Arboretum. Aside from being one of my favorite places to spend time (running, walking, whatever) in Boston, it was about time for the lilacs to bloom. When we lived in JP, we would smell them blooming from our home, and it was extraordinary. Now we have to drive 60 miles to get there, but still, it's worth it.

As we parked, we noticed a small herd of greyhounds - and their associated people - gathering. Turns out there is a group of greyhound people that gather each weekend in a different spot to walk their dogs. Last Sunday was the Arb. I am estimating 40 dogs in that little gathering, some of which are pictured here.

Aside from the greyhounds, there was an encyclopedia of others, frommutts (or boulevard terriers, as my mother in law would call them), to purebreds. All of them looking mighty happy to be out and about.

One of my favorites was a semi-shaved poolie. A very happy go lucky personality, greeting anyone it could.

While the lilacs weren't quite busting yet, there were some that were bloomed. And there was plenty of other fantastic foliage to check out. Some of my pics from the day are below.

I'm ready to go back!

In running news, I've been happily hitting the trails and the pavement around the ManchVegas. Yesterday I set the Nike+ attachment for a 10k, and set off. As I was coming towards the end, I realized I was possibly going to make a personal best. Missed it by three seconds - dang! Next weekend I'll head out again, with the PR in mind from the start.

This Wednesday I have a 5k race. I told one of my friends that I was going to go for a sub-30 time, and her advice was "just go for pain. It won't last long." It was delivered half jokingly, but the other half was dead serious. I am not sure I am cut out for racing... I guess if I was, I would be going for a sub-20 time. :)