Thursday, September 26, 2013
Copper would have been 5 years old tomorrow. He was a BIG orange, talkative male Tabby cat, with a big long striped tail, and the love of my life. I adopted him from a no kill shelter on May 25, 2012. He was just hours from being put down when he was taken in by the shelter. He came to me with no name, but a date of birth. How odd is that? Anyway, I tried a total of 27 names for male orange cats and he answered to none of them, so he became "Copper"
After only 2 days of "owning" him, I would have turned over heaven and earth had he gotten lost. He was so loveable and cuddly and he managed to weave himself into every aspect of my life. He loved to "back cuddle" when I was on the computer. He'd hop up behind me and warm my back while I stroked him and he purred. He loved to be held like a baby. I used to tell him that I was sure some little girl had spoiled him rotten when he was a kitten. He loved to supervise when I cooked. He'd strut into the kitchen and talk to me till I showed him what I was making. Sometimes he'd be interested, other times he'd turn up his nose and walk away. He loved canned whipped cream. He's hear the familiar swoosh and come running for a lick from my finger.
He really loved my other cat, Sweetie. Ashes, whose place Copper took, really held Sweetie in contempt. She's lick her head then bash her in the face. Copper just loved Sweetie and the feeling was mutual. They'd groom each other and sleep curled up together all the time.
A few weeks ago, I noticed Copper was getting thin. Almost like he was when I brought him home from the shelter. When you have more than one cat and they self feed you don't notice when one is off their food as readily as if I had been feeding them canned food. I did notice he was turning up his nose at treats though. A week ago Tuesday I brought him into the vet's He was dehydrated and just not himself. The vet kept him for 30 hours and re-hydrated him with IV's They got him to eat a bit of some special canned food and sent him home with me. He looked like a pregnant elephant! His belly was so distended, but I was told that was the result of the fluids they pumped into him. He ate a bit of food Wednesday night, and I began weighing him every morning. By the weekend he was going downhill pretty quickly. I wasn't sure he's make it through the night Sunday night. He didn't have the strength to even jump up on the bed or jump down the next morning. I slept with my hand on his paw or his tail all night long and each time I woke up to check on him, Sweetie was licking his head. His stomach was so distended. He looked like those pictures of starving children from Sudan. I took him to the vet first thing Monday morning. By 8:20 they'd called and said he had rapidly growing a mass in his stomach and gently suggested that he needed to be put down. I just could not believe it. He was so big and strong and healthy 2 weeks earlier and suddenly he was so frail, and I was being told he needed to be put to sleep. He wasn't even 5 years old yet! All of my cats have lived to their late teens. I figured I had at least another 10 years of loving him, but it didn't work out that way this time. He died in my arms with me whispering to him how much we all loved him, and he was gone. There is still an indent in the back of the couch where he used to lay and I'd pet him on my way past him. It's just so hard when you see them deteriorate in front of your eyes and can do nothing to stop it.
Sweetie has become very needy and she's not an affectionate cat. She too was a rescue and I think she may have been a bit feral in her younger days. She hates to be held and will only sleep at the foot of the bed. And the only way I can show her affection is to hold her head between my hands and rub my chin on her head. She loves that, but nothing else. After Copper's big loveable warmth, neither Sweetie nor I are getting what we both crave from him. I promised him a new house. Even had the builder put in a cat door to the screen porch so he could go in and out just like he has here. (Sweetie, not the sharpest knife in the drawer, only knows how to come IN the door, not go out!) With the impending move and 2 rather lengthy trips coming up, I probably won't (shouldn't) bring another cat into the family till after the first of the year. I did look at the website of the shelter where I got Copper and they had several BIG orange male tabby cats for adoption, so I probably won't have trouble finding one. I just hope Copper guides me to the right one.
Lisa, my financial adviser called when she heard of Coppers passing and incredibly, she told me that one of her clients had given her a gift. It was a "reading" from a pet medium. The reading was done the very day that Copper died. Lisa had to put down a very special dog in June. There were other animals in the house and all were affected by Jake's passing. I have the link to the medium and will probably call upon her to do a reading for me. It was amazing what she told my FA about her pets. She even mentioned 2 cats that Lisa had not mentioned to the reader. Lisa gave her very little information about the animals other than their breed, age and if they were still with us or had been put down. The details were amazing. There were facts that the reader had no way of knowing, like the layout of the house and the fact that one of the cats (that had not been named in the reading request) preferred the food that she had previously been given because of the "creamy texture" and could they go back to feeding her that instead of the new stuff Lisa had changed to about 2 weeks earlier! Anyway, I think I want to use her to tell Copper just how much we all loved him and miss him and to ask him to come to the new house with us. Apparently Lisa's Jake is still there and "talks" to the new Golden Retriever that they rescued. (But he doesn't like the name they chose and would prefer to call her "Boo" instead of Ginger!) I'd love it if Copper would do the same to whoever I end up bringing into the family! There is a huge void in my life right now. He was such a sweet boy. I'll miss him always.
Saturday, September 21, 2013
Well, last time I wrote about the house selling/buying situation was at the very beginning of the adventure. So much has happened since then it almost gives you whiplash thinking about it! When last I posted, a couple was going to come see the house before it was ready for prime time. I broke my neck getting it as close to ready as possible before I left for Chicago. (The B-day Bash was really fun. Lots of old friends) Well, they never showed up. I was disappointed but relieved at the same time, as it really wasn't ready to be shown. When I got home I got serious about "staging" the place and I guess I must have done a fine job, as the first 4 people saw it on a Friday and by Sunday morning I had 2 bids and the other who saw it wanted another showing so their SO's could see it! I accepted a cash offer for my asking price with the stipulation that I be allowed to stay in the house till my November 4th closing date. All was agreed upon and the "SOLD" sign went up. That's when the fun began.
A cash offer doesn't require an appraisal, but they got one anyway. Now a little background info is needed here. I bought this house in 2000 for $140K and I agreed to pay outside vendors an extra $10K for the upgrades I put into the house while it was being built, so essentially I paid $150K for the house. Over the course of 13 years I added at least $40K of improvements. I did those improvements for myself and I enjoyed every one of them. I also knew that I was probable making the house "too improved for the area" but that was fine with me, I was staying here forever, right? Well, maybe not so right after all! Anyway, I just wanted out and I listed the house for $150K. She was getting a 190K house for 150K. Great deal, which is probably why all four of the lookers were really interested in it. Anyway, her agent sends Frick and Frack over to do the appraisal. They used 3 comps, 2 of which were really not comps at all. The third was close to comparable but my house was bigger and had a 2 car garage, not a one car like the house they used to compare. Well, instead of ADDING for the extras, the dinged me $5K! so the appraisal came in at 145K when it should have been closer to 159K! We went back and forth on it as the buyer wanted me to come down on the price. I was so upset I removed the sold sign! I know she was driving past the house on a regular basis, so that was my way of thumbing my nose at her!
Anyway, they go through with an inspection. I did my own pre sale inspection and had corrected many of the issues my guy found, but I left a few so their inspector would make himself look useful in finding a few problems. Well, the day of the inspection she showed up with the inspector, a termite inspector and her agent. That would be considered normal, however she also toted along both her sons with their wives, a cousin and his wife and a nephew! It was like Grand Central here! I took extra cookies out of the freezer and retreated to hole up in the office! I think the thing that really galled me was when her agent said "It's amazing how many of the upgrades you have done to your house, my client has done to her own house. You have that wonderful hot water circulating pump that brings instant hot water to all your faucets, and the terrific air purification system you installed with the ultraviolet light so you have "hospital quality" air" It's uncanny!" Here she was trying to get me to come down on the price when she KNEW how much I'd put in in upgrades! It really galled me, but I just smiled sweetly.
Then they submitted the inspection report. Since there was very little that needed to be done, they got so picky as to ask me to replace light bulbs in the bathroom fixtures! I kept reminding myself that I was getting a cash deal with the ability to not have to do an interim move. That was the pipe dream I wrote about in the previous blog so many months ago. I replaced the darn light bulbs along with a few other minor requests and thanked God that I didn't have to have the house on the market for months on end. So far we are set to close on the morning of the 4th of November. The new house will close that same afternoon.
On to the new house. I am working with a fabulous builder! He is on site almost every day I am there and is willing to make so many changes, both major and minor. I have been picking out and making decisions on so many things, from the color of the shutters to the style of the towel bars and everything in between. I have decided to go with black white and gray for the dominant colors and I"m adding pops of color for each room or area. For instance, the house is all brick with the exception of some vinyl on the gables. I've chosen gray shake shingles for the vinyl with black shutters and a red front door. Just today I decided on the granite for the kitchen. I chose white cabinets with a black glaze and black handles with black appliances. I had seen a granite called Bianco Romano that I fell in love with, I was almost positive I was going to go with that till I got to the granite warehouse. My neighbor was with me and she spotted it first and called me over. We had seen several slabs that were not the usual shiny granite. They were labeled "LF". We asked and were told the LF designation was for "Leather Finish". Yes, the granite was not the usual shinny finish but was called Leather Finish. It has a texture to is and I found it so very appealing. My current granite requires me to take a towel after washing it and dry it off so streaks and water marks do not show. The LF doesn't have that issue at all. I felt like a bride when she tried on THE dress! I just knew it was the right one for the kitchen. Currently I have all the windows up, the electrical is done and they are waiting for the inspection of the insulation before they begin putting up the drywall. I had a lot of fun telling people I "had shingles". They would look all concerned and sympathetic and then I'd tell them it was "the good kind" up on the roof! The brick has been delivered and hopefully the weather will not play a part in the completion of that application. Once the wall board is up I guess they can deliver the cabinetry and begin to get the trim applied. We are still on target for a November 4th closing. The kicker though is that I am leaving for a river cruise from Paris to Normandy and on to Mont St. Michel. I will be gone from Oct 13th to the 28th, giving me 3.5 days to pack up the house for the movers to load up on Saturday. The half day comes on Thursday when I do the final walk through for the house. That Sunday will be spent cleaning up the current house for the buyer. I"m sure I will be exhausted that week, so in anticipation of that, I have begun to pack up any and everything that I can now, and I have begun living like I am camping out in my own house! I have packed up the everyday dishes and will use a few stray Corelle plates and paper plates and I will use plastic "silverware". I have been eating down my freezer to the best of my ability. Amazing what you find in there! All in all it has been an adventure and despite my annoyance at the buyer (or maybe it was all her agent?) things have gone remarkably smoothly. I am indeed very blessed with how things have gone down.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Well it's a good thing I told my Credit Card Company I was going to Antarctica, even though I figured there was no shopping down there, but I wrong! The UK has a research station there called Port Lockroy. It's quite small so they broke the group into 2 and while one half took a tour the other half got to mingle with the penguins. We did penguins first and unless I get a picture from someone on the tour, this is the closest documented record of me with a penguin. It doesn't compare to many others I've gotten of me with some sort of a wild animal but it's the best I have.
Much of the facility as been preserved from early exploration time and you can see drawings of Marilyn Monroe and Liz Taylor, done by the researchers who faced many a long winter with no daylight and worse yet, with no female companionship. But they could dream!
Conditions were pretty harsh and very dangerous. These were a dedicated bunch of researchers. We were able to send post cards from their post office. I have no idea how long they will take to reach their destination. A ship would be stopping in a few weeks to pick up the mail. They would eventually get to London and stuff would be postmarked there and then sent on to the final destination. We were told it would be months getting there. The little gift shop was more than I expected. I always get Christmas ornaments to commemorate my trips. I get one for myself and two for each of the daughters of a good friend. They had nothing in the way of ornaments but they had the cutest little key chains that were actually bottle openers in the shape of penguins! They had "Antarctica" written on them and they easily converted to hanging ornaments. I really never thought I'd find anything, so it was a real bonus.
After we left the folks at Port Lockroy, we cruised through the Lemaire Channel. It is 14 nautical miles long and at its narrowest is 250 meters wide, with towering peaks over 1100 meters high. That is where I got some of my most spectacular photos. The sun was shining brightly and the contrast between the white of the glaciers, the black of the rocks and the blue of the sea was stunning.
On our way through the channel we were escorted by several whales which delighted us by leaping from the water. They put on quite a show that lasted for about 20 minutes!
Beyond the channel, we navigated to the "iceberg graveyard" of Pleneau Bay. The bay is relatively shallow. Icebergs float into the bay and get hung up in the shallow waters and cannot flow out of the bay. It is crowded with stranded icebergs, many of which penguins and leopard seals use for sun bathing! Arches are somewhat hard to find as they usually develop fissures and break apart. We were lucky to see a gorgeous one and luckier still to be able to see the crevasse where, in a day or two, it would suddenly collapse and would be no more.
You can see it was just another lovely day in a frozen paradise!
Stay tuned for more.
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