Thursday, December 30, 2010

Farewell my Sweet Callie Bug

It was a coolish drizzly October day in 1998 when a strange looking cat appeared at the door of my patio. She was wet, scrawny, and screaming her head off for food. Since I was not a cat person, I was content to leave her there, hoping she would go back to wherever she'd come from. My roommate, however, was a cat person, though she was allergic to cats and she proceeded to feed the starving waif. She started off with frozen shrimp, then hopped in the car and went to the store returning with Purina Cat Chow, in the BIG bag. At that point, I knew we had a cat.

Because she wandered the apartment complex, we took her (& her friend) to the vet to have her spayed and vaccinated. Unbeknown to us, she'd already been spayed! She was also declawed, which was so surprising for a stray. We never knew anything of her past, but loved her anyway. Since she looked like a calico cat, we christened her Callie. She responded to the name, which was an added bonus.

I spent hours laying at the door, looking at this cat. I loved her face, half black and almost half orange. I was fascinated by the orange splotches on the back of her ears. I was intrigued by the color pattern of her coat. I spent countless hours petting her outside and watching her play in the bushes outside our patio fence. When the weather turned bitterly cold, we set up a nice warm place for Callie and Fraidy, the little long haired stray that hung out with Callie. We let them sleep in the laundry room that was outside, but they preferred to be in one of the boxes on the patio. We did put a covered heating pad out for them, so they did have some warmth. They also had towels to snuggle in and were well protected from the elements.

At some point in time during that year, I started allowing Callie and Fraidy to come into my bedroom (I had doors that opened onto the patio) at night. I would call for them and they'd come running. Callie loved being on the boxes in my huge walk-in closet and would spend the night there. She would hop up on the bathroom counter and sit there like she owned the place. She would knock my contact container into the sink every single morning. It was a game we played.

At the end of our lease, our rent was being raised and we couldn't afford to stay at that apartment complex. My roommate decided to move to another city in the Metroplex to be closer to her sister. I decided to stay in the area. The roommate was going to abandon the kitties, but I couldn't do it. I'd been taught that once you take on the care of an animal, you continue caring for that animal until you either can't afford to or the animal dies. I was in it for life. So, I found an apartment that had a 2-pet limit, paid my pet deposit, paid the security deposit for my apartment, signed the lease and started packing. Unfortunately, I could only round up Callie when it came time to move. Fraidy was a true feral and I never could find her. I went back every single day for 2 weeks looking for her and never saw her again.

In our new apartment, Callie became an indoor-only cat. It was too dangerous for her to be outside with no claws. Besides that, it's just too dangerous for cats outside period. She was extremely skittish and hid constantly under the bed or in the closet at the slightest noise. She did, however, bond with me and we became a pair. I'd pack her up and take her with me to my dad's house when I visited. I didn't know kitties didn't like to travel. I'd play fetch with her (inside the apt) and she'd chase the string under the bath mat for hours on end.

Callie was a very well-mannered cat. She never jumped up on the kitchen counters and she never eliminated outside the box, except for when she was sick. She would spend hours in the closet on the old bedspread I made into a pallet for her. She also liked to sleep under my bed. At night, she'd sleep to the left of my pillow and purr herself to sleep as I was petting her. To the end, she loved to sleep on the bed with me. She loved to be brushed and petted. She'd purr just when I'd start talking to her. She'd follow me around the apartment and always accompanied me to the bathroom. In the mornings, she'd sit on the side of the bathtub between the shower curtain and the liner while I took my shower. If I was singing, she'd join in. I'm sure it wasn't because I have a great voice, either! She would spend hours sleeping in the window perch in the sun. Even yesterday, she got up in the windowsill on the towel and slept in the sun. She loved playing with "the string". I had to put it away after playtime or she'd hunt for it! She loved playing with the laser toy, too. Mostly, though, she enjoyed hanging out with me.

She was the best napping buddy. If she didn't follow me down the hallway for a nap, she'd find me and I'd wake up to her snuggled up next to me. She'd get up at about 5 in the morning, go potty, then come and get in bed with me. I pretty much woke up to her snuggled up against me every morning. If breakfast was late because I'd slept in, she'd let me know. I hardly heard a peep out of her except when I had to put her in her carrier. Then she'd let me know exactly what she was thinking!

Callie turned me into a cat person and taught me what it meant to love and be loved. She was always there for me and trusted me beyond measure. She taught me so much about commitment and being thankful for the simple things, a roof over your head, a warm bed, a faithful companion, a good buddy through thick and thin, and a steady supply of food. She didn't ask for much either. She was content with a bed made from old towels and blankets, little wads of paper to play with, a good box to play in, a plastic bag from Wal-Mart (with the handles cut) to attack and play with, and lots of sunshine.

In the end, it was her kidneys that failed. She was diagnosed with Chronic Renal Failure (CRF) in 2005 after being given a shot of Metacam for her arthritis. Watching her slow down was hard, but watching her go downhill this past week, I knew it was time to let my girl go. Mark & I had made the decision months ago that when/if she ever got to this point, we'd not do anything heroic, but let her go with dignity. I spent all of yesterday loving on her. We had one last nap and she had one last afternoon in the sun. She's ready to go. I'm not so sure I'm ready to let her go, but I know it's the right thing to do. Callie is my heart kitty and I know there will not be another like her. No other kitty can take her place.

Farewell, sweet girl. Know that you brought me many years of laughter, happiness, and joy. Thank you for choosing me to be your human and your Meowmy. I love you so very much. Play and run freely in kitty heaven and don't cop that tortitude!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Today is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the world. I pray God's richest blessings on you and your loved ones on this day.

Mark and I are spending a nice quiet day at home today. I slept in a bit today after I got up at 6:30 to feed the kitties. We've got a ham baking in the oven and I'll make something to go with it. I'm telling you, it's a very laid-back day around here, and I love it! It's cold outside, but we don't have snow this year like we had last year, so I'm a happy camper.

My Callie-bug girl had to be taken to the vet yesterday. She has CRF (chronic renal failure), but hasn't had a severe bout with it since she was diagnosed 5 years ago. Over the past week, her disposition had changed and she'd become hissy with Tumbles. On Friday, she didn't eat much and I didn't see her drinking much. Yesterday morning when I woke up and she hadn't used the litter box overnight, I knew something was going on. Mark took her to the vet in the pouring down cold rain. Dr. Cass gave her a shot to settle her tummy and some IV fluids to keep her hydrated. Callie also got a very thorough exam and her heart sounded strong, no fluid in her lungs, no temp, all her organs were nice and soft, so no bladder infection or anything like that. She ate a bit last night and used the box, so I was happy. She's a bit better today. She's been eating some today (nothing like normal) and she's had a couple of drinks of water. She came down to snuggle on the bed with me this morning and she's been up in my lap for a snuggle. Her eyes are brighter, but I miss my perky little girl. I hope she bounces back pretty soon. We're supposed to go visit my dad next week. I'd hate to cancel because she's not doing well. However, I know a very good vet in San Antonio that I wouldn't hesitate to take her to if needed.

Mark and I didn't exchange gifts this year due to our financial situation and the fact that we'll be getting a new to us truck sometime in the next month, but my non-blogging yet friend Robin sent me a very nice Christmas package. It's always wonderful to get a box in the mail from Robin! She stitched the Peace ornament you see at the top of this post, but there were also these items in the box.

Do you see my little helper?? He had been on the coffee table and almost absconded with one of the packages! LOL Also, that cup full of water is on the coffee table for the cats. They love to drink out of it! I refill it twice a day. There's also a water bowl under the table for them, but they like the one on top best.

Back to the packages! When I opened the packages, this is what was inside!
Such fun goodies! There's the ornament, the annual Longaberger breast cancer basket, some Hand Dyed Fibers silks, a piece of fabric from Sassy's Fabric, and a hand-made project bag in purple (my favorite color) from Susan at Afford Your Passions. I have been using the mesh bags that are approximately this size, so this project bag is just perfect!

After dinner, I think I'm going to make some more chocolate chip cookies. Not like I *need* more chocolate chippers, but I want some! Hope you have had a restful, refreshing, retrospective Christmas.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Quaker Acorn Update & Christmas Exchange Received

This time of the year is always exhausting for me. Working retail, it's just busier and more stressful. Yesterday I came home and told my husband that even my ears were tired!! All the noise, the people, the phone ringing, the questions, and the kids screaming just wore my ears out. I love it, though, as work goes by quicker and people are generally expecting to wait and in fairly good spirits. However, coming home exhausted means less "oomph" to stitch. I'm also spending more time in the kitchen baking goodies for co-workers to help them get through the busyness of the season.

Here's the latest progress scan on Quaker Acorns. I'm now hoping to have it finished by fall, 2011! LOL

I belong to a group of politically conservative stitchers and we recently had a Christmas exchange. Here are all the goodies my partner sent to me.

I'm in love with all those little pieces of fabric! I must find something to stitch on them quickly!!

I'm going to start a new project today, Lizzie*Kate's little pocketbook kit, "Do Not Open 'til Christmas". I'm hoping this helps me get in the spirit of things. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

And yes, I do spend half of my evening chasing Mr. T out of the Christmas tree! He thinks it makes the perfect perch for watching the world outside the front window.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Chilly Winter Exchange Sent & Received

Waiting in my mailbox for me when I got home from San Antonio was this adorable little piece from Lani. It was perfect timing, too, since winter has blown in over the past couple of days.

She also sent me these goodies:

This is the piece I sent to Sally. It's the Winter Boxer Jr. chart from Lizzie Kate and I stitched it on 32 ct. Winter Sky linen using GAST and CC.

Mark was so excited I was back from my mini trip that this is how he spent Saturday evening.

I just love this man!!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Good-bye Grandma (1912-2010)

My grandmother (my mom's mom) passed away last Sunday at the age of 98. She was born in 1912 in San Antonio at the old (as in the first) hospital at Fort Sam Houston. She was the oldest of 7 children and the last one to die. Pretty amazing, huh? Her father died fairly early in life, so her mother raised my grandmother and siblings on her own, with assistance from the older kids. One of her siblings died very young. She married an Army guy, had 4 children, then he died in 1957, 8 years before I was born. Grandma was left to raise 2 teenagers on her own, living on her benefits from the Army.

To help make ends meet, she took in sewing as well as making clothes for her own children. Later on, she worked at the corner drug store in the make-up department as well as the main cashier. Grandma always hemmed and mended my clothes when I was younger. I also remember visiting her at work at the drug store as well as "helping" her when I was off during the summer. The pharmacist who owned the drug store was wonderful to her and to me. I would stock gum, candy, and cigarettes. (My how times have changed!) I'd even get to operate the BIG, OLD cash register. It had a handle that you pulled down to make the drawer open. So much fun!!

When I was sick and had to miss school, I often spent the day with Grandma. During summer break, while my parents worked, we stayed with Grandma. We helped her cook, played for hours on end in her big backyard, and generally brought chaos to her normally quiet life. I can remember laying on her kitchen cabinet while she washed my hair in the big, deep kitchen sink. I remember spending the night with Grandma and hearing the train whistle blow. (Grandma lived about 4 blocks from the railroad tracks.) I remember spending Saturday mornings with Grandma while my mom got her hair 'done' at the beauty shop next door to the drug store. She would make me canned biscuits, a treat for me, since that was the only time I got to eat canned biscuits. She taught me to warm up flour tortillas and dip them in syrup. We'd go to the local Mexican bakery and buy bolillos and then come home and have sandwiches or toast them and then slather butter on them. On special days, she'd load me up and we'd go to the base PX (Post Exchange aka grocery store on post) and do the weekly grocery shopping. As a military dependent, she had access to every military base in town. Even though my grandfather was in the Army, she would go to the Air Force PX that was close to her house. This was way before 9-11 when security wasn't so tight.

When I was in high school, she basically moved in with her brother and his wife and nursed him after he had a stroke. She took care of him until he passed away. A few years later, she took care of her sister-in-law until she passed away from cancer. Then, in 1996, she moved in with my parents and cared for my mother until she passed away from cancer. All this time, she still had her own home, but would pack up and stay for a week or so then go home for a few days and come back. Finally, in 2000, after a fall where she broke her hip, my grandmother moved in with my aunt and uncle and sold her house. When they were divvying up the household belongings, she knew I wanted her table, hutch, and bedroom furniture, so those became mine.

My grandmother was a strong woman; she had to be. She was extremely outgoing and never met a stranger. Once when she was in the hospital (back when they had wards), she knew every person and why they were there by the end of her time in the hospital. If you were in need, and she could help you, she did. She was an avid garage sale goer and constantly picked up things she really didn't need at garage sales. When she'd come to visit, before she left, she'd drag us out to her car, pop open the trunk and say, "Do you see anything you need?" When you went to her house to visit, you never left empty handed. We were often told, "Here, you need this." even if we didn't! When we'd go out to dinner, she'd never eat all her food before offering it to someone else at the table. She'd also manage to snatch something off your plate if you weren't careful.

You always knew what Grandma was thinking. She wasn't afraid to tell you how the cow ate the cabbage, or tell you off if you needed it. She encouraged us to have an opinion and to not be afraid to voice it, even if no one agreed. She wasn't afraid to discipline us grandkids either. On more than one occasion, she'd tanned my hide or washed my mouth with soap. Many a time, I've gotten a pinch under the table or a yank of the hair as a reprimand. Because she wasn't afraid to speak her mind, you'd never really know what she'd say. Sometimes the most embarrassing things came out of her mouth!

Most of all, though, she loved. She loved us all, warts and all. She never stopped believing in us or encouraging us to do our best. I'll miss my grandmother, but when I stop to think of the long life she lived and all the things she's seen in her life, I'm thankful to have had her in my life for so many years. I have so many wonderful memories of my grandmother, and even a few not-so-wonderful memories of her.

Farewell, Grandma. I love you!