Monday, March 31, 2008

The Rooster Must Die

There was at least an acre of wallpaper in my kitchen. And acre of wallpaper to be removed.

You think I'm joking, I know you do. But it was so bad that at one point, I came down the stairs and found my girls hard at work doing wallpaper removal. Is that the sweetest thing?? I didn't even ASK them. Maybe they simply saw how very close to the edge I was.



It's funny, though --they loved the job (as heinous as it is) until I agreed to pay them by the hour and then they sort of lost interest. That's an interesting observation about human nature but I'll be darned if I know what it means.

Here's what the same hallway looked like the next day.


I'm so sick of that freaking rooster--heck, I may never even eat CHICKEN again. Dudes.

Trust me when I tell you...the Rooster must pay.

I started kind of making the rooster a bit more decorative at about hour sixty of wall paper removal.

(See, I told you he looked like he was wearing a top hat!)

Then I dressed him all up for work.
(Get it? DRESSING?) (Oh never mind.)

Then I started fantasizing about dismembering the chicken. I was trying to draw the parts here...

Finally I had to draw the rooster as I really see him.

I know y'all think I've lost my mind but you wouldn't want me bottling up all this frustration and taking it out on Scout, now would you?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Still in Eighth Grade

Okay, so I have this new friend. She lives on my street but as luck would have it, she and her family are moving some time this summer. Still, it's one of those connections (on my part--which I realize can look a lot like stalking to normal people) that makes me feel like I've met someone to whom I was related in another lifetime. Her name is Lin and she's just... well, so cool that I would like for her to quit her job and hang out and play with me all day.

Like, if I won the lottery, I'd pay for her to do just that. (Note to self: find out if New York has a lottery so I can forget to play it here, too.) (Sigh.)

Anyway, she's just really nice and I'm so glad to have met her. And she's already invited me to a Pilates class at her house tomorrow night. As you all know, since I have described to everyone's utter nauseum, I am so ready to get back into shape and lose some of this excess weight. I just hope... you know, that I don't ... pass gas or something. Have something in my nose. Have a heart attack and require a defibrillator.

Because, apparently, for me, eighth grade is an infinite experience. Some day I really do hope to go to high school.

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Still no Edward kitty --two weeks today since he went missing. We DID catch a very upset raccoon in the trap, though. And we spread more fliers. I am trying to hold on to hope. It's a weird thing to be missing him--a low level pain that I am aware of all the time but it's not totally incapacitating, you know? Like someone amputated my pinkie finger. Hurts. But it's not fatal.

I hope.
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More tomorrow about how much time I've been spending with roosters and why this makes me say incredibly foul things...in my mind. Honestly, if I never see another rooster in my life, it will be too soon. Much less one who looks like he COULD be wearing a top hat.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

You(se) Guys...

Dear You.

I just don't know what to say. Every day I marvel that you come to read. But TODAY... well, today, I just feel so... well, you know. Supported.

Loved.

Uplifted.

By people who are (mostly) unrelated to me by blood.

This is an amazing and wondrous thing.

Yesterday, I said to my husband in utter frustration, "Is it just not possible for our children to do SOMETHING in moderation? Must they be so freaking obsessive/compulsive about EVERYTHING?"

And he said, "Blog much?"

Well, touche', MoFo.

But see, then you guys do this campaign of well wishes and hope for my kitty and I realize that this blogging thing builds a village that raises a mother. And frankly, I think I am doing an okay job of handling the stress of this move from Texas to New York and all, but sometimes, I just need that unconditional support. Jane has gotten into e-mail lately and she wrote me one a few days ago that said, "Mom, I will always, always love you. Even when you yell at me."

I'm so grateful that y'all feel the same. Even though, um, we're still missing one orange and floppy kitty and even though I'm so, so sad about it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Love Thursday?

So, um...

I'm not sure I should be writing about this yet but tonight we got the first real lead we've had since our cat Edward disappeared some eleven days ago.

A woman called tonight and left a sort of cryptic message asking us to call her back because she had something to discuss with us. We HEARD the message as she was leaving it but couldn't actually find the phone to pick up.

(Moving... it's like the worst exercise in frustration or maybe the best exercise in patience there is.)

Anyway, Coop called her back although I was actually dialing the phone and prepared to do it. He said later that he was afraid it was going to be some person yelling at us over all the fliers we've posted (justifiably, actually, because I affixed them to stop signs) and since I'd had a migraine day and am not the strongest phone talker on my best days, he thought he ought to take the call.

And she turned out to just be the nicest person. She said she hadn't wanted to leave a more detailed message because she didn't want to get our hopes up but that she'd seen a cat that looked a lot like the pictures of Edward hanging around a home by her house. The home is owned by some elderly people (she thought we ought to be careful we didn't scare them if we went poking around their house) and it has a sump pump out back that would make a perfect area for a cat to live if it didn't want to be caught.

We piled into the car and headed out, armed with a can of cat food. We didn't find him but I can't help but feel bouyed by even a hint that he might be somewhere near, still. I was beginning to lose hope, quite honestly.

[Actually, I have noticed that my worst migraines are usually heralded by a really noticeable drop in optimism. Do any of you migraines sufferers ever experience that?]

So, now...I know it's ill-advised to get my hopes up but I can't help it. Send some good vibes, okay? Because so far, I think I can handle everything about this move with (my spastic version of) grace and optimism--except the permanent loss of Edward. I have had one other cat in my life that I loved as much as I love Edward --and it took me 18 years to get over the loss of HIM.

But gosh, y'all, what if we get him back?

[Edited at 2:23 AM to note that I can't sleep because I'm so excited. I went back over to the house by myself at about 10 last night but it was starting to rain so no kitty materialized. I put fliers in the mailboxes of the house and surrounding houses.

I know I'm not very smart to be getting my hopes up like this. (Then again, I guess it means my migraine won't be back tomorrow.) Wish me luck! I'm going to go over at about 7:30 in the morning when it's light but everything is still pretty quiet and just listen for him a little. I hope to get a chance to talk to the people who live there...]

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

If You Give A Mom Some Coffee

If you give a mom some coffee, she'll probably drink it standing up in her new kitchen.

She might notice how hideous the paper-towel holder is and decide to remove it from the wall.

Which means she'll need a screwdriver.

She might have to hunt for the screwdriver, so she'll walk upstairs into her older daughter's room. She'll find the screwdriver and notice that the wallpaper border is still half up and the painter is coming tomorrow. She'll put the screwdriver in her back pocket while she goes to find a sponge to soak off the rest of the wallpaper.

While she's looking for a sponge, she'll spy the box cutter she spent almost an hour looking for yesterday. She'll open a box of books and carry it to the craft room/ spare bedroom/library/play room. She might notice that one of the shelves she put together yesterday is sagging badly but since she has the screwdriver in her back pocket, she will be ready to fix it.

Unfortunately, it won't be the right type of screwdriver. She'll put the flat head back in her pocket while she looks for a Phillips head. She might curse people who thought having two types of screws was a good idea.

She'll unpack the box of books and put them on the newly straightened bookshelf. She might stand back to admire her work and wish for her coffee. She might wander into the bathroom to put away a towel and decide to use the potty before going downstairs to find her coffee. When she stands up, the screwdriver in her back pocket will fall into the toilet.

And if the screwdriver falls into the toilet, she's going to need a lot more coffee to fish it out.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I Miss My Kitty

I really do. I miss my cat Edward and his silly feet. He's been gone a week now. I'm trying very hard not to lose hope, especially since so many readers have written to say they lost their cats the same way and had them come back unexpectedly. In order to take my mind off of his disappearance, I find myself constructing fanciful stories about the dumbest things in the oddest places.

To wit: There's this Wallpaper in our half-bathroom. I believe I've mentioned it before. When we first saw the house, I think I reported that there was a woman churning butter on this wall paper.

This turns out to Not Be True.

No, upon deeper study and reflection, there appear to be many scenes depicted from Life at a Winery. As wallpaper goes, this is War and Peace. Or maybe something by Steinbeck, which always features plenty of wine.

It leaves many questions but the following is this Wallpaper Scholar's interpretation of Life in the Half Bath.

First, we see our heroine, stoic and proud and dreamily fetching water from the town fountain. Water is very important for making wine. It might take a bit more than she's fetching in that pitcher but perhaps this water is just in case she gets thirsty.

(Dudes, I have no idea why her blush is blue. It keeps me awake at night.)


Later she helps the poor but proud farm boy to load the grapes onto the wagon, which is just not that easy in such a skirt.
Lunchtime comes and Our Lady sits down for a break. Oh dear, I see what is coming. Poor, poor thing. Clearly, she has stresses we cannot fathom.

Unfortunately, she cannot find her solace in the bottle if she wants to save the vineyard from the grasp of the manipulative owner of the competitor winery down the road. Although she does find him ruggedly handsome for such a fiend. Nevertheless, we hope she pulls herself together and stays strong because it's very, very clear what the grape is doing to her productivity...




(What does it say about me that the expression on her face makes me laugh out loud? Clearly, I need therapy.)

You can see why I couldn't live with that wallpaper--I mean, where's the ending? Where's the part where the poor, but proud, farm boy turns over his savings to pay the taxes on the vineyard and in the process, divulges that the competitor vineyard owner wasn't always like this. Before his wife died in that hunting accident, he was the most charming and generous benefactor ever.

And dudes, where the part where he catches her drinking and she throws up on his shoes?

Oh, wait, wrong genre.

Anyway, clearly it was time for the wallpaper to go. The painter painted over it on Friday. Now the only thing to do is to try to figure out what exactly is going on with that Rooster on the kitchen walls...

I'm sure it's Freudian but the first couple of times I looked at this wallpaper, I thought the rooster was wearing a top hat. And that seemed perfectly normal to me, you betcha.

I frighten and amuse myself.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Addendum

I know it's hard to imagine that I would have left anything out of my last post but I left out three things.

One is that when the girls and I boarded the flight from Dallas to New York, our seats were in a ROW but not together. As much as I thought about being the one on the other side of the aisle (Just kidding. Really.) (Mostly.) we asked the guy sitting in the window seat if he would mind very much giving up his window seat so that we could all sit together. He was so nice about it, got up, moved all of his stuff and then he slept the entire time on the airplane. We're talking eight hours of sleep. I'm sure it would have been more restful for him to have done that away from the aisle but he never said a word. Isn't that nice? He was SO nice about it that and it was such a non-issue that I forgot to thank him again as we were deplaning.

Then, at one point after we'd been sitting FOREVER and then flying, the flight attendant came by and said how sorry she was that we were having this experience on the flight. She asked if we were on vacation and when I told her we were moving to New York, she said, "Oh. My. Well, I'm from Wisconsin and people up here take some getting used to..." She looked a little worried for me.

From then on, we were BFF. She was so attentive and nice and funny. After the movie when we were still trying to find ways to be excited about this airplane thing (going into our sixth hour on the plane or something), I bought the girls big cookies --$6.00. The attendant said, "Wow, are you sure you want TWO? They're really big." I said, "I know but we haven't had anything since this morning and they've been such good sports."

She said, "What can I get for you?"

I joked, "I'd like a rum and coke the size of Brazil!"

She said, "Oh, me, too!"

I said, "Hey, sit on down!"

She said, "I can't now, but man, after this day at work, as soon as I get home, I know what's on the menu!"

We laughed.

A little while later, she came by with a tiny bottle of rum and a coke for me. "I wanted to be the first one to buy you a drink as a New Yorker. Welcome to New York."

I didn't drink it, which proved fortuitous later when the turbulence got really bad. But I still have it --a little talisman of the kindness of people.

Tiffany will roll her eyes at me here but I gotta say it: most people are solid and good in their instincts for comfort and friendship, even of strangers. I honestly think we just don't act on those instincts enough.

So, then we got home and one set of neighbors had tied a bunch of balloons to our front door that said, "Welcome home!" and the girls ran over to meet the next door neighbors (they have kids the same age although the youngest is a boy) and they had made "Welcome to the Neighborhood!" posters and had little presents for the girls. The next day, ANOTHER set of neighbors (three girls, two the same age and one little one) came by with flowers and a gift certificate for a local take-out place.

Honestly, I felt like crying. I think my biggest fear was that we wouldn't find other families to make friends with here--our old street was so full of good friends. I'm really relieved. Also, very relieved that they've now seen me looking SO bad that any time they see me from here on out will be a vast improvement.
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Two of my good friends, hokgardner and my friend and neighbor Erin lost their beloved grandmothers recently. I just wanted to tell them how sorry I am that I can't be there to give them comfort in person. Love you guys.

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Still no Edward. But I'm not giving up hope.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Clearly, I Have Angered the Gods

And they are very, VERY angry, indeed.

Tuesday, I took a car to the airport and boarded my flight to Dallas. We taxied away from the gate and waited to be next in line to take off and then the pilot spoke over the loudspeaker to say that there was "thunder boomers" in Dallas and we were going to wait a bit. After a while, he came back to say that so far, 700 flights had been diverted from the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport and it wasn't looking so great for our plane. He was going to take us back to the gate where he unofficially advised us to book ourselves onto another flight because he really thought this one would be cancelled. He was so cool and so nice that on the way off the plane when I passed him, I said, "That was the all time best flight I've EVER had! You're a master--such a butter-smooth landing!" and he just cracked up.

So, then I sat on the phone with a really nice guy named Percy who managed to get me on a different flight the next day and moved my flight back to New York with the girls to the FOLLOWING day. He even managed to get us seats all together, at least on paper. We had a nice conversation where he thanked me for being so pleasant, telling me that I would just be amazed at how many people had yelled at him that day as if he was personally responsible for this storm that had ruined their plans. I said, "Well, Percy, if you have the kind of pull with the weather, it seems sort of like a bad idea to yell at you, huh?" He said, "Sometimes people say to me, 'What are you going to do about this?' and I just say, 'I'm going to talk to God.' They never know quite what to say to that."

There were more than 1000 flights cancelled or diverted from the weather in Dallas. That's a lot of really cranky people.

So then I grabbed a cab to take me back to my house and the woman, a lovely South African woman who had been in this country for 35 years and had been driving a cab for 24 of those, has to be the only cabbie in all of New York who refused to exceed the speed limit. It took well over an hour to get home but she was so nice, I didn't mind.

Thus endeth the first day of travel: five fruitless hours.

The next morning, I woke up (or did something that sort of looked like it) at 4:15 A. M.. As in: in the morning. I was picked up by a car at 4:45 (A.M.--Dudes, it is really DARK then) in the pouring rain. My driver this time was a neighbor from our general area of Long Island who had owned his own business and retired from it. When his wife started taking care of the first grandchildren regularly at his house, he decided to go back to work as a driver. Seven grandchildren; six girls, one boy.

My flight was perfectly on time. Except, um, it was a really small airplane. In the pouring rain. And I had to go to Washington, DC first and after that I had no seat assignment for the second leg of the trip.

I know what THAT means.

Percy, Percy, Percy.

I mean, at least he got me on a flight. A lot of people had their Spring Breaks ruined by this whole weather thing in Dallas.

While I was standing in line in Washington waiting to get my seat assignment, I got to chatting with a flight attendant who was trying to catch a seat back to Dallas. (She is based out of there.) I suddenly realized that as horrible as it was to have all those passengers derailed, the airline also had thousands of stranded flight attendants and other crew members all over the world. So I asked her how the airline handled that. She told me the most interesting thing about American Airline: each flight attendant bids on his/her schedule a month in advice and the schedules are awarded based on seniority. But no one ever retires, apparently. This woman had 19 years with American and she said she was still basically like a new hire. She said that there are some flight attendants who are in the EIGHTIES and still flying.

Anyway, while we were talking, I am SO not kidding, a woman in front of us turned around and SHUSHED us. Clearly she was under some stress over the delay in assigning her seat but DUDE.

Dude.

Calm yourself because none of your histrionics are making the situation one bit better. In fact, you've now left an indelible memory of your shrewish horrible reaction to what was not the most pleasant situation for any of us. My favorite part, though, was when the counter clerk told you that if you didn't sit down and let him work, he could guarantee that you wouldn't be on the flight.

(I saw her later on-board, though. I just wish she'd not felt the need to add her little bit of negative energy to the whole situation.)

I did get a seat on the very full flight, which left a bit late and then, after it landed? Couldn't find a gate that was unoccupied. For, um, one-and-a-half-HOURS. We sat and we sat and we sat.

And meanwhile, my kids, whom I hadn't seen in over a week, were less than an eighth of a mile from me.

At any rate, eventually I got to deplane and the reunion was just about the most joyous thing I've ever experienced. Ana looked about a year older --SO grown up -- and was suddenly into cooking and when we got to my parents house, she made me a cup of tea. All by herself. I'm serious!

And Jane was... well, Jane was pure Jane in the best Jane way possible. I wanted to just...EAT her. Especially when she showed me a scarf she is KNITTING for me.

I could have died happy right there. You know how it is when you suddenly remember how winsome and special and smart your kids are and you just can't even believe they are related to you because they are so incredibly cool? It was like that. It PASSED, you know, but it was like that for a good 24 hours.

Thus endeth the Second Day of Travel: eight hours spent getting to my kids. Total to date? 13 Hours.

The next morning, we had to wake the kids at 6:30 in order to leave for the airport by 7:30. My parents live a bit of a way from the airport and it was rush-hour.

Naturally, there was very little traffic, except for a huge bottleneck around an accident. We were at the curb, checking our luggage, by 8:15. Our flight was scheduled for 10:10. And then it was scheduled for 10:30 and then 11:20.

I love to entertain children in the airport, don't you? I think we spent about $350 dollars trying all sorts of really unhealthy fast food.

And then we boarded the airplane and taxied away from the gate and then the pilot announced that due to high winds in New York, La Guardia airport was down to one runway. ONE. Runway. For both arriving and departing flights.

So, we sat for two more hours on the plane, waiting to be told it was okay to take off.

I love trying to entertain children on an airplane, don't you? That tray table--there's a good two minutes of entertainment.

Finally, we took off and flew across the country and the Gods relented a bit and the airline showed the movie "Enchanted." Which is lovely and sweet and SET IN NEW YORK!!! Right as it was over, we began our descent.

Unfortunately, our descent halted and we started this circling thing while we waited to get clearance to land. It was very turbulent. Ana turned green. 45 minutes later, Ana was still green and the whole airplane was filled with the sound of people retching.

You can't buy that kind of glamour, you know.

We finally landed and collected our bags and the girls practically tackled Coop when they saw him. By this time it was rush hour (starts at 3:00 PM and goes until 8:00 PM, apparently) so we took the girls out for their first New York pizza and then arrived home at 8:30.

Thus endeth the Third Day of Travel: 12 hours. Grand total: 25 hours spent en route.

Still no Edward.

Sigh.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Quick Update

Still no Edward.

I'm in Dallas, getting the girls. I was supposed to be bringing them back to New York by now but my flight here yesterday was cancelled when Dallas experienced some Wrath of God weather. So, I flew today and will take them home tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Coop is working from the house and calling vets and shelters in between doing actual executive job things. Edward has a microchip, so that is good news. And one shelter said that runaway cats USUALLY don't go very far so we're also going to get a cat trap and see if we can catch a fluffy kitty. If we do, I'll take pictures.

Man, I sure hope we find him soon.

Please keep us in your thoughts. Not only do I miss my cat, but the girls still don't know anything about his disappearance. I'd like to keep it that way.

I have so many funny stories to tell everyone but the stories will have to wait because I've only kissed my girls six hundred thousand times and I feel certain I still need to kiss them another BAZILLION times. Who would have thought I would miss them so much?? I'm shocked, really.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Dumb as a Box of Hair

Last night, after the movers had dumped all of our stuff in our new house and the cats had been shut in a bathroom all day to keep them from getting underfoot, I let them out of the bathroom and fed them and then, because I am NOT BRIGHT, let Edward go outside.

Edward had been extremely vocal in his displeasure at being shut in said bathroom. Like, the movers kept asking if he was hurt or something.

So, um, the cat was majorly cranky, you know what I'm saying?

I let him out, despite my husband's warnings to "grab him, quick!", because I am not only stupid, I am also really arrogant and think I know better than everyone on the planet. This has NEVER proven true when it comes to my marriage and yet I persist in thinking that I am RIGHT, dammit. I probably rolled my eyes at the guy.

Only this time? I was NOT right. Just like every other time.

And Edward disappeared and hasn't been seen since.

This is the same cat who disappeared in the summer when I (HELLO WORLD, I NEVER LEARN, PLEASE TRY TO SELL ME ANOTHER AUDI FOX) let Edward out even though it was clear he was ill. He was gone two days that time.

It's been 24 hours now. I've been a lunatic all day, running around the back yard and calling "Kitty, kitty, kitty!" in falsetto. Not to mention getting up every hour last night to check to see if he'd come home. And unpacking as many boxes as I possibly could because I'm going to retrieve my children from their grandparents' house where they've been forced to endure a non-stop stream of field-trips, parties, movies, and shopping, etc.

Coop got up on alternate half hours with me last night, despite his enormous work day today and without ever once complaining or saying, "I told you so" or any other horrible backlash to which he was undeniably entitled.

One bit of good news is that when we went out to put fliers (flyers?) in the neighbors' mailboxes, someone/something had a little smackeral of cat food from the can I'd left on the back porch. Coop said, "Well, maybe you've got yourself an outdoor cat now."

I hope this time he's not right.

Not just because it's supposed to be 30 degrees tonight but also, I miss my cuddle kitty and I miss my Edward draped artistically all over the furniture and I miss him because he loves me and I miss him because my imagination is too vivid when it comes to the possibilities of why he's still gone, which include the idea that maybe he's headed back to Texas. I hope not. Because the rest of the Coopers are here to stay.

Pray, okay? Because I really don't want to fly to Dallas tomorrow with the news that our beloved kitty is gone and it's all my fault.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Welcome to New York, Day One

So far, it's been amazingly great.

Last Thursday, Coop and I got up at 3:30 in the morning and loaded the pets, in their respective crate/carriers into our rented mini-van and headed to the airport. First we had to drop off the dogs at this cargo check-in, and honestly, the anxiety we were feeling about our old dog Sydney (15) flying for the first time was just almost immobilizing. As in, I almost called the whole thing off. Whoops, made ya look, changed my mind, do-over!

Um.

Not an option.

We had honestly done everything we possibly could have done to make sure she survived. We had the vet out (how I will miss our good Dr. Wyatt!) to check out all the pets and she made us feel better about the whole thing. Syd is in just incredible shape for a dog who had a stroke last year. She's almost made a full come-back from that. I said to Dr. Wyatt, "We know that every day with Sydney now is a gift. I was sure she wouldn't see the end of the year last year and here we are in MARCH and she's still going strong. But I don't want her to die in transit, alone and terrified, so tell me if you think we ought to find some other way. I am willing to drive her."

Dr. Wyatt was her usual reassuring self and said in her professional opinion, although Syd has a definite heart-murmur, she didn't think it was anything more sinister than old, old age and that she thought she'd make it just fine.

So, we left her in the hands of the animal handlers and honestly, they seemed like most animal people seem: there for the love of their four-legged friends. Coop tried to slip the guy a substantial tip and the guy just laughed and said kindly, "Everyone tries that but we're going to treat her well no matter what and your money won't get her better treatment or worse treatment." I don't know --for some reason I felt better after that. Especially after the guy said, "Y'all try to calm down a little."

Uh, yeah.

So then we checked in with our funny luggage (more about that when I tell you about our final day in Austin. I'm kind of out of order here but I'm writing a column about saying goodbye to Austin and I'll post a link here when it's done.) and the two cats. Coop had upgraded us to first class because he was worried that we'd have two cats in a row with some stranger and in First Class, there are only two seats across. I was all excited because I have only flown First Class once and DUDES, I embrace the concept.

But then, right before take off, some overly-officious and more than a little bombastic woman came to us and told us of some arcane FAA rule regarding pets and 737s and how it was impossible to have two pets in First Class. She kept saying, "It's right here in black and white!" like that made the rule make sense to us. The muscle in Coop's jaw started jumping around, at which point, had I been that woman, I would have turned around and run right away. But he stayed very calm and said things like, "We have had this planned for months so you can imagine my frustration." Later, he told me that what kept going through his head was that if he got belligerent (like the Continental woman--seriously, she needs some sort of anger-management training or something), she would put him off the plane and then her problems would all be solved. So my husband, the Ruler of Move Pre-Planning, got bumped to Coach with Thomas and I got a new seat-mate who was plenty happy to have been upgraded, you betcha. Less happy to get up to accommodate my trips to the bathroom but whatEVER. (After the second time I got up, I said, "Well, there now, you have twenty whole minutes before you have to do that again." He didn't even crack a smile.)

I was so tired and just plain old cranky at the whole turn of events and that woman--gosh, it's just amazing how a little power in the wrong hands can make someone simply unbearable--that I didn't do any sort of sentimental good-bye to Austin as we took off. Well, it was also still dark so I couldn't see anything but you would have thought I would have raised a glass of juice to the city I'd lived in for 25 years, wouldn't you? Nope.

Maybe it's for the best.

We landed some three-and-a-half hours and a new planet later.

We flew to Newark, New Jersey, because that was the only non-stop flight we could find that would carry animals and get us anywhere close.

***A small bit of background: Once, when our young cow-dog Scout was a puppy, my husband came home in the evening and decided to play with Scout. He came stomping down the hall, arms raised over his head and the universal, "I'm gonna get you!" stance to where Scout was lying.

Scout saw my beloved spouse and was so scared that...

...well, there's no nice way to say this...

...feces shot out of his bottom and hit the wall.

No. Seriously.

You can just imagine my delight.***

When we went to pick up the animals after their inaugural airplane adventure, it was no big surprise that Scout was outside of the cargo area, having, um, "soiled himself" as the attendant euphemistically put it.

Much eye-rolling on my part but I didn't have time to focus on that right then because my Sydney, my lovely, wonderful, OLD Sydney, was just fine. Happy, even. Greeted me with wagging bustle and small yips and all. I was so relieved that all of my blood drained out of my body and pooled in my ankles and then shot back up and all around and I got a new lease on life.

It wasn't until we loaded Scout into the rental van that we realized that there was no freaking way we could drive across Manhattan and onto Long Island with that stench. I was already getting a cold but DUDES, this was worse than any poopy diaper I ever saw.

So we pulled over into a gas station in what looked like a truly lovely part of town, bought some paper towels and then my husband, who apparently will never stop paying for having brought Scout home, cleaned out Scout's crate while I held Scout's leash and kept watch on the van. (I don't know what I would have done if anyone had tried to rob us... dropped the leash and pointed Scout's hind end in their general direction?)

But it worked because we were able to set off and an hour and a half later, we pulled up to our new house and our life in New York officially began.

First sunset:

Sydney:

First fire in the fireplace:

First wine and gummi bears:

Friday, March 14, 2008

You Guys Getting All This?

I've been writing to you all in my head all day. Maybe that's the next frontier: Mental Blogging! No, wait, that doesn't sound so different from what I do...ahem, hush. What about "Thoughtful Blogging." Um, no. Blogging ESP?

Oh, forget it.

Anyway, there's so much to do and so little time before the movers get here on Sunday to unload so I haven't taken time to write all about our big adventure yet. Hang in there, it's coming. No, I promise.

No. Really.

I also have a terrible cold but it seems like the wrong time to be taking a sick day. I spent today making a two-hour trip to Walmart--(MadMad, I thought of you) and painting the garage of our new house as a present for my husband. I know, I know... some people just give flowers. But Coop never asks for much and he mentioned twice that he thought we should paint the garage before the movers fill it to the gills with boxes. So I did it. It looks really nice--I probably never would have noticed one way or the other but it really does look better.

(As an aside, these types of presents are not exactly unheard of in our relationship. Once, when we were dating, I installed a pallet of grass at his house while he was out of town. It seemed the right thing to do.)

The problem with being sick in the midst of all of this madness is that I'm so tired. Last night, after the Noah's Ark odyssey where Coop and I flew the four pets out of Austin and into our new home on Long Island, I fell asleep at about 7:00 EST. Which is SIX o'clock Austin time. No, I really did. Look, Coop took a picture:

(Pretty cute pillow, huh? Although, Edward the Kitty is having a rougher time than one would have thought, considering his normal unflappable demeanor. He's been following me around like a puppy. But don't say anything because I think he'd be embarrassed.)

And the hard thing about falling asleep so early is that I woke up and was doing my normal middle of the night Insomnia Ramble and I came downstairs for water and it was 9:36 on the clock.

Anyway, I'll be back with pictures and stories of the move --probably later this evening when I wake up at 8:38...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Great Cooper Move, Days 3 and 4

Well, no, that's not really true. I am about to fall down I am so tired. Plus I have a cold.

But I wanted y'all to know that we made it safely and that Sydney was actually the best adjusted of all of the animals.

I'll be back tomorrow with a recounting of my first hour on the East Coast and how we spent it slinging feces out of Scout's crate --honestly, it was a good thing that I came down with this cold and couldn't smell everything in technicolor. Because what I COULD smell? Wooooo---heeeee, mercy--nobody light a match.

Howdy, New York. I hope y'all have battened down the hatches because it appears that the Coopers have arrived.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Great Cooper Move, Day 2

I'm fuzzy on this whole good and bad thing but I think that maybe it's not a good thing when the movers start SIGHING when they see another pile of stuff that needs to be packed and loaded. I mean, that just doesn't seem like the most POSITIVE sign that the move is going well.

Also, when your big fat kitty Thomas doesn't have a bed to hide under any longer? That's not so good. And when your husband takes a look at the amount of stuff that needs to be taken to the dump and says, "Maybe we can borrow a bigger van." Not such a good sign. And when you suddenly realize that you've neither forwarded your mail, nor cancelled your newspaper... just after you've packed the last telephone? That's not such a good sign that things are going off without a hitch. Also? When you ask the driver how your load compares to that of other families and he says, "Well, anyone who can fill up a truck has got a pretty big load."? Not so good.

Like, um, when they drive your mini-van up onto the moving truck and the thinnest guy in the bunch has to drive the van onto the moving truck because he's the only one who can get out of the car once it's on the truck --well, that might mean you've got TOO MUCH FREAKING STUFF.

But when you find a package of Girl Scout cookies that miraculously escaped being packed? Everybody feels a LOT better.

Well, okay, maybe that's just me.

There it goes... all of our worldly possessions on one truck headed for New York.

Anyone else think that's just the weirdest thing ever??

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Great Cooper Move, Day 1

I.

Am.

So.

Tired.

We got a lot done today, though.

The day began before dawn when I opened the front door to see my two cats hunkered down on my box of yarn. Is that hilarious or what?

The movers came at around 9:00 --a four man crew to pack and load us. Naturally it was pouring rain. (As I post this, the movers have just left for the day and the sun JUST CAME OUT. I'd say that God has a sense of humor but honestly, this just smacks of the Devil messing with us.) Ana had to go get her chickenpox booster shot at 9:15 so we left right away and then she came with me to get a shot in my foot at the podiatrist's office. (I'm having a series of shots that's going to obliterate the nerve in my foot that just will not stop hurting no matter what else we try. So, by golly, we'll show that sucker who's boss!) By the time we got home at 10:30, the movers had packed up her room so she didn't get to pick out a special stuffed animal for the trip to her grandparents. She, who has been such a trooper about all of this and who has expressed excitement and the desire to be in New York, finally melted down and said, "I don't want to move!"

Guilt? Oh no, not me.

And then my folks packed up the kids and they left for Dallas. I won't see my girls for an entire week. I think it was the right decision to get them out of all of this mayhem --the poor things were really starting to come off the rails as the house was being dismantled around them. But, gosh, I was unprepared for how much I am missing them. I think my instinct in times of stress is to gather my little ducks around me, you know? Plus, tomorrow is Ana's birthday and even though we've had two parties and I'm fairly certain that my parents are going to spoil the heck out of her using just that excuse, it seems wrong not to be with her.

I keep reminding myself that if there had been a different way to do this, we would have chosen that. Oh, that's not exactly right--there were other ways of doing this but this seemed like the best option for us.

So then, we just worked our rear-ends off all day long. At one point my craft room looked like this:

By the end of the day, it looked like THIS:

Isn't that amazing?

Among the funnier things that happened today is that the movers packed all of my clothes. I mean, they packed them before I could pack the clothes I would need from now until the time when the moving van gets to our house in New York and I greet them at the door in an over-sized pair of men's swim trunks and an old bra. Is that a problem? Because that's what I wore into the hot tub tonight to try to soak some of the kinks out of this old back.

I'll post tomorrow if I can before the movers pack this computer and the WIFI and all of that. If I can't, I'll post as soon as we're in our new house in New York on Thursday. Because after spending the day traveling with four pets, my camera, some coffee filters and the diamond I got for Christmas, I'm pretty sure I'll have something to say.

PS: The movie quote in my last post was from She's Having A Baby. Because all of my pop-cultural references are from movies from the 80's. It's not like I've seen any movies SINCE then. ("Grouper. It's grouper.")

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Are You All Tired of All This Yet? Part 1

This is another post about packing and moving. And partying. And eating. And stalking. You can watch TV if you get bored... (Name that movie. Anyone?)

First off, here is my swatch before felting:


And here it is AFTER felting:


It's like alchemy or something. Totally different thing after washing. Magic.

*******************************************

Friday was the kids' last day at their school. I was up there four times and cried at three of them.

At the school, there is this very sophisticated visitor registration program where they scan in your driver's license and then each time you go to the school, you sign in on a computer and state your purpose. Most sane parents select "Classroom" as their purpose for being at the school. All year long, I've done this subversive thing where I chose really silly/ blatantly false reasons for being at the school.
No one has noticed. At my second to last visit yesterday, I finally succumbed and admitted what I really needed...

And then we had a party to empty out our kitchen. It may just have been my favorite party ever.

But I cried a lot. So it was really good I forgot to wear make-up.

Except that my stalker came by for a vist and there I was, looking all frumpy and without make-up and DUDES, would it be so much to be looking my best when my stalker came by?

Because she's spectacularly beautiful.

And okay, not really a stalker.

(But I just love saying that.)

She's someone who has read my column for years and years and now has subscribed to the blog and moved to Austin. (Her move to Austin has nothing to do with me. Honestly. Because you KNOW I'd claim it if I could.) Anyway, we had exchanged several e-mails and were trying to get together for lunch but things have been so crazy for us that, when she read I was having a clean out my kitchen party, she stopped by on her way home.

Honestly, I have never been so flattered in all my life.

I just wish I felt more worthy.

Anyway, here she is. Her name is Anne.

Isn't she beautiful? Thank you, Anne for (almost) stalking me. You made my day.

And then there were goodbyes:





I'm okay. Sort of.

Mostly.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Firsts and Lasts



So, lots of news today.

I finished my mom's socks today. That's the giftee pictured above. (Doesn't she have nice turn-out?) And hey, I'm getting better on the timing thing. Her birthday was Tuesday and today is only Thursday. (Oh yeah, oh, yeah, I rule, I rue-ule.)

(These socks are knitted out of a new yarn for me called Hacho (color 306) --it's a hand-dyed wool spun in Peru. (As an aside, I find that I like yarns that NAME their colors better than these ones that just number them.) It's not my favorite yarn ever (there was a color pooling issue on the second sock that I'd rather not talk about) but it was nice to work with and more reasonably priced than the Claudia hand paint that calls my name... And guess what? Another first: I made the stitch pattern up. It's a knit three, purl one stitch. I think it's pretty.)

Our house sale fell through today. I knew I shouldn't have talked about it before the deal was inked. I'm bummed but mostly because, well, would it be so very wrong for me to have been right JUST ONCE? Coop has been saying all along that he didn't think the house would sell until we were moved out and the place looks empty and huge. Nevertheless, I did all that staging work and here we are, about to move out and with the house yet unsold and he's right, he's right, he's right.

I am also bummed about having to make two mortgage payments, with no sign of lottery winnings in sight.

But even in this week of lasts, I had two firsts. I was in the shower and I went to put the soap up on the soap dish thingy and it slipped off, hit the side of the tub and shot out into the bathroom. I was not appropriately caffeinated so I had to peek out from behind the curtain to ascertain that, indeed, the soap had made a break for it and was in the middle of the bathroom floor.

The other first I had today was that I knitted my first swatch. I know, I know, people are always talking swatches and gauge and all that but frankly, to knit a swatch would fly RIGHT in the face of my whole "if this doesn't work, THEN I'll read the instructions" mentality. But I am attempting something completely new, which is to make house shoes/clogs for my girls and to do that you have to do something called "felting."

Basically, you know how if you accidentally wash a wool sweater on warm/hot in the washing machine, it comes out looking like a doll's sweater? That's felting. I am VERY excited about this because I knew there would come a time when I got to put my vast experience with Shrinky Dinks to good use. (Same principle.) And get this: I got gauge! Wahoo! I took pictures but they are being held prisoner by my other computer and I can't get to it at this moment.

Today I did my last stint of volunteer duty up at the girls' school and they had their last Thursday. Thursday is "extra" day, which means they get ice cream after they eat lunch. I hope they have something similar to that at Jane's new school in New York or let me tell you, heads are going to ROLL.

And in another first, the boy Ana had such a wicked bad crush on announced his own crush on a pretty blond girl in Ana's class. Ana came home with her first heartbreak and there was nothing I could say or do that could make anything better. Not for the first or the last time, either.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

When in Doubt, Throw A Party

Today I completely lost my mind and sent out the following to the same group of folks who usually come to our New Year's Eve Party:

Under the Subject Line: A Party to End the Longest Goodbye Ever

Okay, okay, I know we said we were moving to New York and by now I'm sure you're thinking, "Gosh, would they please just GO already?" And we really and truly ARE! We've spent weeks--months even--saying our goodbyes, the house is almost sold and somewhat packed up, the movers are scheduled to come on Monday and suddenly it hit me: Dudes, my freezer is FULL and I can't take that with me.

So, there is one last party in the offing --the oddest party ever!

Clean Out the Cooper Kitchen
Friday, March 7th, from 4:00 PM on (Come and go as you please. Bring your children and we promise to feed them pizza or something that won't seem as odd as bacon and brie.)

Because where else can you have cake sprinkles, Swedish meatballs and lasagna? Anyone up for enchiladas and black beans and pickles? Pesto and mustard and an entire array of other condiments? Perhaps you've been craving some whipped cream cheese cake frosting with a side of sausage?

Please forward to anyone I've left off the list of the usual suspects (especially any pregnant woman) and please let me know if you're coming because the only thing I am buying for this party is BEER and I'd hate not to have enough.

love you guys,
Barb

PS: No bon-voyage presents because honestly, if I have to pack one more thing, I will CRY.


*******************************
(Clever demarcation of subject change)

Lasts for Today:

1. Last filling my van up with gas in Austin, Texas.
2. Last Wednesday my kids will go to school at their elementary school.

Things I thought were lasts but turn out to probably be second to lasts:

1. Trip to Hill Country Weavers. My mom and I went and I got stuff to make felted slippers. (I don't know what came over me--I think it was the yarn fumes.) My mom bought yarn to make a sweater and she's already knit most of the front of the thing and is already thinking she might need to buy one or two more skeins of the yarn so we might be going back tomorrow. In which case this will be the first time that I thought was a last time to do something but which proved to be second-to-last.

2. Trip with the kids to our beloved pediatrician. Each girl had a shot and Ana had her finger pricked. Both girls had to pee in a cup and were weighed and measured. (Jane's Body Mass Index (BMI) is 15.3. Lance Armstrong's is 22.8.) (Apparently, the state of New York wants to know what my kids' BMIs are. Maybe if they were fatter, they'd be rejected or something? Whatever.) At any rate, we thought we were all done with shots and medical stuff but Dr. Reidy called me this evening to tell me that she was reviewing Ana's chart and it turns out Ana's never had the chicken pox vaccine booster. As much as New York doesn't want fat kids in its schools? It doesn't want fat kids with chicken pox even more. So Ana has to go back in for another shot on Monday. Better here by the best pediatrician I've ever known than by a brand new doctor in New York, right? (Work with me here.)

Off to bed. I'm sure there will be more lasts that are really second to lasts in the first place tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Counting Down

It's just amazing to me to think that we are moving to Long Island in one week. This is the last Tuesday my girls will go to school at their current elementary school.

Is it just me or is that... mind-boggling?

I find that I am both getting really excited about the move (especially being in the same time zone as my husband) and at the same time becoming increasingly sad about leaving Austin. Not really SAD-sad but, well, it's just a little bittersweet. I've lived here since 1983 when I moved here to go to college. It's the longest I've ever lived in one city, and I have such good, good memories of my life here. I feel certain that we will make new and wonderful memories wherever we are but there is still a bit of bittersweet in saying goodbye.

Everything seems to be getting scheduled for Thursday and Friday of this week. I have to take the kids for physicals, the vet is coming to vaccinate the four-legged kids and give them health certificates for flying, I have a last foot doctor appointment (well, a last one HERE. I will be continuing the Foot Adventure in New York.) There are last minute treats to make for classrooms and last minute goodbyes to schedule and then there's the whole "Clean Out the Cooper Freezer" dinner party to plan.

The prospective buyers of our house are concerned because the inspection yesterday revealed (among many, many costly things) that our kitchen floor slopes to the outside of the house and so they've ordered a structural engineering report --to be scheduled for Thursday or Friday. Frankly, I've always considered the slope a nice feature of my kitchen, lacking only a large drain so I could just hose the place down. But I understand their concern that there might be some settling. It's a 30-year-old house... I would assume there is some settling. (Heck, you should see the settling I'VE done in the last 30 years.) (Well, okay, maybe you shouldn't.)

I also understand that it is in their best interests to portray our house as very close to falling down so that they are glad to take it off our hands at some very low price -- big-hearted buyers that they are. I'm not worried, though. I've got my best people (Coop) on it. I've argued with Coop before (once or twice) and he's a MASTER negotiator so I'm not so worried.

The photographer we had do our multi-generational photo last weekend was so taken with the kiddos that he posted a few of the pictures on his blog. If you are around the Dallas/FortWorth area and you ever need a photographer, he's REALLY talented, and so laid back and nice --the whole experience was a true pleasure. His name is Jake McKee and if you click on it, you can see our "pitchers."

Gotta go take Jane to her very last piano lesson here in town.

Mind. Boggling.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Ah, Insomnia

Well, I can't sleep.

This has NOTHING to do with the fact that I was petting Thomas and he, in a paroxysm of rapture, rolled over and fell off the bed and I started giggling and couldn't stop. I mean, the cat weighs almost 20 pounds and he just... FELL OFF THE BED.

THUNK.

Every time I think about it, I kind of have to stifle a laugh.

(He was perfectly fine and came back up for more cuddling.)

(Dude fell off the bed. Snort!)

I'm a bit stressed about the whole house inspection thing. You know why?

Because I'm crazy.

No, I am. I really am. There is not a thing I can do about what is found by that inspector and yet, here I am, running financial possibilities through my brain and trying to remember if I ever disclosed that the ceiling fan in the spare bedroom only works at top speed. (Hello, hurricane!)

Anyway.

The other big stress in my life right now is the transportation of our pets to New York. Well, specifically Sydney. I figure Scout will be unbelievably traumatized and then, five minutes after we're at our new house, he'll forget that he was ever on an airplane or in the back of a van as we drove across Manhattan. Seriously, if you look in one side of that dog's head, you can see all the way through to the other side. But since he's so incredibly high strung and neurotic, this is a good thing. Sort of like a daily (hourly?) lobotomy. He doesn't stay traumatized because, oh look! Something shiny!

The cats are coming on board with us, which should be just hysterical. We get to carry them on as hand luggage. (Coop and I are going to flip a coin to see who has to carry Thomas.)

But Sydney... well, I've written about her many times over the past six months because every day with her is a gift now. She's fifteen. She had a stroke this summer. I didn't think she'd see the end of the year but she HAS seen the end of the year and not only that, she's in GREAT shape. She still runs for the ball, she still loves to be petted and man, the dog is VERY interested in her food. She's cantankerous, sure, but I mean that in the mostly hilarious way. It's like she no longer thinks she had to obey any rules. Periodically, she just takes herself on a walk. She growls at the cats, she's developed this total "selective" deafness and sometimes, even if I'm sitting right there in the living room, she just hops up on the sofa. Because she's the grandma and what am I going to do, spank her? I don't think so.

Anyway, she's not a death's door. But she's also no a spring chicken, you know? And she's never been on an airplane, there will be no one there to reassure her and she's got to go into a crate and in the (pressurized) hold of an airplane for three and a half hours. I think it will be terrifying.

Plus, I guess there's no certainty that the vet will give her a certificate of health to fly. We'll find out this week. And if she CAN'T fly, that means one of us will have to drive her and that's at least three days in a car, which will ALSO be very hard on her. And the rest of us.

So anyway, there's some stress there. Love that dog.

Okay, back to the weekend. The girls and I drove up on Friday and surprised my mom by arriving early. Coop flew in and we all met up at my mom's house. The girls stayed with my parents and Coop and I went to a hotel because there were a lot of house guests already for this shindig, including my step dad's 86-year-old mother. (Who, by the way, had been DRIVEN to Texas from Ohio by one of his sisters.)

(Sigh.)

Anyway, Coop and I went to a hotel and at some point, he said to me, "What is this, the third hotel I've stayed at this week? I'm not going to know what to do once I live in a house again. I'll be so amazed at the enormous bottles of shampoo."

(Okay, so that just made me laugh out loud again.)

The photo shoot was Saturday morning at 10:00. I haven't seen the photos the photographer took yet but I took a ton of pictures and some other people took pictures with my camera. My little grand-nephew, Kaleb, was there and he was such a little cutie-pie, we all took lots of photos of him. My older daughter Ana was just a SAINT with him, but even Jane was amazingly sweet and they kept him occupied for much of the photo shoot and the party. Given that he is three and a study in perpetual motion, this was greatly appreciated by everyone.


Here's a picture of my parents with the four of us kids.

I'll spare you the six million other pictures and just show you this one which is what happened when Kaleb thought the candle on the cake was a cookie. (Which, I might add, is something I have done myself. And I'm 40 years older than he is.)

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Home Again --er--well, Austin Again, Anyway

We're back in Austin. It was a whirlwind trip, I saw my husband for ALMOST 48 hours, there were many, many, MANY pictures taken and one unbelievably dense chocolate cake consumed. A sock was knit and another cast on. I couldn't have been more proud of how my children behaved--seriously. I didn't even bribe them, much.

Tomorrow, my neighbors are holding a coffee in my honor because we're moving starting the following Monday. And the prospective buyers of our house are holding the inspection in hopes that they will find things wrong that cost many thousands of our dollars to fix. After all of that is finished, I'll tell you about our weekend and how fun and heartbreaking it was and how my closest brother stood out in his front yard and waved goodbye to our car until we were out of sight.

Here's a photo to tide you over: