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Monday, February 28, 2011

Office Pettiness

I probably shouldn't be working today.

I got a third request for the list of contacts for 1:1 meetings I've been trying to get arranged for a month. The admin assistant needed the updated list. I sent back a note saying I hadn't received any changes but here was the attachment again, thinking all the while "for the third time in a week." The project manager shot back asking if the several changes John had made had been made like the one in the attached example email. I looked at the "sample" email and had no recollection of ever getting it. I dug back through my email and it had come in on Friday. Three weeks after the initial meeting, two weeks after John said there were no changes and my list was correct, he finally came up with some changes Friday. I missed that message. I really wanted to fire back, "No, sorry, I didn't see that email because I was busy planning to put my cat to sleep and a bit too emotionally wrung out to notice that John finally actually turned his attention to this after a month." But I didn't. I made the changes and sent the communications plan back to the list again. Why John couldn't have just updated the document I sent him and sent it back rather than sending them separately in an email I'll never know. Why this was a dealbreaker only I could manage to handle, I have no idea. It's text in a Word document people. Use a little initiative, and if it's really that important, update the damned thing yourself.

Like I said, I shouldn't be here today. I miss my baby kitty. Getting up and getting ready for work without him head butting me and asking for water just sucked and I just don't care about the petty bullshit at the office right now.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

On Pixel

Pixel was a wonder among cats. He walked into our lives at the housewarming in September 2004. My post from back then told it this way:

We did have one rather unexpected guest: a little ginger tabby kitten. While Rick was saying goodbye to his mom, the ginger tabby walked up and Rick tried to shoo him out of the street. When he put his hand down, the kitten rubbed up against it. Not being shooed, Rick picked him up to move him out of the way, and the kitten instantly wrapped an arm around each side of his neck and began purring furiously. Meanwhile, I'm chatting in the kitchen and someone says, "Rick has a cat he wants you to see." I walk out, most puzzled, and am handed a little lost kitten. We got him a can of tuna out of the cupboard, and he proceeded to suck it all down, and still be hungry for more. He has a little purple and white flea collar, but he's clearly a bit lost. The flea collar is sort of old and cracked and sunbleached, and I think he may have been on his own for a while. We eventually set him down and let him head off, but he didn't go far, so we picked him back up and took him inside, fearing for a car coming too fast down the street. More tuna, and a trip to 7-11 for kitty litter, and little Pixel stayed the night.

Since then, Pixel settled in, grew up, and became perhaps the most beloved creature I've ever known. I call him my puppy-cat. He never got the "cats are aloof" memo and routinely greeted me at the door. I'd say, "Who's got a rug?" He'd fling himself down on the rug and want his belly rubbed. He loved belly rubs. Then he'd stand back up and head butt you, all the while purring like this is the best thing that's ever happened to him. And it happened every single day.

He was also unbelievably beautiful. His large regal ears had little tufts of fur on each tip. His ginger coat was a soft shade of orange, not harsh or brassy, but just beautiful. He was a long, lean lion prowling around the house. He was the least food-motivated animal I've ever met. Put down food and he didn't care, especially if he was getting snuggles at the time. Nothing was better than snuggles. Well, okay, the only thing better than snuggles from his people was getting to smell the hair of other people. My hair never held the fascination that Fred's hair or Rachel's hair or Alex's hair held. This cat loved perfumes, and whatever scent came from their shampoo and body combined to make something so intoxicating, he couldn't control himself. We routinely had to warn guests that he was "an aggressively affectionate cat." They didn't understand until he was up on their shoulders, rubbing his face into their hair. He loved people. Nothing made him happier than having folks over.

He never got over his love of the outside. He'd run out the door given half a chance. Herding him back inside was only possible with canned air spooking him into running towards an open door. In his youth, we'd indulge him by taking him out in a little carry-satchel, like a baby bjorn for pets. He loved to go for walks, and everywhere he went, people were amazed by his calm, affectionate behavior. As he grew up, he still loved a good car ride. Sometimes we'd take him out on quick shopping trips just because he loved car rides. He'd curl up in the back seat, preferably in the sun, and happily go anywhere.

In his youth he was a big jumper. He loved feather toys especially. The feather on a string toy could entertain him for hours. When he was very young, he'd jump incredibly high just to get the feather. One time he leaped for it in the kitchen and came down bonking his head on the top of the stove. We freaked out trying to figure out if he was okay and he was just like, "But the feather!!! Gotta get the feather!!!" He was fine. He hit a growth spurt when he was a bit over a year old and seemed to think better of jumping for the feather after that. I suspect his joints hurt him a bit. Given a chance to jump for it on the bed, he was still all over it. Soft landings were the key.

For Pixel, love poured directly out of the sink. Walk into the bathroom and he'd almost always follow. He expected to have the water turned on for him when he hopped up in the sink. Even when he wasn't thirsty, he just wanted to know he was still loved. Sometimes he'd hop down immediately. Most of the time he'd stand there for 10 minutes drinking. We got him a cat water fountain to try to break the habit. When left alone for days, he'd drink from the fountain, but the rest of the time, he wanted it fresh in the thinnest stream possible. When you were there and didn't make it so, he'd cry his little tiny girly mew. When you got it right, he'd look at you like you were the best human ever.

At night, Pixel was convinced he wanted to be under the covers. This usually mean making a tent for him where the covers wouldn't touch his ears, but where he could go explore for a few minutes. He'd curl up under my knees. After no more than 20 minutes, he'd come back out and sleep at the end of the bed, preferably on his favorite knit blanket (the one my grandma made for Lee that I inherited).

Years ago, I stopped buying him presents because his favorite toy wasn't any special toy, it was tissue paper, like the kind that comes in gift bags. He loved to tear it with his mouth. He'd take a corner of the paper and hold the rest under his paws and pull it away until it tore free. Eventually, he got a special box for his tissue paper collection. Few things made him more consistently happy than curling up in there and playing for a bit before taking a nap.

A couple of years ago, I got Leeloo to be his companion. Almost immediately, Leeloo realized that Pixel was the best thing ever. Most days, I came home to the two of them curled up together. She utterly worshipped him. If he was eating, it was a good time to eat. If he was drinking, she should be drinking too. If he curled up in the tissue box, that's where she'd go too. If there was a loud noise, she'd look to see if he freaked out before getting all crazy. If he was fine, she'd go back to sleep. I'm pretty worried about how she's going to do without him.

Pixel died peacefully at home. He's buried in his beloved backyard. We're donating in his name to the UC Davis Center for Companion Animal Health.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Gaskell Ball Committee

Prior to everything with Pixel, I expected the biggest news of the month to be that Erik and I are now officially members of the Gaskell Ball Committee. After 18 years of attending the ball, I'm now one of the folks responsible for making it happen. The committee had two of its longtime members, Ellen and Rory, retire in December and Erik and I were asked to take their place. We'll be helping with the afternoon class and working on publicity. I've been trying to get a handle on the parts and pieces already in motion there via things like Facebook, ZVents, Twitter, a terribly out of date email list, a large paper mailing list, and generally starting to see where things could go. The first surprise was doing the math on paper mailings and figuring out that it was $264 in stamps alone to send out the flyer. Seems like we could make better investments elsewhere, so we'll see if we can convince the rest of the committee that it's time to go all-online (or mostly online) in the next year or two.

The other piece that is missing is a photo library. Oddly enough, the Gaskell Committee lacks a shutterbug, so there's no official pool of photos of the Gaskell Ball for marketing purposes. I'm not quite certain what to do about that for now, but it's on my to-do list for the year.

This Saturday is our first time as committee members. I'm looking forward to shepherding my favorite ball into the next generation.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pixel Update

Pixel went to see the specialist on Monday. She did some tests and told me I should hear back Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest. I waited around Tuesday to take him for follow-up. The results didn't come in til Wednesday morning. I went to work Wednesday and got called out to talk to the vet in my first meeting. He needed to come back for different tests. His lungs were full of white blood cells. It could either be a bacterial infection or FIP. A DNA typing test was required to determine and they needed a fresh sample. So I left work and headed back home and took him in and came home to call into another meeting. I grabbed something quick out of the fridge in the seven minutes before the meeting started because I'd missed breakfast and lunch. After the meeting I got a little work done. Erik picked Pixel up on the way home from West Valley. His lungs were less full than Monday, so that was good. They said it would take about five days for test results. I figured the first I'd hear would be Tuesday after the holiday. He had antibiotics to take in the meantime just in case it was bacterial. I checked with the Marriott to see if we could bring him with us or if I should cancel going to Dundracon. Turns out, for a small cleaning fee, they're happy to have pets, which actually was a big relief. Getting easy access to check on him anytime I wanted (and him getting a little vacation from Leeloo worship) sounded like just the ticket. I went to bed feeling a bit hopeful for the first time in days.

A bit before 5 I woke up with my stomach trying to turn itself inside out. Probably food poisoning. I spent my morning hugging the toilet and lying on the bathroom floor. Eventually I was feeling a little better, so I got up and fed Pixel his antibiotic. About ten minutes later he threw up. I hadn't made sure he ate before feeding that to him. Apparently, it was upset tummy day at the Kooky Kottage. Sigh.

We packed up for DDC and headed up a bit before 4 on Friday. We had a dinner meeting planned at 5:30 so we slogged through traffic up to San Ramon. Really yucky traffic. We barely made it, but we got Pixel up to the room and settled and ran downstairs for dinner. At the end of the meal, we got a call from the vet.

It's FIP. It's fatal. He doesn't have long.

The antibiotics were less of a priority, but a quiet weekend with nothing to do but lounge on the bed was probably just fine. Still, he went from so very happy on Friday, prancing around and greeting us with head bumps and purrs to wheezing on Sunday and not wanting to eat anything. Neither of his doctors are in the office because of the holiday, so we came home today and he's lounging here. We'll talk to them both tomorrow. This probably won't be long.

There's no treatment for FIP. When he gets to suffering too much, we'll arrange to have Adobe's staff come help him let go.

He's the best cat ever. He doesn't deserve this. I genuinely don't know how Leeloo is going to make it without him. When I walked back to the bed to collect Pixel on Friday, they were curled up together again. She utterly worships him.

So that's how things are. I had more than my fair share of happy times in 2010. Every roller coaster has its ups and downs. I just wish that it didn't have to be Pixel. He's the sweetest guy ever and deserves nothing more than a long, happy life, but a short, happy life will have to do.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


So Pixel was a little off a few weeks ago. He bounced back, so we didn't worry too much. He started being off again this week. On Thursday, I got him an appointment for Saturday afternoon. Last night he was breathing heavily. This morning he tried to throw up.

We took him in to see Dr. Knowles. He wanted chest films and maybe an ultrasound. He thought maybe it was pancreatitis. The chest film showed fluid around his lungs. The ultrasound showed the fluid around his heart, but there was something else. A bump on the edge of his left ventricle. We moved out to the big ultrasound machine and shaved some fur. The left ventricle has some sort of growth. The doctor said, "I need to refer you to a specialist. This is beyond what I want to touch." If we're lucky, it's just a problem with his heart. If not, he's got a cancerous growth on his heart.

We're going to see about getting in to see the specialist on Monday. We have to keep an eye on him in the meantime. If he gets into trouble, we take him back to Adobe so that they can put him on oxygen til the specialist can see him.

Also, this week is fired.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Family is Family

Wow. I look forward to this man doing great things.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Trimming Down

After the hustle and bustle of wedding and Dickens Fair, it was time to get serious about peeling off a few pounds so that I could fit into the summer dresses in my wardrobe. I love my clothes and hate not getting to wear them. So, with that in mind, I looked into several options (Daily Plate, My Fitness Pal, etc.) and settled on (bought by LiveStrong). It has a great interface that lets me type a partial search and instantly displays matches and it has a huge database that includes darned near everything Trader Joe sells. I was entering stuff into it, not realizing how well it would tap into Erik's gamer sense. Before I knew it, and without any particular intention to do so, he was tracking along with me, and the net result is that we're both eating better and more consciously. Instead of succumbing to Pizza My Heart, we're having a burrito bowl from Chipotle. Losing the tortilla alone is worth 290 calories!

After four weeks, we're both down about five pounds. Heading to Vegas, we decided to take a full break from tracking and eat whatever we wanted. It turned out, we were doing so much walking, that didn't really matter much, save for that we were eating way more than before, and far richer foods than we have for a month or so. Honestly, by Sunday I was missing my diet. I felt sluggish, bloated, and gassy. Tummy pooch that had been reduced to supple curves was back to it's usual flabby look. We both went to bed last night feeling too full. It's funny how a little break will help you stay on track in the long run just because we feel better running a little leaner.

So today, I'm back to my lovely Oatmeal Complete with ground flax for breakfast and homemade turkey soup for lunch. Here's hoping that I'll peel another five pounds off this month and be back to pretty dresses for the spring!