Thursday, November 26, 2015


It's Thanksgiving today, Thursday 11/26/2015. Currently you are at your Nana's with the rest of the family, eating probably about a ton of good food (as you should be) :)

My first picture of Simon
I'm having a bit of a quiet day. A couple of good friends invited me to share their Thanksgiving, but I'd prefer to be by myself today. We'll have our Thanksgiving tomorrow, but today I'm not good company.

The day before yesterday I took Simon to the vet. There had been a number of odd behaviors, each one of which meant little in itself, but taken together, they indicated something was seriously wrong: Simon had always been first to the door to greet me when I got home, and lately was arriving late, if at all. She had stopped sleeping up on the bed, nestled near me and spent most of her time under your bed. She had started missing the litter box - not unknown.. on occasion she would walk the front half of her body in, but leave the "business end" outside. But now it was a regular event for her to pee just beside the box as though she just didn't have the strength to step over the side). And most telling - she had stopped eating. At first I thought it was just because she wanted the soft food I give Duncan (who is missing some teeth), so I began giving her that. But then she stopped eating that - and it became evident she was losing weight. Lots of weight.

So I made an appointment with the vet. Simon HATES the carrier and has always been fearful of anything new, so I hated to do it, but something was so obviously wrong. You and I practiced with her for two days before. You came up with the stratagem of  placing a trail of treats into the box. And for two days it worked like a charm... she walked into the box.

At 1:30 on 11/24 I took off from work and came home. Duncan greeted me first, but I put her in the spare bedroom for the time being. Eventually Simon came down the hall to greet me - slowly. I out out the treats, but after nosing them, she turned away. I finally had to pick her up and put her in the carrier. What was most alarming was the fact that she let me.

And off we went.

She was so good at the vet, nuzzling the doctor and presenting her head to be petted. They drew some blood and said they would be back in about ten minutes with the results. Simon settled down on my jacket while I petted her and talked to her and she purred.

And the results were that it was cancer. The doctor said that he could pump her full of fluids to take care of the dehydration, but that ultimately there was nothing ahead for her but pain.

And that was something I was not going to allow happen.

A year of two before you were born, when your Mom and I lived way out in the country, one chilly, pre-dawn morning I was out with Wicker, letting her take her first pee of the day. And out of the dark woods came a gray kitty. She and Wicker looked at each other, carefully touched noses, and then - some unspoken agreement having been made - both went about their business. And while Wicker looked endlessly for the perfect pee spot, the gray kitty rubbed against my legs and purred.

And the next day, we went through the same ritual of sniffing and purring. And the next. And the next.

In fact, any time I was outside, my little gray shadow would appear. When I was working in the garden, she would follow me until I knelt down in in one spot to work, whereupon she would lie down a foot or two away and doze contentedly in the sun.

My two babies
That continued until one morning, as I reached to pet her, Simon backed away. A further (careful) examination showed that something had attacked her - her hindquarters had been badly raked. Somehow your mother and I got her in the carrier and got her to a vet, who cleaned the wounds to prescribed a salve. And for the next several weeks, Simon lived indoors with us and Wicker while she healed.

And when the healing was complete, I opened the front door to give her her freedom. Simon, sleeping in a sunbeam in the dining room, raised her head, looked out the front door, then turned her head to look directly at me as if to say "Are you out of your damned mind???" Then back down and went to sleep.

Older babies
And so Simon came indoors to stay. And became my shadow - for she was unquestionably MY cat. She was fine with everyone else, but I was her preferred human and she wanted to be wherever I was.

All she asked from life was food and affection. Your mama called her the "the Lap Shark" because once you sat down, she would begin to circle.. and the next thing you knew you had a purring cat in your lap. She LOVED to have her ears rubbed - although she was also prone to present her belly for attention as well. And unlike Duncan, who arrived later, she could never get enough.

Guarding Dad
She was there when I was sick. She was there when I was lonely. She was there when your mama left, and there when we moved. If I came home, she would rush to greet me. If I laid down, she would snuggle in next to me. If I sat, she would be in my lap (if I got up and came back she would be in my spot soaking up the residual warmth and would quack in annoyance when I made her move).

She did not like it when we left her alone to visit your grandmother. On at least one memorable occasion, when we got home she came running but stopped dead a few feet away. When I reached to pet her, she backed up - just out of my reach. When I moved forward, she would back up again - never breaking eye contact. After about an hour of this, she decided I had been punished enough and allowed me to make up with her.

Although mostly Russian Blue, she was not purebred and showed signs of other breeds. When she would come to me for her first petting of the morning, her tail - held straight in the air - would vibrate with excitement. And on those occasions, ever so briefly, you could glimpse faint black and gray stripes running from the tip to about six-eight inches in. I used to love that. And I think she may have had a touch of Siamese, as I never met another cat who was so vocal. Unlike Duncan, who pretty much just meows, Simon seemed  to carry on conversions, with a wide, articulate range of barks and quacks, and trills. She talked you you especially, and the two of you used to sometimes sit for 10-15 minutes talking back and forth.

How we ended most days
She rarely played (although sometimes early in the morning she would stalk my feet under the sheets), ignored the catnip and toys we bought her, and despite having a nice fluffy bed, preferred to sleep in my laptop case

The only misbehavior she ever displayed, was with garbage. Apparently her time "on the street" left her with a need to steal food (even if she had just been fed) and I could not leave the kitchen trash back unattended for any length of time without finding the side ripped open and various nasty things pulled out.

My last picture of her
But that was it. She was patient and tidy and loving. Wherever I went, and whatever I did, she was always close by, my little sweet shadow. And so we grew old together, she and I, good and comfortable friends. Most evenings ended with me, a good book, and a dozing kitty snuggled beside. She was always there for me.

Until last Tuesday, when I needed to be there for her.

They gave her a sedative, and I stoked her head while she slowly drifted off to sleep. The vet asked if I wanted to step away while they gave her the last shot. But that is not what a friend does. I had promised her I would be with her to the end, and so I continued to stroke her head and talk to her until finally she had slipped away across the black sands.

I went back to work to finish out my shift. And when I came home, for the first time in a dozen years, there was no one to greet me. I gathered the shovel and carried her out back where I laid her to rest in the garden outside my window next to Wicker.

I held it together till I got back inside, then I sat on the kitchen floor and keened. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015


Summer has just officially ended and Autumn has begin. The grass has stopped growing (thank god) and while the leaves have not begun to change color, some are beginning to fall.

It's been a time of changes. Your Mom and Travis moved to a new house. At the moment Max is teaching you the meaning of the phrase "terrible twos". And you've started Middle School.

Since we had no real options in which school, I worked hard to make sure you made it into the Montessori program, where I thought you would make the easiest transition. And U of L offered a week-long summer learning event that took place at your new school, which I signed you up for. I figured if you spent a week in the building and around the teachers and some of your classmates, that the first day of school would be much less stressful for you. It took the help of our neighbors and the tolerance of my boss to get you to and from it, but you enjoyed it and I think it helped.

First Day of middle school, Aug 2015
And the school itself had three days of orientation - one that I went to with you, and two that you went to by yourself. So that all in all, by the first day of school, things were already pretty familiar. It's our first year since you started public school that we've not depended on the YMCA CEP program. You've been coming home on the bus and being a "latch key kid" till I get home. Still too early to tell how that's working out.

It's unfortunate that most of your friends from Middletown ended up going to another school. But knowing that was going to be the case, I got you and iPod so that you could keep in touch. Of course you wanted a phone, but I wanted something I had a measure of control over so that I had at least a chance of scaling your growing autonomy to your growing maturity. Jury is still out on that one.

And you've transitioned into a tween. It was like somebody threw a goddam switch. Once day you were my Moiya and we played around. And the next day you were some stranger who wanted nothing to do with me. BAM! We moved out your doll house and all your dolls and banished all the pink from your room. (Sigh) You may have been done with your childhood, but I wasn't. So it goes.
Some days are better than others. For some reason this past week you were just a complete and utter asshole. If I had a nickel for every time you screamed "LEAVE. ME. ALOOOOOONE!!!" and slammed the door to your room shut, I'd....  well... I had a bunch of nickels.

Fortunately, we had some good times before then.

We went to the state fair...

We saw a really good production of Peter Pan at Derby Dinner Theater with your Mom and Travis.

We got a surprise pumpkin plant when the remains of our Halloween pumpkins which I threw on the compost heap germinated in the spring and promptly took over the plot that I was going to turn into a garden this year.

We went to WorldFest, but only lasted an hour. Unlike he last two years when we got rained on, this year it was unbearably hot.

Though while we were standing on the Belvedere enjoying the breeze coming off the river and watching the Belle pull away from the shore, you reminded me that we hadn't had our annual buffet cruise.  So last week we did that. :)

Our souvenir picture

Sitting in the bow of the Belle and facing into a stiff, cold breeze
Focused at the belt test
And after your last belt test in July, unfortunately we had to say goodbye to Hwang's Martial Arts. I would have given anything to keep you there, but Master Hwang was bleeding me dry, having charged me $800 for 6 months and wanting another $1,440 for you to stay another year.

Your Mom was there at your belt test and for a time I thought she was going to agree to split the cost. But she got spooked by doing so on top of buying a house. And since I could not cover the cost on my own, we had to say goodbye, and I went in search of someplace I could afford.

I had about given up when my friend Lisa put me onto someone she knew. So we're now enrolled in Mission Martial Arts. We've only had two lessons so far, and it's not as loud, frenetic, or grand as Hwangs.. but at $50 every two months, we can afford to keep going for as long as you want.

And that's it for now.. so many changes. Off to bed I go. Got to get my rest to deal with my stroppy tween daughter tomorrow. ;)

I love you. Never doubt that.

Sunday, June 7, 2015


Busy month, May 2015

I'm not even sure I recall all the things we did. I Know we went to the How To Festival at the downtown library - though we didn't have as much fun as we'd had last year. We waited too late in the day and missed all the best topics. Still, we got to learn some magic tricks.

The middle of the following week (on a Thursday) we went to see the Ringling Brother's circus. You had asked not long before when we would go to the circus and the next day there was an advert in my inbox. So I reserved seats and off we went.

You had a choir concert at school, but there's no pictures of it here because you were behind 47,000 other people.

Belt test was that weekend, and so I borrowed you from your Mom for the day and you tested for your green. Afterwards we jumped in the car and went across the river to Derby Dinner to catch a play (and do a mini-birthday celebration a week early). And then we went BACK across the river so you could attend a friend's birthday party at Champs Roller Rink. And the BACK BACK across the river again to take you to your Mom.

On the 24th, we celebrated your birthday as you had requested, with a party at Hwang's Martial Arts. You got to be blackbelt for a day and cut your cake with a katana.

Since your Mom and Travis were in the middle of house-hunting, I got to have you for a third weekend in a row and you had a sleepover with your friends Abbigail and Arianna. After pizza and left-over ice cream from the party, y'all managed to talk me into taking you to the roller rink which I hoped would wear you the hell out by the time I brought you home at 11 p.m. 

It didn't work. You were up till 8 a.m.

And then as the month slid into June, you had your 5th grade graduation. You weren't up for any awards because (as we found out later) you had basically blown off the last few weeks of school and blew your straight As. But that knowledge was still in the future. The ceremony was nice, if emotional. You were beautiful. And Max was well-behaved :)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

One Year

It occurs to me that I've been neglectful. I tend to look back and write about the rare emotional upheaval or "important event". But in transcribing the old blog to House of the Flying Mermaid 2 I realized that I used to record the day-to-day things.. the events that really make up life. And somehow I feel out of that habit.

So to compensate, here - in condensed format - is our past year, from April 2014 to April 2015.

It has been an eventful year. On the plus side, we got you out of crappy Klondike Elementary and into Middletown Elementary where despite your initial fears, you have flourished. You gained confidence, got (and stayed) on the honor role and made friends, becoming happy, popular, and successful. I only wish we had moved you sooner.

On the down side, it was the year your Mom and Larry broke up. And while that has gone more smoothly that I had feared it might, I know that it has been so very very hard on you. You like to say that you're fine, that it doesn't bother you - but I know otherwise. 

So.. we went to Disney for our second time!

I wanted to give you a happy memory. And generally speaking, I think we managed it much better this time. We saw more. We did more. We argued less. And over all, I think it was one of the happiest times I can ever remember having. I'd take us back tomorrow if I could.

And when the collector's pins we bought were stolen on day at school, my friends banded together and got you about twice as many as you had had originally!

Over the summer, we visited St. Louis and went to the City Museum and climbed and explored all the strange and wonderful places in that bizarre place. The first time we went it was winter and cold and so we confined ourselves to the indoors. But this year we went outside and explored the roof and slid down slides as long as three stories (well, you did. My fat butt wouldn't fit)

 We went to World Fest again and watched dancers and musicians from different countries. And once again I tried (unsuccessfully) to get you to try foods more exotic than nachos and corn dogs.

And then just as you finished getting your face painted were caught in a HUGE and violent thunderstorm. We huddled under a tent (watching other tents blow away) while low-hanging clouds swirled like waves around the downtown buildings. And when the downpour lightened briefly, we ran for the refuge of the parking garage under the Belvedere, and sat there, watching the rain, eating snow cones, and giggling.

We went to the How-To Festival at the downtown library, did fun stuff - played games, made a phenakistoscope, made balloon sculptures, watched square dancers, ate more bad food. And when we left we got caught in a huge downpour on the way back to the car (which was blocks away) so that we were utterly soaks. So when we got home, we each jumped into a hot bath in our respective bathrooms.
And since the rooms are back-to-back were able to hammer our messages on the walls :)

We'll be going again next week. I can't wait to see what things we discover this time

This was also your first exposure to Tae Qwon Doh. You were quite taken with it and I promised that before the year was out, we'd manage to get you some lessons.

We went to the circus a few time, and continued to attend Derby Dinner Theater regularly

You had your tenth birthday party and at your own insistence, guests drew chances to smoosh cake in your face. Wicker and Spike were delighted at getting to clean up the mess

And I made you this

We went to the State Fair as we do every summer where as usual, we rode rides and ate terrible food.

And in between throughout the warm months, we flew kites, we played on playgrounds

And had squirt-bottle wars
(Fort Moiya below)

 And sometime we were just silly

 The year had it's sad moments. Wicker was sick and deaf and blind. And when you Mom decided to move to Indiana, we decided that it was time to help her to her end. Duncan would have gone the same way since your Mom insisted that she was very ill. But Larry convinced we to take her to a vet, who pronounced her fit. 

So we took her into our little family, and began the LONG process of trying to convince Simon that Duncan was not there to eat her. We divided the house in half with pet gates (which we had to climb over 1000 times a day) and used towels to keep them from seeing each other except when they ate. Gradually there was less and less hissing, and finally after about four months the gates came down and there was peace at last in Eagan-land.

In the new school year, I spent a lot of my time taking you to school events and hanging out while you socialized. We went to about a million school fundraisers, skating parties and basketball games.
This was the beginning of my transition from playmate to background. I soon learned to bring a good book and sit where I was not visible to your friends, but could still keep an eye one you.

The first Middletown skating party we went to, you were too terrified to get out on the rink, so I arranged skating lessons for you over the summer and by the time the school started their skating party fundraisers in 2014-15, you were cool and in control. I was very proud to see how you grew  :)

As Fall settled in, we hit MULTIPLE events. In a once-in-a-lifetime event it was the Belle of Louisville's 100th birthday and I wanted us to be part of it. So we boarded one of the visiting steamships and ate ice cream while we became part of a six paddlewheeler flotilla cruising up and down the Ohio River.

We discovered the Tom Sawyer Park Fall Festival, which was right by the house and free. They have face painting, pumpkin decorating, inflatables, s'mores, live music, hay rides, and assorted games.

And we discovered the Brown Park Fall Festival - a little further off, and with a line than went for blocks. But there was lots of Trick-or-Treat candy to be had.

And as we usually do, we hit the Zoo Halloween Party, for the first time taking Max with us :)

Carving our pumkpins

Winter came, and your Mom and I had your pictures taken..

And while band didn't pan out for you, you stuck with choir and did your first concert in December 2014. Actually this was your second performance. The first was on a rainy night at the Middletown civic center as part of the Light Up Middletown Christmas festivities. It was notable primarily for the disruption provided by placard-waving protesters who decided it was a good opportunity for them to protest police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri.

No, it didn't make much sense then either. 

But the Holiday Concert at your school was delightful :)

You had THREE Christmases this year, First at your Mom's house with Max. Then I took you to Larry's house for Christmas there. Then we came home and had our Christmas. I'm sure it was hard on you.. hell, it was hard on everybody. But everyone worked together to make the day as pleasant for everyone as possible


And in January, I finally was able to keep my promise and you started your first Tae Kwon Doh lessons. Sadly, I could only manage to scrape together the funds for six months of training, but as of this writing you are about to take your green belt. Hopefully the future will bring some way for us to continue.

Aaaand here we reach our close - back at April again. The finances have been tight and haven't recovered as I had hoped since our last trip to Disney, so it just wasn't in the cards this year. But we were able to spend a few days over Spring Break at Big Splash Adventure in French Lick :)