Category Archives: From the Management

Happy Birthday, America


(Picture by jcolman)

Happy New Year!


Photo by Amit (Sydney)

Happy Birthday, America!


(Picture by BL1961)

In Memoriam: Schrödinger (1989-2009)

image Schroe has been a part of my family for nearly half of my life.  Russell found her wandering the streets during our senior year of college, when we were roommates in an off-campus apartment, and brought her home.  She was just a tiny thing at the time, small enough that I could pick her up with one hand, with her front legs touching my index finger, and her hind legs touched my pinky.

When I wrote about Spot, I said that he was temperamentally more like a dog than a cat.  Not so with Schrödinger.  If anything, she was the archetype of a cat: poised and independent.  A friend once said that she looked like the perfect cartoon representation of a girl cat, with her long flowing hair and regal demeanor.  She wasn’t into people food, and wasn’t as overtly 2005-09-06 15-36-45. affectionate as Spot.  She sought attention more selectively, and rarely accepted it from strangers.  Yet somehow, she always managed to convey the impression that she considered me hers.  She was stubborn.  For most of her life, if she was annoyed with you, or you picked her up when it wasn’t her idea to visit, no amount of coaxing or cajoling would elicit a purr.  It was her way or the highway; there was just no winning her over.  When I brought Spot into the house, she gave me the cold shoulder for months.  In recent years, though, she mellowed a bit, and would even seek out the attention of house guests.  I wondered if she had at some point concluded that life was too short to quibble when the situation called for a nice scratch behind the ears. 

And life is indeed too short.  At 19 years old, nearly 20, Schroe was a very senior cat, and to all appearances, until perhaps a year ago, the picture of health.  Around that time, she started slowing down a bit, and becoming less attentive about grooming.  I could tell she was starting to feel the weight of the years.  Still, she would bounce up and down the stairs at will, and remained unquestionably the queen of her castle as far as the other cats were concerned.  Last winter, before Christmas, she started to lose weight, and in time, blood work revealed her liver and kidneys were giving out on her.  Kidney and liver failure are quite common in older cats, and symptoms don’t tend to show until something like 70 percent of the organs’ function is gone.  For Schroe, the diagnosis came late.

A week ago, we put her on subcutaneous fluids, the administration of which she endured with impressive patience, but the toxins in her system continued to build, and her red cell count continued to drop.  She had a seizure on Wednesday, which was scary and heartbreaking, and really took the wind out of her sails for the rest of the day.  A follow up blood panel at the vets office told us that all of her numbers had gotten worse.  She had developed jaundice, and her eating had slowed to almost nothing.  She could barely move.  By all accounts, as her condition progressed, things were likely to get even worse, with more seizures, and in the end, possible congestive heart failure.  I wanted to spare her that.

09-0319 012And so I spent as much time as I could with her… gave her water from tuna cans as a treat, which despite her apparent lack of appetite she slurped down happily, and took her outside to play in the yard that she used to study so curiously from the front window.  Willful to the end, though she struggled to walk and had to pause to rest every ten feet or so, she still managed to explore the entire yard, and make across the two of the neighbors lawns before I decided it was time to carry her back to familiar territory.  On Friday morning, we made her final trip to the vet, and Schroe fell asleep as I petted her, resting her head on my hand as I held her, and scratched under her chine one last time.  And so I said goodbye to another tiny friend, who has left behind many wonderful memories, and a little hole in my heart.  I hope she was at peace at the end.

In Memoriam: Spot (1992-2009)

image I was working nights near Los Angeles in 1992, financing my post-baccalaureate studies doing clerical work at the Dreyer’s Ice Cream plant in Commerce.  It was a temp job, but a convenient gig at the time, giving me an opportunity to continue with school full time during the day while fulfilling my long-standing dream of returning to live in California, where I had lived briefly as a teenager.  I would drive to the factory late in the evening, work through the night, and return to my place most mornings just before sunrise.

One morning, as I approached the stairs to my second floor apartment, I saw an orange flash as something ran across my path.  Always a sucker for strays, I went to investigate.  Hiding in the bushes, and staying carefully out of reach, was a small orange cat.  For at least half an hour, I coaxed, and cajoled, and here-kitty-kittied in an attempt to make friends.  It was slow going, but a can of cat food finally sealed the deal, and the cat let me close enough to pet him. 

As it happened, I already had a cat, and my fondness for animals aside, I was not sure I could afford to take on a second one.  I couldn’t bring myself to leave the cat to his own devices, however, so I compromised: I put bowls with food and water outside the door to my apartment, and went about my business.  That’s how it always begins, of course.  For a week, I would come home from work, and without fail, there would be the kitten, rushing out of the bushes, shyness forgotten, to rub up against my legs, and purr, and of course, insist that the bowls be refilled.  After a week or so, I finally gave in, and took him inside to join the family.

Spot was an unfailingly gentle cat, always good-natured, and in many ways more like the stereotype of a dog than a cat.  He was never aloof with me, always eager for attention, and always happy for people food.  (Cheese slices and fast food chicken were among his favorite things in life.)  Once we got past that first meeting, he was unwaveringly trusting of me, but he remained timid around other for many years, rushing to hide in the cupboards under the bathroom sink at the first hint of a knock at the door.  He endured many moves, and many business trips, and was always waiting just inside the door when I returned home, a constant companion.    He loved being held and petted, and he would refuse to be ignored when he had decided it was time for attention.  He was not above clambering over my keyboard or sitting on my mouse if that’s what it took to distract me from my work.  On cold nights, he would squeeze his way under the comforter on my bed and sleep underneath, between my feet.  Once I moved to Houston, I had house guests more frequently, and in time, he became more accepting of company, coming out to say hello when my nieces and nephew would visit.

Three and a half years ago, Spot fell ill, and a trip to the vet determined he had become diabetic.  Diabetes can be a treatable condition in cats, and with the help of my family, we put him on daily insulin and nursed him back to relative health.  After six months or so, the diabetes vanished, and after month of testing, his blood sugar remained within the normal range for cats.  The worst, we hoped, was over.  As the months passed, Spot failed to gain his weight back, and struggled with digestive problems that my vet was never able to satisfactorily treat.  But his weight was stable, and I was happy that he remained a happy little cat.

Recently, we noticed he was losing weight again, and a couple of weeks ago, it became evident that his health was deteriorating once more.  He stopped appearing at the door when I arrived home, and he began to struggle when trying to climb into a chair or onto the bed.  I finally took him to an urgent care clinic for some fluids, and took him to the vet for further diagnosis.  After several office visits and a trip to a specialist, I finally had a diagnosis.  Spot had developed lymphosarcoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system.  With his health so compromised, chemotherapy was not an option, and even if it had been, it would be expected to extend his life by only weeks.  After so many years, our travels together had finally come to an end.  Spot drew his last breath late this afternoon.

Life is full of chance encounters large and small, and you never know what may come of them.  I know there are many people who hold their pets at a certain emotional distance, but I have never been one of those people.  Spot and I were both very lucky on that morning long ago; he enriched my life greatly over the years, and I did my best to return the favor.  Seventeen years is a pretty good run for a cat, but I’d give a lot to spend a few more with him around.  I miss him terribly, even as I am grateful for the time we had.

So long, kitty.

2009, Here at Last!

Happy New Year!


(Photo by spud)

Merry Christmas from Cuz We Said So

May your holidays be warm, safe, and a joy to remember!

Oh Christmas Tree

(Photo by mang maning)

This Year’s Tree

This Year's Tree

Some Minor Tuning to the Site This Week…

There are a couple of minor cosmetic tweaks…

  • There’s now a drop down, instead of plain links, to the author archive pages.
  • The “archives by month” drop down now includes all the archive pages, including the ones from our original Movable Type site, not just the Typepad archives.

…and we’ve updated the site to utilize the Disqus comments system on all posts from 2008 that didn’t already have comments on them.  Disqus seems like a pretty nice setup, though I’m still fairly new to it.  They’ve already made some nice enhancements to their service since first making it public, so I’m looking forward to seeing what other features they’ve got up their sleeves.

So, I’m trying to pack…

..I grab a shirt and turn around to see:

So, I'm trying to pack...