Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Zachary Jones

I never thought I wanted a cat, but in 1997 I realized I missed the company of a pet. This was shortly after Alex and I moved out of a bad third roommate situation, which unfortunately meant leaving the bad roommate's cute cat behind. I wasn't actively looking for a pet after the move, I just happened to be bored at work one random day that August and noticed that a woman had posted something on the company's intranet bulletin board saying she had to give away two of her cats because she was moving. She described one cat, Zachary, as a black and white guy with the sweetest green eyes. For some reason I knew I HAD to have this cat, I turned to one of my co-workers and said "did you see that thing about the cat?" and she said "yeah, I'm totally going to get it." We both sprinted down the hallway to the cat giver's desk and luckily I got there first. She told me I could have Zachary, I just had to pick him up that weekend. I went back to my desk to call Alex and crossed my fingers while I asked him if he wanted a cat.

Alex and I took the commuter rail from Boston to Marblehead that weekend to retrieve our new pet from an unlocked, empty house. No one was there except for three cats. We found Zach in a kitchen cabinet and eventually got him out and struggled to get all 17 pounds of him in the carrier. He cried like a baby (really, he sounded like small child) for the entire 40 minute train ride back into Boston. He continued to cry for the additional 25 minutes to Somerville.

Not being a previous cat owner (and being lazy and not doing any research), I didn't realize that we should have kept Zach in one room for his first few days at the house. Instead we just dropped him off and left him alone for a few hours and in that time he managed to pee on a blanket on the couch and find the most incredible hiding place in the world. He was somehow able to peel back the false baseboard (made of plastic) in the kitchen, get into a small hole under the cabinets and flex the baseboard back to it's original position. Alex was the one who found him, 4 hours later. Until then I was convinced that I had somehow lost an extremely large cat by not seeing him sneak out the door. We left that hiding place open for Zach for awhile, but eventually he decided he didn't need it anymore, most likely because he was very happy under the bed. Over the next few months we found out that Zach did not talk, even though he screamed like crazy on the train, he hardly ever made a peep while not being transported somewhere. He would occasionally make some funny noises while walking about late at night with a fuzzy little pink ball in his mouth, but other than that we called him a mute, he would look at you and open his mouth as if to meow, but no sound ever came out. We also realized that Zach was quite proficient at playing fetch, but only with certain red striped balls, all you would have to say is "where's your ball, Zach?" and it was game on for that cat. He finally got comfortable enough to sleep on the bed with us, in fact, he loved to sleep in between us.

He made the move out to L.A. with us; once again Zach cried like a baby while traveling. Fortunately he was only loud at take off and landing, I'll never forget the business man to my right asking "Is he going to do that the whole time?" All I could say was "I don't know, he's never been on a plane before." Once we got settled into the Valley, Zach was a great porch cat. He liked to hang out on the front awning of our apartment building which was right off our patio and I thought of him as our own personal mascot. Zach wasn't very fond of parties or short term guests, but when we had people stay with us for weeks at a time he really took a shine to them and would often choose the guest bed instead of ours.

He did much better on the move from L.A. to Oakland, which was good, because it was about a 7 hour drive. He adjusted to the cooler weather just fine, but somehow managed to get fleas twice, even though he was an indoor cat. His favorite thing to do in our first Oakland apartment was sit at the window and watch the cat next door. Zach was also a good people watcher and once hissed at a man peeing on our fence, Alex was so proud of Zach that day. He endured 3 moves in the Bay Area and was quite a pro by the last one. While we were in University Village he loved to sit out on the patio and pretend to eat flowers. I was never sure if he was just smelling them or if he enjoyed making me say "seriously, Zachary Jones, cut it out."
Alex and I decided to get Ollie this past summer, we didn't know at the time that Zach had cancer. Ironically about 3 weeks after we brought Ollie home we noticed a lump on Zach and that was basically the beginning of the end. Our new kitten kept getting bigger and Zach kept getting smaller. Last week they were just about the same size. It was eerie.

The past 3 months were hard. After Zach's surgery he was diagnosed with diabetes, which turned out to be transient. Once the diabetes was in control we noticed more tumors, bigger tumors. Zach stopped eating when Alex and I got back from Mexico, I mushed up all his food and smothered it in gravy, but he still wouldn't eat. We started giving him steriods to try to improve his appetite, but he wouldn't even eat bowls of gravy. Then last week while Zach was playing with Ollie he got so winded that he started coughing and they had to be separated all the time. Then Zach started having trouble breathing without physical exertion, he couldn't even move 5 feet without gasping for air. It was very hard to watch. This morning he climbed into bed with me and Alex and as he worked so hard just to breathe, I knew it was time to let him go. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make, but we put Zachary to sleep today.

I miss him so much.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas

Hope Santa leaves something good under your tree.

Friday, December 23, 2005

a tisket, a tasket

I am in no way telling anyone to not get me a gift basket around Christmas time, but I have to admit that if eat anymore processed cheese, gourmet mustard and smoked sausage on water crackers, I think I might get sick.

Alex and I have received 4 boxes full of snacks since last Friday and we haven't cooked dinner since last Thursday. Our gift basket snack consumption has reached levels beyond enjoyable, I would now classify it as chronic. Supplies are getting low, though, things might get real ugly around here by the time Monday rolls around.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Last year this letter showed up in my mailboxand I would have forwarded it to the North Pole, but it was already January. My favorite part is that Omar doesn't even ask for anything, he's just letting Santa know that he's been good (at least in the summer). If only we could all be more like Omar.

A topic that keeps coming up this week is presents from Santa - wrapped or unwrapped? I come from the unwrapped camp; things from parents are wrapped, Santa neatly stacks unwrapped gifts in front of and among the already wrapped things. Because as we all know, Santa is really busy and doesn't have time to wrap your stuff. Also, he believes in conserving paper to help the environment.

Friday, December 16, 2005

photo friday - depth of field

I took a small break from Photo Friday, but now I'm back in the game.
Photo Friday is taking a break next week, which I guess is good, because it buys me some time on the 23rd to finally get some Christmas shopping done. I really should get started on that whole buying gifts thing.

Friday, December 09, 2005

how to disappoint your nephew

1. Buy a gift for your nephew and shove it in a closet for a year.
2. Discover toy in closet when you move and put it in box to ship to nephew.
3. Bring the box containing the toy to your office and let it sit there for a month.
4. Find out from your sister that your nephew has actually been wanting that same exact toy.
5. Finally ship the toy to your nephew without even wrapping it.
6. Have your nephew find out, after waiting over a year for his gift, that the toy does not actually do what is pictured on box.

I was not there to witness the small meltdown in the tub, but apparently these dolphins do not actually make a perfect circle, which is clearly what is making this boy so very happy. They are disobedient dolphins and they will not conform to your circle needs. Damn you, Tomy, for your false circle promises, you made my nephew cry.

The worst part about it all was that I spoke to my nephew on the phone before I talked to my sister about the tub episode and I asked him if he loved the dolphins and he replied "well (long pause), I liiiiiiike the dolphins."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

recipe for disaster, holiday edition

We got a Christmas tree on Sunday, it involved hours of procrastination, shopping for a tree skirt, lengthy discussions of whether a "tree bag" was necessary, purchase of a tree bag, stops at three different tree lots and an embarrassing sappy handed entrance onto an elevator in our building. All of that was followed by bickering about the tree bag, tearing of the tree bag, disposal of the tree bag and finally getting the tree to stand up straight. I think the main problem is that we're out of practice; we usually don't get a tree because we're always 3000 miles away from home on Christmas. The last time we had a tree was in 2001 and I don't remember it being as irritating as it was on Sunday, although I am starting to recall some unpleasant memories having to do with a tree bag. We also lived in a very small apartment and were broke in 2001, so I'm sure the tree we were dealing with was of the Charlie Brown variety, but I've decided to remember it as a 12 foot beauty with dazzling lights and sparkly, magical ornaments. Good thing I didn't own a camera then.

The most difficult thing about having a tree this year (besides getting it in the stand) is that we have a kitten. When we first brought the tree home Ollie was not very fond of it, as a matter of fact he was downright scared of it. I knew it was too good to be true and the fear wouldn't last - this is the same cat who has chewed through wires, pulled a heavy wool rug around the entire apartment and left a mark while trying to attach himself to the floor lamp shade which is 4 feet off the ground. As the hours passed last night, I watched Ollie's fear of the tree fade as he attempted to devour a whole branch and then drag the tree skirt around the living room. The good news is that he hasn't tried to climb the tree, but then again we haven't put the lights on yet.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

the bag is back in town

It made it all the way from Miami right to our front door. No damage, nothing missing. Oh, clothes, how I missed you. Now I'm out of excuses to get out of doing laundry. I knew this day would come.