It’s five-thirty a.m. and by the light of the closet, I just said to Rich, who is wearing wool pants and coat instead of jeans, “You look nice.” He said, “I have a conference call today.”
Not that he woke me up. I was up at five a.m. to fax a bat problem form to the realtor in N.C. And then I took time to feed McCloud his morning ration before climbing back in bed. And as long as I’m awake, I’m stopping by with a few updates. It’s not a good sign when you’re too guilty to look at your own blog page.
Biggest Losers, Feline Edition and other major life changes
I think people find their own style when it comes to marital bliss (or at least, calm). Rich and I were both very independent for quite a while, each of us making mostly good decisions about careers, child rearing and life, in general. As a result, we’re both sort of stubborn know-it-alls and we don’t like being told what’s what. Around here I pretty much let Rich’s opinions go unchallenged (he might not agree) but wherever absolutely necessary, I do an end run around him and of course, I make the final decision of what’s necessary around home and family. (Kidding. We discuss.) He’s also one of the first men I’ve ever met who is totally immune to nagging but, surprisingly, he remains calm when he looks up and finds, say, a new home on the books.
When I last wrote, Rich was in the middle of leaving perfectly good employment, at least in the ways that I think of good employment- paycheck, health and retirement- with unsolidified plans to maybe join another company here in Chicago. Did this make me anxious (the queen of ‘NOTHING should change, EVER’)? Setting aside that it’s only the worst economy in decades and we’re only a few years from retiring (when we will either drive each other mad or find connubial nirvana, I’m really not sure which) but all that shifting paperwork will fall to me and interfere with MY life. Still, because of his track record, I trust Rich in all matters work so I did a fairly admirable job of taking deep breaths, losing sleep quietly and trying to hum like an alpaca during the day. He had been doing that work upheaval thing for a couple months so finally I said, okay, enough, let’s get out of here for a few days and go fly fishing and see what we think of the Asheville area. 9 times out of 10, I say let’s go somewhere and he says, “Can’t. Work.” but because, at bottom we are good with each other he knew it was time and he said, “Yes, let’s.” So we went off and stayed on the French Broad River by the Blue Ridge in a teeny tiny log cabin with everything we needed. One morning, we couldn’t get off the little log porch because there was a spectacular, dew covered web with a BIG attractive orange spider in it- I am pretty sure it was a six-spotted fishing spider. Spiders fascinate me but I cut them a wide berth.
Fay had dumped some rain on the area-finally- and the river was high and fast so the fishing wasn’t very good in any case. Instead we bought a home.
A home, not a house
Before you lose count of my kitchens, remember that the Chicago brickhouse doesn’t count as a home in my mind. The neighbors, friends, zoo, parks- but not this house. This is where I live while I wait to go home. Back in Michigan, I had my home in Ann Arbor and then Wit’s End. Both were sold to move here for work. For the past two years, I’ve had this brickhouse and my home in Florida. In the winter, I escape to my home in Florida, but love Florida as I do, I’m not ever planning to spend those hot months there. Another distinction: the Chicago brickhouse is heavily mortgaged and completely tied to work-a-day life and income. Homes are not heavily mortgaged or mortgaged at all, if possible. One is synonymous with retirement, the other is not. I hope that’s all clear.
In any case, I found our home. Our last home, the one we will leave to the children. This is the one we will retire to, going to Florida for the same months as now. I have always done a pretty good job of picking both houses and the couple of homes I’ve had. When looking, it’s usually a matter of no, no, not this one, no, ACK!, no, never, YES. THIS is it. Because Rich trusts me in all matters home, he sat in the back of the realtor’s car as we drove around steadily for three days and I didn’t even hear him gasping for air or humming. And when, on the 2nd to last day, I got out of the car and surveyed the hilltop and said, YES. THIS is it. then Rich said yes, I believe you’re right.
In other news
Then I came back to Chicago with the worst cold I’ve had in five years but, after 8 days, it’s finally going away. The first day back I worked at the zoo because it was Labor Day and while there were thousands of visitors there were only a few of us to work. Then I really took a dive last Tuesday. Yesterday I was back at the zoo and it was the quietest day in memory. Rainy and chilly, we had hardly anyone come to see the animals so in the afternoon, during Animal of the Hour, the giant ball python just curled up against me and went to sleep. It was quite nice really, standing there, just Belle and me. She knows she has a good labor union so at the end of her time she stretched out a bit and came up to give me a few snake kisses as though to say, “Well, I’m off the clock. Back under my log please.”
Oh. And where this post started. For a while Rich and I sparred over whether his cat was fat or merely big-boned. Rich has actually delighted in the size of McCloud and I have to admit that his exceptionally sweet personality combined with his massive handsome girth is very attractive. Still. The cat was in a close race with the newsworthy Princess Chunk. A couple months ago, McCloud had about four days of very listless behavior and he was peeing far more than usual. I said to Rich that I thought the cat was on the verge of diabetes and I was not going to be the one hauling him down the alley to Compassionate Overpriced Animal Hospital (although, in fact, we know that I am the one who does this kind of thing). Rich mumbled something about “maybe. But he’s mostly just really big boned.”
Jillian doesn’t hold a candle to me and McCloud and I have both been on diets. Since he is at my mercy, his diet is working very well. I switched him to all protein, no gluten, no grain, no carb wet food (Wellness brand) and put him on regular amounts three times a day rather than a constant dish of dry food, which Sophie does very well with. In seven weeks he has lost 10% or 2 and 1/2 pounds. He still weighs 20 pounds but he’s much more active, alert, shiny and clean. The funniest thing is that he goes and stands next to the scale in the bathroom and meows loudly in the morning because he knows that he gets weighed and then fed. So, even though it’s a bit stinkier, I endorse putting your fat cats on a protein wet diet and sticking to it.
Tomorrow or Thursday, once I have your full attention back here, I would like to consult you about bats, bats in your belfry and bat houses. And I promise, promise, promise to post more pictures of the house and one of me and Wren who is coming from Ann Arbor. We’re going out to dinner tomorrow night. Tra-la.