Not to be confused with John McCain

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.

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20 responses to “Not to be confused with John McCain

  1. HOLY COW, Vicki, you are one surprise after another!! In Asheville, you will be almost within shouting distance of me, so at last we might meet, either here, there, or somewhere in the middle. I can’t believe it!! The first 2 photos would be enough for me to settle on that spot, too. Can’t wait to see more pix!

  2. My head is spinning from just reading all this. First of all, yay for McCloud and yay for getting yourself well again. Secondly, a new home. That’s fantastic. I can’t wait to see more. I know it must be a really special place. Love the story of the python. Sounds fantastic.

  3. I’m glad you consider Florida one of your homes, even if only in the nice weather. I had lunch with a friend at te Shrimp Store Saturday, and I thought ofyou.

    Ah, North Carolina. When the children were younger, and my husband would still take a vacation, we vacationed in Maggie Valley high up and at Lake Junaluska. Sitting on the front porch, I declared, “My corner of heaven will be like this.” Some people would live by the beach. I love the mountains…not getting there, but being there. Glad you’re back for an update.

  4. Mystery solved… Asheville. Now I know… FINALLY. 🙂 Now to go back and read rather than skim…

  5. “Not to be confused with McCain” — I love it! Can’t wait to see the pics of your next HOME.

  6. So, during long absences from your blog, should we just assume you are out buying houses and changing your lives completely? Asheville looks beautiful. It reminds me of a line from a Ginsberg poem about Kerouac who went “…to Asheville to tender Buddha…”

  7. I hear that Asheville has very beautiful yarn; I expect that when you’re done it will also have another stunning home.

  8. Judy- writing about it is the surprise. The doing has been more plan-ful than it sounds!

    Lisalee- McCloud says thank you. I’ll post a picture of him Friday- he might be slim enough to board the ark again.

    Bev- The mountains are that beautiful. Combined with Florida, I’m counting my blessings. I need 4th SSS!

    Keri- Yes, Asheville. Actually, in the mountains outside.

    Barb-Really. PLEASE don’t confuse me.

    Robin- We’re done changing now. Rich is settled into his new work for the next coupla and the new house is in our future. I think Ginsberg lived in Asheville towards the end. Anyway, it looks like that kind of place. There’s a Friday night drumming circle…

    CM- I saw one yarn storefront downtown but I was running so fast I didn’t go in- but yes, it’s a crafty place and I am really looking forward to that part of it.

  9. Mountains and sea, you will have the best of both worlds. I am going to 4th Street Shrimp Store Saturday night with friends. 6:30. Care to join us? Hope you are feeling better. Nothing like a nap with a python to clear the sinuses.

  10. Lord have mercy, as you’ll have to start saying once you move down here!

    You bought a home in my “hood”?

    E-mail me the dets. I’m thrilled for you and Rich. And looking forward to seeing you in the real world some time.

  11. Welcome home.

    I was gonna say more, but that Jillian reference has got me distracted.

  12. Wow. I want to see more of the house.

    I need that cat food diet. I may look big-boned, but I’m really just fat.

  13. Congrats to McCloud for losing weight! And if these pictures are views from the new house I say its well worth it.

    I might be in Chicago in October…I’ll let you know the actual days when the time comes upon me.

  14. NO-NO-NO: Not tomorrow. Next week, the 17th.

    PS Not only a groundhog, but we just had to evict a raccoon who tried to move into the attic. And I hear we may have bats in our belfry, attic, too.

  15. PPS My best friend talks about retiring to the same area, so you may see me down there sometime as well.

  16. Okay. Now that I’ve been gone and back again and had time to devote to this post… I suspect you’ve remained so calm about that job change stress because of all of the YOGA you have been doing. 🙂

    I can’t wait to hear more about the house. And see more. I suspect you’ll be posting photos of the spider. Not so much looking forward to those. I get a little bit gidchy over the crawlier things.

    Congratulations! I’m excited for you. This place isn’t home for me either. I suspect that will be found out in the great southwest. I wonder why? Perhaps obsession has something to do with it? But this is definitely not it.

  17. House? New house? Whatinhell?

    Did you know EdgyMama is an Ashvillean? She’s a swell person, as you must have derived from reading her bloginess.

    So anyway, what’s up with the new house? Does it come with a new job? You are so mysterious…..

  18. I LOVE ASHEVILLE!!!

    I’m coming to visit you, whether you like it or not.

    I’M SO EXCITED!!

  19. So, you bought the Biltmore Estate? I shall hold Tadasana in your honor.

    I have only one humble home but I have a home-away-from-home which is my yoga studio.

    Where Thou art, that, is Home.
    ~Emily Dickinson

  20. I found your blog through Laura (Somewhere in NJ) and I’m so glad I did. My husband and I live in Western NC, outside Brevard. You will love being in the mountains here. We couldn’t be happier.

    I will enjoy reading your archives.

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