Casts and hairballs, part one

I am sitting here on the porch, basking in the sun and warmth, sighing deeply and looking with relief towards the end of this year. It was a harrowing trip south, in sub-zero temperatures with all possible variations on foul weather. Back in Chicago it snowed a lot, then it rained, then the temps dropped precipitously and the winds picked up. Ice banks froze in the alley and the streets and that made loading the U-Haul headed for Asheville a miserable mess. As soon as the door was closed on that, Rich and Dan and Melissa climbed in the car, the two cats were stuffed, highly indignant, through the windows and they started the drive south. The weather never improved, it was still freezing when they arrived on our mountain near Asheville at 2 am and here’s a surprise: There’s no ambient light from skyscrapers, neighboring condos or helicopters. Why, it was pitch black and how nice is that, except on this particular occasion?

In Asheville, Sophie, who travels contentedly in a lap, caught whiff of what? The bear that has clearly claw marked our terrace chestnut as his own? and became instantly feral, Cloudy moaned and moved into the litter box, the grown children whined, Rich cursed at the frozen lock box that held the house key and lest you think I missed out on this adventure, no. They called me repeatedly at 2 am, 215 am, 3 am, 33o am, 430 am with demands for magic keys, 24 hour motels that would accept crazy cats and divine intervention of any sort. I had nothing to offer so they made due, broke in , slept on the floor while the cats went crazier, unloaded and dropped the trailer and finished the drive south.

I stayed back, whipped the house into shape for the realtor, packed and fed-exed last minute items including Christmas stockings, handknit scarves, socks and mittens. I picked up the Honey Bear ham for Christmas dinner and shipped that off as well and then closed out my year at the zoo in minus 3 degrees. Only the seal sisters and the polar bears braved the Lake Michigan winds. I did my last traveling zoo to the Japanese- American senior center and shared Meatball, the armadillo, with the residents. And then, I was off like a prom dress, to O’Hare, catching one of the last flights out before more bad weather shut the place down on the 22nd.

Here in Florida, with the help of Abby’s Misha, I slapped up porch lights and slapped down the Christmas polar bears, geese and penguin out in the front yard. I threw sea stars and moon jelly ornaments on the small artificial tree, left everything ablaze and crawled into bed. Two hours later, at 3 am, the family pulled up in a car over flowing with crumbs, pop bottles, fast food wrappers and bad humor.

When Abby was a tot, we had a family joke based on one of her tirades that ended with, “DON’T NOT SPEAK A ME!” That was the order for the rest of that day and the next and then somehow it was Christmas eve and there was peace on earth and we all felt blessed in our new wool slippers, entirely unnecessary here in St. Petersburg.

And so we have arrived. Daniel has been and gone, home to record another CD. Why is it that we sometimes have one child we are so close to, so in love with, so invested in, so concerned about,  that it’s a lifelong push-pull affair? He is mine and we are both now mature enough to recognize that we love each other so much we drive each other nutsy. When he leaves we are both ready and it breaks my heart to see him go. I know. I’m working on it.

Abby and Misha are working through most of Christmas break but they’re around enough to eat, play euchre and enjoy. Abby showed me her semester grades. She had a very heavy load, with 6 senior honors classes in advanced chemistry, geology, foreign literature, environmental policy. Here are her grades: A,A,A,A+, A+ and F. She got an A+ in advanced bio-chem with 400 points out of 400 points on the final exam. She got an F in the lab for that class. Apparently she had a conflict. Sleep, chess club, something.

Melissa, Rich’s youngest, is here and has been joined by her new-ish boyfriend; he is a charming young man between his 2nd and 3rd tour in Iraq. I noticed this morning, when I pulled up behind his truck (he drove from Missouri) that his license plate says PH3…and has a purple heart on it. Sadly, proudly, he earned that.

The earth boxes are planted already. Today, I’ve seen the dermatologist and I escape a basal cell scare again. Lord, it’s a great day when I leave his office with only four burns and a slice and believe me, I’m doing the happy dance here. I’d already written the epitaph for my nose: Even Though it Blew, I Loved it Still. Happily, I can save that for another day.

The cats took all of five minutes to relax, find their favorite sleeping spots on the porch and catch a lizard. (Sophie catches it and gifts it to McCloud, who pokes it to death. It’s a lovely and precise communion.) The camera is unpacked and I’ve been to the bayou. Pictures tomorrow. I’ll also get to the title of the post, part two.


19 responses to “Casts and hairballs, part one

  1. Oh, Vicki, it’s so good to hear your voice and your humor. I’m glad all are well even if cranky. Enjoy the heat and sun and send a few warm thoughts northward.

  2. I have been needing one of your posts – the humor tinged with life’s reality. Hey, when you get that push-pull w/your child figured out, do let me know what the solution is. My husband and his mother are so much alike that they can now barely be in the same room for very long without something breaking out. Sad. They were always so close when he was growing up and into young manhood. Now, husband is 60 and mil is 86. Go figure.
    HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all.

  3. When I Rangered in the Great Smoky Mtns NP in the winter of 81, I was astounded to discover that you had to put a torch to padlocks in the morning to unfreeze them enough to open road gates, etc.
    Growing up in FL it had never occurred to me that locks could freeze … rust yeah, but freeze?

    “Off like a prom dress” ROFLMAO … until I remembered I have two daughters …

    Coontie babies report please.

  4. Hooray, you’re back. I love your descriptions of EVERYTHING! I’m glad your kitties are back where they can relax and not have to worry about bears…coons and possums, maybe.

    My friend Peg escaped the horrible Chicago weather about the same time you did, but she has to go back soon. Boo.

    Ella comes Thursday! into the Tampa airport just as the Outback Bowl is starting. I didn’t make those reservations!

    Hope to see you sometime around.

  5. Vickie, Asheville isn’t far from here… Wahoo.

  6. So good to hear your voice, Vicki. I’m glad that your family and felines made it safely south, and that you got out of town before O’Hare closed. “Off like a prom dress” made me laugh, too. (I have no daughters to fret about, only memories to chuckle over.)

    The Seattle Snowpocalypse had us trapped at the top of our hill the entire week of Christmas, though we had only a foot of snow. We just don’t have the equipment to handle it around here. It was magical the first day or two, beautiful for a few more, and then just an irritating mess. I’m thrilled that we’ve now returned to our regularly scheduled rain.

  7. I have missed you, Miz Vicki.

    What a harrowing trip South. It does NOT sound like an auspicious beginning for Christmas but evidently you all survived. I’m looking forward to hearing more–and soon! Perhaps I will even pay attention to my own blog.

  8. Just about the time you were leaving Chicago, my poor brother-in-law was driving there to spend Christmas with his children. I don’t know whose trip was worse.

    You have been missed, Vicki. I wondered every day what you were up to. Glad to know you’re still among us, and that basal cell has not taken residence.

  9. Welcome home! Sorry your journey south took you through hell. We have to get together this year and more than just a quick visit at Starbucks with my two males overhearing everything we say. I am such a goody two shoes that the prom dress reference had me confused until FC got it all straightened out in my head. Oh, now I get it.

  10. Was there a Christmas story? Didn’t you promise one? Did I miss it? Is this it?


    Glad you all survived the trip south, Vicki.

  11. oh thank you jeebus, Miz Vicki is back in da house.

    I can barely handle this one little house which is only 50 minutes drive (on a good day) from that one little apartment of HBB’s. I honestly don’t know how you all do it.

    So glad to hear the news about the dermo appointment. So are you finished in Chicago now for good until signing off? What a whirlwind!

  12. Have a great 2009, whereever you are. So you shared Meatball the armadillo with the senior citizens? Tell me you didn’t make meatballs out of Meatball. I don’t think armadillos are that tasty. Well, maybe in a stew.

    Flunking out because of chess club? And I thought Abby was past her chess-playing days. Afterall, I DO have one of her old chess books, do I not?

  13. Sooooo nice to hear from you. Your Holidays sound absolutely mad and hectic and wonderful. I hope things are settling down. Can’t wait for the next edition.

  14. I’m like Cathy. I was just reading through the comments and the light struck. When I reread “off like a prom dress,” I thought, “Oh, now, I get it.”

  15. Hey again, right at this moment with 60 mph bitting winds I wish I was in Florida. But we are loving our cottage in the woods and look forward to more snow eventually. Thanks for visiting my little site. I just posted another photo. I look forward to your continuing post, as always. You write so well…it is such fun to read your post but I do feel bad when things go so awful like the trip to Asheville.
    I do hope Abby and Misha meet my son someday there in St. Pete. He was up here during Christmas and Santa brought a dart board…such fun.

  16. I don’t LIKE harrowing at all and no matter whose role I imagined myself in (yours, Rich, the cats) I would have been having a or a few major meltdowns. The change and uproar must be hard, but the light at the end of the tunnel is worth it! You’ll be delighted to be settled in your two beautiful places. As for kids, Younger one and I love each other dearly, but are rarely together for long periods of time without getting on each other’s nerves. As my husband would say, “Alison sure knows how to push your buttons.” And likewise, I’m sure. Happy New Year to you and much joy in 2009.

  17. I just loved this post. Glad to hear everyone is safe and sound.

    Have a wonderful New Year!

  18. So there you are, all warm and cozy in Florida. I’m looking forward to your sunny winter posts. Happy New Year!

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