A Post About Cute Animals

I think it’s time for a change of pace. Today I’m going to talk about and share cute animals with you.

First, I have to bring up of two cutie pie cats that I share my life with: Normie. More frequently as of late, Normie has been jumping up to sit on the cabinets above the kitchen sink so he can wash me do the dishes.

Here are some shots from this mornings Kitchen Party with Momma:

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As soon as you’re done with those dishes, we’ll play. Right, momma?

Earlier today, my cat Gwennycakes tried to meow at me. She’s a cat, you’re thinking. Of course, she meows! Well, not really where Gwennycakes is concerned. I’m not sure why she did it, except that I’ve been playing with her with a toy that she really loves for the last three days. Maybe she’s trying to tell me something?

Here are some shots of my beautiful girl:

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These are the only animals who share my life. But out there is a baby goat named Pipsqueak who is trying to become friends with a litter of puppies. Well, I can’t really describe it, so you should really just go see it for yourself.

Pipsqueak Meets the Puppies

Will Pipsqueak Ever Make Puppy Friends? Watch this and find out!

And now, a bunch of cats who can now live their lives as hamsters!

No post about cute animals would be complete without a mention of Gronk’s, posing with kittens, sometimes shirtless!! Here are a few for your viewing pleasure:

A man, any man, poses with animals wins me over. A very hot man with kittens and with less clothing is almost like I’ve died and gone to Heaven!

Almost.

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20th Wedding Anniversary Adventures

For a variety of reasons, we decided to have a low-key celebration of our 20th wedding anniversary. This called for something more than a Hallmark, store-bought card. So I made one for Mark instead:

20th Anniversary Card Front 20th Anniversary Card Inside 20th Anniversary Card Envelop Front

On Thursday night, we went to dinner at Marble, our favorite go-to restaurant in Floral Park. We’ve developed a good relationship with their main bartender, Doug, who recently featured an article about making drinks in an industry bartending magazine, and Matt, their eminent chef.

On Friday, Halloween, we drove up to Sleepy Hollow, New York, which is about an hour from where we live. We walked around the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery for two hours and took many pictures. You can see the whole lot of them in my Sleepy Hollow, NY album on Flickr. However, some of them were particularly beautiful, including this Egyptian – themed mausoleum:
Sleep Hollow Cemetary Egyptian Mausoleum

The front of Henry Villard’s monument:
Sleep Hollow Cemetary Henry Villard Front

The stained glass inside the Helmsley’s enormous mausoleum:
Sleep Hollow Cemetary Helmsley Inside Glass

Harry and Leona Helmsley’s epitaphs:
Sleep Hollow Cemetary Helmsley Inside Epitaphs

And a panoramic view from the front of the Helmsley’s mausoleum:
Sleep Hollow Cemetary View from Helmsley Front Panorama

The faux Headless Horseman’s Bridge over a brook and under fall foliage:
Sleep Hollow Cemetary Bridge

I snapped 90 photos. Too many beautiful graves, monuments, statues, and views to put here. I definitely want to return because I failed to get pix of the Crane and Van Tassel headstones that were there.

Afterwards, we ate lunch at JP Doyle’s in one of Sleepy Hollow’s neighborhoods. We drove over the Hudson River on the Tappan Zee bridge to the AMC Palisades in West Nyack for a retro showing of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, one of my favorite holiday movies.

I continued the anniversary celebrations by cooking some of my husband’s favorite childhood and current foods. I went a little overboard with the desserts. I had to make banana bread because the bananas were very ripe. And I couldn’t help but make two of his favorite desserts: pumpkin pie and apple pie. I wanted to make sure we had dessert ready before I started in on the dinner foods.

20th Anniversary 3 Pies

For dinner, I cooked up the sauerbraten that had been marinating in the refrigerator and spaetzle. Both are German dishes that Mark’s mother used to make, and it had been a while since we’d made them.

We had a few technical difficulties. I had to ditch the red cabbage dish we were making because we did not shred the cabbage enough; it became a huge unwieldy pile. I also didn’t stir the dough enough before putting it in the ricer, so the spaetzle (German pasta) came out very tiny. The sauerbraten and spaetzle had a ginger snap & stock sauce pour over.

#Sauerbraten with #spaetzle and #gingersnap sauce #German #food

Overall, not as good as Mark’s mom used to make (How could it?), but edible nonetheless. Luckily, I bought a huge cut of beef that we cut into thirds so our future sauerbratens await!

 

Normie and His Nonna

Last  night, I went downstairs to find my cat Normie. We live upstairs in an apartment from my mother, but our doors are often open to allow the cats to visit her. Most nights, I find him and bring him upstairs.

All the lights were off except for the one in my mother’s bedroom. Her door was halfway open. I was about to knock, but I could hear that she was awake by the turning of a page in a book.

“Ma?”

I poked my head inside to see this:

#Mom + my #Normie cutie pie #catsofinstagram #kitty #cat

I bust out laughing. I’ve never seen Normie get under a blanket with my mom before. I had to get a close-up of his cutie-pie face:

Normie wrapped up

Then Normie opened his eyes. I tried to get a shot, but a yawn got in the way:

Momma & Normie in Bed 4

Mom and I can’t help but laugh at Normie. Whatever this cat does contains an element of entertainment:

Momma & Normie in Bed 3

Then more laughing and licking:

Momma & Normie in Bed 2

Finally, the desired shot:

Momma & Normie in Bed 1

Although I still think that my favorite photo was the first one I took because Normie looked pleased as punch to be snuggling under the same bedspread as Nonna.

Now he doesn’t have to share, which has never been his strong point.

NYC Adventuring: Governor’s Island

One of my NaNoWriMo writers critique group buddies invited people to meet up on Governor’s Island, which off the southern tip of NYC and to the west of Brooklyn. Since I had never taken the train to Brooklyn, or the bus in Brooklyn, or a ferry from Brooklyn, nor been to Governor’s Island, I decided to make the trip. The near-90 degree weather made it impossible to refuse!

The LIRR from my town to Brooklyn was a decent ride. When I got to Atlantic Terminal, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Atlantic Terminal has a mere two tracks and is underneath a large mall. From the platform, you go up one story to street level. The terminal points to the intersection of 4th Ave., Atlantic Ave., and Flatbush Ave.

The B63 bus stop was on 4th Ave. and Atlantic Ave. Nearby are two Islamic libraries and at least one halal market. As the bus rode up, I realized that I had lost my pre-loaded Metro Card and returned to the terminal to get another. I wrote it off as another person’s lucky day. After returning to the bus stop, I didn’t have to wait long until another bus arrived.

The ride down Atlantic Ave. was lovely. Tree lined streets. People and families from all walks of life. People friendly and chatting. The bus rode the crest of Boerum Hill. The view of the harbor became visible as we came to the bottom of the hill.

The bus left us about a block away from the ticket booth and the ferry. Boarding was relatively fast, but the trip was even faster. It could not have taken more than 5 minutes to pull into the dock on Governor’s Island. The views of the southern tip of NYC were fantastic.

View of NYC from the ferry to Governor's Island

View of NYC from the ferry to Governor’s Island

View of NYC bridges from the ferry to Governor's Island

View of NYC bridges from the ferry to Governor’s Island

Shortly after we docked, the Queen Mary 2, which was anchored across from Yankee Pier on the island, tooted her exceptionally loud horn.

Queen Mary 2

Queen Mary 2

I met up with my friend, and we spent the afternoon writing on picnic tables and dodging sunlight.

You can either take your bike on the ferry or rent one from Blazing Saddles. Many Hasidic families came to the island, as well as families in general. I learned there were at least three food courts served by a number of food trucks. You can also rent multi-person pedaling carts with yellow canopies and child seats on the front. The gentle tinkling of bicycle bells and laughter joined us as we wrote the entire afternoon.

The weather was amazing! Close to 90 degrees, low humidity, and a lovely breeze made for one of the best days of the summer. By the time 4:30pm rolled around, I was ready to head home. I got on the 5pm ferry and made it in plenty of time to take the 6pm train from Brooklyn back home.

Taking a shower after a long, hot day and falling into bed were the last two things I did last night. I thought, “This is how it must feel after kids spend the whole day playing outside during the summer.” It can never be like it was back then, but yesterday came pretty close.

Week 8 Artist Date: Solo Trip to NYC World’s Fair Site

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens, NY, the New York State Pavilion got a fresh coat of paint and was being reopened for 3 hours only. I decided to make my artist date a solo trip via bus and to go look at the location.

The World’s Fair site is in the Fresh Meadows Corona Park. The bus ride to get there from my home included taking the N24 to Springfield Boulevard and then transferring to the Q88. I disembarked at the Horace Harding Expressway and 108th Street stop and walked the short distance to the park.

When I arrived around noon, I got at the end of the line:

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If you laid down a Z, I was on the line at the top beginning start of the Z. In the distance, you can see what looks like the end. There was a lot more zag to come, but this was all I could see from the end of the line in the parking lot next to 56th Ave.

As I stood in line, I saw Terrace on the Park was overlooking the park. I hadn’t thought about that place since the last time I was there: in 1989 for my senior high school prom. I remember looking out over the park during twilight that evening and seeing the park, but I do not remember seeing the World’s Fair grounds, which I most certainly would have if I looked out. I remember it being a cloudy evening, but you wouldn’t have been able to miss the buildings. In the foreground is a small animal farm at the park with some llamas.

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At first, I was all about taking pictures of the line as I progressed. At this point, I think I’m half way through the Z. The line snakes to the right because of a small circle with a fountain in the middle.

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On the other side of that picture was more line that was as long as what I had already waited on.

At this point, I am wondering whether I should just get off the line, walk around, get ice cream, and take pictures. I decide to stay in line. Even if it took a couple of hours, I would still get a chance to go inside.

Even after I went the length of that line as I well, it only to got me to a bridge that I still had to cross while waiting in line:

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Just on the other side of the bridge was a grove of pink and white blossomed cherry trees under which five sets of bridal parties were getting their wedding pictures taken:

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From that same point, I took a picture of the pavilion. I didn’t find out until later that the line went on the opposite side of what I was seeing:

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When I finally got to stand in line next to the pavilion, I still couldn’t see the end of the line:

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I heard at least one person talk about the history of these towers. At the very top were two observation decks. Just below was an eatery. The lowest tower had an office for Governor Rockefeller:

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Although the pavilion and towers were rusting and in obvious decay, they still take impressive photos:

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At the end of the line, two men in hardhats were talking to people in the groups they came in.

“How many?” asked one of the men.

“One”, I said.

He pulled a ticket off a roll and handed it to me. “Hold onto this number. When your number is called, go to the entrance and get your hat.”

I stared open mouthed at the ticket I held in my hand.

“And how long do you think that will be?” I asked, too shocked to get angry with him.

“About two hours,” he said.

I walked away in shock. I had waited in line two hours only to be told that I had to wait for my number to be called.

I waited in line for two hours only to get this lousy souvenir:

2014-04-23 16.25.33

I had not had lunch yet and still had a number of things to do that day. I abandoned any further plans. Ice cream cones had been calling me from ice cream trucks.

On my way to the ice cream truck, I saw this amazing view:

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On the plus side, I made both bus connections within a minute or two of getting to the bus stops. I busted through some old fears about traveling around Queens by myself. I saw the 1964 World’s Fair remaining structures up close. All in all, I had a great artist date for week 8.

 

 

I Think My Cat is Dying

I wracked my brain for a good title to this post. How can I adequately sum up this topic? I am feeling a lot of things right now, but witty is not one of them.

I would like you to meet my baby Hunter, who is  17 years and 8 months old.

Hunter

Hunter

In October 1996, I went to a police station in Brookline, MA to contest an overnight parking ticket. While I sat in the waiting room, a door to my far left opened. A policeman walked through the door, stopped, and said to those waiting in the room:

“Does anybody want a kitten?”

I saw a little face with gray fur and blue eyes peeking out of his pocket. Keep your mouth shut, Wendy. You do not need to bring home another cat. I already had two cats, Jolie and Misha, who were 4 and 2 years old respectively. I did not need a third cat. When no one answered, the officer said:

“Well, if no one wants him, I’m going to take him to the MSPCA.”

I can no longer remember if the kitten sneezed before or after the officer declared his fate. All I know is that in my head I screamed: They’re gonna kill him!

Looking back now, I realize that is a ridiculous statement to make. But I felt it so strongly that I found myself saying:

“I’ll take him!”

With that, the officer put the kitten on the table that was in the waiting room. Everyone else, including myself, gathered around to watch the kitten play. Across from me, an older Jewish gentleman wearing a cap said to me:

“Is there anyone you need to ask before you bring him home?”

“Oh, no! I’m just going to bring him home.”

“What are you going to name him?”

“I haven’t thought about it yet.”

The older man turned to the officer, “What’s your name, Officer?”

“My name is Officer Hunter.”

“Well, then I’m going to name him Hunter.”

I thought it was the best possible name for a cat. After my boy grew up, I started telling people he had the body of a cat, the face of a fox, and the soul of a chicken. I had never met such a scaredy cat in all my life. At that moment, he was going to grow up to be a ferocious hunter!

The officer found me a box. I drove from Brookline, MA to Malden, MA where I lived with Hunter in the box. He yowled his head off the entire ride back.

When I got home, I walked up to our second floor door and knocked. When Mark answered the door, I said:

“If you let me keep this one, I swear I will not bring home any more.”

Mark looked at me, looked at the box, groaned, and said: “Oh, alright.”

Later, the vet would guess Hunter to be about 7 weeks of age. This is one of the only kitten pictures I have of him:

hunter-shock

Kitten Hunter

Because Hunter was too young to get all his shots, I kept him separated in our bedroom from the other two cats. At that time, I worked at home getting the house in order. We moved in mid-rehab and the work was still underway.

I spent a lot of time with Hunter. He would sleep with me at night by cuddling on my pillow next to my face. When he got a little bigger, he would sleep on my chest. Eventually, he got too big but still preferred to sleep laying right up against my side, as he does to this day.

Although it really has gotten a little ridiculous. If I am laying on my left side, Hunter will spoon up against me. We have fallen asleep this way.

 

Hunter snuggles

Hunter snuggles with Momma

When Hunter’s kidneys started to go, I was nervous. His values stayed stable for a long time. When I switched vets after moving to NY, the vet suggested giving Hunter subcutaneous fluids to support his kidney function. First, twice a week and then every day, which was have been doing.

I brought Hunter in recently for a follow-up from December. He lost 1.5 lbs., which is far too much. Although his kidney and blood values are in range, his calcium values have skyrocketed.

Reasons for a high calcium level could be indeterminate, lymphoma, or thyroid cancer. Given his age, the rapid weight loss, and his lackluster appetite for anything but treats, I am fearing the worst. And it would not be without cause.

The first cat I ever had died of cancer. Jolie’s kidneys failed, and she had bladder cancer. Misha had some kind of stomach or intestinal cancer. Now lymphoma or thyroid cancer. Cancer, cancer, cancer! As I saw on an ad, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could give cancer to cancer?” Even if it’s indeterminate, high calcium values eventually lead to kidney damage. So it’s a no win.

On Monday, I am bringing Hunter back in for a follow up. If his calcium values go down, then it’s not cancer, but it means we have to keep looking. I am not sure how invasive I am going to get because of his advanced age.

I can only stand to put him through so much. I do not want to put him down too early, but I don’t want him to suffer, either, especially since my elderly mother has become seriously attached to Hunter.

As she says, “How can you resist the way he looks at you?”

Hunter boy

Hunter

I never could, either, which is why I fell him love with him almost 18 years ago.

Magnolia Blooms

I grew up with a magnolia tree outside my front yard. Since I went away to college 25 years ago, the tree has grown to incredible proportion. However, its size is smaller than otherwise would be, due to weather and neighbors who begrudged the petals that fell onto their manicured lawn.

When I moved back home in September, one of my greatest anticipations was to experience the full blooming of the magnolia tree once again. With the warm weather this past week, the blooms began to open and then suddenly popped. I hung out a window and stalked the tree taking photos ahead of today’s coming day-long deluge.

These magnolia blooms are right outside my bedroom window:

mag1

Closeup of nearby magnolia blooms:

mag2

Skyward magnolia blooms:

mag3

Into the center of the tree:

mag4

Magnolia blooms above the front door:

mag5

I only wish I could send you the scent of magnolia along with these photos. Have a great day!