It’s My Party, Danno

Well, we misgaged that one. The Transplant Recipient Auxiliary seems to be hosting a “Glad You’re Finally Home” party. They chose tonight to allow my beloved and me sufficient time to rest-up.

Henry and Claudja are passing hors d’oeuvres: feather fondues, deep-fried lizard tails, and Popeye’s chicken. They’re being devoured like scurrying, curried mice.

The neighborhood canine elements are barking in want of pussy tails. But the Sabbath is hovering. Catfood isn’t kosher. They are simply following their favorite credo: “Don’t usurp someone elses’s dreams, find your own and start at the top.” But they digress.

Jon, however, is already in bed, planning his midnight snack.

And I am about to give out. Besides, I only stayed up to hear that oh-so nostalgic “Hawaii Five-O” theme. It warms my cockles every time.

Shalom. Woof. Groovy.
(Images: by Ignacio Goitia, 2015.)

The Enclosed Card

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Henry. Henry. Henry.

That silly puss! I awakened from my early afternoon nap and, in a jolt of jubilation, discovered that a virtual bouquet was resting on my hospital table.

Today is a gusty and balmy 78 °F. Yet my skepticism, if not reason, sought proof that Spring was indeed in the Green Room waiting for its fifteen minutes.
Our host suggested otherwise but it was alas time for good tidings of gardens.

Tightly bound buds. Easing effulgent blooms. Proud firm stems. Oh. Those floral town criers!

Henry sent me flowers. I can now see for myself.

You, gentle reader and Ye of Green Thumbs, may scoff at a puss’s folly of such a curated image.

But Henry curls up in a cock of feline righteousness. Whiskers permitting, he’d surely feign a grin.

Correspondence and greetings of all types are now all but fully replaced by the phenomenon that offers E-cards.

I’d share other tidbits of this new web-world, but I am late and need to redirect.

Forgive me. It’s time for Henry and me to Skype. He’ll soon settle in for another viewing of Sunday’s Downton Abbey.

Courtesies of the Ladies Crawley, Doodle is now painfully aware of etiquette.

(Images: “Lilies” by Irma Stern, 1944.)

Community Notes From Miss Lillian Herself

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Oh, woe is … well, somebody other than me!

I hear on NPR this afternoon some curious talk for the unlikely tandem awareness weeks for Genital Integrity and Estonia. Oh, to be uncircumsized, living in Riga, and not listening to NPR on a Sunday afternoon.

And who even knew there was a Liver Community here in Raleighwood or anywhere?

Word of the Year coronation isn’t slated until next week. However, the American Dialect Society has announced a few of its 2015 finalists: deconfliction (John Kerry), unicorn (Investment Narwhals), squad (Taylor Swift), schlonged (Donald Trump).

I could’ve sworn that in the wee hours of the remains of a Saturday night, Henry whispered in my ear: “God bless us, everyone!” However, I might be misconstruing the inflection of his purr.

And finally: in an odd twist of ironic web threads, I have discovered that tomorrow is the day on which one honors Saint Anthony the Hermit. Knowing not what to prepare for such a feast, perhaps we should just dine out.

Oh, you don’t celebrate December 28? Put on a party hat and go find your your Boogie Shoes nonetheless.

Shalom.

Please Join Us in a Jolly “Julsång”

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The holiday is in its denouement, if not wallowing in its aftermath. Such ripe heathenry is the worst that recovering Catholics can expect from a celebration that involves food.

If I were a drinking man who smoked or a smoking man who drank, this hour would be all mine. The dishes would be cleaned and returned to the appropriate cupboards. Guests would be en route H-O-M-E.

The house would be quiet except for our still-convalescing four-legged Henry. Beef energizes him nicely. Say Steward? Steward, is Henry not indeed a family member in good standing, albeit haunched? Does he not deserve some lean rare meat as well?

Of course, his gift this year is that he’ll likely not have to have his right rear leg amputated. He is extremely anemic, as am I, and as is the rationalization for a Christmas Day standing rib roast. A dear friend from New York made the roast a reality this year. And we were all thrilled.

And we were all thankful. Mind you, I don’t mean the type of thanks our parents encourage us to offer when we’re children. Those are niceties and not false by any means. However, it takes years of making mistakes, crying, overlooking a hug-less child, responding in quick judgment or simply studying others suffer as we would weigh-in on our own woes as well.

I am on the cusp of age sixty and finally on the top of the transplant list, a list that Santa is checking often. Jon has just been diagnosed with Diabetes on top of everything else. We lost our beloved Marigold and Hermione, the latter from renal failure it’d appear.

Nonetheless, Jon and I are thankful that we are both home to enjoy a fine dinner. We are thankful further that, knock on wood, a heart will be imminent. The wait nears three years. And we are thankful to have had the times that we did with those two cats who brought us laughter and companionship.

But it’s late and I digress for perhaps the last time in 2015. I am sitting here at my desk, both thankful and sated. While the Ghost of Christmas Past enjoys a Rusty Nail and a cigar, I’ll nurse my tea and listen to his tales.

And I’ll remind myself that with our pets nearby we are neither alone nor in need of nurture. Of course that’ll be just before I catch Henry rounding the corner … for late night red meat.

Shalom.

(Image: A Still from “Fanny and Alexander” by Ingmar Bergman, 1982.)

Do you, Jonathan Howard, Take Yours Truly?

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Days are often long, lonely, sweltering spans of time. Others pass with the wear of a moment. In the past few years, My beloved and I have yielded to both, fretting in fear and cowering in some intimate anticipation.

Our separate lives and the one we share will hopefully endure the bloodied sutures of this harrowing unfold of divine operations. I plan on it. Henry plans on it. Jon is an unrepentent skeptic and relies on my plans. I dare you to quote Mr Burns or Mr Murphy.

Now together for almost fourteen years, we have had quite a few candid discussions about marriage. Yes, beachside nuptials are an option for the two of us. But my generation has fought most often and harder for equal rights, not really marriage.

As it is, the topic is perfect for the occasional shared breakfast. We can obsess and brainstorm “ad infinitem” and then retreat to our upstairs/downstairs separate worlds. I can stretch out in my chair to ponder while Jon props up his legs and meditates with the hummingbirds.

Fourteen full years later, we are no closer to a decision. Perhaps you have advice, Gentle Reader. We must consider inheritance, rights of survivorship, and income taxes. We both worry about the other and his coping skills.

For me, it’s a triple wham of a notion. Southerner that I am, the whole process of finances are just not mentioned. We are both aging co-dependents who make acquiescence seem an artform. I am from an extremely liberal and Bohemian Catholic family. Jon grew up among mid-Western “Southern Baptist ” evangelical types.

Do we marry? Do we simply create indisputable legal documents? We both have sisters who’d likely not dispute anything whatsoever. I have, however, heard that declaration before and seen it throw a grieving mate into the inlaw fury from Hell.

So as this is Friday and “just a day”, please advise me. My mind’s eye debates in gray tones. Do Jon and I just ride out our dotage? Or do we create a magnificent moment?

The Fresh Producers: That’s My Watermelon

imageToday was such a perfect August day, one of Lou Reed perfection. At least I think so. It’s been many years since such a Marklewood Sunday peeked at us from the East. And then, upon a positive evaluation, the day opened its eyes from the squint.

My sister Polly and I had a good, old-fashioned “Shelling for Jesus” day.  We shelled two pounds of field peas, cooked them, and took note. We sautéed onions, added a package of my most favorite spicy sausage, and slowly combined the field peas.

You have absolutely no idea, Oh Gentle Reader and Generous Chef. All but a cupful fied into a hand-crafted turquoise tureen. There is a-plenty.

For the rest of the afternoon, we organized and prepped all the produce that easily filled two shelves: squash, honeydews, canteloups, peaches, berries. Polly sliced two watermelons into manageable pieces on which a melon freak might get a little crazy.

For my part, I made a simple scored-cucumber salad with vidalias and balsamic vinegar. My sister cooked ten ears of corn and then sliced the kernels right into some storage piece.

I sliced fresh jalapeños and stirred the slices into two cups of my favorite mayonaise. For those of you who do not live in the US, let me forewarn you. Southerners, if not consumers from all of the continental sbouncerstates, enjoy a rite of passage into culinary adulthood. Most folks seem to have lifelong selections for their “favorite” non-boutique mayonaise, ketchup, mustard, cola. In my case, a nosy guest might find Hellman’s, Heinz, Guldens, and Pepsi.

While there are many, many soft drinks with both many variations and fields of fans, I’m afraid that such a summit would never be a calm, civil display via Roberts Rules or behemoth bouncers.

I swear on the memories of Boar & Castle Drive In, years of transgression therapies have been unproductive. The best kitchen controls are high, broil, and anarchy-fueled domestic dictatorships.

By 5:30 pm, all the produce was washed, sliced, and bagged. Wherever appropriate foods were cooked, we secured the perfect size storage tureens.

We chatted, planned another such afternoon, and just passed away these suggestive dog days. No time had passed in the five years since we had a healthy interrupted visit.

I was so ready. I was so hungry. Eating healthily is its own revenge, eh Emily?

May your dreams tonight be as sweet as fresh Candor peaches!

Shalom. Bon apetit.

(Image: by Kevin Sloan.)

The Knee-Jerk Teeter of a Delicate Balance’s Tottero

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I fear an interloper threatens Marklewood, the “heart & homestead” that I share with my beloved. The drama that fuels the summer’s health decisions is quick to crush any embers yet struggling from an abuse of metaphorical privilege!

I can now better understand those Law & Order storylines that deal with black marketed transplant organs!

Of course, I’m kidding. I’m simply cloaked, however, by emotional blackmail, knee-jerk reactions, and the institutional politics from Medicare to Medicaid and to my health providers.

Me thinks “provider” is a current buzzword akin to “Human Resources” in the seventies and the late 80’s sweeping term “ambassador”. I refer to neither diplomat nor vintage GM motor-yawner. (“Welcome to Bloomingdales Mens Shoe Department. I am your footwear ambassador Vlad.” What? Think I’d use my real name?)

Now I best resume my ramblings as the dinner hour looms and the tree frogs chirp.

Like i said: oy.

Everybody seems to consider themselves the expert in my my life. Folks who have never even turned down this quiet country road are telling me how I should do this or that. One such concerned party officially recommends that I leave the pusses and just live somewhere else, perhaps while that dinner hour is still looming.

No one is listening. I am just getting pushed further and further away from my life’s inner circle. Of course, the pot at the end of this rainbow of a process is a new heart, a second chance. life itself. Yes, I realize that everyone has my health as their concern. However, I am still owed inclusion to decision-making and respect for my right to voice a concern, or even a protest.

For over a year, I have realized that the politics of such a wondrous and complex surgery can take odd twists. They certainly are beginning a new chapter as I am on an on-again/off-again basis with the transplant status list. You will only get a heart if. If. If. If.

Of course, I shall comply. I want to live a long healthy life. But I want to stay with my family as long as I possibly can. “As a precaution” just doesn’t cut it in a life-altering and potentially devastating decision. No, I will not take unnecessary risks.

As of my latest assessment, I am still of sound mind and I am well aware of Monday’s options. I am not going to do something stupid.

But I’ll make a deal with you, O’ Unnamed Source of Woe. Stop referring to me as if I am now living life in the third person. At that time, we can probably have another heart-to-heart tête-à-tête. (In the deepest of Southern annals, one might call it a “Prayer to Jesus Meeting”, pardon any latent evangelism.)

Don’t worry, Cousin Damian. I shall comply. I always do. Tonight, though, I felt due a Susan Hawyard moment.

The dinner hour is slapping its timepiece. I’ll leave you in peace.

Until dessert.

For the record, Jamie was always my favorite of Jack McCoy’s ADAs.

(Image: “Self Portrait as Skyscraper” by Julie Heffernan, 2012.)

RSVP, You Say? Henry is Befuddled

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As many of you know, it is customary here in the Hinterlands to celebrate a kitten’s passage into adulthood. There are many variations, but ours is low-key, cloaked with joy and hope for a new generation of pusses. We break bread. We brake dishes. We raise our libations to toast the honoree’s Cat Mitzvah.

This season, both Marigold and Maddy have opted to swiftly pass tradition and go directly to gifts, refreshments, and a frolic under the ancient fig tree that guards the back door.

Any and all creatures, regardless of either wing or leg, is welcome. All guests, however, must believe in magic. Not the type that the Lovin’ Spoonful sang fifty years ago.

As long as you admit the power and existence of enchantment, fairies, and the world of the far-fetched, you are always welcome.

This season, though, the invitation is doubly extended.

The pusses love their rites of passage, and anticipate scrumptuous refreshments.

Collars are optional.

(Image: by Louis Wain.)

Neither Month Nor Year of the Cat

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If she indeed kept either her word or a calendar, Goldilocks would proclaim June as “just right”. Jupiter gave us such a month to nourish and be nourished. The air is breezy and soft. It’s neither given to snow or swelter.

Squirrels chase the cascading cherry petals to the ground. The pusses, in relay, shoo those tailers up the ancient pine trees to their given lodgings. Marigold’s beloved birds sew the earthy cloak as they go to “seed” for show. The hummers hover. The peckers hammer. All is indeed right in springtime.

The errant and wayward pup may get waylaid some morn. He’ll come here. He’ll frolic. He’ll dine until he’s had his fill. And still saunter home by ten.

May God bless all the beasts.

In June, however, she blesses the dogs and tosses them treats. Those silly canine scalliwags! They’d laugh if they could and indeed laugh the last. It is their joke to share: they have the rite of summer.

And the doggone dog days are theirs.

The cats will wait until the last is home and be bedded without fanfare. They lost their race, lost their month, and will wait until another year.

Thank you, Mr Stewart.  Thank you, Miss Goldilocks.

(Image: “Chrysanthememes” by Fabius Lorenzi, 1930.)

Re-Discovery Day: Statement and Rewards

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“Their courage nerves a thousand living men (and women).”  Minot J. Savage

Enjoy the day, friends.

Of course, Henry is spearheading the celebration here. Nothing too heavy or intense.

Gratitude. Nostalgia. Inspiration.

Mind you: there shall be no Criminal Minds marathon queued. They are often mindless, but always “up in thirty”.

(Image: “Scalia Reggia Di Caserta” by Ignacio Goitia, 2015.)

Miss Muffin and the Belles of Marklewood

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A while back, we had an interloper here at Marklewood. The outdoor pusses were the first to encounter her. A day later, the two of us had a determined stare-off when I first stepped onto the front stoop that dawn. As I slowly inhaled the moment’s nicotine, she guardedly peered at me from behind the giant cast iron plants that define the driveway’s foot. I stood up to fetch my coffee. She jerked, twitched, and scurried from my sight. That was when I first heard that damned bell!

Yes indeed, she is a “lost, but not yet found” cat: a diminutive marmalade with white boots, an unassuming face, and a bell secured to her neck with a pale pink ribbon. “How embarrassing!”, I thought, “to be thus branded in a juvenile and fey (if not “girlie”) manner.” As I approached her, she darted under the house, to the crawl space where those very same outdoor pusses often seek refuge, warmth, and safety.

Hmmmm. She must’ve spent the night since she knew exactly where the primary access points were! I imagined that she, Eve, and Lunesta braided each other’s fur and gossiped about the misfortune that prompted Precious to change her name and head downtown. At some point, they certainly giggled and mused of the neighborhood toms. Moreover, I assume they tried in vain to loosen the ribbon and remove the jingle.

When the air finally warmed and the sun was dancing atop the pine trees, I returned to the front stoop, this time with the cats’ breakfast. The seven regulars dashed toward and circled the food bowl, tails swaying in June Taylor synchronicity. As I again sat on the stoop (contemplating life, liberty, and the pursuit of a better credit rating), that bell stirred my concentration. She instinctively ran to the bowl, as if she had been a long-term guest, but I had to leave any detective work until that evening.

It was almost time to head across the wide span of Raleighwood to my new job. I warned Jon about this mystery puss, jokingly referring to her as”Twinkle” or “Muffin”. She was an innocent “valley puss”, unfairly tagged by those who rescued her from a shelter. And there I was making light of her situation!

That night, long after I had returned, I took an extra large scoop of kibble outside, hoping the cats would forgive my tardiness. As always is the case at sunset, two came from chairs in the garden. Three, from the nearby woods. One jumped down from atop the storage shed. The last one raced from the jasmine-covered swings, her abandoned seat still rocking “fro and to”. As the seven were soon scarfing and gobbling with barely a chew, I again heard that bell!

Had she been at Marklewood all day? Was she ever going to return to”Muffinwood” or wherever her home is? Nonetheless, I made certain she ate, quite confident that if she needed shelter that her four-legged hosts would be hospitable and offer her shelter in the inn. But wait! She was too, too small to be “with child” although I was having irreverent musings. To the contrary, she appeared prematurely spayed.

She was clean and obviously well-cared for. My cats were neither scared nor intimidated by her so she seemingly possessed decent social skills. And of course, the ribbon indicated that she was loved and likely missed. I immediately visualized a weepy and sullen young girl with pigtails, or a lonely housecat who was missing his playmate, if not little sister. Oy ve!

Essentially for the next few mornings and evenings, the routine was the same. At mealtime, the pusses came from every direction with “Pinkie”pulling up the rear. Maybe her name was “Tinker”, “Belle”, or some combination therein. Or even “Rosey”. All I knew was that she was entirely too comfortable here.

I chuckled as I imagined her warbling “Take the Ribbon from My Fur!”

A few days later, she stopped coming when I fed the others. I no longer heard that bell announcing her proximity. I assumed she finally went home. That night as I sat on the stoop extinguishing my last cigarette of the day, I wondered if Eve and Lunesta would ever again have such a slumber party.

The next morning, I was checking email when I heard a loud knock on the front door. Jon was still asleep so I literally ran downstairs, at least as quickly as I could without tripping or accidentally stepping onto the creaky steps. Through the window I could see a big burly guy with a shaved head and tattoos. (Let’s just call him “Bubba”!) I opened the door and, with certain expectations, offered a reluctant “Yes?”

“Have you seen a small orange and white cat around here? She has a pink ribbon collar and a little silver bell.”

Oh my. I never saw that one coming. I recounted her plight but assured him that she had been gone for over twenty-four hours. I could see that he was worried, tearful, and “beside his big, beefy self”. I was surprised by the irony of the situation but knew what he was feeling … all too well.

I assured him that if she ever returned, she’d at least be well fed and safe from the roving raccoons and conniving coyotes. I told him that, if she ever got lost again he was welcome to survey our yard for a glimpse of ribbon. Or walk up our driveway and listen for the jingle.

That night, as I struggled to fall asleep, I wondered if she indeed ever did make it home and hoped that the Universe would care for her.

The next morning, since I was going to enjoy a day off, I slept a little later than usual and headed outside with my coffee, cigarettes, and a big scoop of cat food. Eve, Thom, Leopold, Yorick, DeWilde, Precious, and Sylvester Sue all came running. I count them at every meal, as if “taking attendance”, since we live in the hinterlands and are surrounded by woods. That evening, all seven were accounted for and present for chow time. Then I heard a faint jingle, listening as it grew louder and closer. She confidently rounded the corner and headed for the food dish.

She looked at me with a sweetness and a gratitude as if to say: “Call me Madam. Call me Miss Tibbs. Even call me Miss Ross. Just don’t call me Muffin!” She then squeezed in between Eve and Yorick, taking her place in the ritual.

I quickly ran inside, forgetting to avoid the creaky steps. When I entered the bedroom, Jon was stirring and squinting his eyes.

“Honey, I think ‘Dr. Markle’s Finishing School for Wayward and Erstwhile Pusses’ has a new boarding student.” Perhaps, I was daydreaming again but I could’ve sworn she registered as Pinkie.

And then there were eight!

(Image: “Monkey Dog and His Mistress” by Lucy Gaylord-Lindholm, 2000.)

Come On In, Dear Boy. Have a Cigar Box

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Each year, on and around Labor Day, it was again time to shop prudently for school supplies. Those of you who were obsessive pre-pubescent scholars know well that rush. A shot of some euphoric, sublime, and self-organizational adrenaline would take hold of one’s entire being. Margy, the aforesaid mother in my silly musings, and I would go on a cigar box hunt.

The discarded boxes were covered on all sides with some great lithographic illustration, often depicting two people sharing an old Havana moment. The heavy cardboard boxes came in all different sizes, of course on the smallish side. And they were perfect for storing pens, pencils, quills if you must. One might also hide a small toy or memento inside.

It was indeed a treasure box hunt. We made the rounds asking tobacco merchants if they had any “obsolete” Macanudo, Padrón, or Oliva containers. Ultimately, our search was usually rewarded with a gem, albeit with a lingering, sweet tobacco fragrance.

I would always select a spare box … just in case a replacement was in order. In the event of torrential rain or unseemly acts of playground aggression, I’d be back in business as soon as I got home and grabbed a YooHoo. Being prepared in such a way is one of the 1,047 invaluable tenets that the daunting Daughters of Charity at St Pius X preached.

And I survived. Once as I completed Freshman Orientation at UNC, I quickly welcomed redemption, rehabilitation, and recovery from my many years of parochial school and lessons of self-deprecation.

Oddly, that cigar box “rush” continued to come around every Labor Day, until I was 25 or so. Of course, I kept all of those obsessive urges in check. I best appear well-acclimated to adulthood.

Flash forward. Flash forward through my years with the anti-Christ. Flash forward through my dalliance with the Icelandic twenty-something. Flash forward through those enriching years with Michael … and his last year of deteriorating. Somewhere, I started smoking cigars.

As I would peruse the vast selection, I realized that the tobacco purveyor would have many, many glorious boxes. They were ideal for storing sewing accoutrements, receipts, batteries, and of course pens, pencils, quills if you must.

A cigar box is also perfect to store all those moments of memories that are too burdensome to carry around all day.

There is one such box on my desk, hidden behind my monitor Miranda. Yes, I do still name every appliance or electronic “thing-a-mabob” under the tin roof here at Marklewood.

That’s where I hide my quills from the pusses when they’re on one of their frequent, naughty, and curious escapades of “not-so-careful” rambunction.

Thank you, Pink Floyd.

Mush, Mush, Sweet Charlotte

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Tonight, the eleven cunning rescues that are known to frolic while Jon and I nap, offer a toast in honor of all of the magnificent Iditarod entrants. Those well-toned dogs must have unequaled stamina and endurance skills. The “shy one” or “one shy” dozen is out tonight, drinking actual bowls of White Russians and shooting buttery nipples at Harley’s Cat Bar and Bait Shoppe..

They are toasting, smoking cigars, and telling tales out of school. They rarely leave Marklewood except to see Dr Grant, so we expect a pussy all-nighter. The mollies Kitty Carlisle and Feral Streep are surely already sound asleep. Charlie and Blanche Hudson are on the prowl, likely caterwauling looking for toms of a certain state.

Breakfast is at six: if the Rooster shows up sober.

The Ititarod champs have spent their lives training, strengthening heart and lungs, as well as toning all the pertinent muscles. About as strenuous as other modern feline and canine competitions, there is, however, a simple compromise which in no way mandates rules and priorities that pertain to contestants behavior, They will be housed in the very lush, indulgent Stuckey’s Super Pet-Inn, behind closed and dead-bolted doors. No, not there. T.H.E.R.E. silly!

Unfortunately, the dogs that still in the race are resting and get massages, and having a big ole manly steak.

However the rules of Idinarod spectator behavior and sportsmanship attitudes are expected, yet closely monitored.
And a shout-out to a friend who is the very doctor who will be officiating while acclimating Arctic weather,.

My beloved and I wish them all well. Right now, ABC11’s weather “ambassador” has projected the outside temperature at 65, with an overnight chilly 53.

Alas, having survived already their daily indulgences, they will likely head back the day it ends. It’s a long, long road. That comes from someone who, after a day at work drove to Chicago on a Saturday and returned the following morning. I wasn’t spontaneous as I was optimistic.

Oy vey ist mir.

It’s good to be warm. It’s even better to be selfless and proficient like Claire.

God Bless the Cranky Ones!

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As Thursday’s dawn is waiting in the Green Room, I am enjoying a quiet moment. I am thankful for my friends, even the cranky ones. I am thankful for relatives with whom I haven’t spoken in years, even the cranky ones.

I am appreciative of the internet, “Sherlock”, Edy’s Coffee Ice Cream, Target’s Bloody Mary pickles, and Tammy, my home health care nurse.

I am not especially fond of that darned “Auto-Fill”. It would never pass Mrs Whitlock’s English class.

After year and a half, I am still not acclimated to my ever-cumbersome 24 hour IV. But it is the Dobutamine that keeps me awake and alert at least for a while each day.

There is, however, a relatively wee issue bothering me a bit this morning. Who was it that thought we needed yet another Cinderella film? Is there really something new to bring to the editing room? Yikes.

Before I forget: I am always appreciative of my beloved who, after 13 years, no longer nags me if I stay up late. He also manages my health this days as I am fading and not always altogether lucid.

Oh yes. I am thankful for Henry, Hermione, and the delightfully odd and “Kitty Go-Lightly-ish” Marigold. (Claudja is on triple probation.) And I am always thankful for all of the outside pusses, even the cranky ones.