Packing, Selling and Packing

We’ve now reached the point where sold (or packed/disassembled) house­hold items are no longer the ‘fat’ of our lives, but some ‘mus­cle’. In oth­er words, stuff that we actu­al­ly used day to day is now either unavail­able or gone. I can still cook din­ner (few­er pots) and con­nect to the Inter­net (lap­top), so I’m OK, but things sure feel dif­fer­ent.

Yes­ter­day the Microwave cart and TV (and com­po­nents) each went to their respec­tive pur­chasers. Today we took apart my office desk, and the desk­top com­put­er, screen, periph­er­als and oth­er attach­ments also had to be tak­en apart so they could be moved of it. It took a long time and we had to clean a lot of accu­mu­lat­ed dust, fur and sticky residue. Every­thing in this house even­tu­al­ly gets a bit of a sticky film over time, prob­a­bly from cook­ing food. It’s fun­ny (and a lit­tle sad) to see rem­nants of Socrates (and per­haps even his sis­ter Stef­fi, although she’s been gone for much longer) show up as lit­tle hairs and balls of dusty fur in the cor­ners of fur­ni­ture and at the bot­tom of table legs. Socrates loved to lounge on my desk while I worked, and left much of him­self in the seams over the years. Those cats lived their entire lives in this house, and when we leave, it won’t be just mem­o­ries of them we leave behind, but lots of genet­ic mate­r­i­al. Prob­a­bly not enough to clone a cat from, but cer­tain­ly enough to make any per­son with a cat aller­gy react. I hope the new ten­ant is not aller­gic to cats.

There are box­es every­where, in every room. The bed­room is flanked by large gar­ment box­es. The room that I used to call my office con­sists now main­ly of small box­es and scat­tered com­put­er and periph­er­als. The first floor is dom­i­nat­ed by a pile of box­es and oth­er items where the piano used to be. It’s a good thing, too. In 19 days, the truck pulls up and the mov­ing com­pa­ny guys load all of those box­es. In the mean­time, I’m also pack­ing for our trip to France. Prob­a­bly won’t be able to blog from there, but I’ll update when we get back, for sure.

Trip Wrap-Up

We’re back in Boston, after what I think was a kind of water­shed trip.

As Pam not­ed, we were in a bit of funk before we left. We were focused on the absence of Socrates, and this in turn led us to con­tem­plate the past. This trip to Van­cou­ver helped us make more of a clean break. Instead of dwelling on ‘He used to hang out here’ or ‘Now was the time when he’d usu­al­ly make a cute noise or sit on your mou­s­ing arm.’ it was ‘Here’s where we might live’ or ‘There is where you might work’. We thought about what we’ll be doing in a few months, or what we might need to do a few years down the road. We tried to imag­ine our­selves in a new house, in a new job, in a new coun­try. My friend Andy calls it a ‘Life Mul­li­gan’. I didn’t under­stand the term at first, but he explained that a Mul­li­gan is a term from golf, mean­ing essen­tial­ly a ‘do-over’. You get them in a polite game. I sus­pect it’s named after some des­per­ate­ly bad golfer who always asked if he could retake his dri­ves or putts.

(Hah! I just found it on About.com and it’s appar­ent­ly a Cana­di­an term. Accord­ing to one of the many mys­te­ri­ous ety­molo­gies of the term, a promi­nent hote­lier named David Mul­li­gan (sic) ‘fre­quent­ed St. Lam­bert Coun­try Club in Mon­tréal, Que­bec, dur­ing the 1920s. Mul­li­gan let it rip off the tee one day, wasn’t hap­py with the results, re-teed, and hit again. Accord­ing to the sto­ry, he called it a “cor­rec­tion shot,” but his part­ners thought a bet­ter name was need­ed and chris­tened it a “mul­li­gan.” Per­haps because Mr. Mul­li­gan was a promi­nent busi­ness­man — own­ing mul­ti­ple hotels — the term was more like­ly to catch on.’ At any rate, I like that the­o­ry, espe­cial­ly since the guy is both a David and a Cana­di­an.)

Any­way, Life Do-Over or not, we def­i­nite­ly seem to be restart­ing, and this trip made the Restart­ing line seem a bit clos­er and clear­er. We walked the city of Van­cou­ver sev­er­al times, took the Sky­train way out into the ‘burbs and back again in a big loop. We walked in parks, over the Granville Bridge (much to my dis­com­fort, as I still do not like walk­ing near the edge of pre­cip­i­tous areas like bridge side­walks), and to many places we would like to fre­quent (the Pub­lic Library, the Sym­pho­ny Hall, the Sea Wall — that last one by Pam alone). We looked at poten­tial con­do­mini­ums, watched for apart­ment rental signs, read news­pa­pers, watched some local TV and lis­tened to CBC radio. We bought food at local gro­ceries, pro­duce stands and bak­eries.

As for me, I hus­tled, schmoozed and did my best to learn about the local busi­ness scene, sign­ing up with 2 recruiters, and already inter­view­ing with 2 local busi­ness­es. My expe­ri­ences were near­ly all encour­ag­ing. I have a strong resume, lots of great expe­ri­ence, and I just have to work on how I present my port­fo­lio (a lit­tle rusty at that, I must admit). I found most peo­ple polite, inter­est­ing to talk to, and curi­ous about why a per­son from Boston would want to relo­cate to lit­tle-old Van­cou­ver, which does have a bit of a self-image of being a back­wa­ter eco­nom­i­cal­ly. If this is true, I’m hop­ing that the ‘big­ger fish in a small­er pond’ metaphor does hold true, and I’ll be able to make a name for myself there.

Frankly, giv­en that the cul­ture is so rich with so many immi­grants (tons of peo­ple from Chi­na and India), the cli­mate is so mild, the vis­tas so breath­tak­ing, the local gov­ern­ment enlight­ened and the pop­u­lace tol­er­ant, it’s only a mat­ter of time before the world begins to notice that this is one of the best places in the world in which to reside. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m sure I’ll miss Boston a lot, but with it’s polit­i­cal infight­ing, frigid win­ters, rude­ness, obses­sion with the Colo­nial past and theme park exploita­tion of it’s own her­itage, not to men­tion the abom­i­na­tions of Logan Air­port, the Hynes Con­ven­tion Cen­ter and Gov­ern­ment Cen­ter (ick, yuck and yech! respec­tive­ly), I’m going to have to say that it’s time for me to check out some new places.

A thought just came to me. At Pam’s and my wed­ding, some of Pam’s Aunts came over to us after the reception/luncheon, where we served Vichysoise, Poached Salmon withe some assort­ed sauces, rasp­ber­ry coulis, and Pra­line cake for a wed­ding cake. They exclaimed how they had nev­er eat­en any­thing like that before. In fact, I learned that one of them had rarely ven­tured out­side her 10-mile radius of Quin­cy. OK. Time to go now.

writ­ten while lis­ten­ing to: Strauss — Vier Let­zte Lieder — i. Früh­ling from the album “Strauss: Vier Let­zte Lieder” by Jessye Nor­man, sopra­no, The Leipzig Gewand­haus Orches­tra con­duct­ed by Kurt Masur

Socrates

In my last entry I was afraid that I would be writ­ing a eulo­gy soon for my cat Socrates. Sad­ly, this is the case.

We had to put Socrates to sleep yes­ter­day. The growth that was obstruct­ing his low­er intes­tine was tech­ni­cal­ly oper­a­ble, but the oper­a­tion would have involved some dif­fi­cult and painful surgery, includ­ing break­ing the poor animal’s pelvis in order to get at what­ev­er was there. After much painful delib­er­a­tion (espe­cial­ly because the seem­ing­ly nor­mal cat we were vis­it­ing for the last time didn’t seem to be in any pain — yet), we decid­ed that it would be cru­el to put him through a pro­ce­dure that would be chal­leng­ing for a healthy young cat, and more impor­tant­ly, would leave him with poor uri­nary func­tion. With his poor heart and kid­neys, he might not even have sur­vived the oper­a­tion.

Socrates was one of two cats that we got from a neigh­bor­hood lit­ter short­ly before we moved into our house. The lit­ter par­ents brought the whole lit­ter over to our house so that we could choose among them. One lit­tle cat snug­gled on my knee, where he stayed for near­ly the whole vis­it. The oth­er cat (who would be called Stef­fi after one of Pam’s rel­a­tives) was cho­sen main­ly because she seemed to be his play­mate.

I liked to name cats with S’s in their names because I had heard that their hear­ing is well-attuned to the hiss­ing of the ‘S’. As I said the pre­vi­ous entry, we real­ly should have called him ‘Fran­cis’ like the Saint, and his chat­ter­ing sounds at the birds were a real delight to Pam.

While Stef­fi was a typ­i­cal cat, aloof, quick to use her claws and fierce­ly loy­al to us (and dis­trust­ful of strangers) Socrates was any­thing but that. As a neigh­bor (and some­times cat-sit­ter) once put it: That cat’s a dog! Out­go­ing and vocal, Socrates was a con­stant com­pan­ion to Pam and me, see­ing us through good times and bad. When his sis­ter died in 2001, he helped com­fort us, and adjust­ed to being an ‘only child’ sur­pris­ing­ly well. He did give us a cou­ple scares, and per­haps even lost one of his nine lives the time that he end­ed up under the floor for about 3 hours (in dread­ful 90-degree heat) in the heating/air con­di­tion­ing duct­work when a care­less installer left the open­ing in the util­i­ty room uncov­ered. He was our soft, purring part­ner on the sofa for count­less movies and episodes of ‘The Sopra­nos’, and nev­er seemed to scold us when we returned from trips. He came down the stairs every day (again, like a dog), when I came home from work. Toward the end, we had to start call­ing him ‘Limpy’, because our poor arthrit­ic kit­ty was hav­ing trou­ble nego­ti­at­ing all of those flights. He did get picky and needy as he grew old­er, demand­ing that he get brushed by Pam after break­fast, and refus­ing to drink any water that wasn’t com­ing out of the bath­tub tap.

His absence leaves a gap­ing hole in our lives, and our once-homey cocoon of a town­house now feels, as Pam says ‘Like a Hotel Room’.

A last anec­dote that sums it up:
At the ani­mal hos­pi­tal where he spent his final few days, he was pret­ty much nor­mal, so on what turned out to be his last night alive, they had a ‘slow’ night. Since he was fine and they had time, they let him out to roam the wait­ing room and front desk area. I’m told that he was his usu­al charm­ing and affec­tion­ate self, rub­bing against all these strange peo­ple and purring. The tech said they all ‘bond­ed’ with him, and appar­ent­ly there were many tears by the staff before we said our final good-byes. As I always said, he was the cat that every­body loved, even if they didn’t like cats.

So, to my lit­tle bud­dy, my lit­tle gray friend, muf­fin-head, bright-eyes, but­ton, you’ll always be the cat who loved me back, not just as anoth­er acquain­tance, but as a spe­cial friend, and that I’ll always cher­ish.

Sick Kitty

Although I haven’t men­tioned him much in this blog, We have a cat with the his­tor­i­cal­ly but not per­son­al­i­ty-wise accu­rate name of Socrates. Socrates is not a philoso­pher-cat, and in ret­ro­spect, the prop­er name for him should have been Fran­cis, as in St. Fran­cis of Assisi, who was known to preach to the birds (and oth­er ani­mals). Socrates (the cat) talks to the birds, mak­ing that fun­ny chat­ter­ing noise that mon­keys do.

Not today, though. Yes­ter­day, our old friend of 13 1/2 years start­ed cry­ing and try­ing to use his lit­ter box at 5:00 AM, and then every 15 min­utes or so with no suc­cess. With­out giv­ing a com­plete med­ical his­to­ry, he’s show­ing many of the signs of being an senior feline. He’s got a slight­ly irreg­u­lar heart-beat, shrink­ing kid­neys, and needs to drink water a great deal. He now only drinks water from the bath­tub tap — a lab tech at the vet sug­gest­ed that this is an instinc­tu­al pref­er­ence for run­ning water because in the wild water­falls and brooks are usu­al­ly clean­er and safer, hence more attrac­tive to ani­mals as they age and don’t have the resis­tance to the microbes in stand­ing water. While I’ve nev­er seen this in print, it makes a heck of a lot of sense. This need for so much water (prob­a­bly due to not only the kid­neys, but some mild dia­betes) has an asso­ci­at­ed prob­lem; when the body can’t get enough water exter­nal­ly, it begins to draw it from inter­nal sources, like the colon. This con­tributes to (with­out minc­ing any words) hard stools. Com­bine this with less mus­cle tone, and our poor kit­ty can’t get his waste out of him. Add to this some swelling back there, and, well, you get the pic­ture. Poor Socrates threw up all of his break­fast, and we took him to the vet about mid-morn­ing. Then, after it wasn’t clear from X-rays what was exact­ly going on, he was going to need to be sedat­ed for ultra­sound, but the vet was clos­ing at 4. On to the ani­mal hos­pi­tal, where Socrates’s sis­ter Stef­fi spent her last hours back in 2001 (oh what a great year that was…).

Which brings us to today. He’s still there, and we’re going to vis­it him from 1 to 3. He’s going to be at the hos­pi­tal overnight tonight as well, and hope­ful­ly ultra­sound tomor­row (as well as mul­ti­ple ene­mas — poor thing!) will tell us what to do next. I hope that I don’t have to pre­pare a eulo­gy for my lit­tle friend so soon, but I have to say that I have it in the back of my mind. I’ll stop now before I get more into that.

Here’s a good chan­nel for those with cats too: bluebuffalofoundation.org.