Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cat Parties

My house, I’m sad to say, has become what looks like a wind tunnel testing area. Clothes from both of us are everywhere, shoes line the hallway and wet towels from swimming adorn most of the downstairs doorknobs (Lola sometimes just drops them on the floor - - the doorknob option is a quick fix until I take the them upstairs to put in the dryer). In addition, there are several blankets moved from room to room (or level to level) and rugs bunched up at the end of the hallway, courtesy of the cats. So it appears I don’t pick up after just two residents, but actually four!

Here is just one example of a typical day at the house:

"Oh, are you leaving? We'll be good - - we're just going to take a nap."

"We promise we won't rug surf!"


"ohhhhhhh, hi.....this is not what it looks like...."

Oh, yes, there are rug-surfing parties, litter box parties (where they see who can knock the litter scoop into the box and bury it first), slam-dancing parties (they usually have those while we are home), and massage parties (pictured below).

"Ohhhhhh, I am sooo relaxed....this head massage rocks!"

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lola's 12th Birthday

Every few days since the middle of May Lola had reminded me exactly how many days there were until her birthday. As the big day approached it was interesting to watch her increased excitement. Strangely enough, this year she didn’t ask a lot of questions about her presents. I had sent her off with Kimmi one evening so I could stay home and do a little gift-wrapping, and when Lola came home she asked me if I had gotten her ‘surprises’ wrapped. The subject was pretty much abandoned after I assured her they were definitely wrapped.

And so, the big day finally came - - June 27 - - and it began just like every other Saturday with horseback riding lessons, lunch, then ice-skating lessons. Her party was scheduled for 3pm, with her invitees meeting us at the skating rink for a couple hours on the ice, then a short drive to Pizza Hut for dinner, cupcakes and gift-opening. We had invited about 20 people, including children, their parents and several adult invitees but when the day came we had only four children (Boris, Nastya, Nastya’s little sister Masha, and Natalie, a friend of Lola’s from horseback lessons) and their parents. The others whom Lola had invited were busy with summer vacation, church activities and other obligations. Even so, it was a fun day and Lola had a wonderful time spending time with the friends that were able to attend.

Boris & Lola begging Boris' dad to skate


Nastya & Natalie

Lola practicing her lunge

Lola & Nastya

Just Goofing Around

The pizza party (opening gifts)

Nastya, Masha, Lola and Boris

Later, after the party, Lola opened her other gifts with Petie and Sebastian's help.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Need For Speed

As usual, we went ice-skating last Sunday - - - it was Father’s Day and the lack of attendance at the rink made skating a wonderfully private event. As usual, I had to have a few fast laps around the rink - - and as I was happily speeding down the ice I noticed a patch of water at about the same time I touched it with my skate blade. The presence of the water created somewhat of a braking effect and I didn’t have time to adjust my balance for it. However, rather than land face first on the ice I did manage to shift my weight and bend my knees a bit so as to land properly (or so I thought). Even so, I landed squarely on my rear end and at that moment a feeling of both extreme pain and a wash of intense heat inside my lower trunk took place. I then crawled out of what seemed to be about a quarter-inch of water standing at the end of the rink! Lola came over to see if I was ok and I sat in the bleachers for about ten minutes, all the while fighting nausea and light-headedness that accompanied the pain and numbness in my butt and tingling in my hands! I do hate that when I’m injured my body betrays me by acting ill!

So there I sat, scolding myself for having a need for speed, and gradually the light-headedness subsided. So what did I do? Why, I got back out there on the ice and skated some more, of course!! I didn’t hurt as much at that point, although I knew that pain-free feeling wouldn’t last.

When we went home the reality began to set in. I couldn’t bend over, couldn’t sit in a chair without looking startlingly akin to Tim Conway in his famous “old man” skit, and had a hilarious time crawing (literally) into bed, all the while muttering “ow, ow, OW!” under my breath. Lola, of course, was thinking this was quite entertaining, but was maybe just a LITTLE sympathetic.

Getting up the next morning for work was an adventure in itself. I knew it would take longer than usual. I called the doctor and set up an appointment to see what she could determine. I had x-rays taken at lunchtime. The doctor asked if I was taking anything for the pain and I was literally surprised, because it never occurred to me that I could have done that. Why? I don’t know. I guess I just figured it was my own fault for going too fast and therefore I felt as though I was pretty much destined to own the pain. The option of taking an Advil or whatever was not even in my realm of thinking!

After the x-rays I went back to work and by late afternoon felt ok enough to attend my first official ice skating lesson. My instructor was very understanding and I had a good time in spite of hurting!

I didn’t get the x-ray results back until today, and per the radiologist, nothing is broken! HOORAY!!!!!! So all I need to do is relax and chill out and wait to heal whatever got scrambled around in there. And yes, it still hurts! But it’s getting slightly less intense each day…

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


No matter where I am I love to watch people - - - in their cars, walking, waiting for the bus, it doesn’t matter. People are simply fun to observe! This morning while driving to work my point of interest for the day was to make note of how people walk. I find it fascinating that everyone has their own unique gait. Some are fast, or slow, choppy, smooth, slinky, loping, lazy or agitated. I have never thought about it, but I wonder if a person’s gait belies or agrees with their personality? Hmmmmm….I wonder if government grants are given out to study such things? I’m sure they have been awarded for stranger studies…

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Here Kitty Kitty

I woke up this morning and went downstairs to feed the cats and the only one attending the daily can-opening ritual was Petie. I thought it odd that Sebastian wasn’t there, but opened a can of their favorite food and divided it evenly between two small bowls. Upon placing the bowls on the floor, Petie sniffed at one and walked away. I was a bit surprised, and told him he was too picky, while adding comments about all the starving stray cats in Atlanta. I then went to find Sebastian, with Petie following in hot pursuit. Sebastian was lounging in the courtyard, and when he saw me he hopped down from his perch on the table and came inside. They both followed me to the kitchen, where Petie excitedly showed Sebastian that their breakfast was ready. When Petie made sure Sebastian was beside him, they both began to eat.

I realized at that moment that Petie wasn’t being picky by not eating his food ------it was because he was being polite and wanted to wait for his brother!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Affirmation

Last night was baseball night!! Lola, Kimmi and I got tickets to see the Braves play, so we rode MARTA to Turner Field. We all love baseball and were rather excited when at the bottom of the ninth inning the game was tied 6-6. It ran into extra innings – 15 total - - and the Braves WON 7-6! It was about 1:00 am when we got home, but it was worth it! The only drawback was that I had to go to work the next day…

On a more serious note, the strangest/coolest thing happened on the ride home in MARTA. While riding, there was a young man passing out flyers, and of course, requesting donations. At first I didn’t want a flyer and politely told him no thank you. But Lola wanted one. She asked me to read it to her. Here is an excerpt from it:

Proverbs 13:20 – ‘He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed’.

“Everyone can’t be in your front row. There are some people in your life that need to be loved from a distance. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you let go of draining, negative, not-going-anywhere relationships. Observe the relationships around you. Which ones lift and which ones lean? Which ones encourage and which one discourage? Which ones are on a path of growth uphill and which ones are just going downhill? The more you seek God, the more you seek growth, peace of mind, love and truth around you. The more you seek God the easier it will become for you to decide who gets to sit in the front row and who should be moved to the balcony of your life. You cannot change the people around you…but you can change the people you are around! Ask God for wisdom and discernment and choose wisely the people who sit in the front row of your life.”

It was something that was nudging at me quite a bit lately, but I just needed it there in front of my face to affirm some decisions I have recently made. I had been contemplating my relationships with others for quite some time and had to re-evaluate whether some are healthy for me or if they are pulling me down. After much thought I made the decision back in early April to let go of one of these and move that person ‘to the balcony’ because the relationship was not spiritually healthy for either Lola or myself. I have been patiently trying to nurture a new friendship because I feel a very strong connection there. We shall see how that progresses. For now it is in ‘the balcony’, but I hope it may relocate to ‘the front row.’

I have also realized the burden that has been lifted from me by making the decision to let go. It boils down to self-preservation. It is preservation of a positive environment for my daughter and myself. I am now a walking example for Lola in dealing with different types of relationships and how it is necessary to surround ourselves with only positive, peaceful and loving people. On the other hand, I must also be an example in showing how those in the balcony of our lives are given love and care, but with a bit of distance and caution as well.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Progress on the Ice

I can now ice skate a little faster backwards and can now do front crossovers in both directions (one direction being a little easier than the other). I can now also STOP (sort of)!! Lola, as usual, is learning more new moves. She has now taught herself to do lunges. Next on the list is the bunny hop. We both have signed up for lessons beginning the last full week of June. I was pleased there was finally a weekday evening class offered for adults, since the other adult class was always scheduled during her horseback riding lessons on Saturdays.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Two-Gear Horse

Lola went to her horseback riding lesson and it has been determined she is ready to learn to canter! She’s excited to learn, but sad to know that she will be training on a horse other than Apache for this phase of her training. She rode a dark chestnut named Will - - a very sweet horse, but he had only two gears - - walk and canter. I guess Lola got her wish to canter a little sooner than expected, since this lesson was to walk and trot on Will in order to get accustomed to his gait and personality. She wants to ride him again, so I guess she likes him! More on this after the next lesson.

What We Did on Our Summer Vacation

We embarked upon our journey to the beaches of Hilton Head around lunchtime on May 29th and arrived in the late afternoon. We ran into quite a bit of heavy rain and much thunder and lightning on the way, so the trip time was somewhat longer than usual. This three-day trip was strictly for relaxation. We swam every day in the hotel pool, and then went to the beach a block away and swam some more! Another perk was that we were just 50 yards from the Van der Meer Tennis Center. All I can say about that is - - - EYE CANDY!!! I could have watched some of those tennis players for HOURS!!

For breakfast we went to a popular local place called Kenny B’s French Quarter Café. They offer a nice buffet breakfast for a very reasonable price, and the owner is a HUGE Georgia Bulldogs fan so there is Bulldog memorabilia all over the café, in addition to murals of the New Orleans French Quarter. He also brings his bulldog in the restaurant as an added attraction. Lola, being the eternal dog lover, was so excited to see the bulldog and spent several minutes petting him and posed for a photo!

We left Hilton Head on June 1 and drove home to see if a strike was called yet at my company. YAY! No strike yet! We did a quick load of laundry, repacked the suitcase, and got up the next morning to embark upon our journey to Las Vegas.

The purple suitcase is ours!

The flight to our stopover in Houston was totally easy - - - the flight from Atlanta was only delayed 30 minutes, so Lola and I played UNO (our favorite airport time-killing activity). We had a very short layover, then off to Vegas. On the way we just happened to look out the window of the plane and saw the Grand Canyon!!! It is so amazing, no matter from what angle!!

Upon arrival we boarded a shuttle bus to the Venetian hotel. The per night price on the accommodations was a steal and our suite was heavenly!! We arrived in the mid-afternoon, so we did a little swimming at the hotel pool, then went to a buffet at the Imperial Palace down the street for dinner.

Lola discovered that night that she LOVES crab legs!!! She was a total shrimp fanatic in Mexico last summer, and now she likes crab legs. Who knows? Maybe someday she will decide upon tasting lobster that it is good, too!

Our hotel had what we have determined takes the title for The World’s Most Comfy Bed. We never wanted to leave our soft, conforming pillow-top environment, but of course the pool and the adventure beyond the room beckoned.

Lola was enamored with the deep bathtub (much like the standard bathtub in Russia) and made it a point to take a long tub bath every evening before bed. The TV mounted near the ceiling in the bathroom was a good perk as well, so she could soak in bubbles and watch Spongebob Squarepants at the same time.

We were out and about one afternoon and found the most wonderful little booth that sells Iris Impressions reversible skirts. The long skirts can be tied to be nearly anything you want it to be - - halter dress, bandeau dress, skirt, top, whatever the imagination can invoke! We liked them very much and after having made our purchase we went back to the room to design our dress style for the evening and then went to dinner.

Rick, one of my long-lost-but-now-found friends from a band I was in back in the mid-1980’s (he is a guitarist) happened to be in Las Vegas the same time we were there but unfortunately, as much as we tried to get together for lunch or dinner it just didn’t seem to work out. He and I did talk on the phone for a couple hours (while Lola yawned dramatically from ultimate boredom and wrote me little notes telling me how utterly booooooooring our conversation was). Perhaps one day we’ll see one another in person and will be able to catch up more. I must say, though, even if Lola was bored listening to my end of the conversation she sure did have fun hearing all my stories about the adventures Rick and I had with the other band members. Rick and I were best buds and partners in crime when in came to practical jokes played on the other band members. It was good to talk to him again, and while doing so I realized how much my speech pattern has slowed down since I moved to the South. I speak much more slowly than when I lived in the Midwest and now Rick’s speech seems to me like the verbal Evelyn Wood Speed Reading Course. I can follow him pretty well, but it’s just so much DIFFERENT from the everyday speech I encounter here in Atlanta.

During the course of our trip Lola and I swam several times in the hotel pool, walked around to see other hotels, went to the M&M store, rode on the Monorail, went to a McDonalds that is up an escalator off the street, ate at the Imperial Palace for dinner every night, made friends with one of the girls at the skirt booth, drank Starbucks Chai Latte, watched the Siren and Pirate show outside the Treasure Island Hotel, saw the volcano erupt at the Mirage, saw the dancing water show at the Bellagio, and every night fell into bed exhausted!

Our trip home from Vegas began about 4am on June 5. It was way too early in the morning and Lola was sooooo reluctant to wake up, but we did make it to the airport on time and the flights were both very smooth and as always, very fun. We both LOVE to fly and have such joy when the planes take off and land. The two of us just giggle and grasp the armrests of our seats as if we’re about to be thrust at warp speed into outer space. Again, I must pat myself on the back for purchasing the portable DVD player last year. This little device has been intrinsic in keeping us both occupied during long car trips and flights. It has to rank up there as one of the best inventions ever!

We finally arrived in Atlanta - - missing the fun of Vegas, but happy to be home. The cats did indicate they were glad to see us, but neither one of them did the huge dramatic welcome that Scooter and Boo Boo always displayed. I guess we’ll have to get used to these two being very low-key…