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Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

Almost 14 years ago, in Independence, Missouri, I was on my way to an appointment to see a Persian kitten.  I had recently lost my beautiful cat, Casper, who had lived a full 18 years.  I missed him and was lonely for the whiskery love of a cat.  For years, I had thought Persian cats were gorgeous and was not thinking beyond that.  I wasn’t sure how to get to the lady’s home and this was pre-GPS days, so I took note of the directions and started out early – I don’t like to be late.  I got to the area a full half-hour early, but saw a PetsMart near her home and wanted to look for a few cat toys.

And that decision to stop at PetsMart changed the course of what was to be and began my love affair with my new cat, Rascal.  When I went into the store, I realized they were running an adoption program for pets from the local animal pound.  I saw an adorable litter of kittens with their tuxedo mom.  Wanting a male cat, I asked if there were any males in the litter and they said, “two”.  I started playing with the male tuxedo kitten and all he was interested in was going back to play with his sisters.

I then asked which other one was male and they pointed out the little mackerel tabby sitting in the corner of the litter box, watching the rough and tumble play of his siblings.  I wasn’t sure he was a cat I was interested in, but I said I’d like to see him.  And that was it.  They placed him on the table in front of me and he ran to me, climbed up my shirt and snuggled at my neck.  I laughed and my heart melted.  I set him back on the table and he did the same thing…purring in my ear and snuggling in for life.  I called the lady with the Persian kitten and apologized that I would not be there.  But I knew I had made the right decision.

Rascal was a one-person cat.  He adored me and hissed and growled at almost everyone else, especially the vet – and anyone who worked there.  He purred like a motor-boat if I looked at him.  When I stroked his lovely chin and forehead, he squinted his gorgeous, green eyes and purred louder.  He loved me and I loved him.

My beautiful boy, Rascal.  His nose was reddish brown, with a dark outline.  It almost looked like a heart shape.

My beautiful boy, Rascal. His nose was reddish brown, with a dark outline. It almost looked like a heart shape.

Rascal spent the next two years with me, keeping me company and we were happy to hang out on the couch, curled up with a book or watching television.  His adventurous spirit was limited to hanging out on the windowsill, watching the birds, other cats and some squirrels playing in the yard.  He didn’t like the outdoors at all and if the door opened, he ran to the bedroom, hiding under the bed.

When he was two, my new love, Beau came to visit my house for the first time.  I expected that Rascal would hide until he was gone, but my shock could not have been bigger.  Rascal walked over to him and the doorway, rubbed against his legs and purred.  And when Beau sat down on a chair in the living room, Rascal hopped up behind his head and curled up, content to hang out with him.  My sweet, one-person cat had just become a two-person cat.  And that would last for the rest of Rascal’s life.

Beau and I were married several months later and Rascal and I flew from the United States to Germany to live with my new hubby while he finished the last bit of his 5 years working for the US Government in Germany.  Rascal thrived in Germany!  He loved the marble windowsills and the radiators that heated them in winter.  His favorite places were on those sills, watching the birds, the comings and goings of the neighbors and the distance he maintained from our landlord’s beagle and sitting in front of the balcony door.  But our time in Germany ended and we hopped on another plane, back to the United States and Texas – our new home.

Rascal

Rascal’s next nine years were years of love, contentment and his happiness being a two-person cat. His favorite window was in the patio door. He pushed the curtain aside and would stare out – and panic if I was outside. I think he couldn’t quite comprehend why anyone, ever, would want to be outdoors. He’d watch every move I made until I came back inside.

And then he seemed to get hair balls all the time, started losing weight, and I knew that something was wrong.  His frequent visits to the vet began last May.  We dealt with treatments for the hairballs, he had a few bad teeth removed and he seemed to stabilize.  And then he began to lose more weight.  At first, we assumed it was because we had changed his diet to accommodate his fewer teeth, the need to keep his food more moist.

But then six weeks later, he was sick again.  And we returned to the vet…again and again.  Finally, I realized there was something much more wrong with him.  I saw him every day, but even I knew he was losing a lot of weight.  My once fat, fluffy cat who had weighed in at one point over 17 lbs was now at 11 lbs.  And that was when he was diagnosed with an intestinal tumor.

Our wonderful vet removed the tumor and sent it in for a biopsy.  We were told that Rascal’s tumor was cancerous, but that of the two types, it was the lesser and the margins were clean and it had not progressed to lymph nodes.  My optimism returned.  I thought we were going to still keep my baby with us for a few more years.  A month later, we discovered more issues and then the diagnosis that there was likely another mass in his intestines.

At that point, we took him home to enjoy his last days.  To the bitter end, my sweet, loveable Rascal looked at me with love, wanted to be held, snuggled and purred whenever I looked at him or stroked his beautiful face.  I adore him still and miss that face and the love he gave me from that first day at PetsMart.  I will never love a cat the way I loved him.  He was there for me during my time alone and accepted my husband into our life unconditionally…and with no hesitation.

“What greater gift than the love of a cat.” ~ Charles Dickens 

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Recently, I attended the third in a four-part series of one-day retreats on leadership. The series examines the four seasons and how they relate to leadership and to our lives. I must admit, Spring has always been my favorite season and that was reinforced by the retreat’s activities and discussions.  At the end of the session, we were asked how we would like the world to be as we were lying on our death bed.  It may sound gruesome, but it was eye-opening.  So many of us looked for the “perfect” world–kindness toward each other, no discrimination, no starvation or homelessness, no more dependence on oil, no wars.  It was simply a view of utopia.  And it sounded wonderful. 

Strangely, that’s almost how spring makes me feel.  It’s a fresh beginning of hope as plants peek through the earth, leaves and blossoms start to appear in the trees and the sun shines, warm rains fall and the earth is washed clean of the grime and gloom of winter.  Spring is joyful.  Spring is life-affirming.  Spring is a new beginning.  It’s so nice to have a new beginning each year.   

Pink and White Dogwoods

One of the sure signs that Spring has sprung is the redbud tree in my back yard.  Nothing makes me smile more than redbud trees, daffodils and tulips, and dogwood trees. 

In Texas, though, the sure sign of Spring is bluebonnets.  They are, if we are lucky and it’s been a fairly wet winter and early Spring, everywhere!  Fields and fields of bluebonnets and other wild flowers appear out of nowhere.  And the smell of those wild flowers!  Wow!  It is indescribable!

Texas Bluebonnets

When I feel the need to be refreshed, I look at the pictures of the redbuds, dogwoods, and bluebonnets.  And I feel like celebrating again. 
Now I am off to work on my homework from the leadership session.  By May, I need to do something (or several somethings) to work toward that utopia…that world I would like to have when I am on my deathbed.  And no time like the present…when Spring has sprung, my redbud is beautifully in bloom, I feel like celebrating life and everything seems possible.

My redbud tree

‘The year’s at the spring
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hillside’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven –
All’s right with the world!”
~Robert Browning

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Texas Bluebonnets

We had a bumper crop of bluebonnets this year!

Texas Bluebonnets

“Fair flowers are not left standing along the wayside long.” ~ German Proverb

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I feel like I’ve had such a creative day!  I was looking for something to do this weekend that didn’t involve being outdoors.  South Texas is experiencing a record-breaking number of 100-plus degree days this year and I can’t stand the heat!  So, I decided to look for something fun to do indoors away from home.  I’ve been cooped up too long in the job search (except for the occasional foray out for an interview or for networking sessions) and I came across a website for a business that sounded interesting.  Have you ever heard of a pottery painting place before?  I guess I must be living in a bubble, but I thought this sounded intriguing.  The deal is, you go in, pick out the piece of pottery you want to paint, they supply the brushes, the paint, etc. and you paint away.  There is a basic fee for using their supplies and then you pay for the piece of pottery you choose to paint.  And when you’re finished painting, you leave the mess for them to clean up, you leave your pottery and they will fire it, and you go home…a little poorer, but a lot happier!  I had such a good time (my dear hubby didn’t enjoy it, but he said he had fun watching me having fun–isn’t he sweet), that I want to get some of my friends together for a Pottery Painting Party.  Who wouldn’t love to have wine, appetizers and a private room to party and paint?? 

So, when we got there, I decided to paint a teapot.  I love to drink tea, so what better to paint than my very own teapot.  And Beau decided to paint the smallest item he could find…a ring holder for me.  I thought he’d pick something that could be used in his new office.  Nope.  I think he was afraid it would look like the soap dish he made in grade school.  Anyway, back to the teapot.  Well, I am a transplant from Kansas and really do miss it.  And I’m also a huge fan of the color yellow.  So, I decided to paint sunflowers on my teapot.  I started out sketching a large sunflower on each side and then I put a sunflower on the lid and one on the spout.  Then I put two very small ones on the handle.  I used a small sponge to dab light blue paint all over as a background.  I think it will be pretty nice once it has been glazed and fired.  I hope.  If it turns out okay, I’ll be adding a photo to this post.  If not, well, you’ll never see it.  Now I have the urge to be creative again soon.  I just have to decide what to do next on a miserably hot weekend in San Antonio. 

“The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” ~ Edwin H. Land

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The Secret Surprise

My dear, sweet hubby and I have started a new tradition…the Secret Surprise.  We thought it would get us out of the house and doing something that one of us planned secretly as a surprise for the other one.  And so far, we’ve had some fun and some not-so-successful outings, but we’re learning more about each other at the same time.  So, I’d say even the “not-so-successful” outings have turned out to be good for us. 

Today, we had another Secret Surprise.  This time, it was my turn to plan, so I thought we’d go somewhere we’ve never been.  Texas is a big state and I’m always interested in seeing parts of the countryside I haven’t seen.  So, off we go, up I-35 toward San Marcos and we took exit 204.  We picked up RR12 and headed west, which took us through old, downtown San Marcos.  It is a cute area and reminded me a bit of Lawrence, Kansas, another college town.  I figure there will come a day when we explore that more, but we were just passing through today.  We kept traveling along RR12 and then picked up RR32.  Almost immediately, we were at one of our destinations…Devil’s Backbone.  It really was a scenic stretch of road with views on either side that were impressive.  Of course, since I was driving, I kept my eyes on the road!  I was very surprised to find out it is only about a 3-4 mile stretch of road, though.  In the websites I visited to learn about it, no one mentioned that!  So, on we went, looking for more…and on and on we drove.  Before too long, we were in Blanco and stopped by the little BBQ place on the square near the old courthouse, Riley’s BBQ.  It was good (and packed)!  We drove back home on Hwy 281 and the highlight of the trip (at least for Beau) was when we drove back into San Antonio and he found out they had (finally) built a Ruby Tuesday!!!!  Yes, he was elated!  If we’d not been in the car, he’d have been doing a Snoopy Happy Dance. 

I’ve discovered, the best part about Secret Surprise is learning more about what makes the other happy (and what doesn’t).   I’ve also discovered I won’t ever again ask to be let in on the surprise early.  It really ruins the anticipation.  I did that last week and the excitement of the surprise was ruined.  So, now it’s Beau’s turn to plan the next Secret Surprise and I’m sure it will be fun in one way or another!

“We love to expect, and when expectation is either disappointed or gratified, we want to be again expecting.” ~ Samuel Johnson 

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The Alamo

The Alamo

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The last Saturday of every month, the Houston Street Fair & Market is held.  We have lived in San Antonio for over six years and have never been.  Why is it so hard to remember that it’s the last Saturday of the month?  I mean, I can remember that Gruene Market Days are the 3rd weekend of every month, but Houston Street just slips my mind!  Well, this morning, we got up, got ready and trekked downtown.  Let’s just say, I’ll be forgetting it from now on.  I know that there are lots of activities in town I enjoy.  This wasn’t one of them.  I guess it was geared for the more intrepid (it was a tad warm and there wasn’t a lot of shade–an important commodity in southern TX!) and geared towards families with smaller children (we only have the four-legged variety), but even the crafts left me cold.  And if you know anything about me, you know I like to shop.  I literally found only one booth that intrigued me.  And I wasn’t intrigued enough to buy anything.  I had gone prepared.  Hit the ATM on the way and had my grubby little fingers (yes, they were grubby from sweating in the heat) wrapped around the cash.  Oh, well.  Better off just heading to Gruene next month.  Let’s see, that’s the third weekend of the month, isn’t it?   YEP!  And I’ll be ready.

“Disappointment, when it involves neither shame nor loss, is as good as success; for it supplies as many images to the mind, and as many topics to the tongue.” ~ Samuel Johnson

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