Monday, June 30, 2008

Small Towns and Smaller Towns

This was a very pleasant weekend. On Saturday, I ate lunch with the Ex, and we signed all of the papers to separate our bank accounts and close the safety deposit box that we held together. Talking to him was really good. We laughed and had fun the way we did before things got unhappy. When you know someone for that long, just stopping and not seeing that person again is very hard.

My parents met when they were in a small-town grade school. They graduated from the same high school class and remember talking to each other, but they never dated. When they took my sister and me to see a movie at the old movie theater, Mom pointed at the balcony and said, "That's where people sat when they made out. I never went up there. Your dad was always up there." Dad looked embarrassed and said, "Yeah, that's probably right." Eventually though, they met again and got married.

Now when they tell stories, Mom remembers some parts and Dad remembers some parts. Dad can usually fill in the part that Mom wouldn't know. Mom was pretty sheltered, but no one kept too many tabs on Dad so he knows the exciting part of the story. On the other hand, Mom could tell us more about what actually happened in school. She says that it is a good thing she has Dad around because it takes the two of them to tell a complete story.

I do get some small town perks and opportunities to catch up with old friends. Wichita is the biggest small town ever. Seriously. Final Friday is a big event. On the last Friday of the month the art galleries in town open their doors, and people stroll from art gallery to art gallery. The trolley shuttles folks back and forth. All kinds of people are chatting and mingling and enjoying themselves. I see my parents' friends, old college friends, acquaintances, neighbors. Pretty much anyone could show up on Final Friday. This week was no exception and I enjoyed seeing the array of people who were out on a summer evening.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Things at the casa are looking better. The roof hasn't leaked since Dad talked to the roofer (although we haven't had substantial rain since then either). The dehumidifier is doing amazing things for the basement.

The Ex sent email updates about Atticus. The emails help me tremendously. I can tell he's being taken care of properly. When the Ex says, Atticus talks, it is appropriate to think of several minutes of loud, insistent meowing, which is normal for that cat. I'm sure the former in-laws thought they were getting a quiet cat to live in the basement with their son.

Update 1: "We're still wanting to hide, but we'll talk. Well, he'll talk to me, at least. So far, wet food hasn't been much of an incentive, but it's more interesting than the dry, at least, that's what he says. Dad says he'll stop hiding when he's ready, but I'm getting a little antsy to have him out and about."

Update 2: "He's been alternately hiding and insisting that I walk around and scritch him as he explores. Got him to eat a little lunch--the dry food--and spent about 45 minutes hunched over petting him as he cruised around the basement sniffing stuff. He went back into one of his hiding places after I went upstairs to get a sandwich, so it's like two steps forward, one step back. "

Basically, Atticus is living with someone who caters to his every whim, as he deserves. It is certainly better than he got from me. I'd cut him off after five minutes of scratching. Norah's much happier too now that she doesn't have to worry about a cranky, old cat whomping her on the head when he felt like it.

Last night I went out to dinner with the women. I was going to write "girls," but frankly, we're grown, we're adults, we've got opinions, and we've got careers. When I was a girl, I lived with my parents, had a curfew, thought everything would be okay if we were all nice to each other. Experiences change things.

We're grown ups. We're women. And let me tell you, that group of women can talk. And laugh. And eat. And carry on even more. It was a delicious dinner from the salad to the soup and lovely, right down to the last bite of white chocolate, raspberry cheesecake. Maybe that's why my stomach hurt too much to go to work today, but my heart was singing. I'm so fortunate to have all of these wonderful friends in my life.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lovely Weekend

This really was a wonderful weekend. It had the right balance of normal chores and relaxing. The last load of laundry is in the washing machine now and the kitchen is cleaned and stocked for another week. I've got things in order for whatever crazy stuff might happen this week. The roof might cave in (please don't let it happen), but by gum, I'll have clean underwear and matching socks. Maybe the vacuuming and mopping haven't happened yet, but some fun things did.

*Yoga on Saturday morning
*Walking with team Twist this morning and brunch at Sugar Sisters with the lovely Becca
*Sunday afternoon nap

This evening, I'm going to watch the gymnastics Olympic trials and paint my toenails. I am a delicate flower, after all.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Yup, more cat stuff

Nearly twelve years ago, I decided that I needed a cat. Immediately. It was the day before Thanksgiving and the shelters were closed. One pet store had rescued kittens -- the only cost was for the vaccinations. I immediately fell in love with a gregarious black kitten. He was pretty scraggly but he had charm and charisma. He purred all the time. I really wanted that cat. He kept moving between me and a reticent black kitten at the back of the cage. He'd get rubbed by me, and then he'd groom the kitten and return for more love.

My father constantly reminds cautions against anthropomorphizing, and I know I'm sentimental. Plus, my little sister means the world to me. When I saw that cat looking I after his brother, I knew that both cats were coming home with me. Maybe it should have been a warning sign when the pet store folks bickered about who had to pull the shy kitten from the cage.

As soon as we got home, the shy one disappeared under the couch. For several months, I only saw him as he dashed past me trying to get to another room without human contact. His brother and I were old pals by that time. I named him Trouser. The shy kitty was named Atticus since he was inordinately cautious and prudent. I'd just finished several semesters of Latin and Roman history, and I remembered Cicero's friend Atticus urging Cicero to leave the country to save his life. That pretty much matched the cat I saw lurking under the furniture.

The next year I was married and my husband won a fellowship in creative writing. All the grad students coveted that award because it meant a year to study and write without the burden of teaching classes. Just as dreamed, my husband spent the next year sitting on the couch, reading, writing, and drinking huge quantities of coffee. That was the year that Atticus decided people might be okay. He would sneak up next to my husband and carefully place himself in the same sunbeam. By the end of the year, he was pushing the books and papers off of my husband's lap and taking bites out of notebooks. After another year, he condescended to let me pet him. He took up meowing loudly and often. It's quite a bit like being lectured by a cat.

He and Trouser were good buddies. They romped, snuggled, played and beat the snot out of any other animal that dared to enter their house. In the evening, Trouser sat on my lap and Atticus sat on my husband's lap. Atticus has seemed more fragile since Trouser passed away.

Last week came a trip to the vet. According to the tests, Atticus has kidney disease. He needs to eat special low-protein cat food -- no more regular cat food for him -- and he will probably have some good years left. The kitten is not supposed to eat the low-protein food. Being natural contrarians, they swap food every time they get fed. Atticus' kidney disease would progress more quickly and the kitten might develop problems.

Sometimes doing the right thing is just plain hard. The ex was over on Sunday afternoon and I explained the problem to him. Atticus was so happy to see him that he was practically drooling. Then he walked in figure eights so he could butt his head against me, then the ex, then me. The ex agreed to take Atticus. Tonight I packed up some of the cat toys, the special food, and scratched the kitty as much as he demanded. I cried a little. The ex (and this is why it is impossible to hate him) cried a little. I imagine the two of them will be very happy in a bachelor pad somewhere where the ex still grades lots of papers and spends lots of time reading, writing and drinking very strong coffee. I have even been invited to visit sometimes.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Home Repair

A few short months ago my house was orderly. After a divorce, too much time at work, torrential rain, and a shot of bad luck, it needs some attention. The roof is leaking and water is seeping into the basement. The solution to the basement or even the source of the problem is elusive. The roof is under warranty so I've been diligently calling the company that installed it. It's a good, local company with many positive recommendations. I just cannot get them to fix my roof.

On the first visit, they trimmed the corners of a few shingles to prevent water from being diverted into my attic. After that, they stopped returning my phone calls. When I called from a local business, they answered the phone and were surprised to learn it was me--just at a different phone number. I learned something too: call from different phones. Following an amazing amount of negotiation, they set up an appointment with me. My Dad would meet them, and someone would attempt to repair the roof again.

Dad usually likes for me to be a grown up and handle these matters myself, but he said, "I'm a 5' 11' white man over 60. I'm bald and overweight. That makes people listen better." Gotta love Dad. He's really paying his Father's Day dues this year too. He actually loaned me a de-humidifier to deal with the moisture in the basement, but that's another story.

Despite my calling fifteen minutes before the appointment to confirm it, no one showed up to the appointment. Dad waited for an hour before he gave up. I called back and got profuse apologies about the miscommunication. Story du jour: the fellow who checks roofs decided to go to the doctor that morning and no one remembered to cancel his appointments. The person on the phone was pretty fuzzy about why I was able to confirm my appointment. Someone's meeting Dad tomorrow morning to look at the roof. Please let this be a real person, on time, and with the knowledge to fix a roof. Oh please, oh please.

In the meantime, Dad and I have had some extended phone conversations about how to deal with this. I'm starting to document interactions with the roofers: the conversations and dates and outcomes. It's pretty boring. I prefer to have things happen happily and without need for pressing the issue. However, I remember the price tag on that new roof, and spending another $11k is not an option. So documentation it is with some letters to the Better Business Bureau and the roofing company and anyone else who might listen. I'm not desperate enough to take it to the local news. Yet.

Dad thought I should increase my knowledge of the roofing industry, and he had some ideas about how to do it. He recommends calling up some roofers and offering to meet them at a bar and buy them a few beers. I'm assuming he forgot I'm a girl and this might give the wrong impression. About that time my mother started shrieking in the background about bad ideas and how she should talk to me on the phone at all times and never talk to my father. I said that he should tell her I was going to invite them over to my house for a barbeque.

My adulthood remains a secret from my mother. I thought that I had earned her respect by earning my own way, but now that I'm single, she's had a number of rules for me. In the past few weeks, she's laid down the law. No climbing ladders. (When Dad told her that I was cleaning gutters, she drove to my house to tell me to get off the ladder.) Don't ride bicycles in the street. Don't open the door for strangers. She comes by it honestly. Her own mother at age 92 still calls to tell my mother how to drive.

I'm not above teasing Mom. Apparently Dad isn't either because he mentioned that I should buy at least three or four beers for each person. He mentioned it several times. Mom started to sound really distressed so he said, "Your mother wants to talk to you. She wants to tell you what kind of beer to buy." Mom thinks that I should never even talk to roofers -- not even at my house. She thinks Dad should do it all for me. I plan to be more involved than that.

I'll probably look up roofing on the internet. It's hard to go wrong with the internet. After all, any medical diagnoses I find on the internet tell me I'll die. Taking that to its logical conclusion, my roof will fall in and the basement will flood, but it can all be fixed with antibiotics and steroids and rest and watching tv. I really like to watch tv. It helps me forget about bad things.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Once again, the lovely, yarny ladies from Knit in Public and Twist had a great idea. They're training for the Turkey Trot, a 5k on November 22. They've even inspired me to start training. I'm planning to stroll.

This is turning out to be lots of fun. Jackie, Shelly, Miss A, and Andie met at 8 am this morning to walk. After our walk, we adjourned to Sugar Sisters and sampled the goodies. The cheesy grits with jalapenos were very good.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Starting Over

I haven't been posting too much lately. Work has been very hectic. Hopefully this won't jinx anything -- I think that the busy times will be over by the end of this week. Fortunately, my manager is wonderful, and he understood when I needed an afternoon off to do laundry. He even thought it was funny when I said I didn't want to have to call in to work because I was naked. (Yeah, I'm still kicking myself for saying that one outloud. Some day, I'm going master the art of self-censoring.)

As of Thursday, I'm officially single. I brought in Saturday's mail and read the decree again while I ate my cereal. I'm sad, but I'm sad for had been in years past and what might have been in the future. I'm not sad for ending the marriage that we had. The guy actually left, and after remembering our relationship over the last year, I realize he'd been gone long before he packed his things and left. As one of my friends reminds me, "Marriage is a choice you make everyday. He quit making that choice." I'm left with an empty feeling and lots of missing trust. Thank goodness for friends. I've got wonderful friends in abundance, and I'm very grateful for them.

I made my first major purchase as a single woman yesterday: an Electra Townie. I plan to ride it everywhere within a five-mile radius of home. Why five miles? Because I know I'll be able to make it back home. I hope that I'll be able to go further than that by the end of the summer. In the meantime, I'm looking for the right kind of bags to attach to the rack in the rear and a basket for the front. If this is my transportation, I'll need to be able to haul things.