Saturday, April 12, 2014

Shoulda Known Better

You would think after Grandpa that I would've given up predicting - incorrectly - the ETD (Estimated Time of Death) of anyone in the family. You would be wrong. After that sweet and loving good-bye to the beautiful Isabella, she actually began to improve for a bit. In fact, she lived a full week and 3 hours after we woke Devon up at 2am to say his farewells.

Most of that time was spent in a cat bed on my bed, feted and fawned over 18 hours a day. Up until the last 2 days, anyway, where Wannabe became so concerned about her that he kept sitting on her and trying to hatch her. We had to move her into the bathroom at that point. She finally slipped away just after 5am on Sunday morning.

Since she ended up so quickly an only kitten, and with a pretty inept mother (sorry, Squishy - love ya anyway), there were many aspects of catness that she had to learn from the other cats. We got a big kick out of watching her copying the bigger guys. She learned to curl up on our bed and sleep from Wannabe. Also how to bathe. Pretty much, Squishy's idea of bathing is to stand in front of one of the other cats till they give up and wash her. I'm glad there was someone else to teach Isabella how to keep clean.

She learned how to sit erect and stare disapprovingly from Expensia, though she was too cute to be really intimidating. She learned how to play from the terrible trio I still call "The Kittens", even though they're fully grown. Several are fully over-grown. But the one thing she still didn't do was purr.

Pretty much a cat that doesn't purr is disabled. Practically defective. Bell-bell had a lot going for her, but no matter how much we lavished attention on her, not even one little brrt could be heard. We'd long since given up any hope, figuring she'd always be a non-purrer like her mother. It was the only thing that kept her from being purrfect.

Then she got sick again, and I took to mixing her antibiotics in milk. It was like magic! She even knew when it was time for the next dose, because she would follow me into the bathroom, jump from floor to toilet to drawer, and PURRRRR as loudly as she could to let me know she was ready.

That's how I'll always remember her - brave, funny, and coming into her own.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Fair Isabella

She was born on my bed. It was awkward.

Jack, aka The Cat Whisperer, is used to all the family's felines glomming onto him like a giant fur blanket. But even he was unprepared for Squishy's devotion. One day, she was lying next to him on the bed, stretched along his forearm, with both arms wrapped around his elbow, when he felt an odd firmness in her abdomen. "Hey, Dear! Come quick; I think she's in labor!"

And so she was. All over his side of the bed. When efforts to move her failed, we got a bunch of towels to put under her, trying to preserve the dignity of our comforter as much as we could. Good thing it was burgundy to start with. 

Before you know it, two little bullets were deposited onto the bed, one white, one black. The white one was dead the next morning, leaving little Isabella the sole recipient of all the kitten love in the house. As soon as she could walk, she figured out how to climb up onto the bed - Jack's side, of course - and curl up. Once in a ball, she was only about the size of an orange, and we were terrified we'd crush her in our sleep. She solved that problem by sleeping across Jack's neck. 

As she grew, she became the darling of all but 2 of the bigger cats. Elsie took the longest to win over, but even her fortified heart was at last conquered. Here is Isabella helping Elsie with a favorite pastime, on the last day of last year.

From the time she was a few months old, she was quite sick several times, needing to take antibiotics and still not doing super great. But one Friday afternoon about 3 weeks ago, she walked into my room, her hind legs not quite walking like they were supposed to. A long story and several vet bills later, we found out that she has FIP, Feline Infectious Peritonitis. It's a virus that attacks white blood cells, and there's no cure. 

Cheerful in spite of her death sentence, Isabella flopped from one part of the house to the next, still hanging out with all her big buddies, not only the other cats, but Clancy, too. She was too weak to jump off the bed without getting hurt, so she could no longer sleep with me. Many nights, I put Wannabe, our oldest tomcat, in with her for company. He's a good momma cat, and curled up with her so sweetly so she wouldn't be lonely. 

Finally, a couple nights ago, she was too weak to move around, and I let her sleep next to me, blocked in with a body pillow. Before long, she had tucked herself under the covers, draped over my shoulder like she always used to. Potto decided she was rather lacking in cleanliness, and did his best to change that.

Yesterday morning, Bella was still sitting up eating her food enthusiastically. By nightfall, her kidneys had almost entirely shut down, and she was almost gone. I was shocked that she lived through the night, and even more surprised that she's still sleeping quietly next to me as I write this. When she opens her eyes, she's not happy till she sees that I'm there with her. The kids are helping me make sure she's never alone when she wakes. 

Soon, probably later today or tomorrow, our precious Bella will leave us. Till then, we'll be right here. Watching over her. Making sure she knows how much we love her. Letting her fall asleep in peace.

Sweet dreams, little Bella. We'll see you again.

3 Days Ago

Friday, March 7, 2014

P90G - Weeks 7B-13A, B, and C

At long, long last, P90G has come to an end. By the time I got done repeating numerous weeks due to illnesses and tragedy (the kids’ grandpa on Jack’s side of the family died unexpectedly of liver failure), it was considerably longer than 90 days. At times, it was considerably divergent from Gentle, too.
I mentioned that for the last section, I would be making some adjustments to add some difficulty to my workouts. One of those was to phase out Air Pullups, and do Almost-real Pullups. Frankly, Air Pullups were hard enough at first. I’m now up to 8 Almost-real Pullups per set, with one toe on a chair to give a bit of a boost. (With legs the consistency of pudding by that part of the workout, it’s not as much of a boost as you might expect.) Anyway, the P90X guy said that was ok, so technically it’s not cheating.
This last change gave rise to a new event in the Feline Olympics. You already know about the Swinging Leg Dive, where the contestants wait until I’m mid-kick before trying to dart between my legs without getting hurled across the room. I've nearly perished more than once as my flying foot met fur instead of floor.
While Jack was home, he got to see the Double Shoulder Balance Lounge, where Jax stepped onto my back while I was doing a sad imitation of pushups, draping himself across my shoulders. Let me tell you, having a tubby tabby aboard increases the difficulty level quite a bit.
The new event is the Screaming Death Pullup. Damon’s enormous fluffy gray cat, Potto, is the only contender. Potto’s favorite hangout is atop the pullup bars. He lies along them, paws hanging down leopard-style, and beach ball belly hanging down sumo wrestler style. A gray sumo leopard.  If you watch all the way to the end of thisclip of Rollin’ Safari, you’ll see a leopard that looks just like Potto. Actually, most of the animals look like Potto in one way or another. 
How this works: Potto, aka The Silver Bullet, dashes across the room, vaulting neatly onto the pullup bars, and then ravages the hand invading his domain. He seems to be playing, but for a cat of his size, playing feels a lot like falling down the garbage disposal. Here I can’t even do a pullup with two hands, and Potto is already trying to motivate to use only one. Be very glad he’s not your personal trainer.
Potto as a Baby
Another interesting change was that, at the same time I got my cute little workout outfits, I also got cute little weights. Pink ones. They’re only 3lbs each, but 3lbs is more than 0lbs. Lifting something besides air totally revved things up, though not as much as if I’d used pasta sauce cans like Tina.

P90X Guy: I’m grabbin’ my 40 pounders. What about you?
Amazingly Musclebound Man (with a hint of a sneer): I’ve got my 50’s.
Trim and Beautiful Woman: 30’s for me!
Me: THREES, OKAY??????? AND THAT’S PLENTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No, I’m not ready to post “after” pictures yet. I feel hugely better, and my overall health has already improved noticeably, but the 5 lbs I lost (without trying to lose weight—I’m only trying to get strong and fit, with weight loss being a happy byproduct over time) don’t make a visible difference yet. Let me just assure you that there are some muscles getting toned underneath the layers of fat.
What’s next?  Well, I’m already a week into P90M, with M for Medium. That means I’m working out for 30 minutes a day instead of 20—a 50% increase! Did it make a difference? Well, by Day 2, I couldn’t walk or lift my arms again. And Plyometrics, that fearsome jump training workout…don’t ask me how this works, but 30 minutes of Plyo comes out to exactly twice as long as 20 minutes.
The first Sunday after school gets out, I’m going to take the plunge to full-out P90X. Once that’s over, if I can still get out of bed, I’m going to do a totally different exercise program for a while.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far, it’s this. Exercise isn’t the good china, that you only use once in a while on special occasions—it’s a way of life. So eat well, exercise hard, and feel great! And someday you, too, might be able to almost do a pullup. Just like me.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

P90G - Weeks 6 and 7A

Days 39-49: The book is blazing right ahead (though I didn't type even a single word for the week Jack was here - so much for finishing by New Year at the latest!), and the workouts have continued faithfully. Almost.

By the time vacation arrived, I was barely holding onto the tatters of health. Fine, I was sick. But not as sick as I could have been! There was a time I would have already had several major cases of bronchitis by this time of the year, and I've been doing MUCH better compared to that. Thanks to the magic of zinc, I nearly fought off the cold that would once have consumed me, and was only down a few days instead of a few weeks. 

During that time, I did, most ashamedly, miss 3 workouts, covering Friday, Sunday, and Monday. By December 25, though, I was back in such fighting form that I did plyometrics till I couldn't walk. I am woman, hear me roar! (I am woman. Hear me whimper as I slide limply to the ground and take a nap.)

Being the annoyingly perky sort of person that I am, I didn't let my utter FAILURE of those 3 days get me down - I simply re-did the numbers. No problemo! And decided to repeat Week 7, to make sure I milked the full benefit from it before moving on to the next workout stage. So last week was Week 7, and this week is also Week 7. ("Hi, I'm Larry, and this is my brother, Darryl. And this is my other brother, Darryl.") ((If you don't get that last joke, ask someone who lived through the 80's. Except for Tina, who tried to pretend she didn't really exist until 1990.))

But I digress.

While Jack was here, I had to shake up my routine a bit. For one thing, though I still often woke up at 0530, I couldn't bring myself to actually get up. Warm, snuggly husbands are very addictive. Some mornings I had to work out in the kitchen while monitoring breakfast, and sometimes I'd sneak out to the living room with the computer, and exercise out there. These changes completely renewed the cats' interest in what I was doing, and I accidentally kicked and whapped them a few times as they tried to creep very close and smell me.

"And one, and two, and MROOOOOAAAAAWWWWWWW, and two, and....."

Also worthy of mention is my first trip to the community exercise room, during Week 6. Not worth actually bragging about, but useful as an objective standard of improvement. I ran for 20 solid minutes without slowing or stopping (not too bad), going an uninspired 1.3 miles during that time (not great, but at least I know where I stand). It was my first time on a treadmill, and I did better once I stopped trying to fight it and make it go faster by pushing. Also helpful, halfway along, was Devon's instruction to clip the emergency shutoffer-thingy to my clothing, so that if the treadmill sprayed me off the back end, it would turn off automatically.

It's been a productive 2 weeks. I'm so pleased, that this year, I have only one New Year's Resolution.

1. Keep up the good work!

Make that two resolutions.

2. Finish a book. Any book.

Looking forward to another year of adventure,
Noni Beth

Sunday, December 15, 2013

P90G - Week 5

Day 32: Some mornings I really don’t want to get up, but as soon as I hear the music, I’m ready to get some blood circulating! Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps, a brand new workout. Since it was Sunday, I splurged and went a full 30 minutes this time! My arms were totally shaking by the time I finished. Oh well, it’s not like I had to play the piano or anything afterward. Oh wait. I did.

Day 33: Plyometrics again, ACK! Ironically, 10 minutes at my new fitness level (meaning not taking a break 30 seconds out of every 60), actually wears me out much more than 20 minutes did at first. I guess that’s progress.

Day 34: Back and Biceps. Honestly, my arms don’t know the difference between biceps and triceps. *I* know the difference, but that doesn’t do my arms any good. They think it’s time to work the legs for a while.

Day 35: Today was slated for yoga. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t do yoga or other New Age type of exercises, meditations, etc. So I either substitute in another workout for it, or just go on to the next day. Guess what, arms – wish granted! It’s finally the legs’ turn after all.

Day 36: Every once in a while, my bus kids will have a little contest while they’re waiting for the other passengers to arrive. Putting a hand on the seat on each side of the aisle, they will hoist themselves into the air, feet dangling, and see who can last the longest. This time, I decided to join them. Even with my arms still weak and shaky from their brutal workouts, I managed to beat a 6th grader, a 4th grader, and a 3rd grader, CONSECUTIVELY all on the same dangle, without my feet ever touching the ground. I finally had to jump down and answer my radio.

Day 37: Stretching still makes me sorer than just about anything else, though that may change shortly. There are a few changes on the horizon…

Day 38: Another week gone already…unbelievable!

By way of general announcement, I’m going to be putting a pause on the daily exercise blog for a bit. No, I haven’t run out of material. In fact, it’s just about to get even more interesting, and slightly less Gentle. But I’m going to try and finish the book I’m writing by Christmas. Failing that, finished by New Year, so I don’t have to have another year with an unfulfilled resolution to “finish a book – any book”. After 5 or 6 years, that level of failure gets a bit old. I’m ready for a new resolution. A new book, too!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Westby Skunk Flash Mob

It was almost time to go. I waited, bundled in pajamas covered by sweat pants and jacket, ready to go and sing carols for some of our neighbors in town who aren't able to get out very often. 

One of the boys let Clancy out for a last potty break before leaving. Usually he stays outside and shivers silently if forgotten, but tonight he let out a small whuff at the front door. As I went to let him in, a strong odor of rotten garlic assailed me. It only grew stronger as I opened the door and the misbegotten mutt charged through.

Shaking his head, frothing, and drooling, he tried to rub on the carpet until I cruelly sent him out onto the linoleum. I might as well not have bothered. The malodor soaked into every pore of the house within nanoseconds, firmly sealing my status as a pariah forever.

Lucky Damon got to stay and wash him, while the rest of us went caroling. The music was sweeter than the smell, but none of the dear souls asked us to leave. Though none of them requested more than one song, either!

For our grand finale, we attempted to film the first-ever Westby Flash Mob. Technically, we succeeded. It was in Westby, and it was a flash mob. There ended all resemblance to those heart-warming or spectacular videos that circulate through Facebook and email.

The moment we stepped out in the silent and snowy street to begin filming, everyone in town decided to drive about. Even the sheriff - you'll see him in the background occasionally. We kept having to halt production and dash off to the side of the road to avoid going viral for all the wrong reasons. That was only the beginning of our trials. 

See for yourself.

Flash Mob

We Try Again

It's Just No Use

The next time we plan a flash mob, guess who is NOT invited!!! My only comfort is that the 3rd time through,we did actually make it to the end. More or less. For sure, we were finished. Next year we'll go for heartwarming. Next year we'll do this differently.

Next year, we'll go to the bathroom first. Next year we won't smell like skunk.

Or so we hope.