Wednesday, April 28, 2010

158. Love & Loss

My cat Salem died really suddenly this morning. I have no idea why, but the emergency hospital thinks it was a stroke. He was fine last night, running around, playing in a cardboard box and sitting on the back of the couch while Soren and I watched a movie. But overnight he started sounding extra sniffly and wheezy, which I didn't think much of at the time because he has bad allergies and always tends to sound stuffed up or snores.

Around 2am the wheezing was getting pretty bad, and occasionally he would meow in a frustrated sounding way. I picked him up off the floor and put him on the bed next to me to pet him and try to make him feel better. He seemed to relax at first, but then lost control of his bladder and began coughing blood everywhere. I panicked and called Soren to come and take us to the emergency hospital because I wanted to be able to hold him in the car on the way. As we were waiting, he started to scream and try to run to another spot in the room every couple of minutes, but he could barely control his legs. He could make it a few feet before he collapsed on his side panting.

By the time I met Soren outside, Salem's gums were pale and he was struggling to breathe. Soren drove us as fast as he could to the emergency clinic, but Salem died in my hands just as we were pulling into the parking lot. I ran inside yelling for someone to help me, but they weren't able to revive him.

Based on my description of what happened, the veterinarian guessed a stroke, possibly caussed by underlying heart disease. I just don't understand how that could happen. He had allergies and bad knees, but he was healthy otherwise. He was up to date on shots, and had just gotten a dental last year. I fed him the highest quality food on the market, and didn't give him any junk food except for the occasional bit of ham or tuna as a treat.

I had never really owned a cat before, and he was incredibly special. When I adopted him, I had been working at the vet's office where he had been living for about a year and a half. The office had taken him away from a little girl who had been throwing him into walls as a kitten. She had done it more than once, and knocked him unconscious. Sometimes his pupils would dilate differently from it. He had food allergies, but was living on a prescription diet for cats who are overweight because that's what the other cats roaming loose in the office ate. He was too skinny, and bright red and blotchy, and he walked with a swagger (I was told because his pelvis had been broken and healed on its own, but my vet later said it was just because he was born with bad knees). His tail was crooked at the tip from being broken. He hated everyone except one receptionist, and even she wasn't allowed to hold him.

I spent 4 months getting to know him and we became good friends. I never tried to pet him more than he was comfortable with, but I would leave treats for him where ever I went. After a while, he would wait for me to come to work and follow me everywhere. He tried to defend me from the dogs I walked by slapping them in the face, and would jump into the cages I was trying to clean and roll around in my way.

I finally decided that I had to have him. No one else was going to adopt him, but I was terrified that someone else would, and that they wouldn't love him as much as me. The office didn't even make me pay an adoption fee, he had been there so long. They just gave him to me with a bag of food, and I took him home. He hid under my couch for three days, and when he finally came out, he seemed amazed by the concept of carpeting. He rode 2,000 miles with me in an overheating Chrysler Lebaron when we moved from St. Louis to Seattle, howling and flinging cat litter at me until I finally agreed to let him out of his crate so he could ride on the back of my seat while I drove. He survived falling out a second story apartment window that had no screen, causing me to spend an entire day sobbing my eyes out and plastering my neighborhood in lost cat fliers until it finally got dark enough that he came out of hiding.

He was never a lap cat, but he loved to try and suck on my hair (I assume he was taken away from his mother too early). But the longer I had him, the friendlier he became, until eventually, in the past couple of years, he finally would sit in my lap and just let me pet him. He was always waiting by the front door when I came home and would follow me from room to room. He loved when we had company and liked to be part of whatever was going on. He would tolerate almost anything from me, even baths, when anyone else would have been torn to shreds. He made me laugh, and he always knew just what to do when I wasn't feeling well.

I think this may be the last photo I took of him, earlier this month.

He was by far, the greatest cat I have ever known, and there will never be another quite like him again. In 6 1/2 years, he never stopped saying thank you for bringing him home with me. He was the love of my life, and I wish so much that I could have done something to help him. It's hard to make myself believe that he won't be waiting for me when I come home today, or ever again. My heart is broken, and I miss my friend.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

157. Bread!

Lately I've become sort of cooking obsessed, which I think is due to a combination of being ridiculously bored, desperately in need of more creative outlets, and sick of eating turkey bratwurst over my sink like a bachelor.

Since I ended up spending my entire Saturday night baking a loaf of bread that came out not only tasting really great, but pretty easy on the eyes as well, I feel I have to show it off. I should apologize up front for the image quality, however. Food photographer, I am not. In fact, these are from my iPhone, and I realize they have a sort of stark, strictly functional feel that I'm not in love with. Still, you get the idea:

It's called a Challah Braid, though I left off the poppy seeds because I didn't have any. I found the recipe in this old Betty Crocker cookbook I've had forever. I didn't realize it at the time, but it turns out it's actually a traditional Jewish bread made for the Sabbath and holidays. Definitely going to have to make it again; it was delicious.

In other culinary news, I made hummus for the first time last night. Just an excuse to try out the swanky new 14 cup food processor I bought this weekend. I think I used just a little more oil than necessary, and it's a bit saltier than I would have liked, but not salty enough to ruin it by any means. And now I have homemade hummus with raw broccoli for my lunch. Eee!

Tonight I'm tackling pizza (again). I have yet to perfect my crust, but it is improving. The boyfriend and I made a pretty tasty pie while he was visiting, but we definitely used too much wheat flour. The crust was super dense and rigid and much too chewy. My fault. I'm thinking I'm going to give the crust from this recipe a try, but run it through the food processor instead of trying to stir the ingredients. There may be a picture to follow, we'll see.

156. Saturday, April 24, 2010

Thursday night I had my first riding lesson since November. This is EXTREEEEMELY exciting to me, obviously. I rode my buddy Roy, who let me know exactly how much he'd missed me by snapping his head around and biting me quite hard on the back of my right arm while I was tightening his girth. He's a big baby about the girth portion of tacking up, and is always throwing a little temper tantrum about it, squealing like a pig or stomping around. I have a rainbow colored bruise from it that looks like I was pelted with a grapefruit shot from a ball launcher.

In fact, to further illustrate, these are Roy's chompers:

(It's been a while since he's seen a dentist)

Fortunately, I survived nearly being eaten by my trusty steed, and we had a really fantastic lesson. He was responsive, and I was surprised to find that I wasn't as out of shape as I'd thought. I mean, I'm still sore from head to toe, but muscle memory makes an enormous difference. I had sort of assumed that 1) I'd be practically starting over, and 2) I would probably eat dirt by the time the night was over. Neither ended up being the case, and by the end of the hour I was cantering over poles almost as if I'd never stopped riding. I cannot WAIT for next Thursday.

Last night I came home feeling so sore that I was actually nauseous and like I was made of cement, so I made a quick dinner (roasted potatoes and grilled shrimp!) and then took a nap. I woke up around 7:30 feeling much better and not at all like staying in. A quick text to my friend Ashley, and an hour later we were on our way to the casino with her very adorable Russian friend, her brother, and their friend who was in town for a wedding. Since moving out on my own I've really tried to say yes to invitations out, even when it doesn't necessarily sound like something I'd be interested in. As long as the company is good, I'm fairly certain I could have fun doing just about anything.

The boys had plans to gamble of course, so we wandered into "Canoes Cabaret" in search of drinks and dancing. I had no idea that we were going dancing, or I would have worn dancing shoes. There was a cover band playing, dressed in matching black button ups with white suit-vests and white trousers. The lead singer was stout and sweaty and his vest seemed as though it were visibly straining to contain him. The music was terrible, but reasonably danceable. It was clear, however, that we were not in Seattle anymore. It was like stumbling onto a tiny island populated by all the worst parts of the Midwest. Being on the reservation meant smoking indoors was allowed, scantily clad cougars and skinny girls with trashy tattoos abounded, I was constantly being asked for high fives from douchey boys or chatted up by exceedingly creepy old men. Fortunately, traveling in a small pack of friends creates a sort of force-field which is virtually impenetrable by all things douche. Anyway, it was a good time, despite the location. Like I said - anything can be fun in the right company.

Today I am on a mission to purchase a food processor so that I can nerd out in all my foodie glory. So far, I've done really well with my decision not to purchase a microwave. I don't miss it at all, and my leftovers aren't pumped full of strange tasting little micro-waves. But I am missing a few key kitchen essentials, like the aforementioned food processor, a cheese grater, and I could totally go for a waffle iron, as I enjoy waffles much more than pancakes.

I had also planned to order a subscription to Gourmet magazine this week, but was disappointed to discover that Gourmet no longer exists. They still have a website, but the magazine itself went out of print at the end of 2009. Sadness. They instead refer you to Bon Appetite, which I suppose is fine, except that I don't feel it comes anywhere near the awesomeness that was Gourmet. Mostly, it's the photography. Gourmet had stunning food photography, and Bon Appetite just can't compare. I ended up dropping by Barnes and Noble yesterday afternoon to pick through the other foodie publications available, and I think I've found an acceptable replacement: Fine Cooking. The photography is lush and mouth-watering, the articles are interesting, and the recipes are inspiring and approachable. Already, I have all sorts of new creations to try. This month's issue features nooooodles! Nom!

Now, if only I could master my digital camera. I might be able to start posting some sexy food porn of my own. ;)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

155. The Fur Suit

I would never in a million years have expected Chanel to make a super shaggy yeti suit and call it "outerwear", but there it is.

I totally want one.
And then, I will build a tiny Himalayan village out of snow to tramp about in, terrorizing the citizens and devouring all their goats.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

154. Saturday, Saturday

My apartment complex finally got around to repairing/replacing our gym equipment, and I finally got sick of sitting around eating and feeling sorry for myself, so last night I went and worked out. I let myself go much too long without any activity and I'd forgotten how much better it makes me feel.

Today I feel a little slimmer, I'm happier, and I'm actually in the mood to try some photography with my 30D. Ashley is coming over at 10 to go hiking (not sure where yet), but I think I'm going to bring it with me and see what I find.

I'm still completely at a loss for editing my higher quality .CR2 images in Photoshop, but at least I can play around with the .JPEGs in the meantime. I think I'm going to have to take a class. I spent two hours trying to edit digital negatives from Chicago the other night, but came up with nothing.

Tonight is Bastille Cafe with Kelsey, Corrie and Chelsea. I might bring the camera to dinner too, though even my smallest lens has a little trouble shooting subjects that close. I tend to get a lot of super cropped face shots and not much else. French food is worth the attempts to photograph, though. So pretty!

I was supposed to see Spoon at The Moore, but tickets were $40. And I hate The Moore. Gorgeous little theater, but there is NO leg room, and I was going to be sitting alone anyway, because no one buys their tickets together. It's just not the ideal venue to see a rock show, and I can't justify it to myself when I'm trying to save enough money to start riding again next month. I think I could forgo seeing just about any band to be able to get myself back on a horse. Excluding Tom Waits. Tom Waits trumps everything.

Friday, April 9, 2010

153. Love Long Distance

I've never tried to do a long distance relationship before. I expected it to be hard, but you can never picture just how something is going to feel until you actually experience it. I can only imagine how impossible this would seem if I didn't have unlimited texting. It's the one thing that's making this bearable.

Six more weeks to go. And at this point, time and distance are pretty much the same thing. 2000 miles is equal to however many weeks I have left.

Anyway, Gossip is one of my very favorite bands, especially when I'm trying to shake a miserable mood. Since the lyrics seemed appropriate, here's a really awesome video for Heavy Cross that I just found. I'm pretty sure it's a fan video, but I liked it better than the official version.