Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Goodbye/My "Life"/Welcome Iggy. [L]

Gonna be without internet for a bit.

Recap: landlord wants us out.

I love packing on Holiday weekends.

We really didn’t need this right now. Of the One Million things we need, this isn’t one of them.

We found this place through a mutual friend of the parties involved. They understood we don’t like to move, we understood they don’t like to look for tenants. We thought this was gonna be for the long haul. They treated us like good friends from the beginning when we moved in “way back” in October. So this felt like a kick in the teeth from a good friend followed by a few kidney punches. Dani felt particularly betrayed. It was, in her opinion, worst than our last battle with eviction notices, attempts to change locks, verbal battles, police, lawyers, etc. This was done by people who wanted to be friends but somehow didn’t see they would need the space in the immediate future. She’s probably right but all I could muster was “Fucking Assholess” and “Time to go”. I can re-categorize and write off people in a blink off an eye. Dani, not so much.

There was no way we could stay. They did us a favor by offering an early out but it is not altruistic. It’s obvious they need space now and wouldn’t be sorry if we left ASAP. So we sent out word and hit Craigs List. It becomes 2 full time jobs, of course. What a difference 8mos makes. The condo glut/gentrification has pushed rentals to the insane price range. Frikken 1300/mo for crappy 1br basements. We check out everything between 1000-1400 with no luck. Finally, one place looks promising. They want us to stop by Saturday, May 26.


If you ask me for my top One Million places I would want to be on Memorial day weekend…..I would ask you to expand it so I could list DC. So we cancel the appointment, cash in two United Airline vouchers and head out for a backpacking trip to Glacier National Park!!!!!!!

No. Wait. That was a dream. Sigh.

Back To reality:

So we check it out. We are pleasantly surprised that it is above ground. Really happy it's second floor with Bay windows. There is no 3rd floor. How awesome is that? It doesn't have the amazing ultra-modern kitchen our current apartment has but, in our opinion, the price for that Kitchen was a little too high. Being in a basement sucks, even if just half the apartment is subterranean. it's the half we use for 90-95% of our waking hours. The over-indulged Children lacking boundaries was really starting to get to me. The pressing their faces against our back windows looking for our Cat being one example. Constant running and crashing being another. It's as if their parents indulge their every whim and expected us to do the same. Maybe I'm being a little harsh, but we're pissed and I think we deserve a little leeway. After all, no matter how you look at it, we are being evicted. Evicted by "friends." The new apartment seems to be in a rougher neighborhood but I always think that when I move in DC. It's probably just a question of familiarity.

So we slap down a check for first month and deposit. And then we have to wait for “approval”.

In the meantime, we pack. And sweat, for some reason. Today we get final approval. We are moving into Truxton Circle neighborhood. A little South and East of us now. Deeper into the Cities mean streets. We are ahead of the curve. We are pioneers again. Not so much as a single Rainbow Flag on any building/apt anywhere in our new ‘hood. We are part of 4% of the ethnic makeup but I think maybe that was a typo and we are more like .4%.

And did I tell you it's not a basement?

This all goes in with my difficulties in getting my life back. I’ve never sent out so many resumes. The only responses I get aren’t so nice. Not sure if it’s the 1.5yr “medical leave” or, after 6 years, my willful inability to work in Big Pharma/Animal Research anymore. Probably a combo. Just a little while ago I was in no condition to take on a server type position but that may have changed.

Such is Life, eh?

For now, I work on our friends Organic Farm. Yes, I kid you not, Farming. I work at my pace. My hours. I like the work. It's.........Zen like. Maybe I found a new Life?

Basil & Tomato:

Hay keeps the weeds at bay and attracts earthworms

"My" tools:

Future Vineyard:

Now meet the newest member to our family:

Iggy. A 2yr old we rescued from the Humane Society. He’s friendly, playful as hell, never uses his claws on us. He’s ugly, spastic, smart and not so smart.

I’ve got some packing and job hunting to do. I will soon be without Internet. Abuse me while you can…….


Monday, May 21, 2007

Party of the Millenium: A.V Ristoranti Italiano - March 3rd, 2007 [L]

Going back in time to catch up. Maybe two more posts in this "series". The pictures I uploaded today have loss some definition. For some reason. Sorry. We haven't lost teeth just pixels, I swear! The ones I linked yesterday and saved in the draft are fine. I'd wait for a response from blogger but then I'd never get this posted.....

The Amazing Dani
March 3rd, 2007

Dinner with Kyle & Courtney at A.V. Ristorante Italiano

From a review:

A.V. is short for the original owners, husband and wife Augusto and Assunta Vasaio -- Gus and Sue -- and the restaurant is still in the family two Augustos further on.

It has been a Washington institution for nearly 60 years, and a sort of Rorschach test for at least 10, but after several reprieves, the end of A.V. Ristorante Italiano may be near...The place itself is a "Sopranos" stage set: a series of smallish, dark rooms painted bordello red and crowded with photos and kitsch....The jukebox is still stocked only with opera, many tracks of which are touchingly worn, and the huge 18th-century fireplace dwarfs its own andirons. There is still a folding-door public phone booth near the kitchen. And the "piazza" -- for concrete or not, you can't possibly refer to something with a fountain of Poseidon as a patio -- remains, though the jungle of plastic greenery and Christmas lights I remember are gone. (There is one brighter party room in the back, with an impressive marble bar, but somehow that's not where the action is.)...

Piazza (just left of entrance):


Right & North of entrance - 7th st side (Place is huge):

I often passed by it thinking “What a dive. Must be great I-talian”. It opened in 1949 and is one of the oldest Italian restaurants in DC. I despise high-end Italian Restaurants. And will confess I’ve never really eaten at one. I look at the menu and think “How’s this Italian?” I expect the standard fare, plastic red & white checkered table clothes with cigarette burns, kitche, tacky decorations, and old Italians. IN DC, it seems to be a difficult thing to find. So when I heard AV was closing, I was determined to eat there. Dani set up a dinner date; us along with Courtney & Kyle. 7PM, Saturday.

The Stove

Dani & I started pre-dinner festivities with a drink or two. While getting ready and cleaning up, Dani dropped a sponge behind the stove. No problem, I thought, especially with our ultramodern kitchen. I go to the stove and figure I can probably pull it out from the wall. I lift it, using the oven handle and……………….BAM! I pull the stove door off and it slams into my right shin! Again, this is an ultra-mod, stainless steel stove. The top is several layers of components that come apart, no hinges, for easy cleaning. The door has these hook like hinges and is heavy as fuck. Man my shin kills. Thank God for the booze. It appears the door is supposed to be removable (that’s what the hooky-hinge things are for). It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to get it back on. It shouldn’t be any trouble for two people with a few degrees between them to figure out how to get the door back on. Drinks or no drinks. At least in theory. And y’all might think it only takes common sense. For those that do I invite you over. Get the door back on in under an hour and drinks are on me. Scott might be able to do it, Mr Logic Mechanic. But we couldn’t. And Man was I getting frustrated. And I hurt. And we had Dinner Reservations. What I could do is Jerry-rig it with bungee cords. I do rock at Jerry-rigging. So, with the door closed, we left.

The Walk

A.V. Ristoranti Italiano is at 607 New York Avenue NW, 1.2mi from our Apt. Reservations were for 7. Dani thought we should head out by 6:30. it’s an easy walk down Rhode Island then South down 6th St. Shouldn’t take more than 15min. As we get within sight something happens. Dani isn’t well. She’s feeling faint. I suggest we walk the block and a half to the restaurant. She declines, saying she needs to sit now. We go to the steps of a police station, on the opposite corner of 7th & New York. I can see the restaurant. Oh well. Don’t want her to pass out. While we sit she text’s Courtney (a few times) to tell her will be there shortly.

An Arrival Like No Other.

This is difficult to describe. It was slo-mo. My brain was assaulted with images that didn’t fit.

Dani starts to feel better and we arrive at A.V. She gives our reservation name to a Host and he tells us our party is in the back. At least I think it was a host. He left us to fend for ourselves. AV is cavernous – multiple rooms and bars. Dani casually request I take the lead. As I weave my way to the back room and enter, I see Courtney. I see Courtney sitting with a bunch of people. How strange, I think. Guess she ran into people she knows. What a co-ink-e-dink. As I get closer I notice it’s a huge party of people that Courtney’s hanging out with. As I get closer Still I notice I know all these people………………..also. People from everywhere in my life…………….I stop in my tracks. Yes, my jaw hits the floor. Not literally. Actually. I turn to Dani. I’m stunned. Flabbergasted. Speechless. She sits me down in the middle of a table containing ~30 friends of Mine. I am dumbfounded. In a state of semi shock. To my right is a sea of friends from DC. To my left are former co-workers, from the ex-burbs of Virginia. Also are some fantastic backpacking friends. Our farmer are further down. And sitting across from me would be my Best friend Andy. From Fredonia, NY. Our hometown.

I think they shouted happy birthday to me. A lifetime after I arrived. Somewhere after it dawned on me that I knew everyone and before I sat. “Birthday? My Birthday isn’t for 5 days………………..”

Forget the ugly dude - look at that bar!

I can’t process this. It’s all out of context. I was expecting Kyle & Courtney and that’s all I saw when I arrived. Everyone else was out of context and invisible. I stare at Andy. I ask him “What the Fuck are you doing here?” I stare at some other people and wonder what they’re doing in DC. Why are all the DC people here? I ask Andy again: “What the Fuck are you doing here?” One of my former co-workers/friends point to some of my other friends and ask me who they are. I fumble for names. I know them. I know them well. But why are they here? I look at Andy again….”What the Fuck are you doing here?”

I only had two drinks before I got there. But I’m so blown out of the water. Clayton asks my poison. “Beer and Bourbon, please. Makers will do.” This is not the time for me to be casually sippin’ or shy about my habits.


My Good Friend from Home:
Andy. Known him since the 80’s

My Good DC Friends
Zoe & Kate
Courtney & Kyle
Clayton, Lynn and Sophie
Krissi & Reece

My Good Virginia Friends:
Leigh & Maurice

My Good Farmer Friends (where we got married)
Eric & Lori

My Good Backpacking Friends
Katie (Philadelphia)
Kim & Antonio (New Jersey)
Mark & Janet (Baltimore)

My best friend and unbeknownst to me most devious love

Hindsight stuff.

No ones ever done anything like this for me ever. Nothing close. And Dani really isn’t that good from keeping the smallest details from me. She always has this look. Or so I thought……….

I would find out later that this was months in planning. Dani “broke into” my gmail and scoured it for friends. Breaking in required that she click on bookmarks. Gleaning it for names she recognized was not so easy. On one email regarding the surprise party– she accidently CC’d me. I got a call and she said “Please, if you love me you will delete the email I just sent you without reading it.” She explained that it regarded gift ideas for me. I said “OK” and whacked it. She was kind of begging me to get a haircut. It was getting a little crazy but I was enjoying being able to grow my hair in a fabulous luxurious way. :D She cleaned our apartment like she was expecting company. She bought extra beer for the weekend in case “Kyle & Courtney” were dropping by after dinner. She seemed more than calm when I “ripped” the stove door off. And of course, Dani getting "ill" less than a block from the restaurant and wanting to blop down right there. She was texting, making sure everyone was inside. Nice feign, lover.

Back Room

So there we all are. In the backroom of the tackiest Italian Restaurant I had ever seen. Places like Buca di Beppo try to be tacky and that makes them pseudo kitschy. This place didn’t try to be tacky. They were Old World I-Talians so their decorative sense is…..just tacky. I’ll never forget the 5ft tall alabaster Leaning Tower of Pisa next to us. LOL! The servers were surely but in an odd friendly way, the food, served family style for us, was borderline terrible, the Chianti just barely, but the party was the most amazing event ever!!!! Then people shocked me again by handing me gifts. “Fuck”. I thought the surprise party was more than enough of a gift. Antonio got me a scotch and beer. I drank copious beer and whiskey/ky. And some “lovely” Chianti. Dani the whole time was playing hostess. Working the table, making sure I got everything I needed. I did a few rounds of the table. Just chatting and having a Grand Ole Time. But it’s all one extremely happy blur. Then my bday cake came – a fallen Tiramisu. Ugly but fantastic. Best part of the dinner

Alabaster Masterpiece!

Post party party.

We close the place. Very inebriated, say our goodbyes and then invite all to some more fun. Actually, Dani had invited Anyone who wanted a place to crash. So back to our apartment with Andy, Kim, and Antonio. How anyone drove is beyond me (shhhhhhhh?). Back home I break out one of the gifts – Laphroaig Quarter Cask. Can’t get it this side of the pond. Antonio and I drink it. I drink Dani's. He drinks Kim’s………and maybe I drank Andy’s. Laphroaig Scotch is not for many. Strong Islay…peaty smoky heaven to me. Poison to others. Down them and we’re off to DC9, a nice hole in the wall about 7 blocks away. We get there and are somewhat inebriated. Time no longer has meaning to me. We pull up to the bar and get some beers. I believe I am not aware of much at this point. Then Antonio orders a round of shots. Its strawberry shortcake. Nastiest, sweetest shot I’ve ever done. Antonio must have gone crazy. But I can not refuse. Then I drink half of Dani’s. Antonio orders another one. I can’t figure out if he’s a sadist or a masochist. I think I did all of Dani’s. At this point, Antonio becomes really sloppy…….I think at one point he went out to smoke and he passed out. Maybe. At least that’s what I was told. I was quite gone. After a while we went to Ben’s Chili Bowl. Apparently, Andy needed food ASAP……so I was told the next day. Boy did he not know what he was in store for. It was 4 blocks away and I love it.

Ben's Chili Bowl

It was after closing so Ben’s was packed. For some reason, we were seated with 3 strangers. I was confused. Later, it was explained to me that was the only way to be seated ASAP and get service. But I was too drunk and getting funnier as the night went on, of course. Apparently I berated these people. Three white as wonder bread suburbanites. Two women, one man. I kept asking…….where they were from. Annoyed that they were here. I do recall hating one of the girls. She was really annoying. I swear! At some point, Antonio had passed out in his food. So I was told the next day. The place had skeered Andy and he ordered a veggie burger. I wolfed down my usual - a chili half-smoke and fries. Time to go. Antonio was having a hard time walking. So I was told the next day. Dani asked me to flag a cab. I said we could walk and she flashed me The Sign. I walked into the street and almost grabbed the next cab. I believe it was an uneventful ride home and we passed out pretty quickly.

The next morning was rough. I felt kind of ill early morning. Strawberry shortcake shots almost did me in. I can't remember the last time I vomited. I came so close this morning. Uggggh. Kim & Antonio packed up and left. Andy decided to stick around. It was slooooooooooow going. For me at least. We hung out, ate, went to Dupont and Whole Foods. Drank lots of coffee and water. Dani semi-chastised me for my behavior at Ben's but I just replied with "it was my night, dammit!" :D Andy Fixed things (of course) and Entertained us. Sunday was spent as Sundays should be – lazily. And then Andy was off.

All in all, the best damn party of my life and an amazing weekend. Thank you, my Love.

there are some holes in the story.....for various reasons........feel free to comment.


Tragedy in the Canyon [L]

The news trickled out slowly in the Forums on Thursday. An NPS report was posted stating a woman had died of apparent heatstroke on Tuesday while backpacking in a remote region of the Grand Canyon. The few details that were released sent a chill up our collective spines - the party size, location, and women's age fit with one of our own groups out there. Anyone with a number of the party of 6 sent out calls and we waited. A message was finally received: 'something bad has happened'. The forum moderators were asked to delete the threads and complied immediately. We knew which one it was. And it is so unfair.

It was April from Oregon.

I'm not positive, and I am surmising, but from the description it appears she died of "Fluid intact heatstroke" - the heat challenge overwhelms the body's heat loss mechanism even though the fluid level is sufficient. It kills quickly if you can't reduce the body temperature. Not an easy thing to do in the desert with temperatures hovering around 105*. And they were all experienced desert backpackers. They used all their resources and knowledge in a valiant attempt to save her.

She died in her husbands arms, Tuesday afternoon. They had been married for 25 years. They loved the Canyon. Two set out Wednesday morning for help. They were hoping to get to the Trailhead by Friday. From there they would have to search for a Ranger. Another party came upon them. They would be at the River by Thursday. River Rafting Companies equip their people with satellite cell phones.

A Helicopter arrived Thursday afternoon. A Ranger would be dispatched to meet the two hiking out.

I didn't know them personally. But the communities are tight knit. I've met maybe 50 between the two forums and know all the regulars by no more than one degree of separation. I counted them as friends and knew they were two beautiful souls. When I was first diagnosed with Hodgkin's, He & his wife were one of the first of many from the forums that contributed to my fund raiser. He contacted a friend before word went out on how to help. Once, near Christmas, I mentioned on the forums about how I loved ginger snaps. A few days later I got a package of ginger snaps from him. His wife was a Christmas cookie maker fanatic. Best Ginger snaps ever.

It's little things like that make some shine more than others. I promised my next trip would be in the Pacific Northwest. I needed to meet these kind souls. we chatted on the forums last night. He told me he's still looking forward to meeting me one day. I hope it's soon.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Cause I'm a Punk Rocker [L]

Follow the link:


Time To Go [L]

Received from our Landlord on May 16th:

dear Dani and Phil

I feel bad and have been postponing this email for a while but I guess there is no good way to say this: we don't intend to renew the lease in October. Peter's business is growing and it is becoming difficult for him to work with two noisy girls running up and down the stairs all day. Also, we need storage space for all his supplies that are now increasingly crowding our living and dining room. It is the obvious solution for us to take over the basement to make it into an office, we just very much regret putting your life upside down because of it and hope that out of bad news, good developments will emerge. We thought it'd be better to let you know already now, in case you want to buy a house and need some time to do that. We are flexible and so can accommodate an earlier departure date if you find something that you like earlier than October. It's been so easy and lovely to have you as tenants, we'll be sorry to see you go.

What can we do? It sucks.

This is my 4th apt in DC ('99-now). Third time I've had to vacate due to "exterior pressure". It's also the nicest apartment I've lived in. I've been OK with the other moves. This one sucks. Job hunts going smashingly horrendous.......worst time I've ever had. Timing is everything......................................

Sometimes Life really sucks, eh? Thank God for Dani....she makes everything OK.

I'm done with this. Hope to post past fun times soon........


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Farewell, Annie [L]

We picked up her ashes a few hours ago. Again, we could say little once there. They put her in a very nice place to rest. A poem by Edwin Arnold was including:

Farewell, Friend, yet not farewell.
Where I go, ye to shall dwell.
I am gone, before your face,
a moment’s time, a little space.

When ye come where I have stepped
Ye will wonder why ye wept.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

ANNIE: 7/20/1994-4/27/2007 [L]

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I only knew her for the last two years. Yet I was home with her all day from 11/05 to her last. Suffice to say, we were good friends and loved each other. She wasn’t a cat or pet, she was a companion. More than that she was also Dani’s baby

Annie was her name. I preferred “The Kitty” or just “Kitty”. But she was no cat. Nor was she a pet. She was a good friend who gave as good as she got. Her current vet put Annie’s age at 16. She looked to be a Norwegian Forrester. She had a hyperthyroid that was difficult to control. Her arthritis was horrible. Her “first” vet was stunned by the x-rays. Showing massive scar tissue on her hind legs – indicative of horrendous abuse, kicking most likely, with no medical attention. Dani wept when she saw those x-rays. Still, she was an unbroken spirit. She would eat what she wanted to and climb where she wanted to be. In the end, however, it was her heart murmur that she couldn’t overcome. Most likely she was “throwing” blood clots to her hindquarters and towards her head.

Most should know by now, the story. Back in 94 Dani was home in Missouri from college for summer break. Sitting in a lawn chair, in her backyard, reading. Out of the woods comes a cat, trotting towards her. She gets near her and lets out a loud meow. Dani asks, “what’s wrong, kitty?” to which she cries some more. It’s Dani’s parents Anniversary. Annie is all belly and full of burs. Dani pets her a bit and carries her inside. Dani’s Mom suggests they put her in the pump house for the Father to “find”. This way he can “make the decision” to bring her in. The Mom’s devious strategy works. Two days later, Annie gives birth to seven kittens. Dani personally sees that they are all adopted.

Kitty had chosen Dani. Somehow. Just came out of the woods and announced her decision. And from the beginning it was obvious. Annie was Dani’s Kitty. Dani was Annie’s.

I really can't put into words how much they loved each other.

Soon after, Dani leaves for college. Right after Dani Leaves, her Mom realizes something’s wrong with Annie and takes her to the Vet. Her intestines have telescoped and she needs surgery, ASAP. She’s in danger of developing peritonitis. Mom considers putting Annie down but the Dad vetoes, saying: “Dani will kill us”. After that, Annie would allow no one to handle her besides Dani. Dani would come home from college and it was like they were old friends. It would take 2 years, living at her home, before her Mom could pet Annie. And of course, when Dani moved to DC so did Kitty.

And then I came along. Kitty took an almost immediate liking to me. But I believe at first it was only because Dani liked me. Later we bonded like I’ve never bonded with an animal.

And then came that horrible day in late March. She had what appeared to be a stroke. She appeared blind in the left eye, was making clockwise rotations, had a head tilt, and was having difficulty using her back legs. She seemed to have a disconnect with anything Left of her. But Dani was not going to take her to the Vet. They would want to observe her over night and that would not be acceptable. Dani has a strong, and justifiable reason for not trusting overnight stays. I had over six years of training and could easily recognize pain and assess pain levels. If I was unsure, we could always call Dani’s friend, a Vet out West. So we would watch, and hope she overcome this. The first two days were horrible. We worked with Annie, helping her walk, trying to get her to eat and drink, to no avail. She was upset. Sometimes crying out with frustration. Once, I had to hold her up so she could use the litter box. It was the second night when things got much better. She was walking with ease and during dinner came to her “position” next to me. That night, Kitty got my Chicken leg dinner. Both of them.

She improved over the next week or so but it was slow going. She had to do circles before anything, she was very unstable, and she didn’t purr much anymore, only when being brushed. Occasionally she would head butt me and chew on my hair. But nothing like before. It was heartbreaking. She was too unstable to sit in laps or be on the bed. She would come to the bedroom and look up at us, longingly, then settle in her corner on the floor. Still, we hoped for the best.

But then came two more strokes – “mini strokes”, in rapid succession. We saw one; she was experiencing head spasms, and at the same time lifting her right paw to her head, as if she were trying to brush something off her face. She shook that one off. The next one was early in the morning, again, she was falling forward. Unwilling to use her back legs, lifting them up from the ground. She could not support her weight on her front legs alone and would fall forward. She wouldn’t eat that day, not even the chicken legs Dani cooked for her that night. She did finally eat the chicken the next day and she started walking better. But we started to recognize that Kitty may not pull out this time. Dani and I were becoming increasingly distraught. That night we picked up Dani’s Mom at the airport. She was aware of the situation.

4/26/07 – ANNIE'S LAST DAY
It was midnightish when we got back from the airport. Things had taken a turn for the worst. Kitty must have had another episode. She was now circling counter-clockwise but could find nothing. She looked completely confused, disorientated. She couldn’t find her food or water right in front of her face. She moaned her annoyance. Both eyes seemed non-functional now. Her back legs weren’t working. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I just looked at Mom. It was only gonna get worst. It was time. We contemplated taking her right then but decided Morning was just as well. Mom picked her up and soothed her. Dani and I just sat there. Devastated. We started drinking. Hard. Drinking and Crying. My Mother-in-law just barely keeping it together. Welcome to DC, Mom. Kitty laid on the floor near our sofa couch, where Dani and I would be sleeping. Mom went to bed. I sat there with her, brushing her chin and side. She was enjoying it but not purring. I asked Dani to bring my Laphroaig Whisky. She said “can I get you a glass?” “No” I responded. Tonight I drink to Kitty. Dani went to bed, crying. I sat with Kitty, brushing her and drinking my Scotch. She closed her eyes and fell asleep. I finished off the bottle and went to bed. crying softly. Later, I could here Kitty drag herself to the bedroom. It was so fucking heartbreaking.

The Morning came in no time. We sat there like we sat the night before. Devastated. Dani called her vet and told them, as best she could while balling, that it was time. They fit us in for 11AM. Gave us an hour or so. Fuck. In the meantime we watched Kitty. She could walk again but couldn’t find anything. Twice she fell into her food, laying her head on the plate. I watched her drink water without touching the water. At one point, she looked in my direction and let out this moan. Instinctually, somehow, I picked her up and brought her to her Litter box. There, with tears welling up, I helped keep her upright while she peed. Why couldn’t she have died in her sleep? When the time came I grabbed her carrier, just in case, and two bandanas. Dani picked Annie up and out the door we went. In the car I told Dani that I knew this sucked but I was having a hard time seeing the road. Kitties vet was ~10minute drive. I handed Dani a bandana.

Luckily, I find a spot within a block of the Vet. Everything starts to blur. I’m sure there were people on the sidewalk but I remember no one. We get inside, Dani balling and me unable to approach the receptionist. I’m using my sunglasses to help keep my shit together. I can’t take them off. No matter. The receptionist recognizes us and brings us back to a room. She recognizes us from the Vet and she shops at Dani’s stand. We sign this and that, the receptionist being a complete sweetheart. Then the Doc comes in. Another gentle soul, going through the details. Being completely compassionate. She leaves, after getting our permission to take Kitty and put a catheter in.

The vet came back with Kitty and a towel. Put her in Dani’s lap and told us to take our time. She left us. We unwrapped her. We hugged Kitty, told her how sorry we were, and thanked her for her love. Kissing her. We tried to be brave and not upset Annie. But it was too difficult. Dani was inconsolable. Saying she couldn’t do it but knowing we had to. The Vet checked back in. Dani summoned all the courage she could and gave the OK. The Vet started with Saline. Dani hugged Kitty tight. I got on the floor next to them and took my sunglasses off. Tears rolling freely off our faces. As the vet started the first drug, Kitty lashed out with her free arm, trying to remove the catheter. I petted her, trying to console her. In no time she fell asleep, her head resting on Dani’s knee, front arms splayed on either side of her leg. The vet continued. I had to take a Bandanna to Dani’s face. As she would later tell me: “I could feel her heart stop.”

The vet confirmed Annie’s passing and left us, telling us once again to take our time. I don’t know how long we were there, sobbing, thanking her and telling her how sorry we were. At some point Dani said we should go. I left the room to get someone. A tech responded, entered the room, stopped short, and let out a quiet little “Oh.” She knew Dani outside of the Hospital. She gently grabbed Kitty, said she was sorry and she would take care of her. We each kissed Annie one more time on the head, said goodbye, and left. Not sure how I drove home. The silence that night and the next morning was truly deafening.

We have to wait until Wednesday, 5/9, to pick up her ashes…….…it hurts


Kitty, The Compassionate
When Dani was alone and upset, Kitty would come to her and gently pat her cheek with her paw, trying to soothe her, tell her all was well. The Kitty was always very concerned while I was undergoing treatment, often by my side on days I was feeling particularly ill. And when I slept late on those days, I would open my eyes and there was Kitty watching me with obvious concern, either from the floor or on the bed. She would then let out a little cry and go to Dani. As if satisfied that I was getting up and was OK. She repeated this when I had Mono. I would pass out on the couch and wake up with Annie watching over me.

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Spirit of the Kitty
She would climb up on the bed without the use of her back legs to be with us. She would play with toys like a youngster. She would “chase” me around the sofa, trotting until she or I got tired. Usually it was I who gave up. She would watch birds and cats from the windows – with hunger in her eyes. Again, climbing up onto the windowsills without the use of her back legs. On several occasions, she whipped out through a crack in the door to chase the feral Cats living in our back yard. We were scarred shitless when she did this. But we were proud of her. An ancient cat attacking young wild ones like she was a young killer herself. No fear. And she chased the two youngens, the Mom, and on one occasion, the meanest of the bunch - the Tomcat, right out. It was kind of funny to see how petrified they were of her. And Kitty was only 5lbs.

A Best Friend Like No Other
She always wanted to be in one of our laps. Wherever we were sitting. She would come up to us, get on her hind legs and scratch lightly at a knee until you picked her up. The scratching was as gentle as a human scratching, no damage, especially if we were wearing pants. Once on the lap – she needed petting. And she wasn’t gonna take no for an answer. Whether we might be typing or holding a newspaper, she would reach out with a cupped paw with claws slightly extended and pull an arm gently towards her for petting, hopefully scratching.

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The Longest kitty and I had been separated was Christmas '06. we went home to Dani's mom in St. Louis fopr 5 days. Kitty was so excited when we came home. She laid in my lap and rubbed. And purred. And rubbed some more.

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She was always with us and preferred it if we were in the same room. She loved being on the couch with us. But most of all, She loved bedtime. She often started at the head of the bed, always on the right side, just below the pillows. If she didn’t start out there, she ended up there. If a bad Thunderstorm came through, she would get up on Dani’s pillow and sleep curled up around her head. Sometimes on her head.

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And she loved her steel brush. We would brush her at night, on the bed. And she would brush herself. All I had to do was turn it bristle side up and she would rub her neck over the bristles. Kitty would come whenever we called. Even if she were sleeping, as long as we were enthusiastic enough. She followed us to the door when we left, and was at the door when we came home.

Annie liked to lay on the bed. A lot. That’s where we often played. But only after it were made. In fact, she would go to the bed and just look at you and maybe cry out if you didn’t respond right away. Then, after one of us made the bed, she would jump up and make herself comfy. And there we would often play one of her favorite games: Attack The Phil head. I would put my head down and feign a “head butt”, Kitty would grab my head with her claws, lightly digging in, pulling me to her. She would then chew on my hair. This was something she would do with me only, for some reason. She would go right to the base of my hair and chew, pulling up from my head. I could barely feel her teeth against my scalp. But again, it was done with gentle skill and never hurt.

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I could also lay my head on the bed and she would put her nose right in my ear and sniff. Hard. This would always make me giggle like a schoolgirl and she seemed to like that. Repeating her actions often. Then she would chew on my hair some. I always loved that. She even tried to do it while I was undergoing chemo. But my hair was so full of Toxins I had to stop her when she tried. I so enjoyed starting up again after my first haircut following my last treatment. It was very comforting. She also loved my armpits. I would lay on the floor or bed with my arms raised/under my head and she would just rub her head into my armpits. Often head-butting them.

What she did enjoy with Dani and I was head butts. Like how Rams butt heads. Occasional she would trot from one side of the bed, put her head down, and “BOP!” Then she would slide her head down against the head she rammed. Always enjoyed that. She also liked to lick eyelids. Waiting until Dani or I closed our eyes to start licking.

And Annie loved the backyard of our new place and had this thing for climbing stairs. She was obsessed with it. Kind of like an autistic obsession - she "had to" climb stairs. Often needed to do this out front as well.

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Her other favorite game was attacking The Dani hand. On her side, Dani would start tickling Annie’s belly. The Kitty would get the wild look in her eyes, extend all her claws, and start kicking Dani’s hand with her back legs, then get her front legs in on it. Finally she would start biting the Hand. It used to scare the shit out of me! Kitty looked like she was mauling Dani’s hand! But she never left much of a mark. Certainly never drew blood.

Another game we played was “steal the kitty”. I would grab kitty and run for the bedroom, Dani chasing me, shouting “Don’t take my Kitty from me!” If Dani didn’t grab me in time, I would fall on the bed with Kitty and Dani would jump on. This always seemed to excite Kitty – always happy to be in bed with us – and she'd always start purring.

In the old apartment, Kitty almost always laid on her back on the wood floor in somewhat of a contorted fashion: The front of her body twisted to the left or right with her back half straight up.

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Annie preferred water out of a glass. And if not on our laps, or eating food I was giving her, then she wanted to be on the table. If Kitty wasn’t on one of her pillows, then she would lay on black. She loved black - especially my backpack or black duffle bag. We always thought she liked the way her shedded hair looked against black.

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Kitty The Provider
One night last Summer, Dani was awakened by the moans of Kitty as she trotted down the hallway towards us from the Living room. Dani woke me up, jumped off the bed, and exclaimed “There’s something wrong wit Annie! We’ve got to go to the ER!” I sat up in time to see (by silhouette) Annie enter the room and sit up by the doorway, under the light switch. Simultaneously, Dani met her and flicked on the light. Annie moaned again and spit a very discombobulated, and most likely terrified, mouse at Dani’s feet. Dani screamed and jumped back onto the bed. It was quiet sweet of Annie to help out with the food, no? Still a mouser at that age is quite impressive.

Jolly 'Ole Kitty
Kitty loved Christmas, of course. And somehow she always knew which present contained catnip.

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Gentle, Happy Kitty
In the last few Months of her life, Annie could not climb up on the bed. She would sit by it and wait for one of us to pick her up. As soon as Dani started making Dinner, Annie would go sit upright by my chair and wait. If I was having meat or fish that night, she would get a bite for every bite I took. On non-meat nights I would show my dinner to her but she would still wait. If I wasn’t home and someone had taken my place, Annie would still sit there, looking for food from the person in my chair. And in these late months of her life, she sometimes preferred the floor. Maybe it was the arthritis? Sometimes she slept on “her” (what was once my) comforter in the closet. Sometimes on one of two pillows we had strategically place for her. And sometimes on the floor.

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Kitty also went from crying loudly in the Morning to wake us up, to waiting until we stirred. She would give a very low cry, wait for us to stir a little more, than cry louder. She was waking us up gently. On occasion she would stand on us to wake us, but more often then not, she would do it slowly and quietly. I have no idea why.

And through it all, what I remember most is Annie purring. All that was required was for us to be with her. She purred most of the day.


Kitty gave what she got and then some. Annie Loved us unconditionally and we returned it.

I still see her. By the bed, on the bed, by my chair, looking at me, waiting for dinner. In my lap, while I type this. In Dani’s lap, while she reads the paper. Dani catches herself looking for Annie, asking to watch out for Kitty when we leave. Every day Dani called me and would ask “What’s the Kitty doing?” I would usually respond “She’s out back chasing squirrels and feral Kitties, of course.” Or “doing cartwheels. She’s feeling much better.” And it’s so difficult to not sing our Kitty songs.

Nothing’s worst than the silence.

I only knew her for the last two years. It was more than enough and nowhere near enough. I loved her. Dani loved her. Annie was her baby. And we shall miss her like none other.

Her effect on everyone who knew her is a testimonial of who she was and will always be.

“Where’s Kitthhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeee” Dani? She’s watching. Waiting patiently to play with us.

Thank you, Kitty.

Rest In Peace, little one.

Thank you, Kitty.

Rest In Peace, little one.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Felonies, Brawls, Touching God. Iggy [L]

I think maybe the best way for me to get back in is post stuff in a semi backwards chronological order. As a side note - I would greatly appreciate it if someone could tell me how to improve pictures taken with a cell phone - i.e. blowing them up without gaining a shit load-o-distortion. Thanks. In the meantime - all I got are tiny cell phone photos......

Thursday, 4/5/07

It was the day of the Iggy Show at the 9:30 Club. 9 blocks from our Apartment. Iggy & The Stooges reunion with the added talents of bassist Mike Watt, co-founder of 70’s punk band Minutemen. It was to be a glorious day. Doors were to open at 9:30. We decided to invite some friends over for a pre-fest dinner at 7.

Clayton: Long time best friend of Dani
Tina: Long time friend of Dani
Courtney: Friend/co-worker of Dani
Kyle: Courtney’s SO and our friend

Clayton & Tina are 40 something’s
Dani & I are 30 something’s :p
Courtney & Kyle are 25 & 26.

I make my pasta & Gravy. Dani makes the apps and salad. Guests bring wine & bread. I start rotating our Iggy CD’s. They all show up about the same time and Tina has some unfortunate news. They’ve added a band or 2 and Iggy won’t come on until Midnight. Ugh. It’s gonna be a long night but we can always have coffee. So we start. Clayton & I have Whiskey. Kyle & Courtney decide on vodka crans, Dani &Tina open the wine. There was much drinking. And eating. But I think more drinking.

We all sit down to Dinner. I put on the new Iggy & the Stooges CD. Not his best work by far but no ones heard it and he’ll probably play a few at the show. We have a nice long dinner. The wine flows freely, as does a lot of liquor. After dinner drinks are done, I brew the coffee. Dani wants me to do it b/c my coffee is eaten with a fork. I seem to keep drinking until Dani has the Laphroaig removed from the table. Clayton adds enough whiskey to his coffee to cut it in half. Wired & drunk for Iggy. How awesome is this gonna be?

We head out around 10PM. I think it’s a little early but they (or someone), insists. In hindsight I can say the euphoria we were all feeling was from the upcoming show. And the coffee and alcohol helped a bit. Probably. Supposedly it was cold out. I couldn’t tell. We were all wearing T-shirts and light jackets. 9:30 club stands about 3000, with maybe 2-3 dozen seats, including the bar stools. If you have to wear a jacket then you wanna be able to wrap it around your waist……..please hold.

Hmmmmm. Bloody Mary. Should done this and saved my Scotch for later.

Soooooooooo we get to the club and there’s not much of a line. I bet 90% of the idiots showed up “on time” Bet they froze their arsses off. Kyle brought a Backpack. Only took about 10 minutes to search that. Oy vey. On Claytons insistence, we head to the basement Bar. There’s a bit of nostalgia down there. Pictures of shows at the original site and what not. I head right to the bar with Dani & Tina in tow, I order 2 beers and a vodka cran for Dani. They come in those not so big red plastic cups. $18.00. I look around wondering where the strippers are. I hand the bartender a 20 and ask him when they’ll be coming on. He doesn’t find my comment funny. I “let” him keep the $2. for the first time in my life, I under tip. Fuck it. A weak vodka cran and 2 drafts that were MAYBE 10oz? He can skim off the top. Should have brought my flask, I thought. Luckily, I didn’t. At some point we(?) decide to go to the 3rd floor. Dani dashes up and out of sight. I follow Clayton.

The set up is kind of odd. Second floor is U shaped, the sides with a lot of room, the back is a tiny VIP type area. Third floor only sits behind VIP section and has a bar. Great view but I’m thinking I need to be up front. It is Iggy. Dani reappears from somewhere At one point this dude moves from the wall separating 2nd & 3rd and I move in. After being there about 10 minutes. the fun begins.

This Tommy Chong looking dude, only uglier, shorter, and older, nudges me from the right. Tells me that was his friends space and I need to move. Before I can say “sucks to be your friend”, Dani says “sucks to be your friend”. Love that Women. Then people from my right sytart giving me grief. At this point (I swear) I just said in a not really nasty way: “WTF? We all come here, pay our $40 and try and enjoy a show. Lighten up.” Then this troll women, think Janis Joplin, only older, uglier, and talentless, gives Dani grief. A lot of grief. She took the place of Tommy and is probably his “partner”. Dani chews her a new one. The looks at me and says “she called me a Bitch! Now I’m really gonna Fuck with her.” I agree and we close ranks on her. Tommy “bitches to 2nd floor security. He ignores him. Tommy leaves. What the fuck? Meantime Clayton has a new scotch & soda in his hand and puts one near me. “What’s this?” I ask. “My next drink” he replies. “Oh” Guess he won’t be buying any drinks. Maybe. I still have my beer from downstairs. In the meantime, we give Janis shit. After a while I feel the tap tap tap of a Gorilla. I turn to see……………………….A gorilla. Wearing a shirt that says “Security”.
Mr. No Neck informs me that these people “asked you politely to leave and you didn’t”. I respond “are you kidding?”. Gorillas have no sense of humor and asks me to move. I say Ok. And do. Dani and I both realized at the time of the “tap tap tapping” that the Game was over. I kind of bantered with the Gorilla. I was confused. I asked him if he knew these people. He said “yes”. Well, I was bantering. He kept his responses much shorter. No big deal. The important thing was we were here to see Iggy and I wanted to be on the 1st floor anyway. Right?

So we step back. Clayton, right next to us, is asking “WTF?” I see Kyle & Courtney in the 2nd floor side area. Dani tells him. Including the little verbal tiff she had with Janis. Clayton goes to speak with Janis. I grab his arm to know avail. Dani and I turn to leave and here a glass or two crash.

In case you forgot. There was copious drinking. We turn and don’t see Clayton. I look on the floor and see two pairs of legs. They are splayed in such a way that I deduce the rest of the bodies must also be on the floor. I try to run over there. Simultaneously, Dani grabs me and Gorillas push me out of the way as they move in. It’s amazing how these animals seemingly come out of the woodwork. Anyway. They pounce for a while on the body on the floor, there seems to be some resistance but up they stand with a very restrained Clayton.


They pass us. But ahead of them is Tommy. Damn I wanna kill that weasel. Behind them is Janis. Looks like she’s wearing a Scotch & Soda. We head out. They aren’t being to gentle with our friend. Outside there’s a cop. SOP for 930 club to have a few around. Tommy & Janis give their version. Dani & I also make up a version. Clayton’s bloddied. Cut face, fat lip, broken glasses.

This is wear we learn from the head bouncer that the area in question was reserved for some “handicapped” person. Janis. I’d like to say something but what can we? The cop gives Clayton a lecture, says she won’t press charges if you leave. Dani’s upset. I’m pissed. They never said anything to us about the area being reserved. Nor did the first Gorilla. Clayton insists we go back inside and enjoy the show. We go in, Dani tells me he doesn’t have cash on him so I run back outside but don’t see him. I ask the Cop and the Head Gorilla where’d he go. They informed me he was long gone. I then politely tell the head dude that although our friend was in the wrong, all his lackey had to do was tell us why we couldn’t occupy that space and none of this would have happened. He was very polite and I apologized again before heading back in.

I was so hoping to run into Tommy after the show.

Touching God

Back inside I see Tina & Courtney consoling Dani. Clayton had never seen Iggy. Dani blames herself for saying anything. I correct her. Clayton should have backed off and just left with us. They had Security on their side. Arguing with them is like arguing with cops, minus your civil rights. I grab Tina & Dani and head into the 1st floor. I’ve never seen Iggy. I’m wired and wasted. We are getting our money’s worth, dammit.

I need another BM (Bloody Mary!LOL! I Kill me!)

The bar on the left appears easiest to get to so we head there. Or we just stumbled left. Tina buys us drinks. I get a whiskey. I now it may be my last drink. We are maybe a dozen or so rows back. They’re setting the stage up for Iggy. I’m getting antsy. We’re too far back. The crowd is a surprising mix of young and old. I was thinking it would be mostly old. The bad comes out, starts right up and then FUCKING IGGY POP EXPLODES ONTO THE STAGE!!!! Right into “I wanna be your dog”. Dudes 2 weeks shy of 60 and still has the body of a 20 yr old. A 20 yr old with a 6 pack. We go fucking apeshit! You know, jumping 4 feet off the floor and pumping your fists. Not much room to do anything else. But no one’s with us. Up front they’re going nuts like us. This will not do. So I grab Dani and we go in. Mind you, I’m 5’8ish and Dani’s 5’2ish. Hardly average size. Always seems like the bottom of the curve at shows.

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As we go in, stage left, I notice the speakers seem to be clear of people. How odd, I think and head towards them. Thinking we can outflank the crowd. As I break free a get a Gorrila hand imprint into my chest. Dani gets one, too. Damn they’re being pricks. But it is Iggy. So we squeeze into the 4th row and can’t get any closer. It will have to do. For now. We are with our people. The music is all hard core Iggy. All from his previous stooges days and current album. I’m going Fucking Crazy. Like I’m 18. All of a sudden I have a women attached to me. Arms around me, jumping up and down with me, crotch pressed against my hip. Face really close. She has a drink in one hand. Most of it ends up on us. Taste & smells like whiskey. I look at Dani several times. I’m trying to shake her off but she’s glued onto me. Finally, she decides to follow my gaze and sees Dani, looking a little less then happy. She disengages and apologizes. Dani is extremely pleasant to her. And then, Iggy invites fans onto the stage. We bolt. Dani in the lead.

That women can get through a crowd like no other. I’ve heard stories. She’s been first row for David Bowie, Skinny Puppy, and Iggy 17 yrs ago. She gets where she wants to be. Now I was gonna see it. And she cut us through like the proverbial hot steak knife through air. But too late. No more people on stage. It’s too bad. Half of them are moving like their first dance. If that first dance was with a Great Aunt that smelled of mothballs and liked to pinch cheeks until blood pored out.

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But we were first row. Against the Metal fence. It was maybe 20 people wide and we were on the outermost left bank. The Goons in front of us were the same ones we dealt with during Clayton’s ejection. Lucky us. But we were front row. Iggy was stage diving. Iggy and his band were fucking rocking like they were 20 yr olds on meth and Coke. Twice he dove near us. But we could not lay our hands on him. A splash of his sweat, some spit, a little water. Teasing us. Taunting us. We were covered in our own sweat. I haven’t gone nuts like that in ages. And it was all electrifying. Unfuckingbelievable. First row can be a fight to the death. But for the most part it was civil. The women to my right was not being so civil but she grew tired of my elbow in her neck and my knee in her ass and gave up. Front row rocks. Then I started getting hit from behind. You know when you’re in a pit and the hits “feel” belligerent. I took a few and then turned around. Ready to get into it. Dude easily had 20-30 lbs & 6 inches on me. Didn’t stop me from getting in his face and shouting “WTF is your problem!?” Again, it all happened instantly. As I did that The goons from in front of me jumped on him and told him to get the fuck out. I was impressed at how well they watch and interpret. But I guess that’s there job. And I’m Not excusing the testosterone levels. Just reporting.

Through all this, Iggy had that serious look on his face, half the time.. The other half he had a shit-eating grin. Nothing like a performer who loves his work, eh?

Back to the show and Iggy was still being Iggy. The stooges and Watt were doing their thing and the it was over. All most. The crowd cried out for more. And he provided. Ending with a better(?) version of “I wanna be your dog”. Then he jumped off stage. In front of us. And we lurched. We made Contact. Our hands sliding off his soaked drenched body. He sat there for an eternity. Thanking people!!!! The God-FRIKKEN-father of PUNK! Saying Thanks! I turned and there was Hump girl. I said “I touched a God. I have his sweat on me.” She grabbed my hands for some God Sweat herself. It was over. A short wait for a 30 dollar concert T and we were out.

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Outside I looked for Tommy. I guess the night would have been too perfect if I saw him. We walked Tina to her bike. Clayton had text’d us. He was home. He apologized and hoped he didn’t ruin the show for us. Courtney & Kyle had also left a message. “They hit a wall” and left before the show before it was over.

I haven’t partied like that in a Decade or so and it felt fucking awesome.

Next day, Clayton isn’t exactly sure what happened. Nor who did what. Just that he should've left with us. Oh well. He’s seen the Clash & Dead Kennedy’s. Maybe next time?

I put this show as #1 for me. Often, I was looking at Dani in blissful disbelief. I have never been to a show, rocking like delinquent youth in the front pit with someone I loved. ‘Twas a beautiful time.

Gotta go meet my partner in crime.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Happy Anniversary To Me! [C]

I almost forgot. One year ago, 4/28/07 at 4:18 PM. I finished chemo. Cheers. Some other shit happened this week, the day before my anniversary in fact, so it kind of got lost in the wake.

Here's to Life.

Hi. I'm back [L]

OK. I'm really gonna start this up again. i swear. I just had a hellish time trying to figure out how to access my account. I had to "revive" my old hotmail account to get in. I think. man I hated hotmail. This, all after I sent "them" an email saying I couldn't get in. It also says there was a post in April but I didn't do it. WTF happened in here? I'm so confused....

Anyway, if the powers be listening: disregard my email