RIP Isaac the Cat (1996-2014)

October 4, 2014 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Life 

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In November of 1995, we moved into our new home.  This was our first house, having lived in apartments up until this point.  We knew that the house needed more life.  So in February of 1996 we were referred to a woman whose cat had had kittens.  We were given a good reference by someone who had previously adopted from this woman.  We went to her house, and met Isaac and his litter-mate Albert.  We lost Albert in 2010.

Isaac was clearly the extrovert of the two cats.  When people would come to visit, Albert would hide and Isaac would cautiously investigate.  Later in life Isaac took to walking to the front door, sitting on the floor directly in front of a visitor, and meowing sharply.  This always resulted in the pet he clearly deserved.  He was also an instant celebrity when he greeted children on Halloween at the door or sitting in the window.  (“That cat MOVED!”)  Isaac was also the most willing to play.  We remember Isaac’s ability to jump 4-5 feet in the air after the laser pointer on a wall, the ability to bat paper balls out of the air with deadly accuracy, and the ability to hold a single meow longer than any opera singer.  He was also a good and loyal snuggler, and would make it clear when he required you to provide his personal favorite spot next to you.Both cats were gentle, never using claws on people’s skin.  They didn’t often claw at the furniture much once they were trained.  They NEVER bit a person, instead hissing or very rarely growling when mishandled.

Isaac lived to 18 years and 10 months.  That’s about the equivalent of a 90-year-old human.  He purred for us almost every day of that long life, including this morning.  A few years ago he developed arthritis in his hips, and kidney trouble.  Recently, all of that deteriorated quickly – he had pain in all joints and could only walk a few feet, couldn’t use the litter box, and had stopped eating.  He had dropped from an all-time high of 18 pounds (a little chubby, but he was sleek at 15 pounds much of his life) to 10.

Isaac is survived by his owners Mark and Carolyn, and predeceased by his brother Albert.  He will be greatly missed.

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2008: My personal year in review

December 31, 2008 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Admin, Job Search, Life, Religion, Work, Young Adult, Youth 

Good riddance.

It’s not that the year was all bad.  Some of it was really very good.  It’s just that the bad outweighed the good.  Most of this was due to one very bad thing.

Work
This was a particularly bad year.  I’m not going to go into details, but you should assume that life at my former employer wasn’t particularly fun before August.  In August, I was laid off from a job that I’d held for 13 1/2 of the last 15 years.  It only helps slightly that this employer ultimately filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November.

And if that wasn’t enough – the economy tanked at the same time.  The cause of the company’s failure wasn’t solely the economy, but it was a big part of it.  Jobs just plain dried up from September through early December.  There are signs that things are easing now.

If it weren’t for positive things and positive people in the rest of my life, I don’t know how I would have handled this.

Church
The good:
I LOVE my youth group.  The young men and women that I work with more or less every week are all wonderful, and I learned a lot about myself, them, life and God over the last year.  Sunday afternoon/evening is the high point of my week.

The summer trip to the Montreat Youth Conference was one of the top 10 experiences of my life.  I truly feel that God spoke to me that week in some fashion.  I know that my faith deepened, and that the same happened to most if not all of the group from our church that went on the trip.  I also feel that I grew outside of the religious aspects.  (Of course, this high leaves me wondering where God is in my life now, when things are not so good.)  The biggest thing that I learned this year – while I care a lot about our youth, they care about me too.

Putting together the Moderator Meet and Greet event in April was a lot of fun as well as being a lot of work.  I met a lot of new and wonderful people.  The event was well attended, and I hear that it helped commissioners make a decision at General Assembly.

Meeting in person and working online with other church leaders has been mostly positive.  I’m amazed at how strong the online Presbyterian-and-beyond religious community is.  I’ve felt support when I needed it and given and watched it flow the other way when others needed it.

Serving as a deacon has been rewarding.  This is work that I know that I can do and do well, and that is relatively easy, and that aids the church.  That’s sort of the point, isn’t it?  I just have to be careful not to schedule myself too heavily (like the Sunday that I had coffee service AND served communion AND agreed to set up tables for a later event).

My committee studying hospitality, visitor and community issues for the church has nearly completed its work.  We have identified 19 issues and more than 19 suggestions for how to change/fix/handle those issues.  We present to the Session in February.  The team has worked hard and learned a lot.

Serving as the new webmaster for the church’s website and weekly e-mailed newsletter has been a growth experience for me.  It has forced me to learn new technical skills and also to generate a little content independently.

The bad:
The worst has to have been the controversy over my blog in March/April/May/June of this year.  I don’t know if people realize it, but the church was about 12 hours from losing me in April – the only things keeping me were the facts that Youth Sunday and the Moderator Meet and Greet were imminent responsibilities of mine.  This event only took 2nd to the loss of my job in how poorly I felt while in the middle of it.

I am also continually dismayed by the negative tones in some conversations/fights/battle-royales in the church community over the hot button issues of today.  Those of us within the church fight harder and with less love than we do with our colleagues in other denominations or religions, even though the points of disagreement are far smaller and unimportant.

Home
Home life continues to be solid.  Carolyn and I have ridden out the very rough patches of the 2nd half of the year with no negative effect on our relationship.  Most of this is due to Carolyn’s very conservative nature when it comes to money, and the strong planning ability that both of us have.  She continues to be supportive at a very difficult time in my life and it has brought us if anything closer together.

The cats are still fine.  They turn 13 tomorrow.  Isaac is still suffering from a bit of arthritis in his hips, but the daily Cosequin is helping.  Both of them still have a fair amount of kitten left and still go running around like crazy animals occasionally.  Albert has had no recurrence of his kidney issues.

The house is fine.  We have had to put off a bit of home repair work (mainly fixing the fireplace chimney that failed a while back) for economic reasons.  Nothing important is wrong, and we continue to love living here.  It’s a great neighborhood – not too noisy, not too quiet, and plenty of kids running around.
My car has had a rough year.  I was rear-ended in July and minor damage was done to my rear bumper.  It was fixed pretty quickly, but it took about 4-5 months before the insurance companies paid my deductible.  Here’s a tip – no matter how late you are, don’t pass on the right on a one-lane on-ramp.

Health

No major changes.  On the Montreat trip I lost a number of pounds due to the stairmaster-like qualities of the village of Montreat (to get anywhere you have to walk down a big hill and up a big hill).  The emotional strain of being out of work took off some more.  I’ve managed to end the year a net 10 pounds down.  Otherwise, my health remains the same.

I’m hoping that 2009 will be a combination of the continuance of good things, and an end to the bad things that are happening now.  I see new hope in the elections of both our PC(USA) Moderator and the new President of the USA.  It remains to be seen if that hope turns into a better reality for the country, church, and me.

Happy New Year!

What’s going on

July 18, 2008 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Ham Radio, Life, Religion, Youth 

My blog has been quiet, and light on what’s going on in my life.  Most of that is due to the Sword of Damocles question about what I should write here.  (By the way, more input is desired in the Bible Study on blogging.)

Here’s a short roundup of what’s been happening and what is going to be happening.

  • Car Accident – This happened back on June 20.  As I said before – minor damage and no injuries.  My car has been repaired.  I’m apparently at the beginning of the subrogation process – my insurance company has decided that I’m not at fault and has submitted a claim to the other driver’s company.  The other driver got a ticket for Careless Driving, so it should be an easy decision in my favor.
  • DirecTV – I have two DirecTV DVRs.  One of them developed hard drive problems and was randomly rebooting.  That has since been replaced for what amounts to Free.  It was just a pain, but much less of a pain than expected.
  • Deacon – I perform my first deacon duty this weekend.  I’ll be putting juice and iced tea on the table in Fellowship Hall after the service.  As one other blogger said, “They also serve who stir and pour.”  I’ll be greeting in August, and Officer Training and Installation will be in September.
  • Camp Johnsonburg – I’ve assisted twice with Sunday check-in.  Once I was a medical check person for the “no medication” line, and the other time I managed the medical form paperwork process (an all-paper process that is a bit labor-intensive for 200+ campers).  I was pleasantly surprised to run into one of my youth group members checking into the camp’s Leadership Training Program (a 3-week program that is essentially Counselor training).  I’ll be back again in August for one more Sunday.
  • Youth Group – I drove the youth mission trip to and from Philadelphia where they stayed at and worked with Broad Street Ministries.  By all reports a good time was had by all and several report transformational experiences.  I’ll be going with the youth group trip to Montreat for the Youth Conference (week VI) starting next weekend.  I’m a smidge nervous about that – the last time I did a week road trip with a bunch of youth was my trip to the Presbyterian Youth Triennium in 1986, when I was a youth.  I’m hoping that a mostly out of shape 40-year-old can keep up.
  • Birthday – it was quiet, which is the desired result.  I didn’t ask for much, and the presents that I received were thoughtful.  I got a lot of cards with old people on them for some reason …
  • Ham Radio – I participated in the national Field Day at the end of June.  I was only able to help set up in the morning and operate for a few hours in the afternoon.  This event is when amateur radio clubs and individuals all over the country set up their equipment in the field (we were at Mercer County Park) and demonstrate their ability to operate in an emergency.
  • Home, Wife, Cats – all about as good as usual.

Blogging will be non-existent between July 25 and August 3 or so due to the youth trip.  It may be light until then, unless I think of something compelling to say.

I am 39 and 366/366ths

July 16, 2008 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Life 

Yep, it’s that day.

This year my birthday is a day for reflection.

This is the first year that my body is starting to get creaky.  In the last 2 years I’ve gotten reading glasses and I’ve learned how NOT to move my muscles suddenly when I’m just waking up.  I’m aging, but generally healthy.  It could be worse.

This is also the year that I realize that some doors have closed.  There are just some things that I could have done, but which I can no longer do because I didn’t take that side of the fork in the road.  There are things that I never could have done (I was never going to be an NBA star).  There are things that I have done.  This is the year that I realize that there are things that I didn’t do, and the opportunity is gone.  I don’t regret the decisions but it’s sad to see the closed doors.

This past year has also been a rough but fruitful year.  I spent a LOT of time outside of my comfort zone.  In some ways that has paid off.  In other ways I’ve bounced off some metaphorical walls at high speed.  Some of this has produced personal growth and a lot hasn’t.  Ironically, most of the “new” things in my life are actually a return to a part of my past.

I have made a number of new friends in the past year both locally and nationally.  I cherish those friendships.  I have been able to help a few of these new friends with their lives and goals and that is gratifying.

Probably the most rewarding part of my life in the last year has been my work with the youth group at church.  I love our kids, and watching them grow has been wonderful.  Sunday evenings have been a very bright spot in my life.

Life with Carolyn continues to be wonderful.  I think we’ve reached the beginning of the “growing old together” stage of life.  It’s good.  Every day I learn something new about her (or gain a new story – there are LOTS of those) and yet we know each other so well that we’ve reached the point one or two words speak volumes.  (“Do you know where …” – “Here you go” – and it’s exactly what she was looking for.)

And our cats are still as snuggly as ever.

It could have been better, and it could have been worse.  One more year in the books.

p.s. –  Happy Birthday, Harry!

Cat Health Update

May 8, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Life 

Three weeks ago, we took the cats in for their annual checkup.  We were a little worried about a lump on Isaac’s front leg, which was biopsied.

The results are now all in.

Albert is fine.  He went into the vet today for a dental cleaning for gingivitis.  (Isaac didn’t need it this time.)  His blood work came back fine.

Isaac is also fine.  The lump on his front leg matched the one on his back leg – fatty tissue and nothing to be concerned about.  We are a bit concerned about his blood work.  His thyroid number was slightly elevated for an older cat.  We’re going to take him back for more blood work in 3-6 months.  We’ll have his teeth checked again at the same time.

We should have Albert at home this evening.  I hope he’ll just be drowsy rather than psychotic like Isaac was the last time they had their teeth cleaned.

We love our cats.

Kitty is alright

October 27, 2007 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Life 

I mentioned on Thursday that Isaac had a lump on his leg.

The vet called today.  The tissue tested as fatty tissue – making this a fatty tumor which is benign and very common in older cats.  We are to contact the vet if the lump changes, but otherwise it’s not something to worry about.

Isaac could care less.  It’s not affecting him at all.

We’re feeling better.

Sick Kitty?

October 25, 2007 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Life 

Cats on Stairs

Our cats are coming up on 12 years old.  This is the time of life when age starts to take a toll.

Isaac is the cat on the lower stair above.  He’s already suffering from what is likely arthritis in his hips.

This week we discovered a lump on his back right leg.  It’s a solid but spongy mass under the skin at about knee-level.  It’s about the size of a dime in diameter and about the height of 3 dimes.  It doesn’t seem to bother him at all – he’s still running and jumping and sleeping as much as usual.

We took him to the vet last night.  The vet did a needle biopsy, and we should get the results by Monday.  He said it could be something sinister or could be as simple as a fatty tumor that is almost always benign.

I hope he’s OK.

(The other cat is Albert, in case you were wondering.  They’re from the same litter.  We’ve had them since they were 6 weeks old.)

Healthy Kitties

March 21, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Life 

Yesterday was the day for our feline senior citizens Isaac and Albert to take their annual trip to the vet.

I think I made one error in judgment.  Generally, my wife and I get home in just enough time to get the cats into their carrier, collect the community stool sample, and get to the vet on time.  Yesterday, we both left work a little early.  The result was that we had time to give the cats their evening feeding before we left.

We bundled the cats into their carriers and drove away.  We do this is Carolyn’s Chrysler Concorde so that there’s enough room in the back seat for both carriers and me in the middle.  I sit between them and try to calm them.

Unfortunately, Isaac got so upset that he threw up in his carrier just as we reached the vet.  The nice folks at the vet’s office cleaned his carrier and gave us a clean towel for him to use on the way home.

Our cats are 11 years old, and BIG.  They have large frames rather than being fat.  Albert weighed in at about 14 lbs. – down from a high of 15.  The vet says that Albert is at his optimal weight – he’s just really big.  Isaac is the larger cat at 15 lbs. down from a high of 18 lbs.

Albert had some odd kidney readings a few years ago, so both cats have been on annual blood and urine tests.  Those were taken.

Carolyn clips their claws and brushes their teeth regularly.  She thought she saw a problem on Albert’s molar, so we checked.  The vet pronounced their teeth wonderful for their age.  In fact, she said that Isaac’s teeth were what she’d expect from a 3-year-old cat.

Isaac has been moving a bit slow lately – particularly up and down stairs.  We asked the vet to check for arthritis, and she thinks there might be an issue with his hips.  We decided that it’s a little early to do X-rays, but we’re going to try Cosequin (glucosamine and chondroitin) on both of their food.  We’ll see how he does.

Otherwise, the cats are in excellent shape!

RIP Edloe

July 8, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Life, Weblogs 

Last week, I was off the net for a week in a training class with no Internet access.  I’m finally getting caught up and I found THIS.

Edloe was nearly the headliner of Laurence’s 4-cat show.  I will miss him.

Tonight I go home and give treats to Albert and Isaac, and give them extra hugs.

A Snowy Evening

February 27, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Life 

Last Thursday (2/24/2005), it snowed in our area – with a total of about 4-6 inches by morning.  My wife took this picture when it started snowing:

Birds on Bench in Snow

She has been feeding the birds, so we had lots of them hanging around the backyard.

So what do you do after a long, hard day when it’s snowing?

Wife Sleeping with cat

Curl up with your cat and snooze!

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