Since I’ve been blogging, there is a “truth” about the process which has become very clear to me:  The longer you go without making an entry, the harder it is TO make an entry!  “Time” brings on “mind clutter”, and one has to wade through that in order to write something.  It’s my theory of chaos in all facets of life.  The more clutter there is, the easier it is to run – head firmly planted in the sand – away from that chaos which becomes increasingly hard to fathom.  And … so … with that in mind, I return again to this blog that clearly was in danger of being left for dead with resolve not to let the chaos overtake me.

I also believe that in the blogging world, there is very little tolerance for long term (or even short term!) “negativity”.  It’s ok to mention negative things, or have a “down” post once in a while.  However, ultimately a positive spin needs to be put on these things.  But a “negative blog” just doesn’t work.  When in the midst of situations like this, I become overwhelmed – almost “imprisoned – by the depressing mood of the moment – so much so that putting a positive spin on it when writing becomes difficult.  I need to work on seeing the larger picture – even when in the midst of difficult, negative life issues.

Which brings me to the issue of my silence….

It was a rough fall and early winter for me.   When I left you in mid October, things were going downhill.  After a power walk, motivated by my blog entry on my need to do something about my weight, I blew my knee out.  I wrote a few more entries after that, but my momentum was sorely lacking.

I quickly got an appointment with the orthopedist.  His diagnosis:  a torn meniscus – but not a serious one which would require surgery,  He recommended physical rehab.  For the month of October into November, I put my heart and soul into it, and my knee improved greatly.  I totally enjoyed rehab – but in all honesty, I do not know if the improvement was as a result of that.  It didn’t matter why it was better, as long as it was.  I looked forward to returning to the state where I would not have to think about my knee every step I took.  There was – and still is — the undercurrent of fear that I might injure my knee so that I’d lose forever the ability to do the activities I take for granted:  photography jaunts, golf, and just routine errand running!

In the midst of this potential loss, another loss was looming:  Since November, 2008 we had been giving our sweet black cat, Shadow (that you see in the icon above) subcutaneous infusions as a result of kidney failure, which is common in older cats.  There is no cure for this, so the reality is that her condition would only worsen with time, but she did so well for little more than a year and a half.  During the summer – almost imperceptibly – she began her decline.  Her eating and activity level lessened.  She was slowly losing weight almost without notice.  I think it was the brutal heat we had over the summer, and without our house being air conditioned, it’s my opinion that this took a toll on her.   By September, it was clear she was not doing well.  She was lethargic – barely moving from one spot both day and night.  Watching this was like watching a slow death – and I knew this was what was happening.  The chronic sadness about this took it’s toll. 

We had to return to Hilton Head in late October for a few days, and we boarded her at the vets instead of getting a pet sitter so that she could be watched more carefully.  That was a tough decision because I didn’t know how well she’d thrive being cooped up in a cage in a strange place, but she did ok, and we brought her home – maybe a little better from that experience.  For the month of November her health remained constant, although I suspect that she was declining still – again imperceptibly.   Again we had to board her over Thanksgiving while we visited my family in PA, but this time she returned home clearly more sick.  She was barely eating – and was skin and bones – only 6 lbs. on her rather large kitty frame.

It was our plan to leave for Hilton Head for the winter about two days after returning from our Thanksgiving trip.  It had been our plan to take Shadow with us.  But – her condition was dire.

We had vowed that we would intervene in Shadow’s health only as long as she had “quality of life”.  After Thanksgiving, however, it slowly became clear that this had ended.  I wasn’t even sure she would survive the two day car trip to Hilton Head from Long Island.

Would we be putting Shadow down only for our convenience – so that we could go to Hilton Head at the time when we wanted to go?  Those few days after our Thanksgiving trip were dark ones for both my husband and I as we wrestled with the decision.

What to do?  What to do???

On December 1, we put Shadow down.  It was one of the saddest days for us.  But – in the end, both of us are convinced we made the right decision for her.  She had no quality of life, with little hope for it to return.  We loved her – and her brother, Phantom (who died in November, 2006 of an inner ear tumor), deeply.  They were our “dynamic duo” – so special in our lives.  No matter what other kitties would grace our household again, there would be no kitties like them ever again.  It was an end of a wonderful era….

The next day we left for Hilton Head …. cat-less.   It was hard to pack.  It was hard to go.  I wanted to curl up and mourn my sweet Shadow.  But … we left…

Emotionally I was “in limbo” during the month of December.  I was healing from the loss of Shadow – or trying to – by preparing for Christmas.  We decorated the house, shopped both online and in the stores, and prepared for a trip to PA on Christmas day until December 29th.  But in the midst of all that, my knee went “out” – yet again — during a photography walk on the beach in mid December.  Add to that – a rash I have been battling for the last two years flared up around Thanksgiving.  Let’s just say:  The itching was relentless until I got a “miracle cream” prescribed by a dermatologist whom I saw only days after arriving in Hilton Head.

My knee is better, but it’s now fragile in a way it was not before.  I do not know if surgery is in my future, but will be waiting until we go back north (where our health insurance is in effect) to have that evaluated again.  I am doing the exercises I learned in rehab, and wearing a brace when I walk.  There are good days and bad days, and do not know why my knee’s condition fluctuates so much.  I’m just relieved to be relatively mobile.

I know for a fact that my overall mood is rising.  On January 7th we went to the Hilton Head Humane Association and brought home two litter mate tuxedo kittens (one male, one female, about 6 months old) which we’ve named Felix and Misty.  What cuties they are, and to be honest, I knew I could fall in love again!  When I saw them lick each other after removing them from the cage in the Humane Association to see how they would react to each other, I was smitten and knew they would be my kitties!  After a month without a cat in our house, I have discovered that our house could never be a “home” without a cat (or cats) in it!  Kittens are a new experience after having elderly cats for so long – and they are into everything.  Fragile items have been put away.  Upholstered Furniture is vulnerable to kitty claws.  But – it’s all good!  They love each other – and us – and we love them.

And – I will leave you with a few pictures of the kitty loves of my life:

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1.  Misty (no white on chin and a smaller kitty) and Felix (white on chin and a slightly larger kitty lying together.  Misty’s head is on Felix’s body.

2.  Misty in the sisal “Cat Shack” we bought them

3.  Felix “birding” out the sliding glass door

4.  Kitty Kisses

Very soon I will be changing some pictures on my blog’s sidebar to reflect our new additions – but will always keep Shadow and Phantom not far from here, too.  (EDIT:  This has been done)  I also hope not to allow this much time to go by between entries.

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