Are you still there?

Hello there,
Long time, no type. I thought I’d check in to let you know I’m still alive. I know it’s been a while, so here’s the short version.

Tony and I took a quick vacation to the western UP at the beginning of October. We stayed in a quaint little place that allowed pets, so we brought Petey. We dropped Sebastian (male cat) off at the vet so they could dispense UTI meds in our absence. I created lots of photos, lamented the harsh sun, enjoyed hiking in that warm sun on the trails, and we met up with Kathy.

It was a well-timed break, because we were both a little burned out from work. That part of the Upper Peninsula has practically no cell phone service, and we didn’t bring laptops, so we were unplugged almost the whole time. Petey enjoyed his trail time, Sebastian didn’t mind the vet stay too much, and Dominique (sister cat) greeted us loudly – asking why we had left her alone.

It wasn’t long after we returned home that the fall color started in earnest in this part of the state. I hadn’t been expecting much of a show, because the color we’d seen up to that point had been muddy. I was convinced the leaves were just going to turn brown and drop. Instead, they burst forth into a vibrant display, and our weather was unbelievably pleasant. I got lost in a photo and hiking frenzy.

Spoiler alert: most of the rest of this blog is decidedly cheerless.

And then the end of October arrived. I laid down for a nap on Halloween day, and noticed that Dominique felt tiny. I could tell she was sick, so we cuddled for a good hour – a very long time for that restless, squirmy cat. We had her in to see the vet two days later, because she wasn’t eating and I was pretty sure it was a painful dental issue. I was wrong. It was a painful tumor in her lungs. We were given prednisone and a possible six months.

We spent the last two weeks carrying our once sassy (frankly bitchy and demanding) cat around (she was too unsteady to jump down from places she could jump up to), and coaxing food and water into her. She seemed to have some good days. It’s hard to say. She certainly had days full of love, spent in sunny windows on top of warm radiators and tucked into laps with toasty blankets. We don’t question whether it was the right thing, to say goodbye to our sweet kitten on Wednesday, but that doesn’t make letting go easy.

Sebastian’s urinary tract, unhappy with all the stress we’ve been under, developed an infection. Again. It wasn’t long ago that we were uncertain his health was sustainable, as we couldn’t seem to get him well (successive and stubborn UTI’s). Fingers crossed, he seems to be on the mend.

Speaking of “on the mend,” we had to have Petey in for a lumpectomy this morning. He had a cyst on his back that had previously seemed fatty and benign, but had become hard with larger nucleated cells than our vet was comfortable with. He came out of anesthesia okay, but he’s got a nice set of sutures to get healed in the next 10-14 days…which is a long time for a guy who plays so hard with his new gal-pal that he tears up his tummy skin. We’re hoping for good news on that pathology.

Red tummy courtesy of playing too hard in the pastures and woods; snuggling photo is with us this afternoon – you can see his shaved patch for his stitches on his back.

And, to add to the drama, I’ve had some wonderful – but stressful – photographic opportunities come my way in the midst of all this…literally this week. I shot some photos for a cell phone provider (should probably not discuss details), this month’s Traverse Magazine features one of my photos on the cover, and I a have a nature photography opportunity that’s still in the works (again, should probably not discuss details – but I think it’s a perfect fit, and I am thrilled with the potential).

So that’s where I’ve been. I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to. I have over 300 items in my feed-reader, so it might take me a while to get to your blog to check! If you’re inclined, leave me a comment and tell me the highlights. Or lowlights. Or just say hi 😉

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Family

I’ve been pretty slack about participating in the Daily Post’s weekly photo challenges, but this week, their theme was family. I don’t think any family is perfect. Mine has its issues, but one thing we excel at is loving each other. And in that way, we are perfect. I count my blessings each time we visit, and cry a little each time we leave. But I figure it’s best this way; I might cry more if I lived nearer, and for less endearing reasons 😉

So here’s a peek at my family. I took the camera to Ohio at Christmas, but indoor lighting and chaotic family time don’t lend themselves to terrific photos. Certainly not everyone is pictured, but I didn’t leave anyone out intentionally! (Because, seriously, that would be cutting out a lot of people who I love!)

You’ve all met Tony, my husband of 13+ years. We’ve got at least one more year; I’d hate to end things on unlucky 13 😉 You’ve seen photos of him, but he doesn’t love when I take snap his picture. Thus…his hands, playing his new cello. It’s a rented cello, and he’s dedicating a year to learn it. I’m impressed and inspired. I can’t even play the cowbell.

Our kids. Sebastian and Dominique, 13+ years. They’re brother and sister from a litter of Bengal cats we got when we first moved to Miami. And Petey, alternately warming his face and buns by the fire.

Some of the rest. Parents and extra parents, brother, sister, niece and nephews. At this point, we’ve got quite a collection of nieces and nephews, but that whole lighting thing…

Instead of telling you about each of the photos, I’ll just share a few things I captured that make me so glad I cart the camera around even when it seems bulky and unnecessary.

  • Addi and Zy opened their presents next to one another on the couch. You can see from her sweatshirt that she’s a Belieber, and that sweet little thing kept telling Zy how much he looked like Justin Bieber. Which is a dubious claim at best, but he is rocking a Bieber-esque haircut, and he was a good sport about it.
  • Not finding anything in the stores this year that we even remotely liked, we made our own Christmas cards for our parents. Used some of my favorite seasonal photos and wrote a personal, if not poetic, note. Caught Tony’s parents reading our card. Phil grinned, and Shari, aka Blondie, cried. A good cry, which makes me happy 🙂
  • Longtime readers will know that I’m a bit morel-hunting-happy. I inherited that squarely from my parents. This year my mom tracked down my dad’s cousin who hand-carves walking sticks with intricate morels at the top. She surprised him with it, at which point he said, “Jerry used to make these.” To which my mom replied, “Jerry made this one.” I can’t get over their faces and the depth of love they share. I cry every time I see this set, which makes me happy 🙂
  • Here’s to my imperfect, perfect family. May we all be so blessed, even if fleetingly or in memories.