Packing Day: Where’s Crazy Daisy?

By packing day, all had been going well for the move. But then the packers arrived early, taking us by surprise and we didn’t have the cats locked away in their cages. They were hanging out in the master bedroom. I think the plan was to put them in the hall bath. So when strangers entered the house and we opened the master bedroom door, Daisy when crazy!! She’s the kitten we got last January and we had no idea how she would react to a move. Shadow, thankfully, is an awesome mover – the best moving cat we’ve had!

Daisy is afraid of strangers and her sole mission is to hide to keep herself safe. The problem is we had no idea where she was hiding. She headed for the couch, but we turned that couch upside down but couldn’t find her. We were in deep freak-out mode! Of course my wild imagination worried that she would get packed in a box. Rich, the more rational one, said that she would never let a packer pack her in a box and he was confident they wouldn’t pack her anyway. Well, from our previous packing adventures, I wasn’t so sure about that.

Anyway, we stressed for hours while the packers packed up the entire house. We didn’t bother putting Shadow away, hoping he’d find her and let us know where she was. He is such an awesome kitty, he was totally chill for the 6 hours they were there, but we never saw where Daisy was hiding. We looked and looked and called out to her but no sign of her – we were  stressed beyond belief.

We’d talked earlier about doing our usual Residence Inn with the cats while the packing was going on, but somehow we thought it would be better if I was there to help Rich with the packers, and to make sure boxes were marked properly. Ha! We were totally oblivious to what the packers were doing and we didn’t care. All we cared about was finding Daisy and making sure she was safe. We were just sick with worry!

The packers finished and left, and all we could think to do was rest on the bed, hoping once the house got quiet, she would come out of her hiding place. Which is exactly what she did. We suspected she had crawled up into a small alcove under the left arm of the couch.

Daisy’s favorite red chair – she is small so she can hide in a lot of places, even if it means ripping a hole underneath the furniture.

Daisy’s favorite hiding place – the red couch – we suspect she crawled up under the arm of the chaise side because she was nowhere to be found when we turned the couch upside down.

Saying Good-bye to Skipper’s House

Looking back on our time here in Florida this time around, we see that this was Skipper’s house. At 18 years old and never a fan of stairs, he loved ruling the single-story. We were able to give him the extra care he needed. He thrived here as much as an 18-year-old cat can for the last year of his life. And when Daisy joined us, he enjoyed the little girl’s company, and the way she would walk underneath the big guy. Skipper knew all the cats – those who came before home and those who followed him. It isn’t the same in this house without him.

Skipper’s house is now on the market. We’ve met with the movers. We’re finalizing a house with our realtor in Las Vegas for the Shadow and Daisy chapter of our lives. We’re very excited to do Vegas a bit differently this time around. Rich’s boss, direct reports, and co-workers are ecstatic. I’ll have a dedicated music studio in a casita-type feature of the new property. And I’m ecstatic about that!

I won’t miss the mosquitoes in Florida. I’m one of those people mosquitoes feast on. It’s been a hot and humid fall this year and I can’t seem to go outside without getting eaten alive. I’m up scratching as I write this. It wasn’t this bad this time last year.

We’ve got a couple of days planned for our Disney finale. I’m pretty sure we’ll miss the access to Disney and the beach, which are always the draw for us. And then we should be home for Christmas.

Thumbing through our photos on my phone over the past year and a half, I can see that we’ve had one heck of a Florida vacation. We started this chapter chasing Margaritaville and we certainly found it.

But now I’m looking forward to our next adventures together, and the comfort of being home.

Leaving Florida: What I Will Miss

I will miss the morning sunlight peeking through the trees,
Soaring birds chirping their morning wakefulness,
Squawking gulls flapping their wings,
Treading shore birds scanning the pond for breakfast.

I will miss sipping my coffee on the lanai greeting the dawn with prayer,
Scribbling my early thoughts,
Clearing my mind of nighttime fears,
Making room for gratitude and thankfulness.

I will miss cocktails and apps overlooking the springs at the BoatHouse,
Strolling World Showcase,
Martinis in the Wilderness,
Dipping my toes in the ocean.

I will miss our dream kitchen,
White cabinets and quartz countertops,
Undermount lights with a view,
Morning walkers and evening golf carts.

But most of all I will miss
The last house where Skipper lived.


22nd Anniversary: Party Like It’s 1999 or End of an Era?

Yesterday was our 22nd wedding anniversary and after two birthday cruises, we’ll be celebrating in Las Vegas. Actually, Rich has to work at headquarters for a week and I’m going with him to touch the old stomping grounds and to surround myself with home. So why not celebrate our anniversary there? It will be my first trip back since we left in May of last year.

We’re still grieving Skipper – Shadow has his nights where he howls for hours – sometimes even during the day. He’s off howling now as I write this. He and Skipper were so close.

Skipper and Shadow

But it’s not just Skipper we’re grieving – we’re grieving the end of an era: the Skipper, Buddy, Lovey threesome. They were all different, yet they complimented each other. Where one left off, the other picked up.

Skipper was definitely King and Lovey was his Queen but Buddy was his litter mate, comfort kitty, and all-around clown. They all were so humanly real. And they played a huge part in this journey.

We moved from San Francisco to Portland to buy our first home together and to be able to bring a new kitty home. Ginger and MaryAnn were Rich’s older cats (started the “Gilligan’s Island” theme), and in an apartment, two was the limit.

1999 was “the year” it all happened. First, we went to Walt Disney World for the first time together in May. By August we were celebrating Rich’s birthday in Las Vegas at the Bellagio with a cabana out by the pool. We took Rich’s parents on a Caribbean cruise to celebrate their 50th birthday in November and by December, Rich got a transfer to Portland and we bought a townhouse.

The next year was the big move and soon after, we brought Skipper and his brother Buddy home. We’d intended to only get Skipper but I couldn’t leave Buddy behind. “Let’s see how this one turns out,” I said. Sometimes I cursed those words – he was such a handful. The next year Ginger and MaryAnn were gone so we got Lovey. And that was the beginning of the era of the five of us: Rich, Kathy, Skipper, Buddy, and Lovey. It wasn’t just the two of us on our adventures, in the background were the three of them completing our home and family.

The Dot Com bust led us to Ohio – the 5 of us venturing out in our SportTrac to sites unseen. We were renting a townhome with a basement in Dublin, Ohio and after we returned from a trip to WDW, we noticed the basement door was not only open, but so was the utility closet. Yep, we discovered the Budster could open doors. 🙂

Skipper didn’t much like Ohio – he had urinary problems and he burnt his paws when he jumped in the hot skillet. After our year was up, we moved to Florida. In the Embassy Suites when we stayed that first night, he crawled inside the mattress so we ended up sleeping on the sofa bed in the living room.

We rented a townhouse in Palm Harbor and he ran after the pizza man – Rich grabbed him by the tail – lol! We were building a new house while living there and when we moved in, Skipper was the first on the soffit – he jumped down and decided not to go up there again. Lovey and Buddy used to chase each other up there. Buddy would join me on the loveseat while I listened to Dean Martin and waited for Rich to come home from work. He played the part of “Dino” well.

Skipper kept me company while I wrote my first published novel in my office. He was also the one to test the bath water to make sure all was well there. Lovey, bless her heart, shut the slider door on us and we were locked out. Rich had to go next door and ask the neighbors to use their phone to call a locksmith. From that point on, we made sure we have a cell phone and keys when we sit outside – lol! So many Florida memories with that threesome. Florida isn’t the same without them.

In Las Vegas, Lovey jumped from the upstairs landing to a window and when there wasn’t enough room for her to land, she launched herself over to the top of the coat closet, her heart racing – she was so scared when Rich climbed up on the ladder to rescue her. After that, we had a wall built so she couldn’t make that jump.

I also went through a lot of family issues during that time so I would often go downstairs during the night and sleep on the couch. Buddy was always there sitting on the back of the couch, keeping me company.

Lovey was the bed sleeper and she could be counted on to offer comfort night and day, opening up her tummy for pets, purring madly.

All the little things, the special moments, that sometimes you’re barely aware of. Oh, sure, I noted that some day they wouldn’t be with us anymore and I just couldn’t imagine what our life would be like then. Well, that time is now and it’s so hard, especially to be in Florida, without them. That’s what made the journey special – all five of us together.

It’s time for a new era with Shadow and Daisy. Shadow is still grieving and Daisy is still pretty young so we haven’t really discovered who she is or who we all are as a family. But I guess that’s what the next chapter is for.

Skipper, the Skipster, Skipperdoodle, Skip, Scooter, Scoot, Snootful, Snoot (the King and Book Lover)

The King and his Queen

The Brothers

Miss Lovey, Love Bug, Lovey “D****it”

Little Buddy, Buddy, Mr. Bud, the Budster, the Boobster, Dino

The Threesome

The Next Gen: Shadow (right) and Daisy (Skipper Girl) on left

Birthday Cruise to the Bahamas

We’re counting down to Rich’s birthday cruise to the Bahamas. After the month we’ve have, we really need to get away – we’re so glad we made the decision to book another cruise when we got back from my birthday trip to L.A./cruise to Ensenada.

I’m looking forward to my first Margarita and Rich can taste those Guy’s Burgers. Sipping, relaxing, noshing… ah, life at sea!

Shadow, Daisy, and I are up again during the night. I’m hoping they’ll keep quiet and let Rich sleep before getting up for work in a couple of hours. They’re now asleep at my feet as I write this. In this moment, we’re all okay so it’s hard to get up from the computer and go back to bed.

Shadow is getting better about howling his grief – I suppose we all are. It still takes Rich and I by surprise, though, like all the places we still see him or the little things we did with Skipper in mind and now we either don’t need to or don’t especially want to. His presence is all over this house – I suspect we built it for him. After all, he was king! 🙂

Looking back at a few photos from the Vegas years, I’m posting a few of Skipper that especially stood out this morning. And as much as I was desperate to leave Las Vegas, I do miss it sometimes. Certainly, the memories. I definitely needed a break from it, though.

Late Sunday afternoon reminded me of how good we have it here. We just hopped in the car and drove to the beach and there I was dipping my feet in the water. Heaven! You can’t do that in the desert.

A friend and I were talking about meeting my father 16 years ago and how it was too short and I realized I knew Skipper longer than I knew my father.

That reminds me of a story about a woman I worked with in San Francisco when we were in ours 20s. Her dog died and then her father died and I said to another co-worker, “She seemed more upset about her dog dying than her father.” And Stefany said, “I suspect she got a lot more love from her dog than she ever did from her father.”

Anyway, here’s to Skipper. Look at those eyes – he would give me that look and he seemed so human. I will miss him forever! Love you, sweet boy!




1999: Where the Disney Florida Dream Started

You might have noticed our new domain for this blog – It all goes back to 1999 when Rich and I flew to Orlando from San Francisco and stayed at the Yacht Club for the first time. This was Rich’s first trip to Disney World – I’d been twice before: 1982 after my first Caribbean cruise and in 1987 on a combo Big Red Boat cruise to the Bahamas/WDW trip. It was always about Disney and cruising.

1999 was quite the year. In May, we went to WDW, and in November we celebrated Rich’s parents 50th anniversary on a Caribbean cruise on the Holland America’s Westerdam out of Fort Lauderdale – our second cruise together – the first was on Celebrity’s Century (see header pic) in 1997.

By December, we bought our first home together after Rich transferred to the “Silicon Forest” office in Oregon and I continued contracting for a couple of Silicon Valley companies. That’s when this whole journey began that led to three moves to Florida and where we are today.

Skipper and Buddy were born April 9, we moved into our home on April 14th, and Skipper and Buddy came home June 19th. We got Lovey a year later. The 3 Musketeers. Skipper was devastated when we lost Lovey last year. And, now, with Skipper gone, we are grieving the end of a very special time.

Shadow is grieving terribly – running around yelling all night – not every night, although tonight is one of those nights and neither of us can sleep. So I figured it was time to pay a little tribute to the journey that started with Disney World and cruising.

After church on Sunday in Orlando, I think we’ll drive by the Windermere townhome remembering when I pulled up in front of the townhome and Rich opened the front door and Skipper just walked outside to greet me. I was horrified that he was outside – for 18 years I put my heart into loving him and protecting him and worrying about him getting outside. And now he’s gone. The end of an era that leaves me feeling rather empty.

Here are a few photos from the early days.

Buddy and Skipper with their personalized collars they hated as kittens (those were soon dispensed of) in first house in Oregon

Lovey in the dishwasher

Skipper never very far away from Lovey

Little girl with her big bruiser

“The Little Couple” (Skipper and Lovey)

Lovey loving the fireplace

The 3 Musketeers – Lovey and Skipper with the “Brother/Brother-in-law”

Living 2 miles from Cinderella Castle – remembering when I parked in front of the townhome and Rich opened the front door and Skipper just walked outside to greet me


“Highlights of SoCal” Birthday Trip/Cruise, Day Six: LAX to MCO (Final Thoughts)

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Los Angeles to Ensenada cruise, Disneyland Resort, Newport Beach
What: Carnival Imagination, Residence Inn, Hyatt Regency Newport Beach
When: July 11-16, 2018
Why: Kathy’s Birthday Celebration (Catching up with SoCal)

We got up early the next morning, had coffee in the room, and dropped off the rental car at National. The shuttle was waiting for us and then we were dropped off at the American Airline terminal at LAX. We didn’t get Pre-TSA this time so we had to take off our shoes. I hate walking on the bare floor and I kicked myself for not bringing socks.

So then we walked to our gate, scoped out some breakfast and Rich got us each a coffee and something, which I don’t remember. Dunkin Donuts had a huge line so he got something else. He also stopped at Sees Candy (favorite West Coat candy company) and got us a box of milk chocolate/dark chocolate creams.

We had a pretty uneventful flight – we had the usual turkey wrap but this time also got a glass of wine. We were both dreading going home to a house without Skipper, but we were eager to be there to comfort Shadow and Daisy.

Overall, this was a fantastic trip! We had so many things we longed to touch and didn’t get to them all – like the Disney parks. But the Napa Rose dinner was so awesome that I felt like I’d had the best Disney experience I could have had as part of the trip.

The sadness of losing Skipper hung over it all, though, and we are still grieving. First, I was mostly depressed. I longed to cry but tears were very far away – buried deeply. He may have been a cat but he’d been our special boy for 18 years!!

Shadow has been racing around letting out primordial screams. Skipper had been his “big daddy” for almost 4.5 years and he adored him. He seems to be getting better and yesterday I started to release some tears and we grieved together so maybe we’re on our way. It took three months after Lovey to even think about moving on without her so I’m sure we’ve got some time to heal.

And losing Skipper has caused us to miss Lovey and Buddy all over again. They were the 3 Musketeers, the family we had had for so long. How could they be gone?

Skipper, April 9, 2000 to July 11, 2018

But Shadow and Daisy are special, too, and we’re just beginning to see what this family might look like. They love to snuggle with each other and Daisy is a lot like Skipper – she even has his tail. We sometimes call her “Skipper girl.”

Daisy with her “Skipper” tail (left) and
“Big Brother” Shadow

We’ve booked a cruise for Rich’s birthday next month. These cruises are a much-needed release from all that’s going on and we’re so looking forward to it.