Thursday, January 29, 2009

Open letter to my parents, by Anouk (First cat)

Dear parents,

About three weeks ago you came home with something. It took me a while but I came to know this thing as a miniature cat. One you call "Penny".

Now, I know I have gained a few (it's winter, ya know? We kitties need our extra layers when it's so freakin' cold outside!) and I might not be as young and fresh faced as I used to be but to BRING HOME ANOTHER CAT?

First I thought you will simply replace me. Take me to where ever you found this bundle of fleas and sneezes. But it's been three weeks and I am still here (and so is the other one unfortunately) so I guess I am not going anywhere. Or am I? I just know I would feel a whole lot better once you put my cat carrier back in the closet! Don't you see me sniffing it and looking at you suspiciously? That means "PUT AWAY THE DAMN CARRIER!".

Anyway, I have you know I am not standing for any of this. I am strictly a one cat/one family person and that's how I'll have it. I was brought up cat-olic after all.

You might say that back when we lived with your friend Mike and his cat Willow we also lived with another cat. Well, I tell ya - that was DIFFERENT! Willow was strictly Mike's cat. You always made me feel like I was YOUR cat and Willow was HIS cat. Also I never liked that Mike-dude. Remember when I peed into his Prada shoes? Fun times.

So I beg you - please remove this boney, little fur ball from our premises so we can be a normal family again.

Or be prepared for a cold war as last seen between America and Russia during Jimmy Carter's regency.

Thank you and with all my love (if you do as I wish, otherwise, no love)

Your FIRST kitten

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Money, money, money, must be funny ...

Just yesterday I said to E that the recession has not hit us hard yet (knock on wood three times) and that we are lucky.

However - it is hitting all around us. Mass firings everywhere.

Today Target is letting go a big bunch of their employees.

One of my favorite blogs - was shut down recently. All the girls who contributed to this sponsored blog also lost their day-jobs in the last few month (I started following their private blogs after Elastic Waist stopped, that's how I know).

And today - my favorite magazine - Domino - closed it's doors. The March issue will be the last one. When I first discovered this magazine I was amazed - finally somebody gets what style of house I like! Elle Decor, Vogue Living - all those magazines are too snobbish for me, not creative enough. I don't like the starckesque, emotionless interiors they show. I like colorful, friendly, homey, bohemian with a dash of glamour and a pinch of hippie and that's exactly what Domino showed in its pages.
I also just subscribed and haven't even received my first issue yet. I heard a rumor that I will be sent another magazine from the Conde Naste group instead. Whatever it is, it will not replace my Domino. 
I think their website is still up for now if you want to check it out.

There is a new term forming in the media world - Recessionista. A Recessionista is a woman (or a man I guess or would that be Recessionisto?) who is a Fashionista but only shops bargains. Somebody who manages to look great on a budget. In the spirit of that I got myself a 7$ authentic leather Coach bag from the thrift store. It's a very old model (looks like from the 70s) but that makes it vintage, right?

Friday, January 16, 2009

New York, New York

Tomorrow morning I am off to New York where I am meeting two of my friends from Holland. 

I am a bit nervous about it - first because I am flying to La Guardia and I don't know if y'all saw it but a plane just emergency-landed in the Hudson river yesterday after a bunch of geese flew into the engine. Oh yeah and that plane started at La Guardia.

Second - the plane is fully booked. That scares me for multiple reasons, what if it is overbooked and they need to get rid of somebody? What if the plane is going to be too heavy and we are going to have an accident? That means I actually have to sit next to somebody! What if it's a jerk?

Third - having to find my hotel and having to check in by myself. On top of that my hotel is not getting very nice reviews on TripAdvisor. But it was cheap and close to were my friends are staying ...

You can see that I haven't been traveling by myself for a while. I promise I am actually a very independent, young woman. I mean, I moved to Holland by myself when I was 19 years old, I once went to London for a one week holiday by myself ...

But well, you kind of get used to having somebody by your side. You know, if something goes wrong, you always have each other. It's comforting. Also traveling seems to go so much faster when you have somebody by your side.

I have actually just been too Austria by myself in September but then that doesn't really count because I know my way around Vienna.

Anyway I am going to me much happier once I am there and checked into the hotel.

News on the kitten - there aren't any. The vet hasn't called me yet today but the last two days her situation was unchanged which is not great but not bad. It just takes time to get over a cold and as long as she isn't getting worse I am confident that she will get better in a few days and starts to eat again. 

I will take some pictures in New York and also bring my Macbook. If I have time I might even blog from the Big Apple but I am not promising anything.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Things I don't like (but find interesting) - Reserving parking spaces

In the past week we had more than 25 cm of snow. It hasn't melted away either. It looks pretty but if you ever tried driving in this weather - you know that it's a pain. Not only is it dangerous to drive on the streets because it's slippery but you also have to deal with your car being snowed in at the parking spaces.

It takes a long time to dig out your car. Some people completely clean out a parking space which can take an hour of labour. Other people (like me) just clean superficially, just so they don't get stuck in the snow.

So, in Chicago - how do you avoid that somebody else takes your space that you just spent so much time on? You "reserve" your space by putting something there - a chair or an ice box or whatever you don't mind maybe getting destroyed if somebody else does not share the same philosophy about "reserving" public property.

And that's were opinions split. This is actually quite a heated discussion in the city - as I understand - every winter. 
Some people think it's only fair to keep a space that they consider "their" space.
Other people argue that the streets are public property and everybody should be allowed to use any spot that might be available.

Surprisingly there are many good shovelers that are against reserving spaces and there are a lot of people who just take an already shoveled space and then mark it as their own with a chair.

Personally I feel that public space is public space and should be available to everybody. If you want to have your own parking space, rent a garage or buy a parking space. I do however understands how it is annoying if you spent an hour shoveling and then somebody takes your space for days at a time.

I don't think we will be getting a chair out anytime soon though.

If you want to see how the chair reserving looks like - check out this website.

Kitten update

After my last post little kitten Penny started to eat less and less. E and I tried to force feed her, which can be really dangerous if the food gets into the wind pipe instead of the food pipe. We did it anyway because she hadn't eaten since Saturday night and kittens can die from not eating and drinking pretty fast. I ended up calling a vet yesterday. He told me to try special high-calorie diet food for the cat. He gave me some cans to try feed her. Unfortunately it didn't work. Whenever I tried to give Penny food, she turned her nose away.

Another thing the vet told me to do was to put her in the bathroom with the shower on. The steam would loosen up the mucus from her cold and maybe being able to smell again would make her want to eat. Well, I tried it twice and it seemed to make the situation even worse. This morning she was wheezing badly. It was obvious that she had big troubles breathing. I called the vet again and he told me to bring her in.

So today at 3pm I brought Penny to the pet hospital and they decided to keep her there until she gets better. 
I have mixed feelings about this - I feel guilty that I had to leave her there again. She will be kept in a cage, she will feel lonely, she will probably think that I abandoned her like people did before. I feel sad because I miss her and I don't know if whatever the vet does will work out. At the same time I feel relieved. Taking care of this sick kitten has become a full-time job. I spent most of the last few days either trying to force feed her, give her the antibiotics, watching her to see if she eats, trying to trick her into eating or reading up on how to make her better. I think I tried everything I could to make her eat but she just wouldn't. That makes me feel a bit like I failed her.

As I said they will keep her until she is better - they told me it usually takes 5-6 days, sometimes shorter, sometimes longer. 

I just want her to live and be a healthy kitten. And I hope she won't hate me forever for all that stuff she went through since I adopted her.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The estranged kitty

My cat Anouk and I have been living more like room mates than a cat owner and her beloved kitty in the last few days. I feed her, she eats. She doesn't talk to me in her funny cat language anymore. She doesn't wait for me at the door when I get home. She doesn't come to cuddle. She even pretends to not wanting to eat her wet food (but she eats it when she thinks I am not looking) when she used to relentlessly  beg me every morning for it.

The reason for this is that she thinks I am cheating on her. See - there is something living in our guest bedroom and she doesn't know what it is. She might have guessed it though. However, she doesn't like it.

I am spending way too much time in that room, seemingly neglecting her.

That something is a little kitten who I adopted a few days ago from a shelter. The reason I am spending so much time in there is that the kitten is very sick and needs all the love she can get.

The kittens name is Penelope - Penny (we finally decided on that name and will most likely stick with it). She is 10 weeks old. She is sweet and loving and happy that we freed her from that little cage she was living in at the shelter.

But yesterday she started sneezing and coughing and she didn't stop. Her little body was shaking through and through. It was a sad thing to watch. I took her to the closest vet immediately and they prescribed her antibiotics. Seems that she has Upper Respiratory Infection which is very common in cats from shelters. I have been giving her the antibiotics and I will have to keep her in that room longer than I planned so she cannot infect Anouk with her virus. 

The coughing has stopped. She is still sneezing a bit though and now she is drooling like Homer Simpson when he is thinking about the Gummy Venus. She is also not eating very much which is probably a side effect of the antibiotic and can become a big problem. Especially since she is so skinny that you can feel pretty much every single one of the bones in her body.

So I am spending a lot of time with her on the sofa in the guest bedroom, on my lap, to keep her warm, a fleece blanket covering her.

And of course Anouk doesn't know any of this. I did try to explain it to her but even though she is a smart kitty - I don't think she is smart enough to understand my words.
So I am going to have to wait for Penny to hopefully get better soon so I can introduce the two kitties and hope that they end up really liking each other.

If they don't like each other, tough luck. They will just have to learn to deal. Because I love Anouk and I have definitely already fallen in love with little Penny.

So now I just want that little bundle in our guest bedroom to get better.

Penny, the day before she got sick:

And on E's lap:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Happy New Year!!!

Hey you guys,

Sorry for not being on here much lately but a lot of things are going on - and I was in Ohio for a week.

Well - we have two big news - first - we own a car now. A nice old Honda. It used to be E's car when he was living in Chicago. When he moved to Europe he sold it to his father, his father sold it to his sister and later his sister gave it back to his parents, swapping it for another car they had and now we got it back!
I always hated cars. Living in Holland you really don't need a car but unfortunately - here you do. In Chicago not so much. I guess if you are student who lives in a furnished apartment than you are ok but if you have a family and children (which we will have at some point in the future) it's really much easier and efficient if you can drive places.
I am personally getting much better at driving. I have driven in the city a few times now and it is much less scary than I expected. As I said I will probably try and get my American drivers license in February.

The other big news is that we got a kitten. Well, we don't have it yet. 
We actually went to a few shelters last Saturday and the shelters were packed with people and kids. All the kittens were adopted. Since I know that my little Anouk (my first cat that moved over to Chicago with us from Delft) is a very sweet cat and easily dominated by any other cat - I knew I had to get a kitten. For once I want Anouk to be the boss. I have this fantasy that the kitten will see Anouk as a big sister and look up to her and aspire to be just like her (because - let's be honest - Anouk is the perfect cat in any way). Well, at least I want them to get along.
Anyway - all the kittens had already been adopted. We were going to come back next Saturday in the morning to check again. E thought thats when they get all the new kittens in.

Yesterday I had lunch with E and a few friends downtown. After lunch I wanted to go for a long walk and thought, hey, I could just walk down to the Anti-Cruelty-Shelter (a shelter where they don't kill animals even if they can't find a home for them) and look at the cats. 
So I did and when I got there they had a kitten. And she was a female (I wanted a female and people say that the same sex gets along better) and she was super cute. I was sold. I held her for about 30 seconds when I asked one of the people who worked there how I can adopt her.
The whole adoption process took about an hour. Mostly I had to wait for them to check my details. I also had to fill in a two page "exam" on how I would behave in which situations. Since I have had cats all my life and I have trained Anouk before I guess I answered all the questions correctly. 
There was one question that said "When you move houses, what will you be doing with your cat?". Well I had moved to America with my cat, so the answer is pretty clear. I wrote that down and the moment the vet who interviewed me saw that - she was completely sold on me. After that she was almost trying to sell the cat to ME. Anything I said was gold to her ears. So I was approved immediately.
Since out new kitten is only 10 weeks old she had to still get spayed which happened last night. I can pick her up this afternoon which I will be doing in a few hours. 
So far her name is Robyn but I think I will change that. Since Anouk was named after the Dutch singer I would like to name our new kitty after a famous, female singer too. So far she seems very mellow and calm, so maybe a cool, relaxed, jazz singer? But her looks (she is black with rusty spots) are more rock' n roll. So maybe a rock singer?
One name we like is Penelope - short - Penny. Because she kind of looks like a Penny. But I am open to suggestions. I actually called Anouk Lana at first but changed her name after a week because Anouk matched her much better. 
If you have any good names, please let me know!
I'll post pictures of her soon!

I have gotten a ton of sewing books for Christmas. I have really gotten back into sewing and knitting. I want to learn how to do clothes but right now I am only doing small projects.

Here a few pictures of what I did so far:

This a shopping/diaper bag I made for my sister in law. It looks really easy but it is reversible and it has a bottom which made it more difficult. It took me a LONG time to make this bag. She loves dogs and blue, so I got some dark blue fabric with dogs on it and some light blue fabric with paws on it.

My first project were Christmas stockings. E's is the red one which I made first and is skinnier because I did something wrong. Mine is the green one. Next year I will probably make a new one for E.

That's it for today, really have to get some stuff done today but I'll write more very soon, I promise!