• 27Dec

    On our 3rd day of Christmas, we

    • woke up early enough to get on the road before most traffic
    • left Paris at 9:30 and and made it to Austin by 2pm
    • settled in and had our own Christmas exchange and then relaxed for the rest of the evening
  • 26Dec

    On our second day of Christmas, we:

    • sleep in just a little (until about 9am),
      and then
    • Mom finished a few meal and gift preparations
    • Emil ran all the virus and software updates on her computer and got the printer working, again,
      before we headed “over the river and through the woods” (not really) for a
    • noon meal for the five of us (Lori & Emil, Lori’s mom, and her parents) at the grandparents’ home, at the dining table, with the fancy dishes,
      and then we shared
    • gifts with the grands,
      and then went
    • back to Lori’s mom’s for our nuclear gift exchange, playing with Roxi,
      and a bit of recovering from a busy day
    Southern relish tray

    Lori's grandmother's Southern relish tray (embellished by Emil)

    Xmas 2 tree 2009

    the 2009 O'Brien Christmas tree includes Lori's mom's Baby's First Christmas ornament up top. It's red, so it matches her hair!!! LOL

  • 15Dec

    [This was written over the weekend as part of my little series on Stories of Sosta. I didn’t think it was ready to publish before we took her to the vet for the last time. I’ve reread it and only changed the tense in one place. So, I’m sure I missed some would-otherwise-be-glaring errors. Please forgive any grammar, spelling, or punctuation mistakes.]

    When Sosta first adopted me, we did a bit of traveling to see friends. We went to Tampa and Miami. Luckily for me, she was in the car often enough to be comfortable with our short trips. It was nice to have a car-friendly cat. While she wasn’t as happy as a dog with its head out the window, she did tolerate the trips quite well.

    In early 1997, I got a job offer from Texas A&M (from what turned out to be the worst boss I’ve ever had [1]). I had about a week to pack up my apartment in Orlando and move half way across the country. I rented a U-haul and the little car dolly thing for the back. Daddy made plans to fly to Orlando and make the drive with me. In the mean time, he and Mom had been to College Station and picked out an apartment for me.

    I picked Daddy up from the airport on a Friday night. I think I spent the entire ride telling him about Sosta. We were a dog family, and Daddy had never liked cats. I wanted so badly for him to not hate her.

    At the apartment, I was excited by how much packing I had done; Daddy was disappointed at how much there was left to do. But that was secondary to Daddy meeting Sosta.

    Since my parents never understood why I had a futon instead of a bed[2], and since on their only other visit to Orlando, they bought me a bed, I made the bed for Daddy and made the futon for me. I didn’t think Sosta would have trouble with it since she was used to sleeping on either/both. She and I had a nightly routine. We watched tv and snuggled on the futon…and then went to sleep in the bed.

    Well, she took straight to Daddy. He’d traveled for hours to get to Orlando. I’d been packing for days. We were exhausted. From the minute we got to the apartment, we were getting ready to go to sleep. Even without our tv routine, she hopped up on the bed and waited for him to join her. She spent the first night they met curled up on his feet. For her, it was love at first sight. For him, it was meeting the coolest cat any of us had ever known.

    From that day, he was her man. She met other men in her life but no one else was worthy of so much affection from her…until she met Emil, of course.

    The next day, Daddy and I did got up super early and some lightening-fast packing and loading. Once it was all done, we gave Sosta her drugs and made a spot for her in the moving truck. She was a very funny “drunk” kitty. We got her settled in and pulled away from the complex just before noon.

    While taking a break somewhere in the middle of our trip, I lost Sosta. I looked all through the cab of the truck and couldn’t find her anywhere. I was just “this side” of panicked when Daddy found her crouched behind my seat. She just about gave me a heart attack.

    In College Station, I felt it important that she have a little more space to move around and wouldn’t let Mom put her in the bathroom (she’d been in such a tiny space for 2 whole days). Well, in the course of moving furniture and boxes into the apartment, she sneaked out. We looked everywhere for her. We put food out on the patio, went to dinner and came back, and looked again unsuccessfully. I cried myself to sleep that night and dreamed of her return. Waking up to the reality that she was still gone was harsh. After breakfast, I was standing at the patio door looking out and feeling very alone in my new town when I saw her wander up. I cried all over again, but this time tears of joy. Her little night out in her new town almost broke my heart. She did what always did whenever I was upset and licked the tears off my face.

    For the next several months, Sosta and I would make a trip to Paris every 4-5 weeks. She’d ride in the car like she had in Florida and even learned to tell time. She always knew when we were getting close to home. She’d start stirring and getting antsy about 20 minutes from home.

    Over the years, and especially as Mom/Daddy’s dog Randi Cae gold older, Sosta didn’t travel to Paris quite as often. Her last big car trip was the move to Austin.

    In her last few months, she knew that when the carrier came out, she was going to the vet. She was always a very good patient and completely trusted everyone who ever examined her.



    [1] David “Poppy” Capehart truly ruined so much for so many. He’s one of the most evil and cruel people I’ve ever known. Sosta is a big reason I survived the year of working for/with him and didn’t abandon Aggieland altogether.

    [2] Later, when I was still using the futon for a couch, they bought me a sleeper sofa. I kept both it and the futon in my living room for a very long time. I finally got rid of it in 1998 after using it for 5+ years. This year, Emil and I bought a futon when we moved into our apartment in Austin. I had forgotten how much I like them. They make great couches since they aren’t too squishy. It’s great for my late-night tv watching.

  • 13Apr

    This is a funny little example of the way our world works.

    As we were leaving the house for Easter…
    Emil: Turtleor is upset that we’re leaving. She thinks we are going to bring her a baby brother or sister.

    As we were driving into Dime Box…
    Lori: I hope we don’t find another turtle. Two might be a lot more work, but I won’t be able to leave it there.

    As Emil was reaching into the water cutoff to make sure the water was turned on…
    Emil: “Baby, you aren’t going to believe this.” Then he hands me the tiniest Red Eared Slider I’ve ever seen. She had been stuck in the valve area for a while, was emaciated, and was so dehydrated she could not open her eyes.

    As we battled getting the water turned on at Dime Box, I checked on her from time to time. I also texted a picture of her to Twitxr, which showed up on facebook. Name suggestions included Dribble and Speed Bump. Emil suggested Valvet since we found her in the valve. I suggested Turtleand and Turtlebut to go with Turtleor….but ultimately Valvet is the most telling/descriptive name for our new addition.

    Turtleor has made it abundantly clear that she is the alpha with the fluttering of her front feet. At the same time, she seems to “cuddle” Valvet under her belly in a protective way. Valvet hasn’t eaten, yet, but it took Turtleor ~3 days to eat when we brought her home, so I’m not too concerned about that, yet.

    Pictures to follow, of course.