• Apartmentlandia,  BIG news,  Moody Blues,  The Desert,  the dogs,  The Flower Business,  The Zoo,  unpackamania

    Catch-up Post Part 1



    I feel like these last two to three years have been the years that have been forgotten. I feel like an old man who can only remember himself as the football player he once used to be. I’m trying to stay present and live every moment for the value that it holds, but when you are in the grips of depression, it can all feel like a huge waste of time. I’ve reinvented myself so many times in these last two years, I don’t know who I even am anymore. I’ve been depressed. It’s just what it is. Depression kills.

    But guess what? I’m still here. I’m still breathing. I think I’ve reached rock bottom, and I’m bouncing back up, but I could be wrong. I might be on the shallowest of bottoms, and there might still be cliffs to fall off below. I don’t know.  I’m unsure how far each bounce will take me and if I’ll ever return to the surface but I’m still here.


    Still alive and kicking.


    Bug and I went to the desert way back in April, and here I am trying to catch up on the photo album of my life that is this blog. I had a crazy dress that a good friend gave me, so we went down a long, dusty road and took pictures. There were a ton of bad photos, but I’ve kept these ones because I can still see glimmers of the girl I once used to be. The glory days of the football hero I once was…


    Bug is in her prime and looks good in every photo. But just because she looks good doesn’t mean she isn’t struggling. High school is over; she’s moving on to college and independence. Life is full of scary twists and turns for her, and her mom isn’t the supportive rock she used to be. She’s seeing me now with all my flaws and mistakes in full view. Mom can’t fix everything anymore. Mom is broken. It’s humbling for me and terrifying for her.


    I’m looking to those who have gone before me and finding the happy old people. What did they do right? How did they get by? How did they survive their failures and live to get where they are today? How do they stay in the moment? We met this old man at a bar/restaurant in the desert. He was so hip, he wore a big turquoise necklace over a pinstripe suit. I was in awe. I was so happy when he let me take his picture. I’m putting it here to be a reminder to myself to embrace my freak flag. I hope the older I get the free-er I become.wedding1prep

    The next week I went out to the desert again to do flowers for a wedding. I was in my element. I loved every pain-staking moment.


    Colors and textures, wildness and charm… I love the cantina. It was beautiful and I was proud to be part of it all.


    But it was a heck of a lot of work!


    Two weeks later I went back for another wedding and did it all over again.


    This time I took Cody as my trusty companion. It was a little too hot for him so he’ll stay home in the nice air conditioning from now on. Of course he was fine but we were glad this wedding was small and we could be back on the road to go home only after a few hours.


    But guess what happened on our way home…? We saw a free kitten sign. I stopped because my boss, Mario, had been looking for a kitten for over a year. I had good intentions. But then, I fell hard when I saw this tiny sack of black fur, snot, and bones with her goopy eyes and a sad little whine. She was in a kennel with two golden doodle puppies. She was so small and forlorn looking but so scrappy. She climbed up on a shelf to see me and got right in my face. I decided then and there that she was coming home with me whether Mario wanted her or not. It wasn’t the best decision. I was in no position to take on another cat, but I couldn’t fight the pull I felt. I couldn’t have walked away from her if my life depended on it. I was incapable.


    So she went home with us. She sat in my lap and then crawled over the seat to be in the back seat with Cody. I called Mario on my way home, but he didn’t want anything to do with a sick black kitten. Many people don’t like black cats, but I am not one of them. Cody loved her. Bug loved her. We were smitten.


    But then Kady caught whatever the little black kitten had, and she got really sick and stopped eating. I tried to keep them separated, but it was impossible with only one catbox and two active cats (Inky and the kitten, who scratched at the doors and ruined the carpet, causing me $900 worth of damage on my move-out bill). I remember cuddling Kady, and the little kitten crawled up to snuggle in. I thought everything would be okay. The vet says it’s not my fault for bringing in a new kitten, but I’ll never forgive myself. Whatever Kady had was a preexisting condition, and she probably suffered long before the kitten even came along, but it was all bad timing. The kitten was the last straw, and Kady couldn’t take it. She hid in the closet for two weeks; nothing could coax her out.

    We took Kady to the vet multiple times for fluids and anti-nausea medication, but nothing revived her. She got weaker and weaker, and her mouth was full of ulcers. It’s almost like she decided she was done with this life now that a new kitten was here. She just wanted to be left alone. We did our best. I spent all the money I could find on her, but it wasn’t enough. She didn’t get better.

    Finally, when we realized we were only prolonging her pain for our inability to let go, we decided to put her down. It was the hardest thing. The vet we went to was beyond kind. They sat with us for hours.

    I have never loved a cat like I love Kady. I have never grieved a cat like I’m still grieving Kady. I miss her. She was the best cat. She was my therapy cat. When I was depressed, she would crawl in my arms and sleep with me. She always wanted to be held. I’m crying just thinking about her now.

    I didn’t have enough money to get her cremated, but the vet said we could make payments. They said they were giving us the cheapest package, but I think they gave us the most expensive one they had at the cheapest price. A few weeks later, Kady’s ashes came in a polished wooden box with a card, flowers, and a little pin. Then, later, I got another card in the mail signed personally by every person at the vet. I don’t know how they did it. They must see owners going through this every day. Do they give everyone this special treatment? I don’t know… but I am forever grateful. Kady brought out the best in all of us.

    I’d love to end this post here, but I have tons more to share. Life has been inside out, upside down, crazy. Kady’s death was just a very deep valley in a series of peaks and valleys that I think are trying to kill me.


    The biggest news is that in the middle of all this, we moved. Or I should say, Kady died before we moved. She never made it to the new place, and maybe that’s a blessing because we downsized and we are living in a one-bedroom now. We are breathing down each other’s necks and I don’t think Kady could have taken it. A dog, a cat, a crazy spaz kitten who climbs the blinds and screens and scuttles to and fro at all hours of the night…a kid going to college, and me who is holding onto my sanity by a thread. It’s a lot.


    We do love the new place, though. I call it “my tiny home.” I’ll share how we’ve fixed it up in the next post or the one after that. It’s not a tiny home. It’s actually quite spacious, but I’ve crammed my bedroom, my office, and a full living room into one room. The living room is my tiny home. Bug has her own regular-sized room in the one bedroom. She’s got plenty of space and has filled it with full-sized vintage furniture she’s bought with her own money off Offer Up. Go Bug.

    Me, though, I’m a bit cramped. I have my bed, I turn around, there’s my desk. I take one step, and there’s the flip-a-switch gas fireplace and my “library,” aka a bookshelf and my turquoise chair. Take another step, and there is our full-sized green velvet couch! Tah-dah, it’s a living room complete with a coffee table and lots of light and plants!  And it’s all curled up into a Fibonacci sequence in one room. It’s actually quite impressive though impossible to photograph.


    I’ve already shared what the outside is like on Instagram. It’s Duck Pond City. I made the mistake of letting Cody off-leash on a hot day when we first got here. I’m never going to do that again. No, it’s not flooded. This is just the design of the apartment complex, so you can fit several units in a small space without feeling like you are on top of each other. Water is magical that way. We love it. I feel like I live in the forest with a stream nearby. You can hear water falling constantly, lulling me to sleep at night.


    I’ll leave you with this mid-moving shot. Lots has happened since this photo, but I can’t fit it all in this post!

    Until next time!

  • Family Matters,  place holder posts,  Slow Living,  Slow News Day,  spilling my guts,  The Flower Business

    Is It Spring Yet?


    This winter has been incredibly hard for just about everyone I know. There have been more challenges than usual, more mental illness than we are used to, and more bad news than usual. Is that even possible? Or am I looking at the world as a half-empty glass?

    After what seems like forever, I feel it in my bones that things are changing. I feel it every day when the sun comes out a little more and the gloom and cold gradually drift away. I haven’t been this excited about spring since I had a massive garden with baby pea pods popping up from the ground when I lived in the sticks. Remember that joy? It was great.


    When Cody and I walk every morning, I feel more hopeful. I’m sorry I haven’t shown up here much. I’ve been working a lot, but mostly, I spend my free time self-soothing on a stream of social media content. It’s such a bad habit. I used to show up here to self-soothe, but I’ve gotten addicted to spacing out on lively content just as badly as everyone else.


    So here’s a quick recap for the books (and by books, I mean my book, which is this online journal). February came and went. I felt all thirty days of it. Valentine’s was excellent because I have a convenient long-distance boyfriend who shows up when I need a man fix. Long-distance relationships have their perks. I made one bouquet of red flowers, which I love. I should have made more; my phone rang off the hook, but I wasn’t prepared because overhead capital has been scarce. It takes money to make money, etc.


    Bug invited her boyfriend to their winter formal with this cute puzzle she ordered online. Isn’t it cool how social media has changed how people ask each other out to dances these days? It’s a crazy, creative show-off contest. I feel bad for people who don’t have the time or energy to think up new ways of asking each other out. But I like what they do come up with. Of course, I made the flowers.


    The Farmer’s Market has been a joy. Bug is in charge of groceries these days, and she has bougie tastes. I am not complaining, especially since she’s buying. I’m so proud of this kid.


    I’m doing flowers for a couple of weddings next month, so we made a quick trip to the Cantina to take photos and do inventory. I’m very excited about these weddings. I’m sure I’ll be sharing pictures here soon.


    The biggest spring news is that Bug and I are finally moving out of our expensive apartment that I can’t afford. My mom and I went apartment-hunting and found several more apartments just out of my budget. I’m trying to get approved for one of them, and I have high hopes that I’ll pull it off with more hustling, but the risk is still very frightening. The hardest part is that Bug will have to go live with her dad if I don’t find an apartment to move to. Of course, he’s happy about that, but I’m crying every day at the thought. She’s not ready to be a full-grown adult yet. The world is too scary and expensive!! I can’t say more about that, but you know this over-protective mama’s heart.


    I do have a safety net with my parents. If I didn’t have so many responsibilities in Orange County, I’d move home in a minute.


    I mean, look at these guys. Who wouldn’t want to live with them? They are adorable. And, no, Bug can’t move home with my parents with me. There are HOA politics there, and Bug has a job and a life here.


    So I comfort myself while I wait with pets and early morning walks. Things will be better soon.


    Keep us in your prayers.


    p.s. This month’s banner was created with AI. I know! It’s cheating and not the usual SAJ style, but it took forever to get something similar done. Clicking out petal by petal takes so much time! Messing around with AI generation got me the same result in a fraction of the time!! It’s a little wonky—too many gradients, inconsistent light source—but you know what? If I didn’t knock it out, I probably wouldn’t even be writing this post.