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Posts Tagged ‘oakland

Magic of The Sun

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JT-1

The drought has taken over the Bay Area. We’ve only had a sprinkle of rain during the winter season. It’s both unfortunate and alarming to live in such a dry season on the West Coast when the weather has been almost on the opposite side of the thermometer on the East Coast. For those of us who live within the northern parts of California, while we are still under one state, year-round mild climate and temperature has usually greeted us.

However, in 2013, there seemed to be more days in the sun, in shorts and t-shirts, then in scarfs and layers of clothing. As Californians breathe in the heavier, sunnier, and warmer air, the Sun performs it’s daily dance and choreography. In it’s polite tone and posture, we’re showered with rays, not rain…pelted with UV, not water. As we step into the Sun and become strong like Superman, the vitamins we process from the light produces magic. Not magic like David Copperfield, but magic of nature..magic of life…magic of the Sun.

ps Don’t worry, the above image is not of Oakland. We were in Joshua Tree last weekend. The time there really inspired more creative words than normal. All of California is in a drought, but if Oakland and the rest of Northern California becomes this dry, I’m moving to Chicago. At least that’s where I’ve read that people become “Divergent“.

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Revising Our Home

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We have had a rough go of it so far this year. 2012 has provided a lot of perspective for my wife and I. Many moments for us have been spent deliberating and evaluating, communicating to each other our thoughts and feelings. Luckily for us, we have had a good amount of experience dealing with adversity since we came together in 2008. In Adult Education, these are called Experiential Learning moments and Transformative Learning experiences. I’m speaking in generalities because sometimes, personal life is just too personal to share…but in this instance, I want to share a positive moment instead of a negative.

At the beginning of this year, we moved back to Oakland. Both of us felt like it was time to uproot from San Francisco for good and start anew on the “sunnyside” of the Bay. We knew that there would be no turning back; we’d be priced out of the city for good. Even with our $1,700.00, two bedroom flat in the city, that was just too much to pay. We also knew that was a steal for a 2br, three blocks from Golden Gate Park, and a few blocks from UCSF.

Now, in Oakland, we are both enjoying the slow pace, sunny summer days, and time…literally. We are slowing down and really taking it easy.

Our new place is just big enough for us…and we recently found extra time to put in an upgrade in our kitchen. It finally feels like a kitchen.

The slideshow below is of a quick upgrade. We went to Home Depot, bought a couple of flanges, elbows, and a pipe to use as our pots & pan holder. Not all of our cookware will hang here, just a few that we use on a daily basis and ones that aren’t too heavy, unlike our cast iron skillets or dutch oven.

We’re happy with this upgrade…and I’m sure there will be other upgrades in our lives soon. For now, we’ll enjoy this…and we hope you enjoy this one too, ’cause it’s an easy one!

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Heart Disease equals Heart Aches

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Last night (Friday 3/9/12), my wife and I made THE most difficult decision of our lives to put one of our beloved cats, Cafe Con Leche, to rest…

If you’ve seen or read my blog, several times over, I’ve mentioned Cafe or Jhumpa (littermates/sisters), our domestic shorthair fur-babies. Back in June of 2009, We adopted them from Berkeley Humane on the day of Michael Jackson’s death.

The reason we put Cafe to rest was because this last Tuesday morning, she had a blood clot in her hind legs stemming from Hyperthropic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). She had genetic heart disease of the left aorta that was enlarged. From that enlarged area, blood began to settle and wasn’t circulated throughout the body. To skip pass the details of the episode, the local vet (Lakeshore Vetenarian Hospital) sent us to a specialist in San Leandro.

Cafe had to see a cardiologist to get a complete checkup, echocardiogram, and meds. We decided very quickly to give her a chance to fight and recover even with the doctor letting us know that Cafe, if she recovers, will be terminally ill.

We both reacted very passionately and tearfully to 1) seeing our cat in pain 2) knowing that she’s been living with a heart problem, and getting a terrible prognosis of terminal illness 3) knowing that we may have to put her to rest.

The entire day was spent wondering how this could happen to us and to our special cat, what the signs were for HCM, and if there were any preventative measures that we could’ve taken. (Addendum: During the overnight at the vet, we got a call around 11pm re Cafe’s condition. Her condition started to deteriorate a little bit more although the doctor said it wasn’t a significant factor. Cafe started to have bloody diarrhea—stemming from blood clot; her liver factors were high—electrolytes shifting away from legs; but her hind legs were twitching.<—Probably a good reason why we had some optimism for her quick recovery.)

Cafe came back home to us the next day with incremental signs of improvement. The doctor said that the nerves in her hind legs were destroyed and new ones could grow back in the next couple of days. And instead of incurring even more in hospital bills (already in the thousands), I took the opportunity to become a nurse to my cat. Unfortunately for my darling wife, she had to work that day, and the next few days while I spent time force feeding Cafe, turning her over, massaging her body and legs, giving her meds and fluids.

Personally, I’ve never taken that much effort to help any one in need. My mind has never been focused so singularly at one task, and that was to simply look after our baby. Throughout those days, I began preparing for the inevitable. I knew that if she didn’t show great signs of improvements in her hind legs and energy, we needed to find the right step to insure she was not going to be in pain any longer.

And over the course of the next few grueling days, she would look at us with her big brown eyes, unable to purr or wag her tail, and talk like she normally does.

To top this agonizing experience, her sister, Jhumpa (orange tabby), was reacting negatively toward Cafe by hissing, acting aggressive, and dry heaving with a lot of distress. Our home was a mess to say the least.

By Thursday evening, my wife took the opporunity to spend time with her, making her feel comfortable and loved. She even spent the night on the ground with her (during the night, Cafe tried crawling with her front legs pulling her, under our bed).

Friday morning was very tough on both of us. We knew the day had come to put Cafe out of her misery. By this time, she would’ve shown great signs of improvement and some nerve regeneration in her hind legs. Instead, she seemed very lethargic. And we decided that it was the right time to euthanize our beloved Cafe. And by Friday night, we had put her to rest, out of her misery, out of her pain and suffering.

What came directly after, the grieving process, is still tremendously difficult to comprehend. My wife and I have been experiencing a sense of loss that neither of us have ever felt. And since we were the sole guardians of Cafe, our small little family shrunk even smaller. Throughout our time with Cafe, we had talked, dreamed, and imagined that our cats would be old ladies, that our future child would get to love our cats just like we have been able to love them…that we would let them roam around our future backyard and play like any indoor/outdoor cat.

We are now trying to understand this pain, this heartache, and this void that has been left in our lives and in our home. She was the loud, sassy, and extra-verted cat that everyone loved. She let us know when she wanted to be held, when it was time to eat, and when she wanted our attention, which was all the time. Cafe filled our lives with all of this, and now there’s a huge, noticeable space.

“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.”
― Jean Cocteau

The good news about Jhumpa, out of this tragic event, is that she’s become more affectionate, has a better appetite, and a much more sweeter and loving cat. She was always the shy one, the one that wouldn’t show up for hours because she was going to spend her time in another room sleeping while Cafe had all of our attention. And as I write this now, my wife and I had a small discussion about how devilish Cafe was when it came to dominating our lives. She was always the first one at the door to greet us and usually would wrestle Jhumpa away when she wanted our attention…and the first to eat anything all the time (she loved to eat). Now, even one day after her sister passed away, Jhumpa is eating more frequently, and generally in a more agreeable mood. We never realized how much attention we directed to Cafe until now.

Putting more strangeness to this event, Cafe and Jhumpa were born in the month of March, and they were going to turn 3 years old very shortly. Last year, we invented “The Day of the Cat” as a celebration to our little babies…we will continue that tradition nonetheless, but with more reflection.

Please, if you read this and have a cat, domestic short hair and Maine Coons are more susceptible to HCM, make sure you get your fur baby checked out.

If you are also grieving and want to understand this period of your life, please read this book, “The Loss of a Pet.” My wife read it over the weekend and I’ve just started it. From anger, guilt, doubt, frustration, and suffering, this book does acknowledge the tough road ahead, but reminds us that there will be a process of healing that we need to face honestly and with an open mind.  And for me, I never thought that bond with an animal would be that strong…and subconsciously, Cafe held a very special and happy place in my heart.  She was my security blanket that was severed too quickly.

Below, you will find a compilation of recent images and videos of our dearly beloved and sorely missed Cafe Con Leche. May she touch your lives for a moment the way she touched our lives for the short, but amazing amount of time…and as my wife said, “the great ones die young.” Cafe was too young to have gone through this tragedy, but we are both very fortunate to have had her in our lives because she was our special one.

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In this below video, we would normally see Cafe do this when we come home from work, but then she started doing this all the time for more attention.

One of my favorite moments of this cat was the video below where she followed the camera and belted out her famous little meow.  So long  Cafe Con Leche, you will always be with us in our heart and home.

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Jhumpa, Our Other Cat…

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Sentimental thoughts run rampant during this time of year. Looking at pictures of old and reminiscing upon them greatly affects the power of memory and today, as I’m going through my cat photos and images, this blog entry is dedicated to our other cat, Jhumpa (my love affair with the great Jhumpa Lahiri).

This orange tabby comes to us from the same litter as her sister, Cafe Con Leche, from Berkeley Eastbay Humane. We got them both the day Michael Jackson passed away. To this day, thoughts of naming this one P.Y.T. remain on our minds.

Why dedicate one blog to this cat? I feel an unbalance amount of love at home with my two cats; I believe it might be happening online as well. So this goes out to all the orange tabby cats out there! And of course what’s a sentimental blog entry without prefacing it with a song.

Always and forever…Jhumpa.

These two above images really take the cake for the cuteness award. She’s always been the type of cat that lands on our lap or rides on our shoulders and more so now, she loves being there bounced and rocked while we walk around our place.

This cat does tend to sleep 14-18 hours a day. At least, in our minds she does…it’s more about lounging, like the image below that she prefers.

So when Jhumpa is not sleeping, she idles. And quite frequently this cat idles in space that often says to us, leave me be…I’m chilling, alright??? ALRIGHT?!

The below image kind of tops it when it comes to Jhumpa. By far, the lazier girl of the sisters, she really enjoys being on our laps…this time, I think my wife has the most practical use of our cat yet.

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Antique Faire: Haggling, A Form of R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

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Inspired response to an SFGate article.

My wife and I love the Alameda Antique Faire. We’ve been going for the last year and half to find kitschy and unique pieces.
Most recently, in the last 5-8 months, we’ve been trying to find pieces to add to our home. It has been part of our
monthly ritual. Besides the joy of basking in the warm sunlight and fresh air, getting our hands on something that has
some age and history as well as story is quite fun to experience. However, as we’ve come to also experience, haggling
is a sensitive and fine line to walk. This is how I approach most items that we like:

It’s always about sincerity. The way you approach haggling can not be canned, mono-toned, or even a rote utterance of words.
It’s a form of complimenting and appreciation for the piece. We understand some times that pieces are just a fair deal while
others can go lower. Talking and building a relationship at the beginning is key. Never just say, “I’ll give you x amount”.
Always scan the vendor’s wares to see the quality and level of “antiquity” they are selling. Although we’ve never come across
somebody who’s selling very cheap and inexpensive items, you can usually tell how nice something is versus something a vendor
just found and wants to sell for money.

Jewelry, furniture, wall decor, clothing, etc…they all have their aesthetic value, but the real key to get that piece for a reasonable price. Again, a welcoming and sincere greeting is a great ice breaker. Inquire about it, ask about the history of the piece or story of how it
was obtained. Vendors know their stuff and have passed on stories to each other so their willing to talk about it.

For example, we were there recently for the September faire. I came across a very cute, inspirational kid’s chair ($22.00, wood seat and back and blue painted steel). I say inspirational because we’re very ready to have kids and the image of our child sitting in this chair is quite a strong sentiments of familial nostalgia and love. I scanned it over, looked around at the other cute pieces, and saw the older woman (probably in her late 60’s, early 70’s) who was the owner of this lot.

The exchange was something like this:

Me: Hi. I love this chair. The colors are just great.
Vendor: Yes, it’s a fantastic piece. I love it too. It’s a very old chair and I restored it.
Me: I love that you left the painted area un-restored. Would you be willing to take $20 dollars?
Vendor: No, I wouldn’t do that. I restained it and it’s a great little piece.
Me: I agree…I love it and it’s worth every penny. I’ll take it.

We complete the transaction and she compliments the purchase by saying, “Well done…you have a very nice piece.”
Even though it was just a couple of dollars, I didn’t feel uncomfortable haggling. I made eye contact, I was very respectful, and I
was in a place where I genuinely felt good about our short conversation. It didn’t feel forced. And I probably would have paid $30 for a chair like this had it not been at a good price already.

This example is just one of a few stories from that day. We had purchased a few substantial pieces including a credenza and a set of nesting tables from separate vendors. We haggled to get the credenza down $100, but left the asking price for the tables as is because we felt the vendor set them at a very fair price for being an imported mid century piece.

Recommendations? Haggling shouldn’t just be about haggling. A price of something can’t be changed with a persuasive and complimentary statement. The key is being genuine and respectful. Never rush into a price, but always remember that each vendor will be different with different personalities and with different pieces to sell. Like your article talks about, it’s never about taking advantage of somebody’s misfortunes. Always take the time to thank each vendor for a short description and their time because you never know how you feel about that piece after slowly walking A through ZZ.

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Written by F&W

September 13, 2010 at 9:11 pm