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July 17, 2005

A Visitor from Far-Off Finland

I'm awake like whoa, after a two-hour nap this afternoon. I'm also hungry; I had two pieces of leftover pizza at about noon, snacked on pretzels throughout the afternoon while reading, and finished off the first package of salted licorice Noora brought. I should probably have eaten something for dinner.

Speaking of Noora, I'm not sure I mentioned her visit her at all. I shall recap it now, as I don't like huge gaping holes in my blog. Especially when the time was actually filled with things I'd like to remember. Anyway. Noora arrived late in the evening of July 2nd after a brief stop in New York, and I collected her successfully from LAX.

We had a delightful brunch in West Hollywood Sunday morning, meeting up with the friends I brunched with a few weeks ago. We had to hit Target, because they don't have those in Finland! The horror! And then we were off to Santa Barbara to visit Elaina.

We, surprisingly, hit some traffic on the way up. I had expected everyone to already be wherever they were going for the weekend by Sunday afternoon in a 3-day weekend! Ah well. It was great to see Elaina. It's funny how we now live less than two hours apart, and still see each other about as frequently as when we lived across the country from each other. The three of us spent some time remeniscing about The X-Files (like a long-lost friend!) before heading to the store to pick up some more food -- the "small" dinner Elaina was planning had blossomed into twelve guests.

We cooked (chicken and beef for tacos, sweet corn cake, etc), had margaritas, and played card games with a bunch of Elaina's friends from school. It was a good time! The next morning Noora and I enjoyed Elaina's cable by watching shows on TLC before the three of us headed into town for lunch and a tour of the UCSB campus and surrounding area. We strolled along the beach, too, which was lovely. We had ice cream and then headed back to LA.

The week itself went by fairly quickly and uneventfully, as I had to work. Noora entertained herself at home during the days, and I joined her in the evenings.

On Friday night, I had a dinner with people from work. We'd won a dinner for collecting the most towards March of Dimes as a branch. Noora went to Roni's (I had a feeling they'd get along well... they did) while I was out with the Gang. It was a good time, and we even ran into my old ops manager from Encino! It was very nice to see her again.

Saturday morning, Noora and I went down to the Grove. She was on a mission to buy "very American" gifts to take back home. We succeeded for most people on her list, and had a nice sit around the fountain that dances to music. We also got creeped out by the ginormous goldfish. Someone was feeding them goldfish crackers. That's, like, cannibalism!! Scary.

Once we'd had enough shopping and strolling, we headed up to Hollywood -- for more shopping and strolling. We saw the Chinese Theatre and the Kodak Theatre and wandered accidentally through some wedding pictures (the wedding party was walking up the stairs at the Kodak, we were walking down, and I had no idea there was a photographer until it was too late to get out of the way... at least we were far from the only non-wedding people on the stairs!) We shopped some more and were frightened by the characters outside of Mann's.

We headed for home after that, and theoretically did something Saturday night. My memory is hazy.

On Sunday, we went with Caitlin, Sean and Caitlin's mom to the Natural History Museum. Collapse! was a little disappointing, but the dinosaur exhibit was fabulous. We wandered into the dino section just in time to catch a presentation by this wonderfully animated and knowledgeable paleontologist. It was aimed for children, but was equally engaging for adults. He was fabulous! We followd the group through the entire exhibit and learned some exciting things. Yay! After we'd exhausted all we wanted to see inside, we went out to the rose garden. Beautiful.

Being that it was still fairly early in the day, we made our way into Burbank, introduced Noora to Chipotle, and caught War of the Worlds (which was entertaining at best).

I again worked Monday and Tuesday, but had Wednesday off. Noora and I did the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. It was great! I've now been on it four times, three in the last year (and once back in '97). The tour has obviously changed a lot in the last eight years, but it has also been markedly different each time I've gone this year. Pretty cool, if you ask me. It was just before the tour, while attempting to get lunch at the cafe there, that Mom told me about Specks. That was the only not-cool thing to happen, though. We learned a lot, got to wander through Stars Hollow (for you "Gilmore Girls" fans... I have actually only seen the show once) which was setting up to start filming this week, went into the "Joey" soundstage, and had our picture taken sitting on the couch in Central Perk! (Portions of the "Friends" set were moved and recreated, although I don't think we were actually supposed to sit on the couch... we had a very cool guide who swore us to secrecy.)

I took Noora to the airport Wednesday night, which was sad. It was fun having her. She was off to Chicago for *NSYNC's annual Challenge for the Children, which I am waiting to hear reports on. I'm sure she had fun.

So, that was that. As long as I am updating and awake, I may as well go on... this weekend was filled with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (quite enjoyable, although rather quirky and dark, as is to be expected from Tim Burton), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and a sort of bachelorette party for Valerie, which consisted of dinner and drinks and a rowdy game of Taboo with some great girls. Had a lot of fun.

Okay, time to pretend I'm tired. I'm only halfway through Harry Potter (three of us are sharing two books in this house, so I had to give Ryan a turn with the book I only purchased last night for a good portion of the morning today), so back to that.

Have a good week, y'all!

July 13, 2005

Speckles: In Memoriam

My mom called this morning to let me know they're putting my baby down today. He wasn't eating or drinking and was dehydrated, so they took him to the vet last Friday. He came home yesterday and still hasn't been eating or drinking much, has just been laying and wanting someone to sit with him. Mom says he decided this is it. He was 18 years old.

The thing that kills me is that I didn't even get to say goodbye. I haven't seen him since Christmas. Speckles was my cat. I begged and begged to get a cat, I picked him out at the Humane Society when he was just a tiny kitten. I refused to give him back when the vet told us he had a heart murmur and wouldn't live very long, that we should get a "healthier" cat. Well, look at him. He lived eighteen years. He had more personality than any animal I've ever met.

He let us dress him in baby clothes, a bonnet and a dress and a diaper, tuck him into the buggy and take him for walks around the neighborhood. He put up with weekly baths when my mom's allergies were bad. He got excited at Christmastime, when the tree would come in the house and there was all kinds of tissue paper and wrapping paper and ribbons for him to amuse himself with. He loved ice cream most of all. When I went away to college, he still slept on my bed. When I came home, he'd sleep with me, and purr so enthusiastically he'd nearly push himself right off the bed. He knew when you were sad or angry or sick, and he'd be right over to snuggle. Otherwise, he liked to watch the action from a bit of a safe distance.

He always meowed when someone was on the phone, but never into the phone. I talked to him anyway, because he'd sit patiently with the receiver and listen.

I know it was the right thing for him to have the surgery last year, because when he came home, he was still himself. He wasn't ready to die then, and he got almost another whole good year in. It still makes me sad, even though I know it's for the best.

I don't have any of when he was a kitten, as those are all at my parents' house, sadly. But here are a few photos I had on my computer:

Christmastime this year

And another...

When I was packing to go away to college, he wanted to go with.

Right after his surgery (I'll spare you the amputated-leg part of the picture, but isn't he just a goof in his makeshift cone?)

Completely unamused in a New Years crown.

One more from this past Christmas