Category Archives: Cat

No More Cats

Sometimes I get so sad, thinking about the poor kitties. This year I had to put down my dear Oistrakh as well as Louie’s cat, Chloe. Though they were both old, it was still challenging. I think of their last moments, and especially Chloe, who was just sitting there, looking so sweet (with her skin just a mess, because she had a skin condition) and it just makes me cry. And then poor Mackenzie, the dog, is having some weird skin condition, and she just hasn’t gotten any better, and we are waiting for the results of her biopsy. It’s been a difficult year as a pet owner, and I’m hoping it gets better instead of worse. The vet said we should know the results by Monday (she gets her stitches out then) and hopefully there is some good news.


Sometimes I read back through old blog posts. I’ve mentioned this before. And it’s fun to read what I was doing, but the thing that sticks out at me is that I keep talking about work the same way. I’m always either too busy or worried. I’m feeling like things are getting easier…or I’m not. As a freelancer/teacher, there isn’t a big break coming. It will likely always be like this. I won’t get to a point of feeling comfortable, because there isn’t a guarantee. I just have to get more used to it, and in a way, I have, and in other ways, I haven’t.  I’ll always be thinking of new ideas, new ways to teach, and new ways to make music. That’s just the way it is, and the way it has to be!

Several people have asked what I have coming up. For the summer, the truth is, nothing, performance-wise! Which is a little weird, but nice, and relaxing. I’m working on repertoire for the fall. In the fall so far there is some great stuff lined up: I’m playing a variety of Perseid Quartet concerts, mostly in November/early December (including one at Washington University, and one at the World Chess Hall of Fame), I’m playing another solo recital (with my pianist friend Jen) at Christ Church Cathedral in October(full of standard rep), I got asked to play with a musical at the Fox (in the pit!), and I’m playing for the First Tuesday Composer’s Club at the Dark Room in September. So the fall looks pretty fun and busy, and that doesn’t include Winter Opera and of course, my regular teaching schedule. More will be added, but that’s what I’m working on, and what I’m practicing. Some of the weeks are a little overwhelming, and mostly I’m just working on the solo Bach, because I want to be as solid on the memory of the fugue as possible, especially since I’ll be taking 3 weeks off in late-July/early August.

All that being said, I’m always up for more playing, so no one reading this should assume my schedule is at its saturation point. It’s not. I love playing concerts, I love learning new music, and I love working towards goals.

Did anybody get some vouchers from Ticketmaster? I can’t even recall what I used the site for (tickets to figure skating??) but got some vouchers. They seem basically completely useless, especially as the list seemed to have only one concert in my area, which I have absolutely no desire to see. Seems like an easy settlement, oh, let’s give our wronged customers a pretty worthless settlement. Unlike Amazon, who gave out gift card balance for the Kindle books settlement, and it’s good anything on their site, not just, say, a select amount of Kindle books, none of which you’d ever want to read or that are related in any way to the books you originally bought on the site. (It’s possible that Amazon is just a company that is far more useful to me?)

Today we have a predicted high of 101. I guess Leslie is sending part of Phoenix ahead of her Smile Stay cool my friends!


I’m back. I was in Phoenix and went to the Grand Canyon and Sedona and I’ll tell you all about it soon.

Before that though. Sad yet not unexpected news. When I last posted I was telling you all how our cat, Chloe, the one with Cushing’s Disease, had been having a really hard time. She did get a little better, and started eating again, lots and lots, and we felt better leaving her for the week.

But right after we returned, right after we landed, we found out that she’d somehow gotten a new wound. Her skin had torn on her side (this is a very rare side effect of her disease) and Louie’s brother Julian, who was watching her while we were gone, had taken her in to the vet at Webster Groves Animal Hospital, which is a 24 hour place. We headed there as soon as we could. The vet had never seen a condition like hers before, but didn’t think that she could repair the wound. They had made her comfortable, given her some painkillers for her wound and cleaned her up as best as they could, and Louie made the inevitable, but very wise decision, to have  her put down. We spent some time sitting in a room with her, petting her, and we took off her cone, after we realized there wasn’t anything it was protecting her against anymore.

The people at the Animal Hospital were really nice. We had some paperwork to fill out, but after awhile we decided it was time. The vet gave her a few shots, and then she was gone. We spent more time there with her, and then we had to leave her.

I only knew Chloe for a few years, just as long as I’ve known Louie. He’d had her for many years longer, so this was all harder on him.

She was a sweet kitty, even though she liked to put her claws out a bit more than I liked when cuddling. She went through a lot after getting diabetes, and she peed on a lot of things and ruined some furniture, but she was still very sweet.

The last few months were extremely difficult for us, at times, but worthwhile to give her a little more life. I think that overall, she was still enjoying hanging out and eating, and even went outside again a few weeks ago, and seemed to enjoy that. I think we did what we could for her, even when it was hard, and expensive, and time-consuming, and I hope that it was all for the best. She was tough, she was a fighter, and she mostly seemed to keep a really good attitude.





I figured you’d seen enough photos of her recently, so those are all from before she got sick.

We don’t know when she was born, or even exactly how old she was (estimation 13-14 years) but we know that she died on May 24, 2016, and she was surrounded by people who loved her and who did their best to make her life as nice as possible. She will be missed.

I am no longer a cat owner. I have lived with a cat since Christmas of 2001, and I don’t anymore. It will take some time.

Never a Good Time

There’s never a good time for your cat to become sick (er) but certainly not a few days before you are going on a trip for a week.

Maybe I’ve been noticing the past few days that Chloe (follow that link for some background if you don’t remember) has been deteriorating, but yesterday morning she barely ate, and then by last night she was simply hanging out in her litter box. (This is the one with a puppy pad in it, so arguably she thinks it a bed she gets to pee in.) She was still responsive, but very stumbly and wobbly, and she did eat some treats from Louie’s hand. We were worried that we’d been giving her too much insulin and maybe she hadn’t eaten enough…I don’t know. Since she’s already old and sick even on her best days, we went to bed hoping that maybe things would be better in the morning, but we decided we’d call the vet first thing.

She was perhaps a little better. She seemed to still be in her litter box and had maybe been there much of the night, but she managed to climb up to her food perch. I fed her some wet canned food and she ate that with apparent hunger. Then she returned to her box, where she’s mostly been all morning. She looks at me when I stop by and enjoys being petted on her head.

Louie’s brother is going to be taking care of her next week while we’re gone. We just don’t want him to be stuck with a hard decision or be put in a really tough spot, but yet…you can’t put your cat down before her time just because you’re going on vacation. I was supposed to go to a luncheon/concert this morning for the music association, but I needed to help with this, and by the time we got things settled it was too late. I feel like I’ve missed a lot of things for the animals, but maybe that’s okay. And I feel better knowing that I’m here for the morning, and then I’m teaching, and we are still waiting on a call back from the vet in regards to her insulin dosage. What I know is that she is still responsive, and she’s not my cat, she’s Louie’s. Ultimately he has to do the decision making, and this is a really hard thing.

The internet gives hope and information, and tells me that some people would have put her down long ago, and other people would make her comfortable, and other people would argue that we are only making ourselves comfortable. The best I can tell is that there is no wrong answer right now, but there’s also no right answer. We’ll see what the vet says (and he’ll see her tomorrow—they could have done a drop off appointment today but we didn’t want her to wait around in a strange place) and maybe then we’ll have a better idea if this is something that can be treated. Or not. We don’t want to run a bunch of tests. We’ve already done that. We don’t want to add a regimen of medicines, or make her life more complicated. We just want to make her comfortable. And it is just terrible timing, since we are flying out in about 50 hours…but when it is a good time for your cat to be sick?

A few weeks ago I would have been a little annoyed at her for sitting too close to me on the couch while I typed this. Heck, even a few days ago! This picture is from May 2…


I’m trying not to be too sad. I’ve been sad, off and on, for months. It’s hard to see her suffering. And I worry about what the end will bring. I’d worried it would be her skin…but that’s been okay, and no new issues. Maybe this is it, or maybe it’s just that her diabetes can be handled a little better. I guess time will tell.

A lovely spring weekend

So FINALLY the weekend rolled around and I was feeling better. Still mildly congested and sneezy here and there, but SO much better.

Friday night Louie and I went to what is possibly (at this time) our favorite Mexican restaurant, Lily’s. We had decided to postpone our now traditional Taco Thursday until Friday and met some friends for dinner. I had the shrimp diablo (camerones, which evidently I completely mispronounced while ordering and Louie thought it was very funny) and while the dish was spicy, it was good.

Saturday morning I had volunteer orientation/training at the Clowder House. This is the place with all the cats. Wow. It was totally overwhelming but amazing. There are cats EVERYWHERE in the building. Every possible place where a cat could be, there is a cat, possibly more than one. And it does smell like a lot of cats live there—mostly volunteering seemed to be cleaning up cat messes! I got a tour of the place, met a million cats (the director knew most of them by name, which I found very impressive) and then went to work on a few of the rooms. Litter boxes to scoop, blankets to shake out or replace with clean ones, water to refill, etc, etc. It was hard work but all the cats were adorable (well, mostly) and friendly. I saw a cat that really resembled the good doctor Oistrakh, and another cat who has to wear a cone because of a skin issue (not the same one as Chloe.) Mostly though, there were just cats everywhere. Did I mention that? The cats live there, and mostly seem to have a pretty good time.  I think I’ll be back!


After lunch (fresh eggs from a wonderful student!) Louie and I went to the Highway 44 Conservation area with the two dogs to do some hiking. I didn’t take any pictures for some reason (it actually wasn’t that scenic, which is likely the reason) and we just meandered around. We realized after we set out that we didn’t have a map of the area, so we just kept making a few turns and did eventually end up back where we started. It was a pretty warm day for once! We had a really nice hike, maybe 3-4 miles, and the dogs particularly loved it. Afterwards we went home and did some stuff around the house—laundry and stuff like that. We decided to get dinner out and went to a Vietnamese place we’ve gone a few times called Kim Ngan. Might I recommend the crepes (hold the pork for this one) and we also had tofu with lemongrass which was pretty good.


Sunday we met up with April to go the Thurteen Carnival at Washington University. We walked from her house which was a nice long walk (figured we’d burn up the funnel cake calories in advance.) The carnival was nice—lots of little rides, stands, snacks, etc. There were tons of families there. We decided to ride the Ferris Wheel, but they wouldn’t allow single riders, so we ended up doing it twice—once April and I went, and then after making the circle around the carnival and eating a funnel cake, Louie and I went on the Ferris Wheel. I was a little nervous at first but it was fun and a great view!






The rest of the day we worked more on house stuff and then finished watching the first season of Better Call Saul. It was a wonderful weekend!

Now I’m getting ready for a nice week of teaching. I was feeling a little negative in a previous blog post, and feeling like maybe I was complaining too much about being a teacher. It isn’t exactly where I saw myself, but honestly, most days the time flies by and the students are just so much fun. Sometimes it’s hard, and sometimes it’s a big challenge, and sometimes I just don’t even know what to do, but other times the students get so excited to learn and achieve new things, and it’s just delightful. I’m trying to embrace my life as it is rather than stress over what could be, what might have been, and what SHOULD be, which is certainly the worst one! I have certificates and ribbons to give to a few students this week and I know they will be happy.


I should try to blog more often than once a week! On the one hand I don’t feel like I have much to say, but I have so many fun pictures to share.


We are still dog-sitting—the dogs are ridiculous and huge and adorable.


I got my hair done. I love the color—the gray has been harder to cover than in the past so I decided to get it done properly.


It’s hard to see exactly what’s going on here. That’s Chloe sitting on Louie’s lap but also sort of sitting on Mackenzie’s head. No concept of personal space, that one.

I’m finishing this up while reading blog posts about various National Parks in Utah and listening to three animals snore, at various volumes. Life is pretty good Smile

Pet Anxiety

So yesterday I woke up to several inches of snow on the ground. They had predicted this (“they”) but I didn’t actually think it would happen. I didn’t get a snow day though, because by mid-afternoon most of it was cleared enough that most students were able to make it to lessons.



I did however, have to take Chloe in to the vet for her eye. This added some stress because our regular vet wasn’t at his usual office but was at another one further away, which I was at first apprehensive about driving to. I was also worried about dropping her off rather than having an appointment, so that I can advocate for her and make sure everybody who comes into contact with her knows she has to be treated VERY gently or her skin might break. Things that normal cats can handle she can’t.

Anyway, her eye had been oozing quite a bit and she was keeping it shut a lot and we didn’t want to wait until her regular appointment on Tuesday, so I took her in. Luckily the vet was able to squeeze us right in and it wasn’t a big deal. He cleaned her eye out a bit and put some things in it and gave us some antibiotic ointment to put on it at home. (ON the eyeball…but I’m a contact lens wearer so I’m somewhat used to that, I guess?) He said she had three little eye ulcers and he also mentioned keratitis. In any case, her eye started looking better right away and today it is definitely a bit more improved, so I am hopeful that this will go away.

We realized the new, softer cone might have actually caused the problem because she was able to rub her eyes through it, and that might have gotten some debris in her eye. So we switched cones again, to the original, but by evening her ears were chafing already, so we tried cone three. Cone three had originally been discarded for being too small, but Louie modified it and now it seems okay. Third cone’s a charm?

But…she peed on the front couch today. This is the second time in less than a week, and while it’s an old couch (with a slipcover) it is the couch in my teaching studio. And what’s next then? Maybe we didn’t clean it well enough after the last time and it still smelled? I’m worry she is also peeing other places we just haven’t noticed yet.


It is possible, however, that Mackenzie is starting to grow a little hair back. It’s also possible I’m just imagining things.

Oh! And this came yesterday. I thought I’d be sad, but it actually made me really happy.


Isn’t that great? It might not look exactly like the Fatness because it’s not a photo, it’s an artist’s rendering, but I love it. I’m really glad I had it made (from Etsy, here’ s the shop—Susan Altenau Pottery) and I will treasure it for years to come.

Concerts and Hiking and Practice, Oh My?

Sunday nights can be kind of fun. Sometimes I start daydreaming about what I want to add to my schedule next, sometimes I relax, sometimes I have a 3 hour opera rehearsal and then get home and eat some ice cream.

This weekend was packed with activities, as is more common than not. I feel a bit anxious about the next few weeks as I have several performances and some other stressful activities, but I think I’m mostly staying on top of things…other than the pets, probably. But I digress.

Friday night Louie and I went to see the Marcus Roberts Trio at Jazz at the Bistro. We stayed for the second set (if you buy tickets for the 7:30 show you can usually stay for the 9:30 show for free, if there is space, and there always has been for us) and it was interesting to see how different each set was. We were on opposite sides for the first and second sets so that gave us a fascinating comparison. I thought the group sounded great and very polished. (This is not a review of the group as I’m hardly expert enough to try…this is a review of my life and lack of writing skills!)


Saturday we woke up fairly early to meet my friend April and her boyfriend for a hike. We had been wanting to do the Lewis and Clark Trail from 60 Hikes within 60 Miles for over a year, and this was a great day for it. The forecast was sunny and OVER 70 degrees. In February. On our way to the trailhead we passed at least 50 percent of the population who were heading for the St Louis Zoo.

Plenty of people had the same hike idea as we did though, and the trailhead parking lot was full so we had to park on the highway, but it was fine. We met our friends and two dogs, so together we were a hilarious group of 4 people and 3 dogs of varying sizes.


We decided to hike only the Clark Trail. We might go back another day for the longer portion, as it was a very enjoyable and scenic (for Missouri) hike!


Overlooking the Missouri River.


Louie tried to get all the dogs to drink water. It was a warm day for them, but they were polite enough…that is to say, Mackenzie drank first and the others knew enough to wait their turn. They all got along well, though we met a few crazy dogs on the trail.


All in all it was a beautiful and somewhat challenging hike. Since it was such an unseasonably warm and beautiful day there were tons of people out. I’d love to go back again on a slightly less crowded day and enjoy a bit more solitude, but I’m always happy to see other people out enjoying the world.

Saturday night we went to the Tavern of Fine Arts to see my friend and colleague (fantastic cellist) Stephanie perform with a guitar player. They played a variety of pieces, many by Brazilian composers, and she also played a Bach Suite on her baroque cello. It was a packed house and the rest of the Perseid Quartet was there to support her. We didn’t get the greatest seats and ended up being squeezed on the back couch with some late comers too, but it was a really interesting and enjoyable performance.

Sunday was work day. Louie and I had brunch at his mom’s but after that I had a meeting with a bride, a student, and a rehearsal, plus practicing. We got home from brunch to see that Chloe had urinated on the front couch. Well, I think it was urine, it was a large wet spot. I chose not to smell it and decided it was unlikely she had simply spilled a glass of water. I don’t know if this means we have even more urine issues to look forward to, or if she got startled and peed, or what. She seems to be doing decently well, no new skin problems as of late…(fingers crossed). Sigh. I cleaned up the best that I could—luckily it is an old couch.

Last thoughts before I wrap this post up. I know that I am very random here sometimes, and write about all kinds of things. To be honest, that’s what I enjoy reading most. While I will read articles on a variety of topics, the blogs I enjoy most cover a variety of subjects. That being said, is there anything you’d like to hear more of? Any aspects of my life you’d like to learn more about? I’m not making promises (especially if you are too nosy, ha!) but please ask questions in the comments section! I love hearing from readers, this is a big part of why I do this…Smile