Thursday, January 8, 2009

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Alfred in Aggie Uniform
Fall of 1929
Family Photo
The above photo was taken when Daddy went to A&M, the fall of 1929, just in time for the Great Depression. He always loved the Aggies and the Aggie experience, although he didn't graduate. You would never find a more loyal fan than Daddy or Grandpa Conitz. I can't believe that was almost 80 years ago.
His winter uniform came in handy when we had to go to school on really cold days. The heat didn't usually make it up to the third floor from the boiler room so we wore all the warm clothes we could find and kept our coats, gloves, scarves on and brought quilts and blankets. The teachers wouldn't let us sit together to keep each other warm, though. Girls didn't get to wear these type of uniforms, and there were no girls at A&M, back then. So it was really special for me to get to wear Daddy's wool uniform on those cold days. (Of course, it would have been more special if it had belonged to an Aggie boyfriend!)
If Daddy were alive today, we would have had a joint birthday dinner, either on Sunday or on my birthday. Red roast and red gravy for me, fried oysters and oyster stew, a birthday cake, and chocolate pie for him. And, of course, he would have had "sky juice" to drink and I would have had milk or a Coke. He would have piled his plate high, a few times, and used bread to clean his plate. And I would have picked at my food and complained, most likely, or pouted over one thing or another.
Grandpa and Grandma, Pappy and Uncle Tom, Toot and Honey, Thelma and Irvin, and Barbara would have been there for our dinner. Mama would have cooked, if we had it at our house. (I think that Daddy liked to have it at Grandma's house, while she was able to cook.) And Birdie would have helped in the kitchen. We all would have crowded into our small dinette which held 4 nicely and eaten pretty much in silence, except for some talk from Toot or Pappy, and some sports talk from Grandpa. And, maybe, some squabbling between Barbara and me.
I don't recall Daddy getting presents on his birthday. Maybe some pajamas or a shirt or tie, which went into a drawer to save. That was about the same thing as at Christmas.
We can always tell when it is about to be Daddy's birthday. There are always lots of Elvis Presley movies on tv, now. It certainly is nice to share your birthday with a celebrity.
Daddy would have been 98 today, if he had lived. His father lived to be 96.

8" x 8"
I wanted to get in some sketching last night before I went to bed. I looked at my list of EDM challenges, picked up my pencil and sketchbook, and thought, "I really should try to draw Bitsy". I get kind of frustrated when I try to draw animals, and people, because they just don't come out realistic. As much as I have looked at cats and dogs, for lo these many years, my drawings of them still usually look like cartoons or all out of whack.
But Bitsy had sneaked to a place she was not supposed to be, and was just enjoying herself as the ceiling fan blew warm air down on her. She has been hiding out on a chair, under the dining table, where no one can find her or bother her. She is rather aloof. And even more so since she has been sick.
Bitsy had jumped up onto the back of my daughter's recliner, where the boy cats usually like to nap. She chooses a fuzzy blanket on my bed or an arm of the couch, normally, and sometimes, the dining room chair. The kids do not like for Bitsy to get on that recliner and chase her off when they catch her. I guess that, at night, after we all go to bed, Bitsy takes over and goes where she wants to go!
I thought I would try just doing some searching lines and not worry about making the drawing realistic-just capture the pose. Which wasn't an easy thing since she started turning over and moving her head. I decided that she was settled enough that she would make a good model, but she fooled me.
I throw sheets, heavy towels, and even those puppy puddle pads where the critters like to sit to protect the furniture. In the drawing, there is a towel draped under Bitsy, and over the back of the chair. Otherwise, claws do a number on upholstered things. And they seem to like to sit on a soft towel or blanket.
Bitsy is 22 years old, and will be 23 in March or April. She is a muted calico Manx cat. And, as Barbara says, a free spirit. I call it independent and kind of wild. She used to come sit at my elbow or on my feet, just out of reach. When she was a tiny kitten, she used to sit on my shoulder, like the pictures you see of pirates with their parrot. Then she changed to feet and shoes. Bitsy had one litter of kittens when she was one year old. We quit letting her out of the house after dogs killed almost every cat we had that went outside. I thought that Bitsy would be okay because I saw her, several times, bloody the nose of a Black Lab that caught her on the front porch. The dog ran off. But I didn't want to risk losing another cat, so she became an indoor cat.
Bitsy is an excellent weather forecaster. If it is going to rain, she flattens out on the floor and creeps along to a "safe place". I usually catch her and put her under her fuzzy blanket on my bed. We know that the storm has passed when she comes out from under the cover.
Lately, though, Bitsy has been losing weight. She's had some diarrah and, sometimes, she throws up her food and water. Usually, though, I think that is because she has eaten a lot of food, and drunk a lot of water with it. She won't eat anything except dry IAMS cat food. And sometimes, a bite of chicken. We tried other cat food, but either she wouldn't touch it, or it would give all the cats diarreah.
This time, we took her to the vet, and learned that she was extremely dehydrated, has renal failure, and had a systemic infection associated with that and old age. The vet said that she is like a 107 year old person and has lived a very long life. They gave her IV fluids, an antibiotic, and an "Old Kitty Shot", meant to keep her feeling better and happy for the rest of her days.
Unfortunately, something in the office made me start sneezing (I was sure that it was the smell of coffee, because that's what I smelled and started sneezing. I don't drink coffee and the odor makes me sneeze just like cigarette smoke.) Between using a lot of Kleenex and wiping my eyes, I finally had to just sit down and let Barbara hold Bitsy and talk to the vet. (Bitsy was happy since she likes Barbara, and Thelma.)
I don't know if Bitsy is going to live for a short while or a long time. And I don't know what to expect. I was afraid that he was going to tell us that she had cancer or that she needed to be put to sleep. I went online to find out more about renal failure in cats and learned a few things. I thought it was interesting that, on one site, it said that your cat will let you know what they need. It seems that cats don't feel a lot of pain with this, unless they go into things like convulsions. They just feel unwell. Among other things, they may have nausea and malaise. The vet said that diarreah is a symptom.
Since we brought her home, she hasn't ventured out of the den/kitchen/dining room, utility area. Her food, water, and potty are there, and her favorite sitting places. So, I guess that is where she wants to be.
She still isn't really cuddly. I try to pick her up and hold her, and claws go out everywhere. But, she does come up and sit on the arm of the couch while I am eating or watching tv. I think she doesn't trust me because I might have some of that awful medicine to give her. She really doesn't like that! Of course, she has always been like that.
I didn't think that she was really terribly sick because she was eating, drinking, jumping, climbing, running. (She is so cute when she runs, with that little cotton tail and her sort of bow legs and pigeon toes. She reminds me of a rabbit.)
For a cuddly, affectionate cat, we have Simba, the yellow, fluffy tom cat. He and Bitsy have never become friends. They stay far away from each other. They used to take separate sections on my bed for naps, but, now, Simba seems to have most places to himself.
I hope that you are going to join in the Sketch Crawl Saturday. I can't believe it is almost here! And I never did get t-shirts for us! You can click on the logo in my sidebar to learn more, or read down in some earlier posts to know more about Sketch Crawl.
If you aren't local to Bryan/College Station, you can still participate where you are, or even start your own group in your community.
It isn't long until the workshop in Calvert with Viriginia Vaughan, either. That is coming up Saturday February 21. Send in your deposit of $40 by Feb. 1 to reserve your place in the class. The balance of $40 is due at the workshop. Contact Cecelia at for a supply list and information.


BC said...

I had forgot it was Daddy's day. Good reminder, sister. Also Bitsy's sketch is a great start perhaps even for a painting!

Penelope said...

love your blog, when I saw the pencil sketch of your cat I was hooked. : )