Monthly Archives: June 2012

Elegy To Our Convertible Cat

Let me begin by apologizing for not writing anything for a while. Our cat passed away last week, and the loss has hit me pretty hard in soul, mind, and memory. Desi (short for Desdemona – from Shakespeare’s Othello) was a beautiful white, black, brown and grey tabby with quite the personality. Those closest to us know how special and treasured she was – and, how temperamental. I was her Mommy for 15 years.

Desi disliked a lot of things. Change, having her paws touched, most people (especially those under 4 feet tall), but she especially hated traveling. Mind you, I don’t think being picked up against their will, thrown into a cage and then being put into a large, noisy, fast-moving contraption is top of the fun list for most cats, but Desi especially hated it. From the moment I brought her home from the SPCA – during which she promptly messed herself and our newly-acquired cat carrier – to the annual check-up trips to the vet, she would be downright pissed with the entire production.

As soon as Desi heard the rattle of the cat carrier’s door, she knew something bad was about to happen. She would either (a) hide, not to be found for hours at a time, or (b) if found, struggle, hiss, growl and scratch all the way into the cage. It got to the point where we had to come up with elaborate plans involving treats and ultimate surprise measures to get her into the damn thing.

And then there was the super-fun ride to the clinic, where Des would let out a heartbreaking mixture of meowing and howling that was scarily close to a human being, say, burned, or even skinned alive. When that approach didn’t magically transport her home, she’d show us the I-hate-you-guys-for-putting-me-through-this back-end view of her obviously distressed state, ears flattened against her head. But then she would forgive us 20 minutes after the appointment, thanks to her pea-sized cat brain. The world would be all balloons and roses once again. Until the next time.

So, yeah… Desi wasn’t the greatest traveler. Take the time years ago when I moved from Vancouver’s North Shore back to Vancouver Island. It was a bit of a trek, complete with an hour-and-a-half ferry ride. Of course, she hated the driving, but being on a ship was a whole different story. She was in her carrier most of the way, but once on the ferry, I let her out to roam the inside of the car. I stayed with her on the car deck the whole way, where she promptly went to what she thought as the safest place in my Honda Civic: the tiny little space by my foot and the brake pedal. There she would tuck herself away, cubby-hole style, shaking with fear. All you could see was fur and fluff, ridiculously big ears and whiskers, and big moony cat eyes.

Months later, I would pack her into the back of Cam’s Mazda Precidia MX-3, its low back ceiling giving her a neat little hidden area to snuggle up in. Still she was displeased, and proceeded to yowl the 40 or so minutes to her new home.

Despite all of the foregoing, Desi actually seemed to enjoy one particular car ride. I was out of town when she became ill, so it was up to Cam to play doctor, administering antibiotics and Ringer’s Lactate via subcutaneous syringe injection. On the way to the vet early one beautiful, clear morning, Cam decided to take Desi to the vet in our BMW M Roadster. Desi had never ridden in this car. Cam took the top down, unrolled the windows, and strapped her carrier into the front seat (well, there isn’t a back seat). There she was, up and sniffing the fresh morning air through the door and looking out the slats on the side of the carrier. Distracted, Des temporarily forgot her pain and the fact that she was in a cage, going to a place she loathed and ultimately feared. I think she actually enjoyed being the convertible kitty that day.

Just this weekend, we brought her home, in a different form, but it’s still her. Once again, she rode in the convertible – this time free of restraints, cages and carriers. No more pain or fear, just peace and quiet, going home with the people who loved and cared for her all of her long, happy life.

So this is to you, Des, my beautiful baby, my pretty girl, my comforting, yet crazy split-personality kitty. I don’t know where you are or what you’re doing, but I hope you enjoyed your last ride on this earth. I will miss you.

– S

Categories: Adventure, Glamorous, Travel, Unglamorous | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

The Journey Before the Journey

Today I’m going to turn things a bit on their head and contemplate where I want to go, rather than where I’ve been.

Since the year’s practically half over, let’s start by taking stock of what’s already on the RADAR. This October will find us in lively Las Vegas. Not only will we be missing Canadian Thanksgiving (no preparing elaborate dinners – now there’s something to be thankful for!), we’re further risking family retaliation to see Metric, a favourite Canuck band of ours. This isn’t an arena show; they’re playing in the intimate, bar-like setting of the House of Blues. It really doesn’t get any better than that for seeing a great band.

Shortly after that, were back on ol’ faithful (AKA Cathay Pacific) bound for Bali, for three weeks this time. In fact, after much searching, we just finished securing the last of our three accommodations. Woot.

But what about 2013? And the year after that? First is deciding where to go – my favourite part. Second is figuring out the how to get to and from said place – my least favourite part. This is where my logistics-obsessed husband comes in. We often joke about that, quoting the Hip’s “Thugs”: “I do the rolling, you do the details.” Anyway, at one point we both agreed that a potential trip back to Europe sounded pretty good, with Paris or London as the initial destination (on the theory that one could get from London to Paris via the Eurostar). We further made the assumption that we’d use our Alaska Airlines miles for such a trip.

With a hopeful mindset, Cam did some digging and was quickly disappointed by the complexity and limited options. This is partly due to the fact that once we got a taste of first and business class on long-haul flights, we made it our mission never to fly economy on such lengthy flights again. Let’s just say it’s hard – really hard – to go back. I know that sounds spoiled and snobby, but there it is. Simple fact. My reasoning is this: for 15+ hour-long flights to, say, Asia and Australia, it’s definitely worth it. Plus living on the West Coast can make getting to Europe a wee bit tricky, with inevitable transfers from Toronto or Montreal or New York. So you might as well make all that time waiting in airports comfortable. VIP lounge, anyone?

But I digress. What Cam discovered was that the main Alaska affiliates for traveling to Europe – namely British Airways, American Airlines, and Air France – either:

  • Have very high fuel surcharges (we’re talking thousands of dollars);
  • Are always teetering on the verge of bankruptcy;
  • Really love to go on strike; or
  • Have reputations for less-than-stellar service (certainly not Cathay Pacific standards).

So this really got me thinking. While I’d love to return to Paris, I’ve been there, done that. It’s a big world, and there are a lot of places on our travel bucket lists, from Bora Bora to Buenos Aires. And, as luck would have it, Alaska Airlines recently partnered with Emirates Airlines, and the plan is to start offering awards travel to Dubai starting late this year – obviously, that opens up a whole new set of choices. Not to mention first class on EA is crazy-luxurious on the A380. We’re talking a martini bar, your private pod made even more private thanks to a pair of sliding closed doors, and – get this – showering facilities (with a five-minute time limit, mind). Decadence, much? All you have to do is watch Sex and the City 2 and you’ll know what I mean (note that I’m not in any way endorsing that movie). This would be almost as fun as the destination itself.

And, as we love our music – and love traveling for music – there’s the whole idea of coordinating a trip with some big concert. U2 in Rio? Coldplay in Abu Dhabi? Sign me up. (We’d probably still go if that didn’t work out, though.)

I guess what I’m saying is I’m sort of itching to do something different, in much the same way as when Cam and I took a bit of a risk going to Sayulita for the first time. Now it’s time to try somewhere else like Zihuatanejo: a definite possibility for next spring. And then there’s the extraordinary adventure of an African safari… something I’ve always dreamed of. But that could probably wait until we’re a lot older because a) we’ll have a lot more time and money (hopefully) and b) we’ll fit right in with all of the other grey-hair oldsters who seem to gravitate to such experiences (meaning guided tours).

Of course, we could always do someplace just sort of nuts Moscow or Uluru. Oh, wait… I’ve already been to that last place. How cool is that.

It’s time to get the atlas out again and start dreaming.

– S

PS. Where in the world do you absolutely love and would recommend?

Categories: Adventure, California, Europe, France, Glamorous, Mexico, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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