New Year, New Stuff, New Musings

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-01-01/fireworks-light-up-the-sydney-harbour-bridge/5995388
Photo Credit Reuters: Jason Reed.

The year 2015 will be one of milestones and challenges. For starters, I’ll have a birthday ending in zero. At my age you don’t give much thought to birthdays unless they end in zero or five. This one will generate a lot of thought.

I’m moving all my blogs to WordPress. After teaching social media for four years I feel like I’ve put on my “big girl” blogging panties. Blogger was easy, Blogger was free, and Blogger was a habit. I also used Blogger for the collaborative blog created by my social media students–then one of them accidentally changed the primary email, making it his blog, not mine. Because Blogger is a Google product and his email is a Gmail account, my only option was to delete that blog and start over.  Classes start January 21 and new posts should start soon after that–in the meantime you can see what they’ve been up to in past semesters.

August 2014, Graduate School Commencement

The blog moving process, which is still in progress with the help of my former teaching assistant, student and now friend and trusted colleague Amber Morgan Freeland prompted me to make the change on all my blogs. I haven’t moved the “Missing Memo” blog (about dealing with my husband’s Alzheimer’s Disease) but that should happen soon.  In the meantime, playing around with the new WordPress blog sites is productive procrastination (that stuff you do that really accomplishes something but isn’t what you’re avoiding doing).

I also ended 2014 recuperating from back surgery, the same procedure Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo endured in 2013. Fortunately I don’t have to get tackled by people the size of small cars for a living, but as I endure physical therapy I have a new appreciation for that narrow column of bones and cartilage that was never designed for us to get up off our knuckles and start walking upright.

Starting a new year also involves starting a new semester, and this one proves to be a challenge. The number of public relations and advertising majors are growing, and I have 93 students enrolled in my course “Ethics, Law and Diversity for Strategic Communications.” While I love teaching this class (a required capstone course) I’m wondering if I’ll be able to get this class to engage in the kind of thoughtful, provocative, and often funny class discussions.  I’ll have two sections of my Public Relations Communications (also a capstone) course, and the social media class is shaping up to be its usual mix of craziness and seriousness.

Oh, did I mention I have a student doing an internship in California, working for the Dr. Phil show? I’m looking forward to reading her weekly reports.

Frodo
Frodo in his prime, in our garden in Houston.

There were losses in 2014. We lost Frodo, our gorgeous 17 year old Maine Coon cat, who came to us in a torrential thunderstorm in Houston and has left an indelible mark on our hearts. Frodo had been declining, and one day just didn’t get up.  He’s buried in an honored spot in our garden.

Frida
Frida, always about half the size of Frodo, was the “Alpha” cat.

Less than a month later we lost Frida, the scrappy little rescue cat who was only 12 years old. It seems she died of a broken heart, because she and Frodo were close pals since our days in Houston.  After he died she withdrew and stopped eating. When we found her she was beyond help. She is buried next to Frodo, with some lovely flowering plants and an angel cat ornament marking their graves.

Holly at the lake
Holly exploring the Lake Lewisville shoreline.
Last picture
Last photo with our darling dog.

Then, just before Thanksgiving, our beloved basset hound Holly couldn’t get up one day. We rushed her to the emergency clinic but the cancer that had silently invaded her body had spread throughout her vital organs. Classy until the end, she died in my arms as Bill, the kind veterinarian, and I sobbed. She was nine.

Holly swimmingSwimming next summer will be different without Holly, who, oddly for basset hounds, was an enthusiastic swimmer, especially when the weather was Texas HOT.

Mama Cat 52814
Mama Cat, really a kitten herself, when we found her on May 28, scared and alone with 5 newborn kittens.

With loss there is gain. In late May the stray cat we had been trying to catch to have spayed gave birth to five orange kittens in a downstairs closet.  She moved them several times before settling on the spot I had chosen for them. They gave us a lot of joy with every milestone and every toddler adventure. Kittens on hat

Frodo and Gonzo
Frodo and Gonzo.

Frodo spent his last days with the kittens, who loved him, slept by him, and romped around like kittens should. While we were never able to “tame” Mama Cat, she was a great mother to the four surviving babies, (one was dead when we found them) and let us pet her and hold her until she weaned them, then she lost interest in us. About a week after she was spayed she got out of the house, joining her friends (also captured and fixed).We see them all now and then, but it’s clear they miss their pal Holly. Watching those four hang out together was like a Disney movie.

IMG_20140708_231828
Yep, that’s Gonzo.

We kept two of the kittens, both little boys, named Gonzo and Garfield. Gonzo earned his name early as the first one to open his eyes, the first one to start catting around, and the most fearless one of the bunch. He is also strikingly different from the others, a dark brownish-orange tabby who is clearly an individual.

GarfieldGarfield is a cling kitty, who loves to snuggle and acts a lot like his comic strip counterpart. Both boys continue to entertain us with their antics and love for each other.

Langton cats
Left to right Clementine, Winston and little Ike.

The other two kittens, a girl and boy, went to a former grad student Beth Langton and her sister and nephew, Caroline and Joseph, with the understanding that if, for some reason, they couldn’t keep them they’d come back to us. The babies have been named Winston and Clementine (after the Churchill’s) and were recently joined by an unrelated kitten they’ve named Ike. Looks like our “crazy cat lady starter kits” came in orange, and I have a feeling these kids have found a permanent home in Plano. Four surprise kittens brought two families together and I look forward to our continued friendship.

Finally, 2015 got off to a rocking start around here with bitter, freezing cold and a cluster of earthquakes. Yes, earthquakes. We’ve had about a dozen in the last few days, with local and national celebrities joking that they were caused by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie jumping around with Jerry Jones at the Cowboys game on Sunday.

On that note I’ll end with a Happy New Year to y’all, and Go Cowboys, Go Cats and Go Eagles!

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