Today Ben and I said good-bye to our cuddly, face-rub loving, "give me attention NOW" kitty, Squeak. She was 22 years old.  As you can imagine it was an incredibly difficult decision to make.  We lovingly called Squeak the energizer kitty because even though she had gone through several potentially life ending diseases over the years, she just kept living strong.

8.5 years ago she was having chronic diarrhea.  The vet said it was either IBS or intestinal cancer.  At the time Squeak was 13 and I wasn't going to put her through chemo-therapy, so the vet suggested a treatment of Prednisone and a special food.  Best prognosis, she had 6 months to live.  Squeak reacted very well to the treatment.  Since then we've gone through a poisoning scare in 2003.  Then hyperthyroidism, which meant having half of it removed in 2006 and eventually radioactive iodine in 2007 to kill the tumor. Unfortunately they zapped too much, so we needed to give her a Synthroid pill. In the Spring of 2009 Squeak started having difficulty walking and in June 2009 we discovered she had diabetes. She needed an insulin shot twice a day.  Again she responded well to the treatment and continued to have a pretty good quality of life.

About a month ago we noticed her walking was getting worse.  Thinking it was the diabetes not being maintained well, we tried a new vet,  Dr. Wendy Simpson at Morrisville Cat Hospital, for a second opinion.  Dr. Wendy is very progressive and recognized several things about Squeak's condition we had not be told about previously.  When we got the blood tests back, Dr. Wendy's report started out with "Here's the things I'm most concerned about..."  followed by a list of 9 things.  None of them were particularly dire on it's own, but the combination of them all were troubling.  One positive from the report was the diabetes was very well maintained.  We decided to try probiotics for the diarrhea and potassium for the weak hind legs.  

So now poor Squeak was on 2 pills, 2 powders mixed in her food and 2 insulin shots a day plus eye ointment twice a day.  Through all these, she still seemed to have a decent quality of life.  When we walked into the room she would get up, walk over to us and beg to be held.  She loved having her face rubbed and would purr so hard you could hear it across the room.  Sadly, the reality was, she was not going to get better.  The potassium and probiotics had not really helped, so there was something more going on.  At her age, even if we had put her through the ultrasound, MRI, biopsies, etc to find out what else was happening, we wouldn't have treated it.  We had a regular check up scheduled for her today, but during the 45 minute drive to the vet, I made the decision it was time to help Squeak be at ease.  I think the folks at the vet must have read it on our faces as we walked in because they escorted us to a room immediately.  Perhaps it was the red eyes and sniffing noses.  Dr. Wendy supported our decision.  She suspects Squeak had lymphoma in her spinal cord.  Squeak probably could have kept on going for many more weeks or months, but to what point?  Just so she would suffer more?  It's so hard when you're emotionally tied to some one to let them go.  And I just hadn't been ready to let go.  Today the logic voice spoke a little bit louder than the emotions voice and I was able to recognize it's time.

There's no question Squeak had a wonderful, LONG life.  Not to mention she was SPOILED beyond reason.  Heating pad, ice cubes in her water, well trained humans to provide for her every desire.  She was dominated by her sister, Boo who passed away 3 years ago.  We're glad Squeak got a chance to enjoy being alpha cat for a few years.  We've had several folks say they would hope to be reincarnated as one of our pets.  It gives me a little comfort knowing I did all that I could to give Squeak a good, no, great life.  And part of that was knowing when to let her go while she still had some dignity.

Good-bye Squeakers
October 12, 2009


2009 First Quarter Wrap-up

Well - I haven't been keeping the blog as up-to-date as I had hoped. So instead of trying to catch up with individual posts, I'm going to summarize Q1 in one post and then attempt to stay on top of things.  I may come back at a later date and add to these items.

Feb 1 - 6, 2009:  Ships and Dips V Cruise - Ben and I spent a week aboard the Ships and Dips V Cruise with many of our favorite bands.  Great Big Sea was the reason we went, but we also enjoyed seeing Bare Naked Ladies, Gaelic Storm, Sarah McLachlan and many others.  We made 2 port of calls in Cozumel and Key West.  The seas were rather rough and we tumbled on the waves most the cruise.  We even got a little risque and participated in the "Naked Picture" on deck with several hundred other passengers.  Great music and great times!  Photos are at:  Ships and Dips V Photo Album

Feb 17, 2009:  Glen Wesley Night - On Feb 17, 2009 the Carolina Hurricanes retired Glen Wesley's jersey.  He played hockey for 20 seasons, many of those with the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes.  He was a true defenseman, never afraid to jump in front of a shot or pin someone to the boards.  The 'Canes handed out mini banners to the fans.  During pre-game warm-ups, all the Hurricanes players were wearing Wesley #2 jerseys.  During the game, their jerseys had a #2 on the chest.  It was a great tribute to a great player.  We definitely miss seeing him on the ice, but he's still with the organization helping with defenseman development.  We have a few pictures in the gallery: Glen Wesley Night
We mostly took videos and may upload those at a later date.

Feb 19, 2009: Joined Twitter - My resistance to joining social networks and such is starting to wear down.  I created a Twitter account.  I'm not that active on it, but do find it as a good way to keep up with some of the bands I like.  If you use Twitter, you can follow me at:

Mar 1 - 2, 2009:  More Snow! - We had the second measureable snow of this Winter, about 3 inches.  Ben and I decided to forego the sledding this time, but we did go out during our lunch break and build a few snowmen.  Ben's looked oddly similiar to a cake I saw over the holidays. The snow was moist, perfect for snowballs.  Our larger snowman developed a lean and fell over shortly after it was completed, but we had fun.  Snow Pictures

Mar 4, 2009:  Welcome Home Erik Cole!! - In a last minute trade deadline 3 way deal, the Carolina Hurricanes welcomed Erik Cole back to the team.  As the last minutes of the deadline passed, there was still no news that Carolina had made any moves.  Then, suddenly, a note that Justin Williams had been traded to the L.A. Kings for Patrick O'Sullivan, who is actually from NC.  OK, hate to see Williams go.  He'd had some injury problems lately, but is a good player and great teammate.  What's that?? O'Sullivan has been traded to Edmonton for ERIK COLE!!!!

Best news I'd heard in a while regarding the Hurricanes.  For most of the season I was attributing Eric Staal's stump to not having his favorite winger on his line.  Now they will be reunited.  This is a win-win-win for all involved.  Cole seems very happy to be back in NC. 

Mar 6 - 7: Hurricanes Win Big - As if they were having a "Welcome Back" party for Erik Cole, the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Calgary Flames 6-1 on March 6th.  Cole delighted the home crowd with a goal in his first game back with the 'Canes.  The party continued on March 7 in Tampa as the Hurricanes beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 9-3.  The Staal-Cole-Ruutu line combined for 15 points!  Just amazing.

Mar 12 - 15: Vegas Trip - Ben and I traveled to Las Vegas for what seems to be our bi-annual trip.  Also on the trip was Ben Mc, Courtney, Chris, Ray, Brek, Nate and a few other folks.  We stayed at The Wynn again.  This time in a regular room instead of the Tower Suites.  We were very pleased to find out that our regular room was exactly like the Tower Suite in size and floor plan.  The main difference other than price was small things like no chocolate on the pillows at night, no free bottled water and no slippers. 

We went to see the Chriss Angel show "Believe".  I believe it was the worst show I've seen at Vegas, possibly the worst show I've seen EVER!  He was like a one trick pony.  It wasn't even as goth as advertised.  We've decided Vegas is almost done for us.  We've been to all the Cirque shows and the appeal is wearing off.  For the time and money, there are a lot of other places we would like to visit.  Heck - the flight time is almost the same as going to Scotland.

Apr 7, 2009:  Meeting Cam Ward - The goalie for the Carolina Hurricanes, Cam Ward, has a charity called "Cams Champs".  He gives a certain amount of money to the Special Olympics for every goal he saves.  Back in the Fall I contributed money to this charity.  I got an email in late March saying I had won a drawing for 2 tickets to a Hurricanes game and to meet Cam Ward afterwards.  Cool!  We had very nice seats in section 211.  But honestly, I like our seats in 329 better. 

After the game a group of fans went downstairs in the hallway near the locker room.  I cheered Paul Maurice has he walked by.  He seemed a little shocked, heh.  After a bit Cam Ward came out to meet us.  Ben and I stood back and let everyone else take a turn so we ended up being the last folks there.  We had a great conversation with Cam, talked about the game, the great fans in NC, and some non-hockey stuff.  Many thanks to Doug Warf and the Canes Kids-n-Community program for the tickets and opportunity to meet a great goalie, Cam Ward.
Photo: Meeting Cam Ward

Apr 4, 2009: Hurricanes Clinch Playoff Bid - In a tight, hard fought game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Hurricanes won 3-2 in OT and clinched their first playoffs bid since the '05-'06 season when they won the Stanley Cup.  The RBC was ROCKIN!  The last half of the 3rd period was so loud you could feel the vibrations in your body.  The Hurricanes had the best March record in franchise history going 12-1-1.   9 straight wins, 12 straight wins at home.  Hooray for summer hockey!

Ok, that last one was a little bitter sweet to type up, since we had our first playoff game tonight against the New Jersey Devils and lost 4-1.  Let's hope the Hurricanes figure out what needs adjusting and have a better results in Game 2.  We have playoffs tickets, let's hope we get to use more than 2.

That catches up most the highlights in Q1.  I'll try to do better with more timely posts.

What Friends Are For...

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On January 17 we made an impromptu trip to Bloomington and Canton Illinois to support one of Ben's friends, Chuck.  Chuck's mom, Linda, passed away after a long and courageous fight against cancer.  I did not have to pleasure of meeting Linda, but hearing the stories and accolades from those that did, she was an incredible lady that will be greatly missed by family, friends and the community.

Although the initial reason for the trip was not ideal, we were able to visit with Ben's mom and other friends that he had not seen in IL for a while.  We went to a Bloomington PrairieThunder game with Matt.  They are an IHL hockey team.  It wasn't quite like going to a Carolina Hurricanes game, but the players were determined and played with everything they had. (unlike some Hurricanes games, heh)  The game ended in exciting fashion with Bloomington winning a 9 round shootout.  We thought the goalies were going to have to shoot against each other.   Matt works at the Johnston's Hockey Pro Shop and is a little bit popular with the hockey crowd.  Walking around the US Cellular Center we were stopped time to time with folks wanting to chat with him.  After the game we hung out at a pub with Matt's buddies and waited for the PrairieThunder players, but we left before they got there.  We stopped by the hockey shop to check out all the gear.  Matt fitted Ben with hockey skates...some nice the kind Eric Staal wears.

On Sunday we browsed the antique furniture Ben's mom has up for grabs.  We tagged a few pieces we liked, now the challenge will be getting them to Raleigh.  After a nice lunch with mom, we headed to Canton, IL with Matt to attend the viewing.  It was good to see Chuck and Karmen and give them a hug in person.  I might be a little sentimental, but it was heart-warming to see Chuck, Matt and Ben together.  Chuck and Matt were groomsmen in our wedding.  Since they live in 3 different states, spanning the country, they don't get to see each other in person that often.  Something we talk about being better about, we just need to do it!  They were like three peas in a pod reunited.  We spent the evening with Chuck, his dad and Karmen. 

Monday was the funeral service and a luncheon at the church fellowship hall.  We did what we could to support Chuck.  I can't imagine what he's going through, but hopefully we made it easier for a bit.  For me at least, this is what friends are for.

Chuck, Matt, Ben


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I woke up Tuesday morning to a beautiful blanket of snow!  The weather forecast had been flip-flopping the last couple of days.  First we weren't going to get much, then possibly 4-6 inches, then back to "a few flakes".  I was pleasantly surprised when I looked out in the morning, expecting a light dusting, to see 2-3 inches already on the ground.  By the time it stopped snowing that afternoon, we had 6 inches of snow.  WOOHOO!!  Here are more pictures of the snow. Snow Pictures

I know, for those of you reading this from more northern areas, you're thinking "What's the big deal?"  For most of you that have to live with this stuff for 3-4 months, I'm sure it loses it's appeal and is mostly a nuisance.  For me, living my whole life in NC, snow is something I see a couple of times a year and it rarely accumulates.  Usually we get ice or freezing rain which just causes power outages and crazy traffic problems. 

I think some of my fascination with snow comes from my childhood.  There were no snowplows in Raleigh back then, so when we got enough snow to cover the roads, school was canceled.  My two brothers and I would get out the out the sled and spend the whole day riding down hills.  The first thing we would do is line up on the sled, my older brother first so he could drive, me next, then my younger brother.  We'd try the sidewalk first.  As we got older, the challenge was how far we got before my younger brother fell off the back.  I was about 10 when I got my own sled.  Then we would race each other and dare each other to go down steeper hills or the trails with lots of trees.  It was one of the few times we weren't fighting.  As if the snow was some great negotiator that would bring us to a truce for a few short hours or days. 

Last weekend Ben and I were in IL.  One afternoon it started to snow these BIG, fluffy snowflakes.  I went outside to enjoy the snow and noticed a perfectly formed, 6 sided snowflake on my know, like the way they look on Christmas cards.  I had never seen this before.  I thought that was only at the microscopic level.  I guess since the snow we get in NC isn't as fluffy or is half melted before it gets to the ground, I had never noticed this before.  Most the folks around us thought I was insane.  They're right. :0)  Ben tried taking pictures, but they didn't really turn out that well.  If you look closely you can see a couple of nice flakes in this picture.


President Barack H. Obama

I am watching Obama's Inauguration speech as I type this.  Today, history was made.  The United States of America has sworn in our first black president.  Cicely Tyson was in the crowd. She said she had brought the pictures of her ancestors to witness today's events.  In that one act, it embodies what today means for a race that has struggled and fought for equality in this country.

I sat in my living room with my husband, Ben, watching on TV.  As the cameras panned over the crowd, tears came to my eyes.  Why?  I think because there's a part of me that wants to believe that this country is truly evolving past the short-sightedness of segregation and race based atrocities.  Because I want to think positive thoughts on this historic day.  Reality will set in soon enough, but for a little while, I want to believe things will be different.  Hope that we are at a point in this country that the color of one's skin will not matter.  The place someone was born will not matter. 

The parties will soon be over and tomorrow Barack Obama will go to work attempting to make a difference.  I can only hope the rest of us will try to make a difference as well.  As individuals and as a country.
It's now been a little over a month since Paul Maurice took over coaching the Carolina Hurricanes.  Slowly, bit by bit, pass by pass, the team has improved.  They are playing a more defensive brand of hockey, but at the same time, the offense is making more of a difference as well.  They are moving the puck better, the passes are crisper, the scorer chances stronger.  Overall, the team is doing something they couldn't do the first 2 months of the season, play a consistent 60 minutes of hockey each game.

Tonight's game saw all their patience and hard work come together as they beat the New Jersey Devils 3-2.  We got to the RBC Center early enough to go rink side to watch the warm ups.  The guys looked relaxed and even joked around a little.  Leighton checked one player (I think it was Eaves) into the boards during one of the drills.  Staal raced up behind LaRose and yanked on his jersey with a smirk on his face as to say "I'm faster than you".  You have to think they are feeling better about themselves as a team and individually than a month and a half ago.

The first period started out with a fast goal by Ray (aka Pinchy) Whitney.  That really got the crowd going.  The Canes defense shutdown the Devils and didn't give them many scoring changes.  The second period was much of the same, with a power play goal by Sergei Samsonov.  Going into the third period at 2-0, you really got the feeling that things were really starting to click for this team.  That we do have a chance at earning the points needed in the second half of the season to make a run for the playoffs.  The team continued to play well in the third.  Tuomo Ruutu got the winning goal off at the 9:58 mark.  There was a roughing penalty called on Justin Williams that looked questionable from our viewpoint.  The Devils scored on the power play.  They guys didn't give up though.  They kept up the pace, particularly during the Samsonov hooking penalty when Coach Sutter pulled the goalie.  Most of the power play was 6 on 4, but the Canes didn't give up a goal.  The Devils got another goal with 22 seconds left, but by then most the fans were on their feet and cheering for a great win by the Hurricanes.

One player that I'd like to point out is Chad LaRose.  He's been called the "Chuck Norris" of hockey and it's a well deserved nickname.  Shortly after the coaching change, he sat out a game as a healthy scratch.  People were mumbling about how his minutes had been cut.  But since the game he sat out, he has been pushing the limits and hitting everything in sight.  His determination has paid off.  He's moved up a line and is getting 17+ minutes a game.  IMHO, he's one of the most improved players of this team.  Though he's in good company.  Anton Babchuk has 4 points in the last 5 games.  Joni Pitkanen is playing more consistently.  And Ward, can't say enough about how awesome he's been playing.

So here at the half-way point of the season, I'm feeling good about these Carolina Hurricanes.  There's still a lot of hockey yet to be played, but I'm liking our chances.


Happy 2009

Happy New Year! 

2008 ended with a win for the Carolina Hurricanes!  It has not been the best season for them, so hopefully 2009 will be better.  GO CANES!

After the game we went to Tim and Kelley's house to ring in the new year with friends.  Tons of fun was had.  Some of us <cough> Tim, Ben </cough> had extra to drink, which lead to extra fun.  For example:  (click for larger version)

posting20090101.JPGMost I've laughed in a long time!  You can click here to read more of it.

I'm not one to make resolutions, but I am going to try to post more regularly to this blog in 2009.  It will mostly be about trips I've taken or hockey related, we'll see how it works out.

Hope 2009 is a great year for you!


Last Thursday (July 20) my cat Boo jumped up on my office desk, something she does many times a day, sometimes TOO MANY times a day. She looked a little weak and acted like she had a hairball. I placed her on the floor so she wouldn't spew on my keyboard and nothing happened. I went downstairs to fix lunch and offered her some food, she didn't take it and again acted like she was choking. I took her back upstairs with me so I could keep an eye on her, and again she coughed and gagged. I realized she was breathing hard. I called my vet and she told me to immediately take her to the Veterinary Specialty Hospital of the Carolinas in Cary. On the way she was having more and more trouble breathing, and had mucous falling from her mouth. My fiance' Ben was already at the hospital, relaying second by second updates on Boo's condition and our ETA. We were greeted at the door by a nurse, Boo was taken to the back and we were shown the waiting area.

After what seemed like forever a vet came to speak with us. He said Boo had fluid covering 90% of her lungs and was essentially "blue" when she arrived. He tapped her chest and removed 300 mL of fluid. The fluid would be tested and they wanted to keep her overnight to run more tests. He warned us that it could be heart disease or associated with the thyroid, but unfortunately in most cases with cats the cause remains unknown.

Friday morning Ben stopped by the hospital on the way to work. The facility is run pretty much like a human hospital with visiting hours only allowing "immediate family". Ben noticed a BIG difference in Boo's behavior. He said she was much more cuddly and purring up a storm. Ben went back that afternoon to pick Boo up to bring home. As feared the diagnosis was "Chylothorax or thoracic lymphangiectasia" Basically, Chyle is a lymphatic fluid that arises from the intestine to the pleural space (thorax). There were no signs of heart disease, so the results of the tests were inconclusive as to the cause of the fluid build-up. The hospital suggested a special low fat/low protein diet and Rutin supplement.

Friday night and Saturday Boo was doing well, wanting to be held and such, but would not eat. I finally started spoon-feeding her babyfood. She was loving this. Sunday night into Monday I noticed Boo's breathing was becoming more labored. She was eating more on her own, but I still spoon-fed her. She was hiding under the guest bed more and more. I called my regular vet to talk to her about the diagnosis from the vet hospital. She was very honest and said in her 30 year career, she had never seen a cat pull through this, and at best we had a couple of weeks.

Now the hard part, Ben is in Portland, OR this week at OSCON. He has adopted Boo as his own and knew the situation when he left. I know he really wanted to see Boo through to the end. After talking with my vet and seeing Boo's condition go downhill, Ben and I came to the conclusion that it was time to help ease Boo out of her pain. It was obvious the fluid on her lungs was building back up and she was uncomfortable. She was never going to get better and only get worse.

So today at 1:15 pm I took Boo to the vet and gave her peace. It's never easy to see a loved one die. Boo was a very special cat. She was, as my friend Jeff dubbed her, the Attention Whore. Boo could never get enough petting. She didn't wait for you to pet her, she walked right up and rubbed her head on your hand, arm, leg, etc. Or give you one of her famous head-butts. She had the softest of soft fur. She loved to sleep under the covers and always found a way to weasel herself into just the spot she wanted. She was 17 years old, she had a glorious (SPOILED) life and will be greatly missed!

You Want This Ready by When????

It's been a busy couple of months. My new job is finally taking off, which is another way of saying that I'm never home. Been traveling almost every other week. Mostly to Boston, MA and a trip to Auburn, CA. I don't really mind business travel all that much, but combine it with planning for a wedding and a visit from the future in-laws... it's been interesting.

Part of my new job is to review and select the software the company uses. We have some antiquated, home-grown applications that really don't work well and need to be replaced. First in line was the applications our nurses use to track cases. Our business model is rather unique, so I couldn't find a perfect fit, but I was able to find a Case Management software that came close and is very configurable. The catch - the upper ups wanted it running by the beginning of Q2. I had 5 weeks to review, contract haggle, purchase, be trained on, install/configure, test, deploy, train the end-users and Go Live.

It was quite the challenge. And yet, as I look back, I am damn proud of myself. I learned a lot, not only technology-wise, but about myself. I actually was a little surprised at how my project management skills have improved. Not only did I have a successful Go Live, but the other business units are very excited with what they've seen me do for the first business unit and are ready to be the next implemented.

Oh - and did I mention during those same 5 weeks I was doing business analysis and requirements gathering for development work on another of our applications?

So our Canadian office will be next. Means I'll soon be flying to Toronto every couple of weeks. I just can't wait until it's Japan's turn. I might just decide to stay there for the entire project!

Big Sigh of Relief


Today I felt like a huge burden was removed from my back, something that had been stressing me out beyond my usual stressed out point. I confirmed and booked the ceremony and reception sites for our wedding. Whew!

A few weeks ago we started the search only to find out our #1 choice, The Barclay Villa, is booked indefinitely. We had a few more places to check out. It was starting to look grim until we visited the Long View Center last Friday. I was ready to book it on the spot but the guide suggested we think on it. She was right, we had to find a reception site. We liked The Matthews House but they didn't have any dates that matched when the Long View Center was available. We considered several locations downtown, hotels, country clubs, but none were really working out. I called The Matthews House today just to double-check, and to my great surprise, it wasn't booked on our date, just on hold. There was still hope! They called me back a few hours later, it was available and I booked it!


I know there's much, much more to orangize, book, arrange, do for the wedding, but this was the major hurdle. I know we've picked a great day. I checked the NCSU football schedule and there's no game that Saturday. I won't have to miss it.

So far, the wedding fates like us.