Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rio Vista Park

Our dear friends were lucky enough to move into a new home with a park right next to it and behind it. We often call it their country house in the city. It is peaceful and quiet and lovely. I imagined that because of the  oddity of where the space is located that it would be a less frequented area but that is not the case at all. The majority of the park is between two sets of houses. It is long and somewhat narrow. A bike/ running pass runs through it. It actually serves to connect other biking paths specifically together I think. The area is very woodsy. For our girls it was a hoot because they were able to ride their bikes, trikes and scooters for a bit and then run in the to get pine cones, play with swords (sticks to other people) and hide from forest monsters.

It is very walk-able and safe. If you have a young child that does not like to be in a stroller or that may be a runner or both, this is a good park. There is nothing but the path and the woods. Towards the west end of the park there is a nice bridge that connects to parts of the neighborhood and a boardwalk that does the same both over a channel.
If you continue through the park, on the east end, perhaps even considered the most accessible piece of the park, there is a fenced in construction area which will be the future home of Rio Vista Park. It used to be Rio Vista Elementary School but the building was in bad shape and so they tore it down and it will now be a great size community park. The plans show a playground, exercise area, community garden and running trail. There will be some picnic shelters and a huge sized shelter that was already there that the city decided not to take down. The new portion of this park should be ready by April.

Lake Seminole Park

We found it. The greatest park ever. The other night we went to Lake Seminole Park which is just down the street from us. What I mean by down the street it is located 9 miles from my house on Park Boulevard. We arrived in the early evening. As we traveled through the path inward the road led us straight to the bicycle and paddle boat rental area. Super excited about the possibilities of these vehicles we looked at the reasonable prices and were about to make a decision about renting when the young guy who looked and spoke as if he was right out Surfer World magazine, told us that they were about to close. The hours for rental were 11-5. It is now on our official "To Do" list.
The playground was great. It had the two areas for big kids and little kids. The harder part of this is that Vivian really doesn't realize that she is little. She was tremendously demanding about getting on a ladder element that was way too hard for her. Matter of fact it was so awkwardly positioned that Eliot and I really couldn't help her do it. But she insisted until she was about to be on it for a minute.

There are several lakes or ponds that are positioned around the park. Along side of those are wooden swings which I really love. We sat on one for a bit and enjoyed the sunset and snapped a couple of pictures.
Afterwards we walked around a little and then hopped back in the car to see what else this expansive space had to offer. We found boat ramps, picnic shelters and another park area. Clearly there had been a party nearby because there was a lot of litter. Lydia kept asking what happened here and Vivian kept trying to pick things up and put them in the trash. What can I say we have clean kids. Mostly due to my clean mother and equally clean husband, plus a little of "everything in the right place makes you feel good" mom.

However, the best element of the smaller play space was a good size climbing wall. There was another climbing apparatus but it wasn't fit for my girls. My one critique about public climbing walls is there never seems to be a section that is novice enough. I think it would be a good idea to label these things so you could walk up and know what you about to do.
We were very impressed with Lake Seminole Park. We hoping to go back and ride the bikes and boats soon. It is always nice where there is something new to offer the community and we felt that this park did just that well element of new and interesting very well.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

My Lovely Kitty: Priscilla

A couple of years after my undergraduate education was completed, I found myself as a youth director in a downtown church. The salary was not much and so in hopes surviving in the auspices of adulthood, my old college roommate and I became bunkmates again. She too was doing church work, with both of our salaries combined it was still a little tight with car payments, rent and what have you. So we rented our couch and eventually we opened our home to all our friends that were in various in between times of their own lives. We called it the commune. In 1999, we were living as if we were in 1969. The door was never locked. There were always people there and at the end of the week we collected the pennies in each respective pocket to eat. It was at this time that my primary roommate’s cat had a litter of kittens; evidently we didn’t have the money to have her spade.

Very early in the morning on May 13, 1999 our commune gathered together to watch Janus (named after Joplin) bring life into the world. We named then as they arrived, the first was Elvis, second was Priscilla and last one was Lisa Marie. I fell in love with Priscilla she was a little bundle of gray fur, so I kept her as my own. Everyone kept one a kitty from this litter which in retrospect was a really bad idea, but at the time it seemed fine. I am super glad I did.

I treated Priscilla like a dog. I would put her in a shoebox and place her on my passenger side seat and take her all over town. She visited camp and slept on the buck beds. She would sleep in my bed every night, never once trying to sleep on my head or kneading on me. In the morning we would wake up and she would follow me into the bathroom which had her litterbox. We would take care of our individual business and go grab breakfast where she followed me once again. She was my shadow.

After the commune I went to graduate school in Atlanta, Priscilla, my ex-boyfriend and I lived in a small one bedroom apartment in a not so great neighborhood which I didn’t quite realize until I was held up at gun point in my parking lot, for what the police assumed was likely money for the clubs. Their words not mine. During this time, my ex was diagnosed with brain cancer; Priscilla would curl up into a little ball next to me on the futon we passed as real couch on the darkest of days. I spent many days driving him from point A to point B and many nights up very late working on the very new to me computer (since just a few years previous I was working on a word processor) with Priscilla curled up on the desk to the right of keyboard. I would say she could be credited with earning a part of that Master’s degree.

We all returned home to Florida and things progressed poorly for my ex, and well, life happened. It was such an ugly time in the world, the War on Terror had just begun and we had close friends in battle. Then the loss of this battle as well. Priscilla was the only one there as if a little fly on the wall, not to say there weren’t many friends and family that also were there, but the only one that was there for every hidden tear, or ridiculous bout of anger was this little kitty cat.

Life goes on and so did we. Priscilla and I had a few more roommates along the way, always a new
moment. Twice we lived with good friends right after their own relationships fell a part, albeit in more traditional ways. Priscilla held many tears for many people. She was always playful and purring and ready to be present.

My parents were kind enough to care for her for some time because I was told that I was allergic to cats. I was getting red itchy welts all of the time and had a series of test done and it turns out I have a list of things I am supposedly allergic to. My mom babied Priscilla. Those two had a special relationship. The type that could only be understood by them, my mom speaks cat and Priscilla speaks Cuban woman.

Once my parents moved into a small condo, Priscilla came back to live with us. Our home is large and I planned not to rub my face in her fur so it would be just fine. She has had full reign of our house. There were cat doors in place before we moved in which was a great bonus, so Priscilla became my daughters’ first pet.

The girls have loved on her. Vivian has learned not to pull her tail. They both give her treats and know she is looking for extra petting when she rubs against them and arches her back. The girls also know to yell at her when she jumps on the countertop a behavior she would have never dared in front of my mom, but she’s a smart cat and knows the rest of us are suckers.

I am eternally thankful for her presence and the journey we have had together. In some ways she symbolizes my 20’s and 30’s. Just as she was present for the rough times, she was also there for millions of great times: endless laughter, parties, when I bought my first own home, when I fell in love with Eliot, when I had both of my daughters, and no matter where I had been or what I had seen or done she welcomed me home every

Within the last week we saw that she was having trouble with her right hind leg. I pick her up to check
her out and I felt a lump; a big giant lump. I am not stupid. She is 15. I attempted to prepare myself for the worst and hope for the best, but none of those platitudes served consolation at the vet’s office. The mass is obstructing her colon. It is likely she is grave pain and that even the most radical of measures will only extend her life a couple of weeks at best.
It is evident that I am quite sad. I brought her home after a shot of pain medication so we could all have a little extra time. We have told Lydia that Prissy is sick. The kind of sick that doesn’t really get better, so she grabbed her Doc McStuffin’s med kit and said she would take care of it. Eliot and I held back the tears. We have spent 48 hours giving her everything she likes, treats, cheese and lots of love.

So my furry friend’s life has come to a close. Her fate is in my hands. Hoping to do right by her as she has spent her life doing right by me, I scheduled the appointment that would mark her last day. It is never easy saying goodbye. It is never easy and somehow it is something that we each find ourselves doing in life, because, well life happens.

Rest in Peace
Priscilla. Thank you