Saturday, November 26, 2011

why we love Willow

When I was first getting to know Cori, I had a long list of reasons of why I could see a potential future with him.  Some were silly (like how he rode his bike to Home Depot to help me find magnets) and others were legit (like his deep love of the Lord).  On that list (no, it wasn't a written list- I may have been interested, but I wasn't obsessed!) was his love for cats.  I'll let you decide if that qualifies as silly or legitimate. ;)

Cori and I both grew up with cats and have always loved them, so when we got married, it was always a question of when we'd get a cat- not if.  In light of the crazy beginnings of our married life (we found out a week before the wedding that Cori had gotten a fellowship with the CDC and that we'd be leaving New Orleans- although we didn't know where we'd be going yet, 2 weeks after the wedding that we'd be moving to Tampa, and then 2 weeks after that we moved) we decided to wait until we had gotten a bit more settled before we went looking for a third addition to our family.  We were thinking a year, maybe more, since we're not sure how long we'll be in Florida.  That was the plan.

And then one Saturday morning, a month after our move, Cori and I were lounging around the house when someone knocked on the door.  Being that it was 9am and we still didn't know many people in Tampa, we weren't quite sure what to expect when we opened the door.  It was our across the street neighbor.  She explained that some of her family was moving in temporarily and had a cat, but since she already had a couple dogs and was not a cat person, they were going to have to get rid of the cat.  They had contemplated just letting it go feral, but decided to ask us if we wanted a cat.  Before I knew it, Cori- my always think it through first husband- was saying sure, and a cat was carried across the street and into our arms.  We agreed to keep her for a trial run- a day or so- but after just a few hours, it became clear.  We were cat owners.

Willow, our first weekend with her- you can tell in more recent pictures of her that we feed her well ;)

She came with the name Tabitha, but we had always wanted to have a cat with a New Orleans-based name, so we decided to call her Willow, after the street I lived on for 3 years.  (But shhh- don't tell our neighbors we renamed her!)

Willow is the sweetest cat in the world and we are absolutely in love with her.  She is playful and has definite spunk, but she's not overwhelming wild, like some cats I've known (R.I.P, crazy cat Flash).  She is definitely not afraid of people and loves to cuddle.  She's always anxious to go outside, and now that she's been spayed (because a cat in heat is not something we ever want to experience again) we let her.  We were nervous the first few times we let her out- what if she doesn't come back? what if she gets lost or hurt?- but quickly found out that while Willow might love being outside, she loves being the center of our attention even more.  If we go outside looking for her after a short stint outside, she'll come bounding up to us, desperate for some loving.  Her favorite days are when the weather is nice (which is often- thank you, Florida!) and we leave our doors open.  She'll wander outside for a bit, then come back inside to be near us, then venture back outside, then back inside... the only downfall is when another neighborhood cat, Ladybug, sees our open door as an invitation to come inside and visit Willow's food dish. ;)

Willow, right before we our weekend trip to New Orleans in September- she wanted to come with us!

In the mornings, Cori has nicknamed Willow 'Alarm Kitty.'  Willow will wait patiently for us in the mornings, snoozing on our bed, her spot by the window, on top of the refrigerator, or wherever her current hiding place is.  But once our alarm goes off, Willow takes it upon herself to make sure that Cori and I don't oversleep.  Cori and I are big fans of the snooze button, so Willow will come into our room, hop up on our bed, and do what she can to get our attention... sleep on top of us, attack our toes, nuzzle our faces.  As soon as we get up, she's either off to wait (impatiently) by the food dish, or follows us into the bathroom so she can try to drink water from the sink as we wash our hands/faces.  And on weekends when that alarm doesn't go off... well, she gives us a couple extra hours, but then makes her presence known.

We are so blessed by this crazy, adorable, loving kitty.  We're in it with her for the long run, and I'm already thinking about how much we'll miss her the week we're in Virginia for Christmas.  Sweet Willow, you bring us so much joy!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

no offense, Buccaneers

I may not live in New Orleans anymore, but I will always root for the Saints.  I know, I know, I'm in Tampa Bay Bucaneer country now, and yeah, I'll cheer for them during every game they play- except when they play my boys.

I moved to New Orleans a year after the storm.  Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on that glorious city, and among its innumerable wrongs, it displaced the Saints for a year.  They spent the 2006/2007 season practicing and playing out in Texas, but come fall 2007, they were back.  Back in the city, back in the Superdome, and back in action.  Except maybe they weren't back in action- maybe it was more like they were in action for the first time ever.  The Saints had been a notoriously awful team; they were nicknamed the 'Aints and their fans were said to wear paperbags over their heads to games because they were just so shameful.  But that first year back in the 'dome after the storm, they were good.  They were really good.  And New Orleanians everywhere noticed. 

I don't know how else to say it except that the Saints brought a ray of hope that year to a city that desperately needed it.  They went to the NFC Championship game and lost, which was devastating, but still- I've got to come back to it- they brought hope. 

The next two seasons, while not overwhelmingly awful, were also not particularly notable.  But then, in the fall of 2009, things got crazy.  The Saints were winning, and winning big.  They won 13 straight games, and let me just say, those games were incredible.  I spent Sunday afternoons with friends, eating jambalaya or gumbo, watching as Drew Brees and his buddies made one incredible play after the other, and more than once claimed a victory after starting the second half behind.  All over New Orleans, people were intoxicated by the Saints.  After so much heart ache, God had given 'the city care forgot' a reason to come together and cheer.  It didn't matter how old you were or what color your skin was- if you lived in New Orleans, you were a Saints fan, and that made you family.  It was the most beautiful thing to watch.

Of course, you know our happy ending.  The Saints won the Superbowl that year, and never before have I been a part of such an amazing celebration.  We ran out in the streets, yelling and cheering and dancing and congratulating neighbors, and then we headed down to the French Quarter.  People everywhere were honking and laughing, running around giving strangers high fives.  Excited doesn't even begin to describe it.  For the first time EVER, the Saints had won the Superbowl.  The euphoria lasted for weeks, which was easy since just two days after our win, we had a parade for our boys, our heroes, and then Mardi Gras season was fully in swing, with most floats celebrating our beloved team. 

The Saints' journey to the Superbowl was one of the most euphoric experiences I've ever been a part of, and I'll never forget it.  My love for the Saints will always be a part of my love for New Orleans, and that will always be a part of me.

Bourbon Street in the French Quarter the night the Saint's won the Superbowl

Saint's Parade

Cori and I, celebrating the Saints- WHO DAT!