Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Something New

I started another blanket on Sunday during the Raven's game just to take a breather from the Elliott blanket. I am trying the ripple pattern, or zig-zag. There are tons of way to do this pattern, this just happens to be the one in a book I have. The photo in the book looks much neater than my version seen here. Luckily, this will be an Antonio-sized dog bed blanket... so if it's not perfect, then that's okay.

Now off to bed...


So... Elliott is home.

In the saddest way.

I cried when I went and got him, and although he will not be permanently "displayed" in my house, for the next few days he'll be out in the open. That's just the way it's gonna be. Eventually, I'll take him home to my parents' house where we'll bury his ashes in their backyard, but for now I want him where I can see him.

In other news, I purchased some home improvement items at Pier One while in Ohio, so I'd like to share. In this first photo, I've replaced the futon pillows with fancy new ones.

I also got these little plate/cup combos as gifts, so I bought these napkins to spruce them up a bit.

Lastly, how do you like this one of a kind artwork of downtown Baltimore? One is an image of the Power Plant, and the other is Harbor East. Want some just like 'em? Too bad. They're original Alan Costa's. Thanks, Dad.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Crack (apparently) Heard Around the World

It's just a shame it started on my car... who knew?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday Night

First, I'd like to say GO RAVENS and MCGAHEEEEEEEE! Playoffs, baby. Playoffs. That's what I'm talking about. Yes, I feel bad for those readers who like teams that have not made it past the regular season... I mean that... but I spend the most time with my Ravens-loving friends, and therefore, their happiness is extremely important to me.

Antonio was pooped from being chased by Delilah all afternoon, so they settled down for a nap after the game. How sweet!

A Week in Review

I slept A LOT last night. I stayed up too late crocheting and watching West Side Story on TV (Yeah, I'm cool. I know.), and then I slept in way too late. Tomorrow is going to stink. I'm now destined to fall asleep late tonight and be exhausted all day tomorrow. Lovely.

So my week in Ohio was awesome. Lots of restful down time, lots of movies, lots of family time, and a great reunion with friends.

Downtime: Check THESE scarves and my Elliott blanket out!

Movies: Next, Tears of the Sun, Mamma Mia! (twice), and The Tale of Despereaux (4 stars, 3 stars, 5 stars and 4 stars, respectively)
Family: Click here for photos.
Friends: More photos!

I am happy to be home to my quiet life, but I surely miss Ohio. Love you all...

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Last night was so fun... photos to come later. Now? I'm packing for the return trip back to Bawlmer. I'll sure miss Ohio... but I've been missing Baltimore, too. Lunch tomorrow, anyone? :)

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Day After Christmas

I'm tired. I slept on an air mattress in the den last night because gave up my bed to my Aunt Mary. Totally worth it, because the last two days with family have been great, but I'm sleepy. I am SO EXCITED for tonight, because I've planned a reunion of sorts with all kinds of Ohio folks. If you are an Ohio person and not on Facebook (because that's where I invited everyone), we are meeting at On Tap, Cuyahoga Falls, at 9 PM. There's karaoke tonight, too. Hee hee.

Come one, come all... photos to be posted later this weekend. I can't wait!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to Me

I hope everyone is having a lovely day... I just wanted to share something that my cousin said to me. (He's all of ten days older than I am. I love the guy.)

Cousin: It's time.
Me: It's time for... ?
Cousin: It's time for you to find someone who loves you for you.

Damn, I love family.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Reader Challenge

Okay, all... I need your help. My nine year old niece has bad eczema on her little hands that gets horribly horrible in the winter. She has scratches all around her knuckles, and today (after we watched a movie) she looked down to see she was bleeding. I am completely overwhelmed by the websites on eczema, so I am turning to you. Please forward any cleansers and lotions (BRANDS, please) that help with this. I figure some of you must know some people with this. She needs to keep her skin more moisturized that she is right now, but lotions and soaps make it worse.



I would quietly like to say 'Happy Birthday' to a special someone out there. I will give no clues as to who you are, but I hope that your day is a fabulous one. I am sorry that I am missing it.

I'd also like to ask - did anyone see the Packers v. Bears game? OMG. Someone I know likes the Bears so I found myself watching it today, and that was a CRAZY second half. How about that '4th down'? Or that kick block? GO BEARS! (Sorry, CA.)

Lastly... I have finished a THIRD scarf. Yep. Even Antonio is getting a scarf for Christmas this year (not really). Actually, it's so bloody cold here that I have to keep crocheting scarves for myself just to stay warm (also not really). (Rumor has it that Dad turned up the heat in the house - thanks, Dad.)

Goodnight/day, everyone. Two days and counting... :)

Sunday, December 21, 2008


I'm home! And it BLOODY FREEZING here. It was 12 degrees when I turned down my parents' street earlier this afternoon. UGH! It was a long day, though; I had a headache the whole drive... but thank you to my friends for the multitude of recommendations, playlists, and audiobooks, because they kept my brain busy for most of the way. :)

Antonio is happy to be here, too. My mom gave him one of his presents early... SERIOUSLY. How cute is he? It fits perfectly! Antonio is one loved dog.

I've had a wonderful few days (minus today's headache), and I'm looking forward to more while I'm here at home. Here are some pics from the drive... lovely, aren't they?

Friday, December 19, 2008


I'm pretty late on this, but I was tagged by Cassie. The mission? To choose the fourth photo ever in your photo directory, album, whatever... and post it. Since I have a digital photo directory dating back to 2005... the best I can do is choose the "first" folder, which is labeled "2005 Animals." That said... you really didn't expect me to pick just one, did you?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Countdown to Christmas

Only nine days until Christmas. I'm starting to feel excited again. It will be great to be home with the family for a whole week just hanging out, catching up (a little crocheting), and all-in-all relaxing. I need it. The last few months with work being so busy, Elliott's health, and a few personal stresses... I need down time. I need to regroup. You know - get back to the real Charissa.

I decorated my apartment tonight - nothing fancy - actually quite minimal. But when you live in an apartment and only feel the Christmas spirit a week before the actual holiday, then this is what you get.

So far, I've decided on the following for the car ride home this weekend:
- David Sedaris, Holidays On Ice
- Khaled Hosseini, Kite Runner
- Dane Cook, Retaliation
- John Hodgman, The Areas of My Expertise

I am also downloading Janis Ian's CD, Between the Lines. A friend at work recommended this one. For my holiday selection, I now have a few Christmas albums to choose from including: Billy Gilman, NKOTB, Classic Christmas songs, Martina McBride, Josh Groban, Michael Ball, and Enya... just to name a few.

What am I missing?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pot Luck

Tomorrow we have a pot luck at work, so Katie and her dog, Colby, came over for food plus a puppy play date. Katie made delicious butterscotch dots, and I made feta cheese mash-ed pot-ah-toes. (Yes, you have to say it like that. Say it. mash-ed pot-ah-toes. Thank you.)

First, we have the puppies begging for pieces of Special K.

Then we have Katie a-wanting my mash-ed pot-ah-toes.

Then we Katie's dee-licious butterscotch yummies.

And finally... the professional pot-ah-toe photo.


Monday, December 15, 2008


This is my first letter from my Christian Children's Fund kid, Paris. For three years it has always been his dad who wrote. Then I get this in the mail today. Isn't this beautiful?

Reader Challenge

Okay, folks... I need help. (No, not that kind of help.) I'm driving to and from Ohio next week and I need DISTRACTION. Listened to any good audio books recently? How about a comedy CD? Or, if you really want to get creative... create a playlist for me of songs for the road!

Suggestions and playlists welcome!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holiday Pub Crawl

Unfortunately I didn't participate in the pub crawl for too long - Becky and I went to dinner first (Canton Dockside, yum!) and then met up with the group at Mother's on the Alley. I didn't wear the proper attire, admittedly, and neither did Becky... but we had fun just the same. Two bars in and four beers down and I couldn't stop yawning so it was time to go. I had fun, though. It was good to see you guys again. Jason - thanks for organizing. :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Charles

So I highly recommend SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE at The Charles Theatre. It was really done well. There are some gory parts, some sad parts, some romance, and some action - plenty for all. The movie is split between subtitles and English, but it's all worked in and pretty effortless. There's even a bonus Bollywood scene during the credits. Priceless! This is one to see... and possibly to own.

Thank you Leslie and Roger for inviting me out on my first social event in a week. I'm still not ready for parties (sorry, Katie), but it was nice to get out in a small group where no one (other than the three people with me) paid any attention to me. Slowly but surely, right?

Yesterday I came home to a sympathy card from my vet. It was signed by some of the people who cared for Elliott the last few weeks with some lovely notes, but more importantly, it included a card with Elliott's paw prints on it. I cried, of course. But I am grateful to have this small gift. It will be treasured. There was also a poem included.


If it should be that I grow frail and weak and pain should wake me from my sleep,
Then you must do what must be done, for this last battle can't be won.

You will be sad, I understand, don't let your grief then stay your hand.
For this day, more than all the rest, your love and friendship stand the test.

We've had so many happy years, what is to come can hold no fears.
You'll not want me to suffer so; when the time comes, please let me go.

I know in time you too will see, it is a kindness you do me.
Although my tail its last has waved, from pain and suffering, I've been saved.

Do not grieve that it should be you who has has to decide this thing to do.
We've been so close, we two, these years; don't let your heart hold any tears.

- Anonymous

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What To Do on a Friday Night

The Charles Theatre
FRIDAY DEC 12th. 10:00

Director: Danny Boyle Cast: Dev Patel, Madhur Mittal, Freida Pinto, Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan MPAA Rating: R Run Time: 2hrs Release Year: 2008 Country Of Origin: UK

Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), an 18-year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, is about to experience the biggest day of his life. With the whole nation watching, he is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India’s “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” But when the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating; how could a street kid know so much? Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life in the slum where he and his brother grew up, of their adventures together on the road, and of Latika (Freida Pinto), the girl he loved and lost. Each chapter of his story reveals the key to the answer to one of the game show’s questions. Intrigued by Jamal’s story, the jaded Police Inspector begins to wonder what a young man with no apparent desire for riches is really doing on this game show? When the new day dawns and Jamal returns to answer the final question, the Inspector and sixty million viewers are about to find out… Written by Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty), based on the best selling novel Q&A by Vikas Swarup. Directed by Danny Boyle (Sunshine, Millions, Trainspotting).

Official Web Site

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I'm climbing into bed soon, but I just wanted to report that I am doing better. I still miss Elliott like crazy, but I am fairly functional again as long as I am getting my alone time. Tonight I spent the evening rearranging my bedroom. It's not an ideal layout, but it was such a pain in the rear that it's going to have to stay this way until I move.

I'm also feeling the need to purge, so if anyone wants to volunteer time this weekend to help me go through my storage unit (at least take a stab at it) - then a beer or two are on me for afterward. I know... it's compelling, right? Alone time with Charissa sorting through years of crap in boxes?

This, too, can be yours. :)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Ten on Tuesday

1. I'm officially out of the mystery pasta-soup I made this weekend. It wasn't that bad considering I just threw a bunch of stuff in a pot. I ate it for days and days. Now I have to cook again. Ugh. Mom - you're GOYA rice and beans are next up.
2. Antonio is acting better. Last night he destroyed a toy and left fuzz all over the living room. That's my dog.
3. TV on Tuesdays sucks.
4. My house is really still. I never realized how much cats provide a "white noise" to a house. Now when Antonio and I are just laying down, it's super silent. No kitty nails on the linoleum. No sound of cat eating hard food and dropping pieces of it all over my kitchen floor. It's just quiet. I'm not sure I like it.
5. I finished one of the scarfs I am making for Christmas. I tried to add blue colors to it but it looked super tacky. I'm considering a few other ideas to fancy it up. Suggestions welcome.
6. I need to decide when I'm going home for Christmas. Dear Ohio friends - when are you going to be there, please?
7. I hit a crying roadblock today. I've actually reached a point where I can't even tear up. I can't possibly be all cried out. I'm not ready yet. My mom said that I may be enjoying mourning. I don't know if that's true or not, but I'm not ready to move on. I almost want to cry more and now I can't. Does that make sense?
8. The cream and green blanket that I am crocheting has been named the Elliott blanket for his white fur and green eyes. It's now larger than a table runner, but not yet remotely close to a usable blanket. 'cept to 'tonio.
9. Antonio has a new collar. Nice, huh?
10. I'm going to lie down with my dog, now...

Monday, December 08, 2008


So, no... I'm not great. I knew I wasn't ready for work yesterday or again this morning, but I went in today anyway knowing that returning to the world of people was inevitable. I just wasn't ready - I'll be the first to admit it. Today was rough.

Please know that I sincerely appreciate the emails, posts, texts, calls and voice mails - I really have a lot of loving people in my life, and I am so grateful for each of you - but I'm having difficulty returning any of your calls and such because talking about Elliott just makes me hurt. It makes me cry. It makes me mad, and all I can think about is that I want him back. The last few days I have enjoyed being home and just sitting around with Antonio; Heck, I'm still calling my mom multiple times a day to just tell her that I miss my cat and cry. My heart is broken into a million pieces, and although I know that it will ease eventually, today wasn't measurably different from yesterday or the day before. It just hurts my heart.

Yesterday I found a song I love that makes me think of Elliott's passing with at least a little more peace than usual. The group is called Libera, and it is a boys choir from the UK. The song, Rest in Peace, is beautiful. It's more notably for our fallen soldiers, but I can't help but think of Elliott when I hear my favorite passage below.

For all who need comfort for all those who mourn
all those whom we cherished will be reborn
All those whom we love but see no more
they are not perished but gone before

And Lord keep them safe in your embrace
and fill their souls with your good grace
for now they see you face to face
where they rest in peace - and rise in glory

Below is a sample, but click here to hear the whole thing.

Friday, December 05, 2008

""We, who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached.
Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way.
We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan."

Elliott Costa
1997 - 2008

Elliott, AKA lellie monster, was one of the best cats I've ever known. He was truly an ambassador for cats - especially to those who claim never to like cats, and he had a kind and amazingly loving heart. He will be forever loved and truly missed.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Just Like a Yo-Yo.

So here it goes. Elliott went to vet today after eating and drinking well for me. He didn't eat or drink all morning at the vet, so they called me in the early afternoon and asked my permission to put in the feeding tube they put off on Monday. I approved. I picked Elliott up at 7 PM, very drowsy-like, and the doctor showed me how to feed, hydrate, and give meds, all via a feeding tube in Elliott's neck. His little paw is shaved from where the IV was (and very swollen). His neck is widely wrapped to keep the feeding tube in place. He sorta looks like a giraffe. Now we're home, and I get to feed him at 9:30, 11:30, 4:30 and 6:30 before taking him back to the vet in the morning for monitoring.

So... how was your day?

Seen here: rare breed giraffe-cat. Approach cautiously.

Katie's Scarf...

... is done!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Power of Prayer?

Elliott and I went to the vet first thing this morning, and when we arrived he had a temperature of 103 and had lost 2 more ounces of body weight (down to 5 lbs 10.5 oz). After discussing his history with the doctor, we decided to put him on an IV in the morning and a feeding tube in the afternoon. It was really rough for me to make that call...

The good news is that early this afternoon the doctor called to tell me that Elliott was actually eating. After only a few hours on fluids (and before they inserted a feeding tube), his appetite kicked in a bit, and I'm pleased to say that by 7 PM he ate a whole can of food (Fancy Feast) while at the vet. I couldn't believe it.

After work I went to pick him up (IV and all), and so far tonight he has eaten three times. (!) He has probably only ingested a tablespoon total, but he's interested. He has also parked himself in front of the water bowl twice and gulped water. I've flushed his IV catheter once, and I'll do it again in the early morning to keep blood from clotting. He is being so well-behaved. So far, so good.

Tomorrow he'll go back to the vet for another full day of supervision. He'll get more liquids, and if he is still eating on his own, then they'll remove his IV catheter.

Please keep the prayers and happy thoughts coming. Annie - thank you for sending out the prayer circle, because today was a great day, and you have to wonder how much of Elliott's improvement is driven by all of the people that were rooting for him today. I'm still maintaining caution... but please keep up your thoughts and prayers. And thank you so much. :)

Vet Again

We are headed back to the vet this morning. Elliott is completely despondent, curled up in the back of his crate, not interested in much. Last night he came out once to use the cat box, and I pulled him out three times - for pills, for snuggles, and to force some water. Around midnight he came out and I got him to eat some watered-down food... probably the steroids kicking in, but he walks like he has a lot of stiffness and I have to wonder if his body has started to attack his muscles. He weighed 5 lbs, 13 oz on Monday. It's going to be worst this morning, I know it.

So we'll be back at the vet at 8:30 AM, and the likelihood they'll keep him is high. Please continue to say prayers. The last few days have been like a yo-yo - just when I start hoping, something bad happens.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Not me... but this is what I saw on the way to work this morning. Someone's in troooooublllle...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Elliott's Nine Lives

Elliott may have yet another chance... can you believe it?

I didn't go to work today - took Elliott to the vet at 9:30. We saw yet another veterinarian... and I like her. A lot. She reviewed Elliott's entire file before we even arrived, and then reviewed files of his endoscopy last January and uncovered an important piece of information - Elliott has inflammatory bowel disease. I forgot about this because he didn't have any further symptoms, and to date no other vet looked far enough into his files to find it. What she thinks is that he is having a terrible flare-up of IBD at the exact same time he's having a 'thyroid storm.'

The good news is that his thyroid levels, liver enzymes and kidney levels look good from Saturday, which means we're getting the thyroid under control. We also decided not to put him on a feeding tube. So today we loaded him up with an appetite booster (mirtazapine) and a steroid, and our vet thinks this should turn him around. She also said that we need to work together because we're trying to overcome a lot - both IBD and hyperthyroid.

Elliott has been restless and frustrated all day today - never relaxing - and the vet says that it's likely the appetite booster doing it because it's a central nervous system stimulant. We've also stopped his thyroid meds for a day or two to try to get his IBD under control. He may get sick, because we've stopped the thyroid meds, but that should help his IBD in the short term. It's a three day plan. And it's a see-saw.

So what do we know?
- Elliott is extremely hyperthyroid which will require daily medication.
- Elliott has uncontrolled IBD which will probably require steroids 2x per week for his life.
- We NEED to get food in him within the next two days. He IS showing interest this afternoon, but he's too restless to just sit and eat.

I, on the other hand, need sleep. My head hurts, I'm emotional... but I am also FINALLY optimistic. Thank you, Dr Burke for digging. Thank you, friends and mom for calling and emailing and posting. Thank you, Elliott for hanging in there.