Sunday, December 30, 2007

Tell me ALL about yourselves!

(Hypnotism voice, swinging gold pocket watch in front of you:) You know you want to tell me aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall about yourselves...

1.)Q. Can you cook?

2.)Q. What was your dream growing up?

3.)Q. What talent do you wish you had?

4.)Q. If I bought you a drink what would it be?

5.)Q. Favorite vegetable?

6.)Q. What was the last book you read?

7.)Q. What zodiac sign are you ?

8.)Q. Any Tattoos and/or Piercings?

9.)Q. Worst Habit?

10.)Q. If you saw me walking down the street would you offer me a ride?

11.)Q. What is your favorite sport?

12.)Q. Negative or Optimistic attitude?

13. )Q. What would you do if you were stuck in an elevator with me?

14.)Q. Worst thing to ever happen to you?

15.)Q. Tell me one weird fact about you.

16.)Q. Do you have any pets?

17.)Q. What if i showed up at your house unexpectedly?

18.)Q. What was your first impression of me?

19.)Q. Do you think clowns are cute or scary?

20.)Q. If you could change one thing about how you look, what would it be?

21.)Q. Would you be my crime partner or my conscience?

22.)Q. What color eyes do you have?

Q. Ever been arrested?

24.)Q. Bottle or can soda?

25.)Q. If you won $10,000 dollars today, what would you do with it?

26.)Q. If you could write a book what would it be?

Q. What 's your favorite place to hang at?

28.)Q. Do you believe in ghosts?

29.)Q. Favorite thing to do in your spare time?

30.)Q. Do you swear a lot?

31.)Q. Biggest pet peeve?

32.)Q. In one word, how would you describe yourself?

33.)Q. Do you believe/appreciate romance?

34.)Q. If you could spend 12 hours with me and ask/do anything you like, what would it be?

35)Q. Do you believe in God?

36.)Q. Will you repost this so I can fill it out and do the same for you?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas to All

It is over now. At last. And I'm not sure that it is just because I have so much to do before school starts (and ZOMG AFTER SCHOOL STARTS AHHHHHH) but I'm ready to take the tree down tomorrow. I won't, but I may spend New Year's Eve Day doing so.

Santa visited, with respectable results. Delia got many gifts and very satisfyingly played for a long time with the Playmobil My Takealong Farm that was her main gift from us. I mean Santa. She went to bed with her stuffed tiger and leopard and triceratops toys.

My mom got her about a bazillion gifts, from clothes to toys to little odds and ends. I have always felt a very strong gratitude, like an awe really, that she is so well loved not just by me but by others, friends and family.

I myself scored a few nice things, from a pearly grey fleece zip-up to a stethoscope to some cash and a few gift cards. Also a sudoku and a mah-johngg game for the Palm. J and I set a limit so we wouldn't spend outrageous amounts of money so it worked out well.

I went out ages ago, just after Thanksgiving I would say, and got J a steelhead rod and reel. Her brother was visiting us and we sneaked out (Delia in tow) and got it while J was sleeping in one morning. He's been here again since last Wednesday or so and it's been really hard not to give her the rod early because they went fishing a couple of times. But then there wouldn't have been as much for her to open Christmas morning and I would have felt bad. The wait was worth it, she was very surprised and pleased to have her own rig and she and her brother took it out today and fished again. No luck bringing home a fish but they went and got her a few of the bits and pieces of this and that to put in her tackle box, and sat around tonight tying leaders on these gigantic red hooks -- I've only ever fished for trout so I'm used to little weensy hooks, and these things look like you bring Moby Dick in with 'em by comparison.

I took Little Miss Exhausted out with me to the college bookstore today and got the three reference materials for which I bought my Palm: Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, Davis's Drug Guide for Nurses, and Mosby's Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference. Let me just say right here how amazed I am, that in about a half hour's time I used three skinny little cd's to load three whole books worth of information on something that will fit in a cargo pocket. I'm not that easily amazed by technology anymore (such the jaded geek! not!) but it blew my mind that this is possible. The super bonus was that one of the items came with a free prize, a little game called Shuffle. You know, because I don't have enough ways to procrastinate. Anyway this will eliminate the need to carry all those books with me to my clinicals, and find a place to put them, and have to run back and check them, etc. Yay!

Just in case any of you are wondering: didn't hear from my Dad. Other than the Holiday Pic, that is. Which did not contain any personal greetings. To be fair, I didn't call him either. Why, WHY do I feel a pang of guilt about this? Do you think I should call him? GAH!


Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas, HO! (caution: smarminess ensueth)

This afternoon we head to my Mom's for the first of the Christmas Trifecta of Gatherings. I'll be starting on chowder shortly to take with us, then we will pack up the goods and drive the hour or so to get there. We exchange and open gifts there with my Mom and stepdad, my brother and sister-in-law and their four boys. It's a lot of fun.

We'll return tonight, then of course Santa will visit tonight in the wee hours so that in the morning gifts can be opened. This is the first year of real anticipation for Delia so I'm really looking forward to seeing her reaction when she comes out to see the stuff Santa brought.

Then in the early afternoon we go to J's parents' house for the end of the festivities. We exchange more presents with her family -- six kids under the age of 8 will be racing around like little maniacs, gift wrap will literally be flying through the air, and with any luck there will be only minor drama.

So, we'll be opening gifts in three shifts. Delia will be all burned out by the end of it. I bought her waaaaaaay too many presents... It's just so hard to stop once you start! And when things are stressful I just cling tighter to all the people who mean so much to me. Sometimes that comes out in the form of gifts. :) Don't question it, just enjoy it, people...

I find myself lately being more and more overty grateful for the everyday things that I have and enjoy. It's distracting and sometimes makes me all weepy. I hope you all have the same problem.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Pageantry

Today I loaded up the small fry and hauled her off to church. My attendance has been spotty lately with the usual One Thing, or sometimes Another, but I felt pretty strongly that I should at least make an appearance today. As a courtesy.

In a departure from the usual homespun staged performance (ours is a small church without a lot of technical gadgetry, no video displays or fancy lighting etc.) they opted this year for a Pickup Pageant. Meaning, the bare bones of the cast was in place and this morning the pastor made a call for the speaking parts: Animal 1, Animal 2, Cow, Sheep, Angel 1, etc. The Voice of God part (shortened to "V of G" in the script) was passed around among the congregation to narrate different bits of the service.

I stepped forward and offered to co-Sheep with Delia, so she was bedecked in a sheep costume (of which I wore the hat with ears while speaking my part) and we huddled at the front of the church with the others. (When we got up there Delia looked around at the doll in the manger and said, “It’s all about Jesus today huh Mama?” We’re not super Jesusy people, nor is it a super “Jesus is my best friend” type church, so I found this to be rather amusing.) It was really very fun, with lots of overt coaching by the pastor and choir director, and everyone seemed charmed by the whole thing. I think it might be my favorite pageant so far.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Long-Awaited Santa Photo, plus Bonus Redneck Xmas Pic!!

Without further ado may I present to you, my beloved and long-suffering internets:

Delia on Santa's lap! She's not dressed in Holiday Finery (tm) because this was totally impromptu, but that smile is genuine. She had just told him all about her Christmas list and without too much coaxing permitted a photo op for her adoring fans. Ah, how she loves the paparazzi! And how the camera loves her!

And since I had the scanner all limbered up and ready, I went ahead and captured the seasonal greetings of that elusive species, The Common Redneck.
Note the RV Wear (tm) holiday-themed sweater plumage of the female, the western-style shirt adorning the male, and of course the male's majestic Santa Hat crest, seen only in the month of December. They stand proudly before their oversized vehicle, used for migration toward the nesting sites of only the female, as this is a matriarchal species in which the male's lineage is jettisoned once the couple has bonded. Theoretically this species mates for life, although this often proves difficult for the male. Note the exhibition of the fifth-wheel trailer's pushouts, as well as the dual rear-wheels needed on the truck to haul this behemoth down the road. Happy trails, Common Rednecks! See you in a few years! Maybe!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It must be seen to be believed.

My Dad sent the world's tackiest photo Christmas card.

It's a picture of him in a green Western style shirt with red plaid yoke and a Santa hat, his wife in one of those holiday themed sweaters (you know the ones I'm talking about). They are posing proudly with their pride and joy: a huge white pickup truck with rear duallies, hooked up to an enormous 5th wheel trailer which has all its pushouts pushed out.

This pretty much says all you need to know about my father and his wife.

Done and Done

Mailed my last entry requirements to Euphemism College/Hyperbole University today. I had to send a state patrol check (basically a copy of my extensive rap sheet), proof of the incredibly painful MMR shot I had a couple weeks ago, and a signed statement from the Nursing program's Policies and Practices Handbook, wherein I agree to be a student nurse peon, refrain from mistreating my patients or divulging identifying information about them, and submit my portfolio in a timely manner or fail my classes. Whatever this portfolio is. One assumes that this will be made clear to one in due time.

I'm sure you're dying to know what's left. Well, having bought the enormous pile of books, obtained the required uniform, lab jacket, and shoulder patches, endured the several blood draws and vaccinations, submitted my fingerprints, jumped through the hoops and kissed the various assembled heinies, what could possibly be left? Just this: purchase shoes, and submit yet another set of fingerprints to Impossibly Large Governmental Hospital.

I'll actually be doing my actual clinicals at a smaller local manifestation of said Hospital, but they require a pilgrimage to the mother ship by way of introduction. They informed me of this via an email that implied that I would be doing my clinicals at ILGH, so to find out later that I must only visit there one time was an enormous relief. To submit my fingerprints (the FBI report already received by my school must just not be good enough for these folk) I must either park elsewhere and ride public transit up the big stupid hill that ILGH is perched atop, or else rely on kind friends to drop me off and pick me up. And also entertain my child whilst I am indisposed. A tremendous pain in the dark meat, to be sure, but at least it's only once. When I thought that I would be doing my weekly clinicals there, having therefore to drive half an hour into Metropolis, then park the car and jump on a bus and be there by SIX A.M., I was well and truly miffed. As it is, the Kinder Gentler Governmental Hospital is a scant 15 minutes away and there is parking in the general vicinity. Phew!

The shoe question is another story. Having been informed in no uncertain terms that Crocs or Croc-oid shoes are Unacceptable In Every Conceivable Way, I am now obliged to go out and try shoes on. These approved shoes must be white, can be athletic shoes, and must have a closed toe and an enclosed heel. No straps. Never mind that fully fifty percent of the health care workers I see on the job are wearing colorful Crocs of all sorts. We, as nursing students, may not wear them. And I am loath to bring my malformed, unsuitable, non-weight-bearing feet to the attention of anyone in a position to influence my school career, so I will not make any further issue of this, outside of incessantly bitching about it here on my blog and to anyone with ears outside of school.

And, has anyone tried to find white uniform shoes at an actual store? I tried on the one pair I found at the bookstore that looked halfway promising, but they were pinchy and horrible. If you have an insatiable curiosity about what my feet are shaped like, try this: sandwich your foot between two pieces of wax paper. Pound with a meat mallet or similar until your foot is shaped like that of a duck, goose, or other web-footed creature. Pay special attention to the arch area, whacking it sharply until it collapses completely. Now try and find shoes that are not narrow across the toes, can accomodate a full-foot orthotic, and aren't ugly. I defy you to do so. The shoes that fit and aren't ugly are along the lines of Keens and Crocs.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Annual Christmas Photo

Okay, so tonight after some resistance (the small one can put up a bit of a fight these days), we took a few pictures tonight and even ordered them up at Costco. I love Costco for photos. You order 'em off the internet and then go pick 'em up later, or even have them mailed but I'm too impatient for that. In fact, I'm going to go pick them up after Delia goes to bed tonight so I can do up the cards and mail them by Monday.

Without further ado, here are the two I had to choose from when all was said and done:

We ended up choosing the first one, although I like them both nearly equally. We are also sending out a close-up of her, one of the ones in the album here on multiply. The one of her at the park. Not so much the one of her being a fashion plate with the plaids and the stripes and the rubber boots...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tree time (warning: sad at the end.)

So we got the tree up Monday night and Tuesday morning Delia and I decorated it. It turned out pretty well I'd say.

My Mom made us a great tree skirt, it's a white fabric with little presents on it and she quilted it with red metallic thread and put gold rick-rack around the edge and it is just adorable.

I have highlighted a few items of interest on the tree:

First, the green rhinoceros. I bought this at a department store clearance sale when I was about 15 or 16. It's your standard shiny glass ornament but it's shaped like a rhinoceros and it's green. To me it's just not Christmas without the green rhinoceros.

Next, Wonder Woman. We bought her at a garage sale a few years back. I generally am not that fond of merchandising on my tree, i.e. no Mickey Mouse or Spongebob ornaments or whatever, but something about WW just cracks me up. Another exception to this is that we have a few ornaments featuring "Snoopy and that Wittle Pigeon," as Delia puts it. They are plastic, therefore durable, and Delia likes to play with them, so we keep them.

At the bottom is the tree skirt, which I know this is not the best picture of it but at least you see it in its natural habitat.

To the right at the bottom are some ornaments I've labeled "Todd's ornaments." Todd Asay was a friend of mine who disappeared one night in May of 1986. His stuff was still there in his apartment, his bank account intact.

They found Todd's skeletal remains years later, buried in a water-heater box under a shed in his killer's former yard. This was on Christmas Eve day in 1999. He'd been shot to death, maybe after the murderer discovered Todd wasn't a woman. (Tip to men picking up prostitutes: the ones you pick up around the gay clubs might not be women. Just FYI.) The only "good" news is that they did catch his killer. Unfortunately it was after he'd also murdered his estranged wife in a grocery store parking lot. I was at work with my latte and my paper and when I opened the paper, there was the article about Todd, all these years later.

He was a drag queen and a dancer at a female-impersonator club (Darcelle's, it's quite infamous hereabouts) and occasional prostitute. He was also a great guy, a sweet man, funny and smart. One year he and I made Christmas stockings and he made these ornaments out of the scraps. I still have my stocking. Delia plays with the ornaments. I'm not sure when, if, or what I'll tell her about Todd. He would have loved her. He should be here.

I think about him every year around this time, when I unpack the Christmas stuff. It makes the holidays rather bittersweet.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Student's Remorse

Okay, so I worked really hard to get here. I'm about to enter nursing school. I took all the prereqs, got all the shots and tests done, submitted my fingerprints, etc. etc. Now, I'm starting to have some second thoughts...

Today I went to Euphemism College and paid my tuition. That was close to a thousand dollars. Then I went to the bookstore. Maybe I should have waited a day or two, for the shock to wear off.

First I tried on a lab coat. Mmmmm, all starched and white and professional... And on sale. Yay! Then I picked up some shoulder patches, because the handbook clearly states that we must sport one on the shoulder of our scrub top and our lab coat. So far so good. Now we move on to the textbooks.

Okay. Here's a couple I need... "Required".... "First year students take one of these pieces of paper up to the register." Okay.

"Brace yourself," said the cashier, "this might sting a bit."

SEVEN HUNDRED THIRTY FOUR DOLLARS AND EIGHT CENTS later, I leave feeling like that bear on the nature program, the one with the dart in its butt and a big NO.8 spraypainted on it and a radio collar around its neck. Dazedly I drive to the loading dock and wait for a chipper woman of a certain age to bring the hand truck. The hand truck with boxes of books. Plural. She cheerfully hefted them into my car while telling me that they used to pack it all in one BIG box and this way is much easier.

I give you, my beloved internets, a photo of today's haul. This is not including the three titles that I will get in pda format after my Palm arrives, which should be a couple more days.

The top book on the left and the top two on the right were the ones I got off the shelf; the rest are from the boxes. I guess this is why they recommend a rolling backpack, which we were told by the students we met at orientation was absolutely necessary. I have one that I bought off the interwob but I worry now that it's not going to be big enough...

The good news (if indeed there is any) is that we will not need to buy many more books in the next two years.

Next task: shoes... The ones I hoped would work from the bookstore are too narrow in the toes. I'd be cranky and exhausted by the end of the day on clinical days. Nobody needs that. So, I'll need to get some tennis shoes or something.

What is it with the lights?

I'm putting the lights on the tree.

How is it that I put the perfectly-functioning lights away in January, all carefully coiled and in a protective box, where they remain untouched all year, and in December there is always at least one string that doesn't work? And where do all the extra tiny bulbs go? And why don't they fit, and why are they so hard to pull out?

This year I'm buying some LED lights if I can find them on clearance the day after Christmas.

I'm about two minutes away from being done with the lights but I'm weary of the scratchy needles on my arms and the lights that are burned out and the fact that I'm doing this by myself as always.

Monday, December 10, 2007

For Crying Out Loud

So this evening my cousin calls me. Here is an open letter to my Dad in response to that call.

(Backstory: my Dad called me on my 40th birthday to tell me he was moving.)

Dear Dad,

Okay, fine, you're moving across country again (which you said you'd NEVER do). Fine, I can accept that. You got rid of your whole household of stuff by offering it to other people before mentioning it to your kids. Fine, fine. Now, evidently (since I'm hearing this second hand, I can only guess), you feel that your dog is reacting badly to all the disruption and you're worried that he won't do well on the cross-country drive, so rather than act like any normal person and maybe, oh, I don't know, talk to a veterinarian? Get some medication to calm the dog? -- you've decided that you might just have to dump the stupid dog off on Grandma. Not that she's offered to take him. Or anything like that.

Dad, she's 81 years old. She lives in a small trailer and travels a lot in a small motor home, she doesn't have a lot of room. She has a limited income. Are you going to pay for the dog's food and vet bills? I sincerely doubt you've even considered any of that. She already has a well-behaved dog that comes when it's called and doesn't pee on the rug every ten minutes. YOUR dog is obnoxious, poorly-behaved, runs away if it gets off leash, and has peed on my rug every single time it enters my home. It has bitten more than once and barks at everything that moves.

If you need to find it a home, maybe you grow a pair, get off your ass, and find a rescue operation or no-kill shelter that could find it a home? It might involve writing a check, but at least you wouldn't be sticking an old lady with the world's most irritating dog.

If you won't consider that, maybe you should think about how you treated Grandma's old dog. You were watching her while Grandma was gone someplace, and the dog (with its history of terrible abuse) freaked out, so rather than, oh, I don't know? Calling Grandma? Consulting a vet? -- you took the dog out on a walk that only you returned from. The kind that involves a gun and a shovel. I'm pretty sure that around here it's against the law to kill an animal without cause, but perhaps the laws there are different. If it had been my dog, you'd have faced charges. An animal that is suffering deserves a quiet, dignified death, not to be taken on a walk and shot by some asshole with a pistol in his pocket. The only consolation is that hopefully the dog never knew what hit her and was killed instantly, without pain.

And not even your super-annoying dog deserves that kind of fate. He's only being himself, as you raised him to be.

I used to only think of you as a thoughtless, self-centered jerk who usually kind of meant well. Now I'm not so sure.

So yeah, you might hear my name mentioned as one of the many family members who opposes this great idea you've had about abdicating responsibility for your dog, who by the way worships the ground you walk on. Probably you'll get all offended and use this as an excuse to avoid me. (Like you did when I was forced to ask you to stay somewhere else the night we brought the baby home from the hospital, because I knew that it would never occur to you that we might want some privacy that night.) At one point I might have declined to get involved because I didn't want to offend you, but, like my cousin, in fact like all my cousins, I'm just tired of how everything is about you.

I'm actually pretty glad you're moving back to Maryland. At least I won't have to feel obligated to drive up to see you, or put you up as you pass through town (usually on little or no notice), or grit my teeth and say it's okay when you miss another one of my daughter's birthdays. Like you missed all of them so far. (Three for three so far, Dad! Woo!)

Friday, December 07, 2007


Just obsessively checked my email for about the tenth time tonight and found a message that my Palm TX just shipped! YAY!

I ordered it ages ago (okay, almost two weeks) and was notified that it was an "advanced sale" item and would ship later. Up to ten working days. Which was today. It did say that on the website but I've gotten so used to ordering and having stuff shipped immediately or within a day or two that this two week business was killing me. I kept re-reading the email as if somehow it would become clear how it was possible that I ordered something that wouldn't be shipped for weeks. Because this is America and it's the 21st Century and these kinds of things only happen to other people and not me.

But it shipped today via FedEx and eventually it will reach me! Perhaps Monday even! Or Tuesday!

Let us all celebrate! Next round's on me!

Feelin' Even More Saucy

So The Best House Guest in the Whole Wide World has consented to do the legwork for me on Monday, when parking passes go on sale at Hyperbole University (where the nursing program at Euphemism College actually conducts its classes). This means getting up pretty darn early to drive out to campus and stand in line with bleary-eyed students from all walks of life. Must be early to get cheapest price! I cannot emphasize how much TBHGITWWW has completely saved my ass this past week or two.

Anyhow, in order to purchase my pass she must bring a copy of my schedule, thus demonstrating that I am a student of Hyperbole/Euphemism and therefore qualified to own one of their precious parking passes. I'm not sure why this matters so much since the campus sits high atop an otherwise unoccupied hill, far from anything else a person might want to park near, and parking everywhere else is free anyway out that far from civilization. But I digress.

So in order to print a copy of my schedule, it was necessary for me to log on to Online Services. Enter your student ID here, it says, and then your Global Pin. I dutifully did so (ever obedient as I am) only to be told in large, shocking letters that I had ENTERED AN INCORRECT STUDENT I.D. NUMBER AND/OR PIN.

Well, crap. Now what do I do? It's Friday night and the stupid offices are all closed until Monday morning. Why did I put this off until Friday night? Now I'll have to bring three dollars in exact change every single day and hope that the daily-pay lot doesn't fill up. Crap crap crap.

So, I did what anybody would do, I re-entered my allegedly incorrect information several more times just in case. Because, um, that works sometimes? Not really, but I was running out of options.

And then! I'm pretty sure Somebody Up There sensed my distress (and self-loathing) and gave me a little assist, because it occurred to me.. dimly... as if from long ago (roughly a week), that I had been issued, via email, a "registration pin." This extra-special gold-plated four-cornered pin is used only for (heavenly choral fanfare and spotlight on:) web registration.

Web registration. Web registration...

(wait for it, wait for it... )

Um... Maybe I can print my schedule off the web registration site?

ZOMG that's too easy.

So I fired up my email, retrieved the password, logged in and -- let me hear you sing it, sisters and brothers -- I printed up a copy of my schedule! I printed up TWO copies, just in case!

So now I'm feeling extra saucy. You all want to kiss me now and you don't know why, except I just told you. Now begone, shoo, you pesty internets. Leafff me to my thoughts, darlinks.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Random stuff

I'm feeling all saucy because I went out and put up the Christmas lights yesterday. I love this time of year and I'm enjoying the anticipation of how much Delia will love getting up in the morning on Christmas day and seeing that Santa came through with the goods. We went to the mall again today (as it is where the closest library branch is) and she patiently waited to see Santa again. We have a great Santa at the mall, his beard is real and he is very smiley.

We have had The Best Houseguest in the World staying here intermittently and it's beginning to take its toll on Wilbur the Cat. While Mr. Ringo Fluffypants (he of the enormous poofitude) has consented to occasional contact, Wilbur remains in hiding when Elizabeth is in the house, making for some serious neediness after she leaves. Tonight Wilbur was downright affectionate and friendly at levels never seen before in captivity. Generally her (Wilbur is female, one of those "inexperienced veterinary students" things) idea of affection is to deign to allow you to occupy the space beneath her, but tonight there was purring, nuzzling, and even a small amount of drooling. Long live the Queen!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Photos at last

Ok, so I haven't scanned the Santa picture, but I did retrieve a few things from the camera just now.

Here is my brother with his new Unimog (a 1963 Swiss 404, I'm told). I wanted a shot of the front end of it but the camera batteries had only one shot in them.

Here's a shot of the kids' table at Thanksgiving. Delia is the one in pink (on the left) scarfing jello.

Here's a shot of part of the mantel, taken in low light with no flash so it's kind of interesting.

The small framed photos are the ones we sent out in our Christmas cards in 2004 and 2005. I need to get a frame for last year's and put it up there too. The first year she was only about 6 months old and got freaked out sitting on the chair with no one holding onto her (I was just off camera ready to pounce if she tipped) so she wouldn't smile. We will take this year's as soon as the tree is up and decorated, so around next Tuesday or Wednesday probably.

More photos soon, I swear it!

Useless Blather

Seems like there are things I want to blog but no time to blog them. This is probably not a bad thing, since a lot of it would be so much useless blather. Nonetheless, this is my blog and I can blather if I want to. Brace yourselves! You may want to put a good show on in the background so you have something to amuse yourselves with whilst trudging through this entry. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Went today to get the final vaccination needed for nursing school. Good heavens. The MMR shot is the worst ever! It stings me! While I was at it, I went ahead and got a flu shot. What the heck. As long as I am going to feel crappy, I might as well feel as crappy as possible and get it over with in one go.

We are putting up some Christmas deck-uh-way-shuns tonight, Delia and I. She is playing with the entire cast of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" stuffed animal collection (a total score at Costco a few years back) and singing carols (and interesting permutations thereof) under her breath, punctuating this occasionally with questions: "Can we go to the McDonalds?" "Mama, is it Christmas?" "Is this one Wudolph?" etc. I am decorating the piano and mantel for now; we get the tree on Sunday.

Okay, so we have perhaps the finest houseguest ever. Or one of the top five, surely. Elizabeth is back in town after a lengthy and enviable tour of England and the Continent, and while she is getting established she is available for some child-sitting and house-sitting duties. We have to be somewhere pretty early lately for occasional appointments, so she has graciously agreed to stay the night here and be with Delia in the mornings until we get back, for two such occasions this week. This solved the issue of "Who can we get to come to our house at 5:30 in the morning?" The possibilities for such a favor are remarkably few.

So all of this already makes her my current all time favorite person, but then when we returned today from the first of these appointments, we found that not only had she gotten Delia to and from preschool in one piece, dressed and breakfasted beforehand even, the house showed definite evidence of tidying. Like, significant evidence. Now the pressure is on to recreate this tidiness before she returns tomorrow afternoon....

Saturday, December 01, 2007


So today the small person in my house went off to a holiday craft activity at the preschool while I, the small person's doting mother, went off to MegaToyStore and found exactly what I wanted to find for her. She saw Santa at the mall last Monday with fantastic results.

Here is a brief recap of her previous interactions with Santa:
2004: she is 7 months old, no contact with Santa as she is exactly the type of baby to scream as if she is on fire if a stranger holds her.
2005: now 19 months old, she reluctantly approaches Santa at my insistence and cries so sorrowfully that my heart tears itself out and throws itself down on the astroturfed floor of the Santa-hut. We get a photo in which her woeful eyes are red and watery.
2006: we troll past Santa at a couple of malls. I make no attempt to engage her in any Santa contact. She is observed to regard him with a combination of suspicion and longing.

2007: Pay dirt!! She sees him from upstairs and beelines down to him. When he offers her a candy cane and asks her what she wants, she tells him: "A Wittewest Pet Shop, a baby snow weopard and a baby white tiger stuffed animal, and a twicewatops." She sits on his lap and we get a great picture (which I will scan later for your enjoyment). Later as we are leaving the mall she again beelines to him and accepts another candy cane. She is enchanted. IT IS TOO ADORABLE FOR WORDS. MY HEART IS MELTING. GAAAAAAAAH!

So, because I am a doting parent, I found the snow leopard and the baby white tiger stuffed animals. The Littlest Pet Shop toy is waiting for her via Grandma, and I'm not sure about the triceratops... (specifically it is an animated Imaginext one that she wants) Santa kinda already got a boatload of Playmobil instead...

Holiday Memey Goodness!

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?

Hot chocolate. What the hell is a "nog?" And why does it taste like crap?

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?

When I was a child, all gifts were wrapped and some of them said Santa on them. Then on Christmas Eve while we were sleeping some NEW Santa ones appeared. But nowadays Santa's presents only appear under the tree while Delia is sleeping, which makes a lot more sense really.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?

Multicolored everywhere. White lights are kinda boring IMHO. But, they can look pretty in some applications.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?


5. When do you put your decorations up?

Usually two weeks or more before Christmas.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?

Cranberry waldorf salad. My mom makes the kind that has whipped cream (or as we call it, "whup cream"), minimarshmallows, tart green apples, halved red grapes, cranberries, and sugar. She sets some aside with no walnuts in it because I am allergic.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child?

Staying at my Aunt's one Christmas (on my Dad's side, my parents were divorced) with Grandma and Grandpa there sleeping on the floor like the rest of us kids. We woke up early (of course) and sang carols until the whole house was awake. We took turns choosing carols and when it was Grandpa's turn he started to sing, in his gravelly deep baritone, "You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille..." Grandma hollered, "Oh, FRED!" and smacked him. We kids thought it was the funniest thing ever.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?

I don't remember, really.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?

We go to my Mom's on Christmas Eve and open gifts with Mom, stepdad, and my brother and his family. It is a blast. Then when we get home we sometimes open one small trinkety thing at home, but usually we just hit the sack. In the morning we go to J's family thing and open more gifts. It's Delia's idea of heaven, I think, to open gifts nonstop for two days solid.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?

I put on the Christmas music station, or else throw in a cd (favorite is "Charlie Brown Christmas", Vince Guaraldi), and then I (and only I) put the lights on. Then we just start hanging ornaments until they are all hung up. No real system other than that.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?

Love It!

12. Can you ice skate?

It hurts my feet. I used to roller skate A LOT though.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?

Last year J gave me the most gorgeous tanzanite earrings and it was a complete surprise. I had never cried when I opened a gift before that.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?

Seeing my family.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?

Hm... fudge... pumpkin pie... sugar cookies (the kind you make yourself and frost and everything).

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Going to my Mom's on Christmas Eve. It feels so intimate. We eat a wonderful meal together and then open gifts. Now I'm getting all verklempt. *grabbing tissues*

17. What tops your tree?

An angel that used to be an ornament but graduated to topper status a few years back when I realized that the tinfoil-covered star with the picture of the Lucille Ball (or something like that) on it I had been using when I was roomies with a gay man wasn't doing it for me anymore.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving?

Both! I like finding gifts people like, and I like the thought that someone has found something for me. Presumably because they like me.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?

The aforementioned Vince Guaraldi album, and then I also like "Sleigh Ride" as performed by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops.

Least favorite: that stupid "Sugarplum Fairy" dance from the stupid Nutcracker. I effing can't stand the Nutcracker. Also, if I never have to hear "Feliz Navidad" by Jose Feliciano, again, it'll be the best Christmas present ever.

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum?

Hm.... not a huge fan. The small ones they hand out at the tree lot are okay. Bigger than that and I'm overwhelmed. I do like those chalky little peppermint puff things that come individually wrapped though. Mmmmm....

21. What do you want for Christmas?

Tough one. The older I get the harder it is to come up with something. Starbucks cards, to keep me caffeinated as I begin nursing school, I guess. And to see my family. And for my daughter to be delighted and charmed on Christmas morning when she sees that Santa brought her just what she told him she wanted.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Got my registration email today. The first term you don't get to pick your schedule at all, they send you your email about it and you take it and be happy. After a few false starts I managed to get it all done online so now it's official: I am a nursing student. Or will be come January 7th.

Up next: I need shoes. They have officially veto'ed Crocs (even the Bistro model which I currently wear in brown) so I have to try to find shoes that fit similarly but have a traditional closed heel -- no strap.

Also, books. The booklist for first term is about 850 bucks plus another 90 or so for a tote of practice materials. Yikes.

And, I ordered my pda! My snappy lil' Palm TX should be here... eventually. The (very reputable) company I ordered it from said it was "IN STOCK" on the website, and on the thingy I printed out when I ordered it, but then afterward it sent me an email saying the item was an "advanced sale" item which means they first must get it from someplace else blah blah blah a bunch of crap I don't remember so the bottom line is it'll be shipped from them in 5 to 7 days from the date of order. So I guess I won't see it for a couple weeks. The price was dirt cheap, it came with a free infrared folding keyboard, and shipping was free, so I can't complain. And then once it comes I can get three of my reference books on pda software, thus eliminating the need to carry around -- shudder -- actual printed matter.

Actually I am a slavish fan of printed matter, but the opportunity to not have to carry around a bunch of stuff as a harried student appeals to me greatly. Once I get proficient with my Palm, I'll be able to just whip that baby out right on the spot and look all kinds of stuff up. And look super geeky and like a total student, but it's all good. I'll still not have to haul a bunch of heavy tomes. :)

Monday, November 26, 2007


So a few weeks ago a tiny client pushed me around at work, not harming me but freaking me out a wee bit, and tomorrow morning I have been subpoena'ed to a commitment hearing for her. She evidently has not settled down while hospitalized and is still aggressive, and now they are looking to commit her to the state hospital.

I don't like participating in these things. I don't like being part of the process that sends a person to the hospital against their will for what could be months. Then again, this is a person who assaulted me (albeit rather mildly), scratched, pushed and chased another staff member out of the facility altogether, and was also being taken advantage of, financially and probably in other ways, by a slimeball she considered to be her "boyfriend." So perhaps the hospital isn't the worst place for her.

Still, it's not something I'm happy or proud to be doing. This is not my first commitment hearing, but I hope it's my last.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Uncle Craig

Delia spent the weekend at my brother's last week, and recently my sister-in-law remembered to tell me a little story about a trip to Costco that they made while she was there.

It seems that my brother separated from them and was elsewhere in the store and Lisa (his wife, my SIL) asked Delia, "I wonder where your Uncle Craig went?" and Delia said in response, "Where's Uncle Craig and his imaginary buttcheeks?"

I am still laughing. My brother is such a sport.

Albeit one with no ass to speak of.


So last Wednesday in the early evening the small person in our household took herself to the restroom. This was a positive thing as often times she puts off taking any action until it is just a bit too late, and so it’s a good thing my mother enjoys buying many pairs of tiny little underpants for her. And that we are in possession of reliable laundering facilities.

It came to pass, shortly thereafter, that there came a slightly hysterical, teary-eyed small person shrieking incomprehensibly about water, so I sprinted down the hall to find the toilet overflowing. Thankfully, with clear water, no … effluvium in evidence. We took the usual actions; turn off the water, a couple of towels to the floor, plunger to the commode, all with satisfactory results.

Here’s where my shocking lack of cognitive function is revealed: I am about to sully every towel in the house throwing them into the lake that is our hall bathroom, when the brains of the outfit suggests using the carpet-cleaning machine to suck up the water. A tank and a half (probably in the neighborhood of a gallon and a half) of water later and the floor is nearly dry. Brilliant!

Cut to Thursday morning. I get up early and prep the turkey for the oven, halfway enjoying the quiet as I stuff its various orifices – oh the barbarism! I preheat the oven. I clean up as I go. All is going well. Perhaps a little too well… I have purchased one of those aluminum roasting pans at the supermarket as our roaster is too small for the glorious 22.5 pound behemoth turkey we have this year. Although it is cunningly made with a sort of platform on which the turkey will sit, slightly raised from the bottom of the pan, I with my huge brain think, “That little platform thingy will surely be inadequate. There must be some way that I can f*ck this up. I know – a wire rack!” So, barely able to walk upright balancing my gigantic intellect on my shoulders*, I fetch the wire rack from the too-small roasting pan, and load up the stuffed, brined, potentially delicious bird.

Then I pick the pan up to put it into the oven, and of course the pan bends a bit from the weight of the bird, and the wire rack pokes holes in the pan, and the briny drippings begin to leak out, and the world ends, and there is chaos, and a shadow befalls the earth and the locusts begin to plague the land, and there is much cursing and bellowing.

Fortunately J’s sister lives directly across the road, and while I am dispatched to the supermarket for another pan (strictly as a precautionary measure, you see, but while I’m here it would be a shame not to avail myself of this convenient Starbucks within the store), she is summoned with her pan to try it out for size. The turkey just fits and in celebration I procure a round of Expensive Coffee Beverages for the entire household, children inclusive.

This morning I returned to her many shiny items, including the pan, a corkscrew, a serving dish (brought full of extra stuffing, because you can’t have too much stuffing), and a turkey platter. Clearly there are benefits to living across the street from a better-equipped sibling. Doubtless she is starting to rethink the wisdom of informing us, three years ago, that the lady across the street was thinking of selling her house and perhaps we'd like to come have a look at it?

* Sarcasm; I am neither excessively brainy nor in possession of burdensomely large intellect.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ah, the holidays.

So we're having Thanksgiving here. Should be around 12 adults and 6 children (ages 7.5, 7.5, 5, 3.5, nearly 3, and 2.5).

The house is mostly clean, just a bit of dusting and last minute tidying to do. Sometime in the next 24 hours the following will take place (in semi-chronological order):

Baking of two pumpkin and two apple crumb pies, from scratch including crust, by yours truly (okay, the pumpkin is in a can, but other than that)
Brining, stuffing and roasting of Da Bird
GRAVY! Delicious, delicious gravy.
Peeling, cutting, boiling, mashing of Da Spuds
Preparation of Ye Olde Holy Green Bean Casserole (yes the mushroom soup and french fried onion kind and I LIKE IT!!)
Saucing of the cranberries
The Ceremonial Spurning of the Relish Tray*
Filling of Relish Tray with M&M's and Kisses
Placing Relish Tray out of reach of six children under the age of 8
Setting tables
Groaning/discreetly unbuttoning pants/surreptitious napping
Enduring of houseful of in-laws
Endgame cleaning of kitchen
Collapsing from exhaustion

*The Ceremonial Spurning of the Relish Tray
(This is from a blog entry of two years ago, about my mother-in-law. I have excerpted it here because the original post is very long and nobody should have to wade through it.)

"The final straw for me was when she spurned my relish tray. That's right: she spurned my relish tray. She had insisted on bringing the pickles and dilly beans and olives, and you know it's much easier to dodge a charging rhino than to stand your ground, so we concurred. But she also brought the World's Ugliest Relish Tray to put it all in, a sort of dull putty colored swoopy thing. We showed her the really very pretty, if slightly smaller, ceramic one given to me by a friend but she scoffed -- and this was the first time I can recall consciously identifying a scoff on the fly, so you can see why I'm so eager to blog it -- and said it wouldn't hold anything."

The offspring stirs, so it looks like my day has begun. Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving, Internets!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Am I naive?

I saw a thing about agencies using GPS units in their vehicles to track where and when employees were driving the vehicles, using it to plot better routes among other things, resulting in all kinds of benefits to the agencies such as decreased fuel consumption etc. And, a few people have gotten in trouble for misusing vehicles, going shopping or to the gym when they were supposed to be working, going home early, etc,, even some cases being terminated from their jobs. Naturally, more than a few people have gotten up in arms about "Big Brother" type complaints, including unions.

Now, I believe that unions certainly have their time and place. And this is not union bashing. My response to anyone, union or no, that has an issue with this: But seriously. If I own an agency and I want to use GPS to ensure that my vehicles are being used properly, that my staff are not using them to do non-job-related things on my dime, then I'm the bad guy here?

Personally, it is my belief that as long as you are on the clock and driving a vehicle supplied by your employer for work related duties, then (unless you're just stopping at the minimart for a soda or in some other non-impactful way taking care of an errand that lies along your route), your employer has every right to take you to task for misusing the vehicle. That's not Big Brother. Big Brother is when I care what you do when you're OFF the clock and driving your OWN damn vehicle.

We had a staff member at one of our houses who had a small business on the side, and she regularly used the office computer to print up her flyers. We went through ink like mad and she jammed up the printer and locked up the print manager many times before I finally had to tell her that there was a five-item limit and that the copy center was down the street.

And, at the local public utility, it is common knowledge that the entire (job type concealed to protect me from lawsuits) department gets in their service trucks, goes to a restaurant for breakfast on company time, takes lengthy lunches, and clocks out at quittin' time right on the dot. And these guys make (insanely high wages) per hour, for working maybe half the day. Your utility dollars at work, folks...

Am I just naive for having this viewpoint?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bedtime for Chickens

Yesterday we performed the annual Wintering-In of the Chickens. This year, instead of just covering the chicken hut with a tarp because it was leaky and damp inside, we moved it to under the porch roof. The chickens had been avoiding the hut since the summer when various wild critters had taken to nocturnal visits, so yesterday I not only stowed various summer accessories, and cleaned the windows, and hosed off the porch, but cleaned out the interior of the hut, installed a light, filled the feeder, and piled a thick layer of pine shavings inside.

And then stuffed the birds inside and shut the thing up tight, because we were afraid that they would still eschew the hut. The perfectly nice, snug little hut that we provide for them and for which they are obviously not the least bit grateful.

Oh, but first I had to stand on a step stool and use a broom to swat one of the chickens down out of the trusses that support the roof, because she had found a way to get up there.

So, this morning I went out and opened up the little chicken door so they could strut down the little chicken ramp, and was underwhelmed by the response. They sat inside and beady-eyeballed me and utterly refused to come out. "We're warm," they implied with their disapproving clucks and grumbles, "and the wind is a-blowing outside, and there is food here. Also, soft clean shavings which we must befoul very quickly. Begone, freakish giant, and leave us to our important chicken duties." Which I did.

Later I took some leftover grilled cheese sandwich out to fling in the grass for them. Normally when I step outside and shrill "CHICKCHICKCHICK!" at them, they literally come running as fast as their scaly little legs can carry them from wherever they have been loafing, but today? Nothing. Not so much as a peep. I looked into the hut. There they sat, suspicious and still disapproving. It was not until I waved the sandwich plate around inside the hut that Beatrice grudgingly came out, followed by Elizabeth who was making the BOCKBOCKBOCKBOCK!!! sound that she usually only makes when the cat is staring at her through the window, thereby substantially harshing her trip. Naturally once they found the sandwich in the grass they got over themselves.

I was gone when it was time to put them to bed but I am told that they took themselves inside to bask in the glory of their Holy Bulb of Warmish Goodness, so it was a simple matter to shut their little door.

Fixing up their house in the fall makes me feel all good inside.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


I totally swear this post will be shorter than the previous one which went on forever.

So my Better Half's brother swooped into town a little while back and performed various Home Repair services for us. He did this last spring and thus we have a shed. This time he crafted a garage organizer/canoe stand, mostly from scrap that he thriftily obtained from the builder's supply place we frequent (not a BigBoxO'HomeImprovement but a smaller place with better prices and no patio furniture etc). That being done, he then threw together an awesome arbor for our back patio.

I'd go into a long, boring explanation of how the sun pounds down on that side of the patio and makes it inhospitable in summer, but you don't care. Really, you don't. All you care about is the arbor, and well you might, because it is indeed awesome. Considering the materials cost less than a hundred bucks, and 30 of that was paint.

So without further ado, and kindly disregard the mess that is our pre-winter-cleanup patio, I give you The New Arbor:

It is our intent to plant viny things like perhaps grapes or wisteria on either side and let it grow up the sides and meet in the middle, but of course we can't plant til spring.

That lumpy brownish thing to the right of the center of the photo, up against the house, is a fantastic clematis that grows from a few sticks in the ground in winter to become the rampaging behemoth you see there. It blooms giant dark purple flowers all summer. It came with the house so I can't take any credit.

What else did J's brother do for us, you might ask? He fixed the front and back doors which both had deadbolt issues, repaired the sagging gate on one side of our fence, installed a new light fixture in the dining room, and shored up a light fixture in the baby's room that we installed but one screw was stripped or something so it kind of drooped.

Did I mention how much I like it when he visits?

We do pay him for his time but it's very casual and we all like it for the fun we have together too.

As if all this was not enough, he took J fishing and here is what she caught: an 11 pound silver (or Coho) salmon!

Internets, we ate it for dinner and have three packages in the freezer! And two of them are big enough to make for company! It was the yummiest salmon ever.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Assaulting Nuts

Okay, so as some of you may know I work in mental health. I used to run a group home for "persons with severe & persistent mental illness who also had medical issues that made them difficult to place in traditional community care settings," i.e. schizophrenics with diabetes and that sort of thing. I found myself in that lofty position after years of working my way up through the ranks from the lowest of the low -- part time on-call direct care working night shifts and the like.

By the way, the pay is for shit, even at Administrator level, and the stress can be outrageous. Mental health funding waxes and wanes according to the political climate, so from year to year you're never sure what to expect. Hence nursing school. At least now I will make a living wage.

So anyway, I started at TinyLittleMentalHealthAgency in 1991. Other than taking a couple years off for the purposes of not losing my own mind, and then having a baby (thereby losing it anyway), I have been there ever since. However, TLMHA has ingested other mental health agencies in Metropolis, growing ever larger and more unwieldy. Think "Jabba the Hutt." Now it is BigBloatedCorporateMentalHealthAgency. But that is fodder for another post.

I've gone back to work weekends at one facility, just for some extra dough and something to do. And I work a bit of on-call, so I ended up at yet a different facility for Friday swing shifts in November. Last night I show up for my shift and find that one of the clients, who had been absent last week, is there. I have not seen her in about, oh, 8, 9 years. She used to live at the first facility I worked for, back in the day. She recognizes me and calls me by name.

So now I'm making dinner (Swedish meatballs, which evolved into Swedish meatloaf due to some logistical issues, and turned out damn fine if I do say so) and she keeps coming over and nudging my arm with her knuckle, saying, "Let me help. I'll make the dinner." I politely rebuff her offers. She does this a couple of times. I ask her not to touch me please. Then she asks me to help her. I am sympathetic and eventually suggest she might need a prn (as needed) medication if she is having a difficult time with her thoughts. She goes and gets one from the other staff.

Five minutes later, she is back in the kitchen and this time she nudges me as before, but pretty firmly. I spin around and ask her to stop touching me. She says nothing but drives her knuckles into my ribs and propels me across the kitchen. I holler for the other staff, who comes and asks the client to leave the kitchen. Perhaps the client should go lie down on her bed. The other staff accompanies her to her room upstairs, reminding her that she is safe here and that if she needs to go to the hospital, we can help with that.

Moments later the other staff comes down the stairs yelling for me to call 911. The client chases her down the stairs and out of the house. I call, the police are on their way, I step outside to find the client returning to the house. The other staff has gone in the back door. The client goes back into the house and locks me out. The other staff unlocks the door and goes back to the staff office with the phone in her hand. She calls the Mental Health Team that comes to assess and assist with escalating clients. I keep an eye out for the police, stepping in every few seconds to see what's going on with the client. Another client informs me that they are "struggling." The client is now at the office door, reaching over the half-door to unlock it, shoving the door inward as the staff tries to keep her out. I go to assist and the client moves away from the door. I tell the other staff to feel free to lock herself in the office if she needs to. She calls the Administrator while I go again to see if the police are coming. At last they arrive.

Pretty soon we have two officers, two Team workers, the Administrator and us two staff all milling around. The client is asked to sit in a chair which she does occasionally. She gets up and tries to head out of the room several times, very purposefully (perhaps to finish the ass-kicking), only to be gently restrained by the officers. Information is exchanged, the client is interviewed, we are interviewed. Finally they take her to the hospital.

Dinner is late, but the other clients are understanding and the meatloaf is complimented all around.

As assaults go, this was small potatoes. The other staff got the worst of it (the client scratched her arm and shoved her more forcefully than me, not to mention the chasing), and it was over with quickly. But having someone become so unpredictable is stressful, the adrenaline rush is quite interesting, and we both found ourselves crashing a bit later on. I yawned uncontrollably for the last hour and a half that I was there.

This was the first time I had ever had a client lay hands on me in anger (or delusion) in all those years of working in mental health.

Oh, and the thing that really sucks? If you are assaultive and must be taken away in a cop car, you must be handcuffed. Even if you are mentally ill and can't help it, and go willingly.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Pet Noise

Recently a fellow bloggist posted a comment on my last post which read as follows: "How can you leave housepets off your list? I swear my cat saves all her grooming time for late at night. Not to mention the occasional snoring. The morning routine is no less pleasant. If you don't spring out of bed to freshen the kibble or let the beast out, there will be yowling at 5 minute intervals."

Gack, don't get me started. Our cranky Elder Cat and our fun-loving (obnoxious) Fluffy Butt Cat are constantly at it, and the early morning hours are the preferred time for skirmishing. Cat hygiene is not nearly the problem as dog hygiene, which thankfully for us is mainly limited to knuckle-chewing by one of the dogs. (I mean as far as noise goes; they do engage in hygiene, just not generally noisy hygiene.) Even noisier: dog water bowl action, especially by the larger dog who has a bit of an impairment. SLUPSLUPSLUPSLUPSLUP!

Oh, and if anyone rings the door bell, approaches the house, walks past the house, looks at the house, breathes near the house, or thinks about the house in any way, the dogs go completely apeshit berserk and bark their fool heads off until we confine them to the bedroom. They still bark there but it's muffled by the door and therefore less annoying. (But I must admit that I do feel slightly safer knowing that if any criminal types ever try to gain access to our house while we are in it, our dogs will keep them at bay for at least an extra three to four seconds, during which time we will call 911 but they won't be able to hear us for all the barking.)

Let us not forget the chickens, both hens, who occasionally go off (bock bock bock bock bock bock bock bock BA-KAWK!!!!) for no apparent reason in the early hours of the morning. Throwing them food doesn't stop them but letting the dogs out does. Must be why we own dogs. I can't think of any other reason.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sounds Not Good

A fellow bloggist posted about having sensitivity to certain sounds. This was in response to a post by another bloggist that he reads.

I don't have superpower hearing, or olfactory powers, but I am a very light sleeper. What wakes me up in the morning is not the CD playing in my little stereo -- it's the little whir-whir-whir sound of the CD when it starts to spin, just BEFORE the music starts.

Also, I'm starting to regret having a master bath because when my better half gets up to use the restroom in the early morning, she cannot remember to close the door until just AFTER flushing and the sound of it makes me just about hit the ceiling.

Close the door BEFORE you flush, dear. Like I do. Out of consideration for you and the baby, I pause and wait for the sound to die out before I slip out and pull the door closed behind me so that even the tank-filling sound is muffled.

Why can't we all be more like me?!

Also, I do not have a very sensitive sense of smell. I am thinking that this is the result of multiple sinus infections, one or two a year at least for most of my life. I am also thinking that this will only help to make me an excellent nurse.

Friday, November 02, 2007


Spent an hour in my car today.

Had an appointment at 2pm and then work at 4pm. Plenty of time to get from one to the other.

But hark! What’s this? Freeway all buggered up? Accident involving a panel truck, a minivan, and two sedans? The hell you say! And no alternate route since I’m already on the approach to the bridge.

Okay, I got past it. Still plenty of time to get to work.

….Aw, crap. Is that the gas light? How long has that been on? Dammit!

Okay good, here’s a gas station. Oh wait, this whole side is closed. It’s rush hour and there’s one pump jockey working. And two others sitting around. Why didn’t I get gas in Washington where you can pump your own?

…. Um… Hey, pimply faced recreational substance using kid, would you mind putting some gas in my car? HEY! NOT HERS! I was here first!

OMG! Everybody that got here even after me is having gas pumped into their tank! He just keeps walking past my car! WTF!!!

Fine! I’ll go to the place across the street! Chuh! Whatev! Oh and don’t you EVEN give me that “omg wtf is wrong with her” look, you little greaseball!

Well, here I am… um… OMG lady, how can you be driving a car and not know how to pop the little gas door open? /tapfingersondashboardimpatiently

FINALLY! And the kid was polite. Aw!

Great. Now I’m late. At least there is a drugstore right on the corner, I can get a caffeinated beverage to drink on shift. Aaaaah, life giving elixir...

…Oh lordy. Tell me this parking lot is not a one-way emptying out onto a super busy street, right at the corner, and nobody will let the lady in front of me in? OMG!!!
/gnashteeth /tearhair /shakefist

Screw it. Rules were made to be broken. Kiss my shiny metal ass, RiteAid! What are you gonna do, take away my birthday?

Um... hi everybody, I'm your oncall... Yeah, sorry I'm a few minutes late... Where do I put my stuff? /shakehands /feelwelcome /relax

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

100 things (A Work In Progress)

I've been kind of meaning to do this for a while but I'm not sure I can think of 100 things. I shall get started and repost when it is finished.

1. One of my legs is longer than the other.
2. When I was a child I had a black cat named Ambrose.
3. We lived in Spain from the time I was 5 months old until I was nearly 4 years old.
4. We had a gardener and a housekeeper in Spain (labor was cheap at that time) and the gardener used to cuss me out in Spanish for picking the tomatoes before they were ripe.
5. Thirty five years later my own child is picking the tomatoes before they are ripe, but I don't cuss at her, in Spanish or otherwise.
6. I do not like soft cheeses such as Brie or similar.
7. I got an A in third term calculus.
8. I am allergic to many common antibiotics.
9. Everyone in my family is taller than I am, but not by much.
10. I love Sharpies. (the pens) Especially the fine point ones.
11. I never got detention in school.
12. I can't roll my tongue.
13. There is a very dark, almost black freckle on my forehead that total strangers have tried to wipe off of me. It has been there most of my life.
14. I suffer from performance anxiety when testing, such as on driver's tests or other exams where you have to demonstrate your ability.
15. However, I enjoy written tests.
16. In 1984, I got 1300 on my SAT's, not bad considering I didn't study.
17. I was quite nervous about it and by way of encouragement, my then-boyfriend made a bet with me that I would beat at least one of his scores. I beat them both.
18. I am not particularly mechanically inclined.
19. I am good at calligraphy and can draw a bit.
20. I love to drive.
21. I do the crossworld puzzle, sudoku and jumble in the paper nearly every day. In ink.
22. I studied in Russia when it was a communist country.
23. I love rain and wind and blustery weather.
24. In high school I decided I would never become a nurse.
25. I start nursing school in January.
26. I am mildly-to-moderately claustrophobic.
27. When I was a child my brother used to occasionally stuff me headfirst into a sleeping bag while we were roughhousing. (see #26....)
28. I am a cat person, more than a dog person.
29. I love to sing.
30. I can carry a tune but I don't really have a good singing voice.
31. I secretly enjoy Renaissance Festivals and would go to one in costume but can't yet admit to that kind of geekery.
32. I love peanut butter.
33. Especially with chocolate.
34. I do not love peanuts.
35. I am deathly allergic to tree nuts.
36. I roller-skated a lot as a child.
37. I won the All-City spelling bee in the 5th grade.
38. Some friends and I went to Disneyland when I was about 27, and drank in every bar at the Disneyland Hotel (there are many).
39. Then we went into Disneyland with a glass bottle of Tropicana orange juice which we had cunningly doctored with vodka, and rode a bunch of rides drunk.
40. By the way, this is against park rules, but we didn't get caught.
41. I like to buy toothpaste in foreign countries, as a souvenir to take home.
42. I also like to buy stationery goods, such as spiral notebooks.
43. My favorite season is Autumn.
44. I don't like spicy food.
45. I have one brother and no sisters.
46. I have a tendency to try to look knowledgeable about things that I'm not knowledgeable about.
47. I have discovered that this can be detrimental so I work hard to counter this now.
48. I once had to deal with a mentally ill person carrying a deceased squirrel around in a basket for a week. (I ran a group home at the time.) She had found it in the street and thought it was "sick." She covered it up so nobody knew what was in the basket until it started to smell.
49. I secretly enjoy vacuuming.
50. I am not afraid to touch worms or rodents (safe disease free ones) but spiders totally creep me out. But only if they touch me or get too close. I don't mind looking at them from a respectable distance.
51. Once I swallowed a fishbone and it scratched my throat so bad I had to get x-rays at the ER and the next day I had to go back and get examined by an ear/nose/throat doctor because it felt like the bone was still there. It wasn't, but I got a whopping rx for codeine so at least it didn't hurt anymore.
52. I have had every single extremity in a cast at one point or another. Some more than once.
53. Stress makes me clumsy.
54. As if I needed anything to make me clumsier.
55. All clumsiness aside, I am not bad at folkdance such as contra dancing or Russian folk dance.
56. Across the street from my dorm when I studied abroad was what I was told was the newest, largest and last statue of Lenin ever erected in Moscow. Here is the actual statue, in Oktyabrskaya Square:

57. Christmas is my favorite holiday.
58. I have put my left sock and shoe on first since I was 11.
59. However, I can put someone else's shoes or socks on in any order (for instance my daughter's)
60. When "Aladdin" came out, I saw it in the theater five times.
61. Most of my stories about studying in Moscow begin thusly: "One time when I was really drunk..." or alternatively, "One time when I had this terrible hangover..."
62. I don't drink very much now.
63. I used to go to the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" every chance I got when I was in my mid-teens to early twenties.
64. As a result I had a mad, passionate crush on Tim Curry for years.
65. Perhaps I still do.
66. I once dreamt that I got into a posh, old-fashioned elevator in a fancy hotel and John Cleese was inside, along with the be-uniformed elevator operator. The doors closed, and by the time they reopened, Mr. Cleese had asked me to marry him and I had said yes.
67. I once had a dream that my father had died and it was so vivid that for several minutes after waking up, I thought he was actually dead.
68. I also dreamt once that my mother had died and that my father kidnapped me afterward and held me captive to try to prevent me from digging up her bones where they were buried in some kind of park. The bones were supposed to tell me something important. I woke up just as I was unearthing the bones.
69. I only like bananas if they are still kind of green. If there is even one brown spot, the banana is too sweet and mushy for my tastes.
70. I am a pen whore and if I find a really nice pen at work, I might be inclined to, um, liberate it. But not if it's a valuable one like something fancy.
71. I rode an elephant once at the zoo when I was a child. Most memorable thing about it: the way the elephant smelled, and the swaying. Also the bar behind me was digging into my back.
72. I once saw something that I can't explain in the sky. It looked like an egg, way up high, and the only reason I think it might have been something other than a "weather balloon" is that I watched it make a 90 degree turn. And then disappear. This was on a clear, beautiful summer day, and I was not under the influence of anything.
73. My grandmother drove trucks in Guam during the war.
74. My other grandmother was a WAC and was buried with military honors when she died 3 years ago.
75. I was in the Army.
76. Did I tell you about my flat feet?
77. I wasn't in for long.
78. I got 145 on my Defense Language Aptitude Battery. The score was so high that the recruiting office kept calling the testing center back to confirm the score. They had only seen one score higher than mine. (My friend qualified with a score of around 100.)
79. I sound really impressive here but in real life I'm quite normal and uninteresting.
80. I play World of Warcraft.
81. I came out at 22. (Mel, this is why I mentioned a boyfriend! What can I say, I was young...) It wasn't pretty and in some ways still isn't and never will be, but I am fortunate to have a wonderful family. Mostly.
82. My first car was a 1966 Chevrolet Bel-Air. Four doors, an enormous metal dashboard, and a 3-dead-body trunk that opened with a screwdriver because the lock had been popped. I was 28 years old.
83. I am an enthusiastic motorcyclist although I do not currently own one.
84. I have never colored my hair.
85. I once told off a very good friend of mine via email because I was very angry at her for something and now she's not my friend anymore. I apologized and we kind of tried to be friends but it didn't work out, she was too hurt. I'll regret it forever.


Okay, so I'm trying this out, this Multiply thing. And the first thing that happens is that when I import my blog from blogger, it scrambles the order of the posts, and now it's all mixed up.

Plus, my stupid email is hosed again (thanks, Comcast!) and I can't access it.

ENOUGH!!! Enough of the stupid hassles, life! I am up to my NECKBONES in hassles! And I have HAD! ENOUGH!!!

Okay, that being said, um, Hi Internets! Welcome, any friends of Mel's!

And, if my blog makes NO SENSE AT ALL, please be advised that it's not my fault.

Thank you.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Google-fu Meme

Borrowed from Dr. Zeus:

"From Adventures in Ethics and Science, the Google-fu meme, originated by David Ng.

I'd like to suggest a meme, where the premise is that you will attempt to find 5 statements, which if you were to type into google (preferably, but we'll take the other country specific ones if need be), you'll find that you are returned with your blog as the number one hit. This takes a bit of effort since finding these statements takes a little trial and error, but I'm going to guess that this meme might yield some interesting insight on the blog in question. To make it easier, we'll let you use a search statement enclosed in quotations - this is just to increase your chances of turning up as number one, but if you happen to have a website with the awesome traffic to command the same statement without quotations, then flaunt it baby! Of course, once you find your 5 statements, pass the meme on to others."

I had a try at this today and came up with these statements:

new motherhood gone bad
bodice 101
event whore
Gee my foot smells terrific
Chickeny goodness, and meeples

In the process I learned that "meeples" is actually a real term for something. Evidently there is a German tile-based board game, which I will no doubt never play because it involves strategy and not sheer dumb luck, and the chunky little "people" figures are colloquially referred to as "meeples."

This is a far different definition than my daughter's. To her, meeples are nipples.

I'm not going to tag anyone but hey, get on the good foot and do the bad thing, my blogmates.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Boy Is Our Face Expensively Red

So the next morning after getting GiantCableConglomerateCast phone service installed, my aunt rang me up. I answered gleefully in anticipation of crystal clear, functional phone service.

Oh, the humanity.

"Hello? HELLO? Are you there? If you're there, I can't hear you. I'll call you on your cell phone."

I don't know what made me look dumbly down at the counter, take in the two cordless units lying there, and suddenly add up the variables in my head: Intermittent service. No bandwidth issue. Two phones.

My aunt called me on my cell, we chatted a bit, and then I asked her if she could take a minute to call me back on the home phone. She did. I answered and she couldn't hear me. I had asked her to call me back again on the home phone if she couldn't hear me, so a moment later she did and I answered using the other unit. Clear as a bell.

So we just spent 120 dollars to cancel one service, installed a more expensive service, and all along the problem was the damn phone. It had just coincidentally gone teats-up right after we started service with Bonage.

I am pretty sure that it was Sunrocket's last stab at screwing us over. We got that phone free when we signed up with them.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


We recently had a less than optimal experience with an internet phone service. Let's just call this company "Bonage" since that is certainly what it felt like overall. Bend over...

We used to use SunRocket, which, once we got it operating, worked great. Occasionally there would be delays in service, never lasting more than part of a day, which I was willing to tolerate given the extreme value pricing of about 17 dollars a month for the whole enchilada -- long distance, voicemail, caller ID, you name it. And the problems were always some server issue, and they were always ass-kissingly apologetic about it.

But suddenly SunRocket went out of business, and we were faced with having to get a new provider quick. A friend of ours had had good luck with Bonage so we went with them. Plus, they were having a special for former SunRocket customers. What could go wrong?

All went swimmingly for about two weeks, and then not so much. If you called us, we could hear you but you couldn't hear us. And this was maddeningly intermittent. Also, during a time that we were fielding many important calls. Gah! We went to their website and did all the things they suggested we do. Nothing helped. Then we moved on to contacting the "customer service" department via email. They repeatedly instructed us to do all the things on the website, that we had already done, and told us that the problem was on our side. They did not have suggestions as to what the problem might be other than maybe a bandwidth issue, which seemed unlikely given the ease with which I play World of Warcraft for (cough cough) at least a couple of hours a night. They did not answer direct questions.

They did send us a new device in case the original one had gotten overheated or was defective. We were required to send the original one back within a certain period of time or face a charge. We did so. It cost us ten bucks via the cheapest route. The new device did nothing to change the situation.

By now we are getting pretty bent. We have had to use our cellphones almost exclusively during this time and our cell plan, while perfectly adequate for our usual needs, is not unlimited. We will have hefty cell bills. And we're sick of all this hassle. Finally, we call and get the phone service offered by GiantCableConglomerateCast. This will be more expensive than effing Bonage, but at least we will have service that functions, plus digital cable with on-demand and faster cable internet than before. And, if anything goes wrong? Yeah, somebody comes to our house and fixes it.

We were told that we could not discontinue service with Bonage until the day of the new hookup -- today. My better half called to discontinue and it took 25 minutes. On the cell phone of course. They offered to transfer her to whatever they call the suck-up department no less than five times. Each time she had to say No. And! Here's the parting shot. Because we didn't stay with their crappy non-existent service for six months, they are charging us for the device. And for shipping. And a disconnection fee.

So all told, this little experiment cost us close to 120 dollars in fees (from today), ten dollars postage (old device return), and oh, it's hard to say how much in cell phone bills -- probably a couple hundred over our usual amount.

I kind of wish that Bonage sent out those "no postage necessary" postcards or envelopes like credit card companies do. I have heard that an unscrupulous person might enjoy putting them in the mail empty because once they enter the postal system, the company has to pay the postage on them no matter what might (or might not) be inside. That's just what I've heard. I'm just sayin'.