Saturday, March 31, 2007


Okay, so we calculated my nursing school admission requirement points as of the end of last term. I have 46 out of 53. Gaining my certification as a nursing assistant gives me four more points, and getting an A next term would bring me up all the way to the full 53.

J showed me the statistics about admission points for the past couple of evaluation periods and 100% of applicants with 46 points and above were admitted, in both periods. A fairly decent percentage (40ish, 50ish) of applicants with either 44 or 43 and above were admitted. The tiebreaking factor is a log-in date of application and I am not sure where my log-in date stands compared to others.

At any rate, it looks like I'm in... I should know in a week or two. I would start Winter term (January 2008).


Monday, March 26, 2007

Bunny Baldness

So poor Exidor is suffering from some baldness on his back, in an area he can't reach easily. I waded through some truly heartbreaking photos and descriptions of various bunny skin diseases on the internet, but none matched his symptoms: he has no redness, no itching, no crusty stuff anywhere. Just a big and ever expanding bald area on his back.

Turns out overgrooming by a bonded mate can cause this... and I have seen Cleo groom him pretty obsessively. And they are definitely bonded. They sleep in a little pile and groom one another all the time. I had suspected she might be just wearing his fur right off but wanted to get some validation elsewhere. The cure: exercise, toys, distractions. So, we are going to borrow a no-longer-needed kid enclosure that we're pretty sure J's sister still has and see if that contains them, and if not we'll find something else for the indoor exercise. I want something kind of enclosure-y because I find that just cordoning off part of the house is not sufficient, in that it takes me twenty minutes to catch the little dears when it's time for them to go back into their hutch.

Hurrah! He doesn't have the mange!

The Oregon Coast

Went on the long-awaited beach weekend, all excited about puttering around on the shore picking up the drab shells and sand dollars between rainstorms.

Oh yeah, speaking of rainstorms? Came home early.

We were prepared for some rain, but not the constant, relentless monsooning we encountered. And which would have been kind of groovy except that staying all day with an almost-3-year-old in a motel room with no outlet for her boundless energy makes pretty much any potentially groovy circumstance Not So Groovy. We found ourselves out of dry clothes by Saturday afternoon and once it occurred to us that we were watching videos, napping, snacking, and playing with the computer, just like we do at home but at exorbitant beach prices, we decided to cut it short. So we drove home through the pouring, blowing rain.

And found that our babysitter had a) dyed her hair in our bathroom and dripped it onto the rug, and b) stolen prescription painkillers from us at some point in the past two weeks. (Hey, little word of advice: two or three pills missing from a bottle containing 15 would maybe not be noticed, but if you leave only four in the bottle -- yeah, not such a great idea, Mandy... or whichever of your little friends you might have had over. Either way, you're not coming back here. We don't need people like you or your friends around our stuff, or more importantly, our kid.)*

Great weekend huh?

On the brighter side, I just checked my grades and found that I got an A. :)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Milton Flip

Okay, so I started Certified Nursing Assistant training this week. I'm taking it at a small, homey trade school with a fantastic success rate, run by an "I'm everybody's grandma" type woman who used to be a tester for the certification board so she clearly knows what she's doing.

The school is housed in a former cheap motel that has been converted to offices and is decorated in Middle America I Shop At Wal-Mart And Believe That Scented Candles And Tabletop Fountains Are The Height Of Home Decor. Seriously, you walk in the door and --I'm so not making this up -- there is a scented candle AND a tabletop fountain going in EVERY ROOM. Including both bathrooms. Incidentally, there is a Wal-Mart literally across the street.

We started right in with the pleasantries: Hi how are you, here's your packet, watch this industrial film about The Role Of The Certified Nursing Assistant ("Not Just A Glorified Lackey, But Also One Who Makes 25 Cents an Hour More Than An Uncertified Nursing Assistant"), and then let's learn peri-care on this (also not making this up but wish I was) anatomically correct mannequin.

Peri-care, for those of you fortunate enough not to know, means perineal care. Perineal means "extremely personal private regions south of your belt buckle." The east 40 and the west 40. The whole damn enchilada. Or taquito.

(Disclaimer: Now, I'm writing this from the part of me that is still reeling from having to think about cleaning anyone's goodies but my own, and of course the baby's. The higher-functioning, future-nurse part of my brain has already moved on to more sensible ways of thinking, along the lines of, it's all just anatomy, input/output, part of the patient, needs to be dealt with discreetly and compassionately, etc. etc. But that junior-high eeeeeeuw! corner of my inner self is writing this currently, so rest assured that I will not betray or acknowledge any part of this as the nurse I will become. Honestly, I was in the hospital for 48 hours and gave birth in front of other people, some of them total strangers, and then sat there joking with the person who sewed up the damages, so this is really not a big deal. Except that I must bring it to you, my faithful reader(s), in shocking detail, for full dramatic and humorous effect. /End Disclaimer)

So, after introductions were made and the recent yet gloriously dated film was watched, we trooped down the hall and a very pretty, very fashionable, very young woman demonstrated peri-care on the aforementioned mannequin. Between the homey-yet-stagey setting and the harsh lighting, I felt as if someone would be coming by later after closing, perhaps to film some amateur porn. We were introduced to the mannequin "Billy" and shown how to give Billy's junk a bit of a wash. Yeah. Junk. Junk that can be swapped out for male junk with a mere riiiiip of velcro. Voila! Billy becomes Bill! Whichever bit of junk not in use is stored in a handy compartment in the abdomen.

Did I mention that the class that started on Monday consisted of me and two men? Uh-huh. Um, yay?

One of those men is a really nice guy who is a very young father of six with no. 7 on the way. I like him and he's smart and polite and clearly got his head on straight, other than evidently not fully understanding where babies come from.

The other man? That would be Milton.

If you are familiar with the actor Jerry Van Dyke, you may understand this reference: if Luther Van Damme went to CNA school, he'd be Milton.

Yeah, that peri-care thing? Should have taken each of us, with coaching from the instructor and the usual studently ineptitude and dumb questions, around ten minutes. Milton volunteered to be first and half an hour later he finally managed to complete the task and let the next person give it a shot. The real sticking point had to do with how to fold a washrag into a sort of a mitt on your hand and thereby create several surfaces that can each be used once on an area. Then part of the mitt is flipped over your (latex-gloved) fingers to expose a new clean area. This flip part, really more of a pulling-over, became a total ordeal. I thought the instructor was either going to throw down her clipboard and take up strong drink or else start looking around for hidden cameras. You'd have thought Milton was reviewing a complicated brain-surgery technique from the excruciating and repetitive detail he went into to try to master this skill. I am pretty sure the dummy was about to lunge off the bed and strangle him with his/her stiff, rubbery hands if he'd gone on much longer about it.

So now when I'm practicing any kind of washing skill (peri- or otherwise) I secretly call it "the Milton Flip" when I pull the washrag-mitt over my fingers to expose a clean surface.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Finals went well. Only a few questions I had doubts about on the lab final, and I had a good idea of what they probably were, so I think I did well overall. The lecture final I think I did fine with, although sometimes I get dinged a half a point here and a half a point there for little things.

So, I think the chances are likely that I got an A in the class.

Of course, between alternately studying and feeding my WoW addiction, I was up til close to 1am Friday night (yes, technically Saturday morning) and then got up four hours later to do some last minute cramming of the minute detail stuff that likes to fall out of your brain when you sleep. Like, the names of the layers of an artery wall. I knew there were three layers of tissue and two layers of elastic material in an artery, but couldn't remember their names. Sure enough, she dragged out the giant model of blood vessels and we had to name the middle layer (tunica media) and the innermost coating of a vein (endothelium). See, now, if I hadn't suddenly gotten a wild hair about looking those up in the parking lot right before I went into the exam, I would have missed them! Providential.

Then we drove off to the farm for some birthday partying and some cow birthing. J's sister is a sort of a country vet and her husband is a truck driving, mule breeding, elk hunting type of guy. They have about 50 acres and on those acres you can usually find an interesting assortment of critters: llamas, chickens, a goat, a few cows, some mules, horses, a donkey or two, maybe a pig or three... some of the stock kind of rotates, rescue animals and the like, while others are permanent fixtures. They have three cows right now and yesterday morning one of them calved. Another of them, an enormous animal, was carrying twins and ready to pop, and went into labor while we were there. Amy had already decided that when the cow went into labor she was going to pull the calves out because this cow had lost her last calves due to a difficult birth and she didn't want to lose these two also. So, while everyone watched in horror and amazement, that's just what she did. And two little brown and white calves came into the world.

Actually, I missed the whole thing. I took the baby and one of her cousins up to the house to use the potty and once we got up there, neither wanted to leave, so I sat in a recliner and read a Mule Enthusiasts Quarterly or some such while the girls played. We headed back down just in time to see Jim carrying the second calf to the pen from the chute where they had put the cow to do her calving.

We're wondering what the entertainment will be for the next birthday party.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Saturday Suckathon

Okay, so today? Today I have two finals. Anatomy & physiology lecture and lab finals both, back to back. Normally I'd have just the lab one today and the lecture one next Friday, but we are going to the beach next weekend and I kind of scheduled that before I consulted the syllabus. Whoops.

And, I was supposed to have the rest of the day to spend at my leisure, alone, doing as I pleased, but for reasons beyond my control I am obliged to then immediately get into the car and drive about an hour and a half each way to a family birthday party. Don't get me wrong, it isn't that I am resentful of having to go -- these people do the same for my child, and it's family, blah blah blah, but dammit -- I'M TIRED. I just took my FINALS. Let. Me. REST!!!!

Then on Sunday I'll be headed to church and then probably going insane with the laundry and the housekeeping and yadda yadda yadda because on Monday? Oh, on Monday I'm starting the Certified Nurse's Assistant course. Which I must take to get into nursing school. Otherwise I would never in a million gazillion years take it, because at the end of the course and after passing a board certification exam I would earn the right to engage in laborious back-breaking work for a measly 8 bucks an hour or something similar. See for yourself. Look! After twenty years of doing this, you might make 32k/year! Wowee!

The good news is that I will not have to work as a CNA, it wouldn't have any bearing on the points-based system for entrance into the nursing school of my choice and I make more as a mental health on-call anyway. And, a neighbor who lives three houses away will take care of the baby. She has watched her before and could use the extra income, so I'm happy to help her out with that and that the baby won't have to go to some scary daycare that she doesn't know. They can even come here and play with the baby's own toys and stuff sometimes if she gets whiny about wanting to go home. It all fell into place one day not quite two weeks ago. I'm glad to get it over with too, but man, three weeks of Monday-through-Friday 9am to 2pm... Ick.

But if I get an A in A&P this term and next, and get my CNA certification, I'll have the maximum points to get into nursing school. :) Yay me! So far I have a 92 average in the lab and lecture both, so I am hoping to pull off the A this term.

Back to the books.

I can't help but look on what little effing bright side there is here: in 7 hours I'll be done with finals and I'll get to spend the first two weeks of CNA class not worrying about anatomy class.

Friday, March 09, 2007

OMG!!!! I did it!

I sent my dad an email about the offensive emails he sends me! Because he recently sent me an email that I did not find particularly offensive, but just didn't feel could be true. Here is the link debunking that email:

So I composed a brief, hopefully not-too-inflammatory email to Dad about how not everything you read on the internet is true and included the URL. Then, I figured as long as I was going to do it I might as well do it right, so I mentioned the other email that I blogged about a while ago in this post and sent links about it from also.

I began a bit of a blather about how offensive it is when someone tries to attribute suicide to permissive parenting but then decided I'd done enough damage for one night and wrapped it up without any such soapboxing.

Guess what kind of reaction I will get. Go ahead, guess!

None whatsoever. If he reads the links I'll bet you cash money that he won't believe any of it and will never say anything to me about it one way or the other.

It's a bet I'd love to lose.

Meme Madness!

Another meme from yellojkt.

A- Available or Single? Nope! Been together 8 years.
B- Best Friend? My wife.
C- Cake or Pie? Must I choose?
D- Drink of Choice? Coke. But Diet Cherry Pepsi if I'm avoiding sugar.
E- Essential Item? My laptop.
F- Favorite Color? Probably blue... green... purple...
G- Gummi Bears or Worms? Gummi bears, though I'm not that fond of either since there is little if any chocolate involved.
H- Hometown? Military brat, but I consider Portland (Oregon) my hometown.
I- Indulgence? Not enough room to list them all... Probably World of Warcraft.
J- January or February? September! I love fall.
K- Kids and Names? One, daughter Delia.
L- Life is incomplete without…? Friends and family.
M- Marriage Date? We have two: Dec. 31, 1999, and March 5, 2004.
N- Number of Siblings? One brother.
O- Oranges or Apples? Mandarin oranges, good crisp Fuji or Braeburn apples.
P- Phobias/Fears? Too many to list...
Q- Favorite Quote? "Beware the lollipop of mediocrity: lick it once and you'll suck forever."
R- Reasons to smile? Good music, funny comics, little kids.
S- Season? Fall. I love the get-down-to-business, new crayons and school shoes feel of the world, and the crispness in the air and the leaves.
T- Tag 3 people? I am too lazy to tag. :) ... Oh, all right: Mel and Liz.
U- Unknown Fact About Me? I think I'm easygoing but I'm really not.
V- Vegetable You Hate? Hot chili peppers.
W- Worst Habit? Staying up too late.
X- Xrays You’ve Had? Many, many, many. Starting with full-body x-rays as an infant when they found a benign bone tumor in my leg. It was a variety that generally appears all over the place but I had only one. Since then, many clumsy accidents and the occasional bout of pneumonia have exposed me to more radiation than is probably healthy, including once when I swallowed a fish bone and they x-rayed me to see if it was stuck in my throat. It was not still there but the scratch it made was painful.
Y- Your Favorite Foods? Pizza, shrimp, chocolate, a good steak.
Z- Zodiac? Virgo, Year of the Sheep.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Meme mayhem!

THE BOOK MEME! Courtesy of yellojkt (who calls 'em as he sees 'em)

* Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror? Science fiction and/or fantasy. I used to read some Steven King but haven't in a long time (like nearly twenty years), that was about it for horror.
* Hardback or Trade Paperback or Mass Market Paperback? Prefer trade paperback but hardback for the real "keepers."
* Amazon or Brick and Mortar? Amazon if I know exactly what I want and don't think it will be at the bookstore; otherwise bookstore.
* Barnes & Noble or Borders? Aren't they more or less interchangeable? I like to browse used bookstores and thriftstores, also Powell's is just across the river although it's gotten kind of expensive.
* Hitchhiker or Discworld? Hitchhiker. Have never read Discworld.
* Bookmark or Dogear? Bookmark. The one exception is if the page has been pre-dogeared.
* Magazine: Asimov’s Science Fiction or Fantasy & Science Fiction? Uh, I guess I'm not a big enough nerd/dork/geek/whatever to have read these magazines.
* Alphabetize by author, Alphabetize by title, or random? Generally, genre and then by author or at least in a visually attractive manner. I used to be a page (book-shelver) at the library so I know my craft, but I'm just not that anal about them at home.
* Keep, Throw Away or Sell? Keep the ones I can't live without, sell the rest.
* Keep dust-jacket or toss it? Keep unless it's already tatty.
* Read with dustjacket or remove it? Remove, because otherwise it drives me insane.
* Short story or novel? Novel. A good short story just leaves me wanting more anyway.
* Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket? I read a little Lemony and it just didn't appeal to me. I'm a bit fanatic about Harry Potter though... :)
* Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks? Usually when tired but I try to make it to chapter break if possible.
* "It was a dark and stormy night" or "Once upon a time?" Either.
* Buy or Borrow? Buy if it's important enough, borrow if it's just recreational. I can't afford the expense or the space to store books I may or may not love.
* Buying choice: Book Reviews, Recommendation or Browse? Browse and some reviews.
* Lewis or Tolkien? Both for very different reasons.
* Collection (short stories by the same author) or Anthology (short stories by different authors)? I'm not that into short stories, so neither.
* Tidy ending or Cliffhanger? Tidy ending please.
* Morning reading, Afternoon reading or Nighttime reading? Nighttime, but all day if it's a good one and I can find other times to read than just before bed.
* Standalone or Series? Either if they are good, but most series should really only run a few books long and then stop. These ones with 47 books in them are usually pretty formulaic after the first few.
* Favorite book of which nobody else has heard? : Sexing the Cherry" by Jeannette Winterson
* Top 5 favorite genre books of all time? Too much to think about, I don't read all these genres.
o Classic Science fiction:
o Modern Science Fiction:
o Classic Fantasy: Lord Of The Rings
o Modern Fantasy:
o Mystery:
o Thriller:
* Favorite genre series?
* Currently Reading? Um... mostly textbooks currently.

Fogey Central

Saw Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, Joe Ely and Guy Clark in concert last night. I went basically to see Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt, having never heard of the other two guys. I frankly still don't know who they are and wasn't that taken by their music (liked it but did not love it) but they could all play some fantastic guitar.

So, Lyle Lovett is kinda petite. He's got little skinny legs. (And great big hair, still, though not as exaggeratedly so as in the later 80's/early 90's when I became a fan.) And it was funny how they had different styles of playing. John Hiatt has kind of a muscular style, Joe a bit of a rockstar thing going on, Guy a kind of relaxed old-guy manner, and Lyle? Kinda delicate. They are all of a certain age, and good heavens, so was the audience. I was definitely on the younger end of the demographic, and frankly that just doesn't happen as often as it used to.

They sat in a row, Lyle on the left (my left, is that stage left?), then John, then Joe, then Guy. They started with Guy and worked their way on down the line, each one playing and singing a song, with purportedly no playlist and no particular agenda (and no clue, according to Guy). Generally they did their songs solo or with one other person assisting: Joe would accompany Guy, John would accompany Joe or Lyle, but Lyle and Guy didn't really join anyone. I was a little disappointed in that, I had kinda hoped for more of a "jam" feel, but it was still a lot of fun. They would start over at Guy each time and went through the lineup several times, then did one song all together, then left the stage to a standing ovation and came back immediately for an encore. The time-honored concert tradition, just like how one moron has to yell "Freebird!" and some other morons have to find this hilarious and original and applause-worthy.

So, despite the repeated ridicule by a certain probably Neil Diamond fan blogfriend, we had a fantastic time and I remain a devoted Lyle Lovett fan. And now I would definitely go see John Hiatt in concert too.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Next Step

All of a sudden I'm going to take the CNA (Certified Nurse's Assistant) course starting March 19th. Good heavens. It all just came together yesterday.

I have to take this course to start nursing school; no way would I ever work as a CNA because they do all of the crap work and get peanuts for it. I will be doing plenty of crap work as a nurse anyway, and I can make twice as much (nearly) working oncall in mental health. But! I do solemnly swear (laying hand on copy of Gray's Anatomy) to treat the CNA's that I work with in the future as if they were real, actual human beings, and I will encourage them to become nurses or whatever it is they want to do, because they too deserve to make a living wage. I have worked my share of dead-end, no-future jobs. We all deserve to move on to greener pastures.

Anyway the course is 9a-2p every weekday for 3 1/2 weeks, and the board exam is something like April 21st. A lady down the street will watch Delia for us and we will pay her good money, so I feel good that I won't have to find child care someplace else and the baby won't have to go someplace new and scary. And from what I hear they are scraping by a little at the moment and could use the money, so that makes me feel good.

Funny how things work out when you need them to. We also managed to find a babysitter at short notice for a concert tonight. We're going to see Lyle Lovett. I've had the tickets for ages but spaced off getting a sitter...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A Prodigy. No, seriously!

It's official: Baby is a potty-training prodigy.

Yesterday we just stayed home all day and worked on the whole potty concept. I put her in a pair of sweatpants and reminded her to use the potty occasionally and -- drum roll please -- she did it! All day with no diaper and no accidents! She went all on her own a few times even, would just run over and yank her pants down (or yank her pants down and then hobble over; she's a little unclear on the order of events) and yell to me, "MAMA! I'm going PEE PEE!" I even dragged the potty outside so she could avail herself of it while playing (mostly just to spare the carpet from her muddy boots).

Then, we went to the floor store to make our final decision about flooring, after which we went to a local Mexican restaurant that we like a lot. Baby always eats like a horse there. Well, more like a pig really. I had not taken a diaper bag with me (she was in a Pull-Up) so had no baby wipes with which to clean her up, so I took her to the restroom to wash her slimy, bean-encrusted appendages. Before we left the table I asked if she would like to use the potty and she said Yes!, but I wasn't that sure if she'd come through in the clutch. Woah! I put her up there on the big, scary, adult-sized toilet and she made it look like she'd been using one of these old things forever. Not only that but I was hanging on to her so she wouldn't have to balance and she told me, "Mama! Let go of me!" Now I think she's just showing off...

You know they say that one day it just clicks for them and they just potty train like a dream if you don't push it, and for crying out loud, it looks like it's really true. We just offered some incentive and she was all over it like a duck on a junebug. Go figure.

An amusing anecdote involving the cat: Baby's potty is a Fisher-Price "Royal Flush" potty that makes a fanfare sound when it is sat upon or when (ahem) a "contribution" is made therein. Well, the resident doofus cat Ringo (the Doofus King is his new title I think) discovered that if he stuck his paw into the bowl of the potty, he could trigger the fanfare sound. Yeah, so for several days he could be found leaping around the potty sticking his foot in it and listening intently to the noise. Repeatedly. Over and over again. Until the battery wore out.

Yep. Probably a good thing he's neutered. We wouldn't want any of those genes passed on.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Book meme

Stolen, as many of my better memes are, from yellojkt.

* Bold the ones you’ve read
* Italicize the ones you want to read
* Leave blank the ones that you aren't interested in.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)

2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)

5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien) Read these books aloud to J. as we drove to Alaska a few years ago. Actually ran out of time and didn't quite finish the last book though.

6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)

7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)

8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)

9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)

10.A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)

11.Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)

12.Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)

13.Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)

14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)

15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)

16.Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)

17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald) -- started but never finished.

18. The Stand (Stephen King)

19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)

20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)

21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)

22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)

23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)

25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)

26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) -- Actually have an autographed copy of the trilogy with a bonus short story (Young Zaphod something something). Very sad when he died. Also have autographed towel though it has gotten somewhat worn.

27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)

28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis) Just a few years ago.

29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)

30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)

31. Dune (Frank Herbert) Long, long ago. I wasn't that into it.

32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)

33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)

34. 1984 (Orwell)

35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley) -- started, couldn't finish.

36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)

37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)

38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb) -- tried it, didn't get what all the fuss was about.

39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)

40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)

41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel), or, Ayla the blond girl discovers everything including the missionary position.

42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)

43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)

44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)

45. Bible – not cover to cover, but enough to get the gist of it.

46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)

47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas) -- an old favorite.

48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)

49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)

50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)

51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)

52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)

53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)

54. Great Expectations (Dickens)

55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald) -- skimmed this but never really read it.

56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)

57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)

58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)

59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood) -- tried to read but couldn't.

60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)

61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)

63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)

64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)

65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)

66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)

68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)

69. Les Miserables (Hugo) -- didn't read but saw on DVD. :)

70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding) -- a big, big favorite. The movie was actually not bad either.

72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)

73. Shogun (James Clavell)

74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)

75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)

76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)

77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith) -- read and re-read a gazillion times in junior high and high school.

78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)

79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)

80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)

81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)

82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)

83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)

84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)

85. Emma (Jane Austen)

86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)

87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)

88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)

89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)

90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)

91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)

92. Lord of the Flies (Golding) -- Tried to read in high school.

93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)

94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)

95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)

96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)

97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)

98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)

99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)

100.Ulysses (James Joyce)


Not only did we learn this morning that J gets a bonus at work, but the baby got up and used her potty! It just doesn't get any better than this, folks.

Last night we went clothes shopping. I got a couple pairs of capris and a shirt and a sweater, J got some pants and shirts, and we got the baby some new water shoes, you know the kind you wear in the water. They are great for your natural environment type water play, like where there is gravel, and I like for her to wear them at the pool so she does not get foot-rot from the showers. Baby has undergone explosive foot growth lately and last summer's pair no longer fits her massive gunboat feet.

Initially I selected a pair in a festive bright blue and green (i.e. kind of "boys") color scheme but as we prepared to depart from the rack they were hanging on, Baby's tiny little girlish voice pipes up, "I want the pink ones!" Followed by a sigh from J, who cannot believe that our daughter loves pink more than any other color in the whole world. We got her the pink ones, but J retaliated by buying a Tonka dump truck for her to play with in the dirt in our garden.

You know, while wearing her pink kitty cat rubber boots. :)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Very Big Girl

So, I have been trying not to get anxious about potty training. For the baby. I myself have been successfully trained (more or less) for years, but the baby has been happily soiling diaper after diaper since birth, oblivious to my urgent attempts to influence her behavior via psychic messages. "Magically develop the urge to use the potty!" I would beam to her with my mind, "Suddenly eschew even the Pull-Up!" .... Alas, to no avail.

You know, to motivate someone you have to figure out their particular currency. We tried personal competition by holding up one of her little friends as an example: "Look, Julia is going to go use the potty! She doesn't wear diapers anymore. She uses the potty!" This was met with complete indifference. She could care less! Look, the diaper afforded her total freedom -- why, she could continue playing right through those pesky bodily functions with no interruptions. Sure, changing time was kind of irksome, but it probably took less time than constantly having to run off to the restroom. No thanks.

We tried a minor reward in the form of a Pull-Up. See, these have cartoon characters on them! But the catch is you have to sit on the potty to earn the right to wear them. She decided it wasn't worth the personal toll it took on her to sit on that potty. Thank you but no.

Finally I tried what Julia's family used as a motivator: the garbageman. He was so happy to haul Julia's binky away he gave her a present! He was so happy to stop taking dirty diapers away that he brought her another one! So, we told the baby that the first time she went pee in the potty, The Garbageman would bring her a neat present!

She mulled this over for a day or so and suddenly last night she became extremely focused. For two solid hours she sat on the potty or played near it, bottomless, and anytime we tried to dissuade her because it was getting late, she very emphatically informed us that she wanted to Go Pee-Pee! In! The! Potty! ALL BY MYSELF!!! So, we let her be until it got so late we just had to pack her off to bed with promises that she could resume in the morning.

This morning she was back at it within minutes of getting up. She continued for about an hour in the same vein, bottomless, lingering on or near the potty as she played and watched a cartoon, until finally just as I was dozing off on the couch I heard J shouting joyfully, "You DID it!" I sprang up to witness the first peeing in the potty. Jubilation! Huzzah! Etc.! And then ran to fetch the wrapped gift from The Garbageman, as promised. A little miniature post office with letter carrier figure, scooter, mailbox, and tiny letters to mail. She grooved on it. I was just glad I had bought and stashed that post office toy last year, intending to give it to one of the nieces.

After this momentous occasion we told her that the first time she went, uh, you know, in the potty, The Garbageman would bring her another present. And then I raced to the store to buy it just in case she pulled it off anytime soon. She didn't even really want to stop for breakfast until we plied her with frozen waffles topped with blueberries.

Go baby! Yay!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Good News! Nothin' but Good News!

Ok, so we have this car. It's paid for and (of course) out of warranty. And it has this misfire problem. We took it to two garages and neither could find the problem. So we just let it be, and finally after more than a year the problem got to be bad enough that we had to just bite the bullet and take it to a dealership service department.

Now, generally I consider car dealerships to be the very devil. I think the process of buying a car, wherein you may or may not get as good a price (or as screwed) as some other schmuck just depending on, oh, I don't know, moons, tides, etc. -- that's just wrong. It's f*cked up. And a huge sleazy waste of my time. And I don't know about you, but if there's going to be a huge, sleazy waste of my time, I'd rather it involved more gratuitous nudity than your average car sales transaction. At least the ones I've been privy to thus far.

And service departments? Please. Six hundred dollars for a tuneup? That's just nuts.

But! The service guy called today and told me that the car had lost (or blown or something) some kind of valve and that's what was causing the "hesitation" problem and the engine light coming on and so forth. The part and installation to fix this: oh, in the four hundred dollar range, plus tax. Ok, so that actually didn't bother me too much because I was worried the problem was much worse and exponentially more expensive than this, like the engine was being dissolved by exotic aluminum-eating insects and would have to be replaced for more than the car cost new, etc. The bad news: the broken part had taken the catalytic converter with it. "Oooooh," I said, "those are spendy aren't they?" "Yes," he said, "they are, BUT! I can get that covered for you under the Mazda Something Or Another (I've really got to start writing this crap down) Warranty Program, free of charge."


"But," he said, and it sounded as if he was worried I'd tear him a new one right through the phone line when I heard this, "I don't have either part in stock and it'll be at least Monday before I can get them."

Are you kidding me? A year's worth of worry, anxiety, and hassle, and it will cost a mere five hundred bucks and less than a week out of my life for someone else to fix? Good heavens, man, I'd wait a MONTH and pay -- okay, five hundred is pretty much my limit, but you get the idea.

Hurray! Yippee! Etc.!