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