Monday, April 30, 2007

There Are Choices

I slept on the couch last night. The last straggling remnants of The Plague (I've taken to calling it the Vegas Strain) augmented The Husband's snoring to epic levels. A whole room away I could still here him. I was probably doing some record breaking myself, but since I'm the one it bothers, I was the one who moved. This morning I woke up, hacked and coughed for a while and then blew my nose.

This is the TMI part. Those of you of delicate disposition, just look at the cute kitten.

Blood always looks more interesting when it's mixed with green snot. It's even more interesting when you keep blowing clots of the mixture from your nose so that you KNOW this stuff is PILED UP IN YOUR HEAD. It's in there, leaching away from your brain. That's why you feel so stupid as you stare at it.

And then your nose bleed starts in earnest. Glory. Yay.


Ok, all you shrinking violets, it's safe now.

I've just brought Ophelia home from the vet. Her sugars are elevated, of course, and she has to start insulin again, but there will be much monitoring going on. Ah, yes, monitoring. Just what every cat loves, to have every meal and bowl movement monitored. But she's going to stabilize soon. She's certain ACTING like her usual snarky self. It took me five minutes to get her into the carrier, and I had to spontaneously grow an extra arm to do it. I have a cold. It's not easy popping those spare limbs out when I have a cold.

I actually had some other thoughts today, but I can't remember what they were, although while I was thinking them they seemed very deep and relevant, and even a little wise. I'm pretty sure they had nothing to do with the bloodsnot.

Oops. Sorry, delicate people. But, really, you should be used to it by now.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Of Cats and Cranks

I have moved up to the All Prizes Included level of my headcold. I have coughing. I have sneezing. I have an awful taste in my mouth all the time. I have a crusty nose. I have even LESS voice than I had yesterday. I have a head stuffed with a mixture of toxic sludge and glass shards.

I am also cranky. If you could taste what I'm tasting, you'd be cranky. The whole world would be cranky, and walking around with its tongue hanging out.

The Ophelia seems recovered from her adventures of yesterday. She spent the night in her little crate with her own litter pan covered with the magic paper sprinkles the Vet gave us that will detect when her sugar is elevated. She ate pretty well yesterday and again this morning. She is currently sleeping on the bed just an arm's reach away, purring and snoring occasionally.

We tried to check her sugar level last night, but it is INCREDIBLY difficult to use a glucometer on a cat. We gave up. Not that she fought us -- she's being suspiciously patient about all the poking and prodding she's had to endure, which is so much NOT normal Ophelia behavior. As if to prove she was feeling better, she bitched somewhat when we clipped her toenails last night and was downright huffy about it. Of course, now she isn't snagging on everything.

So, today we do the same thing -- crate for special food, try to check her bloodsugar. No insulin though. Tomorrow, once again to the vet. Joy. The Emergency Vet said she could have already gone into remission (wow, that would be sudden) which means the insulin would be poison to her. Sheesh, this is complicated.

The one fun point is watching Pooty and Ben try to figure out how to get the leftover food out of the crate (Ophelia is a nibbler and always has leftovers). Pooty, in particular, has a very long paw. There's a towel in the bottom of the crate and he had hooked it to drag the little paper plate of food close enough. Very smart cat. Also, greedy.

Ok, time to go back to my snotball paradise.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Mui Meow Drama

Ophelia had her first hypoglycemic episode today. Being Ophelia, she did it in fine dramatic style. While trying to cross from the couch to my chair via the end table, she lost all coordination and slid into a small wooden trash can, landing so that she was suspended between her chin and one back leg.

And then she didn't struggle to get out.

It was unnerving. We fed her a little, and she seemed to recover, wobbling away from the food to the bedroom and crawling into the chair. Once there, she got glassy eyed and drunk looking.

Oh, and she pooped. I was carrying her back to the food to encourage more eating, and instead I got pooping. She didn't actually get ME, but it was a close thing.

So, an expensive trip to the emergency vet where they made sure she hadn't been hurt in the fall and they gave her an IV with some dextrose. They gave us some advice on helping her if her sugar drops (Kayro syrup on her gums) and said to see our vet on Monday.

Currently, she's in her little segregation pen (Calico's old crate converted to kitty use) eating some of her special diet food. It's canned food, so of course the furry sharks were circling until The Husband put out El Cheapo canned food in the kitchen. There is contentment. She's not particularly happy with the pen, but she only has to be in there while she eats and when we have to test her sugars (via little strips in her litter pan, which, of course, also must be segregated). She's currently expressing her unhappiness, but if she finished eating, I can let her out.

The drama, of course, was only intensified by me rushing out of the house IN MY PAJAMAS with The Husband and a floppy throw-rug of a cat. I have moved to the headache/disgusting cough part of my cold, still with not much voice, and a generally prickly attitude. I was picturing having her euthenized, imagining broken limbs or some such horror that are beyond our means to repair and nurse. The diabetes is quite expensive enough, thank you.

Damn it, but I love my cats.

WARNING

To those poor folks who find my site via my Live Journal Feed -- I have to update some old posts as part of my ongoing anal retentive need to have everything tagged properly. You might want to remove the feed for a few days so you won't have to see all the regurgitated posts.

You have been warned.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Competition

The Husband has just purchased himself a new Techo-Phallus - one of those Treo cell phones. It's red and wide and fancy. He has Bluetooth things and Infrared things. It has a touch screen and it has a camera. It has a million goodies he can download.

I may never see him again. However, I'll be able to hear him playing with the Ring Tones.

Paper and Plastic

When I get bored with "World's Wildest Police Videos" and my head is less drippy, I am packing books. They have to be packed eventually, so I'm starting now. I'm only packing the ones I've read and only paperbacks. I'm putting them in plastic bags and then into the cheap cardboard file boxes from Office Depot. I have bags that will hold a normal sized paperback -- the kind with about 200 pages -- and a lot of comic book bags. The other size I need isn't available right now and I've used all mine up. I may have to go through and pull skinny books out of them. I don't know how long they may be stored, so I want to preserve them as best I can.

The whole time I'm thinking about the books I'm packing. The larger bags will hold two or sometimes three books, and in the odd way my brain works, it's somehow disrespectful to put James Herriot in with John Irving, but Kurt Vonnegut should be right next to Tom Robbins, and Anne Tyler is ok next to Banana Yoshimoto. I put my copy of the Communist Manifesto in with Mary Renault's The Persian Boy, though. That made me laugh.

I went through the science fiction and fantasy a while ago, and just added to those three boxes. Now I've got another two boxes filled, and I'm having to fit in the trade size and odd sized paperbacks. I don't know quite what to do with the hardbacks yet. I know from watching my friend the Book Pimp (aka Evil Book Lady, but she's been sick with the same crud I have, so I'll go easy on her) that you have to fit the hardbacks in as best you can. I was thinking about just getting the huge supply of plastic grocery bags I have and using those to provide a little protection. Books in a box will get moist and buggy, even with a little cat fur thrown in.

My shelves in the library are starting to look practically normal, with few double stacks. I've had to stop myself from rereading several times -- two pages of The Three Muskateers, the opening chapter of The Beekeeper's Apprentice, a random section from The Accidental Tourist.

I really do love my books. It would be has hard to live without them as to live without The Husband or the cats.

No Change

I'm still a grumpy snotball.

Somebody entertain me, dammit!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Oh, By the Way

I really fucking HATE having a cold. I don't blame anyone for it -- germs are, after all -- but this whole "My head is a water balloon, my throat has fire ants, and I have the attention span of a fruit fly" sensation is just OLD.

Maybe I just need a nap. Damn cold. Feh, germs.

Ophelia Update

Ophelia has returned!

She's doing a lot better. We have to give her insulin twice a day now and there will be a little fuss once a week to test her sugars, but in general she's obviously feeling and looking better. It will be a little while before her fur and skin recover, and she needs some serious spa time.

She's been home about 15 minutes and she's already toured the house three times. There is a lot of the typical "Who are YOU?" going on -- I mean, it was a whole week! -- but I've heard no screaming or hissing yet. She's just making sure we didn't pull out any rooms and making sure the food dish is still around.

Cats.

There's No Place Like Home

We pulled into our own driveway around 11:30 last night, and were in our own bed by midnight. The cats show signs of remembering who we are.

The drive was relatively uneventful. We stopped in Atlanta for a short visit with Miss S, who was looking lovely and sounding positive. She was, of course, very interested to hear that we might be relocating to an area much closer to her.

After that, the single most unusual event to take place was later, when the cold I have decided to exhibit itself in a sudden and entirely unsharable manner. Let's just say I was driving, then I was sneezing, and then I needed to stop driving due to the trauma. Yech!

Speaking of which, the cold has deprived me of my voice (like I am so surprised about this) and is not doing any favors for The Husband, either. We live on Dayquil and Niquil.

Well, it's time to start my day. There's unpacking and laundry, and I get to retrieve my kitty Ophelia from the vet. I'm hoping for good news there. They've had time to do all the tests and I should know exactly how to treat her diabetes.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Door to Door

I'm sitting in the student center of The University To Be Named Later, waiting for The Husband to return from a presentation he was asked to attend by those Powers Who Make Decisions.

I'm liking the Capitalized Words today. Makes those common nouns stand up and act like proper nouns.

There is a small Barnes and Noble downstairs which we toured earlier and where I saw, oh, 7 or 8 books I'd like to get, but I restrained myself to a lit mag that I had never seen before. I read a couple of essays, some poems, and one story before I felt sufficiently stuffed with artistic literature. Then I popped open the computer and read comics.

There are two people sitting across from me. Both are students, or student age. The young man -- I want to call him a boy, he's that fragile looking -- is wearing a long sleeve button down shirt tucked into slacks, and flipflops. The young woman -- she's more woman than girl -- is neatly dressed with makeup and real shoes. He is conducting some manner of interview with her. She gave him a resume and he's asking questions. I have no idea of the specifics. They both laugh nervously from time to time. At first, when she walked up, I thought they might be meeting for some manner of date. She sits with her legs crossed and her hands folded, the picture of ladylike behavior. He's slumped in his chair, one foot across his knee, the flipflop bobbing up and down, much more relaxed. Their conversation is fairly businesslike, with occasional tanjents into topics that reveal their youth. I wish I'd had something to copy down bits of their earlier conversation -- his constant replies of "Cool, cool." and her nervous, short laugh. I find myself trying to memorize them. I sense a story there. I don't want to think about it too much for fear of killing the seedling with too much attention, but I didn't feel comfortable whipping out my notebook and scribbling things down. So I'm doing it here, in the computer. Somehow, that seems less intrusive on them.

As soon as the presentation is done, The Husband and I start driving that last leg of our trip home. I'm tired of hotel rooms and long hours sitting in the van. We both have colds and are well dosed on Nyquil and orange juice. I don't feel much like reading or even writing right now. I'm a little sleepy, but there's no place to sleep here. I'm not that young. There are things I could have done at 20 that 42 makes too difficult or complicated.

I'm sitting under a plaque for some sort of prize or recognition given each year to a student. The names attract my attention. Sadar Ramesh Shah, Angelo Constantine Mitsolpoulos, Leighanne MeMarzo, Laconla Hance.

They are standing up and he's giving her some manner of cryptic advice. They are rehearsing. Ah, I see what this is -- he is recruiting for door to door sales for children's books. She's looking for a job. Oh, now I feel pain for her and I see him as something of a shark. His face is sharp, even with the sprinkling of acne dark red dots along his cheekbones. He's leading her. He's not too bad at this, and she's eager. "Turn to the side -- show your profile. why do we do that? Giving them a chance to size you up." He's got his flipflopped foot on the little round table. It's a power position, that he can be so relaxed while she's standing straight with her hands crossed. Now they are going over the sales script. He's just walked off for some water. I so want to tell her not to do this, to walk away, that this will beat down her spirit and she will hate it. It will make her bitter and cynical. She'll have to learn to live with doors slammed in her face, with the faces of people who know she just wants their money, with outright indignation and cruel anger of those who feel affronted and invaded by her presence. She will learn that the company employing her has a dark inside, a shark pool center, and her recruiter will happily climb higher by standing on her back.

But I'm not saying a thing. I'm trying not to look at either of them. It's a quarter til 9 and I wonder how much longer The Husband's presentation is going to last. He suspected it to be around 11.

He's teaching her to expect a friendly greeting, a reception of civility. He is not yet practicing the "No", the "Hell No", the "Get out of my yard."

Maybe if I get out my headphones and listen to music, it won't bother me so much.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Houses

Well, The Husband went through his first interview -- the big one -- and came out with a 99.9% change of getting into the program without having to take some sort of test. He has to write a letter explaining why his work experience is as valuable as this test would be in judging his fitness to be in the grad program, just so they have it in his paperwork, blah blah blah, and so forth. There's still a chance they could insist on that test. Let's face it -- colleges are not adapted to taking in people who've been in the working world for a while. Colleges are set up for students. Students, as we all know, are not really people. Once you stop being a student, you become a people -- at least, if you get a job.

In between interviews, we went around looking at potential housing. We think we found "the perfect house", which while most likely not be on the market when we are ready to buy, but at least we know it exists. It really was well nigh perfect, despite being tiny. It was very well laid out and the price was excellent. And it was cute.

Also, my particular brand of disease has spread into my glands and ears. I'm not really happy right now. My throat is UNhappy. The joy of getting sick while traveling. Wee.

Bunny Herding

The Husband has started the rounds of turning Ifs into yesses or nos. We are at the university from which he graduated some 16 years ago, checking into a masters degree program. This is the second big If looming in our future. Should this If become The Future, we would be leaving our current jobs, selling our house, moving out of state, and reducing our lifestyle. It's not as big as the Canada if was, but it's still pretty large.

He's at his second interview now. I'm at the hotel, because there isn't much for me to do while he's running around the campus. The weather is very pretty here, but with finals so near, the campus is full of pretty young things fraught with tension and fear.

I can't think of anything else to say about it at the moment, except that I'm not so much scared it will happen as I'm worried it won't, and I'm worried about what I'll do if this if blooms into a full blown rabbit of the is.

Oh, and apparently I caught some of the germs my friend the Book Pimp carted to the convention. Not her fault, really. It's her husband's, TOAS, who originally adopted the germs and gave her a share, which she dutifully (and inevitably) passed to us. I'm not really sick, but my throat is sore. The Husband has been fighting a cough. Ah, nothing like going to important interviews with germs.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Revolution

It begins more or less here, then continues here and here. Being sublimely ignorant about the goings on of the Sf/F writing community on the whole, my awareness is to be credited to my friend The Book Pimp.

The major point of the flapdoodle seems to be that a particular author and representative of a particular writer's association has declared, in rather inflammatory language, that any person who allows his or her writing to be read online, free of charge, is in effect diminishing the livlihood of those writers who chose not to do so and instead struggle to be paid to publish. At first blush it seems to indict said "free" writers of a sort of deliberate campaign to devalue paid publishing. In any case, I've not explored the comments of those who agree with the particular author and representative, but the original arguement does little to sway me.

Yes, I am among those who have published my writing without charge to the reader. I had no idea that by doing so I was directly competing and, in fact, stealing, from published and paid authors. I would be more likely to think that I would need to be published to do that, in as much as if my book and another author's book sat side by side on a bookstore shelf, a potential buyer would chose one and not the other, in the matter of captialistic retail as I understand its operation.

In any case, I am not necessarily a professional level writer, but I feel drawn to stand in line with the rest of the pixel-stained technopeasants as a writer and reader of freely provided web-published writing. With that in mind, I am printing below a piece of non SF/F short fiction (because that's what I have short enough to post here) for your free reading. Professionallism and quality may be questionable, but, hey, it's free.

Movies

“I don’t like watching movies with other people,” Kelly said as she clicked buttons on the remote control, sending the selector passed the movie channels.

“Why not?” Mark flipped through the newspaper TV schedule half-heartedly.

She settled on a documentary about World War II spies. “It’s like masturbating with an audience. It should be private.”

A blush crept up his neck and he diverted his eyes from her profile to the shelves of videos along the wall. “You sure have a lot of movies. You never watch them with anyone else?”

She grabbed a handful of popcorn, picking one fluffy kernel at a time and popping it into her mouth. “Not the first time. When it’s a virgin movie, I’d rather watch it by myself. After I’ve seen it, then it’s no big deal. Just the first time is important.”

He dropped the newspaper onto the floor and dug a hand into the popcorn bowl. “You watch a lot of documentaries?”

“Yeah. I like the ‘real’ part of it.” She pointed at the screen with the hand half full of popcorn. “Like this. This really happened. It’s real.”

“Hmm.” He watched the TV flicker a grainy montage of tanks and gunfire. “I like going to the movies with a whole crowd. It’s fun.”

She grabbed another handful of popcorn. “Well, yeah, for some movies. I mean, something where it’s just a bunch of explosions and car chases or space ships or something like that. That’s nothing to think about, you just get into it and then it’s over. But real movies…” Her voice faded as a particularly gruesome segment flashed onto the screen and he glanced sideways at her.

“Yeah?”

“Those are different.”

“How, different?”

She shrugged and adjusted the volume with the remote. “I guess it’s because you’re allowed to cry or get angry or sit and think about things. No action heroes or stuff like that. Sometimes I like to cry at the movies.”

He let the television replace conversation for a few minutes. “You mean, like, even if I offered to take you to a chick flick, you wouldn’t go?”

She shook her head, her eyes on the screen. “Nah. You’d sit and squirm and pretend to be all interested for about ten minutes, then you’d make fun of everything because you were bored.”

He frowned at the side of her face. “I wouldn’t do that.”

“Sure you would. You can’t help it.”

The documentary faded to commercials and he stared doggedly at the TV. “You just assume I would because some jerk you dated before did.”

She shrugged. “No, it’s a guy thing. That’s why they call them chick flicks. Made for women.” She pointed at the TV. “See? That car commercial is made for men. I mean, they put a slinky blonde in the car and she drives around with the wind in her hair. That makes men think the car is sexy. So they buy that car and they pretend the woman will be in it when they come to drive it home.”

“That is so bullshit,” he replied. “It’s like you’re saying that just because I’ve got balls, they are all I can think with.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“You meant it.” He leaned over, picked up the paper, and pretended to study it intently.

“God, Mark. No, I didn’t.” She crossed her arms over her chest and pushed back into the couch. “I didn’t say it and I didn’t mean it. I was talking about car commercials.”

He let his indignation fade. “Ok, car commercials. So they use sex to get men’s attention. They use sex to get women’s attention, too.”

“Sometimes, but it’s different.”

The commercials ended. Black and white documentary photos of uniformed men lined up across the screen while the narrator recited a list of names. His newspaper sagged as he watched. “So what’s different? They stick Fabio up with a piece of bread and a plastic thing of butter, and that’s not the same thing?”

“No. A woman doesn’t imagine Fabio comes in that tub of butter. She doesn’t even think the butter will make some man like Fabio show up. She knows perfectly well that if she eats that butter, she’ll get fat, and if she’s fat, no man will look at her. She buys that butter because, when she’s fat, she can eat it on her toast and make believe Fabio is sitting across the table.”

He was quiet for a while. “You aren’t fat,” he said to the TV.

“I don’t buy butter.”

He shrugged. “I cry at movies, sometimes.”

“Yeah, like when Simba’s father got killed?”

“Jeez, Kel, but you’re a hard ass.” He tossed the half folded pages of the newspaper at her. She batted them away.

“No, that’s not what I meant.” She turned around on the couch and looked at him. “I mean, I really cried when I saw The Lion King.”

He looked at the floor and grinned. “Me, too.”

Over

Once again, a very nice con, which leads to a complete lack of stories to tell about it. Everyone was pleasant. We made decent sales, so we are encouraged to come back again next year. We've just packed out and loaded the van, and I am in the room pondering the state of my spine, said spine being very unhappy with me. We head out tomorrow to South Carolina and the next batch of Ifs.
That fellow is Robert Quill, and he did a very fine inked sketch of the Husband in a sexy squashbuckler stance. I promised that I'd tell all 4 of you that if you go to his site and arrange for a custom drawing, and you mention you heard about him from me, he'll give you a little discount or a peek at his collection of "naughty" drawings. Something like that. He was cool.

There were bits of drama swirling around -- it's a con, which is all it takes -- but being the quiet, withdrawn, gentile sort we are, we managed to avoid all of it. Such a con is rare.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

So Far, So Average

The first day of the Con went surprisingly smoothly. Aside from the usual gawkers wandering in where they aren't supposed to be and one guy approaching the room manager with a fake "security" badge to get in early.

There has been, already, con funk. It hit me as I stepped off the elevator, before the con had even begun! ARGH! BATHE BEFORE YOU COME.

Lesseee, what else? Oh, I got Robert J. Sawyer's autograph on a few books -- I'm enjoying Calculating God very much, on several levels. I picked on David Coe, whom I think is just lickably cute. And I've been having a delightful time flirting ever so delicately with Robert Quill, artist and pirate extraordinaire, which is definately diverting. Usually The Husband gets to do all the flirting and so forth, but I'm feeling a lot less like wallpaper and more like a person this convention (shock! amazement! I put on heels and a nice blouse. I'm wearing MAKEUP!). Business is reasonably good -- not great, not terrible -- and we've had a load of custom orders.

Sadly, nothing humorous has actually happened. There's been no outstandingly annoying behavior, no particular weirdness, and really, as cons go, this one has been very well behaved and polite. In fact, except for the occasional costume and whiff of unwashed human, it's hard to tell this is a science fiction/fantasy convention. On the other hand, once the room parties and heavy drinking begin, I'm tucked safely into my hotel room.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

That's Respect

Ophelia is safe (and probably quite pissed off) at the vet's, and we are in Richmond, VA. It was a long drive during which not very much happened. As seems usual (compared to last year, at least) we drove passed several trucks loaded with carnaval rides, including one with four large teal and purple dragons. We ate for the first time at CiCi's Pizza -- was ok. And we passed a Hardee's sign that said

Toppings on the bottom
That's respect


About which I cannot think a single clean thought.

Tired now. Must merge with pillow.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What I Did For Money

Something else I've been doing for the last couple of weeks in between worrying about the cat and herding Ifs around is this

In case you can't really tell, there are three collars made with carved semi-precious and mother-of-pearl flowers, leaves and one big, freaking fragile butterfly. There are also four pendants, three of dichroic glass and one of a honking piece of agate with geode crystals in it. There are also some earrings I made with the leftover bits from the agate piece. It's close to $700 retail there. I'd just love it if every damn piece of it sold.

Not the best photo but I was in a hurry, as I have to pack them up in a few minutes.



I also did this circlet as a special order. It's already been shipped off to the particular fairy princess who requested it. I'm looking forward to seeing the photos of it with the complete costume.



















Ok, that's it for me. I have to finish packing now. Roadtime is 7:30 AM with one stop to drop off Ophelia, and then we are on the road.

Whirlpool

I'm getting this post done first thing today (first thing - HAH! it's 10 am and the pitiful peons of the real world had to WORK today. Sometimes I really enjoy being imaginary) because I'm about to decend into a whirlwind of packing, sorting, forgetting, remembering, cleaning, cursing and laundry. We leave for Ravencon in Virginia tomorrow morning, early. Everyone in Richmond, you are warned.

Unfortunately, Severina and Scott are unable to escape. I am using base temptation to drag them into our hotel for weird conversation, bad Chinese, and whatever else I think of. Sev is also planning to stalk the wild geek boy to find a slave for herself.

The Husband is having mixed reactions to the death of the If. Rejection is never pleasant, even if it is a rejection that ultimately frees you to pursue other, more interesting Ifs. This little trip to Virginia will allow a side trip for If exploration. I think after that, the sting of rejection will be much less. This If is growing long ears and tickly whiskers.

OK, now I have to peel off a layer of cat, eat some breakfast, and dive into that whirlpool. And me without waterwings. Cats, I should like to point out, make lousy flotation devices.

Update: the particular cat glued to me (Bea) is doing this lip smacking thing. I'm watching. I never really thought about cats having lips, but I suppose they do, and she's smacking them in her sleep. It's cute enough to use as an excuse not to move yet.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bunny Eugenics

Because I like to beat a good metaphor into the ground and then dance around on the dusty entrails.

A whole row of Ifs have been turned into hasenpfeffer with one letter in the mail. This is a good thing*, because the particulars of this branch of the If clan was a challenging and problematic one, and it clears out the pasture for the rest of the hoppy little Ifs still chewing grass. There are still plenty of Ifs hanging around, all awaiting resolution one way or another, but at least this one is gone *poof* like it vanished into a hat.

We shall not be moving to Canada.


*this is a good thing not because we hate Canada, which we don't, but because we've been living in the land of Ifs long enough to get a little crazed by it and I am glad that something is certain. We will certainly VISIT Canada as much as we can, as long as they let us in. Canada is gooooood.

Monday, April 16, 2007

And then, When I Looked Up

there is yet again someone doing something senseless and awful.

There isn't enough pain, anger, sadness and madness in this world, right?

The Diagnosis

is Diabetes, with a possible secondary infection.

The new vet's office is VERY nice -- no crowded waiting room of barking, whining, yowling, hissing animals, no overloaded staff. Diabetes in cats is very treatable -- I have to perfect my injection technique, but it's not all that hard to do. Since we are leaving for Virginia on Thursday, I will be boarding Ophelia there so that they can do more tests to refine her insulin dosage and because I can't expect MIL to come down every day to do it. They will also be able to test and treat for the potential secondary infection. It actually works out fairly well.

I was so worried it was hyperthyroidism. I've already lost a cat (Titania, whom we had only a few weeks and we got when ill, so I did not fall in love with her, knowing she was already mostly doomed, but she was pretty and sweet and the only long hair I've ever had). I was scared it was renal failure, or fatty liver disease, or some kind of cancer. Diabetes, ironically enough, seems practically blessed. Curiously enough, the doctor said that sometimes cats will recover from diabetes.

And yes, Ophelia did pee on the way to the vet, but my plan worked. She only soaked a towel, and I had an extra towel AND a plastic bag for the soaked one. Hehhehheh, nice to know I can outthink a cat.

All in Little Boxes

Ok, I think the Great Relabeling Project of 2007 is completed. I've stopped looking. Whatever catagory it is in now, it's in there for the duration.

Ophelia goes to the vet in about an hour. While I really want to know what is wrong with her, I really don't want to take her to the vet. In part, it's my reluctance to hear potential bad news. But really, it's because the last four times I've taken her to the vet, she's peed on me.

No kidding. Copiously.

So, I think my reluctance to cart Her Royal Waterworks around is natural and understandable. In her kitty carrier, Ophelia is no happy camper. Aside from the pitiful, high pitched, death declaring yowls that most any cat will produce in the situation, Ophelia suffers additional stress. It causes her to Velcro Claw what ever she touches, and then she lets loose. Usually, her kitty carrier is in my lap when this happens, which you'd think would help contain the flood. Uh Uh. Biggest Cat Bladder on Record. Once or twice, I've taken her out of the carrier to try calming her down. SUCH a bad idea. The car seats were saved only because I have a big lap and great strength of will.

Have you ever sat for an hour and a half in a vet's office waiting area stuffed with assorted cats, dogs, ferrets and two very annoy cockatiels while in denim shorts soaked with panicked cat pee? It does tend to make you the unwilling center of attention -- at least for the canine contingent. Cat pee and denim is better than anything by Giorgio Armani or Kenneth Cole, at least in the dog world. It's also itchy. EXTREMELY itchy. My already sensitive hide was not happy. However, at our old vet, once you made it IN to his office waiting area, you did not risk leaving. First, someone was triple parked behind your car already. Second, you would NOT get back in. Third, it would be exactly like this on any other day you showed up, since they worked First come, First serve and it's a very popular office. You'd already gone halfway up Everest if you had a chair. No point in backing out now just because of a picky little thing like lack of oxygen or soggy britches.

But not today. Today we are trying a new vet, located much closer to the house (thus reducing car-ride trauma AND potential pee time --we should be in the car all of 8 minutes, and that's if we have to wait at the light) and they take appointments. I'm hoping to get her in without mishap. I'm taking an extra towl and a plastic bag anyway.

I'm also trying to prepare myself for hearing bad news while hoping for good news. I seem to spend a lot of my life trying to "rehearse" for the awful. An average life contains many words you just don't want to hear, and they tend to leap at you like surprise algebra tests, so I make my best effort to practice ahead of time how to handle things: what I'll say, what I'll do, what I'll feel. Years before my dad died I had already run through many times in my head what would need doing, how to tell my brothers, who I'd need to call, what funeral arrangements would need to be made. I literally had a mental script.

When the event actually happened, at first I broke down completely. After about an hour, the script kicked in. I said things as I'd rehearsed them in my head. I made arrangements (or my wonderful Husband did) and got through all the things that needed getting through. While it didn't do a damn thing to help me deal with what I felt or stop me from crying so much my eyes became inflamed, at least it spared me a lot of other horrible, awkward, brain blowing moments. I got through with relative grace, and I think my dad would have been -- well, proud of me.

So I'm rehearsing for my cat's diagnosis in my head, trying to prepare equally for having to put her down, having to enjoy her last days while keeping her comfortable, and having to trick her into taking medication without losing a finger. You'd think, with a talent like that, I could also juggle three oranges without getting banged in the forehead, but apparently it doesn't transfer.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Wind Began To Twitch

but so far, the house is being nice and still, as is proper for a house. I really prefer my houses to stay steady on the ground. I know, stick in the mud, but that's who I am.

It's a blustery day in my part of Florida. We had thunder and driving rain when I finally decided it was time to get out of bed, and it hasn't really let up much since. The wind warnings are pretty emphatic, so I'm about to put on some clothes and go collect my two wind chimes. Both are high end, tuned tubular models and I'm not eager to lose them to the neighbors.

Ophelia still seems ok, if a little weak. She climbs on the bed or couch, but she seems almost exhausted afterwards. She eats and she comes to the magic sound of food hitting the bowl (or mik hitting my cereal), she purrs or gets pissy when I pet her (moody cat, she's always been like that). I don't know what to think. I've been combing and brushing that peeling skin off. It looks just like how you peek after a sunburn, and she is losing fur, but it is her top coat -- the undercoat is still there and the skin underneath isn't even reddish/pinkish or irritate looking. I'm thinking more and more that she got into something which was mildly toxic (no vomiting or siezures) or she's developed an allergy. Maybe it's the cat litter, maybe it's the catfood, maybe it's some cleaning product or another. I don't know.

Ok, time to rescue the windchimes while it's not raining for a minute.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Lighten the Hell UP!

Ok, so the TV is on and suddenly I hear Sarah McLachlan singing.

In the arms of the angels
Far away from here

and I look up to see images of dogs and cats on the screen. I'm ok until they show a cat who has lost an eye, then a kitten with one eye crusted over, then a dog who has obviously been abused. It's McLachlan's commercial for the ASPCA.

And I lose it. Completely. It's not pretty.

Ophelia is sleeping on the bed next to me -- she got up there herself -- purring a little and snoring a little. Ben is also on the bed, and Bea is curled up in the big butterfly chair. I'm just sobbing. My chest hurst so bad that I can't even reach for the remote control to shut the images off.

I empty my bedside Kleenex box. I terrify Ben by grabbing him and using HIM as a Kleenex while trying simultaniously to hug Ophelia. (Bea was safe on account of greater distance).

So, I need to seriously lighten up here.

Last night, Solonor, Wife of Solonor, and a couple other friends came over to partake in our irregular Champions game and I discovered that just saying the word penetrometer can break up a whole room of geeks for a good ten minutes. Remarking on the various kinds of penetrometers will reduce everyone to wheezes. No one could breath for laughing.

I went over to check on The Queen and learned the Royal Consort intends to feed the world. Personally.

I didn't work out this morning, in part because I overdid it on Thursday and my back hurts, and in part because when The Husband shook me to ask me if I was going today, I thought it was Monday and I should go into the office. And I said so, repeatedly. We decided this meant I should sleep.

And I Can Has Cheeseburger? put up this guy.


In the arms of the angels

May you find some comfort here




Oh, and if you have some spare change, would you mind sending it to the ASPCA so there will be no more eyeless, pathetic animals on TV to break my heart into teeny pieces and make me completely lose it? Thanks.




Worried

I'm worried. Ophelia appears to be ill, or at least not in good health. Last night, she peed on The Husband's pillow -- apparently because she could not get off the bed. She's weak. She's lost weight. She's got peeling skin on her sides.

On the positive side, she's still eating and drinking, she still walks around, she will play (a little) and be a little pissy as she normally does, she's not doing the sick kitty curl, and where the skin is peeling, the skin underneath appears healthy with new fur growing in. She was always overweight and now she's an older cat, so the weight loss is not unexpected. I knew she'd dropped at least a pound last year, but now it seems she's 3 pounds lighter than she was and her flab is hanging from bony hips. It's disturbing. She's had bladder problems before. I can't take her to the vet until Monday, because it doesn't appear to be an emergency (and the emergency vet is extremely expensive).

I don't think it's that cat food poisoning thing, because the other 5 kittymonsters are all fine and normal. They eat from the same feeder. My thoughts keep turning to cancer or diabetes. We use a urine enzyme cleaner to clean up after our Famous Peeing Cat, Laguz, so maybe she's been laying where that hadn't dried up and she's having an allergic reaction. I just don't know.

All my pets are special, but Ophelia is very special. I got her right after another kitten we had adopted (and whom I completely loved), a little black male named Othello, was diagnosed with feline AIDS and had to be put down. I was heartbroken. About then one of the women at work brought in pictures of a kitten her husband had rescued in a litter from the oil drip pan of a bulldozer. The kitten was about 3 weeks old, just a handful of full and ears and eyes. I told The Husband, who was adamant that we already had three cats and a dog, so we really didn't need another kitten. Othello had been an accident, a rescue from a desperate friend. I cried about him every night. (I get teary about him now.) Finally, after about a week, he told me to bring the damn kitten home.

Ophelia took over our lives. She was so tiny we would loose her in odd corners -- she found a tiny hole into some deadspace in our kitchen cupboards and scared us to death once. She fell asleep under a throwpillow one, causing another 2 hour whole house search. She had the older cats all buffaloed, running around with her teeny Christmas Tree tail and big eyes. She had to be bottle fed and lifted into her litter pan. When we drove up to see The Husband's mom in Virginia, we had to take her with us and she rode half the way up perched on the car's steering wheel staring at us, and half the way curled on my shoulder sleeping. I bonded with her completely, as did The Husband.

I know that the pets that I love die. Hell, I'm still having sad flashes over Calico, and I can't say I loved her as much as I do Ophelia, but as crazy as she made me, I miss her. I KNOW that pets die, just like people die, just like the flowers in the garden die. Ok, fine, take a deep breath and blow my nose. I accept the big damn Circle of Life thing. Being scared won't change anything. Worrying won't help.

I'm still damn worried about my cat.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Not Funny HaHa

I'm a big fan of Mythbusters, and I've been interested in the Urban Myth even longer. Today was an interesting example of why.

Tokyo Inc's receptionist is a nice lady, my age, married (for the second or third time, I've lost count) to one of our long time plant employees (it's his third or forth as well, and his LAST wife was, for a while, Tokyo Inc's Accounts Receivable person). She has two sons (from assorted relationships) one three and one about 14. While she's a very sweet person, she is not what I would describe as terribly educated or blindingly intelligent. Let's just use the word "Redneck" and add that she has all her teeth and isn't bleaching her hair quite as much as she used to. Redneck Lite, let's say. She no longer lives in a single wide. I like her quite a bit.

When I walked up at break today to chat with her, as I often do, I found her looking at her computer somewhat tearfully. She was ill earlier in the week, so I asked if she was ok.

"I just can't read stories about kids anymore. They really get to me."

"What story are you reading?" I asked. I thought maybe some relative's child had died. She has a lot of relatives who have suffered assorted forms of death and dismemberment.

"My mom just send me this story about a little boy who died in one of those Playland things -- the one with all the plastic balls. He got stuck with a hypodermic full of heroin and died of an overdose."

My early warning radar pinged. "Oh, no, that's one of those stories they pass on email all the time," I said.

"No, it's true," she replied, wiping her face with a tissue. "There was a newspaper article and everything."

"It's like that snakes in a ball pit thing. It's not true."

"I know about that one," she agreed, "but this is different." Then she grabbed another tissue and blew her nose. "It just really gets me. I gotta tell my mom to quit sending me this stuff."

"Yeah." I nodded and slipped back to my office. Within a minute, I opened Snopes ,found the story and printed it out. I went up to hand it to her.

"Here's your story," I said. "See? Not true."

She started flipping through the pages. "It's not?" She wasn't giving up on it yet. "It's not true?"

"No. The newspaper article never existed, the people didn't exist. Not that you don't have to watch your kids in one of those playlands, but this didn't happen."

"Oh, wow!" she said. She was visibly relieved. "Hey, wow."

I walked off with a momentary sense of satisfaction (but I've done that with her many times. She considers me a fount of wisdom and knowledge, which is absolutely terrifying.) Then I started wondering how a woman gets to be over 40 and yet still falls for these stories.

And then I realized that a LOT of people fall for them. My dad took them as gospel on a regular basis, and he was not a stupid man. I remember some years ago when another friend at work came into my office to tell me about the friend of her cousin who woke up in a hotel room bathtub on South Orange Blossom Trail (Where all the best strip clubs and no-tell motels are found), packed in ice and holding a note saying his kidneys had been removed. Her particular twist on it -- both kidneys gone, local area -- horrified me so much that I never saw the logical holes in the story (like, you can't live long without at least part of your kidney, so why did the organ thieves leave him alive at all when they could have taken the heart, liver and corneas, too??) It wasn't until a year later, when I saw the story again (on Snopes) that I realized how easily I was duped. I like the term Snopes uses -- scarelore.

Have you ever fallen for one of those scarelore stories? Have you passed on an email urban myth or legend? Why are we so gullible?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

You Can't Say ANYTHING to Me

Curiosity and basic purience had me type "Penetrometer" into a search engine. Of course it's a serious scientific instrument. We already know it's used to test soil and has even been sent into space.

It is also "A simple method for testing fruit firmness".

If you're like me, that phrase makes you snort. And I can think of at least one person (Michael), possibly two (Michael) who could, with a mere eyebrow raise, simply FILL it with innuendo. I'm restraining giggles just thinking about it.

Once you've slid into this particular mental gutter, the further you read down the list, the worse it gets. You can find pocket penetrometers, and dynamic penetrometers, a penetrometer bath, even a moisture sensing penetrometer(I imagine such warnings might be sometimes necessary).

And the pictures don't always help dispel the unintended interpretations.

I would not be surprised to see items like this show up on Blowfish.com one day...probably under "Gifts and Objets d'Art".

By Request

There is a very important person in my life, namely Sabrina, who is fondly referred to as Miss S and sometimes as Niecish (she calls me Auntie because I gave her her first real mascera lesson and she encourages me to wear incredibly high heels). She's living now in Atlanta and looking for a job, for which she has requested a little crossposting. I rarely refuse her requests.





This is also my first official YouTube post. That's Sabrina -- always pushing me into new territory!

So It Goes

The first news to penetrate my brain this morning was that Kurt Vonnegut had died. Already people around the blogosphere are talking about it and how his writing and speaking affected them.

Hidden City
Solonor's Ink Well
Pesky Apostrophe
Ink Scrawl
The Midnight Radio
Drycleaning Las Vegas
Gamera Spinning

He was a steady background to my life, something from my formative years that toddled around in the back of my head, someone I recognized, someone whose words would pop up in my conversation without the necessary attribution. How important was he to me? I can't say. It's very subtle, his effect. I know he was far more important to me than I was to him, one more variable in the huge equation of fame and influence that puzzles me in this world. I always got the impression that he fiddled with that equation, too, impressed that he was on the other side of the equals sign and happy to use whatever that gave him to influence the world, but still not quite convinced that he'd done the equation right.

It's more to the point to say that, right after grasping the fact of his death, my second thought was I should send some manner of condolence card to my friend Twinkie, who was always a huge and constant fan of his. Really, though, that might be a bit much. I should wait until Tom Robbins dies to do that.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Damn it, I'm chatty.

In case I've never made it obvious, I can be incredibly anal about certain things. This weblog, for example. Oh, I'll flop all over and talk about everything you don't want to hear, but the weblog itself has to be just so. I'm still not happy with the layout (I miss my left sidebar) but no happy XML infused person has appeared to save me. The cookie offer is still good.

I've been sorting old posts into the label catagories. You might not have noticed them because they are SO far down on the right sidebar, but it bothers me no end that the majority of my posts are NOT catagorized. I had a catagory system for a while that required me to paste in a little bit of code, but I got lazy and let it lapse until Blogger made it all juicy and tempting again. So, I've been steadily going back through my posts trying to figure out what label each should wear.

You'd think that, with all the trumpet blowing and chestbeating Blogger has done about their update, they'd have come up with a simple system for retrofitting older weblogs to the new design system, but NOOoooooOooo, you'd be thinking wrong thoughts. Instead, there is only a cumbersome hunt and mark individual posts system that, once you select something, snaps you back to the first page of posts (and, no, the little menu choice to put more than 50 posts on a page does NOT work, thankyouverymuch). So, I have been spending hours pouring through old posts, opening them, editing them for labels, and republishing them. I started editing for typos (there are some very naughty "it's/its" violations) but that got old fast. Just getting the labels corrected took enough time.

And I still have some 700 posts to go.

In a more positive light, I've been picking out some of my favorite pasts posts where I think I was particularily clever or I at least made myself snort, and putting them on the ever-lengthening sidebar under the heading "Sampler". You know, for those of you who aren't sure about running through my ENTIRE ARCHIVE for the one or two quality things I've written.

I've also grown nostalgic about weblogs past and a few people I used to chat with regularly who now are among the invisible. Ah, well, everything changes, and it changes faster than usual online. So many sites I once visited regularly either don't exist anymore, or lost whatever it was I enjoyed. I cull my blogroll ruthlessly, if only to keep my freaking sidebar from getting EVEN LONGER.

I had a flash of brilliance while doing the whole catagorizing thing. I went to all the posts I had not labeled and just mass-labeled them "Life in General", figuring I could then just pull out the smaller collection under that heading and find the ones that needed changing. That was about 130+ posts ago.

Damn it, I'm chatty.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sometimes You Should Look Up

I'm not watching TV, but I'm listening -- there's some program on Science about visiting Saturn's moons. Then I hear:

'This is the penetrometer."

I hear this, and immediately my inner monologue starts with "Penetrometer? Did he really say penetrometer?"** but nothing actually clicked over in my head. It's 15 seconds before I look up, by which time the show had moved on to two more boringly named gizmos for Saturn curious satelites. However, that word may live with me forever, or at least until I can legitimately use it in a complete sentence.

And while I'm pondering this, a blurb for their "Space Week" programming comes up and the narrator talks about the medical manual on the Space Station. It's very complete. It has a protocol for an astronaut experiencing psychosis. You duct tape them to something sturdy.

Yes, duct tape. "Saving Lives Since 1942."



**it's a metal stick with a cone shaped tip for testing soil. They showed it later, and, yes, it DOES look like it could do that thing you thought of as soon as you heard the word. EXACTLY.

Realize

I've been reading actual funny blogs, like this and this and this. Ah, the richness of realizing I'll never write like that. I'm not funny.

Well, unless you are looking at me.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

No Bunny

We took MIL to Harmoni for their brunch. I had the most excellent French Toast thing. It was like a bread pudding only not squishy, it was like French Toast only not sick with syrup and it was made of pieces of bread that just wanted to be all together. Was very much good. Unfortunately, we forgot to take a cooler with us, so no really good cheeses. And they still haven't gotten a new shipment of Vosges candy bars, so no delicious chocolate. What kind of Easter has no chococlate?

Even more surprising was that, while all the restaurants, strip malls and convenience stores were open, the malls and larger places were closed. MIL wanted to hit two malls in South Orlando. Both are big tourist malls, and both were closed -- except for some restaurant action in one of them. It pretty much cut our planned day short, so we drove home again. I don't remember Easter being a big holiday from shopping around here, but maybe it's because I don't tend to leave the house much on Sundays. Easter isn't a big day for us. I'm only in it for the chocolate.

The Husband surprised me yesterday by announcing I had some Amazon gift cards coming. Apparently one of our credit cards had a secret rewards points program -- secret because we didn't know diddly about it. Since he wants a new phone, he decided to claim them on gift cards -- some for him, and to assuage any guilt he might feel about getting himself a new goodie, some for me. So, I've been going through my Amazon wishlist (the public one is a modest list, but I have much more extensive lists hidden away).

I can't pick anything. In fact, there are a number of things I've deleted because I don't think I really want them. That's one reason I keep private lists -- I'll snag things on impulse and let them sit, and later I'll see if they are still as attractive as they looked when I first saw them. Well, nothing in my lists really said "You want me right now" when I looked at it. So I went through my recommendations. More nothing. I had a few slight twitches of interest here and there, but I didn't really feel the need to spend the money.

It must be the complete lack of Easter chocolate screwing with my head.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Redecorating

I couldn't sleep last night for thinking about ifs, so I redid the ol' weblog template. A few people had complained long about the dark background, which I used because it made so many things easy on me. But this is not the year to oppose change, and, besides, I was bored laying awake. I still don't like the template, but until I learn to code XML, I'm stuck.

Unless I bribe/threaten someone who DOES code XML to do it FOR me. Who wants a cookie? Two cookies?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sometimes Ya Just Gotta


I've seen that particular look, accompanied by that particular sound, a particular smell, and a very loud purr, a few million times.


Via the cool cats at I CAN HAS CHEEZEBURGER?

Descrimination I Can Get Behind

Via le Czelt, here is Defective Yeti's modest proposal for a more friendly Interwebinet through an interesting sort of segregation.

Internet Access CAPTCHAs

Try a few. If you don't get it, then maybe you should sit at the back of the bus, at least until you finish reading.

Like Bunnies

The "ifs" in my life are multiplying. I suspect they are all gettin' it on in a closet somewhere, having a regular iffy orgy. Some ifs are more interesting than others.

Do you remember that stupid webthingie, The Falling Woman ? It's like that, only not quite as painful.

So far.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Spring Clean and all that

Today was just a day. Work was just work. The afternoon was.

Don't you wonder about days like that, days when you don't really accomplish anything despite thinking you'd like to? A day of your life just -- pft! -- gone into the past and you didn't manage a thing.

The only thing I really accomplished was a brutal pruning of my blogroll. Anything that I don't hit at least three times a week went. I had a bunch of sites that, for whatever reason, I'd basically stopped reading. I'm so fickle. I'll be hitting the magic next button soon.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Land of If

Have you ever lived waiting on an "if"? You know what I mean. There's a fork in the road ahead of you, and a question to be answered before you know which way you are turning.

April is my month of If.

I've not talked about this big If very much, although I've known about it and have been waiting for it since last September. Only a few friends know. It's a very, very large if, this particular if that's coming up this month. The interesting part is, from this single If, The Husband and I have been spinning a whole blanket of other ifs.

Nothing is particularly certain except one thing -- we want a change. A big change. A life changing change. Our "here and now" is no longer a happy one, no longer a source of either contentment or expansion. So we set some things in motion and the first ripple should be hitting our shore. Then we'll know how the tide is going.

Aren't I good with the obscure metaphors? I've got reason to be obscure, as this is a public weblog and there are (one or two) people who would have great interest in our plans that would not be to OUR best interests. So, I'm obscure to defend against that outside chance.

However, we have been spinning plans and alternatives to plans and alternatives to our alternatives. It's very exciting, a little scary (ok, a lot scary at times) and yet the idea of changing our lives this way is something we are grabbing at, not dreading. Neither of us are particularily good with change -- we tend toward the safe, the static, the comfortable -- but we are welcoming these changes.

So, April has the first "if". When that's answered, there will be other "ifs" coming along, each to be handled and each holding a decision to be made. I feel like I'm entering a new land with no road map, just a set of landmarks. As I get to each one, I'll have to scout ahead and pick the next path.