Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Not the day I had planned

Kelsey came home from school very tired. She settled into the couch and looked at me with a saggy face. Kelsey doesn't get tired. Even when she's tired, she's not tired.

What is it about holidays that makes kids get sick?

I held her for a while, feeling her forehead every minute or so. The heat on my palm and against my lips climbed every minute or so. Fuck.

She asked for her sick meal: oatmeal and hot apple cider. She ate lots of it. Then her head started to hurt. She parked herself in front of the TV and watched insanely frightening Halloween programs that absolutely should not have been on that time of day. She loved it. In her sick way.

Today, her temperature is still kind of up there. She doesn't feel awful, but she doesn't feel normal. Eric talked to her teacher, who said to send her to school but come and get her after the Halloween party. She really, really didn't want to miss the Halloween party and parade.

Shit! The parade is in half an hour and I haven't even attempted getting ready. Pardon me....


I picked Kelsey up from school at 10. She still has a fever. Now her glands are swelling to the point of making her look like a little mumps chub. She's cheerful enough, which is encouraging. I suppose she can watch more horrible Halloween movies while I do my homework. She got to go through the parade and have her party, and now she can just relax until tonight. Unless she is barfing or unable to walk from fever, she will go trick-or-treating.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloweeen Eve

It's getting very fallish here. The leaves are gorgeous and falling a bit more heavily now. August through October are pretty much ideal and a great reason to live here.

Last night, Kelsey carved her pumpkin. She got a bit tired, so I did the mouth. But she did the scooping, which I hate, and most of the carving. She had drawn a very complicated pattern, so I encouraged her to rethink it. In other words, I said no. It turned out pretty cute. If I can find cords, I'll post pictures later.

We roasted the seeds with a little salt. One year, we had a lot of pumpkins and the seeds were huge. We roasted them in butter and salt. Oh, they were so good. And we all had the runs for a couple of days from making such piggies of ourselves.

The pumpkin patch we usually go to was closed this year. Apparently our horrible weather made for a bad pumpkin harvest. I guess they just didn't bother. We ended up buying our pumpkins at the grocery store, which is just not as fun.

Today I bought more Halloween candy. I had bought some, but we ate it. Then Eric bought some, but we ate it. I nearly killed a bag of Butterfingers myself this afternoon, but I stopped after, oh, eight bars or so. I know! I'm horrible. But I hadn't had a Butterfinger in so long. And they were so good. But now I don't feel so grand. My head will swoon a while, I think, and I will likely skip dinner. Uch.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

An annoying irony

My house is messy. It's almost always messy. The floors stay pretty clean because there's so much junk on top of them that the dirt can't reach.

But the kitchen. It gets frustrating. This morning, Eric started washing the stuff that can't go in the dishwasher. Zip-lock bags. Reusable plastic containers. Spatulas full of egg. I worked on clearing the crap off the bench. And the crap under the bench. And the crap beside the bench. Eric scoured the counter tops.

It looks much better in there.

But now it smells funny. And that's just wrong. What the hell happened? When you clean, it is supposed to smell better, not worse. We must have hydrated something that had died and dried without odor. But add water, and *PING* it reeks.

Maybe messy isn't so bad.

Well, yeah, it is.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I go both ways

These online personality tests are the most girly thing about me, I think. They're silly and fun, and often the results are too close for comfort. I stole this one from Laurie.

You Are: 50% Dog, 50% Cat

You are a nice blend of cat and dog.
You're playful but not too needy. And you're friendly but careful.
And while you have your moody moments, you're too happy to stay upset for long.

I really thought I'd be more of a cat. I'm still getting used to the side of me that likes people.

It's a drippy day here. I used to love cold, gray, damp days. I loved the sound of the world, so muffled and still. And the smell of wet leaves and dirt. I loved being just about the only person outside, having the world to myself. It's comforting. But these days, I think I'd rather have the sun.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Happy birthday Kath, Laurie, and Erika

First, let me wish a very happy birthday to Kath, fresh off the plane from Australia! What a way to celebrate! Jet lag! Kidding – I hope you had a great day. Laurie, happy birthday to you, too. I hope you enjoyed your day off. Of course, as with Kath, I forgot to mail your card, and the freebies I found on Yahoo sucked. But I was thinking about you. Erika, you're a teenager. Hahahahahahaha! Happy birthday. Have a good party.

Back to me...

Yes, I do actually still exist. What a busy week, though. I'm glad it's winding down to a less hectic pace. I've had homework stuffed down my throat and up the – well, I've had a lot of homework. The professor even sent out encouraging emails.

We're working on our "individual stories," which is two-and-a-half months of work on one subject, interviewing scads of people, finding reams of primary documents and a puddle of secondary documents and turning it into a mere three-page article of interest to the university population with an accompanying multimedia component. As we work, we hand in bits and pieces. Last week was the primary documents-only story. This week was the first interview-only story. In a couple of weeks, it's the first draft of all of it. This is in addition to our regular homework and lab work. Ain't college a kick in the pants? I really should have finished when I was younger.

This week we finished our "major stories," not to be confused with the aforementioned "individual stories." We took several pages of "facts" – "inspired by actual events" – and quotes (same deal) and wrote a persuasive piece, such as a newsletter story, press release or ad package, and an informative piece, such as a two-minute television broadcast, local newspaper hard news story, or major newspaper feature story. I wanted to do the feature and the newsletter. I ran out of time and went the easy route with the local hard news and press release, which apparently most people did, as well. That poor TA having to read all that crap. Not that it's all crap. But story after story of the same stuff – gawd.

Today we made a newsletter in InDesign. I used InDesign last year, so it was pretty easy. We had to work in groups. The TA put another guy in our group who had used it before, then she changed us around so the two of us wouldn't be together. Darn. The third person in our group got kicked out of the group because she didn't show up for the tutorial on Tuesday. She had to work alone. Technically, the TA could have just given her a zero. If you don't show up on a day that an assignment is made, you get a zero. Damn. Makes you show up to class, I tell you that.

So that's the thrilling tale of school. How about the exciting tale of work? Sure, yes, of course. Then I'll come to the enthralling personal life. Hey!

So, work. Um, the photographer has failed to show up twice in 10 days. It's not like I ask a lot. My predecessor warned me he gets in a snit if you do the photos yourself. So, he said he'd be there, then he wasn't. On two occasions he said he couldn't be there – for one he just didn't want to get up that early – so I planned on photos myself. No problem. But my little camera died a couple weeks ago, and I didn't want to haul my giant camera around. And he said he'd be there. But he wasn't. Irritating. Anyway, in the couple of weeks that I've had so much school work, I've had quite a lot of newspaper work, too. It does get a little dicey. My head and stomach have been in rather sad shape, but I'm still sane.

Now, my personal life.

Me: I shared my personal life with my class. This story made Kayleigh about die laughing. It was fascinating watching her figure it out. We were playing two truths and a lie in lab just to take a break from the stress and reacquaint ourselves with each other. I went first. Can you guess the lie? I am vegetarian, I am 16 years younger than my husband, and I haven't had sex in over a week. We all had a good laugh, and as my classmates started guessing, they laughed more.

Kayleigh has been having a problem in science. She's a quiet kid. She does not respond to strong personalities, especially boys. If she is picked on in any way, she withdraws entirely. So, her team in class is Kayleigh and two boys. One of the boys is aggressive. To Kayleigh, that means he's not allowing her to do any work. She tries, and then he butts in. So after a while, she gave up. Then the teacher started telling her she had to participate, which only further frustrated her.

Last week, she was trying to do something and this boy swore at her, so she just leaned back in her chair and stopped. The teacher came over and told her she had to be a team player. I called him this week. He was "baffled" and "shocked" that she would say such things because he doesn't see that at all. He only sees Kayleigh being aloof. She hasn't done anything all semester, he said. I said, "She's done nothing?" (How does she get all those As on her report card?) He said the only time she's done anything is when he tells her she has to. I told him she will not participate when she's being treated the way she is. He simply does not believe it's happening.

I mentioned that science is one of her favorite subjects, that she gets straight As in school, but that she has given up in his class because she feels defeated. He insinuated she was lying to me. We will see where this goes. I asked him to change teams after this project is done. He said he would but that he doesn't like doing that. I couldn't believe he'd have the same three-person team all year. Why do they need teams anyway? Can't these kids learn to use their brains all by themselves?

I don't think this teacher will ever understand a shy, smart, 13-year-old girl. His whole perspective is alpha male football players. She's expected to adapt to that personality. It's no wonder girls lose interest in science in middle school if that's what they're faced with at school.

Kelsey cried today because she can't eat Milk Duds. She gets her expander off in a week, then she can have Milk Duds. The day after Halloween. She's going to be a witch, named "The Little Enthusiastic Witch." I have no idea.

Eric is off all his mind-altering meds. The ones he was on were making him numb (his back and knees, mostly) and he was walking into walls. Not good. They seemed good otherwise. He was able to concentrate and sleep. He's been off all the PTSD meds for several months and is mostly OK, although not completely. Dealable, though. The side-effects of those are nasty, and he feels he can handle life without them. I think his behavior was better on them, but he just felt too weird. And as I said, he's doing all right without them. I don't know how he can keep going through withdrawal time and again. They want him clean for a month, then they'll try something else. He thinks speed is what he needs. That's what he'll get if this next drug doesn't work.

Tonight he said he feels like he's going back to being himself. And he doesn't like it.

I took my mom to the dentist this week. She'll be getting partial dentures. Two grand. She is happy it's not as much money as she was expecting. Tomorrow we're going to Pedro's for lunch since the kids are off school. I couldn't take her yesterday because of all my stupid homework.

They finally got a good look at my brother's lungs. It's definitely cancer, but a slow-growing kind, and he's probably had it for years. They can't do surgery because his health otherwise is too poor. I'm not sure what they'll do for the cancer. His wife said with this kind of cancer, because it's so slow-growing, something else usually kills you first. How cheery.

There's the news you had to have.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I've been following Laurie's worried posts about her dog Boscoe, who's been falling down, puking and pooping all over the house. Poor guy. Poor Laurie and Doug who have to clean it up.

Of course, Laurie's stories are reminding me of a day I spent at my sister's house.

It was Passover, which I always hated because we always had lamb (I hated lamb), and we couldn't eat anything leavened, and I swear I always wanted something leavened.

Anyway, I was asleep on the couch after the damn lamb, and the dog was jumping on me and whining. I sat up, and she dashed away and puked. Then she ran back. Fun. So I went to let her out, stepping in a cold pile of hurl on the way to the patio. She stopped in the kitchen to take a dump. Then she puked again. Then I stepped in another couple piles, one cold, one warm.

You have to realize that I don't handle vomit well. Even dog vomit.

I let Garbo (she was part of a litter found in a garbage bin) out and worried that she'd be so ill she wouldn't come back in. So I traipsed down to my sister's room.

There were voices, muffled. I was glad they were awake. They were not glad I was. Experience tells me they were enjoying each other's company in a rapturous manner. At the time, I hadn't a clue.

Knock, knock. Silence.

"Cindy? Cindy?"

Grunts, shushing. "What is it, Amy?"

"Garbo's sick."

They didn't seem concerned. I had spew and poo between my toes. I was not engaged in sexual activity. I was concerned.

Lewis finally emerged. How oddly they dressed for bed, I thought.

Then Lewis found a pile or two with his feet. Cynthia said she'd clean it up in the morning.

Oh, the smell was tremendous. I didn't want to sleep in that stench. Over massive objection from Lewis, I talked them into letting me sleep in their room on the floor. The boys' room smelled like pee, so I didn't want to sleep there. My parents were in Rebecca's bed, and Rebecca had her floor. Poor Lewis. Poor Garbo. Garbo got the bathroom, where she could be locked in and it was easy to clean the floor.

And I got to share the story with the world almost 25 years later. Or thereabouts.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rock of Ages

My cousin sent me this link of a rockin' parrot. I think this bird might be a pig because it sure is a ham.

The other day I was looking to see if I still had A-to-Z music. When I was a teen, I decided to try to get at least one album that started with a different letter of the alphabet. I accomplished that at some point, but in the years that have followed, I've gotten rid of some of my music. I never, ever listened to most of it, and it was taking up space, a lot of it was on tape, and I was in the mood to purge. So, I couldn't find an N, X, P, or Z. But in looking for the music, I found a tape of me and my parents when I was four. If I ever figure out how to get it onto the computer, I'll post it. It's fun to hear my dad. I remember the last time I found it, I cried when I heard his voice. I'm not really a crier, so it surprised me.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Eric, on perspective

Him: "Come and lift this. I think this is what's hurting my back."

Me: (lifting backpack) "Jesus. Why do you put all that stuff in there?"

Him: "It's not all that much, it's just everything."

Monday, October 15, 2007


"I'm wearing new argyle socks today, and I'm pretty happy about it." –Heidi

I talked to my friend Heidi today, and I'm pretty happy about it. Heidi is smart and funny and crazy and always manages to make me smile. She is 10 years younger than I am and in a lot of ways has been my mentor. WWHD?

I hope and believe that I've been a good influence on her, too.

And someday, Heidi and I are going to take over small newspaper publishing in south-central Wisconsin. Because we are that good. We do say so ourselves.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I'd like to thank the Academy...

Please forgive me. I've been given a couple of blog awards recently, and I haven't posted them or my most humble gratitude in receiving them.

Laurie has bestowed upon me the Breakout Blogger Award. This award is for those bloggers who've had an increase in readers and commenters. So thanks to Laurie for the award, and thanks to all of you out there reading and commenting or reading and lurking. I'm pleased you're here.

Thanks also to the Rotten Correspondent for the Rockin' Girl Blogger Award. I'm tickled rockin' pink. It's edgy and girly and cool.

I had trouble posting them when I received them, but I suddenly got a brain and figured it out.

Thanks again.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I will never be bulimic

It's possible that some of these photos were altered. For the sake of these women, I hope so.

As for me, I'm excellent at bingeing, but not purging. I like to eat. I like to eat often, and I like to eat junk. And once it's down, it does not come back up, as evidenced by my thighs and butt and gut and everything else on my increasingly soft body.

My mom is quite heavy. She jokes she is an "anorexic reformed." She and some equally plump friends decided, about 25 years ago, to open a health club for fat people. They were going to call it Porkies. You had to be fat to join. They hated it that only in-shape people went to health clubs and intimidated all the fatties away. They never followed through, though.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


We've had amazingly warm weather this fall. But yesterday we turned on the furnace. We would have skipped it, but we hadn't brought any wood in the house yet, and Eric had to work here most of the day. He didn't want to shiver in his dark corner for hours.

The house always gets that first-furnace-of-the-year smell. Hot and dirty. The house always seems so quiet once we hunker down for winter, too. The windows and doors are closed, and the rush of hot air from the registers dampens sound.

Today I got home and Eric asked, "Did you smell it?" I didn't. I was on the pot. It's not a nice question when you're having your home-from-work wee.

"I made a fire," he said. He smiled. I could tell he really would like to jump up and down and yell YEA!

After I took care of business and had some lunch, I went down to the fireplace with him. He wanted some oohs and aahs and to rub the heat into my skin. But then he had to go to work, and I had two precious hours alone.

I could work. I tried. Our stupidfuckingwireless was apparently heaving with whatever bug has been making its rounds in town because you could watch the little icon wavering. I moved from one spot to the next, tried upstairs – nothing.

Eventually I just made my way back down to the fire and closed my eyes. I had stayed up late. I cover the school board meetings, and at 11:15 or so, they were, oh, maybe a third of the way through the agenda. They finally recessed since all of us are too old to stay up so late. But I, I, I had to come home and work on a paper I wasn't finished with, due at 8:50 a.m. in hard and electronic copies. Also at 8:50: my little group's media analysis presentation. (At about 8:10, I realized the final outline was nine pages long. It was supposed to be two. So I whipped out my ruthless editor and hacked it down to a page without even trying. I squeezed a half page back in and had to leave or I'd be late. Late means zero credit. I don't like zeros.)

Anyway, there I was on my futon in my dark, silent basement, feeling the warmth of the fire and the softness of the pillow, and I was gone. I must say, it's a very nice way to spend 20 minutes on a fall afternoon.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


After I dropped a bill at the post office, I stopped by Walgreen's to see if they had any Cow Pies. Eric kindly brought me one over the weekend. I had stayed home to do homework while the family went out into the world and had fun. Cow Pies are like giant Turtles, except so much better than Turtles. The chocolate is thicker and tastier, the caramel is the perfect viscosity, and the nuts are big and fresh. And because the factory is only about 45 miles from our house, our Cow Pies are especially fresh. Alas, Walgreen's had no Cow Pies.

But they did have a new candy bar from Hershey's called Reese's Whipps. It is touted as having 40% less fat than the leading chocolate candy. The package made it look like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in stick shape. So I got one to try.

I got it home and looked at the nutrition information. Sure, it has less fat than Reese's cups. But it actually has more saturated fat than a package of two cups. It also only has two fewer calories than two cups. Nutritionally, it's hardly a winner.

Sadly, the same is true of its taste and texture. It's much like a Three Musketeers, just denser and a little grainier and with a mild peanut-buttery taste.

It was a disappointment. Thumbs down. I'd really rather have Reese's Peanut Butter Cups or the seasonal shaped peanut butter cups/bars they make. The seasonal bars have thinner chocolate and they're fresher. Delicious.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Bye-bye, Ben

My nephew Ben left on Wednesday. It really sucked.

He came out here from Utah in February, a few months before he wanted to. The idea was for him to come and live with my mom and establish residency. After he earned residency, he would go to MATC in the networking and security degrees. He looked all over the country, and MATC was the only school that had what he wanted. It was also very convenient that my mom lives 5 minutes from there, and she wouldn't charge rent.

He came out early because my mom had a heart attack and was feeling scared.

Ben is a great guy. He's fun and smart and thoughtful, and he had a good plan. He really has his head on right.

But then my brother got sick. Well, sicker. He'd send someone with Munchausen's into a fit of jealousy. Anyway, my sister-in-law wanted him to come home and help. Ben came out early here to help, and now he went home early to help.

The thing that pisses me off is that he was working toward something. He had a good plan, and he was actually doing it. He has three siblings, all adults, two of whom live at home. Are they useless or something?

We had a party for him at my mom's last week. I cried when we hugged goodbye. It made him cry, too. I felt bad, but I thought it was good he knew someone was crying for him.

We stopped by Tuesday night to take some pictures because we all forgot to at the party. I got two pictures, THEN MY CAMERA BROKE. This really has been an annoying week.

When we said goodbye again, he said, "I'll take good care of your brother for you." I said thanks, but I wanted to say, "Take care of you, too." We were already getting teary again, so I kept my mouth shut, or it would have been gushers.

He left at 2:30 on Wednesday.

So, that's my week. Two dead people, one dad rat, one broken camera, lice, and an absent nephew. And today I'm staying home to do homework instead of going on a walk in the woods with a delightful stop at an apple orchard. I better get a lot done. So enough of this blogging!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Nit picking

Kelsey has lice. Gross.

We got a note on Monday that a kid in her class had lice. We were supposed to check her. I didn't bother.

But a couple days ago, I noticed her hair was awfully icky, she was a little weird and was scratching her head.

Last night, I saw something brown on her scalp. Then it was gone. This morning, I looked in her hair and saw some bugs. Eric plucked them out and said they were nothing, just crud. They looked like bugs to me. When she got home, I looked again. More bugs. Definitely bugs. Not just crud. And she had red marks on her neck.

So we got the Nix and the nit comb and the egg comb and tossed her in the tub. Eric sure believed me after that. Holy infestation, that was an experience.

Now, every itch is a louse. Every mole on our skin is a louse. We've looked through our hair, examined our scalps, but only Kelsey has them. So far.

I've never had lice. I've never lived with anyone who had lice. I feel bad, but I don't even want to hug her. Eew. I might get cooties.

Poor kid.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Channeling Kubler-Ross

Our rat Rosey died yesterday. She was an old lady. We knew our rats didn't have a lot of time left. Rats only live a couple of years, and these three have lived longer than the other rats we've had. Rosey had been noticeably failing for a couple of weeks, but was not in any apparent pain or in imminent danger of death until about Sunday. She got a lot weaker and wasn't eating much. When you picked her up, she just cuddled against you instead of trying to climb up onto your shoulder or into your pocket or your hood. She started aspirating blood, too.

We all took long turns holding her and taking her outside, which she always loved. I didn't let her run around on my bed since she was so exhausted and might spray blood on my sheets.

Yesterday, I picked her up and held her a long time. I cried. I thought it was stupid to cry over a 2-year-old rat, but I couldn't help it. I hated seeing her failing, knowing she was dying.

In the afternoon her breathing became very noisy. It made doing homework very difficult--impossible, in fact. I finally went to my bedroom and closed the door so I couldn't hear her. I thought I should just hold her and let her die in my hands, but there was no way of knowing if she'd sound like a nut cracking for five minutes or five more days, and I had a lot to do.

When Eric and Kelsey got home from soccer about half an hour later, she was dead. Her body was still warm, which was pretty creepy.

Kelsey and I went to the deli to get some milk and comfort food, and she cried the whole time. The people who worked there were very understanding. One guy asked her, "Where's Rosey now?" He meant it in a religious or metaphysical way. She said, "She's in a Kleenex box on top of her cage."

We wrapped her body in a pretty pillow case. Eric dug a hole in the dark between the day lilies while we held flashlights so he could see. Kelsey and I bawled. I set her in the hole, and Eric and Kelsey sprinkled the dirt over her. We covered the spot with a chunk of purple quartz that Australia Sam stole from Devil's Lake. (It was too big and heavy to fit in her suitcase, so it stayed here.) And that was that.

My sister's brother-in-law died of a heart attack this week. I think he was about 60. I haven't seen him since I was in single digits. My mom's friend Margery died on Tuesday. She was 98, so it's hardly surprising. I always liked her.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Evil Greg

No, not my niece's husband--that Greg's a pastor or minister or vicar or priest--what do they call you in the Anglican church? Anyway, say what you will about men of the cloth, but he's not an evil man by any stretch. He's a good guy. And I'm a harsh critic.

Rather, meet Evil Greg. Evil Greg wants to buy an old missile base in eastern Washington to use as his secret lair. I don't know how secret it really could be since it's a public sale--on eBay, for cryin' out loud, and if that doesn't shout evil, I don't know what does.

Doesn't everyone want a little place they could escape to (secret lair)? Wouldn't everyone like some pampering (minions)? Someone to do your dirty work (cleaning toilets) for you (henchmen)?

I don't know Greg's story. Apparently he's a geeky guy who somehow scored a gorgeous wife who understands his need for global domination.

Because I'm 46% evil myself, according to an online quiz, I donated to Greg and spoiled his pouty rant about no one giving him any money.

Want to help Greg become an evil genius with a secret lair? He's just starting out. You could be a Mini-me. Go on.