How To Make A Cat Dance Like An Excited 4 Year Old On Christmas Morning:

Grill steak for dinner.

That's about all it takes, really... Do it and your kitty will dance all through dinner, hoping to get a taste.

(If he doesn't jump on the table, he's entitled to a bite; if he stands on his hind legs and stretches up to look at what's on the table, that's worth 5 cute points, and he gets a couple of bites when everyone is done.)

And just like Christmas, your cat will experience post-dinner let down, when the steak is all gone and the dishes are no where to be licked...


I’m not sure if there’s been any real lesson learned today, not so far. In a little while I’m heading out to swim at the Y, so surely I’ll learn something along the way, or in the locker room. Hopefully today’s lesson won’t be that Chrysler Sebring convertibles are held together with Kleenex and spit.

Today mostly has been thinking about Letting Go.
Specifically, letting go of pets when it’s That Time.

There have been a few people online who have been going through this in the last week or so. First it was Tigey from The Mows. He was only 6 years old, and developed the same problem our old cat Dusty had. Then day before yesterday, Carmi had to face it with his cat. And today, Wil Wheaton is taking his beloved Felix to the vet for the last time.

We (online friends o’mine) have been talking all morning. Remembering our own furry friends. Feeling very sympathetic and empathetic about those who are going through it right now. My friends are recalling happy memories of their long-gone pets; right now all I seem to be able to fixate on is That Moment.

There are some truly funny stories about Dusty and Hank, and especially about Ataturk, the first pet I can truly remember. But I can’t get to those memories right now. All I can bring forth are those last weeks or months with them. How sick Dusty was for the last year; she was comfortable right up to the last day, but we knew what was coming. And that last day, I think she did, too. When we made the decision to let her go, knowing that anything else we did would be for us and not for her, that little furball took control. The vet was trying to prep her—gently—but she got Really Ticked Off. After a year of tolerating all the needles and x-rays and personal invasions, she had enough. She reared back and started hissing, and fought hard. She was not letting anyone stick her with another needle. And with an attitude of “Screw you, and kiss my furry gray ass,” she died. Just like that. One moment she was there, pissed off; the next she was gone.

It was a typical Dusty kind of thing; she lived on her own terms, and she died on her own terms.

And anyone who read this blog back then (May ’03) went through Hanks last weeks with me. How I cooked for him when people food was all he would eat, the confusion over what was wrong with him, his dignity at walking—when he had so much trouble doing just that—from the truck to the vet’s office, where he collapsed inside the door, never to walk again; you’ve read it before.

I keep thinking of how relaxed he looked when the vet gave him a sedative; how pinched his face had been and we hadn’t realized it until that sedative took effect and all the pain left him, leaving him suddenly comfortable as he stepped into La-La land. How he stopped breathing before she was finished giving him that last injection; how he went so quickly, and peacefully.

And I think about how much I miss them.
I think about how Max isn’t quite 4 years old yet.
And someday we may have to make that decision for him.

And I hate that part of being owned by a pet. I accept that it’s part of the responsibility of having pets, but I hate it. They just don’t get enough time in this world. They wrap us around their little paws and hearts, and they leave before us, and it sucks.

And yet we do it again.
We grieve, and then open ourselves up to a new furball.
We know, and yet we do it again.
We’re not replacing them…it just seems like we have to. We need to.

I want to get to those memories that leave me laughing my ample tush off. I know they’re there, but right now, all I can think of is the end.


Gastric Lesson Learned:

Taco Bell food simply isn’t worth a long wait.

Now I realize that’s probably on the list of “Well, duh, if you have to be told that you should never be allowed to breed” things, but there are some people who will sit there and wait for extremely long periods for their chicken quesadilla and double decker taco.

In a fit of oh, hell no I do not feel like cooking the Spouse Thingy and I ran down the road to Taco Bell (ok, we drove. Thumpa does not run. Not unless there’s copious amounts of chocolate involved) to indulge in a little festive artery clogging.

We placed our order, got our drinks and sat down to wait.

Old guy next table over: “I hope you brought your breakfast and lunch with you, ’cause this is gonna take a while.” After a few minutes had passed, a woman walking by informed us she had been waiting for 32 minutes. There was another older gentleman looking not so gentlemanly.

Now, the Spouse Thingy said to me but not loud enough for anyone else to hear (paraphrasing here) that it takes someone a few chips shy of a taco salad to wait 32 minutes to complain. I reasoned that, perhaps, she had been so involved with her kids that she hadn’t noticed how long it had been. Either way, she’d been waiting a long time for her food.

They lost her order.

They lost the older guy’s order, too. He got his money back and left, and I’m sure he’ll never be back. Which is a shame, because if you’re ever in dire need of uncorking your personal system, Taco Bell can do a mighty fine job in assisting that need.

She waited.

We got our order (with free cardboard cinnamon thingies) and ate. She was still waiting. It was deduced that something was wrong with the cash register at which she had placed her order. In fact, it smelled bad. Like it was about to erupt into a giant fireball. One of her kids was clearly agitated and upset, wanting to stay as far away from the counter as possible; he announced quite clearly that in the event of a fire, he was taking the nearest exit.

We were almost done, and she finally got her order. It had probably been 45 minutes from the time she initially placed the order when she was apologetically handed a bag of food, with some added freebies.


There’s always a however.

She did not get everything she ordered, and found herself back at the counter to let them know it was incomplete.

She never yelled.
She never blew a gasket.
She even laughed.

She did tell every single person entering the store how long she’d been waiting, but she laughed.

I was impressed with her attitude, but there’s a lesson to be learned here. Never wait more than 10 minutes for your food at Taco Bell. Never. Well, unless it’s the lunch rush and you’re in the drive-through line stuck behind 29 other cars. It’s perfectly acceptable to go to the counter after 10 minutes and inquire about your order, if you’re polite about it.

If you’re polite, you get free stuff.
And free is always good.
Even when it’s Taco Bell.


Eavesdropping Lesson Learned:

Overheard in the YMCA locker room. The Speaker is a woman in her late 70's-early 80's:

"I've slept in the nude for 20 years!"

Thank you for sharing.


Late Night Lesson Learned:

If you tried to have a blurberry muffin and had to throw part of it out because it had cat spit on it, don't toss it in the trash can in the bedroom, because the cat will go apeshit and dig for it at 4:30 in the freaking morning...


Tonight's Lesson Learned:

If you're going to have a blueberry muffin, don't leave it on the desk when the cat is in the room...
Where My Nose Doesn’t Belong…

Everyone is taking sides, it seems. Either Terri Shiavo’s parents are saints and her husband is the devil incarnate, or her parents are selfish, self absorbed people who don’t want to see what they hope is right and her husband is this selfless, well intentioned gentleman who only wants to fulfill his wife’s deepest wish.

People are arguing over it, protesting over it, getting into shouting matches and pointing accusatory fingers; politicians are scrambling to turn it into a posturing issue for their constituents, and the courts have said over and over that there is no legal merit for reinserting her feeding tube.

And we continue to take sides.

Here’s the thing…I don’t think either side is wrong. I think her parents believe she’s not in a true persistent vegetative state and that removing her feeding tube is equal to torture. I think her husband honestly believes she would not want to live this way. The parents want their daughter to live; the husband is not doing this for money. He turned down 10 million dollars to sign away his medical guardianship for her (I read that online; take it for what it’s worth.) If it were about money, at some point he would have taken it—long before this became such a hotbed issue—and walked away.

No parent wants their child to die, especially if they deeply believe it’s morally wrong under any circumstances and that the method of death is painful and cruel.

No husband wants his wife to die if he believes it’s painful and cruel; but he will generally respect his wife’s wishes. Michael Shiavo believes his wife is already gone. He believes the doctors who say that in a persistent vegetative state, a person feels nothing and will not suffer the lack of food and water.

The parents are doing what they believe is right. They are fighting for their daughter’s life.

The husband is doing what he thinks is right; he is fighting for her right to die.

And for the rest of us, it’s become a spectator sport. We’re all—well, most of us—making presumptions about Terri Shiavo’s condition, her husband’s character, her parents selfishness or selflessness.

It doesn’t matter that Michael Shiavo has moved onto to another relationship and has children; that’s a separate issue and it doesn’t necessarily change what he feels for his wife, and what he does to protect what he believes her wishes to be. It shows that he’s human. God forbid any of us should be judged on our humanity.

The truth is, no one can possibly know what is absolutely right in this situation. We can’t really know what this woman feels or doesn’t feel, what she really wanted or if her husband is making presumptions, based on their relationship, that he knows what she would want. It’s not possible to know 100% for sure what the right thing to do is.

It could be argued that keeping her alive harms no one—if she truly is in a PVS then it probably doesn’t matter to her what happens. It could also be argued that violating what may be her wishes by keeping her alive is morally aberrant.

But no matter what, there has been good coming out of the entire issue: it has made all of us very aware that we need our wishes known now about what we would like to happen if we’re ever in a similar situation. People are being educated about the importance of Living Wills and Advanced Medical Directives.

While I think it’s sad that the world has become spectator to the private pain and struggles of one family, they’ve done us all a tremendous service by opening our eyes to what can happen if we’re not prepared.

I don’t think either side in this particular case is more right or more wrong that the other. That’s just my own opinion, and once in a while my opinions are wrong. Just like anyone else. But I hate that this family is being paraded in front of the world by the media to be judged and argued over and to have fingers pointed at them. But I am grateful that they have brought this issue forward, because if nothing else, a multitude of families will be spared this particular agony because now they will discuss the issue and take the steps to create the necessary documents to make their wishes known, and make them legal.

Let’s hope none of us ever have to make those kinds of decisions. Frankly, it sucks. And I would hope that no matter what side of the issue an individual takes, they’re at least thinking good thoughts for the entire family.


In a fit of “well, maybe the Y isn’t too far to go to,” we drove out there today. I just wanted to see how far it really is and how long it would take. And I keep thinking about how freaking expensive Gold’s Gym will be… $110 a month. I can’t bring myself to spend that on a gym membership.

Going via the Interstate, the Y is 16.5 miles and takes about 25 minutes. Going back roads, it’s 10 miles and takes about 20 minutes. And it’s $30 cheaper. Which I would surely chew up in gas.

But…but but but but but…The YMCA has a much bigger pool; heck, they have 2 pools. One is a rec/lap lane pool, and the other is a warm water pool, geared for people with arthritis.

That would be me.

We’ve been members there before. The locker room isn’t as bright and shiny as Gold’s and there aren’t all the amenities, but the main thing I want—the pool—is better than Gold’s and I’ll likely always get a lane when I want. If a lane isn’t available, I can exercise in the warm water pool.

When we inquired about the pool crowds, and were trying to decide if we just wanted to go with the Y for awhile (another plus in their side is that they don’t require a contract) the lady behind the desk offered, “well, let me give you two free weeks so you can decide for sure.”

Another 2 free weeks.
2 weeks to see if I really don’t mind the drive.

I did mind the other day when I went to Gold’s twice in a 3 hour span and couldn’t get a lane—even shared—in the pool.

And I love to drive my car around when it’s warm enough to put the top down.

So, we’ll see. The joys of being indecisive have gotten me free passes with which I can become decisive. And by then I’ll have started PT, and can get input from the PT torture person.

Is it sucky that this is the excitement in my life? Getting free passes to go swim? Why can’t I have the excitement of winning the lottery instead?

Oh yeah…you have to remember to buy a ticket in order to win.


I’m not eating anything weird before bed. I’m not eating anything right before bed. Yet I’m dreaming about dead cats again. Last time, it was of a giant sized Ataturk. These last couple of nights, I’ve been dreaming about Dusty, the cat we had for 13 years, the one who developed major heart problems and died a mere seconds before the vet was going to euthanize her.

There’s nothing special about the dreams; Dusty is just there. She’s not her last-year-sick-self; she’s the pre-we-got-a-dog thin self (she got fat after we got our first dog; overfed as a result of the dog eating her food—we were never sure if SHE ate all her food so quickly, or if the dog did, so we kept refeeding her…she figured that out, so gobbled it down to get more.) Unlike in my dream about Ataturk, she’s not eating alligators and she’s not the size of a golden retriever. She didn’t shred a couch to pieces. And Max wasn’t there for her to approve of.

I’ve been dreaming about normal days, staying at home and avoiding housework, and Dusty is there, sitting next to me on the couch (she was not a lap cat, not at all) or on the floor rubbing against my leg. And while I sit there with the cat next to me, I’m telling her I miss her. She rubs against my leg and looks as if she wants to say something, even though she was never especially vocal when she was alive.

Max generally wakes me up before I find out what Dusty wants. He pounces and talks nonstop, walking in circles across the pillow above my head, around my shoulders, across my stomach, back to the pillow. He walks this circuit nonstop until I give up and get up to feed him. He’s happy I’m up, and I’m left wondering what the whole point to the dream is.

There has to be a point to dreaming about dead cats.


Go to the gym
Pay bills?
(I paid bills)

Go to the gym
Unload and reload the dishwasher?
(We’re going to have clean dishes tonight!)

Go to the gym
Blog hop?
(y’all gots lotsa nice blogs!)

Go to the gym
Put a Thermacare thiny on my back?
(My back is toasty warm.)

There’s a pattern to my day, I suspect…


Here, Have Some Cheese…

Okay. At what point did we stop teaching kids how to behave in public? Worse, at what point did we join in on their misbehavior as if it were a game? The Spouse Thingy and I stopped at a local place for a quick bit to eat this evening; in a nearby booth was a father and son (I presume that was their relationship; I could be wrong) and they were both acting like asses. They were bouncing around, annoying the people in the booth attached to them, they were loud, banging forks against the table, kicking each other, reaching across the table in an odd game of slap-fighting.

I don’t mind kids being kids…but holy crap, aren’t we supposed to teach them to NOT behave this way in public instead of joining in on it? I really felt for the people in the other booth; they gave up and left. They could have confronted the father, but I don’t blame them for not doing it—I’m not sure I’d trust a man wielding a fork who doesn’t seem to worry about how he uses it.

I went back to the base hospital today—I even remembered to pick up my meds and schedule an appointment with physical therapy—and I went to the lab to get my blood drawn. Have I ever mentioned that I can be a difficult stick? The poor airman who first tried to draw my blood got about a teaspoon and had to call for help. I now have a nice bruisy bump on the back of my hand (usually the only place they can get it.) Second guy comes in, thinks he feels a vein in the crook of my arm, sticks the needle in…and it’s gone. My veins roll. He couldn’t find it, so out that needle came.

Figuring the third time would be the charm, he tried the back of my other hand. He needed 5 tubes, only got two before the vein blew. He gave up. I felt bad because they both seemed defeated, but on the other hand, I sat there like a trooper while they dug around under my skin with needles, and I didn’t even get a lollipop! They had a whole jarful, and I didn’t get one! Where's my freaking lollipop?

Skipped the gym today, and went to a movie instead. But before that we braved the commissary. Reality slapped me like a cold, wet rag: I cannot walk the entire distance of the commissary and then stand in line to pay for everything. I had to go sit in the car and wait for the Spouse Thingy to survive the line and then bring the groceries out to the car.

PT better work, dammit.

There are 2 really good used bookstores in town, and they both sell audio books, which the Spouse Thingy loves (long commute, they help pass the time…) Problem? 99% of them are on cassette, and he needs CDs. He did find 4 books on CD, and got them for less than the price on one brand new one. But still…if I’m gonna whine, I’m gonna whine about it all.


But I’m done now.


Creepy Old Guy has apparently followed me from Ohio to California and from the Beavercreek Y to Gold's Gym. Or he has a twin. Imagine my surprise when I wandered out of the women's locker room to see New Creepy Old Guy (it has to be a new guy...right?) in the pool. He looks ALOT like Old Creepy Old Guy, and he stares the same way. You know, the kind of stare you'd expect out of some harmless old perv--the guy who doesn't realize he's leering like a lech, but wouldn't even think of laying a hand on you.

New Creepy Old Guy could be Old Creepy Old Guy's twin. Same hair, same leer, same build, same sagging man-boobs...Oddly enough, seeing Creepy New Guy made me think that this will be a good place to swim. I think I kind of missed Creepy Old Guy. But I don't miss all the crud that floated through the Y's water--which hopefully wasn't there due to Creepy Old Guy.

In other news, Thumper had a doctor’s appointment today (routine chit) and walked out without picking up her new prescriptions. Let us now add senility to the growing list of Thumper’s ills…


On Golden...Sweat

In the face of being told “Yep, it’s arthritis” (well, not those words exactly…but that was the consensus between my doc, the other doc, and the radiologist) I realized I have to get back to some form of exercise. Sweating and grunting and heavy breathing is supposed to be good for arthritis; at least low impact sweating and grunting and heavy breathing is. But not sweating and grunting and heavy breathing in a fun way.

So we went to Gold’s Gym yesterday to check out the facilities.

I remember when Gold’s was a musclehead’s paradise: the walls dripped with testosterone, ephedra, caffeine, aspirin, and more testosterone, and women were most definitely not welcome there. Women had their little day spas, not free weights. When I worked at International Fitness Center, as the tide was turning and women were more accepted in the gym (because there were aerobics classes!) Gold’s was still known more for the “serious” body builder and not delicate little ladies.

Not anymore.
I think the women outnumber the men.
I think the women could hurt the men…

I was blown over by the sheer volume of available equipment, the classes they offer, the pool…and the price. It is a little pricey compared to the Y, but the Y is far enough away that I’d chew up in gas the difference in membership fees.

They gave us each a free 2 week pass to try it out. Now, sure, I know they’ll give anyone a free 2 week pass, but this was us! I felt special! And having 2 weeks is especially helpful, as the pool has to be warm enough for my poor FMS body to handle. If the water is too cold, there’s no point in joining.

So we went to the gym today.
The water was warm enough.
And just off the women’s locker room is a women’s only weight room.

The locker room is clean, cleaner than any locker room I’ve ever been in (and that includes the IFC locker room that I used to clean…) They have everything you could need, except perhaps, as the Spouse Thingy pointed out, a toothbrush. Sterilized combs, spray deodorant, shampoo and body soap, blow dryers… and did I mention how clean it is?

I only swam for half an hour today, mostly because the cheap assed nose plug I bought wouldn’t stay on, the snorkel leaked, and my goggles wouldn’t stay in place. Tomorrow I shall venture forth for new, better, and shiny equipment! After the doctor’s appointment…

I don’t harbor any illusions about dropping 70 pounds by the end of summer and looking all minty fresh and sparkly—I’ve worked out hard before and it hasn’t happened—but maybe I can keep the grumblies that have invaded my back and hip from getting any louder.

Or maybe I’ll hit week 2 and say “screw it,” and never go back.

We shall see…


Ignore Me, I'm Feeling Saccharine Today...

One of my favorite places to visit online is The Mows. It’s a daily comic strip about 3 cats, Noni, Indy, and Tigey, and it’s based on 3 real cats. A couple of days ago I surfed on in to get my daily giggle, but was greeted by a plain white page with a drawing of Tigey, announcing his death. The real Tigey, not the comic Tigey.

It hit me kinda hard. And stayed stuck in my head. I realized after a little while that what was hitting me so hard was Dusty. My gut feeling was that Tigey went through what Dusty did, only much faster. And Jay, the guy who draws The Mows, was kind enough to run a few strips yesterday explaining what happened to Tigey…and it was so much like Dusty that it hit me again. And at the bottom of the page of the strips explaining Tigey’s death are a couple of pictures of the real Tigey.

He could have been Dusty’s brother.

Yeah, I don’t think I’m an entirely rational person; Dusty died 4 years ago. I thought I was “over” it. But those little furballs work so deep into you that I suppose you never really get over missing them. I still miss Hank, too, and he’s been gone almost 2 years.

Now I watch my psychotic little furball snooze on the bed, and realize I’ll have to go through it all over again someday. Maybe more than once, if we decide to get another kitten this spring.

I’ll get through it when it happens; intellectually I know that. Knowing that our furry friends don’t live long enough won’t keep me from having them in my life.

But right now…it stings a little. And I’m sure Jay and his family are stinging over losing Tigey. So if you would, send good thoughts their way. Like Dusty, Tigey wasn’t “just a cat.” None of them are “just” animals. They’re little parasites, feeding off our hearts…and that’s okay.


Ok…Next on Thumper Has A New Toy. A trip to the base hospital.

I’m sitting in the waiting room at the Family Practice Clinic in the base hospital, waiting to be called back. This is my least favorite part of being seen at the clinic: the first thing they do is weigh you. Thing is, I know what I weigh and I’m not thrilled with it, so I don't really care to share that number with anyone else, especially some young airman who has to squash the giggles while he or she thinks "Ahoy, there be a whale!!!"

Then comes BP. Not a bad thing, but for some reason I seem to have white coat syndrome. My BP at home is perfectly normal--last time The Spouse Thingy checked (and he does periodically, to make sure what I have really is WCS and not high BP) it was 112/722. I get here and it shoots up to 150/88 or thereabouts. But they do believe me when I tell them that...though last time the med tech came back after I'd been sitting there for 5 minutes to recheck. It went from 150/88 to 120/76. Go figure.

The thing I especially don't like about sitting in the waiting room is the exposure to all the sick people. Face it, a lot of people are here because they feel like crap and want to be fixed. Who can blame them? If you're puking up your toenails every 10 minutes, you want someone to give you something to stop that. So as sympathetic as I might feel, that doesn't mean I want to share airspace with them.

Thumper's hint #1 for getting away from a clinic waiting room uncootified: sit next to the really old people. There's a good chance they're only there to take care of non-communicable things, like arthritis or Lumago, or in the case of some of the 90 year old men, they just want Viagra.

Yeah, there's a pretty picture for your head.

Oh, and as fun as this toy is, it's not a laptop. In fact, it's so not a laptop that it's sliding off my lap...

Hint #2: don't follow hint #1 if you're susceptible to smells. Old people tend to pass gas without realizing it. At least, the old people I manage to always wind up next to.

Yeehaw, I have now been called back, been weighed (ugh), BP was 139/80, and now I'm sitting here, waiting for the doc. And I'm going to be famous, because I'm in the We're Taping For Education room. My exam is going to be immortalized on video tape. Yay. Hey, they may be taping me as I sit here, tapping away on the keyboard. I suppose that's better than being taped while I pick my nose, forgetting that there’s a camera there.

All hail the power of suggestion. My nose itches, and now I have the feeling like there's a zit on my shoulder that wants to be popped.

Damn camera.

I wonder if I'll get to keep my pants on this time. Last time there was a med student, and in order for him to get a better feel of my lower back, I dropped trou to let him feel me up better....oh, I learned years ago, always wear Lycra shorts under the jeans. It's just more comfortable than prancing around in your undies. That's hint #3. Be prepared. However, I have the shorts and I shaved my legs, so chances are I'll remain fully clothed.

Mostly I'm just here to get my MRI results and see what the blood work showed. I'm not even seeing my regular doc. Not sure why she was unavailable but it was see a newby or wait Who Knows How Long.

Oooh, Monday I have an endocrinology appointment. Maybe I'll be nice and spare y'all the minute by minute details of that one...

===We now pause for station identification, or the doctor will see me now===

Ok, all done. I let myself be poked and prodded and twisted and turned for the sake of medical advancement, and because each doc I see seems to feel the need to poke and prod and twist and turn me, even though the paper in front of them says I have been poked and prodded and twisted and turned numerous times already. He pulled up the MRI results (and the MRI itself--and it was like ANIMATION! Like my dream! But without the exploding macaroni spine...) and discovered that the imaging was not done far enough into the thingys that connect the spine and pelvis and hip, which is where the pain seems to originate, and what they wanted to see.

It did show spinal arthritis at L4 and L5, but that would not explain the hip pain.

He also pulled up my blood work on the computer; my cholesterol is so-so (ok he says for someone with no family history of heart disease) and it came back positive for inflammation.

Since he is not my regular doc, he wants to discuss this with her, and get back to me. Oy. But I think they're leaning towards arthritis as the cause, and he thinks she might want to repeat the MRI to get a deeper look into the joints.

I was not in much pain before the exam, but after the poking and prodding and twisting and turning, I am feeling it a bit. So I shall go make myself feel better, with lunch and a piece of cake.

Yes, cake cures everything.
That's my excuse, anyway.

Thus endeth Thumper’s Trip To The Doctor. She promises to spare you Monday’s potentially long ass appointment. Maybe.


Quite Possibly the funniest (and awe-inspiring!) thing you'll read today...or this week...or even this month...
Thumper has a new toy. It's a NEC Mobilepro 780--like a hybrid between an PDA and a laptop system--and will hopefully function as the thing upon which I will write my next best seller, as I bounce from place to place, restaurant to restaurant, in search of the Best Place To Cough Up Words.

Today's blog entry is being brought to you from Pizza Pucks in Vacaville, CA (yes, Spouse Thingy, I went without you! :::insert evil laughter:::) Most of my better writing is done away from my desk; there are too many things to distract me there, like the Internet. And TV. And things in the kitchen calling out to me (its usually junk food; for some reason I never hear a cucumber or tomato call my name, nor do the dishes sing out, "Come and wash me come and wash me!") When I was writing Finding Father Rabbit I often lugged my laptop to the cafe at Barnes & Noble, or to the base library, but face it: those suckers can be heavy. They're portable but not especially enjoyable to carry around.

If this thing weighs half a pound, I'll be surprised. It functions like a PDA, with a touch screen and stylus, and it will run programs for the Pocket PC, but it looks like a miniature laptop. It's spiffy. And it was an awesomely good find on Ebay, possibly much better than the Alphasmart I've drooled over for the past 3 years,

Bored yet?

So I'm sitting here in Pizza Pucks, and yes, I'm getting strange looks. For one, I think I'm the only person here who wandered in alone, and I'm definitely the only one tapping away on a keyboard while waiting for food.

What? I should sit here with a book or a magazine in order to blend in well? BTDT...and, well, I need new glasses; right now reading is kinda difficult.

Actually, I think people are just curious about what I'm doing. About 3 years ago I had a regular PDA with a portable keyboard that I would haul around with me, and I frequently sat in the Travis AFB food court to write. People looked then, too, but the portable keyboards were relatively new at the time, so they were curious. And not shy about asking. It once took me 20 minutes to write out 4 or 5 sentences because of all the interruptions...but I didn't mind. I was practically asking for it, sitting there with a new toy that surely other people coveted. One woman wanted to know about it because it looked like something her grandson might like for his birthday. A couple other people just wanted one because it would be a new toy to have (not that *I* would ever be like that, nooo...)

No one's asking this time, and that's just fine. Of course, if I were working on a book instead of a blog entry, things would be different. I'd probably have people crawling out of the woodwork to ask questions.

Still reading? You haven't dropped dead from sheer boredom yet?

Oooh. Pizza's here.

'Tis very good, It's pepperoni. Here, have a sniff...

Next up on Thumper's new toy: I have a book to finish. I've been working on an FMS book for over 2 years, and it's very slow going. I'm better with fiction, where I can make chit up and not worry about whether or not every detail is exactly correct. Where I can give character cancer without having to know all the particulars about which kind, when just a general knowledge will suffice.

That's the problem With FMS. Even though millions of people have it, including yours truly, there's not a whole lot known about it. They still don't know the cause and there's sure as heck no cure for it yet. That's not what the book is about, anyway; it's about the people who live with it every day, the people who have to figure out who to manage having chronic pain and manage having a life at the same time, especially when so may doctors don't even believe in it, and some of those who do don't grasp how bad it can get. They figure, "eh, eat better and start exercising, and you'll be 99% better."

If that were the case, people with FMS would be a lot happier. And thinner. And would have kick-ass muscles with which they could kick the shins of the next doctor to tell them it's all in their little heads.

Oh, and the pizza is still good :)

And I am going to have so much fun with my new little toy. I suppose I'll have to find places other than eateries to write, though, or else I really will wind up weighing 300 pounds. While I aspire to many things, morbid obesity is not one of them.

I'm not even happy with borderline obesity.

Ok. The pizza is almost gone; there's still a slice, but I am stuffed. I'll leave it here on the table if you want it. Now I'm gonna hit "save" and turn this thing off, hoping that it really did save to my flash card. Then I will get into my other new toy and head home, where I will post this for all.

Still reading and not dying of boredom?

Damn, you really are a dedicated reader!


Even though today was quite windy, the apartment pool looked awfully inviting as I walked past it on my way to pick up the mail. I had the thought in my head that it might be a good time to suck it up and put my swim suit on and do a few laps, just to get myself back into the routine of working out.

Then on my return trip two young--around 11 years old--girls were just getting into the pool. I walked on, thumbing through the mail, hoping for some anonymous check for ten millions dollars, when I heard one shriek, “That’s so cold I just got nipples!!!”

Um, yeah.
I think I’ll wait before I try the apartment pool out…


About The Yellow Stockings…

Remember these names:
Colby Cushman
Jessica Anderson
Danny Webber
Andrew Hayes
Nestor Campos
Amber Cheatham
Fae Salfiti
Tim Andrews
Paris Watson
Stewart Smith
Shaun Nuusa
Curt Thompson

Especially Curt Thompson.

You have to remember those names, because in the years to come, you’re going to see their names on marquees and in movie ads, on you TV screens and the entertainment section of your newspapers. You’re going to see them, because they are that good.

Curt Thompson would be The Boy. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned him by name here before, but that’s him. That’s my son. Our son. The Spouse Thingy and I have always been proud of him, and admired that he stayed here to go to school while we went off to Ohio for two years, but tonight we got a glimpse of his future, and holy hell. At the risk of being Way Too Proud parents. Holy Hell.

He is good.

This is the first time we’ve seen him perform since the 8th grade play of Hee Haw Hayride; last week he showed us a short film he was in that taped his second or third week of being in the Actor’s Training Program, and he was good in that, but tonight… he was good.

The entire cast of Twelfth Night was amazing. I sat there, transfixed, completely sucked into the story and the characters—and that was it, we saw them not as the actors but as the characters—and I followed it in a way I’ve never followed Shakespeare before. I “get” Shakespeare; I had great teachers through the years. But tonight I saw Shakespeare and got why the Boy likes performing Shakespeare so much.

But the fishnet stockings. And the pantyhose…

Those of you who guessed it must be a play, you win a cookie. The Boy played the part of Malvolio, a part requiring the donning of bright yellow stockings. And he wore them proudly, prancing (yes, prncing! And spinning!) on stage in his bright yellow tights and equally bright yellow A-shirt, and on that stage I didn’t see my son in skin tight…tights; I was watching Malvolio. I was watching a guy who can be a real ass, a guy who let some of his other side through and was tormented for it, embarrassed and humiliated, and a guy who walks away in the end, not having really learned anything about himself.

The Spouse Thingy and I couldn’t stop talking about it on the way home; and honestly, it wasn’t just the Boy we gushed over. We only got to see half the class of 2005 perform, but those kids…those are all amazing talents.

Sitting here, I have these twinges of regret; if we’d been here all along, we could have seen them all develop. We could have seen the Boy take those steps from the kid in the short film to the real actor that was on stage tonight. We’ve always believed in his drive to do this, but damn… now we know.

My kid is an actor. And he’s a damned fine one.


Things I Never Thought I Would Take My 22 Year Old Son To Buy:

Fishnet stockings.
And tights.


When I was 5 years old, we got a cat. It wasn’t the family’s first cat, but it’s the first one I remember. She was a black tortoise shell named Midnight, but my Dad insisted on re-naming her. It was a fair trade for agreeing to let us have the cat, after all.

He named her Ataturk. Ataturk ElCordoba.

Hey, she never seemed to mind, and it was original. I never came across another pet with the same name, unlike the dozens of Spots and Fidos, or even all the Maxs.

She died when I was 20. That’s a nice long life for a cat; she had been diagnosed with cancer a couple of years before, so it was no surprise. And by the time she was gone, I had moved to Utah to finish school…so I never really got to say goodbye.

But last night, there she was in one of my dreams. No, I wasn’t a kid in this dream. I was my almost 44 years old self, talking to a 39 year old Ataturk. That she was there and alive in the dream didn’t seem the least bit odd. Nor did the fact that in this dream she was roughly the size of a Golden Retriever. Other things in the dream that were out of place—people from old neighborhoods, a birthday party, alligators, and Max—seemed perfectly normal, too.

She walked out of a room, and I didn’t seem the least bit surprised to see her there. Ataturk was her normal self: she sat between me and the Spouse Thingy, as she would do when any male other than my dad were near me. She glared at everyone else. She ate an alligator, something that she probably would have tried at some point, if she could have. After all, this is the cat who once, when she managed to sneak outside, was found chasing a German Shepherd. She clawed at the couch, shredding it to pieces.

The only odd thing was that she seemed to like, and approve of, Max.

I got the chance to pet her, let her rub against me, and then she was gone. I woke up, and she was gone.

Again, I didn’t get to say goodbye.

It makes me wonder…are we always supposed to get to say goodbye? One thing that always stuck with me reading Tuesdays With Morrie was the idea death ends a life, not a relationship.

So maybe saying goodbye isn’t all that important, not as important as keeping the string that ties two people—or beings, as the case may be—together intact is.

Chances are, for whatever reason, people cannot leave comments right now. All day I've gotten this "The Blog you were looking for cannot be found" message, with a button to take me back to blogger's dashboard.

So if you have Blogger commenting, and no one's leaving comments, try not to take it personally. Chances are they're trying and just can't...


<== This is why I think I should be outside, playing with my new toy, making up places to go and see instead of sitting here at my desk, where I’m making up things to do online instead of work. I even paid bills rather than work. Though I think I dated them all wrong…

Earlier I did go out and gas up my car, all by myself. Yes, this is an accomplishment. Usually I wait until the Spouse Thingy is with me, and he gets out and does it. I was quite proud of myself, figuring out the Costco gas pumps, which I avoided before because you have to stick your membership in first (don’t laugh…I have this thing about doing stuff for the first time.)

I even went and bought some sunscreen, reasoning that a convertible + sunshine = potential skin cancer down the road. Yep, I stood in Wal Mart, pondering all the possibilities. 30 spf? 40? 48? 50? In the end I chose some non-greasy 48, paid for it…and promptly put it in the trunk, where I forgot about it until I got home.

Yes, I now have 3 different kinds of things growing on the tips of my ears because I did not apply sunscreen for the 5 minutes it took me to get home.

Once I got home, I realized we were out of bread.

That gives me a reason to go back out, right? Bread, milk, ice cream for the Boy, since the Spouse Thingy couldn’t find the one he wanted at the commissary (where I assure you, it was not free. You should have heard the checkbook crying…)

Oh! And most importantly, Cadbury Chocolate Crème Eggs. Am I the only person who cannot find these this year? Do I need to drive across the country? Did they not make them this year? Do they not know some of us depend on them this time of year, every year?

Well now.
I have a mission to accomplish.
Find the Cadbury Chocolate Crème Eggs.

Have new toy, will travel…



Why does the cat feel he has to help me make the bed?
Why do my neighbors feel the need to have headboard banging sex at 3 a.m.?
What is it I find so appealing about half the crap on HGTV?
How is it possible to have warm fuzzy feelings about a car dealership?
Why is there no Schlotzsky’s around here? Shouldn’t that be illegal?
Why don’t more bloggers use Blogrolling?
Why am I dragging my ass about getting new glasses?
Do I really want to know who finds my blog by searching for “Rabbit Sex?”
Why has Bowling For Soup been stuck in my head for 3 days?
Why can I not think of 10 Things Have Done That You Probably Haven’t?
Why does the cat feel some pressing need to use me as his mattress in the middle of the night?
How many more things can I think of while I delay paying the bills?


MRI of my back and hip tonight... hopefully this will provide the answers to the pain. I'm not holding my breath, tho. I didn't mind being in the tube at all. It's a wonder what valium can do for you.


And thusly did the Heavens open up and did sunshine begin to shine upon the land in every direction, as far as the eye could see. Oh, and both The Spouse Thingy and Murf finally updated their blogs...


Virtual Dandruff...

The result of virtual head scratching. Imaginary white flakes that flutter from my cyber-head onto my cyber-shoulders, as I try to figure out where some people get their information, and why they believe it with such insistence.

I know this person online; we occasionally IM and she knows that if I find something she says to be pretty out there*, it’ll wind up on my blog. ‘Cause I’m immature that way. You amuse me, perplex me, piss me off, entertain me, make me smile—you’re probably going to end up on my blog. Anonymously. My immaturity does have a limit.

This person has the tendency to tick me off, amuse me, and entertain me all at once.

Today’s Topic: Why The Military Needs To Stop Giving People Pay Raises.

Her: It’s ridiculous, giving those people 10% raises every year!
Me: Um, we never saw a 10% raise in 20 years. When we got 4%, it was An Event.
Her: My dad told me it was always 10%. But that doesn’t even matter.
Her: All the free stuff should be enough
Me: What free stuff?
Her: Free housing, free food, free medical.
Her: They get that AND good pay!

Yes…this went on for a while. She is convinced that every member of the military is making over $60,000 a year, gets free rent, free run of the commissary, a free medical.

I can’t argue the free medical. If you choose TriCare Prime and see doctors on base, get your meds on base, it’s essentially “free.” A benefit.

But no, folks, military people do not get free houses or free food. And sadly, she’s not the first person I’ve talked to who believe that they do.

I think the misconception comes in not understanding the military pay system. There’s an allowance for housing—a specified dollar amount based on rank and geographical location—and there is a “Subsistence Allowance,” a dollar amount meant to cover some food expenses.

The misunderstanding occurs when assuming that those are “extras.” They’re not. It’s a part of the military member’s overall pay. If they live in base housing, that part of their pay is withheld. If they eat in the mess halls, they don’t get the subsistence pay; they get a meal card instead. They don’t get the housing allowance while living in base housing because that is the amount of rent they are being charged; they don’t get the subsistence pay while using a meal card because that is the amount per month they are being charged for food.

And trust me, if the commissary were free, it would be packed to the gills every day, and there would be a much higher rate of obesity among active duty and their dependents than already exists.

If the pay were so wonderful, some of our junior enlisted—the guys on whose backs the success of the military pretty much rides—would not qualify for food stamps. They would not have to rely on the base Food Closets or Airman’s Attics (household goods donated for use by those enlisted who need things.) Face it, when you’re an airman who makes $1400 a month in basic pay, you’re not getting rich.

I never did get her to understand that those Allowances are a part of the military member’s pay that get taken away when they move into base housing or don’t use the mess halls…she’s still floating around cyber space, certain that A1C Smith has enough cash to buy himself a Cadillac, which he drives to the free commissary from his free house to collect all his free food…

If the food was free all along, dammit, I want my money back!

*Well, Obviously, I’m A Loser

Thumper Nekkid On The Hood


High tech isn’t always very good, especially when it comes to toilets.

Our local Walmart is in the process of a complete overhaul, and that includes the restrooms. They’ve installed spiffy new sinks that spritz out water when you wave your hand in the communal trough, shiny new stalls, and self flushing toilets.

Ideally, they are self flushing. Ideally.

I was in the restroom today, where I sometimes (often, let’s be honest) wind up during excursions to this Big Box Wonder Store, and as I came out of the stall, there stood an older woman, looking confused and a little upset.

“I can’t figure out how to flush,” she said in a near whisper, seemingly embarrassed.

Since the one I had just had my keister on worked perfectly, I assumed hers just needed to be reset. I headed for her stall, and you could see the red creep into her face. In her mind: oh no, someone is going to see my TP! She’ll know what I did! In mine: I pee, too, lady, it’s no big deal… But I could empathize with her. It’s one thing to not care about other people’s pee; it’s a different matter entirely when it’s yours on display.

I pushed the reset and it flushed, showed her where the button was, and I explained to her what to do in the future if the same thing happened. As I went to wash my hands she turned back and stared at the stall, and muttered, “Someone really needs to write that down and paste it on the wall.”

Because truly, not everyone is hip to the newest toys.

I didn’t tell her what would happen if someone dropped a serious load, including a serious amount of toilet paper into one of those self flushers, and it started to flush. She was upset enough as it was…


Somewhere, written in stone, are the words “Purchasing A Car Must Be A Long, And Painfully Boring Experience,” or maybe “Thou Shalt Not Enjoy The Process Of Automotive Purchasing.” Because no matter where you go, new car dealership, used car dealership, no-haggle pricing dealership, it is going to take 432.8 hours and you will have to sign your name to 16 reams of paper.

In the end, hopefully it will be worth it. Since my cute little red LeBaron was rapidly going downhill (it’s a problem when your car does not consistently turn right when you want it to) and there was a nice looking Sebring convertible in Sacramento at an awesome price, we decided this was the right time to subject ourselves to the torture of buying a car. Naïve me, I thought that it would go a lot quicker at a no-haggle place, but no… It took longer.

But the car was so pretty, and so nicely loaded, drove so sweetly, and was so nicely priced…we suffered the risk of dying of boredom and carpal tunnel from signing our names so much. We suffered the pangs of hunger from skipping lunch. After almost 4 hours (or maybe 3.5, but the Spouse Thingy was pretty sure it was 4) we had the keys and drove off in our sparkly black new-to-us car. The top was down, the wind was blowing through our hairs, and we were oh-so-happy.

If I could have, I would have danced in my seat all the way home.

By the time we were done, we were starving. So when we got close to home, we stopped at a Burger King for dinner (how celebratory!), and I thought it would be Very Nice of me to let the Spouse Thingy drive the rest of the way home. All 5 blocks.

He is paying for it, after all.

So he fired it up and started to back out…and it died. He tried to start it up again, and nothing. Not.A.Thing. No click click click of a starter. The engine made no attempt to turn over. Nada.


At that moment, I think I invented new and extremely colorful swear words. Words no one else has heard before. Words that would make the devil himself blush. And I was going to make the dealership come down and take the piece of chit back, shoved up someone’s ass if need be.

The Boy came out to see if jump starting it would work.
It did not.

Yes, with 3 s’s.
Extra pissed.

On a whim, the Spouse Thingy asked for my key. He got behind the wheel, shoved my key in…and it started. And stayed running.

He turned it off, stuck his key in. And nothing.
My key in. It worked.

The heavens opened up, sunshine poured out of the skies, and all was right with the world again. Thumper bought a car with electronic keys, and one of them did not work. The dealership (at least the woman the Spouse Thingy spoke to seems to think) will pay for a 2nd key for the car.

We brought our new baby home, put it to bed, and the Boy went out to meet some friends.

He called 15 minutes later.
He locked his keys in the car.
We don’t have a spare key for it.

The Spouse Thingy is now sitting in a parking lot with the Boy, waiting for someone the insurance company is sending to open his door.

A perfect end to a =cough= perfect day.


Random Thoughts, Part 5,690,999

Just because you’re a celebrity, that doesn’t make you a political whiz. Save the displays of ignorance for your private audiences (read: family and friends), like the rest of us do. We pays our monies to see you entertain us, not have you try to educate and indoctrinate us. For that we have teachers, TIME, Newsweek, The New York Times, CNN, Fox News, 150,000 blogs, and FARK.

I am a much more impatient person than I used to think I was.

Vicodin does actually work when it’s almost 3 a.m. and you’re in intense pain and can’t sleep because of it. So why it doesn’t work when the pain is generally quite a bit less, I don’t know…

Having a stray cat be thrilled to see you is, in an odd way, kind of a kick. Knowing he doesn’t want anything more than to be petted for 5.7 seconds, and he wants you to be the one doing the petting, is a funky little boost to the self esteem.

Purchasing a swimsuit 2 sizes too small is an act of faith. Ordering it online is an act of potential insanity. That would make one (ahem, me)…faithfully insane? Or just utterly stupid…

At some point, you can convince yourself that an I Want has truly become an I Need.


The Dilemma

It’s just a cold.

The nausea went away after a couple days of doing not much else than lying in bed and snoozing, and the rest has settled into a mildly sore throat, a little stuffiness, and a cough.

It’s not a major cough, but it is a cough.
I don’t even feel that bad.
But I sound funky, I think.
I answered the phone earlier, and I could barely talk.

The thing is…I reallllly want a pizza. I’ve wanted a pizza for a week, and I reallllly want one right now. I didn’t lose my appetite when I contracted the weenie of all colds, so it would not be a waste. It’s not like I would order the pizza, then sit there and stare at it like it was a circular pile of alien vomit.

I would totally eat it.

The real thing is, if I go out to get this pizza, I will be exposing other people to my cooties. Now, on one hand I feel justified, because surely someone else was wandering around in public, spreading the joy. On the other hand…well, there really is no other hand, since I don’t particularly want to spread it around.

But I want the damn pizza.
I want it so much the want feels like need.
And I don’t want delivery.


:::stomps off, trying to justify going out:::