How can it possibly be October already?
Hell, we left Ohio almost a year ago.
Christmas is in less then three months.
Three months!
After we move, I need for time to slow down.
But not until then...


That Which Pools In the Deepest Of Scars…And Then Haunts My Dreams

The Boy was seven years old and it was long past time for him to learn how to swim. We lived on base and the pool was less than a two miles away, so at the end of the school year we signed him up for Red Cross sponsored swimming lessons. The lessons ran in two or three week blocks, and the kids were tested on their developing swimming skills at the end of each block.

He did well; he took to the water without fear and was promoted to the next skill level at the end of each block. He was also fortunate in that he was able to keep the same instructor through the summer, plus his class was the final one each morning before the pool opened. The pool opened at 11 a.m. and his class ended at 10:30, so the life guards allowed the kids to stay and jump off the diving board or swim as long as their instructors were sticking around.

While he was an “advanced beginner” the instructor hung around after and encouraged the kids to jump off the high dive. He stayed in the deep end with them, promising he would not let them drown; just jump and try to swim to me. If you can’t make it, I’ll get you.

The Boy was fearless on the high dive. He looked forward to it every day. Forget the classes; he just wanted to get through those—which now were complete with the swimming of laps—so that he could jump off the high dive. Not all the kids were as thrilled as he was; there were several kids 6-7 years older who simply could not deal with the height. No, no one made fun of them. It was always “Maybe tomorrow,” as they climbed back down, and those kids would stand at the side of the pool and cheer on those who were willing to give it a try.

The fewer kids willing to jump, the more chances the Boy had. He’d scramble up the ladder, walk to the end of the board, jump in with as much flair as a seven year old can muster, swim to the side without help, and wait his turn to do it all over again.

Enter my stupidity.

After a class where he’d done several laps, then jumped off the high dive a couple dozen times, it was time to go. We were on the far side of the pool, and as we walked along the side, I told him to swim one more lap—but not in the shallow end where he could (and would) put his feet down. Just swim, and I’ll meet you on the other side.

He said he was too tired. Assuming he would have continued to jump off that diving board and swim for another hour if we hadn’t needed to leave, I didn’t believe him. After all, swimming laps isn’t nearly as fun as the high dive.

I told him to swim it. So he dove in and started to swim.

A little more than halfway across he turned, his eyes wide, and said, “I don’t think I can make it.”

He started to slip under the water.

As I went for my shoes—big heavy high-top suckers that would have weighed me down—he popped back up, but then went under again.

The lifeguard on the other side of the pool noticed, jumped in and grabbed him, and brought him to the shallow end. His instructor took the time to enforce a lesson he had been taught early on; if you get tired, flip over onto your back and float.

He was never in any danger; if the lifeguard hadn’t gotten him I would have. He never would have touched bottom. But I still have nightmares about that. He said he was tired and I made him swim anyway. He said he was tired and I wouldn’t let him swim that lap in the shallow end of the pool. He was never a liar; he said he was tired, I should have accepted that he was tired.

He’s 22 now and every once in a while that little face slipping under the water haunts my dreams. I can see it as clearly as the day it happened. I can hear his tired little voice. I still see his eyes.

Every parent makes mistakes. Every parent does really stupid things. We try our best, but we leave scars on our kids, and we can only hope they’re not too deep or too many. We regret them for the rest of our lives. We live with The Why pounding in our heads.

Why didn’t I take his word that he was tired? Why was it so important to me that he not be able to put his feet down? Why did I try to take my own damned shoes off before diving in? Why, why, why, why…

I don’t think the Boy is especially fond of swimming. He used to be; even after that he wanted to swim. But over the years I noticed he was never very excited about the prospect of going to a pool.

One of the many scars I inflicted on him.

Yeah, we all scar our kids.

And in the process, we scar ourselves.


I no longer have reruns of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine or Star Trek: Next Generation as an excuse for getting little done in the way of sit-at-my-desk-and-create type work. Spike TV has played them all through so many times that I don’t feel compelled to tune in and let the TV run for 5 straight hours.

Nope, I’m no longer a slave to the TV.


I am a slave to the nice, moderate temps, the sunny skies, and possession of a car with a top that goes down when I want it to and up when I need it to. It doesn’t matter that gas is an arm and three quarters of a leg per gallon. I have a new distraction.

Well, an old distraction come back to enjoy the nice Autumn days.

Joy riding.

I can invent errands to run if I feel pressed to have a reason to be out on the road, but honestly, most days I just get in and drive. I avoid the Interstate because there’s always a semi that picks me to ride alongside, so I take the Long Way To Everywhere, Green Day blaring from the stereo (prompting looks from hybrid drivers that suggest “You ARE an American Idiot”) and the wind whipping through my perfect-for-a-convertible hair.

Yes, there is such a thing. Some hair is too long—you could wind up with it wrapped around your neck and choking you to death (think of Isadora Duncan and her scarf…)—and some hair is just too short, because it doesn’t move in the breeze. Mine…mine is perfect. It whips around but doesn’t get in my eyes. It flutters gently about my head, as if teased by tiny little fingers. It rides on wisps of wind. (Shut up. I’m being literary here.)

So basically, the 3 projects I have sitting here simmering are still not getting done, but I’m having a spiffy time not doing them.

I have Convertible Hair.
Hear me roar.


So he was in public...why?

Overheard while in line at Walmart:

"Moooooommmmm....I need to go to schoooool!"
"You can't. You're sick."



It went something like this:

Max: Meow. Meow meow meow meow meow.
         (Dude. Tonight we drive her crazy.)
Buddah: Meow meow meow meow meow?
         (Won’t that piss her off?)
Max: Meow meow!
         (Hell yes!)
Buddah: Meow meow meow meow…
         (But she’s the Mom…)
Max: Meow?
Buddah: Meow meow meow meow meow meow meow !
         (She feeds us and plays with us!)
Max: Meow. Meow meow meow meow meow MEOW meow !
         (Dude. She let the bald guy STAB me!)
Buddah: Meow.
Max: Meow , meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow.
         (So, every half an hour, we’re going to sing.)
Buddah: Meow meow meow meow?
         (Won’t she like that?)
Max: Meow meow meow meow.
         (Not all night long.)
Buddah: Meow meow. Meow meow meow meow meow.
         (You sing. I’ll sit on her face.)
Max: Meow meow. Meow meow meow meow, meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow, meow meow meow meow meow!
         (Awesome idea. And in the morning, you get on one side of her head and I’ll get on the other, and we’ll talk her awake!)
Buddah: Meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow!
          (I’ll save all my night farts for that!)
Max: Meow meow meow meow, meow…
         (You’re coming along nicely, monster…)


“Revenge Is Mine,” Sayeth The Cat…

4:45 a.m.

I wake from a deep sleep, my Mommy ears prickling at the sound of a young one calling, and as I wake further I realize there’s a cat meowing in the bathroom. I can’t tell if he’s just talking to himself or crying, but he doesn’t stop so I have to get up and check. It could be either cat, trying to get someone to come un-stick their head from a laundry basket, or either cat talking to the ghost in the corner.

I flick on the light and squint against the sudden brightness; Max is lying in the towel basket, which I keep in the tub for the sake of additional floor space. He’s meowing at me, calling to me, it’s obvious. So I ask if he’s all right, worried that the mouth pain that drove me to take him to the vet has become worse.

Max looks at me, and yawns with his mouth as wide open as he can possibly get it. Then he stands up, turns around and plops down, looking over his shoulder at me with this look that says, “By the way, that yawn was my way of FLIPPING YOU OFF.”

As if pooping on me wasn’t revenge enough…

The vet called this afternoon; Max’s amylase levels are back up, hence the pushing around his mouth with his tongue—he’s been nauseous. Chances are his mouth was in no pain, he simply felt like throwing up every time he opened it. So he stays on the antibiotic, and because this has proven to be a chronic problem, we’ll pulse the antibiotics: 2-3 weeks on, 2-3 weeks off, and keep a careful eye on those blood tests.

I’ll worry in the long term what chronic pancreatitis will do to his life span, but in the short term…one day and he already acts like he feels 100% better, and we can look back and see that over the last few weeks he’s been quieter than usual. So now we know. He has a problem, it’ll be ongoing, but we can take care of it.

And hopefully he won’t poop on me again…


Like any little kid, I got Max to the vet and lo and behold, his mouth opened. Not just a little bit, but the doc was able to open it all the way, further, he said, than he can usually get most cats open. Max was not happy, but he allowed the vet to not only examine his mouth, but peer deeply into his ears and rub his jaws as he looked for the source of the pain.

If not for the fever—yep, Max let that happen, too—he would have made me look like a typical overprotective mother, dragging her kid to the pediatrician for every little sniffle. The doc mused that regardless of how far his mouth opened, just the fact that Max allowed himself to be poked and prodded was proof that he’s not feeling well.

Instead of biting and snarling, he showed his immense displeasure by pooping on the table. And then he jumped up onto my shoulder, slid down my arm and back, and pooped on me while he was at it.

This wasn’t garden variety cat poop, either. It smelled so freaking bad that even people in the waiting room were starting to gag.

The doc cleaned the table off, helped me clean the back of my arm off, and he took Max to the back for blood work. We’re still keeping an eye on his pancreas, plus he wanted to get a look at other things to see if whatever is making Max feel like crap can be pinpointed.

So Max pooped back there, too.

As a precaution—considering his amylase levels before and Just In Case—they sent us home with an antibiotic (chances are this will become part of his life, on three weeks, off three weeks) and will call us tomorrow with the blood work.

And just to be sure I got the message, Max pooped a little on the way home, too.

Fun times.


He’s not feeling too hot…again.

This time he seems to have something wrong with his mouth, whether it’s a cavity or abscess, or plugged salivary gland, we can’t be sure. But he keeps working his tongue like he’s trying to push something out of his mouth, and he can’t open it all the way to yawn.

He tries; he starts to open up for a great big oh-I’m-tired yawn, and stops less than halfway. He still has a good appetite, but only for soft food; I don’t think he’s touched the dry food in a couple of days.

So, tomorrow we call the vet. Hopefully it’s something simple. Heck if it’s a cavity they can clean his teeth while he’s under; we haven’t been able to brush them in a while.

Bu damn—kids and pets always know when you’re trying to save a little money, and they time getting sick for then. Really. We said the “M” word, and in his determination to not move again, he hacked up a cavity, I’m sure of it.


My emails of late oddly look similar. I can parapharase them together and create one cohesive message out of 20.

Renting is like flushing your money down the toilet.
You need to buy a house. Build equity.

I don’t disagree. But I should bring up a few things:

  • We live in Northern CA in an area where $400,000 will buy you a smallish house in not the best neighborhood.
  • A mortgage payment on said 400K house is roughly $2300
  • The property tax rate here is 1.01%, adding approximately $335 to that.
  • PMI would add, what, $200 a month?
  • Homeowners insurance is a lot more than renter’s insurance.
  • We only want to buy once, and right now the houses we most like are priced well over $600,000—and they’re not these huge McMansions.
  • If we did manage to buy here, the housing bubble would burst and we’d be stuck with a house worth half of what we paid.
  • According to a piece on the news, houses in the area are overvalued by 55%

Granted, if everything fell into place we’d love to buy. But wanting a thing and getting it are two different things. Right now renting is cheaper per month than buying, and in the end we simply can’t afford to buy a house right now.

So yeah. Renting in the long run does seem like a waste, I totally agree with that. But it beats bankruptcy.


Today’s topless driving: Napa, CA. we didn’t go tour the wineries, we just drove up there to drive up there and wander around a little bit. We discovered that it’s a lot cooler than it is here, that Napa has a really nice downtown area, and drive aimlessly around there isn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Kitty 7Last night’s inexplicable dream: I’m in an airplane—I have no idea where I was headed—and I have Max and Buddah with me. No, not in pet carriers. They each have their own seat and are sitting like little people with the seatbelts across their laps. Max sits very nicely, his front paws folded on his belly, and Buddah squirms like a toddler being force fed peas. The flight attendants all ooh and aah over Buddah… but that’s all it was. A dream about flying in a place with cats. And it all seemed so normal.

I know I didn’t eat anything weird last night. Max was hogging the foot of the bed all night, maybe it was my subconscious dealing with being all cramped into one spot…

At least there were no bees.


When the sun is shining but it’s not too hot, all you wanna do is drive…topless. So we did. We spent most of today driving around looking at stuff, like a neighborhood we might want to move into, and the marina in Suisun City. A quarter tank of gas—even at today’s prices—is still cheaper than a movie with popcorn and drinks. Thusly, a nice way to spend a few hours. :)

Last night’s dream: We rent a house. While we’re moving stuff in, we lock the cats in the bathroom to keep them from getting out or getting squished. When we open the door late in the afternoon, both are dead because there was rat poison in the bathroom and they ate it. New landlord points and laughs, and thinks it’s funny. New landlord winds up with his family jewels hanging out his nostrils, because Thumper still has a wicked front kick.

Dream just before waking up: A bee gets stuck in my ear. I’m terrified (because I am allergic) and no one will help me, not even the Spouse Thingy. He’s too busy watching football game. I wander around with my hand over my ear, feeling the bee buzzing inside it, crying because I can’t find anyone to take the bee out of my ear. I woke up before I got it out, but I’m pretty sure that after I did, I found the Spouse Thingy and employed that nifty front kick again…

Now I wonder what the heck I ate before going to bed last night.

Yogurt and a banana. Wonder if that did it…?



So. We get this notice from the apartment complex office. It tells us that the market rate rent on our apartment is $100 more than we’re paying, but if we renew right now, we’ll only suffer a $40 increase. If we choose to go month to month, the rent will be market rate + $150.

Um. No.

We can rent a house for less than what we pay in rent here. A house with closets that make sense, not these little triangle shaped things in which nothing really fits. A house with a real kitchen and a living room bigger than a postage stamp. With a 2 car garage.

Oh, the garage…

This place has 1 car garages available for rent. There’s a waiting list, but they have them. We got onto the waiting list the day we signed the lease, and were told it would take about 30 days. In the meantime, because we needed the storage space, we rented a 10 x 20 space a few blocks away for $135/month. But it would only be for a couple months, so that was ok.

Here it is 10 months later, and no garage.

A few days ago the Spouse Thingy went into the office to inquire about our place on the list; we’re up to #2. We got on the list at #8.


It seems that someone in the office has been giving new tenants garages, because she supposedly didn’t know there was a waiting list. So while we’ve been paying for storage elsewhere, newbies have been walking in and getting the garages.

I am not happy. And no, I don’t believe that this rental agent didn’t know about the waiting list. I suspect people did exactly what we should have done: said they would rent elsewhere unless they got a garage right away.

Generally, I like this apartment. The loud, headboard-banging people from upstairs moved a few months ago and were replaced with much quieter tenants. It’s in a great location. Two of the bedrooms are big enough. It’s got great high ceilings. But between the lack of storage, the living room that is too small for us to all hang out at the same time, and the kitchen being the typical apartment sized kitchen, we’re ready to push on.

That letter, telling us our apartment will cost us about $400/month more than it would to rent a house, pretty much lit the fuse. So next month the Thumper family will be looking for a house to rent.

I hate the actually moving, but the idea of a bigger place and a garage is kind of exciting. And hopefully, it’ll be the next to the last move…the last one being the purchase of a house of our own. By then, maybe it won’t cost half a million dollars for a starter home.

One can hope.


So yay.

We finally got to go to the museum. It’s not a huge place by any stretch of the imagination—I think it took longer to drive there than to go through it—but it’s got some decent stuff. The European collection was alright, and some of the Early California Paintings were ok (the online library shows way more than are actually on display…) But there was one, in the Contemporary California collection that made the drive worth it.

This little image doesn’t do it justice. The canvas is huge, 114 inches by 170 inches, and the detail is so intricate that you have to spend time to look up close, then get further back, going back and forth just to soak it all in.

The painting is of the artist’s (Stephen J. Kaltenbach ) father following a stroke that left him incapacitated, but fully alert. It took seven years to complete…the entire painting is overlaid with these symbols (the orangish coloring in the photo image) that almost overtake it when you’re up close.

That’s the kind of stuff I like…I can’t even imagine having that kind of talent.

Edit next morning: check THIS out. It shows the details of this painting up close and in much better detail than I could ever describe... Mucho thanks to Leanne for pointing me there.


Today’s Randomness…

  • Buddah stinks. Not all the time, but when he does, it’s deadly.
  • When Buddah stinks, he gets all cuddly and rubs his funk all over me.
  • Max tried to french me tonight.
  • Max needs his teeth brushed.
  • LOST came out on DVD today!
  • We might get caught u before the new season starts.
  • Museum tomorrow!
  • Walked a mile tonight.
  • This time last year I was walking 4.5 miles in an hour.
  • My ego is wounded.
  • My back is telling my ego to STFU and enjoy baby steps.
  • My chair pulls to the right.
  • My personal leanings are to the left.
  • Somehow, that evens things out.
  • Buddah really does stink.


By request... PsychoKitty t-shirts...and sweatshirts, mugs, journal, etc.

We're looking for other Psycho images to use, too...That cat is such an attention whore, I'm sure he'll cooperate.
…keep walkin’, keep on your toes and don’t stop talkin’ bout…

After the Jelly Belly tour last week, and the results of walking with my back and hips grinding painfully, the Spouse Thingy said the words I did not want to hear.

“Maybe it’s time to think about a wheelchair.”

I’ve been there, done that, thank you very much. I did not enjoy it, other than zooming through Sam’s Club as fast as I could, trying to dodge little old ladies with their carts piled hi with paper towels and giant tubs of Metamucil. It was somewhere between 4-6 months of my face at everyone else’s ass-level. Four to six months of having cashiers look at the Spouse Thingy to ask what I wanted. Almost half a year of people trying not to look, or pretending I wasn’t there.

Nope, did not enjoy it one bit.


It hasn’t escaped my attention that we seriously limit the things we do and the places we go because of my mobility. The Spouse Thingy had most of last week off, and we had all these things we wanted to do, but we only managed the Jelly Belly tour. Museums, no way in hell. I just couldn’t walk that far.

I really want to go to the museum. I love art; I don’t know jack about it, other than I love seeing the paintings and sculptures. But the idea of trying to walk all the way through, or worse getting partway through and having to leave…it didn’t seem fair to the Spouse Thingy. Yet it’s also not fair that he doesn’t do these things because of my limitations.

So I started looking online, pricing chairs. Wow. Not cheap, not for a good one. Then we looked in a couple of local medical supply shops. Double Wow. Twice as much for the same chairs. The idea of spending $700 for a basic chair more or less left me with a sour lump in the pit of my stomach. Especially since we really want to get out of this apartment and into a house, and are trying to not spend so much.

Risking the chance that I wouldn’t be able to walk very long, we went to a flea market today. Mostly we just wanted to check it out, see what kinds of junk people were trying to get rid of. It’s a cheap way to spend some time, and I love flea markets. If I win the lottery, I’m opening my own. Indoors, with air conditioning.

Within 5 minutes of getting there, we spotted it. Right size, flip back arms, ultra-lightweight, and in nearly new condition. Hell, it might be new; it certainly doesn’t look like it was used very often. While I was checking it out, making sure all the pieces were there in all the right places, 2 people came up and asked me how much it was, thinking I was selling it. One woman had her hand on her purse, ready to buy. But for the price—$50—the Spouse Thingy was already handing the cash over to the guy who was selling it.

Basically, we saved over $600 by going to the flea market.

The thing is, while I’ve been dreading this as some personal failure and being so limiting, it really is just the opposite. It’s freedom. We can go anywhere we want now and not worry about if I’ll make it. And even more than that, this opens it up for me to be even more active. We’ve wanted to take evening walks, but didn’t dare. Now we can. I can push the chair until I can’t walk anymore, and then ride the rest of the way. Walking at least part of the way is better than not going at all.

California is very disabled-oriented, and people are used to seeing other people in wheelchairs. I noticed it even today; when I couldn’t walk any further, I plopped down into the chair and the Spouse Thingy pushed me along. People we encountered, asking about the stuff they were selling, talked to me. I wasn’t invisible. Yet I also wasn’t doing the attention getting dual-limp shuffle. I was as anonymous as anyone else.

I didn’t want this, but dammit, now that I’ve got this, I’m gonna fly.


You want a t-shirt.
You really do.
You’ll look spiffy, feel even spiffier, and your money will go to a good cause.

For the next month, all profits from any sales I make from any of my Cafepress shops will be donated to help those affected by Hurricane Katrina.

And if you’re looking for reading material, the PsychoKitty has declared that the royalties from his newer edition of The PsychoKitty Speaks Out: Diary Of A Mad Housecat (the larger-print, less potty mouthed edition,) will also be donated.

And keep checking back; I will probably add a couple new t-shirt designs over the next week or so. And perhaps editions of my own work.

So go on. You know you want a t-shirt and a less potty mouthed edition of my cat’s awesome literary work.