26 December 2010

Christmas Day at Casa de Thumper was nice and quiet; the Spouse Thingy had to work Christmas Eve night into Christmas morning and he slept until 1:15, getting up earlier than normal, and the Boy came over around 1:30. He made pizza for all, and we watched a little Doctor Who (because I am woefully behind on on it, and they don't mind seeing repeats), opened gifts, just had a nice, quiet time.

My day was probably quieter than normal...because I can barely move. The shoulder and chest are improving; on a scale from 1 - 10, with the post-Skki-wipeout pain having been around 8.5, it's down to a tolerable 5. Things on that front are healing nicely. In fact, the recovery is so steady that I don't think it will take nearly as long as the doc warned it could be. Motrin was handling the pain, and I was fully mobile.

"Was" being the key word here.

(Fair warning...copious whining follows.)

My lower back started to ache on Wednesday evening. I didn't think much of it; I have arthritis at L4 and L5, and some aching comes along with that. It aches 90% of the time, and a little Naprosyn makes the worst of it usually abate.

Thursday morning it hurt a little more, but not too badly. Thursday night...someone stabbed me in the back with a red hot poker. I started to get up from the sofa and there was instant fire. And Buddah, the little shit, took the opportunity to jump up onto my back since I couldn't stand upright; I tried to reach back to get him, but he flattened himself like a pancake, and I wound up shuffling down the hall, bent over, with him riding me the entire way. He only jumped down when I went into the bathroom and turned on the water.

I'm pretty sure he was laughing at me.

That was a Vicodin kind of night.

Friday. Holy Carp. There was a lot of moaning and groaning coming out of me, enough that the cats probably got fed up. I know I got fed up. Moving was becoming a rapidly increasing exercise in agony, and when Santa needed to fill the stockings....well, Santa finally said "Phck it," dumped everything on the sofa, shuffled slowly down the hall, took 2 Vicodin, and went to bed.

Christmas Day, the back was still not cooperating. I did well to get from the sofa to a chair in the other room, and then back again later. If not for being served, I'm not sure I would have eaten much at all yesterday, because getting into the kitchen was a literal pain in the ass as whatever muscle in my lower back has decided to clench angrily sent fiery fingers up my back and down into my glutes.

Seriously, I don't think my back has ever been this bad. I really need some new swear words to use when get up, because I'm running out of old ones.

It was a 2 Vicodin night last night, too. It's not doing a damned thing for the pain, but it helped with sleep. better, and the weird spot on my chest feels like something ripped again. So I'll spend my day sitting here, not doing much at all. I'm only getting up to pee and to take Motrin and/or Naprosyn. If the bathroom were more comfortable, I think I'd just stay in there so that I wouldn't have to get up at all.

How I know it hurts and I'm not just enjoying the whining: getting my gallbladder out hurt far less, and getting the brain tumor removed was only slightly more painful. Seriously.

Still...Christmas was very nice. It was nice to just sit here with the Boy and the Spouse Thingy, and even the cats were semi-social. I swear, they both acted like they knew what day it was and that they had to be good, because there was shrimp in the fridge, and bad kitties don't get shrimp...
See? I'm being good!Buddah under the tree
The kitties, being good...


19 December 2010

It's been cold and rainy here, and the forecast suggests it's going to stay that way at least through Christmas. Normally, that many days of rain would have me whining about not being able to take the bike out, or the Trikke, or the Strider... but since I can't do any of those things right now, I'm kind of enjoying the rain.

But...I really do need to get out there and walk. I have the treadmill, but it's different. I prefer walking outside, wandering around the town, seeing and hearing and smelling things that aren't in my face most of the rest of the time. Outside, I'll walk further and for a longer period of time than I will inside on the treadmill. It's not exactly logical, but there we are. I'm not an exactly logical person.

And there's the whole oh-holy-carp-this-kinda-hurts thing I have going on. I never realized how much a person's shoulder and chest moves with the simple motions of walking. The shoulder achiness I can deal with, but I have that place on my chest that just burns, and when I move the wrong way...damn. So I haven't made much of an effort to walk, even though I want to.

I'm a weenie that way.

When this has all healed up enough--half the time I think it'll heal quickly, the other half I'm afraid it really will take 12 weeks--I'm going to have some serious catching up to do conditioning-wise and weight wise. Sitting on my ass is not doing kind things to my weight (and neither did the pound cake I caved into this last week...or the cookies) and even if I keep the calorie count reasonable, if I can't move around I'm going to expand in ways I really don't want.

Yep, this is the argument I have in my own head. Move and hurt. Don't move and get fatter. Take it easy and decrease the healing time. Suck it up and do things and don't get fatter.

On the plus side, I can drive now, so I'm not stuck here. I can get out and about if I need to, but driving isn't all that comfortable when I have to navigate a turn, so I'm not jumping in the car and taking off on a whim. Max's friends can relax, though; I did go shopping for his Christmas present, but it's not wrapped and under the tree yet. Mostly because he would smell it, or Buddah would, and my furry friends would shred the paper to get to it.

What? Like you don't buy Christmas presents for your furballs...


15 December 2010

A few months ago, when I was training for the 3 Day Walk and wanting to go into San Francisco to make use of the hilly terrain there, I got a traffic ticket. Nope, I wasn't speeding...we were looking for a place to park at the Concord BART station, stopped at a red light, and then the next thing I know, after I made the turn, I was being pulled over.

The charge? Turning right on a red where it is clearly posted you can't do that.

The thing is...we were positive the light was green. The Spouse Thingy had asked me why I wasn't going, I pointed out the no right on red sign, and I waited. I know the light was green when I went.

The cop pulled another woman over at the same time for the same infraction.

Now...this cop was polite and reasonable. When we both said we were sure the light was green, he said he would go back and check the timing on the lights. If he was wrong, he'd dismiss the ticket. He was very nice, we didn't argue, he didn't argue. He was just doing his job.

Cut to now. I never got a notice one way or the other about the ticket. You're supposed to get a courtesy notice about the ticket; how much the fine is, where to pay, etc. But, if you don't get one, it's still your responsibility to figure it all out. Even though none of that is on the ticket.

Okay, fine, I can deal with that.

But, we waited for the the courtesy notice, or something to say hey, you were right after all.


The ticket has to be resolved by Monday. So I got online to pay it...entered the citation number and got a message saying the citation couldn't be found. Use the docket number instead.

I never got the freaking notice about it, and the docket number would be on that notice.

So either the ticket doesn't exist and the cop dismissed it, or I'm expected to do contortions to pay the bail on it. and ya know, if I'm in the wrong, fine, I'll pay it. Who knows, maybe we both had a brain fart and just imagined that green light. But the citation number did not exist in the system...

So the Spouse Thingy got on the phone...and entered into phone hell. He never got through...but did get the info that the Contra Costa County Traffic court closes at 2 pm every day. It was time to get there.

Y'all know ho freakishly weird I am about going places by myself the first time? Yeah, this is problematic. Because today was really the only day the Spouse Thingy could have gone with me. In hindsight, we should have driven there anyway, just so I'd know where to go. I would have been okay with that.

Mostly, I just wanna know if I got a ticket or not.

'Cause, really, the light was green!



14 December 2010

Why I should not be allowed to text:

And I have wanted Red Vines ever since...

(Yes, this was really Char's and my text...)

In other news, I had a follow up with my doc today and my arm is not about to detach from my body at the shoulder. Everything still hurts, but it's better every day and I have reasonable range of motion. It's just a matter of giving it time to heal up. He's kind of all over the map on exactly how long that will take. Everything from 6 weeks to 6 months.

If not for one particular place on my chest, I'd guess closer to 6 weeks, because the level of pain notches down noticeably from day to day. That one spot,'s being a little bitch. Still...I have high hopes that I'll feel comfortable driving by Friday and motorcycle-worthy after Christmas.

And oh yeah, I fully intend to hit the slopes again before the season is over. I am going to own that Skki Trikke.


12 December 2010

Pass the cheese, 'cause I've got the whine...

Okay, so far the recovery hasn't been too bad. I ache, but as long as I don't move, the pain isn't horrible. The shoulder itself hurts a little, but the worst is actually where the pectoral muscle connects to the sternum--that feels like it's ripping away every time I move--and there's this weird spot along my shoulder blade that feels like someone jammed a stick in there and won't pull it out.

The overall body achiness is subsiding, so, yay.

It could be worse. During the day taking Motrin is enough, but I'm still taking Vicodin at night. Night time is a double whammy; I can't roll over so I'm stuck sleeping on my back, but I'm a side and stomach sleeper, so my back really starts to ache after a while. I did notice last night that I managed to get my hips rolled over a little, so that's something. At least it takes the pressure off for a few minutes at a time.

But so far the absolute worst part of all this is boredom, and not being able to do anything. I'm pretty freaking mobile, but I can't lift anything, so I can't even do basic housework. I can't drive, so I'm stuck at home, and I hate being stuck at home. I'd walk to the store, but that one place on my chest seems to be seriously affected by the gravity of walking, so I'm not sure that would be my greatest idea. And while I feel like walking, I don't know the level of my endurance. I was sleepy as hell for a couple of days and I'm not sure how long I can wander around before the achiness gives way to fatigue.

All right, I take it back...the worst part has been the weight gain. Ten freaking pounds in the last few days. Yes, I know a good chunk of it is water, muscle trauma and all that, but it doesn't make me feel any better about it. I know part of it isn't water, it's from sitting around doing nothing. So even after I shed the water weight, I'll still have 2-3 extra pounds to deal with, and I was having a hard enough time with my weight before that. 1500 calories a day, reasonable activity, and I hadn't lost a damned thing in almost a year.

I was already frustrated; this is just pushing me over the edge. I am really pissed off about it.

So sore, bored, and ticked off...not a good combination.

There needs to be better crap on TV.


9 December 2010


Earlier this year the Spouse Thingy and I gave skiing a try, but it was pretty much a failure due to an unwaxed ski and wet snow…I didn’t even finish the 2 hour beginner’s class because of it. Unwaxed ski = ski that won’t slide = twisted knee.

The consensus after we gave up? "We're too old for this shit."

But, we like the idea of fun in the snow, so over the summer we planned on getting a couple of Trikke Skkis, because they’re easy to ride, and easy sounded really good.

A couple of weeks ago we ordered two of them, and on Monday we drove up to Sierra-at-Tahoe and bought our season passes (because hey! These things are easy to ride, so we’ll ride all winter long!), then spent the night in a cheap motel so that we could hit the slopes bright and early. And it was a beautiful day... No wind, abundant sunshine, and the temp was right around 32--bonus in that it wasn't at all crowded, which is what we hoped for, being new to the spiffy Trikke Skki.

We had to field a lot of questions from the curious about the Skkis, but soon enough we were walking them partway up the bunny slope so we could test ride them and make sure we knew how to stop, which seemed like an important thing to know how to do. We did that twice, were satisfied that we could do it, and headed for the ski lift...determined to stick to the bunny slope because, hey, we're not stupid.

But ya know? From the top, the bunny slope looks pretty steep. So we headed sideways, from one side to the other, a sloping lateral move, just to test the stopping thing again. And then I decided sooner or later I was going to have to go down that hill, so off I went.

And it was awesome. I had the carving motion down fairly well because of the street Trikke, and I was able to slow myself a bit when I thought I was going too fast. Sweet. And so much fun.

And then a snowboarder stopped--in a logical place to stop, seeing as how he was nearly at the bottom--so I needed to not only stop, but avoid him. So I leaned into the slope--what one is supposed to do to stop a Skki Trikke--and was slowing, but I made the mistake of turning the front ski in the opposite direction. I launched off of it, over the handlebar, onto my right shoulder, and the Skki landed on top of me.

Easy to ride...not so easy to stop. Not if you're going pretty fast.

My very first run on my brand new spiffy toy, after paying for a season pass, and my season just might be over. Nothing broken, but tons of bruises. My left foot was pretty mangled (not sure how) and I strained nearly every tendon that keeps my right shoulder connected to my body so badly that the doc says it should heal in 12-18 WEEKS. And that I'd probably hurt less if I'd broken it.

Go me!

This was me after he told me that:

No Skking, no motorcycle ...=sob=... I am so freaking sore, even thinking about moving hurts, and I am Teh Bummed.

Well, other than the Vicodin. That part has been fun...


30 November 2010

At 11 o'clock last night, my eyes were blurry.
My head hurt.
My was a weird combination of numb and sore.
I'm not sure I was even speaking coherently.

That's what happens when your head has exploded and your brains are all over the room. Things hurt. Speech is difficult. Vision, not so wonderful.

All of that is the effect of NaNoExploMo* and 3 days of being planted in one position, trying to crunch the 13,000 words you're short in your NaNoWriMo effort. And really? You're doing it all so that you'll be a WINNER and get the spiffy PDF winner's certificate that you an print out and display for the whole world (or the people who wander into your house) can see.

Now, there is a t-shirt you can buy so that you can share it with the whole freaking world, but the goal is that PDF.


Yesterday morning, I still needed 5,000 words and was fairly sure I was not going to get it until the last minute--and the last minute would be fine, because at least I was going to make it this year.

But at 11 last night, or thereabouts... 50,054 words.

OK, my count was 50,215, but the NaNoBots counted it low. But it was still over 50K, so I got my certificate and a spiffy graphic to display on my blog.

 Word, doods.

Now, what I have is 50,000 + words of total crap. 75% of what I've written will never make it into the final manuscript, but I have the bones of the story, and I know in which direction it will go. I also discovered a few things about characters I've been honing since I was 15 years old, some that made me a bit sad, some that made me laugh.

I hadn't intended to do a 5th Charybdis book so soon--I have 3 or 4 others in the hmmm this would be decent stage, but there was some actual campaigning from a few different corners of the Internet. More than one person wanted another book in teh series, and NaNo was a good time to see if there was another story there, one that would be worthy of fleshing out from concept to completion.

This story got its start while I was training for the SGK 3 Day; as I walked along, early on in the training, the first pages came to me; I knew it was going to be a different bent, written in a tone the other books don't have, but it strongly appealed to me, so I took notes, thinking that someday I'd get to it.

And here we are. I finished the NaNoEffort this year, got my PDF, got my blog graphic, and have what I hope will be a fairly decent start on a fairly decent book.

No, don't ask me what it's about. I can never answer that clearly.

But I will tell you this:

The working title is Flipside, and we're going to heaven, people...

*Thanks to Char for that lovely expression


26 November 2010

This is the Boy, in all his Polar plunge glory.

Last year he and a bunch of his friends dressed up and braved the way-too-cold waters in the San Francisco Bay, jumping in to raise money for the Northern California Special Olympics.

Now that they've all warmed back up and the shrinkage has unshrunk, they've decided to do it again.

The Boy wants to raise some serious coin this year: for every $500 raised, an Special Olympian is set for an entire year. He'd like to support at least two, and to that effort, he's offering something in exchange for support...

For every $5 a person donates, they get a chance at winning a $250 Amazon gift card.


That's some pretty decent coinage right before Christmas, and the lucky winner will be selected on December 15th. You win, and you'll get the gift code in your email ASAP, so that you can shop in plenty of time for holiday delivery.

For more details, pop on over to Curt's Polar Plunge.


If the kitties knew what today was, they would be sorely disappointed. No turkey in the oven, no special Fancy Feast... We're doing schnitzel today instead of turkey, because it's not a diet friendly kind of thing so we never have it, and turkey is diet friendly, so we can have it anytime.

There will be pie, however.

I think Max and Buddah will survive the disappointment.

Happy Thanksgiving!


19 November 2010

The Write Life

I'm sitting in Border's with my large iced tea (extra ice), trying to get caught up with my NaNo project for this year. I'm woefully a good 12,000 words, I think. It's not all that important to be right on target, because in the end what I want to wind up with is a decent story, not just 50,000 words, but... yeah, I kinda want that dorky PDF You're a Winner! certificate.

But...I'm sitting here with my iPad and bluetooth keyboard, which tends to attract a bit of attention. Usually people just want to know about the iPad, a few want to know about keyboard, and just about everyone wants to know how much this setup costs. Most of the time I want to snark, "More than you can afford, sunshine," but I think that has mre to do with 1) wanting to be snarky, and 2) for some odd reason wanting to call everyone "sunshine" lately. I don't know why.

But today there's a group of writers doing the same thing I'm doing (ok, they're engaging in NaNo activities...I don't guess that all of them are writing a blog post right now.) At first they wanted to know about the iPad because hell, it's easier to lug around than a laptop, and with the right app you can also move your work to your computer later for more thorough editing.

Yes, it's tres spiffy.

But the curiosity over the iPad quickly waned and discussion about the things we're working on ensued. A couple of overacheivers have surpassed 50K and are on their way to a full length novel. A couple are struggling to hit 20K. All are excited to talk about what they're working on.

I admit, I was feeling a ltitle squirrely about saying I was working on the 5th book in a series, but after some prodding, I talked about it. The assumption was that I'd been doing NaNoWriMo every year and those were my efforts, and oh, wouldn't it be nice to someday see all our books in print?

That's when the kid who has my ice tea perfected piped up from the counter, "Oh her books are published!"

Now, when something like this happens, there are a few things sure to follow, right after I bludgeon the tattle tale with my tea-wet bendy straw. Sometimes I get bombarded by questions about finding an agent, what rights did I sell, AM I RICH?!?! and WILL YOU READ MY BOOK? and to be honest, it's a little weird to say, "Don't be impressed...I own the publishing company."

Sometimes I get asked about the editing process. I tell them my editor consumes Carnation Instant Bitch for breakfast every morning, and that she's meaner than mean...but she gets the job done. And then, no I won't hook you up. I want her to keep liking me.

The ones who are truly interested in writing and not the possibility of a contract with a $500,000 advance ask about the writing itself. The process. How do I work? Where do my ideas come from? How do I choose first person over third? Do I edit as I go along or do I write from a stream of consciousness and edit later?

These kids (they're all about they're kids) fall into the latter group. They could have cared less about my income or connections; they wanted to know about what it's like to be a writer...and seemed genuinely surprised that in my book (no pun intended) they already are writers.

You write, you're a writer.

As simple as that. (Ha...yes, that was intentional.)

So we sat here talking and there wasn't much writing being done. And that's all right, it's not like my manuscript is going to commit suicide if I don't add another 5000 words to it today. But eventually, the talk about frustrations and not quite grasping outlining and plot versus character driven works turned into, "Please. Will you look at this and tell me why it's not working? Just this chapter. Please?"

I hate doing that. Mostly because I hate telling people the truth about something they've poured themselves into. It was kind of hard to say no, though.

So I read. And inwardly I cringed. The truth is that it wasn't working because it was mundane; it was boring on a level of boredom I rarely experience. The thing is, I could see what she was trying to do and where she was trying to go with it, but there was just so much. Writing is painting pictures with words, but there is such a thing as TMI. There are things better left to the readers' imaginations.

So I began pointing out some things that needed to be edited out in order to tighten the story (but after NaNo, since word counts count here...) The things were simple: a monotonous section describing the character flossing, for example.

"But those are things real people do," she tried to say. "And you write what you know, so..."

Real people floss their teeth, yes. But real people also sit at the dinner table and eat; real people defecate; real people pick their noses and a few eat the treasures they find. That doesn't mean the reader wants a detailed description about how many times the character chews his food, unless it lends something to the story. Readers don't necessarily want to read about how well or ill-formed a character's poop is unless they've been poisoned and it's a part of the plot. And unless the character is a child or someone elderly whose filters are gone, I can't imagine wanting to read about someone eating boogers.

Real people do boring things; we either write them in a way that makes them not boring, or we leave them out.

Mostly, we leave them out.

Luckily, she got where I was coming from. And perhaps not so luckily, I gave someone else an idea for one of their secondary characters, an old woman in a hospital bed; she thinks it would be wickedly funny if the protagonist, on visiting her, finds her digging in her nose and popping what she mines right into her mouth without a second thought about it.

Glad to be of service.

I don't often spend much time contemplating what it's like to be a writer, and what that might mean to someone who wants to be where I am, even if it's not under contract to one of the Big Six. When I think about it, I guess it would be like me sitting down with someone who is playing in the big leagues. I do know several writers who are (and frankly, they're not thrilled to know a whole bunch of indie writers outsell them regularly...) but to sit down with someone who's not just there but there? If I could get my brain to engage I think I'd be asking questions, too.

The problem would be getting my brain to engage. I doubt it would.

I really am quiet in person.


So. Now I get back to work, unless someone starts talking again, which seems likely, because holy crap, these people like to talk.

(Oh phfttt you know I enjoy it.)

I am sooo not winning NaNo this year...


11 November 2010

edit: In the time it took me to write and post this, Amazon took the book down. So, I basically offer my opinion here good reason at all...

No, I won't be boycotting Amazon.

The Internet practically exploded yesterday over news that Amazon is selling a heinous-sounding book titled “The Pedophile's Guide To Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover's Code Of Conduct.” I say heinous-sounding because I haven't read it and I'm not going to; I would assume that, based on the title, it's a piece of crap and not worth the effort to browse even the front matter, but I'm not going to bother.

I'm not even going to link to its Amazon page. Who the hell wants that in their search history?

If the book is as the title suggests—and that is a giant if—the writer is a sick fuck and I sure as hell don't want him lurking around my playground, but.


He had every right to write the book. Hitler had every right to write Mein Kampf. William Powell had every right to write The Anarchists Cookbook. There's a ton of crap out there, and people have the right to write it all.

You have the right to not read any of it.

Now, I take issue with Amazon saying to not sell it would be censorship, but my issue is more with the idea that they're using the wrong word there. If they edited the shit out of it before putting it out there, that would be closer to censorship. If Uncle Sam steps in and forces the book from sale, that would be closer to censorship. Amazon not selling it would simply be an exercise of a business decision. As a business, Amazon doesn't have to support a writer's right to free speech, and no, they don't have to sell the book.

But they're going to sell it, and based up their precedents, they should.

Look, it's a Kindle book, submitted through their DTP platform. It's 100% self-published. The way the Kindle-author publishing relationship works is that they provide a platform, anyone who has written something they want to sell can upload it, and Amazon will sell it on their behalf—as long as it is not illegal material—for a hefty cut of the list price. There is no human sitting there reading every book uploaded to the DTP (though you can bet the book in question has now been reviewed; that it's still for sale suggests no illegal content.) It's a place where independent writers can get their work into the hands of the public, where they can try to sell and begin to create professional reputations. Some of them get noticed and generate enough sales to be picked up by either Amazon Encore or a major publisher. Most sell a book here or there, and are happy enough with it.

But the model is that anyone can sell a book there. Anyone. A book can be wonderfully written and worthy of a Pulitzer; a book can be complete garbage worthy of ridicule, but the great thing about the independent writer's relationship with Amazon is that everyone has an equal chance. Good or bad. Worthy or not.

If Amazon has to start making the decision about what's worthy or not, then what do we lose? Gay fiction? There are a whole lot of uptight right wingers out there who might think that we need to lose the LBGT fiction for sale. Some of it is freaking good, but should we lose that because it offends someone else? What about Christian fiction? Most of the Christian fiction I've read is horribly written; if that offends someone else, should it be eliminated? Because, really, I've wanted to shoot myself after reading some of it. How about vampire porn? The undead getting it on with the living? Well, that's offensive, let's get rid of that. There's a book on Amazon about becoming a pimp. No one should become a pimp or even know how, so strike that off the for-sale list.

Let's ban the books that the HBO series Dexter was based upon. Serial killers are amoral and don't belong out there with the good folks.

And hey, there's this series about some kid wizard and we can't have our kids reading or learning about magic, because even though it probably doesn't exist that's just wrong...let's get rid of Harry Potter.

Laughable? There are people who wanted that banned, you know.

People who never read a single word in any of JK Rowling's books.

And once we've started in on the books, what else? Amazon sells condoms. Do we get those banned because kids might order them and =gasp= use them while having sex? You can get sex toys through Amazon. I bet you can buy whips and chains and cases of whipped cream; who knows what perverted people can do with those, so it's best to not make them available.

It's a slippery slope; start with one thing, and others lose traction and follow.

I believe in freedom of speech for everyone. Not just for the people saying things I agree with, but especially for the people who say things I think are creepy and stupid. Those idiots from the Westboro Baptist Church that walk around carrying signs claiming God hates gays? That soldiers die because God hates the USA? I find that horribly offensive, but that's their right.

If it's not criminal—yelling FIRE in a theater; kiddie porn; etc.—then let it be.

Walk away from it.

Talk about it, but don't try to ban it.

Don't ignore it, but don't give overblown publicity to it. Because, folks, this is a book that would have died quickly without the uproar; the author is only getting the attention because everyone is making such an issue of it.

Attention leads to sales. Remember the movie “Porky's?” It was a horrible movie about kids looking to get laid; we were living in Utah when it was released, and it was destined to be in and out of the theater in about a week...until people started protesting it. The more people screamed about it—Oh my God it's a movie about SEX--the more curious other people became. And so ticket sales skyrocketed, and it stayed in the theater for weeks.

Remember when Sonia Johnson chained herself to the gates of a Mormon temple because the church came out against the Equal Rights Amendment? The church did little about that, and for good reason. The more she screamed about it, the more people investigated the church and its credo. The LDS church gained quite a few members from that.

The heinous-sounding book that would have languished as data bits on a server somewhere might now find an audience. It might now find a sales base. At the very least, it's giving the author the attention he probably shouldn't get.

And that, my friends, is probably opposite of what the first people calling for a boycott intended, but it is a likely result.

Amazon is not, and should not be, the moral arbiter for the world. And in the end, a boycott on Amazon not only draws attention to the person who wrote that book, but hurts the other independent writers who have only Amazon as their sales base.

Amazon won't be hurt by a boycott; those indie writers, though, they run the highest risk of being hurt. They're the ones who get trampled in the stampede to condemn an entire company for what one person chose to write about. Not the guy who wrote the book that upset the world, not the company standing behind its policies of open publishing, just the little guys.

So no, I will not boycott Amazon over this. I embrace freedom of speech, even for sick twisted minds... and hey, I also enjoy the idea that if it turns out that book is a how-to guide, then it does become something illegal, and anyone buying it becomes fodder for the judicial system.We should teach them how to bend over and pick up the soap now, so that they're not ill prepared.


7 November 2010

Lots of complaining online today about the time change, including me. I hate it. But what I'm hearing is a lot of We don't need Daylight Savings Time Anymore.

Ow, Contrair, mis amis.

(That's french for WhuuuT? Shut the Fark up!)

What we don't need is Standard time. I want DST. I want my extra light at the end of the day, because farkit I'm night blind (as I remind everyone every freaking year) and I hate pushing the clock back and getting that light in the morning.

Plus, DST = energy saving.
For real.
I read it on the Internet.

Oh, and it's Daylight Saving Time. No plural on the "saving." I read that on the Internet, too. "Savings we bank; we are not banking extra daylight."

Yeah, someone has a stick up their ass on that, but it kinda makes sense.

Either way... I freaking hate changing the clock back.


1 November 2010

It's that time of year again.


The month when thousands of aspiring writers commit to coughing up 50,000 words that will hopefully, at some point, comprise a novel. I signed up again this year, because while I was pounding the pavement training for the Susan G. Komen 3 Day, I found a story brewing inside my head, and began to mentally write it.

I took notes, horrible notes, with the idea that when the Walk was over, I would start working on the book.

And then I remembered NaNo, and figured why the hell not? Use November as an enforced springboard into getting the thing started. I know I can do 50K in a month; hell, when I was working on The King and Queen of Perfect Normal I had a 12K day (I don't recommend this...your fingers really hurt at the end of the day...) If I write 2000 words a day, I'll be well over the 50K by the end of the month.

So here we are at noon on November 1st, and I have written...nothing.

Go me.

(I probably write about NaNo Every year...still, here's my previous advice about NaNo)

In a nutshell: get all Nike on the NaNo vibe, and Just Do It...


29 October 2010

We've established that I can walk reasonable distances and for long periods of time. but this--


--this is kicking my ass.

The first time out on it I managed 15 minutes before I was sucking wind and feeling like I was going to hurl, and distance wise I only made it .83 miles.

Today I managed 20 minutes--I'm not sure how far because I didn't have my GPS thingy on me--but at least I didn't want to hork up my lunch.

I'm hoping that between it and the Trikke I'll serious up my cardio conditioning, but for now...geeeeeeez.


25 October 2010

“How,” the question was, “do you come to grips with your child having that creative spark that makes you just know the life they're going to pick is going to be hard? When you know that they have the talent, but the odds are stacked so high against them, how do you get past wanting to push them into studying for something stable and going after work that ends up with health benefits and a pension and a real retirement? How do you not discourage them?”

I had that discussion last night, and today ran across someone quoting a speech Stephen King made in 2003 when accepting the National Book Award For Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

There were some hard, dark years before Carrie. We had two kids and no money. We rotated the bills, paying on different ones each month. I kept our old car, a Buick, going with duct tape and bailing wire. It was a time when my wife might have been expected to say, "Why don't you quit spending three hours a night in the laundry room, Steve, smoking cigarettes and drinking beer we can't afford? Why don't you get an actual job?

Okay, this is the real stuff. If she'd asked me, I almost certainly would have done it [...] One of the few times during the early years of my marriage I saw my wife cry really hard was when I told her the paperback publisher, New American Library, had paid a ton of money for the book she rescued from the trash. I could quit teaching, she could quit pushing crullers at Dunkin' Donuts. She looked almost unbelieving for five seconds and then she put her hands over her face and she wept.

My point is that Tabby always knew what I was supposed to be doing, and she believed I could succeed at it. There is a time in the lives of most authors when they are vulnerable, when the vivid dreams and ambitions of childhood seem to pale in the harsh sunlight of what we call the real world. [...] If my wife had suggested to me, even with love and kindness and gentleness rather than her more common with and good-natured sarcasm, that the time had come for me to put my dreams away and support my family, I would have done that with no complaint. I believe on some level of thought I was expecting to have that conversation. [...] Tabitha has told me since that it never crossed her mind to have such a conversation. You had second job, she said, in the laundry room with my typewriter. I hope you know, Tabby, that they are clapping for you and not me. Stand up so they can see you, please. Thank you. Thank you. I did not let her see this speech, and will hear about this later.

I think when someone you care about has that spark, you know it, whether you're willing to admit that to yourself or not. You can choose to stand in front of them and block the way, because hell, you don't want them to make a mistake that colors their entire life; you can stand beside them and try to guide them off the path but not too far, just in case they have a real shot at their dream; you can stand behind them and push them in the direction you know they need to be going, because you want for them what they want.

You can let the manuscript lie in the trash can to be tossed away, you can pull it out and put it away for later, or you can pull it out and hand it back with the message that this is good, this deserves to be shared.

I threw away a few manuscripts early on because the feedback I got was all right, but not what I expected; I knew I could write, but the vibe was pretty clear: success as a writer was unrealistic, so I better have something to fall back on. The talent was there, sure, but you know only about 5% of published writers make enough to live on, and think of all the unpublished wannabes out there.

Tabitha King certainly could have asked her husband to set the writing aside, even for a little while, for the sake of comfort...but what then? Take a look in the bookstore; how much of it might the rest of us not have if she had done just that? She likely knew what a lot of people don't: writing isn't something you do; a writer is what you are.

You can edit out writer and insert a number of other things: singer, dancer, actor. Chef. Photographer.

How do you come to grips with your child practically having a calling to something that may not pay well, could be a constant race to the next thing that might be “it?” How do you not push them hard to have something else to fall back on?

You just do.

That's not to say you won't screw it up every now and then, because it's your kid. Yeah, you probably will verbalize that wish that they'd study something else as a backup plan. That doesn't mean you have to say it in a way that suggests you want that because you don't think they have what it takes. But when you have your parental wits about you, understand this: they don't really have a choice.

I don't write for the money; I write because that's what I am. Those monthly royalties are nice, but I would write whether I was paid for it or not. The words, the characters, the story lines—those have to get out of my head an onto virtual paper, whether anyone else ever sees them or not.

Maybe that skews my parental perspective a bit, because I come from that place of This is what I am, this is what I have to do. When the Boy took that first acting class, it was to explore his expanding interests; when that interest took fire, it didn't make sense to push him in another direction, because he would know sooner or later whether or not that being an actor was something he wanted to do, or if it was something he was.

In the beginning, it might have been something he wanted to do, but the more he immersed himself in it, the more we realized that it wasn't an interest, it was part of him. Each time we've seen him perform he's gotten better, to the point that watching him as Mercutio this past summer...he wasn't an actor playing a part, he was Mercutio. On stage, he sheds himself and pulls on someone else's skin and personality, and it's an amazing and chilling thing to watch.

During intermission I was on my phone and posting to Facebook: he can't ever not act.

The scope of it is up to him, but there's no denying that he's not a waiter who occasionally acts: he's an actor.

And I think that's how we come to grips with it all: we have to realize that our kids are not just extensions of ourselves, and they're not these fragile things we need to constantly protect. We need to recognize them for what they are, and sometimes what they are is the budding writer, the passionate dancer, or the growing actor.

We might want for them to have something to fall back onto, but then again, if they have something to fall back on, they just might fall back.

So...the answer is to suck it up. Support in ways you can. Let them be who they are. Because frankly, the world needs them every bit as much as the world needs doctors and lawyers and farmers.

Follow your bliss...

Sometimes, your bliss is written as deep as your DNA.

You can empty their life's manuscript from the trash can and make sure they never see it again, or you can rescue it and encourage them to keep at it.

They don't have much choice.

You do.


23 October 2010

You know you're leading a really hard life when the lowlight of your day is that Denny's ran out of chicken noodle soup.


I may never get over it.


18 October 2010

File under Well Duh:

While addressing a stack of envelopes by hand, I inverted a couple of numbers on a street address, and muttered--out loud--"Gotta redo that, can't send it with a typo."

Um. Yeah.



17 October 2010

"Yanno," the text said, "this would be a lot easier if you would just TALK ON THE PHONE."

Well, it would certainly be easier for the other person. At least at first. But after a few "What was that?" and "I can't hear you, sorry," and "Huh? I didn't catch that," anyone would have to agree, talking to me on the phone is not All That.

Combine that with Writer's Brain (or: I really do need to stop to think and edit, then redraft, and think again before putting anything out there) and I'm all kinds of fun to talk to on the phone.

It's not personal, people.

It's simple.


Plus, I'm kinda socially backwards. And phone phobic.

Trust me, texting is the miracle by which you want to communicate with me.


16 October 2010

Overheard in Border's today:

You know, I'm trying to see Dad's point of view, but I just can't shove my head that far up my ass.

Almost choked on my tea...


15 October 2010

In training for the 3 Day, I walked around 600 miles. That's about 60,000 calories burned; most days my caloric intake was 1,500, but on the 12, 15, and 18 miles days it jacked up to 2,000 out of necessity.

You'd think I would have lost weight like crazy, but I didn't lose a damned thing. I haven't lost a damned thing since early January, in spite of carefully counting the calories and increasing my activity level.

Yes, this majorly bums me out.

In any case, I'm thinking that by Monday or Tuesday my feet will be back to 95% normal and I can get back out there to walk and/or Trikke. I was getting a little worried because the re-awakening nerves were getting to be seriously painful and the walking I had to do--shopping, just getting from the living room to the bathroom--was starting to really hurt.

Then someone posted on Facebook about the shoes they'd recently purchased and how soft and comfy they were, and I remembered that before I started the whole training thing that I'd bought a similar pair. And as I recalled, they were awfully cushiony.

I dug them out from under the bed and put them on, and damn...super comfortable and they kept me off the balls of my feet.

Coincidentally or not, the agony of de-feet lessened and now my toes only itch a bit. There are still numbish spots, but I don't notice that unless I rub the toes over the sheets or against each other.

So...a weekend of probably not much other than working, and then back to working out. And while I work out, I'll probably contemplate this as the next new toy:

Street Strider Fusion
Nope, don't need it, but dang I want it.

I know, I know....


14 October 2010

T-shirt spotted in Border's today:

Made me snicker, anyway...


12 October 2010

On the plus side, I think I've got about 85% of the feeling back in my toes.

On the minus side, I realized this at 3 a.m. when the searing pain of waking nerves jolted me from sleep.

Fun times, fun times...


9 October 2010

One of the things that had to fall by the wayside once my training mileage started to pile up was the motorcycle. On days I would normally go out and spend a couple of mindless hours riding for the fun of it, I was out pounding the pavement for multiple hours for the benefit of it.

g8I think between late August and now I've only ridden two or three times, and in total less than 200 miles.

I missed my bike.

Getting back on it was one of the things I was looking forward to; I'd pretty much made up my mind that a couple of days after the end of the 3 Day I'd pull the bike out of the garage, check the tire pressure and oil and other necessary things, and ride.

I hadn't counted on having numbish toes; I should have expected sore feet but that didn't really factor into my personal equation. I was going to be done walking, I was going to ride!

Each day, the feet are getting a little bit better. I can feel my toes, but they have that post-dentist visit feeling, when the anesthetic is mostly worn off but there's still a little residual numbness. And now when I press on the balls of my feet, I can feel the electric nerve sensation shooting into my toes. And yep, they're still a bit sore.

Today I figured I'd be good to go. I can mostly feel my feet, the rest of me feels fine--it's time to ride. So I put on my riding jeans, grabbed my boots and went to put them on...and the boots didn't fit.

Apparently my feet are slightly swollen. My walking shoes are a half size big, so I didn't really notice that. But the boots, they were tight.

In them, I couldn't feel my feet.

Well. Hell.

So apparently my motorcycle is going to remain in the garage for a few more days. I could take the scooter out--I don't need to feel a shifting peg or read brake pedal with that--but the idea of the potential bootless wreck made me think otherwise. I could ride in sneakers...choose not to.

So instead of riding, I did some writing, and am now practicing housework avoidance.

Practice makes perfect, you know...


7 October 2010

They got me through the 3 day walk...

...and they did not blister like I feared, but. But.

My toes went mostly numb on day 3, and they're still mostly numb, and it's starting to drive me a little batshit insane.

No, I don't think it's permanent, but I'd kind of like to get back to working out and I worry that if I jump back into walking several miles a day that it will become permanent.

All in all I'm quite happy with how my feet held up, but really, I would like to have all the feeling back...


30 September 2010

Timing is everything.

Which is probably why the air condition picked now to croak, just before leaving for the SGK walk.

The Spouse Thingy will come back and deal with it, but dang.

I am going to hear dollar signs with every step I take this weekend I think. Sixty miles of ca-ching.

Ah, well. We knew when we bought a slightly older house that we'd have to replace the unit sooner rather than later, but it would have been nice if this had happened like two weeks ago, or waited a week.

The cats need to be comfortable, after all...


26 September 2010

It's hot out, I was walking around the Factory Outlet stores, and I needed something to drink. A whole lot of something; I wasn't sure if my thirst was gripping because of the heat, because my DDAVP was wearing off early, or a combination, but it was fairly significant. So I wandered into the kinda-sorta food court, got a large soft drink (McD's is spoiling me with their $1 large...I was annoyed at having to pop for $2...) and found a table to sit at.

I could have kept wandering around, but not knowing if I'd need a refill or five, I stayed put. And I slammed that sucker back, draining it in less than two minutes, and was refilling it before most people would have taken their third sip.

You know what happens when you slam back a soft drink? And then another?

Things happen that most teenage boys would be proud of. I felt the offending bubbles pushing against my stomach, and knew there was no holding this back. If I let it loose, it would reverberate off the walls. But I have a modicum of control and managed to squelch it somewhat, but there was no mistaking that growling kind of sound coming from me was a healthy burp.

Just as I was congratulating myself for not letting it rip as loud as I could have, at the tail end of what seemed like the endless stream of belch, a woman at a nearby table yelled; her voice was an unexpected thunderclap of, "Don't do that! My God, that's so rude!"


She was so sudden, abrupt, and loud that I acutally jumped in my seat, and as I turned to her I blurted out, "Jesus, I'm sorry! I couldn't help it!"

Dead silence around me.

And I realized then that she was looking at her little boy, a four year old with his finger wedged about as far up his nose as it could get.

I can still hear the snickering that followed me as I hurried out the door...

If you don't follow my other blog, A Wabbit Walking, you may not know that this coming Friday is the first day of the Susan G. Komen 3 Day Walk for the Cure in San Francisco. And you may not know about my spiffy Supergirl cape. It's pink, and I'm wearing it the first day, and on it will be the names of people who have had breast cancer--some we've lost, some who have survived, and some who are fighting.

If you have a someone, and you would like me to carry their name, I would be honored to do so. Just pop on over there and leave their name in the comments of this post.

One days 2 and 3, I have t-shirts that will bear the names of the people we love and care about. One way or the other, I will carry those names with me all 3 days.

I can't wait to meet all my teammates; fundraising isn't done, so if you're inclined and haven't had the chance, pop over to our team page; it doesn't matter to which one of us a donation goes. Though, I just might be behind everyone else. Just sayin' ;)


17 September 2010

How I know I'm noticeable:

I walked the outlet stores in Vacaville today(and surrounding area) rather than suck up 18 miles in Dixon, and around mile 10, just as I was getting ready to stop for lunch, I passed a couple and overheard one of them, just as I passed, say, "holy $hit, just how phcking far does she walk?!"

I'm guessing he's local and has seen me in Dixon...kinda wonder if he thought I walked all the way there...


7 September 2010

In the interest of giving me some additional time walking hills, the Spouse Thingy and I headed for San Francisco again. Bonus: the BART train didn't smell like pee today. Since it's a 45 minute ride from Concord to the place we get off of the train, that's a definite plus.

As soon as we got there we met up with Diva Kitty's Mom for lunch at Max's (who knew Max had a side endeavor? Not surprised it involves food, though...) ...hell, we've lived within 40 miles for years and just now got around to meeting. Stupidly, there are no pictures. We had a camera, didn't even think of taking pictures.

Afterward, Mike and I headed out to walk, and the first steep street we encountered was this one...from the bottom. And we walked up.

Holy carp...the picture doesn't do it justice. It felt a hell of a lot steeper than it seems looking at this.

My knee decided halfway up that it was stupid steep.

But...once at the top we were rewarded with this view (click the image to biggify)...peeking through the buildings, you can see the Bay Bridge. I would guess that on a clearer day, it would be even more noticeable.

We spent about 5 hours walking around, but probably only 90 minutes or so was hills.

Face it, after not too long, walking steep streets fades from a good workout into unbridled masochism. And that's not something in which one should engage publically.

So, we walked around China Town, went to the Cheesecake Factory, and then to Westlake mall for the hell of it.

China Town
Union Square from TCF
Westlake Mall, looking up
There's still a couple of weeks left before the Walk...that's a couple more opportunities to go walk the inclines and see more of the city.

It's a hardship, truly ;)


4 September 2010


I stopped taking my growth hormone a couple of months ago. Between insurance headaches and my age--the older I get the closer I slide towards a cancerous family history--I decided to stop taking it, and just see what happens.

I worried about increased pain, but that hasn't happened.

What happened?

I got flabbier. A lot flabbier.

I'm not gaining weight (not losing any, either) but I'm getting reallllly flabby.

That sucks.


31 August 2010

How to turn 49:

The day before, go check out a Dave & Busters, be really disappointed in it, so instead wander around a mall you've never been to.

It'll be cool. Really. Much bigger than your local mall.

Then, do something you've always wanted to do. Like, go see the Golden Gate Bridge. Walk on it. Then go into the gift shop to get a sweatshirt that actually fits...

Then go see other things. Like Union Square. And Pier 39. and express incredible disappointment that there's a sign forbidding anyone to get on that giant macaroni noodle, because you realy really wanted to sit on it ;)

Then, go to a flea market:

Spend the day walking around, looking at other peoples' crap, but chances are, you won't find any fleas...

Then...go to Six Flags.

Walk around all day, but take the time to see the tigers...even if they do get a little dramatic and lie prostrate on the ground, as if wailing No...stop taking my picture...! and one of the coolest parts of the day will be seeing two baby tigers, and then two grown ones playing Thundering Herd of Elephants.

Oh, and when you caually say "It would be really cool if he got into the water" while sitting there looking at a beautiful tiger, and he gets up and gets in the water, your day will totally be made.

Next, go to San Francsico. To avoid the driving nightmare of having been there to see the Golden Gate Bridge, take the BART train in, even though it smells like pee.

First order of business: walk. Walk and walk and walk. Up the biggest damn hill you've ever walked. Keep walking, until you've gone halfway across San Francisco and are at the Wharf.

Finally get to see Ghiradelli Square...

See all kinds of unique people...

Then walk some more so that you can catch a cable car back to where you were:

...because you've never ridden one before, and if you're going to do the tourist thing, you have to ride it at least once.

Then walk around a whole lot more. See the big mall. See the people. Take the BART train back, even though it still smells like pee.

Oh, and don't do all of this in one day. Not possible. At least not advisable.

Do it'll make turning 49 fun. Or at least take the sting out if it.


23 August 2010

Why Ask Why?
(cross posted to A Wabbit Walking)

Simple enough question. “Why are you doing this?”

Look, I've kind of expected that question all along and have had a pat answer: nothing I've gone through—none of the chronic pain (I'm not proud, I'll list it: Fibromyalgia, Chronic Myofascial Pain, and arthritis in my lower spine and in both hips), the months in the wheelchair, the brain tumor, the marathon peeing and drinking and wondering when the hell my meds will kick in, or worse when they'll wear off—has been half as hard as someone else hearing they have breast cancer, and then what they go through in treatment. The chemo. The radiation.

It sounds like a great answer, right? Doing this long walk because even when you add it onto everything else, it still seems insignificant.

But before I could type out my at answer, I was hit with, “And don't give me any of the typical bullshit. I don't really need to know why you're doing it. YOU need to know why you're doing it.”

Well...fine. Color me stumped and momentarily speechless.

“Don't tell me either that you're doing it because The Grate Jeter Harris Hizself's mom asked you to. Why are YOU doing it?”

The person posing the question? He doesn't really expect an answer. He's the kind of person that asks random crap just to make other people ponder themselves. I imagine he asks himself random crap like this all the time, just for the exercise of self-introspection. I imagine he asks his wife things all the time to just get her to stop in time and in place for a moment, to simply consider.

I had plenty of time over the weekend to ponder the why of it all. I distracted myself from the sheer number of steps required to complete 17 and then 13 miles with a really good audiobook, but that didn't keep my brain from working in the background while I was listening to Joshilyn Jackson read her own work. The last two miles of Saturday's 17 hurt like hell, and I pondered it over and over.

What the hell am I doing to myself?

When I got up Sunday morning and had knee pain that rated an 8 on a 1-10 scale, I briefly considered not walking at all. Why go through the pain? After all, this is the training portion, this isn't the “real walk.”

Except that it is.

I got up and walked, not because I'm a masochist, and not because I'm some wonderful person who said she'd do it, so she's doing it. I got up and walked because all the steps leading up to The Walk count. They're part of the process. They're part of bigger picture. They're just as real as It is.

I'm not kidding anyone; this training is kicking my ass, and it fucking hurts. That pain you feel the first day after starting a new exercise routine? I start from there. My best days start from some version of that. I knew that when I accepted the invitation to sign up for this walk, and I decided to do it in spite of it.

And the truth is that I didn't say I'd do it because getting a diagnoses of cancer is harder than anything I've gone through; I didn't do it because chemo and radiation and mastectomy are more difficult. When it comes down to it, I wanted to do this because what I've gone through has been hard. It's been gut wrenchingly hard, and it's been Phuckit-am-I-going-to-die? hard.

Hearing a bad diagnoses? I've been there. I remember what it felt like to be told I had a tumor clinging to the underside of my brain, and that it was big. I remember the dread of being told that because it was big, and because they just couldn't tell from the MRI exactly what type of tumor it was—something harmless or something insidious—that it had to come out; I know now how fear drips from your fingertips in electric slivers. I will never forget the feeling of checking into the hospital and just not knowing. How badly will this hurt? How long will it take? Will I wake up and hear “Sorry, but it sucks to be you”? Will I wake up at all? I still feel the resignation of knowing that I wasn't getting out of it, that someone was going to reach into my head and cut something out, and if I bolted it just meant more uncertainty.

Will I live, or will I die?

I've done hard.

I don't want other people to do hard.

I don't want some 20-something young woman who hasn't even started her life to have to face anything that hard. Or some 20-something young man. Or 30 or 40-something. 90-something.

This wouldn't even have to be a walk for breast cancer. My mother had lymphoma; I could easily do a walk for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and I may at some point. Hell, I probably will. My father had kidney cancer. I could easily walk for symptom awareness, how to save your own life.

It's all hard. It's all fucking hard.

But this? I can do this. If any or every step I take means there's a small chance that someday someone else won't have to sit there and hear about some wayward thing growing in their body, that's some of the why of it all.

The possibilities.

The hope.

That doesn't make me some Pollyanna tightass halo-glowing wonderdork; I'm not doing anything thousands upon thousands of other people aren't doing and haven't already done this year. Hell, if I hadn't been asked to join a team*, it never would have crossed my mind. And when I was asked, it scared the hell out of me.

Because I knew it would be hard.

I will probably find myself weighed down with more doubts over the next month; the next long walk weekend is 18 miles one day and (I think) 15 the next. It's going to hurt, and I'm going to complain about it. Not whine, but complain, because it's going to hurt, and it's going to be hard.

The thing is, hard isn't fatal.

Why am I doing it? I think the answer is because I need to know that I can. That everything that's been hard hasn't been in vain. So that I can say I damn well did it.

It's a selfish motivation.


I can live with that.

*Blogger Babes for Boobies...if you haven't donated yet, please consider picking one of my kickass teammates to toss a few bucks at.


15 August 2010

Norval G. Whisler 5/7/27 - 8/10/10
My father was a navy veteran; he served at the end of World War II and during the Korean War, so I should not have been surprised that there was a Naval Color Guard on hand for his funeral, but when they got out of their car I curiously asked one sister, "Are there here for him?"

Color guard bugler
Really, I should have asked if they were here for us, because I found the playing of taps and folding of the flag to be dignity that my father deserved, and it was incredibly touching. I hold deep respect for service members who serve for funerals; it takes a special sense of honor to be able to do that, and it requires utmost respect and care, something not everyone can pull off, no matter how badly they want to.

After the playing of taps, the folding of the flag, and presenting it to my mother, the minister spoke; he didn't drone on and on and never tried to make it seems as if he knew my father, which I appreciated; he picked the right scriptures, and kept his part of it short and sweet, and then began to read pages of memories written by some of the grandkids and of my sisters.

That's when the laughing started.

Appropriately or not, my father's funeral soon swelled with laughter; their remembrances were touching and loving, but some of the things they shared were flat out funny and we couldn't help but laugh. And the common thread was the funniest, something my father did that trickled down from his kids to his grandkids.

Every night my father sat in his chair in the living room with a canned drink--sometimes beer, sometimes not--and when he wanted a new one, he grabbed the can and squeezed until it crinkled. We all knew what that meant: get up and get your father (or grandpa) another drink. There was no question about it; we just did it. When my oldest sister's twins were little, they raced to the kitchen to see who could be the first to get Grandpa his drink. It meant something to them; they wanted to win, to be the one who got to get it for him.

Everyone remembered the crinkling of the can. And every shared page of memories made mention of that, it was so ingrained. And in looking back, it was freaking funny.

The funeral was simple and sweet, with mostly close family in attendance, which is what he would have wanted. And I think he would have loved that he left us with laughter.

Me, my niece Shannon, and her way-too-cute baby boy Caleb
It didn't stop there; after lunch (more laughter) the Spouse Thingy and I went home with my mom and sister, to just chill for the rest of the afternoon, until everyone else came over for dinner (they humored me and sent out for Schlotzsky's which I wasn't leaving Texas without having) and while we sat there, all of us somewhat drowsy and  fighting it, my sister Dorothy looked at our mother and said, "Tell them about his hand."

My dad, for whatever reason, was never a jewelry person; other than a wristwatch, I don't think I ever saw him with anything remotely resembling jewelry on. But when he was on a ship headed for Korea, he wrote my mom and asked her to get him a wedding ring and send it.

I don't know why; it was surely an all-male crew back then and he likely wasn't fending off unwanted female attention, but he wanted a wedding ring. So she went out and got it for him and sent it off. He wore it through the rest of his service time, but afterward he worked with machinery that made it a little dangerous to have a ring on his finger. I'm guessing that he rather enjoyed having the use of all ten digits, so the ring came off and went into my mom's jewelry box. He never wore it again.

Until now.

"I got the last laugh," my mother said impishly. "I'm sending him through eternity with that ring on."

I can hear my dad now.



10 August 2010

It's August 10th, 2010.

In 16 days I turn 49 years old.

My father died this morning.

It was not unexpected, but that doesn't lessen the sting any. His health had been on the decline and he'd gone from being this stoic, strong man to being frail and needing help for just about everything. He had Parkinson's Disease, had survived kidney cancer, and had lost most of his hearing, and I'm sure he hated all of that.

But, he died at home, which is where he wanted to be. And it's where he could be because my sister Dorothy quit her job a couple of years ago and dedicated herself to caring for our parents. She gave up having any real life for herself, and has done the full time job of at least four people, providing them with hands-on dedicated care, doing it all.

Yeah, we owe her. We owe he a lot.

But, my dad. I wrote this on his 81st birthday, and it seems fitting to run again:

When I was a little kid, mid-to-late 60's - early 70's, women were burning their bras and fighting for equality, while little girls were banned from things like Little League baseball and auto shop. Girls were discouraged from developing friendships with those dirty, dirty boy because ONE DAY those dirty, dirty boys would harbor dirty, dirty thoughts about them. While the boys played rough games of Kick Me Off The Monkey Bars during recess, the girls were expected to swing (with their legs crossed if they were in a dress, of course) or play hop scotch.

Girls had Girl Things to do, and boys had Boy Things. One certainly did not teach his young daughter to hook a worm and cast a fishing pole, and one certainly did not spend fatherly one-on-one time at the side of a small lake teaching her the difference between trout and crappie.

Except for my dad.

Whether it was a conscious effort on his part to blur the gender lines or if he just wanted to teach one of his kids to fish, my father ruined many of his own fishing trips by taking me along. He taught me how to get the worm on the hook in a way it wouldn't wash off, he taught me how to cast my own rod and what it felt like when I had a bite. He made me hold my catch myself, all slimy and gross, and get the hook out.

When we were in Germany, I spent more mornings with him out by the water than I can readily count. It couldn't have been much fun for him, sitting there with an overly talkative and whiny little girl, but he did it. He allowed me to step over those gender lines as if it was a matter of course.

There were no arguments about his little girl playing baseball in the giant community backyard with the boys. He even bought me a baseball glove.

He once bought me a guitar while he was on TDY and held it on his lap on the plane ride home; while other little girls were learning feminine woodwinds, I learned to rock out.

I played on the junior high school basketball team, and never once heard "girls don't do that."

I mowed the lawn; one summer he hired the son of a family friend to cut the grass, but when I wanted to save money to buy a 10 speed bike, the job was mine. I never heard "that's not girl's work," though many of my friends heard it from their fathers. Mine handed over the lawn mower to his 12 year old daughter, paid her $4 a week, and when I had almost enough money, he drove me to pick out my bike and he covered my monetary shortfall.

About a mile from home he pulled the station wagon over, and told me to ride it the rest of the way home. I hadn't asked, but he knew how badly I wanted to ride my new toy. He pulled the bike out of the car and let me go.

My dad, whether he intended to or not, whether he was comfortable with it nor not, stepped a little bit ahead of the times and let his daughter soar. I don't know if he went with the changing times or if he saw that no matter what, his youngest daughter was never going to be a girly-girl and accepted it for what it was, but he allowed me to be me before the climate of the times would.

Whatever his reasons, what he gave me was the gift of being comfortable with myself. My parents are amazing people, but it really sticks with me that my father was a little progressive when my friends' fathers were not, and could not, be. Very quietly, he gave me that sense of comfort, he showed me strength, he showed me what real men are made of.

Today my dad is 81.

You may thank him for the gift of me. I am that special ;) Oh, and wish him a Happy Birthday, too. He deserves all the good wishes the world can muster.

The world is just a bit dimmer today without him. While he's in a better place—and I do believe that—it sucks for the rest of us.

Truly sucks.


1 August 2010

All the walking has taken a bit of a toll on my feet, keeping me mostly off them during part of this last week. Murf suggested I soak my feet in strong brewed tea to help toughen them up, and I figured why not? I can't hurt and might help.

Is that my freaking litterbox???
Max, on the other hand, wasn't too sure about the whole thing.

For starters, I used a litter box to pour the tea into (a new one, cripes) which had him staring like WTF? and then sat with it in the living room while I watched a couple things that were on the DVR.

That was as close as he got; even though he's well acquainted with the litter box, he wasn't taking any chances with something that was obviously wet, and at his level.

It's way too soon to know if the tea will help--only soaking once is probably not going to tell me diddly squat--but it felt soothing enough to keep trying.

But what felt really good...

No, it's not that deep...
After walking fourteen miles today, I had this waiting for me in the back yard.

The water is still too cold--it was only filled the day before yesterday--but as hot and sticky and sweaty as I was, it felt great.

This is our cheap-assed Sam's Club special, an 18' vinyl pool on ground that's not exactly level--though the Spouse Thingy got it a hell of a lot more level than it would have been--and the one we figure made more sense than popping for something like a Doughboy. If we keep using this, maybe in a year or two we'll get the permanent pool, but for now, this is awesome.

Even if Max does look out the back window with an expression like "Dood, you're taking a bath outside?"