31 December 2011

This time last year I was fighting some pretty serious pain in my lower back, looking at beginning one year in as much pain as I was ending the other. This year...I'm ending 2011 fighting back pain, looking at ending it the same way I began.

Last year I also had issues with my shoulder and having torn the bejeezuz out of it, though. It's 99% better...I just hope this round with my back isn't an omen as to how I'm going to spend the last week of every year from here on out.

This was a pretty good year, all in all. I had fun training for the SGK 3 Day Walks, even if I did grumble about it; I turned 50, even if I did grumble about it; stepped way outside of my comfort zone and went to Atlanta to walk with friends and had a blast, even if I did grumble about it...

Yep, I grumbled a lot. I felt like crap a lot, fought pain a lot, let a few people irritate the crap out of me, but overall it was an awesome year. We spent a lot of time walking around San Francisco, which is probably my favorite place to wander, we walked around Six Flags a lot, I went pink in a major way, and we capped it off with a trip to Disneyland. We had a lot of fun, and had it together.

The Spouse Thingy and I have been together more than 30 years (counting dating) and there's still no one else I'd rather kick back and have fun with.

Here's to hoping next year is just as good.

But, you know, without the back pain and stuff...


29 December 2011

I woke up this morning feeling a little off; I’ve been sick the last three days and my back decided to chime in on the fun, so initially I thought that was it. But after convincing Max to get off of me and sitting up, I realized that wasn’t it. Physically, I felt better. My back still hurt, but that wasn’t it.

It took me a few minutes to come to grips that the feeling didn’t have anything to do with whatever minor bug has been making me feel like crap since the day after Christmas, and it had nothing to do with the pain radiating from my back.

It was sadness, just sadness.

And with that came the cold slap that today marks the tenth anniversary since the wonderful Moe Brennan passed away. I still miss her, and I’m still angry that she died, because she didn’t have to. Her husband should not be making his way through life without her, and the world is still a little dimmer without her.

Moe used to sign off on message boards and email with “Half Full, Half M.T.” But she was never half of anything. She was All That, and then some.

Ten years.

I don’t think I’ll ever not miss her. And I don’t think I’ll ever be not angry about how she died. I don’t think I’ll ever not be at least a little sad on this day every year.

But I’ll also suck it up and shake it off by tomorrow, because as formidable as she was, I’m pretty sure she’d find a way to kick my ass even now.


22 December 2011

We weren't planning on putting up a tree this year, but with a spastic black kitty finally calm and lounging by it while he stares with a This is all mine, right? look, I think getting a small one was pretty much worth it.


20 December 2011

Does it look like we had a good time? We did, we had a really good time. We also did it the right way, because it turned out I really did need to just stop and go back to the room periodically, and for an extended time on Day 2; we went to California Great Adventure on the second day, and I was feeling fairly crappy, overly tired and pretty achy, with my back and feet fighting for Most Awful Feeling, so we headed back and I was able to rest up. We intended to go back to Disneyland to be in the park for the fireworks, but that never happened, mostly because right about the time we were thinking about heading back, it started to rain...which didn't really matter because our room had a perfect view of them.

The nice thing about going to Disney without little kids? You don't have to get up at the buttcrack of dawn because they're pinging off the walls and wanting to get there already. You get to sleep in and take care of all the aches and pains and medication issues, and wander over when you feel like it.

On Day Three I don't think we hit the park until after 11 a.m. and the first thing we did was hit Space Mountain to get a Fast Pass, and then we wandered for a bit, mostly so I could get a feel for how I was really feeling. By the time we could go back and bypass most of the line I was feeling pretty good, and man, that is my absolutely favorite ride.

We rode it on Day One, of course, and decided to go back to it later again on Day Three, because I must have my Space Mountain! And while we waited, the Spouse Thingy mused about how he would really like to see Space Mountain with the lights on.

So we really shouldn't have been surprised at what happened less than a minute into the ride.

Mike broke Space Mountain.

Right before we should have gone into a wicked turn, the ride stopped and the lights popped on, and there was an announcement that a ride attendant would be right with us. This was actually kind of cool, getting to see what it really looks like, and getting to watch as other cars were released manually and then pushed down the track. One good shove by this girl I probably could have snapped in two with my thumbs literally shoved each car along, let go, and we watched as one by one they picked up speed and headed to the and of the line.

Since we were so high up, we were the last car to be released and had the longest ride in the light, which was pretty trippy. In the light Space Mountain is kind of a lame roller coaster, just a couple notches above the kind you see in the little-kid areas of theme parks. But it was still fun, and when we got to the end, they left us all on and let us ride through again.

It's definitely a trip I want to take again. Or maybe try Disney World in FL. But next time I think we'll fly...the drive kicked my ass, and on the way home we got a screw in one of the back tires, and ya know what? There are no full-service stations along I-5. It took a few places, but Mike finally tried a truck stop with semi service, and while they couldn't plug the tire for us--because they just didn't have a plug kit--the kid there jacked the car up and put the spare on so that Mike didn't have to, and pointed us to Bakersfield.

For free.

We headed to Bakersfield about 35 miles from where we were at, very slowly, to an America's Tire, where we waited nearly 3 hours all in all (9 cars ahead of us...but what we were going to do?) and they plugged the tire, put the spare back in the well in the trunk, mounted the good tire, reloaded our luggage back into the car and got it all arranged for us so that we didn't have to worry about it.

For free.

Seriously. For free.

We got home 3 hours later than we expected, but hey... in a warped way it was worth it to experience just how nice people really can be.

More pictures up at Flickr. I don't have them organized well or descriptions on most of them yet, but they are there for your perusal if you so choose ;)

And yanno, Disney is a lot like a SGK 3 Day. People stop what they're doing when they see you taking a picture, and offer to take a couple so you can be in it together.

Very cool.


12 December 2011

Tomorrow, we're heading out for the first real vacation either of us can remember, and because we're all grown up and chit, we're heading to Disneyland.

We went to Disneyland 21-22 years ago, when the Boy was little. We knew we would be leaving CA and didn't know if we'd ever get another chance to take him, so we whipped out the credit card and willingly took on a little debt in hopes that we'd give him a few happy memories. I think it took us 3 years to pay it off (yeah, minimum monthly payments, not such a bargain) but it was worth it.

He's been back a few times, but we haven't. And since the Spouse Thingy actually is getting some time off close to Christmas, when the park will be lit up, we want to go back and have some fun and enjoy the decorations. I'm not sure how many rides we'll get on--unfortunately my back just doesn't do well on a lot of them now--but for the 3 or 4 days we'll be there I'm betting there will be a lot to see.

And instead of the CheepAss Motel a couple miles down the road, we're staying at the Disneyland Hotel. We'll be able to walk to the park or hop on the Monorail, which means if we need or want to, we can take an extended break during the day and not feel like we're missing anything.

And yeah, I know I'll probably need breaks. Sure, I can do the 3 day and walk the 20 miles a day, but when you do that you're not standing in lines for freakishly long stretches of time, and standing kills my back. Plus, I've been babying my foot in order to be able to make this trip, but that also means I haven't been walking, and my endurance tends to evaporate pretty fast these days.

I was also reminded when I went to Atlanta how exhausting traveling is for me. That first day I was floored; since we're staying right there, if I'm too wiped out, it's not a big deal. Hell, if he wants to, while I splay myself out on a bed and drool, the Spouse Thingy can wander around the park by himself for a while.

And something else I feel like I have to explain... I know there are several people in the area that mentioned wanting to get together while we're down there but I haven't yet made plans. Please don't be offended. I really don't know what we'll be doing and when, and I don't know if I'll suddenly need to stop in the middle of the day. I still have health issues that might get in the way; that's not going to change, but because this really is the first vacation we've taken in forever, we're going to be selfish and do what we want to do when we want to do it, with no restrictions on the clock.

Basically, we want to spend some time alone.

Old people still do that, you know ;)


10 December 2011

I needed a few things from Walmart so I headed over there, and was happy to see that it wasn't crowded and I would be able to zip in and then zip out.

While I gathered up the few things I needed, a thought ran through my head, something like, "Well, they never have it here so I'll go over to Safeway."

Five minutes later I was in Safeway.

Five minutes, five seconds later, I realized I could not remember what it was I was there for.

Googled "My Memory Sucks" and got this. Eh?
I wandered up and down the aisles, hoping to trigger my brain, but no. I did pick up two cans of cat food, flavors Walmart never seems to carry. But after aimlessly wandering around the store for ten minutes, I decided it must not have been that important, so I paid for the cat food and left.

Once I got home I realized I needed to do laundry, so that I would have some clean clothes to take to Disneyland next week. That included the pants I was wearing. So I put some shorts on, shoved the two pair of jeans I have that actually fit into the washer, and decided to sit down for a few minutes before diving into all the things I need to get done this weekend.

And then I remembered...I needed to pick the Spouse Thingy's meds up from the pharmacy.

At Walmart.

If this is how my brain works at 50, I dread 60.

And now I have to wait for my pants to finish washing and then drying, so I can go back to Walmart and get his meds.

Maybe I'll get lucky and remember what I needed so badly from Safeway...


8 December 2011

It doesn't look bad, but it stings like a farker. And you can only see about half of it...those scratches are actually teeth marks and there are two puncture wounds above them from his upper teeth, and a couple of other punctures higher on my arm from his back claws.

Buddah bites.

Seriously. Buddah.

There are times I think that cat is--at the risk of being offensive, though it's definitive in his case--slightly retarded. While I often make jokes about Max eating my face off, if it ever happens Buddah will be the more likely culprit, and it will be because he wanted to be picked up and held, and then without warning decided 2.4 minutes of it was .0001 minute too long, but instead of meowing and wiggling to get down, he attacked.

Tonight he wanted to be cuddled. I obliged. He loved it--until he didn't--and then went apeshit crazy on me. He bit hard, I put him down on the counter, he started meowing like HE was the one who had been wronged and kept moving towards me... I thought he was going to leap and rip my throat out.

I actually took a step or two back, just in case.

He does this; it's not the first time. He acts sweet and cuddly, then goes nuts, and then howls when he's being told No. We don't hit the cats, but that index finger being pointed at him and waggled while telling him'd think we were beating him, he gets so upset.

If he's sitting on top of the fake fireplace and you walk by and try to pet him, you need to be prepared to pull back a bloody stump.

If you're wearing shoes he's never seen before, he freaks out. Most of the time he runs, but once in a while he'll go after your feet.

But if you're sitting here in the chair with the computer on your lap, he'll jump up, plop down between the keyboard and your torso, and get head and chin skritches until your hand is ready to fall off. Then he's sweet and gentle...but that could change on a whim.

So yeah, if my face gets eaten off by a ticked off kitty, dont just assume it was Max.

Max bites, but he does the very soft warning bite, and if he's told no he either slinks off or he sits there and gives you this "You're a dork" look. He's a grump, but I'm not afraid of anything he'll do.

But in all honesty, sometimes?

Buddah scares the shit out of me.

I guarantee, though, once he's gotten the little freak out of his system he'll be his dorky sweet self again. Until the next time, which could be ten minutes from now or ten days.

He's either got mental issues, or he's a farking genius.


7 December 2011

Apparently I was part of a class action lawsuit against eBay, something about listing fees for the selling of vehicles. Not really sure what. I listed two cars on eBay in the past, one sold and one listing was pulled because I mentioned the word "cash." That one ticked me off because the bids on it had reached my minimum price point, and it was a giant WTF moment. I didn't ASK for cash, it was more like, "...if you're a local buyer and want to pay cash..."

I don't even remember the point I was trying to make in the listing. Just that eBay pulled it right before the auction was supposed to end.

But the other day I got this thing in the mail because I was part of a class actions suit I didn't even know about. I almost tossed it because the envelope looked like another You have a VA loan on your house and we want your business and even though you've never heard of us, we're going to offer you a killer interest rate that's actually 1% more than you're currently paying! letter. But I opened it, and there was this!

A check!

For thirty five cents!


So tell me...what should I spend it on? I have to cash it before the 22nd of December. WHAT TO BUY??!?!?


5 December 2011

Random Memory Monday:

Pets are family; I don’t care if you think it’s nuts, but for us, they are. So they’ve always been a consideration in the places we’ve lived, the way furniture is arranged, and the purchasing of vehicles. Face it, when you have a 120 pound Golden Retriever, you might be able to haul them to the vet in the back seat of a Mazda Protégé, but cross country? No.

With just two years left to retirement, the Spouse Thingy got orders moving us from California to Ohio; not too long before those orders popped up we’d traded in a station wagon on a Protégé. It was a four door, so we were able to get Hank the Dog in and out, though he was less than thrilled about it and his arthritic hips hated it. The station wagon had to go, though, because the transmission was on its way out and we just didn’t want to deal with it anymore.  We thought we were staying in California for the rest of the Spouse Thingy’s military career, but one dickwad who started playing chess with the nurse anesthetists changed that.

Hank might have been able to ride around town every now and then in the back seat of the Mazda, but it seemed cruel to even think about hauling him 1800 miles in it. So the Boy sold his car, we gave him the Mazda, and we bought a pickup truck. That way Hank had most of the bed of the truck to travel in (harnessed in place in case of accident…) and we would even be able to shove his bed back there.

The problem, we discovered quickly, was that Hank was an older Golden and with his bad hip, he couldn’t just jump into the back of the truck. He could get his front paws on the gate, and one of us could then lift his back end up, but that hurt him. He never whelped or whined, but it was there on his face: this hurts.

We bought a pet ramp, and with a little work, he figured out how to walk up it and get into the truck, and with a little more work he was able to walk down. He needed more help than the average dog even with that—for whatever reason Hank was terrified of stairs and to him this was just a weird staircase—but with reassuring hands on him, he would suck up the fear and brave it.

We also had a pass through window installed between the cab and the bed, and bought a topper, so that Hank was not only protected from the elements while riding back there, but he could also stick his head through the window and be with his people.  So off we went, heading to Ohio with a geriatric Golden Retriever who drooled through the pass through window and a pissed off Psychokitty who howled for 6 solid hours the first day.

Somewhere along the way, probably on day two, we stopped at a rest area and unfolded the ramp so that Hank could get out and pee, then stretch his legs and walk for a bit. Across the large parking lot was a guy standing in front of his van, watching. As Hank tentatively made his way down the ramp, the guy started walking towards us; I didn’t think anything about it. For all I knew he was heading for the restroom.

But when he was about five feet from us, he said—almost a little choked up—“Thank you for that.”

We both looked up from Hank.

“I had a dog just like him, and I miss him so much. Thank you for thinking about that ramp for yours. It’s special.”

That was my random thought this morning; I saw a picture online of a trailer-hitch step-up platform for dogs, and I heard that guy’s voice in my head.

We never thought it was special; it’s what you do when a family member needs something. Hank needed help getting in and out of the truck, and that was no different than the Spouse Thingy walking me back and forth on the sidewalk in front of the house six days after I’d had surgery. I needed to move, but I needed help.

On the surface, it doesn’t seem special; it’s just what you do.

Still…I saw that step-up and I could  perfectly see Hank carefully inching his way down that ramp in a rest area parking lot, and how some random stranger was reminded of his own long-gone friend, and how to him, it was special.

And right now, I really miss Hank.

A lot.


4 December 2011

I record Doctor Oz throughout the week, and watch episodes when there's nothing else worth bothering with on TV. If I don't get to them during the week, I watch (sort of, I mostly have it on for noise while I play online) during the weekend, presuming I don't have HGTV on while I ignore it in favor of JigZone or Bookworm.

Today I decided to watch an episode while I had lunch. And dammit if the whole thing wasn't on hunger in America, and I sat there with my chicken salad sandwich while listening to people talk about the realities of being broke and trying to feed kids... yeah, I had to choke the sandwich down. I wanted to grab those kids through the screen and cut them loose in my kitchen. There are some less than stellar choices in my pantry right now, but's food. And I have a phone. Order pizza! I just wanted to feed every last one of them.

We've been broke. When the boy was a baby we measured anything we considered purchasing against how much formula the cost of that would buy. That book? No, not gonna get it. That would pay for two cans of Similac. Pack of new underwear? Three cans. Let's go commando instead. He needs vaccinations? Cripes, the one shot would buy 5 cans of formula. What to do? Sell the coveted 12 string guitar, for one. That'll cover shots AND a lot of food.

We ate a lot of generic macaroni and cheese because it was only 10 cents a box, bought generic canned vegetables by the case when they were on sale, and had weeks on end of peas or corn or green beans. Every now and then the Spouse Thingy's mom sent care packages that included blueberry muffin mix, we were thrilled.Sometimes we made the mac and cheese without butter and cut the milk needed, but the muffins? They got every drop of the 1/3 cup the mix required. MUFFINS!

A night with mac and cheese, peas AND muffins? That was a farking feast.

Meat? When we were lucky, we'd catch tubes of 70% ground beef on sale. Seriously, hamburger in a tube. It sliced into freezable patties nicely, and with some creativity was pretty freaking good. It took a jar of generic spaghetti sauce that would usually only be enough for 1 meal into 3, AND we got to have hamburgers every now and then.

We had parental help here and there, so we never truly suffered. We didn't go to bed without having had dinner. Our son always had food, even though he refused to eat it half the time. Those parents I watched while I tried to swallow past some chicken-laden guilt, they're suffering. Their kids are hungry, and they're doing everything they can to put food on the table for them, but today's realities mean that sometimes they go without.

Kids are going hungry. These kids are so hungry that if given food they hate, they'll choke it down.

And it's unconscionable that this happens in the U.S. It sucks that it happens anywhere, but in a land of abundance, no one should go hungry.

Ever wonder why so many people who are on food stamps, who stand on street corners holding signs asking for change, who seem to skip lunch every damned day are overweight?

The food they can afford, when they can afford it, is packed with simple carbs. Pasta is cheap. Ramen noodles are cheap. They're also calorie dense. So yeah, you can be very, very hungry and gain weight. During the years I ate the least amount of food overall, I gained the most weight. Living on mac and cheese and spaghetti will do that to you.

But we never went hungry. We probably qualified for food stamps but never pursued it, because we had food. I doubt we even realized it was horrible food. But we had it, and it wasn't until much later--when the Spouse Thingy was in the USAF and we notched up from Tube Meat to slightly better hamburger--that the realization of our likely malnutrition occurred to us.

We're more aware of it now. It doesn't escape me that we can go out for dinner on a whim and spend more on one meal than we did in an entire month nearly 30 years ago.

We've done the donate-the-canned-goods thing; a couple of times a year someone sticks a notice on our door saying they'll be in the area in a day or two collecting canned goods, usually the Boy Scouts. If we have enough notice--we don't always--we stick a few cans out. That's painless.

It's easy during the holidays to do something because grocery stores run their Buy-a-Bag food drives. For $20 right there at the cash register you can buy a bag of food that will be donated. That's painless, too.

I know you can make cash donations, but I wasn't sure exactly to where, so I engaged my Google-Fu and looked for local food banks, and actually let out a Duh when it coughed up the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano County. I see that name on the food donation bins in Safeway all the time. I've seen their ads more than once. Hell, I've written them checks the last couple of years.

I don't know why I didn't immediately think of them...but there you have it. I doubt I'm the only person who kind of shoves the uncomfortable things in life into the recesses of the brain.

They make it easy to help, too. A direct link right there on the website. Hell, they make it easy to have a monthly donation automatically charged to your credit card, if you so choose. But one of the more unique ways to donate to them surprised me.

Like, BART tickets.

Every time you ride the BART train into the city, you buy a ticket based on distance, and there's always a few cents left over at the end of the day. If other people are like we are, they toss the tickets because hell, it's a nickle. Or a dime. We went into San Francisco several times this year, and the grand total left on all the accumulated tickets was probably $5. Tossed 'em.

But ya know what? Five bucks can buy 10 meals. And the CCS food bank can take those tickets and get cash for them. I wish I'd known that. Sending them our used tickets with the pennies left over? Painless.

You can bet I'll be saving them throughout next year.

And you can bet if they had something like the 3 Day, I'd be walking in it.

I've eaten crap because crap was what we could afford, but I've never been truly hungry, and I hate the idea that I could throw a baseball in any direction and hit a neighbor who might be. And today, that's entirely possible. Someone might have the house, might have a car in the driveway, but they might also be so very, very close to losing it all, and they may be going hungry to make sure they keep a roof over their heads.

It sucks.

Depressing blog entry to read? Maybe. But there's something we can all do. Find out where the local food bank is, and if you do nothing else, pop $5 their way.

Look at their website. See if there's anything different you can do, like saving subway tickets to send in.

It doesn't mean you have to get deeply involved and volunteer to bag food and stack boxes, though that would be nice, too. Just a few bucks here and there.

Me...I'll do something because that chicken salad sandwich is sitting like a lead weight in my stomach.

I'm allowed to be selfishly motivated.

Whatever works, right?


2 December 2011

Today, I had aspirations of taking my iPad and a notepad and heading out to Panera for lunch and to get some work done. I'm delusional like that, always harboring the beleif that if I go sit someplace with free WiFi that I'll actually get anything done.

Technically, I wrote two sentences while I sat there, so I suppose that counts.

And I did write three sentences on Facebook. So there. Writing was accomplished.

Before I went into Panera, though, I decided to wander around the Nut Tree (think giant strip mall with major stores like Best Buy and Old Navy) and hope for holiday gift inspiration. Because, you know, people will want to buy me chitloads of stuff and I need to know what to tell them to get for me. Since I have no clue, I need to do a little window shopping.

Plus, I've been babying my foot since the walk in Atlanta, and it's time to test it out a little more. I did some deliberate walking at faster than shopping-speed to see how it would feel. It felt fine, so I'll start building on that so that the first time I'm on my feet for any length of time isn't the first day at Disneyland.

While I was wandering around, not finding anything worth telling people to buy me (it really is hard to find crap when you're on the outside of the stores. Who knew?) I decided I was thirsty, but I wasn't ready to go plop myself down in Panera with a salad and some chili, so I wandered into BevMo.

You know. Booze Heaven. They sell single bottles of cold soda, so I grabbed a Diet Whatever and got in line. Ahead of me was a grungy kind of guy, wind-shipped hair, red flannel shirt, and jeans about 3 sizes too big held up with a belt fastened with something from the scientific family Buckles Gigantes. He put his giant bottle of Jack and tiny bottle of vodka (or gin. I dunno. It was clear.) on the counter, and after the cashier rang him up and he made no move toward the card swiper thingy, she asked him a pretty straightforward question: "Ist das alles?"

He blanched. The dude took a tentative step back and looked at me and practically spit, "Fuckin' foreigners. Can't even learn the damned language."

I shrugged. "Sounded like English to me." Ok, so no it didn't. But I understood. I'd have to be half brain dead to not grasp it.

"What fuck?"

Seriously? Complaining about the language and you can't even remember an article? "She asked if that was all. Is that all?"

I don't think he comprehended.

"Like, do you need anything else?" I gestured to the card swiper thingy (don't judge me. I can't think of its name right now.) "You can pay now."

Hey, I wasn't even snotty about it.

He paid and left in a hurry, I think still confused and still not sure what he'd heard.

In a very thick German accent the cashier apologized to me and added, "I have to think still to speak English."

Me: "I can count to ten in German."

Fine. It was stupid, but it made her laugh.


26 November 2011

WTF? I haven't been walking much, trying to let my foot heal, so

I'm starting to think my feet hate me...


24 November 2011

We did a mini-Thanksgiving yesterday, albeit without turkey and all the trimmings. Actually, it was without anything remotely resembling Thanksgiving... we met the Boy in Vacaville and went to see the new Muppet movie (big thumbs up...make sure you pee before it starts, or you'll risk wetting yourself laughing during it...) and then went to dinner, where no turkey was consumed.

Getting together yesterday just made more sense than doing it today; the Spouse Thingy has to work today--some of you people do stupid things or get into accidents on holidays and need his services in the OR, but that's not a complaint, it's just the way the schedule works--plus traffic on Thanksgiving is usually pretty heavy and the Boy lives a good 45 minutes away on a normal-traffic kind of day.

I think he's going to sit around his apartment today, eating pie, watching TV, and indulging in some Irish Whiskey; when the Spouse Thingy wakes up and is ready for food we'll probably go to Denny's, where we will triple-tip our server because it's a holiday and it sucks to be serving food on a holiday, so we're especially grateful that someone is actually doing it.

I did make a pumpkin pie (ok, I bought a frozen pie and shoved it into the oven); Buddah watched me stick it in the oven, after which he climbed into his counter box (yes, it's still on the counter...) and stared at the oven while meowing pitifully for a good ten minutes. when he was done there he wandering into the living room and meowed at me pitifully, and tried to get me to follow him into the kitchen, where I think he was pretty sure he could convince me into taking the pie out of the oven and giving it to him.

I don't think he's ever tasted pumpkin pie, but he sure as hell wants it...and now I wish I had bought some canned pumpkin for the kitties to try.

I did buy some turkey cat food for the kitties, and there's a chance I'll bring something back from Denny's, so don't look at me like that.

Whatever you're doing today, I hope it's a happy one for you!


15 November 2011

Yesterday's visit to the tattoo shop was a two-fer...the Boy also got one,the Seal of Rassilon from Doctor Who. It's a symbol of power and a ward against evil.

To that he added on Facebook, "I'm a nerd."

We're all nerds. I could see me with a TARDIS tattoo someday (or even "wibbly wobbly timey whimey" on a shoulder blade), if I thought it would blend in with other planned ink.

Not that the foot ribbons blends in exactly with the Thumper tattoo...but it's there because I think my upper right arm is the Place of Things That Matter to Me. There's even a little space to the left of the feet for something else small someday. I might even have an idea what it will be.

I toyed with putting the feet on my wrist, but 1) I'm not ready to commit to ink in places not easily covered and 2) I have something else planned for my inner forearm someday. Which tells me I'll commit to ink not easily hidden sooner or later, and someday I'll be one of Those People.

Hide your kiddos, people, I'm gonna be a bad influence on them someday.


11 November 2011

To those who served, to those who are serving...

There are a whole bunch of restaurants offering free meals to veterans today--like Olive Garden and Applebee's--so if you have the time, go out and enjoy lunch or dinner or both.

But if you do, please remember to tip your server based on the what the cost of the meal would have been...those men and women are honored to be your waiters and waitresses today, but they're also going to be serving a whole bunch of vets, which will seriously cut into their take home pay if they aren't tipped on pre-free meal total, and they still have bills to pay.

But definitely go out and enjoy! You deserve it!


5 November 2011

It's that time of year again.

National Novel Writing Month.

If I have any hope of winning this year, I'm going to have to accomplish it much in the manner of NaNoKitty over there.

I thought about signing up for it again--I have several projects simmering that would have been perfect for it--but I also had expectations of doing another 3 Day Walk this month, and with that comes additional training...

I knew I couldn't do both, so I didn't sign up and didn't give it serious consideration until it became obvious that I wasn't going to be do much walking this month. Or much else, either. Even then, I didn't pull out any notes or start anything new, so if I jumped in at this point I would be 8,335 words behind, and that's a lot of words to catch up on.

Still...I'm tempted. If I cough up 2000 words a day, I can do it. And there's nothing about NaNoWriMo that says that the end product has to be any good. Hell, when I've done it before I've hit 50K and then turned around and cut more than half of what I'd written out, because you do tend to write a lot of crap during the NaNoCrunch.

It's redeemable crap, though. I did a huge chunk of The Flipside of Here for NaNo last year, and the final draft turned out to be one of my favorites. It helped that I was writing characters I already knew quite well (probably better than I know most people IRL, safe to say) and that I had a fairly clear vision of what the story was about, where it would go, and how it would resolve. I have none of that with the list of things I have on tap for right now.

So. I dunno. But if I don't get on it by tonight...

Eh, there's always tomorrow, and a new words-per-day goal. Right?


3 November 2011

I don't like to pimp a lot, but I noticed this morning that Amazon has It's Not About the Cookies in paperback on sale for $1.30, and the Kindle version for $1.24.

Now's the time to grab a copy, peoples...


29 October 2011

Methinks it's time for the pink hair to go away. I bought a color removal kit soon as I can do anything without coughing my head off, the hair ir going back to brown.

Granted, I kinda like the pink, but I'm already tired of the looks I'm getting, and I haven't even been out that much.

Kinda want to tell people who roll their eyes to suck it...but it's just easier to get rid of it...


16 October 2011

Know what?

If you say to yourself "I'm going back to Great Clips because I've never gotten a bad haircut there," you have doomed yourself.

Oh yeah.

I look like I'm wearing a really bad toupee...

...with a really bad dye job at the moment.

I can fix one of those.


10 October 2011

I don't know what he's dreaming about, but he was whacking his tail against the sofa cushion hard and fast, and he just let out a little growl.

I think I'll steer clear of him for a while...


7 October 2011

A few minutes after 4 this morning I woke up with a start, thinking we were having a royal earthquake. The bed was shaking so hard that I woke so fast and my brain fired up in nanoseconds, trying to determine how fast I could get into the bathroom (presumably the safest place) and if the cats would follow me in there.

What? No one said you had to wake up.
I rolled over, pulling the blankets back, ready to swing my legs over the side of the bed, when I realized Max was right there.


Bathing enthusiastically.

Bathing at about a 6.8 on the Richter scale.

With an annoyed sigh, I slid back into bed and tried to go back to sleep. Max was happy to see me awake and crawled on top of me, tossing and turning until he'd created a nice little kitty hammock between my body and one of the body pillows I use to keep my back from twisting while I sleep. Once he was settled, he fell fast asleep.

I was wide awake.

I stayed there for over two hours, letting the little earthquake generator snooze on me, until mother nature decided I was getting up whether I wanted to or not.

Both cats happily followed me out into the living room, probably hoping for food. I turned the TV on to watch some news, poked around Facebook for a few minutes, and then decided that it was 1) too early to be sitting there drooling on myself, even if most normal people were already up and on their way to work, and 2) too cold to sit there in shorts and a t-shirt.

I went back to bed, curled up under the covers with my iPad...and the sleep bomb went off. I set the iPad aside and took my glasses off, happy to think I was finally going to get back to sleep.

And then the bed heaved with Max's weight as he jumped up and then stomped across the mattress. He plopped down by my head and took yet another damned bath, and 5 minutes later the bed heaved again with Buddah's weight as he stomped across the mattress. There was no bathing for Buddah; he just wanted to crush me into something he could comfortable sleep on.

By 7:45 I was drifting off again, one cat making disgusting licking noises by my head and the other doing his best to assure that breathing was a major effort for me.

Half an hour later, they heard the Spouse Thingy's key in the front door and both launched--Max's foot slapping against my face as he scrambled to be first out of the bedroom and all of Buddah's weight springing off me--because him coming home means crunchy treats, or if they're lucky, gooshy food.

Fine, so they woke me up again. I was tired enough going back to sleep wouldn't be an issue again.

Half an hour after that the bed heaved again and Max plopped down with his face a few millimeters from mine, his intent obviously to make sure that I could smell that he'd been given hid breakfast, so hey, I could stay in bed if I wanted!

So grateful for that.

I rolled over and he snuggled against my back...and then Buddah decided to join us again.

I gave up.

Choices. I haz dem.
They got excited, thinking they might be able to score a second breakfast, and raced to the bathroom to make sure I did everything in the correct order, and then waited in the hall while I put some pants on...and while I arranged the covers on the bed so that they could go back later and snooze the way they like. Max likes the naked sheet just by the pillow, and Buddah likes to alternate between the fuzzy blanket and the comforter.

Dammit if I didn't make sure they would be able to nap in comfort.

I wandered into the bedroom to grab some socks a little while ago, and flipped the light on so I could see. Max opened one eye and sighed, and Buddah--annoyed because I interrupted his sleep to reach over him to get to the socks--took a swipe at my arm.

I'm thinking that in about half an hour, just enough time for them to get into those deep sleep places, that I'm going to rush into the room and jump on the bed, just so they can see how it feels.


You know I won't.

Not that I'm whipped or anything...



30 September 2011

I think I want one of these...

Only I want it in Tardis blue, so I can get a bumper sticker that says "It's bigger on the inside."


26 September 2011

During my mushroom misery this weekend (which wasn’t half as bad as I feared, but still knocked me on my ass a few times) I spent a lot of time surfing online, mostly looking for LOLz, but after a very-late-night text conversation, I started looking for information on aspartame and pituitary tumors. Most of what I found was the typical !!!ASPARTAME IS EVIL SO SEND ME A DOLLAR TO KEEP MY WEBSITE GOING!!! crap, but hidden amongst the noise there’s some very level-headed information out there now.

In that, the common thread seems to be “we can’t say 100% for sure, BUT…” And the Buts are fairly compelling arguments against consumption of artificial sweeteners of any sort.

I’m a soft drink addict. I can live without caffeine (and after this weekend’s Diet Mt Dew inspired insomnia, I’d like to live without it) but I’m completely hooked on diet soda. I think it’s the fizz, but for all I know it’s the aspartame. I often let the idea slip into my head that I just want to cut the soda out of my life, but then I start feeling all twitchy and sad and never get around to even trying.

But this weekend I stumbled across a little nugget that made me sit up and think a bit. And I wish I’d bookmarked the site, but it was late at night and I wasn’t thinking beyond “Hey, this kind of sucks.” And what kind of sucked was seeing in black and white that since the introduction of aspartame into the market, there has been an increase in pituitary tumors, especially the more rare of the almost-always-benign pituitary tumors.

That would be me, she of the very rare lymphocytic hypophysitis, a tumor normally seen in women who have just had their first baby. I was 40, and my baby was all grown up. Yet after diagnosis and trying to not freak out and having the sucker yanked out of my head, that’s what I had. A very rare mass of goo stuck to the underside of my brain.

Did the aspartame cause it?

I’ll never know. But it’s interesting to ponder, in a Well Hell I Might Have Done This To Myself kind of way. And that just leads to all other kinds of speculation.

Like aspartame and weight gain. I only take in about 1500 calories a day, and I walk my ass off, but I’m hefty.

Aspartame and chronic pain. Can we say “Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain Syndrome?” I knew we could…

Aspartame and IBS. I found several mentions from people who cut it out of their diet and their issues with IBS cleared up.

I’ve always blown off the naysayers of artificial sweeteners, mostly because they come bearing information wrapped in alarmist paper. If it’s presented with a dozen exclamation points, if it’s presented in an overly loud manner, I’m not paying attention. I’m just not.

Except now I’m wondering…



24 September 2011

You think I would have learned by now. If it's a food I have never had before and i did not make it from scratch, I need to read the freaking label.

This stuff is pretty tasty. So tasty that we bought a case of it at Costco.

Now, I didn't try the sample, the Spouse Thingy did. He really liked it. And I figured, why the hell not? I like chow mein. It was cheap. We'd eat them all before they expired.

So last night I prepared one for myself after the Spouse Thingy left for work, and halfway through I saw this thing wedged between a few noodles, and thought that was some ugly looking beef.

I picked the ugly looking beef up, and turned it over, and there were these little lines. Lines like one might find on the underside of a mushroom.

I bolted for the box of chow mein packages and looked. And in tiny print: Shitake Mushrooms.

By this point Max was very interested in whatever I was excited about and he followed me as I went back to the table and got the chow mein, followed as I threw it in the trash, and chased after me as I ran down the hall to the bathroom.

I didn't need to stick a finger down my throat; just the idea that I had eaten mushrooms and knowing what that was going to mean over the next few days had my dinner pushing its way back up and out. I had gagging noises coming from deep down, reverberating through my chest, practically waking after me as I ran down the hall.

This fascinated Max.

While I sat on the edge of the bathtub and hurled forth the noodles, he stood on his back paws, put his front paws on the edge of the toilet, and enjoyed the show. He looked at me, then what I'd thrown up. Back at me, then as I barfed a little more.

He loved it.

But when I'd gotten up all I was going to, he stepped back and gave me a disappointed look.

That would have looked so much better on the carpet in the library, especially since you drank Hawaiian Punch with it.

Sorry for my lack of foresight, furball.

The good news is that because what went down came back up in just a few minutes, I was spared the worst of it. I felt awful most of the night, but woke up with both cats piled on top of me. Max was near my head, purring, trying hard to make me feel better. Buddah was draped across my legs, but really only because I was where he had intended on napping, and he doesn't let something like someone already being there get in his way.

Today I've felt kind of meh, but not like I want to die, so I have that going for me.

I have high hopes that I'll feel fine tomorrow. The temps are only supposed to be in the 70s, which will make for nice walking weather, and I have less than a month until the 3 Day in Atlanta.

But yeah.

Gotta read those labels...


19 September 2011

:::opens mouth wide:::

Does that throat look red to you?


:::closes mouth:::

Good. I don't wanna get a cold right now anyway.

'Cause tomorrow I wanna take the Spouse Thingy to San Francisco and show him the wonder of Ocean Beach, and then make him climb that mudderfarking hill by the Cliff House :)



14 September 2011

Joette had a pair of walking poles on the 3 Day.

I coveted them.

They're supposed to help with knee, hip, and back issues while walking, and I have all three.


I bought a pair. occurs to me that they could become a very good weapon.

So...don't tick me off while I'm walking... This is serious business, the walking.



11 September 2011

The San Francisco 3 Day Walk did not go anywhere nearly as well as I expected.

Joette and I at o'dark-thirty
Day one was awesome; I slept well the night before, was excited to get up and get going, and with teammate Joette by my side started off at a decent clip and we kept the pace up for quite a while. My toe started bothering me and after a few miles of hills it hurt like hell, but not enough to stop.

I don’t think there was anything worth complaining about (well, other than “a hill already?” at the start of the walk) until we reached the base of the hill leading up from Ocean Beach to the Cliff House, and that wasn’t even complaining so much as it was Oh God, we have to made it up that thing. It’s a fairly steep incline and just keeps going and going and going. And that’s not really an overstatement—it’s a long assed climb and it’s where my foot started to scream. Just when you think it’s almost over—you’re nearing the Cliff House—you look forward and realize you’re really only about halfway.

It’s nearly a steady climb all the way to the parking lot where lunch was held, and I’m guessing it was about half a mile of steep (well, *I* think it’s steep) uphill. It was cold and breezy at the lunch stop, but the views more than made up for that…plus I got to see the Spouse Thingy there and he helped slap some Moleskin on a few blisters I was getting.

My nemesis...but I made it
From there we headed into Land’s End where I would face what I dreaded most: the stairs. These suckers seem to go on forever. And when you get to what you think is the top (looking from the bottom, you think it’s a lot of steps, but hey, there’s the end!) the stairs just kind of curve around and keep going for a bit. A lot of the walkers just breezed right up; I admit, it was hard. I’m not a stair person; stairs are why we bought a single story house.

But I did get up those damn stairs, and I thought that was the worst of it.

There were a few more WTF inclines, one especially cruel hill near the Presidio golf course. It wasn’t steep, but it went on for-freaking-ever, and after the climb to the Cliff House and lunch, and then Land’s End, it just seemed mean.

Yet, we made it.

I don’t remember anything else being too terribly difficult. I lost Joette at the second to the last pit stop and took off thinking I was following her, but it turned out to be someone else. We met back up at the last pit, where we thought we were done walking.

At Pit 5, we waited for the ferry. And we waited standing in line, after walking almost 19 miles, for over half an hour. Things tend to stiffen up when you stand like that after walking so long. Everyone did some stretching and sitting on the ground (which just makes your back sore) and some more stretching, but by the time the ferry was there we were all done. We’d been told all day that Pit 5 was the end, then we’d get on the ferry and go to camp.

While waiting for the ferry, I started feeling a little nauseated, but assumed that was because of a long day and then having to wait. It made sense. I was freaking tired by that point. I sometimes get queasy when I’m overly tired.

Once on the ferry, while heads were on tables and people tried to snooze, and other people tried to not hurl, someone went around to tell us that once we got off the ferry, we had 1.5 more miles to walk.

Now, that’s not a lot. Anyone of those walkers could do a mile and a half in their sleep. But after 19 and then standing around for half an hour, and then sitting on the ferry for another half hour…we were pissed off.

San Francisco from Treasure Island
The view from Treasure Island about halfway from the ferry to the camp almost made up for that.

Camp itself…cold, windy, and noisy as hell all night long. Treasure Island sounded fun and I was all kinds of excited about camp being there, but the reality was not so fun.

Still…it was a sight to behold, all those pink tents. The shower trucks had about an hour long wait, but it’s still the best shower anyone will ever have. The food was really good, and when I went to find out what the little gift icon was on my credentials, I discovered a few of y’all sent me chocolates. And that totally made my day.

Arriving at camp
So. I ate a really good dinner, the Spouse Thingy had gotten to camp before I did and had out tent set up and mattresses inflated, and we hung out until we decided we wanted to shower. That’s when things kinda started to go wrong. The steps into the men’s showers were placed on a patch of ground not quite level, and when he stepped off the bottom one, down he went, twisting his ankle.

The medic wound up in the med tent getting his ankle taped up. It was “just” a sprain, but those suckers hurt. He said it was all right with the tape and only a problem when he was walking on it, so he felt like he was good to go for Day Two.

Mike the Medic builds a tent
Day Two we were up at 4:45 and dressed and headed for breakfast before 5. I hate morning, so I wasn’t surprised that my stomach was a little upset, but I approached the dining tent… and that’s when the world started to spin, the proverbial truck hit me, and I started feeling really nauseated. The Spouse Thingy sat down with a plate of food, and I had to get up and head for the port-a-potty, knowing he had to leave before I’d be able to get back.

No problem. I was sure the feeling would pass. It was morning, it always passes.

But then I barfed and it all escalated, so I headed for the med tent. They assumed it was dehydration—it’s what they see with walkers all the time, those who don’t drink enough on day one and wind up feeling like crap—and I was given some Zofram and they had me lie down and covered me up; everyone—including me—assumed on a few minutes the Zofram would work, they could pump some Gatorade in me, and I’d at least make the last ferry to for the walk.

Instead, I got worse, and they put me on a bus headed for the lunch area (camp closes after a certain time, no walkers are allowed to stay) and I hung out in the medical tent there until noonish. The Spouse Thingy was working there, so I at least was hanging out with someone familiar. After a while they got me to lie down and snooze until they had transportation for me back to camp.

So I knew Day Two was not happening, but I assumed with enough water and food and rest I would be good to go. I curled up in the tent and rested. I made myself drink and tried like hell to not hurl it all over the place. I ate half the lunch the Spouse Thingy got me before I left the lunch stop.

And I got worse.

This sea of pink is amazing in person
At about 3:30, after a whole lot of text messages checking up on me, he sent one saying he was going to get someone to bring him back to camp, and at 4:10 he was on his way. When he got there, he found someone to drive us all the way back to our car parked at the hotel in South San Francisco (she totally did not have to do that; she’s been driving people around since about 6 a.m. and I know she was dead tired—she was the one who took me from lunch back to the camp—but she seemed very happy to do it. And I wish I could remember her name, but I was too busy trying to not throw up in her car…)

Essentially, the Spouse Thingy red-carded me out of the walk.

No, I’m not annoyed. I know I wasn’t going to be able to walk on day three as sick as I was getting, and he knew another night sleeping in the wet cold was not a good idea for me, so he lost his last day of the SGK (and now won’t get his spiffy Victory Shirt) in order to get me home.

I feel a little (ok, a lot) pissed off about only doing one day. Logically, I know it’s not my fault, but there’s that little part that is just pissed off. I was so excited about doing it again, and to have to bow out for any reason…it ticks me off. It ticks me off because you guys donated a lot of money for me to walk 60 miles, and I only walked a little over 20. And I know most of you won’t roast me for it, but still…it bothers me.

So now I’m really glad I signed up for Atlanta. It feels like a chance to redo it all, and to do what I said I was going to do.

I am not done with this, not by a long shot. I owe these people a few more miles...

Onward to Atlanta