Tuesday, June 30, 2009

But it's June 30th!

Why the heck am I wearing a sweater at the end of June? It is 66 degrees outside. The sky is gray with no sign of any rays of sunlight. There are rumors of rain later. And the air conditioning is on in the office.

I think I've mentioned that my boss detests hot weather. He is happiest when the weather is like it is today, in the mid to upper 60's with the nights in the 50's. I just got over my allergies and that annoying cold. I have to sit on my hands occasionally to warm them up. YES! I'm all out of hot tea but I have water in the microwave for more.

So, inevitably, the conversation will turn to "where's this global warming we've heard about"? It is tempting when your lips are turning blue at the end of June, when the HIGH temperature is "supposed" to be in the mid-80's, to question whether the scientists garnering headlines for predicting the melting of the ice caps really are right. Am I going to need the heat tonight just to remove the damp chill from the air? I can't ever remember having the heat on at the end of June. When Carole graduated from high school at the beginning of June in 2001, it was like this. Her college graduation in mid-June 2005 was hot and humid. It is supposed to be gorgeous over the 4th, but 66 on June 30th? When was Hudson Bay, Canada moved south?

If you're of a "certain" age, you grew up with the headlines from the National Enquirer screaming "New Evidence Shows Russian Weather Machine". The Cold War was still in effect and any weather anomaly was quickly attributed to this mystifying machine that the Russian had supposedly built and were aiming at the heavens. What we take for granted now, such as Dopplar Radar, hadn't been invented yet so my grandfather was dead serious when he said, as we sat in the shed watching baseball size hail fall one July afternoon, "Them damn Russians are at it again."

Yes, I believe in global warming as I hold my numb fingers over the steam from the tea. I believe we have changed and continue to change the climate. It doesn't mean that suddenly all my summers in Chicago will be above 88 degrees. It means that there will be cold days when, historically, there shouldn't be. All I can say is thank goodness for flannel sheets.

Beverage: HOT Prince of Wales tea


Monday, June 29, 2009

This is not funny --- but really, it is.

I log on this morning and my daily dose of comics contains Shoe, Bob the Squirrel and Non Sequitur. While I certainly agree with Non Sequitur for this morning, it was Shoe that caught my eye, given yesteday's post. Way to make fun of me world. Now where did I put that bag of candy bar minis?

I am facing a mini crisis. I am almost out of Huckleberry tea. For Christmas in 2007, Carole sent me a 3 pack of Market Spice tea which contained this cinnamon orange, something labeled "Northwest Breakfast" which was a milder English Breakfast-type, and this Huckleberry infused version. While I liked all of them, the huckleberry infused tea stood above the others. I had to have more.

I went to visit Carole back in 2008 and the mall that contained the JC Penney where she worked had this Made In Washington store. Really nice store. I got my Seattle socks there. Plus, I got a couple boxes of just Market Spice Huckleberry tea. That stash was gone by December. Fortunately, the Made in Washington web site would let me order just Huckleberry so I got two more boxes.

Unfortunately, I am down to my last 10 bags and the site no longer carries the option to order JUST Huckleberry tea. The only way to get it is in a 3 pack or in a gift basket. Grrrr. So I do a search and it seems Market Spice makes more than just those three. I am seeing African Red Bush, Earl Gray, Emperor's Green, Sunset in Seattle, Ginger Peach, Princess Gray, Seattle Surprise, Darjeeling, Raspberry, Apple, 6 Herb, Holiday, Apricot, Blackcurrent, Mango, Chinese Dragon, Cranberry Mint, Peach Ambrosia, Gen Mai Cha, and something new to me called Pu-erh, which comes in cakes. Their ONLY store is on Pike Street in downtown Seattle. This means nothing to me but it must be close to that wonderful market downtown Seattle has. I didn't go there this year when I visited Carole.

When you check for Market Spice on the Internets, it says their tea is sold by Amazon.com. BOO! HISS! I hate, loathe and abhor shopping through Amazon. But I found Blue Moon Tea online also sells Market Spice and has my Huckleberry and some of those others listed above. I get paid tomorrow so I believe a tea order is in my future. 2 or 3 boxes?

Beverage: Huckleberry tea


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gray watch - month 2

A whole month has passed since I started blogging and a month has passed since the first "gray watch" photo was posted. Here's what my hair looks like about 30 minutes after a shower. When it dries, the gray is much less noticeable. I've also noticed that I'm thinning on top. That bothers me more than the gray as I used to have rather thick and slightly unruly hair. It's still unruly. I haven't been able to change my hairstyle in years because a change requires I spend time with it in the morning and I just don't want to do that. It's not fun for me. I can't make it look gorgeous like the stylist. I don't want to have an arsenal of equipment in the bathroom. There's not enough room as it is.

So, the guy from the dating service called me back. Somewhere in this mess to my right, is the slip of paper with his phone number on it. I need to find that and return his call. He was chuckling when he left his message. "I really like your answering machine message. Sorry I took so long to call you. I'll explain when we chat." Hokay. Optimism, Deb, optimism. Just think of this as someone with whom you can go see "Up" or take a "field trip" to that brewery in Munster, Indiana or get to the Harry Potter exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry.

I cancelled my eHarmony membership. Bet you didn't know I'd even had an eHarmony membership. Yes, I know of success stories, only one actually, but that counts. I joined when they were having a "sale"; three months for $20 a month. Doesn't that seem wrong to you? A "sale" on relationships. Maybe "desperation" is my middle name.

Anyway, in the 3 months I was a member, I had almost 90 referrals. 83 of those are closed matches, meaning they were ended either by me or the guy. I have 7 open matches but I will be closing them on Tuesday. I got exactly ONE, count 'em, ONE return comment and that was from a guy who was dating and felt it polite to let me know why he wasn't interested. He did wish me luck. Yeah, whatever.

Guys my age aren't looking for women my age regardless of what they say. They want some late 20's or early 30's size 5 doe-eyed female who will worship the ground they walk on. I want a guy who will pick up after himself, knows how cook something other than a frozen pizza and reads. Is it wrong to expect he has interests I'm not presumed to share and can occupy himself without my needing to hover? Can he carry on a conversation without resorting to self-satisfied grunts, farts or intermittent scratching? I have always joked that my requirements for a guy were "walk upright and breathe". I'm less hopeful of finding a guy who does that.

To bring this back to the first topic, with gray hair on my head, I am more inclined to think that looks really do matter. It's always been said that gray hair on a man makes him look distinguished. On a woman, it makes her look old. As I embrace the gray that is me, I increasingly believe it's going to be with a cat on my lap and a cup of tea at my side and no one else in the house.

Beverage: water


Friday, June 26, 2009

This vexes me - #2

See this ad? It was in the newspaper on Sunday. No, you aren't imagining things. That's an ad for eating at Baker's Square. This is the same company that declared bankruptcy and closed almost all their restaurants in Chicagoland.

This is vexing because Pam and I were among Baker's Square's most loyal customers. This is where we went about every 6 weeks to get caught up on life. We did notice that their menu changed about every 6 months and they went through a period where you couldn't get breakfast at any time of day, but the food was always reasonably good. We went for the pie.

Mmmmmmmmmm pie. Oh how I miss custard pie with hot fudge sauce. Or apple pie with hot fudge sauce. Or a half slice of French silk with hot fudge sauce. Yes, there is a theme here. We had waitresses trained that when the two of us walked in, we got a back corner booth or table where we could laugh and giggle without disturbing others. My tea pot was always kept filled as was her water glass and they never batted an eye when I said, "I think I want punkin pie this time with my usual" which was a side of hot fudge sauce.

This is vexing because it toys with me, tantalizes me, says that there are still Baker's Square's in Chicagoland. I know there is one in Mount Prospect, but that's a hoof and a half to get there and, as much as I crave pie, not that much. Pam said on Wednesday when we went to IHOP for dinner (or breakfast as dinner since that's what we usually order) that the closest Baker's Square is south on Route 59 which is NOT what we want to be driving on around dinner time.

Grrrrrr. Now I want pie, although not necessarily with hot fudge sauce.

Beverage: I stopped at Caribou Coffee this morning. Hot Irish Breakfast


Thursday, June 25, 2009


Finally, the exterminator showed up today to spray for the ants in the office. Having grown tired of the lack of scenery in the hallway between Luke's old office and the copier, they had decided to explore the vast wasteland that is Dane's office. I walked in this morning to, "Grummmble", stomp, stomp. "[expletive] ants." stomp, stomp.

Now I've been rather worried about this whole spraying for ants thing. I just, just got my allergies under control from their unrestrained chaotic take over of my body at the end of last month. We're talking pesticide here, systemic. Raid makes me gasp, even the "unscented" Raid. This guy isn't going to use the stuff that might make the ants think about hiring slugs to go in first. This guy is going to use something that goes right to the atoms they use for brains and explodes those, immediately, without going past "Go" and collecting $200. Honestly, I don't want to be anywhere near this.

I have stacks of papers on the left side of my desk. I really need to be here today to finish some of this particularly as a client has asked where his report is.
(Do not point out the obvious, that I should be dealing with those and not blogging. I type when the spirit moves me or you don't get a blog post.) It's all right here and it's all ready to be typed. The boss, at 11:49, sticks his head into my office and bids me "adieu" for the day. Nice. He's been doing this for years so I'm used to it. Not 15 minutes later, a guy with a stainless steel spray can walks into the office looking for the boss. Of course. Isn't this how it's supposed to work?

Luke shows the guy the ants, which have decided the visit to Dane's office was too traumatic and are working toward the filing cabinets. "Yup, you got carpenter ants and they are breeding," declares the exterminator. He then pumps the handle on his sprayer and squirts a wide swatch of liquid onto these ants. They curl up and die. I make a bee line for my office.

He spends the next 10 minutes saturating the carpet where any ant even thinks about heading. He saturates the carpet under the windowsill where they are coming in, the windowsill and the drywall. Luke asks at least twice, "Is this stuff you're using okay to be around?" "Yup," comes the not so reassuring reply. When he's done, he heads outside to saturate the bottom of the window and the ground in front of it.

Meanwhile, I am mentally tallying up my options. I have to work to do. There is no odor, surprisingly. I would have thought there would be. The exterminator comes back in and tells us not to drop anything on the carpet in the areas he's sprayed until tomorrow but it's okay to walk over it. I can't tell where he's sprayed anymore. There's nothing, other than ant bodies, to indicate we'd had any sort of problem.

It's now 2.5 hours after he was here and I feel no ill effects. Maybe it will be okay?

Back to pushing papers from one side to the other.

Beverage: water


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mortal Musings

The father of one of my best friends has died. I met him twice, I think, over this long friendship we have shared since the fall of 1976 when she moved into the Viterbo College Marian Hall Residence for Girls. (It's now Viterbo University and that floor is co-ed. Talk about culture shock!) I was on 6 North and Laurie was on 5 North.

We've been through miles and miles of pot-hole strewn life roads together. I got married first, had a child first. In fact, Carole was all of 6 months old when Laurie got married to a Marine with full military honors. Man, that's impressive. She had two girls and endured a rocky marriage before divorcing first. She's got one up on me in that she married off a daughter AND she's a grandma.

Our lives have not been the happiest over the long course of this friendship but we have always been there for each other. And, I realized when I read her email about her father's passing, I assumed her dad would always be a part of our letters and emails. I only knew him through her letters and emails, but I knew him to be kind, funny, warm, fiercely independent and very proud of his daughter. His passing leaves a huge hole in Laurie's life and in the lives of her mother and brother, but also in the lives of his friends and family.

In the few days since his death and funeral, Laurie has spoken of expecting him to walk into the living room and ask to play a game of Dominoes, of picking up the phone and hoping it was him calling to check on how she was doing, of expecting him to pull up in the family car saying he'd gone to look at a lawn mower that he thought he could fix up for someone. Understandable feelings. My father has been gone since January of 1991 and I still, on rare occasions, have this fleeting thought that the phone call is from him, that he just "stepped away".

Life goes in these phases. You grow up and graduate high school. For a few years, there are graduations and weddings to attend. Then come the children. There are christenings, confirmations, birthday parties. Your friends change jobs and move to new homes. There might be a time when your grandparents and that generation pass away. Your children graduate and move on to college and their lives which start to involve weddings where you are at a circular table off to the far left with a second cousin who had to be invited or Aunt Mildred would have a cow. Your children's friends, the ones who climbed the tree in the side yard to look at your roof, who tossed toilet paper OVER the house while TP-ing it, who seemed to be at your home every night after school, start having their own families. Your friends, the ones who steadfastly remain 21 in the back of your mind become grandparents. And their parents start falling ill and dying.

I realize that I am quickly becoming the generation at the top. It's rare to have anyone my age with a grandparent still alive. Mortality comes sooner and could be right around the bend. Laurie's dad's departure for better Dominoe playing fields reminds me that there is much I wish to do before I leave.

Beverage: Dr. Pepper


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How do I figure it out?

It's lunch time in the office and I'm eating leftovers from last night. I actually cooked myself something rather than foraged, eating handfuls of this or that. Right now, you'd never know that, given a chance, I love to cook, to try new recipes. I've often said that I can't die before a) reading all the books in the Library or Congress or b) trying all these recipes I've saved over the years.

When I went to Puyallup to visit Carole back in May, I took my three recipe boxes. The idea was she would go through the boxes and I'd make a few things which could be frozen but I'd retype the recipes she remembered fondly and leave them with her. That didn't get done. Another visit.

I'm eating homemade mac and cheese. I make it with Velveeta and I add Spam and frozen peas. I grew up on Velveeta mac and cheese where you carve a loaf into slices and melt the cheese with milk and butter. Last year, when I visited, Carole wanted me to write down the recipe so she could make it as it's one of her favorites, too. I have no clue. I eyeball it. I always have. I've made this for decades so I know how much cheese to slice for a creamy sauce.

Isn't that like it always is? Some of the best foods you remember, those comfort foods, are the ones with the "add a pinch of dried rutabaga". What constitutes a pinch? Is it the kind great-grandma gave me when we'd come to visit or is it the kind you get when you close the bathroom door on the backside of your index finger?

It's bothered me that I can't figure out the quantity of ingredients so I could write this recipe out for her. I thought there might have been a recipe on the side of the Velveeta box at one time, but it's not on my most recent purchase. Any suggestions?

Now, before you point out the cholesterol involved in this lunch, I need to tell you, I'm genetically predisposed to low cholesterol. Heart disease doesn't run in my family. Yes, my cholesterol could be lower, but I have the kind of numbers some people would kill to have. And I don't choose to eat mac and cheese every day, every week or even every month.

And yes, I like Spam, always have. We used to call it "rhino meat" on campouts.

Beverage: Dr. Pepper


Monday, June 22, 2009

Randomized Monday

Just bits with no pieces...

Rhetorical questions...

Double-takes...all while the printer is working down the hall printing 50 pages of documents I'll have to sort in a bit.

I'm cold in my office and I didn't bring a sweater. It's 80 degrees at 11:05 with a slated high of 89 and showers later. The thermostat claims it's 72 in here. It is NOT; more like 62. My boss does not like heat. He's happiest when it's in the 50's at night and 60's during the day. I had a small space heater in my office which would run all year 'round since it's cold in the winter and cold in the summer. But that died and you know, for some reason, they don't sell small portable space heaters in June in Chicagoland. Do I go home at lunch and get a sweater? The tea isn't even helping anymore.

There are termites in the office. Luke's office is the source. I had ants in my window sill last year and Dane had ants in his office the summer after we moved across the hall into these offices. Supposedly, the exterminator will be out this week. I've already gone on record as saying I cannot be in the office during or for 48 hours after he sprays. I can take a lap top home and manage the small amount of work I have to do from home. I have a printer there.

My friend Daniel, has this blog on RSS feed to his cell phone. The minute I post something new, he knows and can read it, off his cell phone!? First of all, that he cares enough to have my musings on a feed is amazing and I owe him cookies. Secondly, that we are that connected now is a bit mind boggling. The way to bring modern society to its collective knees is not to put salmonella in its hamburgers. Just knock out its access to instant information. It makes me glad I grew up at a time BEFORE all of this. I wrote my senior English thesis on an electric typewriter my grandfather bought for me for $50 and I was one of only 3 girls on my dorm floor who had their own typewriter. Most kids had to go to the typing lab and reserve a typewriter for papers. Yes, I can even type on a manual typewriter. It's not called the "Enter" key. It's called the "Return" key and there is something supremely satisfying about grabbing that handle and manually returning the carriage to advance the paper.

My sunburn has eased quite a bit although my acne has exploded. No signs of a cold sore, yet, but it's still early. Is there anything better than Lip Smackers Dr. Pepper flavored lip balm? And nothing is better on a hot, sticky summer day than a partially frozen Dr. Pepper. Matt asked me last night how I can drink "that stuff". "It tastes like cough syrup." Hmmmm. I remember this tincture my dad would call the doctor to get for us. It was the color of molasses, though not as thick. It tasted horrible, but, damn, it worked. I can't remember the name of the company that made the cough drops he preferred. I think they are still in business. Dad preferred their licorice flavor and it would turn your tongue a brownish orange. Gad those were awful. I remember when they introduced cherry flavor. Turned your tongue red but they worked as well as the licorice-flavored ones. Even now, if I have to get cough syrup, its effectiveness for me, is predicated on how it tastes. Anything that tastes good simply cannot work. No, Dr. Pepper does not taste like cough syrup. I have consumed stuff that doubles as paint remover. Dr. Pepper is ambrosia compared to that.

Carole's thinking of quitting WOW, cold turkey. No clue in the post as to why. I must say I enjoyed my 2 day hiatus. Everyone needs to and should, back away from the game, if even for 2 days to attend a Highland Games.

Which brings me to another games. H.A.G.G.I.S. is having their games this year! I am so excited and happy for them. One year ago, we were rocked by the devastation in Cedar Rapids, Iowa from a 1,000 year flood. Some areas have not and probably will not recover to what they were. My brother and sister-in-law lost use of their home. But, January 4th, they were back in it and now, officially, have everything fixed. When I saw them in February, they were missing the dryer hook-up and a fridge and the rest of the kitchen floor. All that is repaired. My niece, her boyfriend and their daughter lost the home they rented. They are in a home of their own now and have a brand new son in the family. H.A.G.G.I.S. had to cancel their games last year as their venue was severely damaged and could not be used. I am so excited they are going to be up and running this year. Now what do I do about a tent..........

Time for lunch.

Beverage: Lady Gray tea


Sunday, June 21, 2009

One day later

This is another use for a kilt. I've had the kilt for at least 7 years so it's a bit faded in spots, but it's 100% wool so wears like cast iron. I do need a new kilt pin. That's the mechanism that keeps the kilt closed in the front. Clan Thompson doesn't have an official crest yet as the clan has been without a chief for 350+ years. The Society is trying to resurrect the clan as an organization and then we can look for someone willing to do the research and all the steps to be recognized by Lord Lyon as our chief. First, we have to be an organization for 3 years. Then we can work on step two, if Lyon approves us as an organization.

My nose is radish colored today. I've been slathering it in this "After Sun" stuff from Clinique. It does work very nicely to prevent peeling and take the sting out of the burn. I'm waiting for my herpes to kick in and give me a cold sore the size of Des Moines, which is generally what happens when I sunburn my face. Keeping my lips moist seems to help prevent that so I have my fingers crossed.

I slept 8 hours today, which I desperately needed. I did get up at 6:50 to feed les chats and then went back to bed. I didn't haul it out until 10:40 a.m. I needed just to sleep and, miracle of miracle, the ladies let me.

I have swept and washed the kitchen floor. Betsy is such a messy eater that I need to do this about every other week. I sorted clean clothes and put those away. I had a raccoon go through the garbage can last night. I heard him as I was going to bed but I was too tired to swing a broom in his general direction, so, I had to clean up his leavings. He dragged a bag of something up onto the deck and made a mess there so I had to clean that off. I used the dirty kitchen floor water to wash the deck a bit. I unloaded the car but haven't sorted the things in the bins. I need to reorganize so I have things where I can find them. I actually gave Betsy fluids this afternoon. My first attempt on Thursday resulted in about 150cc. Today, she was less tolerant and I only got 100cc in her before she got up and struggled to get away, causing the needle to pop out and Ringers to squirt all over the bathroom rug. I will wait now until Tuesday and see if I can keep her calm and get 175cc into her. And, I have nearly finished a load of dishes. I'm feeling rather productive.

The side effect of all this rain is apparent; mosquitoes. I was set upon as I unpacked the car. It's cloudy with spotty showers and in the upper 80's. It's slated to be upper 80's and into the 90's next week. I'm thinking almost no amount of repellent is going to protect me. I so wanted warmER weather to dry out my sinuses. File this under "Be careful what you ask for".

And one of my best friends, Patt, provided the aphroism about sharing sorrows:
A joy that's shared is a joy made double

A sorrow shared is half the trouble.
That's the one I couldn't find. Truth is, the one quote site I checked had 200+ aphorisms for trouble and I really didn't want to wade through all of them.

I would give this weekend 3 out of 5 stars. Tomorrow begins another work week. We are getting calls about small jobs which need us for, roughly a week, a month, 6 weeks, 2 months. But, in this economy, we will take them.

And, at noon, I called the name of the guy the dating service sent me. I got a voice mail. It's been almost a month and he hasn't called me. I give him a week and I'll call again. After that, forget it. Time to finish dishes.

Beverage: water


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sunburn and 60 mph winds--long

Hot tea and the rest of a package of Tuxedoes pseudo-Oreo cookies never tasted so good. What an incredible 48 hours I have had.

It started at 9:10 a.m. Friday, June 19th. I'm sitting at my kitchen table putting the finishing touches on a piece of foam core which has materials printed off the Clan Thompson web site. It's just for information purposes and to make the table look filled. I hear a siren. Now, I live very close to the College Avenue commuter train station in Wheaton and they have one of those lightning sirens. If lightning is in the area, that siren goes off. But as this siren was joined by 3 others, that's the tornado siren. I'm not dressed, mind you. I took the day off so I could go to the games and set up the tent without dragging everything from the parking lot so I haven't been up but an hour. I looked outside and the wind was blowing but I couldn't see anything that looked "tornado-ish". Hop on the Internet.

A tornado warning had, indeed been issued for Lake in the Hills, Crystal Lake and points east of there. A tornado had been spotted heading for the ground up there, but that's a good 40 miles from me. Jon was on Yahoo Messenger and said no sirens went off at the office, a mere 2 miles from me. Curious. The warning expires but the heavy storms rumble through about an hour later. High winds and rain, but no hail. I debated on putting up the tent Friday night as the weather was to breed more.

The storms were passed by noon and I know they appreciate clans being around on Friday night. So, I set up my tent and sat back to wait for the few people I knew would come by.

The Oakbrook Polo Grounds are adjacent to Butler National Golf Course. At 6:10 p.m., their lightning sirens went off. It had grown cloudy, semi-ominous. The heat from the day was churning the clouds as I sat and watched. The polo grounds has a reasonable ability to slough off water, but it was still exceptionally muddy and soggy. I chose not to wear the kilt Friday night and wore tan pants. I may have to soak the hems to get out the mud and dirt. I decided to pack it in for the night with that warning as they will be quiet insistent that people get under grounded tents so no one is going to wander looking at clan tents.

At 6:35 p.m., the PA announcer issued a more ardent plea for people to move to a grounded tent. By now, in the southwest, brief flashes of lightning could be seen in the distance. It still didn't look that ominous. I lowered the tent to just above the table, put everything under the table, either in plastic bins or on top of the bins and took with me, anything I didn't want getting wet.

It was starting to sprinkle when I reached the car. It really appeared to be heading south of the event although the sky was streaked with spider web lightning. I headed home. Now, it's a good 15 minute drive from the Polo Grounds to my house. Part of the route takes me by my office. As I crested the hill adjacent to the office, heading west on Roosevelt Road in Glen Ellyn, I drove into the teeth of a gale. The sky and road and landscape went gray. I could see the taillights of the minivan in front of me, but nothing else, not even street lights. Fortunately, I know the road intimately. I put on 4-wheel drive, slowed to 20 and just moved west. I was never, ever scared, even though the wind driven rain is horizontal and my wipers cannot keep up with it. The only thing that crossed my mind was, would I see anything being blown by the storm before it hit me?

The nucleus of the storm was over in 5 minutes and then the sky to the west brightened. I drove onward, turning north off Roosevelt to go to the house. There were branches down all over the place which turned the drive into an obstacle course. I got home and on the front porch was the box full of items I'd ordered to sell at the tent on Saturday. It's a pretty good box. It has not disintegrated in spite of getting soaked last night and sitting on wet ground today.

I checked the radar and saw that the very bad stuff was north of me and I am, in turn, north of the festival. There was a band of yellow, which is not good, heading over the venue but maybe it won't be as bad as we think.

At 9:15 p.m., I received a call from one of the clan organizers saying he's not sure, but my tent might have been blown over. I thought about the few things I had left. Well, if the tent is gone but everything else is okay, I will be happy.

This morning, I arrived at 7 a.m. to this:

I had done a superb job of anchoring the tent into the ground. But 60 mph horizontal winds had come through, attempted to lift it off and then decided to flatten it instead. The table is wet. Those white chairs are wet. My green captain's chair was a bit wet but everything behind it, which was two plastic bins, was dry.

You should know, dear reader, that on Thursday night, I slept "wrong" on my right arm and the wrist bothered me all day Friday. Today, I wrapped the hand and wrist so as not to aggravate whatever it was I had injured. So, I'm already at a disadvantage when I arrive. They are refusing to allow people to bring cars onto the grounds as they were, if possible, more muddy than Friday. Some vendor tents had been uprooted and carried onto the golf course or turned into bowling balls, mowing down tents in their path. Volunteers had removed the twisted tents they could but weren't sure if mine was salvageable. I surveyed the tent and decided the only way to know was to get it up again. Enter Clan Young.

Now this clan is the epitome of a biker group. Their motto is "We Ride" and their members show up in Harley gear or black leather with Clan Young crests painted on the back. They give weapon demonstrations and are generally looked at over one's glasses. Their tents had withstood the onslaught with the exception of some ties tearing. They set everything back up and came over to my tent en masse. Four of them grabbed a leg and we righted the ship but two of the aluminum legs were bent. Some of the cross sides were snapped at the screws holding them together. Not to worry. One of them headed over to the pile of ruined tent frames and grabbed pieces. Using copious amounts of duct tape, we got the tent up and standing. Let it never be said that the Scots aren't resourceful.

I decided NOT to raise the tent to it's highest point. People would just have to duck. But it was up and functional and the fact that it was clear as a bell and would be 88° today meant I NEEDED a tent to stay cool.

The only problem was the wind. It was still windy today, although not nearly as windy as last night. What is it with large open areas? I have been in rock quarries in August where the surrounding area is still as a hunting cat but you drive out onto the face of a rock quarry and there's a 20 mph wind? Not a breeze, mind you, a wind to the point of not being able to talk, it's that strong. There was a wind today, about 15-20 mph. At 10:15 a.m., the tent started leaning a bit, to the left in this photo, where the sides had been damaged. A gust came through, the thing gave a shudder and down it came. I was standing to the left holding onto the closest leg. That's not one which was bent. That large framed item is the old map I was telling you about. I got it framed on Thursday night and it looks marvelous, really draws people in.

To say I was discouraged would be an understatement. People showed up from all over to help move the frame off my table. One of the bent legs snapped and another side snapped. It was clear there was no tent for me today. I wrapped up the top and a volunteer helped me bend the frame into a transportable piece. He then dragged it over to the pile of other frames which would be tossed. I started packing up my stuff. I know people here. Indeed to the right are clans Wallace and Young. I know the people in Clans Pollack, MacLeod and Douglas. Several Sinclairs, to my left, came running including their North American chief. Their clan chief was in attendance today, all the way from Scotland, for their annual meeting. Nice chap who played a mean bagpipe. But how could I ask any of these people to share a space with me? I just felt I would come home and consider the games a wash. I know a number of people within the Illinois St. Andrew Society, too. But they didn't have extra tents because what they had was being used.

I'm packing things up and Mary Ellen Ashton from Clan Wallace says, "Where do you think you're going?" "I'm going home. I can't sit outside on a day like this with no shade." Her husband Peter says, "You will do nothing of the sort. You will turn your table sideways and you'll share our space." So, after clearing away the damaged frame, he and Jim from his clan, turned my table sideways and we formed Thompson & Wallace.

That's Peter and Jim in the background. I was back in business. I actually sold a button, that's all, but I sold a button after being moved sideways.

Once again, it got hot and with all the water on the ground, steamy. I was fine until it came time for the parade of tartans. In the past, I've always had a bunch of people to walk with me, but several regulars didn't come this year. I'm sure the weather played a part. So, it was just me walking with the flag. I didn't mind. I happily represent my clan and if I walk alone, I walk alone. Mary Ellen said people will stop what they are doing and stand 5-6 deep to watch the parade of clans. So, if I'm alone, it just means I'm more visible. Here I am after the parade. That's when I got the sunburn because they tell you to start lining up at 12:10 intending for the the parade to step off at 12:30 and it never does so you're standing in the bright sun.

I started taking the tent down at 5:30 p.m. I hauled what I could to the car and then helped Clan Wallace pack up their stuff. Cars were not allowed onto the field until 7 although that wasn't enforced very well. They had people driving golf carts but trying to get one when you were ready was difficult. Peter managed to get his car so we could start packing and THEN a gal in a cart came by and could ferry me and my last two bins, which I could not carry, to the car. I came home and left everything in the car except for my purse. The cats were very, very happy to see me. The AC was on so the house was cool. I took a shower and am so ready, now, for bed.

I am always glad I go even though this year, I lost my tent frame and I really cannot afford to replace it right now. I need to watch end of season sales for a new tent. The top is in perfect condition so if I can get the same kind, I'd have a spare top.

So, that's been my last 48 hours. My wrist seems to be better. I am so looking forward to a long sleep. I think I will take some aspirin and not wake up until 10 a.m., except to feed the cats so they leave me alone.

Beverage: English Teatime


Thursday, June 18, 2009

An Anniversary, of sorts

It was roughly 10:30 p.m. last night when yesterday's date actually sunk in. June 17th. 31 years ago, I walked down the aisle of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Monona, Iowa and exchanged my "Thompson" sir name for "Montague". It was a lovely June afternoon. It had poured sheets of rain from 11-11:30 a.m., but settled out to be partly cloudy and the sun shown for the entire ceremony which started, on time, at 1 p.m. We had a small reception of punch, cake, ice cream, mints, nuts in the church fellowship hall and then had a buffet dinner for friends and family at a nearby restaurant. After the dinner, my relatives went back to my parent's house and my new husband and I left for a week-long drive around Lake Superior.

Funny how life changes from one day when you can't think of anything that could possibly go wrong.

Thirty-one years later, I have 2 cats, a job and a mortgage. I eat s'mores for supper because I want to. I can't mow my lawn anymore because the pollen makes me cough. I do wash and dishes when I want to, keep the house as clean as I feel comfortable with, and don't have to answer to anyone about my computer time or TV preferences or where I go and when I'll be back.

And yet...

I had anticipated having a party at that 25 year anniversay. The divorce came right after 20 years. I anticipated that, with Carole moved out and on her own, I'd be planning for retirement in 15 years and actually going places I dreamed of going. My favorite song is "April in Paris" as sung by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. You probably know it if you watched "Blazing Saddles" because Count Basie and his Orchestra did the most well-known version of the song at the end of the movie. I like that version but Ella and Louis' is better.

I always wanted to see Paris in April just because of that song. There is an anecdote floating around that someone corralled the writers of the song and asked, "Why April? You know it's cold and rainy and the flowers haven't really blossomed and you can't sit at an outdoor cafe and really enjoy yourself. Why April?" The writers responded, "April fit with the music." Sounds like a plausible reason to me.

I wanted to visit Scotland, particularly the area where my family came from. I wanted to visit Montreal, to try out my fractured French, and Germany as my mother's father and his family were 100% German. Then I could see if I could speak the German I learned in high school. I figured there would now be time to go to all those museums I never saw, concerts and plays, not that we didn't do those things when Carole was young. Indeed, she was the beneficiary of being dragged to many cultural venues which, I hope, instilled the love of music and learning that she has.

What I miss the most is the conversation with another adult. When a day feels long and you've been stressed almost to or even past your breaking point, coming home to another adult makes all the difference. With all the stresses that I seem to face, sharing them would make it seem that life has not singled me out to make an example of. There is an aphorism which I couldn't find that says how burdens divided are easier to carry. Having someone else about to share the health of the cats or the sadness of all this rain or the pain of an eye infection or the sneezing of a cold just makes it seem less oppressive. I didn't, 31 years ago, walk down the aisle with my father intending to be alone in 2009.

But this is where I find myself. It's neither good nor bad, it just is. "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and sorry I could not travel both. But being one traveler long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth. Then took the other as just as fair...Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less travelled by and that has made all the difference."

Beverage: English Teatime

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Step one: Breathe

In my life, if it wasn't for the last minute, a lot of things wouldn't get done. I am a perfect example of a Sagittarius. We love to do things and it is not uncommon for us to have 5 or 6 projects in the works. The problem, however, is that we don't always finish what we start. Soooooo, which project would you like me to show you? There are a slug which aren't done.

This weekend is the 23rd annual Illinois St. Andrew Society's Highland Games. I have been attending these games off and on for the last 10 years. My father's family hails from Dysart, Fife, Scotland. They arrived in the U.S. in 1842 and eventually settled in Northeastern Iowa. In a genealogical search, I discovered the original family name of "Thomson" received the addition of a "p" in the 1830's. I am not sure why. I am a life member of the Clan Thom(p)son Society and the clan genealogist posits that because Scottish census was taken by people of Irish extraction, they may have heard a "p" sound when one did not exist. Knowing this has helped me trace my ancestors back to 1768. I probably can go back one more generation before there simply are no records.

On Friday, about 1 p.m., I will be in Oakbrook, Illinois setting up my tent.

Yes, I will be wearing my kilted skirt and sash. I used to lug a table and chairs to the games. Two years ago, when my clan's annual meeting was held here, I rented tables and chairs and thought, "You doofus. Why didn't you do this before, other than being Scottish and cheap?"

I bought this fabulous old map of Scotland at the Printer's Row Book Fair in Chicago last year but didn't get it framed. This year, I was going to get it framed. The frame and mat and glass sit in the living room while I update my blog, but, hey, that's a step in the right direction, right? Right? I'll get it done if I have to do it Friday morning before packing the car.

Behind my tent is the athletic field. Yes, telephone poles are tossed at this games. Hay bales are thrown up and over a bar, as are weighted stones. I like to see if the athletes match their biker shorts to one of the colors in their kilt.

I have made a list of things I have to do before I pitch the tent. I ordered some Clan Thompson stuff to sell which will make the table look less empty. But what really makes the tent are people.

I generally am alone as there aren't many of us, but my friends will sometimes show up for a bit. Last year, a member showed up with his family and they walked the parade with me, which was nice. If you are reading this and live close enough to Oakbrook, stop by.

Just a word on the cats because I know a few friends are following that saga. They seem to have no problem eating the kidney food Dr. Labek recommended. Of course, that's the expensive stuff, (insert heavy sigh). Betsy isn't going to get fluids tonight as I have a headache and I have to search for the plastic bins I'm taking with me and bring them to the living room. I bought some Fancy Feast and both ate everything I put in front of them. It's garbage night and I really should drag a couple bags of litter to the curb. I'm tired.

I looked at the weather for Friday and Saturday and it appears it's going to be just like last year where we had a pouring rain for a couple hours both Friday and Saturday night. Yes, I have put up and taken down the tent in the rain, but I would rather not.

So, off to do an archeological expedition in the basement. If I'm lucky, I know exactly which bins I need. If not, well, I'll be surprised then. "Oh so THAT'S where I put this."

Beverage: Black currant tea


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

S'mores for supper

It's what I want tonight, so there. I have a very old, falling apart kettle grill which needs to be replaced with something smaller that I would actually use. I would prefer my marshmallows to be crisped on the outside and mushy on the inside but it does not pay to use the big grill for crunchied marshmallows so I do the "nuked" method. 40-45 seconds in the microwave and I have adequate s'mores for yet another rainy and chilly night.
It was 80° today. I had to go into the city to pull equipment from a demolition job that went 2 months longer than anticipated. I then went to this large hospital construction project and swapped out 2 machines, one because it's up for calibration and one because it's acting funny and we can't have equipment acting funny, only me. No coat and a light breeze. Even overcast, it was nice out.
The rains came as I was walking out of Subway with my lunch. It hasn't stopped. I think this would be termed an "unstable air mass", if I remember the weather people's terminology, but I'm really, really tired of unstable. Give me "stable" and I'd even take hot without complaint.
Got the hairs cut and now I run around feeling all those microscopic cuttings that inevitably fall under the collar of the cover up and your shirt. This last dye job is nearly faded. It did not last very long at all, but that's okay. I'm going gray anyway. The gray does stick out like a white light, but that's probably my perception because I know it's there.
On the home front, I had 2 hungry cats when I got home. I fed them half a can of Science Diet k/d, which is for kidney disease and they snarfed it down. Rascal jumped into the papasan chair to spend the next 10 minutes grooming so I know that's a very happy cat. There were some "surprises" on the floor in the hall and the extra bedroom which ants had discovered. That's gross and I'll have to clean that up...later.
I figured out how to pay for the ultrasound so I need to make the appointment tomorrow. As I'm gone on Friday and Saturday, I maybe should wait until next Monday to do it, get through the weekend. I still don't know about the car, but one step at a time. Hence, I figured I deserved s'mores for supper. Just watch it when you nuke the chocolate. It's really runny and I've ruined many a tee shirt with chocolate stains.

Beverage: Assam tea


Monday, June 15, 2009

(Gulp) I guess I can do this.

Betsy is mad at me for taking her to the vet for 250cc of warm fluid. We've been doing this off and on since the end of January. The cost, even at the discount my vet gives me, with my finances, put this treatment out of reach. If I can give her fluids at home, the only thing I have to buy is the fluid and a box of 24 1000cc bags is something like $15.
But this means using a needle the size of a cannon and sticking my cat.
I'm such a wuss.
Val, the tech at the vet who has taken me under her wing, is so very, very nice. She helped me today and I did it and Betsy didn't move while the fluid was draining. She's a bit lop-sided right now until the fluid gets absorbed. Val also did a nail trim and shaved all the mats I haven't been able to get through at the back end.
I don't have to do this again until Wednesday after work.
I got kidney diet cat food for them. If I mix it with the gravy from Fancy Feast, they will eat. Rascal seems hungry, but she could be trying to butter me up to let her go outside. I can't do that. She goes off and sits and I can't find her. Yesterday, I had a case of the slow panic when she wouldn't come inside at 5:30 p.m. and I didn't know where she was. Plus Zeke is mowing my back yard and she'll be scared of the mower and go heaven knows where in the jungle that is my yard. She will just have to wait. I'll make her appointment for the ultrasound for Wednesday after work.
Tomorrow, I get my hairs cut. My bangs are in my face so it's time. Plus I have the Illinois St. Andrew Society' 23rd Annual Highland Games to attend on Friday and Saturday. I run a tent for the Clan Thompson Society. I won't be home Friday until around 8:30 p.m. and Saturday, I'm gone all day until around 7:00. I hope I'm improving the quality of life and not just postponing the inevitable with some suffering. Betsy has a nodule under her right front leg that Val found at the last appointment. We both think it's larger than last time. (sigh) I have to watch that and not worry.
Val said she would call me Thursday to see how I do with giving fluids. "Scared" doesn't quite cover it and it's just Monday. Watch this space.

Beverage: water


So, I'm late.

I thought of posting this weekend, but life is oppressive right now and I know I'm depressed and there's not a lot of happiness found. Betsy is not good now, too. She's not eating and paces the house meowing. Rascal did eat on Sunday, quite a bit, too, but I need to figure out how to pay for that ultrasound.
I missed the payment deadline on my Discover card. I have a mild number dyslexia. It took me 30 years to figure it out, why I have always, always struggled with math. I transpose numbers when I read them. "2" can look like "5" to me. "3" can look like "8". I can read "70" as "13". It's not all the time so it took this long to realize the problem. I have no idea what I thought "12" looked like but I missed sending in my payment. I called them right away this morning and they were very nice. I can cover the check with my checking account funds, thankfully. Plus, I'll get a larger expense check from work for all the running around I did Wednesday through Friday. But that doesn't come until the end of the week. Still, that will cover the phone bill.
But, how do I pay for Rascal and my car? This struggle just weighs on me. Yesterday, I tried to cheer up by looking at all I got done over the weekend. I had more energy than I've had in weeks. I still have a small cough but I think I am 98% well. My eyes are giving me problems this morning, however. But that's easy, relatively speaking, to handle. (I battled an eye infection all of April.)
What did I accomplish over the weekend? I got dishes done. I got two loads of wash done. I cleaned up the back yard, next to the deck. I changed cat litter and washed the floor around the boxes. I cleaned part of the bathroom. With my allergies, cleaning the bathroom is a whole day or two day event.
Yesterday, I took my current craft project onto the deck and spent 2 hours working on it. I would love to post photos of it as it develops but it's a Christmas present for one of my best friends and she reads this blog. All she knows is that it has something to do with her favorite colors. I'm really liking how it's turning out and it's relaxing for me to do. I had left this project in a box on Carole's kitchen counter when I flew home and it took her a bit to send it back. Well, we were both sick. I wouldn't have worked on it anyway when I was sick.
Here it is, Monday morning. I'm taking Betsy to the vet at 4:30 for fluids. I'm learning how to do this so there won't be the $20 tech charge every time. I'm hoping the addition of fluids will perk her up. And I'm exploring options to pay for Rascal's ultrasound, although rest assured, none of those options involve something illegal. I'm too chicken for that.
I took all my Hawaiian shirts out of the closet this morning. I'm going to iron them and start wearing them. As they are brightly colored, I'm hopeful they will help perk me up.
I would like something good to happen for a change. Maybe we all would.

Beverage: Blackberry Sage tea


Friday, June 12, 2009

Gack! (cough, cough)

I followed up on those two places that will do outpatient ultrasounds.

Location A, which is close to me, will cost $375.00.

Location B, which is farther away, puts the cost as "starting" at $400.00. The person answering the phone was not helpful.

I don't have that. But this is the only way we'd know what was wrong with Rascal, or, at the very least have something better to go on.

$200-$250.00 I could fit into the budget. $375.00......I just don't know, especially when I need $700 to get the catalytic converter fixed in the Jeep before going for my emissions test.

Beverage: Mr. Pibb. I stopped at Wendy's on the way back to the office.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Rascal, round two

She just lay there, last night and again this morning, on my bed, not moving, yet obviously uncomfortable. It's the not eating that is hugely worrisome. Cats have to eat or their body starts cannibalizing itself. They cannot manufacture taurine so they get it from the prey or the canned food that they eat. Without this, they lose muscle mass, liver function and will die.
I was out of cereal and it was lunch time, so I headed over to Dominicks to scrounge up foodstuffs. I got a salad, a cheese bagel and a chocolate molten lava cake. I guess I was supposed to nuke that so it was all runny inside but it was delicious un-nuked. There is this canned cat food, Purina Pro-Plan, or something like that. I have a coupon for "Buy 4, Get 1 Free", which, of course, I didn't have, but the ingredients looked okay and, at 44¢, it beats the pants off Fancy Feast at 75¢. I figured I'd buy one of each of their 6 flavors and see what happens. (Yes, I got cereal; Life Regular and Cinnamon at $1.99 each.)
Once home, I'm met at the door by two cats, which includes the one who, this morning, wouldn't move and growled at me. She wants to go outside. HA! She has a vet appointment at 5:30. I get out the first can and divide it in half. Betsy eats pretty much anything, very sloppily, but eats it nonetheless. Rascal sniffed and started to walk away. But she stopped and watched Mom eating the stuff and, being just hungry enough, took a bite. In 5 minutes, her bowl was licked clean. SUCCESS! So, I opened another can, different flavor. She sniffed it and proceeded to eat half of what I put down. I'll take that. That's equivalent to 3/4ths a 3 ounce can.
Dr. Cody wasn't in so we got to see Dr. Zollinger. Very nice lady, too. She did a very thorough exam and we talked over possibilities. Nothing in Rascal's bloodwork indicates anything suspicious. She has normal stools, drinks water, but there's this whole every so often not eating thing and she's lost 6 pounds in 6 months. I mentioned April and Perry's Jenny and the tumor they didn't find until it was too late and Dr. Z agreed an X-Ray was the next step.
So, our favorite technician, Val, came and got her and they did X-Rays. Interestingly, Dr. Cody showed up with her daughter in tow as the film was ready to be viewed. So, our regular doctor is consulting on this, not that I don't trust either Dr. Labak or Dr. Z, but you know, you like some consistency.
There is nothing overly unusual on the X-Ray except her stomach is distended. It shouldn't be as large as it is, even given how much she just ate before we arrived. The other thing that's different is that there is an area between the stomach and large intestine, where the small intestine would be that is just gray on the x-ray. Granted, soft tissue doesn't x-ray, but Dr. Z said we should see something and it's just kind of a blob. In the exam, she felt some small "nodules" in the area of the small intestine which shouldn't be there, but she doesn't know what they are. Could be swollen lymph nodes, could be tumors, could be fatty deposits. The x-ray didn't pick them up.
The next step is an ultrasound. I was given two locations that do ultrasounds. One of them I've been to with Betsy and with Penney because they are the emergency veterinary services my vet recommends when they are closed. Tomorrow, I need to call each and find out what the charge would be for an ultrasound. Dr. Z said, "$200 to $250" she thought.
(sigh) But she's not that old and if this is very treatable, she's got a good 5-6 years left. It's kind of the driving force behind taking Betsy in for fluids, too. They are both "young" by housecat standards.
Rascal flew out of the cat carrier and went right into the kitchen to finish the cat food in her dish. Dr. Z suspects the food just sits there and Rascal still feels full a couple of days after eating. That's not necessarily bad but it's not something we want to continue over the long run.
Stress in my life?

Beverage: my last can of Dr. Pepper


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

This vexes me, #1.

See this? See this? On top of a bottle of Seventh Generation dish washing liquid there is one of those "peel up" sticker thingees. Dish detergent! I can see on aspirin, vitamins, Pepto Bismol, honey, but dish detergent? I stood over the sink for 3 minutes trying to squirt detergent into the water to do dishes. And it's Seventh Generation, not Dawn, not Ivory, not even store brand. How many people really reach for the green dish detergent when Palmolive is a whole buck cheaper?
And my hands are wet from sorting dishes and rinsing out the sink and emptying the drainer so of course "peel back" is a fallacy as far as I'm concerned. I had to use a hair dryer on my hands so they were dry enough to peel this off.
Dish detergent!?!?!?

Beverage: None


Yes, I am still sick

It is Wednesday, June 10th. I got sick late in the evening on May 15th. I still have a cough; still have the post nasal drip that causes the cough; still have slightly dry eyes; still feel, at the end of the day, as if I need to get the license plate number of the Peterbilt that ran me over. My voice is back 95% of the time, but if I talk a lot during the day, by evening, my voice is gone. The post nasal drip, the dry eyes, the loss of my voice I could handle. It's the cough that irritates me the most because it is the most visible symptom of not being well.
I've been on an antibiotic and a nasal spray since May 29th. Whether there were any exotic bugs to kill is somewhat debatable, but I understand the reasoning behind giving me an antibiotic. The nasal spray is what I notice the most. That has helped dry up my sinuses. My coughing is less and I don't have the wracking cough that bruised my ribs.
It would help if the weather would decide whether it's going to be April, May or June. Today is mostly cloudy, misty and windy with highs in the upper 60's. It's hard to feel better when you're cold. If it would get warm and stay warm for, say a week to 10 days, I could bake this stuff out and feel 10,000% better. It just seems like there's something wrong to hunker down on a June night with flannel sheets, two blankets and two cats and think about putting on the heat to take the chill out of the air.

Beverage: Dr. Pepper


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Felis Catus or Two Words for "ARGHHHHH!"

The litter boxes are changed. I am piggybacking cough drops as the dust from adding new litter will cause me to cough simply because everything makes me cough now. I sort of have an experiment going, without really trying. In the dark green box, I have Fresh Step. In the yellow box, I have Scoop Away. I've been using Fresh Step for a long time as they seem to like that, but it was more expensive for the same amount as Scoop Away at the last trip to the grocery. We'll see if there is a preference, not that I would become a certain litter loyalist. One observation, Scoop Away was dustier. When a change in litter results in a 20 minute coughing fit, that has to figure into the equation. 
This morning, Rascal refused to eat. Period. This is not good and I'm ever so tired of this battle at least once every 3-4 weeks. I know she doesn't feel 100% and a vet trip confirmed that she's got the markers for kidney disease. Well, if a cat lives long enough, it will have kidney disease, it's just what happens. But there was blood in her urine last Monday and that's never good. Last Sunday, she was listless and growled at me when I came to see why she was yeowling. She did not want to be petted although she plops down in the middle of the bed, almost defying me not to touch her. She's lost half of her body weight in 6 months, also not a good sign. Here she is in a photo that's 3 years old. 

She's never been a lover-cat. It took her a long time to accept being looked at, let alone touched. She has this fantastic coat, however, soft and very beguiling, so you just want to touch her. 
Her mom, Betsy, is the lover-cat and would spend her time getting in my way as I sat at the computer. Betsy has been the one I've been most concerned about up to now. Betsy lost a lot of weight in dramatic fashion in 6 weeks. From the end of January through February, ever other day, we went to the vet for fluids. She wasn't eating and has the symptoms of early kidney disease. I honestly thought, several times, I would have to make "that" decision. 
Then I went to a convention in Iowa at the end of February. Knowing Betsy needed a lot of care and that Pam couldn't do it, I boarded Betsy with the vet and Pam came to feed Rascal. When I picked Betsy up from the vet, I got such a cold stare. I could almost hear the, "How dare you, mom?" From that point on, she eats pretty much anything I put down for her. 
Cats will engage in "sympathetic eating", meaning if one in the group is sick, the others scale back their eating so the sick one can have more. I have seen it time and time again with my pride. I used to have 3 more living with me; Shakespeare, Penney and Half-Pint. Shakespeare and Penney succumbed to kidney disease. HP was hit by a car. But any time anyone was sick, the others didn't clear their bowls so the sick one could have more food. Rascal was doing that for Betsy, but it still doesn't account for the weight loss. 
Her recent refusal to eat is most upsetting. I have a human allergy drug which stimulates appetite in cats. But, to combat what was believed to be either a urinary tract or bladder infection, I have to give Rascal good ol' Clavamox. She's never been the kind of cat you could get next to, let alone pill. But, she's been listless so pilling her has been easy. I still have my arms and there are no scratches. I've been growled at but she seems to understand I have to do this. 
She didn't eat last night either so I gave her the appetite stimulant. Then, this morning, she never left the bed as I got up and headed off to work. It was obvious she did not feel well. 
After work, I stopped by the grocery and got tuna. You need to do something, anything to get the cat eating, but tuna is not nutritionally balanced. I come in the back door and she's up and around, tail in the air. It's obvious she's hungry. Crack open a can of Fancy Feast and pour tuna juice over it. She takes two sniffs and walks away. Shoot me, right now. I gave her a half tablespoon of tuna and she snarfed that down, so I gave her another half tablespoon. She ate half of that. She's currently lying on the floor behind me on top of a heating pad I have on very low on the floor for Betsy. For Betsy's part, she's walking up to Rascal and standing in her personal space so I have to listen to growling and complaining. 
Do I know what's going on? Of course not. Betsy has a tendency at night to wander, meowing, about the house from 1:30 to 3:45 a.m. She will not settle down. I got maybe 3 hours of sleep last night. I could take a nap right now and sleep for 2-2.5 hours but then I'd be up until 12:30 a.m. and I need to get my sleeping back to some schedule. 
Oh, and I forgot to mention the grossest hairball left in the middle of the bed for me to find when I got home tonight. I wasn't planning on washing linens and bedding. I guess the only redeeming factor is that whomever left it did it now, when I could wash the sheet and not at 2:45 in the morning. 
But, I can't imagine my life without a cat. They are part of my identity. 

Beverage:  hot water to help stop the coughing spasms. Try it some time. It does work.


Monday, June 8, 2009

On the nature of friendship

In my other life, I play a MMORGP; a massive multi-player online role playing game called World of Warcraft. Most people reading this blog are friends whom I have met in that game or friends who know of the game. 95% of those in the game I know only as a screen name that goes with a pixelated person. If they stood in front of me at Panera, I wouldn't know it. Others, however, have ventured into Chicagoland and we have met. It has been a surprise and delight to meet them.
I recently had a huge falling out with one person I met in the game and in real life. We are both strong women, in some ways very much alike and also very different. We have parted ways because of a huge misunderstanding and both of us making assumptions about the other. Our assumptions were based on the information we both had at the time. The information proved to be erroneous but damage to the relationship had been done.
Certainly all of you have gone through this kind of problem. You try to make the best decisions you can with the information you are presented. But then you find out the information you have is completely baseless and wrong which makes all your decisions wrong. This can and does result in many hurt feelings.
When I was going through my divorce, I was quite the whiner. I whined and fussed at anyone who would listen. My "cold water moment" was standing in the gathering area at church and having a friend say, when I started in fussing, "Well, that's way more information than I ever wanted to know." She turned and walked away from me. (Yes, we are still friends but the nature of the friendship changed right then.)
I took this event back to the therapist helping me deal with this monumental change in my life. I was indignant. How dare she turn and walk away! Didn't she see I needed to talk? My therapist sat back in her chair, looked at me and said, "Well, you're whiny. Who wants to talk to you?" But...but...but...I need people to talk to. "Yes, you do, but this life event is going to separate your friends. Can you handle this?" Separate my friends? Huh?
She was right. It did separate my friends.
I've come to see that friends are like a dart board. There are a few who are bullseyes. You all have them. They are the friends who, to use a cliche, "know you and still like you". They are the ones in whom you confide everything. They tell you everything. You will keep their secrets forever and they will keep yours.
From the middle out, all the other people you call friends fall into one of the rings based upon how much they know and how much you trust them with who you are.
Getting to the middle of the board is a journey. I look at the people I put in the center and realize I have been through some hairy moments with them. I have argued, yelled at, cornered, cried, written off, embraced again, every single one of those people. I have felt so insulted by their behavior I have vowed never to talk to them again and yet, today, I would trust them with executing my last will and testament.
My therapist said, and, in my life's experiences, I see this to be true, every single friendship you will ever have will go through a trial by fire. It's how you deal with that trial that determines whether the friendship lasts or fails. Can the two of you be knock-down drag out screamingly angry with each other, raw and emotions bared, hurting and hurtful and come out of the experience still wanting each other in your lives? If you can do that, you will probably always be friends.
There is always a sadness when a relationship passes on. It is, however, the nature of life. I have no friends from my grade school through high school years. A few of my closest friends are from college years. The rest I have picked up as I walk along my life's path. Those are the ones I will never see eye-to-eye with but I love them just the same. They push me. They strengthen me. They see me as I am and, to use another cliche, will be the ones sitting next to me in jail saying, "Next time, let me knock him out."

Beverage: the last of the Assam before heading out to lunch


Saturday, June 6, 2009

White Sox 4 Indians 2

And there was a Sox home run and some dude named Kerry Wood pitched the last inning for the Cleveland Indians. 

It rained from the bottom of the 1st through the top of the 4th. It wasn't hard but it was steady. Then it quit and the sun actually shown in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings, although not all the time. At game time, the temperature was 50 degrees. It fluctuated between 46 and 52. Typical April weather. Jon came here and I drove us down. It wasn't too bad getting into and out of the ball park. Parking was a whopping $23. I had 2 hot dogs (They were 2 for the price of 1 at the beginning of the game.), a chocolate churro and a Guinness. Later, I got nachos with that bright yellowish orange cheez-whiz type cheese and a Pepsi. Now, other than having hot tea to warm up, I'm not hungry. The gals were excited to see me. I was going to go to the store and get cat food, but I do have a can of kidney diet cat food. Mixed with half a can of Fancy Feast, they snarfed it down. I'll go tomorrow. 

Am I glad I went? Meh. It was okay. I'm really ambivalent on the White Sox. It's just fun to go to a baseball game. 

Beverage:  Hot English Teatime tea


***Gripe Alert***

You can skip over this post today, if you like. I'm just going to gripe. These are listed in no particular order other than how my brain is ordering them.

1) My right knee really hurts this morning. I've taken aspirin and rubbed Ben Gay into the knee. My office is going to an afternoon White Sox game and the prospect of sitting for 4 hours at a baseball game is not appealing.
2) I'm really blasé about going to this. Last year, we went to the Kane County Cougars and that's lots of fun plus there's more leg room. One of the guys in the office rammed this idea through. I know. I know. I don't have to go, but it looks bad.
3) It's supposed to rain...again...yet...still. I can't put down the top on the Jeep because I've been sick and the weather has been bad. In previous years, I've had the top down for weeks already. It's June, for Pete's sake!
4) The catalytic converter needs to be replaced and I got a notice that the emissions need to be done. Well, the converter needs to be done BEFORE I get the emissions done or the car will fail. I don't have $700 to fix the converter.
5) I don't have enough to cover the bills this month. I looked at where my tax refund went. I used $400 to go to Seattle but the rest, and it was a chunk, went to survival. How is anyone making it? And the governor of Illinois wants an income tax increase from 3 to 4.5%. Everything has gone up except what I bring home.
6) I don't have any flowers planted in pots on the deck or in front of the house. I always do that. I can't this year. I don't have the money. I need to repaint the deck. I can't. I can't afford to buy the paint.
7) I'm still (pardon my french) bloody sick and I'm bloody sick of being sick. Getting better has been in very, very small steps forward.
8) The dating service sent me another name and I can just tell it's not someone in whom I'm going to find a friendship. I got the name on Monday and he's not called. I call him tomorrow so I can honestly say I attempted contact.
9) I have ants in the kitchen again, those itty bitty, less than one eighth of an inch long things. Betsy is such a messy eater that's why. It's just frustrating.
10) Carole's not coming for a visit. She's decided to save her money and stay in Seattle. I understand and it does make things a bit easier on me, but I miss her and sort of looked forward to her potential visit.

I think that's it for today. I need to wash spoons. I have to run over to PetSupplies Plus when we get back from the game. I am out of cat food.

Beverage: water


Friday, June 5, 2009

Music and the word "get"

Today, I brought music to the office. I have very little to do so I might as well do it to music.
I don't know if you are familiar with www.pandora.com. It's called the "Music Genome Project". You make a "station" of the kind of music you want to hear and, from their vast archive, they select music based on either a genre or an artist. It's kind of similar to Project Gutenberg. I have two stations, Nat King Cole and Old Blind Dogs. The former is vocal jazz in the style of Nat. They play too much Tony Bennett, particularly the newer stuff, which I don't like. The latter is traditional Scottish music a bit more uptempo. This station taps into Celtic music and I've been exposed to groups I wouldn't have found otherwise. They have added my other favorite Scottish group, The Tannahill Weavers.
The nice thing about this station is you rate the music you hear. If you are familiar with Yahoo Music, it's the same way. A "thumbs up" or a "thumbs down" gradually teaches the program to play music you will like.
I would love to listen to it at work. But, our network has bans on certain kinds of content. No YouTube, as a for instance, and, unfortuately, no Pandora. According to a memo, too much bandwidth was being devoted to gaming and video and music streaming. I do know of one guy who plays a certain game I haven't discussed, yet, at the office during lunch hours, but I've not added that game to my computer. There are other game sites, like AOL games, that I can visit if I really need a game fix.
The office is really quiet when most of us are out in the field. The phone has not been ringing a lot lately so the ambient sounds of the AC coming on and people entering the building and going to the job service office on the second floor as well as the traffic on busy Roosevelt Road to the north of the building are all you hear. I decided today I would bring in my tunes. I've listened to OBD's "Fit?" and I currently have the soundtrack from "Good Night and Good Luck" in the player. Yes, Pandora is linked to Amazon so if you want a certain CD after hearing a few cuts from it, you can order it. I dislike ordering from Amazon. I get 95% of my jazz from the Jazz Heritage Society.
There's that word, "get". I've been pondering this word for a couple days now. A blogger I read announced on Sunday that he's "getting" a divorce. I "got" a divorce in 2001. It's what we say, but you can also "get" sick or "get" caught in traffic or "get" chicken pox. You can also holler at a spouse in the kitchen, "Honey? I'm off to the store to 'get' BBQ sauce and buns for the hamburgers. Do you need me to 'get' anything else?" Somehow, using the word to mean the action for obtaining hamburger buns diminished the hugely life-changing event of a divorce.
But is there another option, a better synonym? Not really. You could use "procure" or "obtain" but that sounds ridiculously stilted. "The Marquis de Bleau 'e Fungi obtained a divorce from his 4th wife." That does sound like something the monied do, not us real people.
I'm not sure what the word is to encompass all that "getting a divorce" implies. I often think, as many words as there are in the English language, there aren't words that specifically cover a feeling or emotion or action. This is one of those times. "I'm getting divorced." Three words that have years of emotion attached to them.
I think I'll get out one of my Benny Goodman albums. His peppy clarinet is something I get. And, at lunch, Jon and I will go get office supplies since we're out of file folders. In the meantime, I need to get some letters written.

Beverage: Black Currant tea


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Unbiased, sort of, report

Okay, I consumed the contents of the Twizzlers bag. I realize any company needs to completely reevaluate what it produces to see if an upgrade is needed. But Twizzlers needed to talk to me first. The ONLY flavors with ANY sort of taste were the strawberry and the blue raspberry. Everything else, orange, lemonade, watermelon and grape could have been mango, banana, lime and plum for all I could tell. No flavor beyond something vaguely fruity. Save your pennies. Buy a plain old bag of strawberry Twizzlers (if you can't find the chocolate ones). You're welcome. I do this so you don't have to.

Beverage: Black Currant flavored tea. No, really, it's very good.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Oh my!

Just go to this link. Just go. Do it. You too will say, "Oh my." This is a case of not understanding the consumer to which this was marketed. It should not have been designed to actually work. They should have just made them and sold them as novelties.

New from the candy aisle, at least new to me, Twizzlers Rainbow Twists, the original twist licorice in fruit flavors. How do you want your sugar today, with the flavor of strawberry, orange, lemonade, watermelon, blue raspberry or grape? I will have to conduct full taste tests and issue my report once the bag is empty, which might be Friday.

And Hershey bars were on sale so microwave s'mores, here I come. Yes, I would very much rather have the marshmallows charred over an open fire but it's just me. I'll be happy with the nuked ones.

I had to go to the grocery store to get tuna, chicken and chicken baby food to get Rascal eating again. Lunch was a large tossed salad. My allergies must be getting better because I could taste the poppyseed dressing.

And the other question you want to ask me, I have very little to do, so I'm catching up on my eclectic web sites.

Beverage: cold assam tea. If I want it hot, I have to walk to the microwave. Meh, I'll drink it cold.