Monday, October 27, 2014

Real life is still so very real

So, today was my first day back to work after my unexpected three-day “vacation” in Resort du Hospitale.

Normally when I’m taking even one day off, there’s a certain amount of ‘putting things to bed’ before I log off before I take off. Just kind of proactively dealing with certain things, giving others the background info they might need in case things go awry, that kind of stuff.

Obviously, I didn’t do any of that. It was supposed to just be a quick, after-work-even appointment with the orthopedic guy; I had absolutely no idea, I never would have guessed, that I’d end up in the hospital for gah’s sake.

Even when I was getting the ultrasound because he was all, “{mutter-mutter-clots}”, I still didn’t honestly think that, you know, there actually would be…anything in there.

I expected the usual fuss-n-bother-and-nothing-comes-of-it. Because that’s what always happens. Except when it doesn’t.

So today basically went like this:

  1. I made my own coffee this morning
    1. Which meant having to go downstairs all by myself like a Big Girl
      1. Illusion of being on the road back to self-reliance: Shattered
      2. It costs me way more than I like to admit to do something as simple as “get downstairs, and then back up again”
      3. Also, I do still need the stupid crutches
        1. Argh!
        2. NOT THAT I’M COUNTING (<= lies!), but, this would be Day 17 since I tore that @^*&2ing muscle
        3. ARGH!
  2. Several people are asking me – rather pointedly – how long this or that is going to take, because, per their email from AHEM, LAST WEEK WEDNESDAY…!
    1. It would be much simpler if I would just own up and say, “Sorry, heh-heh, funny story, actually, see, I was unexpectedly hospitalized last week so I lost a couple days…?”
    2. But I would rather die than have this become common knowledge at work
      1. Well. Maybe not die.
      2. But I’d definitely rather put up with people growling at me about their timelines
  3. AND THEN, I got a call from the nurse advocate at the insurance company
    1. Because the hospital stay was declined
      1. Because the information they got was basically “we admitted her because of reasons”
        1. Attending physician? => blank
        2. Diagnosis/Reason for Incarceration Admission? => blank
        3. Treatment Plan? => blank
        4. Reason for Discharge? => blank
    2. Apparently, “because we admitted her” is not considered a ‘medically necessary’ reason to admit someone to the hospital
      1. Go figure
      2. {bangs head on desk for a while}
  4. That One Guy on the team naturally managed to go charging off in all the wrong directions while I was away
    1. He always does this
    2. ALWAYS
    3. Honestly, his capacity for being Just Completely Wrong seems bottomless
      1. It’s like a gift, really
      2. A dark, dark gift…
    4. And, why the end result of this always seems to boomerang back to me is something I ask myself on pretty much a weekly basis…
  5. THEN, when I’m up to my eyebrows in All The Above, I got a call from the ‘patient something or other’ person – basically the nurse who makes sure you’re behaving yourself when you’ve been discharged
    1. I was asked if I was remembering to do the elebenty-bazillion salutations in the cardinal directions on hourly intervals per release protocol
    2. “…yes…?” <= lies, had only done one (1) round of the salutations, while still in bed that morning
      1. And in only two of the cardinal directions
      2. Bah, humbug!
  6. AND TO CAP IT ALL OFF, RIGHT BEFORE LOGGING OFF FOR THE DAY…I find that the reason something “looks a little wrong” in the thing I was working on a while ago was because I had made a mistake in the code
    1. …one that somebody else discovered…
    2. @^*&@!

So, to sum up:

  1. I quit
  2. I quit
  3. I quit
  4. I quit
  5. I quit
  6. I quit

There. I think that about covers it for tonight.

Tune in next time, when I’ll complain vigorously about the clothes moths (!!!!) that moved in shortly after all the construction began, and which now love to flutter juuuuuuuust out of my reach because I’d swear they know I can’t leap to my feet to squash them…!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

What a long, strange trip it was

The orthopedic surgeon we saw Wednesday afternoon confirmed that I had a moderate tear in my gastrocnemius (<= the bigger calf muscle).

Then he sent us for an ultrasound to check for blood clots, because my leg and foot were rather swollen, and had been for a while, and I had not had any particular success with getting that swelling to go away.

And that was how it was that I ended up spending two and a half days in the hospital hooked up to a heparin drip and having blood drawn every 4-6 hours to check for progress (and me with my bordering-on-actual-phobia about needles…you can imagine how well I dealt with this) before My Beloved Physician was able to confirm that I didn’t actually have an actual clot, but rather only alarmingly elevated risk of one.

This is one of the things we love so much about this guy: A lot of doctors would have been more like, “Look, you’re already here and we’re halfway down this path, so, my work here is done. You have another four to seven days in the hospital (!!!) while the warfarin takes over from the heparin, then three months (!!!!!!) of taking the warfarin daily (with daily / every-other-day lab work, I might add), because that’s what we’re doing.”

Instead, I got to just come home with instructions to be very alert about the swelling returning, and with a prescription for a mega-dose of aspirin.

It’s not exactly that I’m furious and want to have stern words with anybody for making me go through all that “for no reason.” There was a reason for it. They saw veins that looked like they were under stress, there were markers in my blood that said, “probably has a clot in there” – I think what they did was the right thing to do.

You don’t fool around with suspected deep vein thrombosis. Having a clot break loose and travel up into your lungs can kill you – I’ve still got an awful lot of Denizen-rearing to do, and I’m kinda curious how it all turns out.

So on the whole, I’d like to, you know, not die of something stupid and miss all that.

Still. It’s a bit…vexing, to spend all that time hooked up to an IV and being stabbed by cheerful, smiling lab folks what felt like every fifteen minutes over and over in the same general area, only to be told a couple days later, “Oh. Never mind. You ‘just’ have a rather elevated risk of clotting from that area. Here. Have a prescription for a mega-aspirin, aaaaaaaand if your foot or leg puffs up like that again and you can’t get the swelling back down quickly? Get your arse to the emergency room, what are you, STUPID or something?!

The crook of my left arm looks like I have a serious drug problem (or like I was attacked by near-sighted vampires mistaking my elbow for my neck or something); plus, of course, the fact that I was on a blood thinner means that I bruise fairly easily, so I have all kinds of beautifully yellowing marks all over me.


I probably have about six to eight weeks of recovery time ahead for this stupid thing altogether before I’ll be back to more or less normal, and a month or two after that where I’ll still need to be a bit circumspect about how much stress I put on the leg; it’s just one of those injuries that take a looooong time to heal.


But, it could be worse. I could have been stuck in the hospital for over a week.

With the convenient, in-house, available 24/7 lab people.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Leisure, or nothing like it

I haven’t done a single chore for six days, y’all. Not so much as rinsing my own dishes.


I have been sitting right here…for the last six straight days…reading…playing video games…watching an endless parade of brain candy flicker past my eyeballs…eating food brought to me by my family…

It’s…it’s…well, it’s miserable. It is exhausting. It is frustrating in the extreme.

SEE…what happened was…a freak laundry accident.

I am being totally serious right now.





…you absolutely can-NOT make this kind of stuff up, people.

SO THERE I WAS, last week Friday, getting a jump on my weekend chores. I’m standing next to my bed folding the clean sheets like a boss and I went to put the latest example of my rather poor sheet-folding skills on top of the pile and…well.

Over the course of less than a second, I thought to myself, “Huh, my left calf feels kinda tight, is it trying to cramp up…?”

And then, pretty much simultaneously, there was a feeling like somebody had snuck up behind me and whacked me, really hard, in the back of the leg with a rather blunt axe; it was like a punch and a cut, if that makes sense?

And, there was this…sound. Not a very nice sound. It sounded like somebody biting into an apple – not a super crisp one, but one of those mealy ones.

I hit the ground like I’d been clubbed, both hands wrapped in a death-grip around my calf, almost before the pain even hit me.

You know those moments when you totally know the reality of a situation almost the instant it arises, but you also just can’t quite believe it has happened so you keep second-guessing yourself?

Yeah. That was my whole entire weekend. Within about five seconds of hitting the floor, I knew exactly what I’d done. There was really no question that what I had here was a classic example of Ye Olde Torn Calf Muscle. The only question left to answer was how bad a tear I’d gotten.

But…it just…didn’t seem possible. This is a pretty strong muscle group (I said to myself). C’mon. How could I POSSIBLY have done REAL DAMAGE to it, JUST by leaning forward to drop a sheet onto a pile?

I had to be mistaken.

But, looks like I wasn’t. When My Beloved Physician started poking at it, he pretty quickly discovered that I’ve got some “weird” deformation in the muscles, and at least one ligament is kind of “floppy” when it should be “springy.”

So now I’m on crutches until further notice, and going for an MRI next week so we can figure out exactly how bad it really is, and I’m in for anywhere from “just” about a month of this “keep off it” nonsense to three months if I really did a number on it.

Well, damn.

Then, because insult loves injury so much…guess what? After four days of zero swelling, and zero bruising, and only very mild pain as long as I kept my carcass parked in my chair?

Yeah. That honeymoon was over. My calf feels like an overfull water balloon, my foot is all puffy, and the pain is starting to become quite annoying.




Saturday, September 27, 2014

We walk among you

Sooooooooooooooo…I’ve been playing Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) a lot lately. (The five-second review? I like it. It has its problems, it has its rough edges and things that make me go, “Pah, this again?!” – but by and large, it’s a fun way for me to spend my evenings.)

So. In just about every game I play which has such things, I am…ahem…a somewhat avid farmer. Meaning that I collect raw materials – plants for potions, ores for smithing, wood for bows and so forth – whenever I see them.

It almost pains me to pass up an ore-node, or leave a pile of lumber on the ground…not pick the lock on a chest, or open the barrel to see what’s inside.

I also have a somewhat embarrassing tendency to be so focused on my farming that I don’t notice things like, say, the level ha-ha-MUCH-higher-than-YOU super-elite troll now with Super Special Player Killing One-Shot Powers that is standing right on top of the ore-node.

“…oh…well, hello there, big fellah…aaaaaaaaand, I’m dead again…sigh…”

Now, I told you all of that so I could tell you about this.

One of my guilds in ESO is called ‘Get Rich or Die Farming.’ I think I’d actually call it my “main” guild – it’s definitely the one I enjoy most in terms of interactions with others, and it’s extremely active and full of fun, helpful people who help each other over the rough bits and such.

One afternoon our guild master came up with these.

And of course I bought one, because it made me laugh. 

In due course it went through the laundry and percolated to the top of the stack in my drawer and I put it on and wore it. Because it was a) clean and b) the next one on the stack in my drawer.

Look, I’ll be blunt: I’m getting dressed at about 4:45 in the morning, OK? And I probably didn’t get to bed before 11:00 or 11:30 the night before. Because that’s just what always happens, no matter how ardently I vow that tonight, I am TOTALLY going to be IN BED by no later than 9:30.

“Let’s see, which of my fine frocks shall I wear today, and what cunning accessories shall I wear with it?” are just not questions I’m willing to entertain at that hour. Next shirt in the drawer, pants aaaaaand, DONE.

But I digress.

So I’m wearing this shirt, and I’m not thinking anything of it really. I wear a lot of shirts that have things Muggles might not understand on them. Anime characters, slogans from the 70s, the occasional “if you work in any of the major coding languages, you will totally get this” or “decode these math symbols for a joke!” thing – so I’m not too surprised if someone is kind of looking at my chest with an expression that clearly says something like, “Math…hurts…” (The one thing we can rule out pretty much immediately is that they’re looking at my breasts. Unless they have a magnifying glass in their hand. Or binoculars. Ahem. Moving on.)

SO THERE I AM. Sporting my guild t-shirt and heading back across the street to Homer the Odyssey after having deposited Captain Adventure at the gates of the Hallowed Halls of Learning.

AND THERE’S THIS OTHER MOM, standing at the crosswalk with me, staring at my chest and making the math-hurts face.

I had to glance down at my shirt to remember which one I was wearing. And then I was a bit confused because really…uh…this isn’t one of those puzzle-shirts, it’s just, you know, a slogan, right?

And then she suddenly goes, “Is that, like, a statement about how conventional farming is totally about corporate greed these days, and that’s why our food chain is so broken that it is killing us?” 

First I went Disappointed smile

Then I went Thinking smileoooooookayyyyyy, that was an…INTERESTING…leap, but I GUESS I can KINDA see it…

“Er, no. Hahaha. No. This is actually from a game – it’s the name of one of my guilds in Elder Scrolls.”

She’s still making math hurts face at me, which really should have been my cue to just say, “…it’s a video game” and shut up, but oh no, that would have been something a normal person would do.

Instead, I went full on Alien

And that was why, $DEITY forgive me, I tried to explain MMOs, guilds, ‘farming’ in video games and in-game economies.

You know, the talking-too-fast Cliff’s Notes version. Because we’re standing on the street waiting for the crossing guard to force the reluctant drivers to obey her.

And now then she’s looking at me like I just went, “Meepa-beepa! MeepMeep! Boop-boop-meep-waaaaaaahka-whaka-wahKA! Woot-woot! Beep!”

So she did what any suburban mother would do when confronted by an alien making beeping noises and said, “Oh, that sounds like fun…”

“Uh, yeah. It…yeah, it is. Hahaha. Ahem. Have a good one!”

“You too, hahaha!”

I couldn’t help but think, though, as I settled in front of my massive monitors, ergonomic keyboard and Mouse of Many Buttons that she was actually pretty darned lucky.

I might have been wearing my “Not Normalized” shirt.

No, well, hahaha, OK, see, in database development? ‘normalization’ refers to…uh, noooo, actually, not ‘OH GOD, MAKE IT STOP!!!’ but rather…

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Meanwhile, in knitting…

According to my Ravelry notebook, I started working on the Fia Pullover in March 2013; as I recall, I got the sleeves done in no time flat, and then shot through about the first three inches of the main body…and then…well…I suddenly went, “…eh…” and set it aside.

Just as suddenly, I regained my enthusiasm for it not terribly long ago, pulled it out and started working on it again. It’s actually a rather pleasant knit – the “main” pattern requires having the ability to count and pay attention and thus I can readily see why I decided it made lousy BART knitting…but the side patterns are very easily memorized and require almost zero thought to speak of.

Which means that I can totally work on this while I’m watching foreign films with subtitles. Woot.

I realized last night that I was a mere ten rounds from the Beginning of the End – the shoulder shaping. 

At the moment, I am choosing to ignore the fact that there is still a lot of work to be done on this after the shoulders are cast off, and am allowing myself to enjoy the feeling of being “almost done” with it at last.

That I then have the blocking to do, and sewing and cutting the steeks on the main body and the sleeves, attaching the sleeves, and then the picking up and knitting of the collar…are problems for later.

For right now, I’m almost done.

Yay me!

Friday, September 05, 2014

Colds and Ceilings

I have a cold. A really nasty one, the kind where symptoms just kind of keep piling up on you. Fever, chills, cement-in-sinuses, coughing so hard you’re a little afraid you’re going to throw up, can’t breathe, wait, how can my nose be RUNNING this much when I’m so STUFFED UP?!, and no-medicine-on-earth-seems-to-do-anything-for-me sort of cold.

This has got to be some kind of record: The Denizens have only been in school for about two weeks, and bam. They brought home the bubonic plague for me to catch. Awesome.

Meanwhile, of course, both work and the construction on the Den continue without the slightest pause. Which is also desperately unfair. I mean, really, there ought to be some kind of law which says that when someone is clearly dying, everything around them should just, you know, stop. As a sign of some respect for their increasingly-delicate condition.

Especially things that involve loud banging noises or asking the dying person whether or not something is on-track for deploy on a specific date.

And man, it should be straight-up illegal to ask The Afflicted about items they’re allegedly supposed to be finishing up by a specific – and all-too-quickly approaching – date while there are loud banging noises going on in the background.

But, alas, the world does not work as it should. So work has this completely irrational idea that I’m going to be, you know, working during my shift (feh!), and that I’m going to be getting things done on time (whatever!) and that I will be maintaining “professional behavior” (pfffft!) and stuff like that.

While there has been much hammering, sawing, banging, thumping, and the occasional whoop of “whoa!” going on in the background.

Meanwhile, I opened my home office door (a.k.a., my bedroom door) Tuesday afternoon at the end of my work day and my house looked absolutely surreal.

The whole house seemed to be swathed in this plastic. Floor to ceiling. Taped down, so, um…question…? How do I get into my KITCHEN…?

It was kind of creepy, actually. Like something out of a slasher film. Brrrr.

But, there has been a lot of progress in four short days. On the outside of the house, we have a new office downstairs, and a bedroom upstairs.

My office has a door out to the garden (squee!), and windows on the other walls looking out into it (double squee!). (It also has a door inside the house – I won’t have to, you know, go outside to get into my office or anything.)

It’s a little hard to envision what it will be like when it’s a house instead of…a garage? or a storage shed? which is kind of how it feels right now.

To get access to the upstairs bedroom, well, we needed a new walkway. This was trickier than we expected, naturally, because it couldn’t go where we had sort of thought it should due to code-stuff and clearance-stuff and load-bearing stuff.

So instead, you come up to the top of the stairs and make a u-turn onto the new walkway. But not right now. It’s missing the railings and such. Really kind of asking for trouble, trying to walk across that right now. (This does not, of course, stop the cats. In fact, they were also undaunted when it was just the support beams. What? I’m just out for a little STROLL, clumsy human…)

That walkway leads to a big new loft area, formerly the vaulted ceiling over the dining room…

…and the new upstairs bedroom is on the other side of that lit-up area. Which is a window. Which is going to be torn out of there pretty soon.

Much as we’d like to think we’re “nearly there” given that we have, you know, walls and floors and stuff, the sad truth is: We’re barely getting started. This is actually the “easy” part – the hard parts are still to come.

Like, it’s a little hard to get the perspective from that picture, but the total clearance where the door to the new bedroom will be is, I think, less than four feet.

Clearly not going to work.

So, the whole roof on that side of the house has to be “lifted” up by several feet.

That’s where I’m pretty sure things are going to suddenly start slowing way down; and of course the “finishing” work is extremely frustrating on that front. It’s like, done, buuuuuuuut, now you’re waiting for somebody to show up with paint, and then there’s all this “OK, so, we did our hour of work and now we have to wait X-long for things to dry or set, so, see ya tomorrow, lady!” stuff…

So I’m trying to enjoy this period of easily-measurable progress while it lasts.

Even if it does involve a rather insane amount of hammering, and sawing, and banging, and crashing, and…

Monday, August 25, 2014

Progress is not for the faint of heart

Today was…noisy.

Because they were doing this to my poor Den.

You know those moments when you look at something that is in-progress and you think to yourself, OMG, wait, this can-NOT be right, time out, let’s think about this…!

I had that moment late this morning, when I was on a call and there was this tremendous whump from the construction area and then I heard something crash in the kitchen.

It took pretty much every last ounce of willpower I had to remain calm, stay with the meeting I was in, and not tear off my headset and go flying downstairs to see what on earth had made that ungodly clatter. (<= this is always a mistake – if I set foot out there, it will take a good half hour before I can get back inside, and, well, I really don’t have an endless supply of extra-long-coffee-break periods in an average day that I can burn on Such Things)

Later, I discovered that it was the kitchen knives, falling off their magnetic holders; apparently, having the other side of the wall they are on, you know, ripped off the house was a little too much vibration for them to maintain a good grip on the knives.

I looked at the knives, and I said to myself, “Right…now, where did I put that old knife block…?”

And then I had one of those little walks down memory lane, remembering that phase Captain Adventure went through some years ago as a toddler, where we could not keep his chubby little mitts off the blasted kitchen knives. He was fascinated by them. I tried putting them into a child-“proof” drawer => he’d have them out in under five seconds flat. I tried “hiding” them in a child-“proof” cupboard => hahahahaha, yeah, how’d THAT work out?!

I tried the top of fridge. I tried keeping them in the den. Eventually, I got that magnetic strip, hung it over the stovetop, which is a terrible place to put your good kitchen knives but as much as he looooooooved to play with my knives (!!!), he was afraid of that stovetop. He wouldn’t go within a foot of it.

Voila. He never went after the knives again. Although he did pitch a few huge temper tantrums about their new location; he’d sit on the floor, tilt his head back and just howl about it, occasionally looking at them out of the corner of his eye with undisguised longing and despair.

And would go absolutely pink and purple with fury if I tried to offer him something like, you know, a spatula, or a toy knife instead. You insult my intelligence, woman! Begone, and take your lousy imitation-of-life with you!

But I digress.

According to theory, all of this stuff – and there’s rather a lot of it, let me tell you – is going to magically become walls…and the first story of our two-story addition will be framed.

You guys have no idea, NO IDEA!, how hard it was not to be a smart-arse about this today. They kept going, “Blah blah blah and then this will be framed…” and I so wanted to say something like, “Gasp! Should I start looking for a good lawyer to get it off with maybe just some community service or something? or is this going to be so thorough a frame-job that it’s just hopeless and the best we can hope for is 30 years in Sing-Sing?!” But I did resist. Because I figured either a) they wouldn’t get it or b) they would get it and be all like “HAHAHAHA…like we haven’t heard that one a few hundred times…today…”

Another thing that took an awful lot of effort from me…well, they needed to make room for what-all they’re doing and their supplies and such-like. So they did this.


Not at all? Nothing jumping out at you? Like maybe a slight difference in, you know, texture, front v. back parts of this pile…?

AW, C’MON. The back of this pile is just dirt. It’s (some of) the just dirt they dug out so they could pour the concrete slab that is currently mocking my ripped-out outer walls with its pristine newness.

But the front pile, the one they so cavalierly hurled atop the just dirt one they made last week…that…is my garden bed soil.

It is not dirt.

It is a magical blend of just dirt and compost and peat moss and you do not want to know how much time and sweat and tears (OK, fine, in the interest of full disclosure, any actual tears in there were probably caused by my sunscreen dripping [or being wiped] into my eyeballs) went into making it into that frothy confection suitable for growing ruler-straight carrots or big, round-globes onions or, you know, whatever.

Of course, it is also garden soil that isn’t going to have a bed to go into for quite some time; even after they get this first story frame up off the ground, the second story is just going to be rush-delivered right into the same spots.

Still. I keep looking at it, every time I go out there. That is some awfully nice soil, right there, I think to myself.

And then I just kind of look around the yard…surely there must be somewhere out of harms way where I could get, you know, a small-ish new bed built, right?

Good dirt is a terrible thing to waste, after all…

Monday, August 18, 2014

You ask a simple question…

Danger Mouse had a dentist appointment today, to get some fillings.

The husband made the mistake of sending me an email asking me how it had gone.

So, I told him how it had gone, as follows…and the moral of this story is, don’t ever ask me a simple question, as I am incapable of providing a simple – or short - answer

OMG. Well. Therein lies a tale. And it goes like this. I got to the school at 10:35 and I was walking over to the administration office like a boss, looking around at all the other adults milling around there like, "I understand.  I'm responsible now too.  Just look at my groceries. Plus also I am totally on top of these things, because I am very mature and responsible that way." (Sadly, I’m not entirely exaggerating…I was so darned proud of myself for not still being at home at 10:50 going, “Oh…@*^&@…is that the time?!” like I usually am…)

So I get her all signed out and the secretary calls her third period PE class and goes, “Yessss, so, I’m calling for…uh…Buhhhhhh…” and I hear this perky voice on the speakerphone go, “Oh, let me guess, Danger Mouse? Yes, she said she’d be leaving during this period, she’s sitting with her things over on the benches, I’ll go let her know.”

And now I’m looking around like, “Yeah, my kid? => totally on top of it. That’s right. She even told her teacher she would be leaving right about now. This is teamwork, people. This is what we should all aspire to as parents. I am the best parent in the history of parenting.(<= conveniently ignores the fact that laundry is still piled up all over the house, nobody has had a home-cooked dinner in approximately two years and that I have now officially lost more forms than I have successfully turned in over the course of their school careers.) 

Ten minutes later, I’m still standing there, clutching her pink excuse slip. The bell for the next period rings. Kids are milling around in vast numbers. No Danger Mouse. Where the heck IS she? I go back to the window and go, “Uh…?” and they say, rather pointedly, “She’s on her way.” Oooookayyyyyyy…I go back to waiting.

At 10:55 (!!) I called the dentist’s office and said “OMG WUT IDK WHERE MY CHILD IS BUT WE’RE GOING TO BE LATE !!!WAILING FACE!!!” And they said, “Well, just get here as fast as you can.” Then I went back over and banged my fist on the counter until the secretary decided I was annoying and checked on her current location. And she goes, “Oh. She went on to fourth period. I’m not sure why she would do that, since they did make a general announcement in PE…”

After I got done screaming and clawing at my face, I asked what that meant, ‘general announcement.’

And yeah, this meant exactly what I thought it meant: The person on the phone who told us about how she was sitting on the benches with all her things waiting to go and that she’d go let her know I was there to get her did not then, you know, walk over to her and say, “OK, kid, grab your stuff and split.”

No. She walked over to the PA system and went, “Murfle-purfle blissabloss? Pssssst tegere wah-wah sssstic...” over the craptastic speakers in the locker room, where a herd of chatting teenage girls were making themselves ready to rejoin society.

IMPORTANT NOTE: none of these chatting girls were Danger Mouse, because she, AS THIS SAME LADY HAD SAID WHEN WE CALLED, was sitting on the benches, waiting (im)patiently for her mother to arrive. Outside. Where the PA system isn’t. Not that anyone can ever understand anything said over the PA system anyway. But it is even less understandable when the announcement is being made, you know, where you AREN’T.

OTHER IMPORTANT NOTE: Banging your head repeatedly against the brick facing of the school is not advised. It causes not only a pounding headache, but the roughness of the brick tends to break the skin more than, say, a keyboard or a desk does. #ProTip.

So the secretary called into the fourth period classroom and about two minutes later here came Danger Mouse jogging across the quad – but by this time it was a good ten minutes after her appointment was supposed to start. I was already thinking, “Ehhhh, they’re totally going to tell us we have to reschedule, but, maybe, just maybe if they have a slow morning…!”

As we’re driving over, Danger Mouse informs me that she was more than a bit puzzled that I hadn’t shown up and almost went to the office between 3rd and 4th period just on general principle, but then reasoned that she should just keep doing what she was supposed to be doing and wait for instructions, which was of course the right thing to do, so I went, “Oh. Well. That was the right thing to do. Wish you had just gone to the office, though.” Which is sending her mixed messages which is the opposite of good parenting. But I figure at this point my cover is blown anyway so I might as well send mixed messages, belch loudly and blame it on the cat, maybe teach her how to light one cigarette with the end of another to save both time and matches, oh, and, how to identify the scaredy-cat kids so you can trick them into betting their lunch money on a game of mumblety-peg because they will pretty much ALWAYS chicken out before the first cast, thus giving you extra pocket change without any real danger to life or limb from the pocketknife-tossing thing. Brilliant.

We skidded into that office at 11:15 (<= which was pretty darned amazing time, actually, the Stoplight God was definitely with us) and of course they were all, “Yeahhhhhhh, we’re gonna have to reschedule, there isn’t enough time left.”


…siiiiiiiiiigh…soooo, September 5 it is…

Thursday, August 14, 2014

While I was busy pretending I am not insane

Two days ago, late in the afternoon, there was a knock on my door. I opened it up to find a pleasant man standing on my porch with a shirt that said “Windmill Septic” on it.

Over his shoulder loomed a very large truck.

With a very large porta-potty on it.

This was, briefly, a terrific shock to me. Why in the WORLD are they renting a porta-potty?! I thought to myself.

“They” being the crew who are going to be providing a wide variety of noise, dust, destruction, bills and construction that will ultimately lead to the addition of one new bedroom and a loft area upstairs, and one new home office downstairs.

It will be fantastic.

I keep telling myself this. Because otherwise, I will go completely mental, long before we get through this.

Then I realized that I was being rather stupid. Contrary to how it feels to me most of the time, I am not, in point of fact, “always” home. Asking some poor guy to just hold that thought for who knows how long while I’m in actually in the office, or running errands, or who knows what for who knows how long is a bit much.

“You having some construction done?” he asked.

You know how sometimes, you have these moments where you desperately want to say something that you know is probably not the nicest thing you could say right then…but oooooooooh, you’re just DYING to SAY it?

I was dying.


I wanted to say, “Nope. We’re just looking to save on water, what with the drought and all. Family of six does a lot of flushing, ya know…here’s your sign…”

“Yes, yes we are,” I said instead.

Let the games begin!

“So, where do you want this?” he asked, gesturing at Tiny.

I turned and pointed to the construction site – in the backyard.

“That would probably be the most convenient for the guys, and least likely to become…ahem…a neighborhood ‘attraction’” I suggested.

“Yeahhhhhhhh, well, see, here’s the thing,” he countered, holding up his hands about three inches apart. “The hose on the service truck? Yeahhhhhh, it’s not really all that long…”

“Oh, that’s OK!” I replied, brightly. Because like HELL do I want this thing parked in FRONT of my house for THREE. MONTHS. “He can drive right on up on the lawn there, it’s dead anyway, you can see the construction crew is already driving on it…”

“Yeahhhhhhhh, well, see, here’s the other problem: He’s doing his route real early…I mean, real early…”

There was a bit more back and forth, but ultimately…

Bam. RIGHT in front. Helllloooooo, World.


This is going to be…a really fun project.

I can just tell.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Fifteen hours to find…

The last two days have gifted me with the happy knowledge that I made a really good call about, oh, eighteen years ago, when I briefly considered going into regular help desk support before going, “…nah…” and sticking with database-stuff.

Good move, Me.

Yeah, I spent the last two days (re)loading one or another program, rebooting my laptop, and watching it still not work. I have twiddled my thumbs while updates (re)ran. I have checked and unchecked boxes, then tried the same thing again, which amazingly…still didn’t work.

Not the fourth, fifth or sixth times. Well, darn.

It has been ever so much fun. Really.

Apparently, what happened was this: Windows was running an update. Meanwhile, the corporate antivirus was happily running its normal scans using a brand new set of definitions. These happened to contain the suggestion that certain Windows-based files were very bad indeed, and needed to be immediately quarantined for my protection.

Automatically, for my convenience.

What I actually saw was an antivirus screen whooshing past me saying “Cool I caught something don’t worry I got this k-thx-bye!”

I had just enough time to go, “…wut…?” before all hell broke loose. My laptop started telling me I couldn’t look at the email I was already looking at because the file was missing or I wasn’t authorized.


Then it rather curtly told me it had to restart itself to finish an update and three minutes later – with no option for me to say “hang on just one darned minute…!” – it did so.

Thus sealing its own fate. Windows was thoroughly confused. It couldn’t find anything. It viewed the bank’s own internal domains as “untrusted sites.”

It was a hot mess.

I spent, kid you not, almost nine hours altogether between the two days on the phone with the help desk (and we don’t want to discuss how many hours tinkering with it on my own); I had a few moments where I wanted to just start banging the receiver on the desk while shrieking incoherently.

I mean, I know how it is: You have a checklist of fast and easy things that fix a good 85-90% of the problems people call in to the help desk. They’re fast and easy so you want to get them out of the way first – nobody wants to spend an hour on the phone with someone, only to have it end up being that their keyboard cord had wriggled itself out of the USB port.

The old “ha ha, I guess it wasn’t actually plugged in, ha ha” gag loses its shine pretty fast.

But at the same time, when you’ve been on the phone with five different people over two days time, when the fourth and fifth ones want to start alllllllllllll the way back at Step One, well, you’re kind of wanting to scream, “WILL you please look at the notes from the last {three, four} calls?! We already TRIED that. Like, EIGHT TIMES today alone!

“I understand your frustration, ma’am, but if you would please just bear with me and try rebooting real quick…”

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!” {throws laptop out nearest window}

Eventually, it occurred to me that in addition to “corrupt user profile,” the symptoms also sounded a bit like a file – or, folder? – being locked.

About three minutes later, I was logging into all the systems just fine: Somewhere in All That, something had flipped a bunch of internal folders to read only.

I know. I’m still a bit bemused by this. I cannot fathom why anything – even a Windows update which might conceivably want to put a lock or two on specific files – would end up making an entire folder read-only.

It defies all logic.

But that’s what it was.

Welcome to Tech, y’all. This is our glamorous life. Hour upon hour of frustrating, hair-rending, teeth-gnashing misery, followed by inexplicable solutions that magically work, a few high-fives amongst ourselves and being able to feel mighty clever for a few minutes…until the next insane, improbable, should not even BE a thing thing ambles out of the woodwork and stands there grinning at you. Go ahead. Figure out what I AM, and how to make me into a pretty little butterfly instead…

Fifteen hours to find…fifteen minutes to fix. Woooooo, who DOESN’T love computers, am I right?!?!

Sunday, July 06, 2014

The Garden Report: July 6, 2014

I haven’t been doing a lot of gardening the last few weeks; mostly, I’ve just been dashing out, grabbing anything that looked ready off the vine or bush, and running back into the Den as quickly as I could.

This has mostly been due to it being nightmarishly hot the last couple weeks, especially on my precious weekends – and hot from very early in the morning, just to add insult to injury.

There was a time when I would have talked myself into doing the work anyway, on the theory that if paid gardeners can take it (which they do, all the time), well, so can I.

That time has passed.

I am older and wiser now.

Well. Older, and more experienced now. And repeated experience has taught me that overdoing things is only going to lead to sorrow. So in my continuing attempts to be smarter, dammit, I have eschewed things like attempting to garden in direct sunlight on days when the average temperature is in the three digits.

I can be taught, apparently.

But I digress.

It was still pretty darned hot this weekend too, but Sunday was finally at-least-not-triple-digits so I finally got out there to actually DO stuff.

The green beans have begun their mad production period. I’d already pulled about two pounds from the bushes last week during one of the mad-dash afternoon harvesting expeditions, so I knew what to expect when I went out there “for real” today. Which was bushes loaded down with beans.

(They’re a little hard to see – the main cluster is pretty much dead-center, and every bush has at least three clusters like this!)

We ended up with seven pounds of them. Good grief!

I told Captain Adventure he could have his turn on the Wii after we – we – had picked the green beans. So in spite of his absolute hatred of the Outside…

ugh, ugh, ugh, this is HORRIBLE, the green-growing-thing is TOUCHING me! It might have BUGS! it might have DIRT! This sunshine-stuff feels like sandpaper on my skin! I hate this! AAAAH! BUG! BUG! THERE’S A BUG!

A pair of gloves between his skin and the icky unfamiliar feeling of green-growing-things bought us a few more beans-picked…

…but then I relented and let him flee back to the relative comfort of the Den. (But no games until the job was done. That was the deal, and now it’s going to take twice as long, bud.) (Ah, the delicate balance between making him at least TRY stuff he doesn’t like and not pushing him too hard and ending up with an autism-driven meltdown on your hands) (<= those are not fun, for anybody involved).

Shortly after that, guess what showed up?

…this is the rarely-sighted Boo Bug, also not exactly the biggest lover of things involving DIRT or BUGS…

Here, the Boo Bug is seen reluctantly posing with a bean, making the ‘my mom is a lunatic’ face.

And then a wasp flew by. End of Denizen assistance. (I can’t really blame her. Unlike the gentle bumblebee who only stings as a last resort upon being backed into a corner or the scary-looking-but-actually-harmless soldier fly, wasps are like the drunken asshole bar fighters of the insect world. Oy, you! yeah, YOU, ugly! Get outta my Outside with your ugly face! Ohhh, you’re askin’ for it, mate, you’re askin’ for it, you wanna piece of me? do ya? do ya?! I’M FOR YA! {sting-sting-sting-sting-sting})

The husband and his buddy were working on the greenhouse, so of course as I’m going, ‘C’mon, honey, hold up the bean! Boo! C’mon, show me the bean you just picked! Pleeeeeeeeease, just humor me, OK?!” he’s all, “Hey, aren’t you going to take a picture of me out here working on your greenhouse?!”

Of course, he says this after I’ve hit the lock button and put the phone back in its holster. So then I’m all, “OK, hang on…don’t move…stay still…gotta unlock my phone…darn it…hang on, DON’T MOVE! It’s trying to find your face…”

And that’s why he looks like he’s caught between laughing and an angry tirade in this picture.

(Yeahhhhh, my phone is really not meant for ‘action’ shots. It does a great job with still-life stuff, but it takes approximately forever plus ten years to actually snap anything. I have a crazy number of colorful blurs from Denizen events where I’ve tried to capture them, say, walking across a stage, or talking with friends.)

I found a few aphids starting to make themselves at home in the beans, and was thinking I might need to break out the soap…but then I found that the troops were arriving to handle the problem for me.

Ah, glad you’re here, Colonel. Carry on, and I shall leave my mostly-useless-by-the-time-the-damage-is-noticeable-anyway organic insect-soap in the shed…

The zucchini bushes are not long for this world; they were actually planted in a spot that is about to become part of a construction project we’re doing. BUT, until they actually break ground, I’m going to continue enjoying a few zucchinis a week from them.

(These are Renee’s Garden ‘Raven’ zucchini. The two things I love best about them are that they don’t sprawl all over the place but instead maintain a nice, compact bush, and that they aren’t as pokey as other zucchini bushes. They can still bring me out in a rash if I disrespect them, but they don’t go out of their way to do it like some zucchini bushes seem to; but – and I’m not sure if this is the zucchini plant, or the nasty weather at work, so, grain of salt, y’all – I have noticed that they also don’t seem to produce as wildly as others I’ve grown. Which is not actually automatically a bad thing, since I’ve had years where we’ve all come to despise the very SIGHT of a zucchini due to too darned many of them syndrome)

The cucumber vines are loving the heat; ever since it started getting too hot for us human-types, they’ve been flourishing.

I love looking into the little valley between the two rows. It’s like a little secret cucumber forest or something.

These are actually pickling cucumbers; right now, the bushes are giving us one or two “full sized” cucumbers a week, but I’m seeing a lot of baby-cukes on there right now so I suspect in another couple weeks, we’ll get the main flush and be able to start making some pickles.

Dear Cucumber: Please do not let the zucchini put on airs and pretend you aren’t related. While it is true that you are genus cucumis while zucchini are cucurbita, you are both of the same Cucurbitaceae family. You both have a long and luscious history of being beloved by humans, and have been written into our songs and legends. Stand proud, my warty little friend!

The yellow beans really wish they weren’t in the middle of all this. Also they wish that I would be more consistent about weeding their bed.

Speaking of weeds, just because it was too hot for me to be out there doing stuff for the last few weeks doesn’t mean it was too hot for the weeds to come out to play. No indeed.

My new “potato squares” were 100% covered in purslane.

This is something new I’m trying: Usually I dig a deep hole, plant the potatoes, and then basically fill up the hole as they grow. These are planted at a more modest depth, in the center of stone squares. As the bushes (hopefully) grow, I’m going to add layers of additional stone around them and fill them in; what I’m hoping for most is an easier time getting at the potatoes at the end of all things, because frankly trying to dig them out is a royal pain in the neck. And back. And I end up slicing through a remarkable number of them, no matter how slowly and carefully I try to go. Argh. I’ve got Red Pontiac, Yukon Gold, and Blue Nile potatoes in the ground – here’s hoping they decide to sprout for me.

And then…there was this.

Yeahhhhhhh, I *may* have neglected this corner a BIT longer than I should have.

So I started weeding. And weeding. And weeding. And I found the new box I’d slapped together because I thought I would grow some beets in it. And I started pulling out the yet more purslane from it and guess what I found?

Some of the leggiest beets I have ever seen.

Seriously, isn’t that pathetic. Those poor things have been streeeeeetching out, trying to get even a little light. I’m not sure if they really can be saved, but I’m going to try to at least give them a chance…seems the least I can do, after planting and then ignoring them so badly all this time.

This is how far I got before I got slammed with The Tireds and said, “OK, stopping now.”

Holy smokes, this was a lot of weeds.


On the way back in, I stopped to check the tomato bushes; most of them are teasing us with plentiful but very green fruits.

But we do have at least some color, here and there.

That’s about it for last week in the garden; the list of things I want to do keeps getting longer and longer, while the list of things I actually get done seldom seems to grow at all.

Hopefully the weather will work with me a bit more soon, and I’ll be able to turn that around; until then, I’ll just be grateful for what I’ve gotten done, and enjoy having something from our own yard for dinner more often.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Pride and joy

So…over the winter, it was decided by the folks who decide such things that our county fair would be giving 2014 a miss. I can’t pretend I was actually surprised by that news. The fair has been positively bleeding money for quite a while, and the county isn’t exactly made up of nothing but filthy rich bastards who are going to walk around a fair randomly flinging hundred dollar bills at the vendors or anything.

Quite the contrary.

Fortunately, the same person who told me that the fair was going to be taking the year off was also the person who told me that the only part I cared about was still on, just, details TBD at the time.

And she was able to tell me both facts at the same time.

So there was, like, only a split second of panic in re: what about the 4-H auction?!

You know…there are some groups that fold up like a cheap collapsible chair when they hit a headwind. And others that end up racing frantically in circles screaming wildly and hitting each other with clipboards and stuff until eventually everybody goes home to put band-aids on their wounds and snark off about how if it weren’t for that other guy they totally could have triumphed over this adversity.

4-H and FFA? Are not those groups.

They just went, “Ooooookay, so, there’s no fair for our auction to be held within, soooooooo…we’ll just have ourselves an Ag-Fest. Bam. Problem solved.”

A whole lot of hard work later, they are not only putting on an agricultural festival – they are putting on one heck of one.

You know, I have to say, even though I had nothing to do with any of that apart from pledging to show up and support it…I’m so proud. It makes me almost weepy-happy to know that there are still people, still kids, out there who have the ability to just kind of…take things in stride, roll up their sleeves and put sweat equity into what they want like that.

It also shames me a bit; I bitch and moan longer and harder over minor inconveniences every year, and can be way too willing to just throw up my hands and say something is too hard, or too unfair, or too unlikely to succeed.

It’s like I’ve forgotten what it even is to have grit.

And it gives me incredible joy to be shown what it looks like by others. I can be more like these kids – and their parents and benefactors – when I grow up.

Which I totally intend to do someday. Probably.

ANYWAY. The auction is this weekend; my buyer card and information brochure arrived in the mail today. And I went, “SHRIEK!” and promptly showed it to the cats.

They were supremely disinterested.

Because they’re cats, and disinterested real or feigned is kind of how they roll most of the time.

But I am not a cat, so I’m still all excited. Day after tomorrow, I can finally put my money where my mouth is. Kinda literally, come to think of it.


Even better, Swingle Meat is back on the processor’s list (last year, they weren’t doing hogs, which was the only ‘larger’ meat I was buying…we still had an awful lot of beef left at the time, and I won’t lie, I was pretty moody about it); I can’t wait to have more of their smoked ham hocks, bacon, and frozen-in-marinade roasts on hand.

It’s going to be a delicious summer. And fall. And winter. And spring.

I can just tell.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Beans and blame

I hate my Crockpot right now.

This morning, I put about two cups of dry black beans, a can of diced tomatoes, a big old smoked ham hock, a couple whacked-up cloves of garlic, a small can of diced jalapenos, some cilantro and cumin in there, added water to cover, and turned it on with the expectation that I could, you know, ignore it until shortly before dinner time, when I’d need to add some caramelized onions from the freezer and chopped up smoked beef steak from the fridge, nudge the spices a bit in the ‘chili’ direction (but not too far, because I don’t want to lose the caramelized onion flavor, because that would be downright criminal)…and maybe make some cornbread, because I’m pretty sure there’s an actual law that says you have to have cornbread with even faux chili.

BUT NO. I can’t ignore it. Because you know what it’s doing right now?

It’s sending this smell through the whole house. This insanely rich, savory smell.

It’s wafting up the stairs. It’s drifting down the halls. It’s curling up on the front porch like a smug, overfed cat.

There are still a whole lotta hours between now and dinner-time, and it is making me continually hungry this afternoon.

And I think the beans are actually probably getting close to done already, too.

It is entirely possible that I will have dinner for afternoon tea.

And then have it again in a few hours.

And when my jeans don’t fit right tomorrow? => I will blame the Crockpot manufacturers, because, uh…well…WELL, CLEARLY, they did not make the lid tight-fitting enough on this thing.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Garden Report: May 18, 2014

A lot has been happening in the garden this year; unfortunately, most of it is the kind of work that doesn’t necessarily show.

The bane of my existence right now is this.


Doesn’t look like that big a deal, does it. This is a pile of dirt that measures about 3’ high, 5-6’ wide, and 15’ long. It’s all the dirt excavated from the greenhouse site, and it all has to go somewhere else.

Happily, there really isn’t any such thing as too much garden-bed dirt. I’ll need every last grain of sand in that pile somewhere.

Unfortunately, this is not garden-bed dirt yet. I can’t just toss shovelfuls into the wheelbarrow, race across the yard and dump them into beds.

Well, I could, I suppose – but it wouldn’t do me a whole lot of good.

It is clay with a lot of trash in it (bits of concrete and broken glass from the original construction, the green webbing from the original sod, bits of broken plastic toys from its time as ‘support for the play structure’, etc.) and absolutely zero nutrients left.

So before I can dump it into a bed and start growing things, I need to tinker with it; sift out the trash, mix in things like finished compost, peat moss and vermiculite to lighten it up a bit and add back some nutrients.

It’s a lot of hard, sweaty, really dirty work. The kind of work that when you come in after a few hours of doing it and get into the shower? The water running off you is murky.

And it is slow-going. I feel like I’ve been doing battle with that damned pile for months, and it only just started to look like I’ve made any progress.

But that aside…what else is new? Well, we started a small orange grove in the front.

These are three different kinds of dwarf orange trees, each of which is supposed to fruit up at a different time of year – hopefully, once they get comfortable, we’ll have some kind of orange to enjoy for all but a few months each year. The one in the middle is trying to set some fruit, but I’ll be very surprised if anything actually comes of it – they’re still babies.

The horseradish has done its usual oh, is it spring? I’M HERE!

Of the five currants I planted, only one is still thriving at all.

The rhubarb made me so happy; I was 100% certain that it was completely dead. And then it was all, Nope, I’m still here.

This whole area needs a makeover right now; it’s a tremendous mess, but, it also suffered the worst impact from the damned gophers this year.

I started to pull out the poppies, but they were too pretty. Plus there was chamomile in there. And if the one wasn’t pretty enough, the two of them together are kind of swoon-worthy. So I left them alone. 

We’ve gotten a few artichokes this year, but I have to say: The plants are not doing too hot, overall. They aren’t getting particularly good growth; I think the “old” plants died over this last winter, so we’re only getting growth on their newest babies. Circle of life and all that. 

Meanwhile, we have been discovered by the rabbits: I looked out the kitchen window one evening to see one happily perched on the edge of the bed, daintily nibbling on the celery I’d just transplanted.

Your move, Wabbit…

(The white stuff is coyote pee. So not only is the celery caged up, it is surrounded by Eau d’Predator.)

Likewise, the squirrels have discovered the Shangri La that are our trees. The stone fruit tree was trying to create some fruit for us.

But the squirrels had a marvelous time picking each and every one of them, taking one bite out of it, and going, “BLECH! NASTY UNRIPE FRUIT! Hmm. Maybe this one will be tasty-good…BLECH!” <= lather, rinse, repeat.

Dumb animals.

I’ve got some cucumbers starting to catch their stride.

I had to replant and cage a bunch of these as well, since the disgruntled rabbits didn’t waste much time moving over to this bed; while they’re still small, those little green baskets like strawberries come in work really well for it.

I made a new, small-ish bed-of-sorts and dropped some zucchini into it; as always with that plant, they are plotting world domination. I’m pretty sure we’ll have a good 5-6 decent-sized zucchinis to enjoy this week. This is a thing with zucchini, they go from “hmm, I think that’s going to be a squash eventually” to “holy mother of gahd, that thing is enormous!” seemingly overnight.

These guys actually came out today – dropped a couple wheelbarrows of fresh soil in there and planted kidney beans with a red onion border to help keep the pests down a bit. (That works pretty darned well, by the way – once those onions start sprouting, they do a really good job deterring creepy-crawlies.)

There’s a lot more back there – spinach, broccoli, golden beets, green beans, cantaloupe, carrots, yellow and candy onions, strawberries, and about eight different kinds of heirloom tomatoes.

It’s going to be a busy year; and hopefully a productive one as well. The last couple seasons have really sucked, mostly because I just didn’t put the time and energy into it that I needed to if I wanted anything to come of it.

But this year feels different. This year feels like it is moving again, like all the things that were just sitting there waiting for something, something I couldn’t seem to find…found their motivation.

Maybe it’s this: A bunch of scrap metal lying all over the yard suddenly starting to transform into a greenhouse.

It’s going to be something else, isn’t it?!