Irony X 3

Filed under: @ 9:05 am

I was at the dentist last week. After I left her torture chamber I stopped at the Yak in My Socks to get something vaguely edible before I went to work.
At the drive through in front of me was a car with a bumper sticker that read: “Know your farmer, know your food!”
Which made me smile for the rest of the day.

And two days later I was picking up some snake snacks at our local pet store.
Y’all may not be familiar with Bully Sticks. Bully Sticks are…… Well they’re penis jerky. Dried, desicated steer penis in attractive (?) flavors and formations for your dog to chew.
So I’m at the pet store getting mice and kitty litter when I see the display of (I swear I’m not making this up) organic, grass fed, free range Bully Sticks. They even had the USDA organic certification on the label.
I don’t have a dog so maybe I’m missing something, but if you’re giving your dog a penis to chew, what difference does it make if it’s organic?

And the third I found just yesterday. Driving along in “downtown” Kailua, I noticed that in the parking lot for the McDonalds there are two spots designated “for drive through customers only!”
Which also made me smile.


To the best story goes the best care?

Filed under: @ 9:08 pm

Matt, having extensive experience in emergency medicine, probably knows the answer to this, but he probably can’t tell me. When you enter the realms of emergency medicine they probably make you take an oath not to reveal Certain Workings of the average ER on pain of being transferred to the maternity ward or something.

So since the genesis of this story begins with Chuck’s heart murmur, y’all will have to excuse me while I lay down some background.

Chuck, who will be 26 next spring, has never, EVER been an easy feeder.
About two years ago Chuck started in on one of his prolonged fasting periods. We’re familiar with them and they’re not unusual for male Ball Pythons so for a while we just ignored it. When the fasting had gone on for what we deemed long enough we started to assist feed (basically dip a dead mouse in olive oil and shove it down the snake’s throat…. isn’t veterinary medicine glamorous?).
Chuck, usually a fairly placid and phlegmatic snake, resolutely refused to be assist fed. We’d get the mouse partway down his gullet when *YACK* back it’d come.
So I took Chuck to my buddies at The Bird and Exotic Clinic of Seattle. In short order Tracy diagnosed a heart murmur, Dan ran his ultrasound over Chuck’s chest, we all agreed that Chuck’s heart looked a little enlarged and I arranged with a cardiologist friend of mine to do a cardiac ultrasound. For what it’s worth, if you want to make a veterinary cardiologist happy, ask him to do an ultrasound on a species that he’s never examined before. Toby was enchanted to be asked to do an echocardiogram on a snake.
So Chuck has been on heart meds ever since. Sometimes the medication works and he eats, sometimes it doesn’t and he won’t. When Chuck won’t eat voluntarily we tube feed him. We both realize that this is a failing proposition and Chuck’s end will come sooner rather than later, but for right now, tube feeding it is.

Chuck has refused to eat now since mid-June and we’ve been tube feeding him a revolting slurry of warm pureed canned cat food mixed with this horrendous powdered stuff called Carnivore Care. Tube feeding what basically amounts to a tube is really pretty easy. You make up your horrid slurry, fill a 60cc catheter tip syringe with it, attach an 18 gauge red rubber feeding tube, shove the feeding tube down the snake tube then fill the snake with the slurry. Easy peasy. Except when it isn’t.

Something went wrong with our feeding efforts today. The canned cat food we’ve been feeding the cats (and thus the snake) recently is (ergh) a little chunky. I thought I’d mashed up all the chunks, but one apparently got through and was craftily big enough to fit into the syringe, but not big enough to fit all the way down the feeding tube.
So we’re about 15cc into feeding when SPLORTCH!
The feeding tube disconnected from the syringe and the pressure I’d been applying to the syringe resulted in me firing pureed cat food and Carnivore Care *everywhere*. All over Andrew (he was holding the snake), all over the stove, the ceiling, the cupboards. The syringe wasn’t completely empty and Chuck hadn’t had near as much slurry as he needed, so we rolled our eyes, said a few Special Words, and re-attached the syringe to the feeding tube to finish the job.
Okay, NOW we’re done.

Andrew went to put the snake back in his tank and mop himself off (he was _drenched_), I went to grab rags and buckets and was presently standing on a chair in the kitchen mopping the sludge off the ceiling.
Andrew came in, sans pureed cat food, with the mop. Much frenetic cleaning.
Andrew had to move my chair to mop so I got down and was wiping down cupboards when I noticed more glop on the ceiling. I asked Andrew to shove the chair back to me so I could finish up.
“Okay, but be careful, the floor is slippery!”
So standing on a chair on a wet kitchen floor with soapsuds running down my arm and pureed cat food glop dripping from the ceiling I suddenly started to laugh.
Andrew asked me why I was laughing.
“Understand that I don’t *want* this to happen, but…. what do you suppose the reaction would be in the ER if I did fall off this chair and crack my head and when they asked me what had happened I said ‘Well, I was cleaning up the ceiling in the kitchen after I’d sprayed pureed cat food all over while trying to tube feed my snake…’ I mean, especially if you brought me in covered in pureed cat food and me with glop in my hair and (ecch!) in my EAR….”

Which got us both to wondering.
Sure if you’re in a car accident and break your arm you’re going to get care at the ER. They’ll be efficient and so on, but you know the attitude would be something along the lines of: “meh! It’s just a car accident. It’s just a broken arm.”
And the guy that comes in after having been “baking an apple pie in the nude and I slipped and fell on the apple but my hands were covered with butter and the apple was slippery and….” is going to get a LOT of attention from the ER nurses, the on call proctologist, and any random intern that happens to walk past. But probably, people being people, the ER staff is probably going to make you wait if for no other reason than they’d have to stop laughing before they could attend you. And probably at least _some_ of the wait would be what we tend to call a “stupid tax”.
But what happens with the person who has injured themselves in some spectacularly weird, and yet verifiable, way that isn’t a result of stupidity?

And I really _didn’t_ want to fall off that chair and crack my head on the soapy floor, but I’d probably have gotten a _lot_ of attention if I had.


Just a Passing Thought

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:44 am

There has been a lot of chatter lately about the Authorization for Use of Military Force. I have little to say on the matter, save this: I don’t feel comfortable with any governmental doctrine whose acronym sounds like a monster swallowing the world in one bite.




Filed under: @ 11:29 am

One one of the roads I take on my way home from work (Yes, I drive a different route to and from work. Don’t ask why, it’ll just make you crazy.) there are rumble strips across both lanes.

I am not sure why there are rumble strips, possibly to make people more aware of their surroundings – it’s a residential street but a busy arterial – but there it is, the rumble strips are there.

Every day on my way home from work I try to aim my tires so that they go in between the rows of raised bumps. Again, I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the challenge, maybe it’s an innate need to not have any more noise than is absolutely necessary at the time, who knows?

I’ve driven this route almost exclusively for the last 8 years. And every single time I try to miss the bumps. However it’s only been in the last several months that I’ve noticed that other cars mostly do the same thing. Probably 90% of the cars I see driving in front of me adjust their tangent a little bit so they miss the bumps (or not). I have never seen anyone purposely shift so as to hit the bumps.

And on my way home the other day I got to wondering. Both why *I* do it and why everyone else does. I’m sure there’s some explanation for it….. or at least someone who could come up with a plan for a scientific study to look at the phenomenon (if anyone was interested) and I find the idea of studying it rather fascinating.
Then I remembered that I don’t like most people very much and decided that maybe sociology won’t be my next career.

(For the record I manage to not hit the bumps about 80% of the time.)


What WERE everyone’s parents doing in January?

Filed under: @ 6:38 pm

Happy Birthday (October 2nd)
Happy Birthday (October 4th)
Happy Birthday (October 7th)
Happy Birthday (October 9th)
Happy Birthday (October 10th)
Happy Birthday (October 14th)
Happy Anniversary (October 17th)
Happy Birthday (October 20th).

And, considering that Sheri & Steve’s new nubbin was _supposed_ to be born around the first part of October, but came 6 weeks early anyway… Happy belated early birthday nubbin!


Transmissible Dyslexia

Filed under: @ 6:37 pm

I don’t know how it came to be blamed on my brother, Andrew might remember but he’s asleep right now, but for years now Andrew and I have passed back and forth the idea of a transmissible dyslexia that we both managed to catch from Matt.

You know the symptoms. Everyone has it once in a while.
With us it probably started when we were going to some friends’ house in Renton. We were headed north on Rainer Avenue North just past the Renton airport. We stopped at an intersection, took a left, and about two blocks later I said “Did that church…. Was it really ‘Christ Church of Celery’?”
Of course it wasn’t. The sign, when more closely examined, read ‘Christ Church of Calvary’. But you know where I’m headed.

Over the years we’ve had some good ones. Andrew caught a dentist’s street sign in Bellevue as reading “Bad Mojo Dentistry” (Bel-Main Dentistry).

And just recently I had two notable ones which, in fact, prompted the post.

I was at Panera Breads in Factoria Mall blowing a gift card that I was given as a birthday gift. Andrew was waiting for our sandwiches at Goldberg’s Deli and since I am _never_ at a mall, where most of the Panera stores seem to congregate, I figured it was a good time to use the gift card.
So I was standing in Panera waiting for my croissants and scones when the menu board behind the register caught my eye. Then I had to stop and re-read the end of the kids’ menu because at the bottom of same I was certain I had seen “Neutered noodle ribbons” on offer. It wasn’t neutered noodles of course, but I do have to wonder at my basic psychic space to have had _that_ pop into my head at random.

And the second is a private school, or perhaps a charter school, that is on my way to work. Being somewhat interested in alternative schools I looked at the website for this particular school at one point and I found that it’s a very popular and rather successful school for kids who are on the autism spectrum. They have a reader board out front that I drive past every single day. And for the last few weeks the board has read “Alchemy Parents’ Meeting”.
Or, at least, that’s what my brain tells me the sign reads.
I know the school has an archery club. Alchemy? Not so sure.


The Genes Run Strong

Filed under: @ 5:55 pm

I think I am genetically programmed to grow things.

My mother often speaks of one of her uncles, Corley I think it was, that lived with her and her mother for a while when she was little. Apparently Corley was quite a gardener. We must be related.

Andrew and my dad did all of the vetting on the houses that were on our short list when we were house hunting. I was in a ginormous awful work schedule at the time and only got to see this place about two days before we signed the papers on it. Knowing, of course, that the Official Inspector and my father had both given their blessing on the place I was predisposed to like it. However the garden sold it for me.

I am by no means done with my fall harvest. But I have five gallons of grape juice in the freezer and another two gallon bag of frozen whole grapes. I have three two gallon bags of loganberries yet to process. Yesterday I made two and a half gallons of ginger rhubarb preserves and I’ve got another gallon bag of rhubarb in the freezer. We have onions, and what must be near to 100 pounds of potatoes. Squash and pumpkins are going strong. Beets, carrots, and radishes are still cooking. Oh, and broccoli! I tried my hand at a fall crop of broccoli. And if I can keep the bunnies from nomming my poor little plants down to nubbins I might just be able to harvest some this fall. I’ve got two patches of lettuce and a planter full of cucumbers. I’ve dried herbs and made pesto and pickles and tomato sauce… although I’d really love to know what keeps happening to the beans I keep setting to pickle. They’ve all grown some exotic form of mold and seeing that I’m fancifully paranoid about botulism I don’t intend to try again. I may have to get over my irrational fear of pressure cookers since there’s no practical way I can set up to flash freeze my excess beans. What’s more fearful…..Hmmmm…. botulism or an exploding pressure cooker? Po-TAY-to po-TAH-to…..

If I had the time I’d rip out the rest of the back yard and turn it all into garden space. I’d love to be able to provide, not just supplement, our vegetables throughout the winter.

But however much I manage to do, it sure makes me happy!


Dear Crabby Old Lady

Filed under: @ 5:18 pm

I really enjoyed getting the absolutely wigged out look that I got from you when I walked past you on the sidewalk this afternoon with a plastic peanut butter jar full of mice. I had purchased them to feed to my snakes if you must know, but since you didn’t ask I really am enjoying the thought of you trying to figure out what I was doing with a jar full of mice.

All that being said, however, I wish to point out something to you.

The restaurant you were looking forward to eating at? Their lights were off, their doors were locked. It’s a national holiday and they’re probably taking the day off.
Standing there and rattling the doors isn’t going to change reality. Did you really think that there were employees and patrons skulking there in the dark and all you needed to do was to make them aware that you were there and that they’d then let you in?

I’m enjoying fucking with your world view


What a Headache!

Filed under: @ 9:13 am

The first migraine I can remember having would have been in my room in A dorm in late 1989 or early 1990. I don’t remember whether I didn’t have class that day or whether I was skipping class because I had a headache. I remember that I’d taken 800mg of ibuprofen that hadn’t helped and I had to climb out of my athletically arranged bed (yes, athletic, not aesthetic. The room was small, the bed was balanced on desk and dresser, and the ceiling was about a foot above my head) to POUND on my roommate’s door to tell him that the country music he was blasting was going to kill me. I also remember looking at the window and thinking that a quick trip down from 10 stories up couldn’t hurt worse than my head did already.

I must have had a migraine or two when I was in vet school, but I don’t remember any. It’s just that the non-medical parts of those four years are such a (merciful) blur that none really stand out. Except one, the migraine that I got after having eaten at a friend’s house. Dinner was good. Dessert was diet Jello made with diet 7-Up. I’m usually a fan of Jello, but within 10 minutes my lips were numb and five minutes later I had little hobnailed demons trying to pound railroad spikes through my right temple. THAT was when I learned that I’m sensitive to artificial sweeteners. To this day I am extremely careful about reading packages of sweetened products even though that damned global warming has made the print on the packages so small that it’s almost impossible to read (but that’s another story).

Then I graduated, we moved to Olympia, and I started working for Dr. Neanderthal Mouthbreather.
For those not familiar with migraines…. they’re exacerbated by stress. The whole three years – God, three and a half – that I worked in that place my adrenal glands were in such overdrive that I’m surprised I can get surprised anymore. And while it took me a good long time to recognize the pattern, in my defense I was so distracted on an every day basis that I’m surprised I managed to tie my shoes correctly. That was a real slum of a job!
In those three years I did start to suss out a pattern though.
Shrieking, blinding headache once a month? Hormones, check!
Shrieking, blinding headache after sharp or moldy cheeses? Mold spores, check!
Shrieking, blinding headache with red wine? Tannins, check!
With the interwebs and an increased ability to do basic research without leaving my home, as well as the ability to talk with a large number of colleagues across the country, I’ve discovered that I am a classic migraine sufferer. We are overwhelmingly female, pre- or peri-menopausal, and tannins, molds, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, dark chocolate, soy, and glutens are by far the most common triggers. Thanks be to Zarquon that neither dark chocolate nor glutens are on my list!
Damn it took a good long time to find a decent solution though.
There was one day at work that I’ll never forget. Dr. N-M was out of the office so I was on tap for the whole day. Except I couldn’t get rid of that beastly motherfucking headache! I took ibuprofen. No good. I took ketoprofen. No good. I took naproxen, I took aspirin. Then I started throwing up. So I was sitting in Dr. N-M’s dank, dusty office filled with crap to the ceiling (hello mold spores?), the lights off and my head resting on the cold metal of the filing cabinet and the receptionist coming back and telling me when I had clients coming in. It took me more than three hours to decide to give up. And I still caught hell for leaving early from Dr. and Mrs. N-M the next day. I wish them both much happiness! :evil:
Over a period of months and a couple trips to the ER I finally managed to clue in on what was happening so I could talk to my GP. GP gave me a script for an oral version of the injectable NSAID I’d been getting. The injectable really helped with the headache so she figured the oral would be right up my alley. And the oral form did work, it’s just that when you’re taking Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs you really need to do so with some food on your stomach. Because otherwise you might just puke. Oof!
Having to try and eat something when hobnailed demons are pounding red hot railroad spikes through your right temple is a challenge. Eat too fast or too much and you puke. Don’t eat enough and you puke. In both cases you lose the medication you’re trying to keep down that will drive out the demons so you can stop puking. It was a delicate balance and I went through a LOT of soda crackers and Coke.
Coke. Lordy! Blessed, blessed Coca-Cola! I don’t drink a lot of caffeine. And the reason I try to stay away from caffeine is that I’m NOT one of those folks whose migraine triggers include caffeine. In my case the caffeine helps change my blood pressure and helps either constrict or dilate (I can’t remember) the cerebral blood vessels that are in a snit when I do run across one of my triggers. I like to keep my body pure (snort!) so that the minimal amount of caffeine that is in Coke helps the best it can. Also Coke syrup is an mild anti-nausea agent and at least if you puke after you drink a Coke it tastes the same coming up as it does going down (I’m sure very few of you really needed to know that).

There are a number of different options for migraine medications though. And when I switched MDs after we moved up here and discussed the problem with my current MD she gave me a bunch of samples to see if any of them would work for me and yet keep me from having to try and eat while I was migraine-ing. Unfortunately none of them really worked until the miracle of rizatriptan came around. Rizatriptan is an ergotamine vasoconstrictor that is easily absorbed through the oral mucous membranes. It’s fast, for me it’s effective, and, weirdly, both the brand name and the generic contain two of my migraine triggers. Ergot is a type of fungus that usually grows on corn. And the tablets are sweetened with aspartame. Why it works for me I do not know. It plays hell with my blood pressure, makes me groggy and maladroit for 24 hours or so (back to loving Coke and its delicious delivery of caffeine), and tastes like the bottom of a peppermint toothpaste vat, but I can take one and if I have to I can be functional again in 10 minutes. (Note that it’s best if I don’t have to be functional in 10 minutes, but it’s possible if it’s absolutely necessary).

So why am I telling you all of this?
I had to leave work early, like 9 hours of my 10 hour shift early, yesterday because I had a migraine. You’d think that after 25 years I’d be canny enough to catch it before it gets bad, but there it is. I woke yesterday morning with a headache. That’s a fairly common occurrence, but usually once I’m up and moving the headaches go away. Yesterday it didn’t really go away. I went for a walk, I had a headache. I ate breakfast, I had a headache, I showered, I had a headache.
Now a rational person would think “Ah! Migraine! Take your damn medication, chug your Coke and get on with your life.”
But apparently I’m not rational. Or at least not when I have hobnailed demons and their 10 pound hammers in the offing.
I got dressed, I got in the car, I went to work.
At which point the fluorescent lights, the ambient noise and temperature, and the strong smells started to work their magic and within an hour I was seeing blue spots out of my right eye and I was so dizzy I could hardly stand.
So I had to leave my boss with my full schedule and her full schedule and come home to lie down in a dark room and put an ice bag on my head. When the demons get that frisky a migraine pill and a Coke just won’t suffice. I slept for the rest of the morning and a good portion of the afternoon. Which is why I got up at 0600 this morning and started working on my computer (sigh!).
I do not understand why I can be so bloody stupid about my stupid head sometimes. There is some theory that migraines are a form of partial seizure disorder. I wonder if I had the stereotypical tonic-clonic seizure activity if I’d still feel guilty about getting ill and having to leave work occasionally?
To be honest I’d prefer the tonic-clonic seizures!


Our Second Glowing Review of Bath Fitter

Filed under: @ 9:47 am

For a while if you Googled “Bath Fitter Kent Wa.” our previous glowing review of Bath Fitter was the first hit past the sponsored links. I just did a quick search and found that we were actually on the second page of the search results, but that’s okay. We need to update it anyway.

In 2008 when we were doing a major series of remodels both inside and outside of the house we decided to re-do our hideously outfitted and decorated upstairs bathroom. With regards to the bath/shower enclosure we decided to yank the whole thing out and put in a tub length shower stall. We don’t have children and since neither of us is particularly comfortable in a standard bathtub…. Well why not?
Y’all may recall the whole, sweaty process of remodeling. We’re really glad the remodeling is over and we’ve been consistently happy with the results.

And we LOVE our enormous walk-in shower. Double sliding glass doors, towel bars on the inside and the outside of the shower stall, lots of space to flail around and wash waist length hair. Very satisfactory all the way around.

Until around the 11th of July.
Andrew and I were sitting in the living room watching TV after dinner. All of a sudden in the quiet of the evening there was this most peculiar noise. For all the world it sounded like someone with a 30 gallon metal garbage can full of glass marbles pouring said marbles on a tile floor. And over it all the sound of trickling water. The cats disappeared, Andrew looked at me and I looked at him then as one we got up to investigate. Andrew went one way and I went the other. Andrew found nothing in the kitchen or dining room, I was walking down the hallway when I found glass on the floor. The water trickling sound was louder.

Hm. That ain’t right.

Opened the bathroom door and ka-BLOOEY!

For some entirely inexplicable reason one of the doors on the shower stall had broken. Like, broken into a million, zillion pieces and fallen mostly into the shower stall. The marble pouring noise was the safety glass breaking. The water trickling noise was the remaining largish pieces of safety glass cracking. It was a glorious mess. Scratch that. It was a hellacious mess and, of course, the cats decided that they had to be fascinated instead of frightened and wanted to come in and help investigate.
So long story short, we got it cleaned up (thank you to whomever invented the Shop-Vac) and called Bath Fitter the next morning.

Now the only complaint I have about the whole process is that it took two weeks for Bath Fitter to get the repair done. That having been said, however, it wasn’t Bath Fitter’s fault that it took two weeks. The doors and hanging hardware are custom made for each enclosure so Bath Fitter was working on a schedule that wasn’t theirs. It took two weeks to get the repair done because it took two weeks to get the doors and the hardware custom made.

On Thursday the Bath Fitter dude came out, replaced the doors, repaired the grout in a couple of places and *poof* we’ve got our upstairs shower back again.
And it cost…. Nothing.
The doors, the hardware, even the grout and the labor were covered under the lifetime warranty.

So say what you like about your experience with Bath Fitter in Kent. Our experience is that they are responsive and responsible and a class act all the way around!


This is awesome!

Filed under: @ 4:18 pm

One of my more pervert online veterinary buddies posted this and I couldn’t stand not to share it!


Laugh of the day!

Filed under: @ 6:36 pm

Wait! Wait!! Hkscxklfffttttt! (snort snort snort)

Do you really mean to tell me….. Snckxlffffftttttttt!

Okay, okay. I’m better now.

You’re feeding your dog a home cooked diet whose ingredients are (you pointed this out) certified organic. You’re feeding your dog an assload of unnecessary vitamins and supplements all carefully researched (on the web) to be pure, and natural, and beneficial and all that good shit. You’re giving your dog BOTTLED WATER so she’s not exposed to the chemicals and pathogens that are present in municipal tap water. Your dog has her own room and her own memory foam bed.

And then ksklkfxxttttt! (SNORT)(pant, pant, pant)… And then you tell me that your dog’s treats consist of turkey hot dogs and pepperoni.
Possibly two of the most chemical and pathogen laden, inorganic, lips and asshole based meat products available on the market.


Whew (wiping brow). Thanks, I needed that.

Youth is wasted on the young and irony is truly wasted on the oblivious.


A month later….

Filed under: @ 11:34 am

I think we’ve a record here. Andrew and I were in Hawaii for a little over a week and I didn’t post any gorgeous photos, complaints about jet lag or other obnoxious-isms designed to make people jealous.

The last month, hell, the entire spring has been hectic. And after our July 4th blowout I’m sincerely hoping to turn into a hermit for a couple of weeks. Now if I could only get someone to pay me for being a hermit…..

Okay, so where were we? Oh yeah. May 7th.

I started getting a sore throat around the 20th of April. By May 7th I was sincerely concerned because I hadn’t been able to hear from my right ear for most of a week, I was barking up a lung every time I coughed and I coughed if you looked at me sideways. AND I had to get on an airplane in 2 weeks to fly ukuthousand miles across an ocean for a memorial service. Oy!
So I went to my doctor and I told her that both ears hurt, my face felt like a truck was resting on it, and I was coughing myself stupid. “Oh. And I have to get on an airplane in 2 weeks to fly ukuthousand miles across an ocean for a memorial service.”

I have a lot of respect for my MD. She’s got a sense of humor and I really appreciate that.

First and foremost she walked into the exam room wearing a surgical mask so I wouldn’t infect her with anything. And when I told her that I had to get on an airplane in two weeks she gave me the hairy eyeball and said “Not with THOSE ears you aren’t!”
I like her.

So, with a diagnosis of bronchitis, a sinus infection, and two infected ears I left my MD’s office with antibiotics, prednisone, and an albuterol inhaler all of which succeeded in making me feel human well before airplane day. Thank GOD!

This visit to Hawaii was, well DUH!, far different than any we’ve ever had. All of us, and I do mean ALL. OF. US., were sad, we were all joyous, overwhelmed, hectic, distracted and distractible, lunatic, manic, and HOT. For Andrew and I there were four major events. The memorial garage sale blowout and Caitlin’s high school graduation on the 24th, our 18th wedding anniversary on the 25th, and Joan’s memorial on the 26th. Add 11teen thousand relatives, friends, well wishers, and hangers-on to all the planning for same and it was a zoo.
A chaotic, heart wrenching, stressful, joyful, happy, sweaty zoo.

Allow me to set the stage.
Andrew and I along with Uncle Jeff (Joan’s brother) and Sara and Danny were staying at a rental house about 10 minutes’ drive from the Lenzarium.
Tony, Libby, Caitlin, and Lucy live at the Lenzarium.
Meg, David and Dawn, and the eldest niece Julia were all staying at the Lenzarium.
So that’s what? 13 people spread between two houses and sharing three cars.

There are flashes and scents, but no real coherent (coherent? Gimme a fuckin’ BREAK!) cohesive memory of the whole thing.
Twelve or 13 people taking a tour of most of the garage sales on the windward side on Saturday morning. Does the term “clown car” mean anything to you? It must have been something to see, all of us pouring out of cars and descending upon the multitude. The memorial rule was that everyone had to purchase at least one thing. Not, thank God, one thing at every sale, but over the course of the morning you had to purchase something.
And everyone did. Even Andrew (coasters), David (can’t remember), Tony (a USB powered fan), and Jeff (for some reason a Duck Dynasty Chia head).
I think Meg won with the most peculiar. Meg, who is starting an online vintage clothing store, purchased a *PURPLE* suit complete with two silk neckties.
Purple Suit Meg
The suit isn’t for the clothing store, the suit’s actual purchase is a longer story than I can explain right now, but… Well, you can see. And Meg was thrilled with it.

Another flash. Meg and I looking in awe around the living room just trying to encompass the sheer scale of the sorting, cataloging, and categorizing that has happened and will need to continue to happen for the next, God, decade? Joan was a hoarder there are no two ways about it. And as her subtle dementia started to get less subtle she started to hide things, secrete things, and there are, God help us, an AWFUL lot of places to secrete things in that house. And when Joan was alive we none of us thought to open things up and snoop around. Joan knew where things were (kinda) and it would be rude to do things like open the drawers in the chest in the living room.
And so that day, I think it was the 23rd, Meg and I did. Epic snooping.
A basket full of batik and Aloha print clothing that might once upon a time have fit a Lenzer thigh, but probably never a Lenzer waist. Besides the fact that they were all circa about 1972. Meg got some real gems for her vintage clothing store out of that basket.
And the chest of drawers was obviously full of things that Joan had selected as presents for people. For whom is unclear, how long they’d been there was unclear (we threw away gift wrapped, but unopened, packages of Hawaiian chocolate, macadamia nuts, and teas), but gifts they must have been. A cobalt glass vase (obviously mine). Multiple children’s books. Bound empty journals with Hawaiian themed covers, travel journals, photo albums, these (by the way, no one in the family plays golf). Random, sometimes odd, but obviously purchased with care. And how to describe this collection as a whole with anything besides using my beloved father in law’s term…”CRAP!”?
Not that it wasn’t valued, not that it didn’t, in some way, have a purpose, but there is no other way to describe it. And sweet Jesus, there’s an awful lot of crap in that house!

Caitlin’s graduation.
Caitlin head shot
Oh my God she’s grown up gorgeous!
Outdoors. It rained. It rained a LOT.
Graduates in Hawaii have traditionally been feted with leis. Okay. That I can understand.
The congratulatory banners I can understand.
Caitlin banner
And, for the record, thanks to our resident graphics artist, Caitlin’s banner was *the best* one in the entire stadium.
However I do not understand the recent trend in bedecking graduates in inflatable pool toys.

Morimoto Waikiki. Big time yumming. It rained of course.

And the prep for the memorial.
Andrew, David, and various others transferring Joan’s ashes into the urns that Andrew and I had brought while Dawn and I, a little squicked out, hid out in the living room and fiddled with our technology together.

Looking for an electrical outlet into which the projector with the memorial slide show could be plugged and finding, no shit, a Tupperware container full of recorders stacked on Joan’s desk. Yeah, recorders. About 15 of them. No one in the family plays recorder. No one has _ever_ played recorder.

Walking to the farmer’s market up the road with Sara and Danny. Decorative flowers and gardenias for the house. The smell was out of this world!

Jeff, and John (the husband of one of the semi-sisters), and I getting ourselves banished to the lanai for talking grody medicine.

And driving to the Lenzarium on the morning of the 26th to be met with a lovely pendant and poem that David and Dawn had arranged. We all got one and we were all wearing them pretty much all day. Andrew’s is currently on the cork board in our dining room. Mine, which I do intend to wear as a semi-regular thing, is currently being hidden from my cat in one of the jewelry chests on my dresser.

Dressing, and then sitting drinking beer and soaking hot feet in the pool with Meg.

The lovely, LOVELY arrangements we all made in the living room and dining room. Each adding our touch, our bit, our sense of organization.
memorial shrine

memorial shrine 2

memorial shrine 3

(please ignore the cigarettes in the left foreground. DAVID!!)

memorial shrine 4

Tearful, joyful rememberances. And then, because we’re Lenzers, we ATE.

It was lovely.
And it was healing. It was a time for us all to get together and remember that the last two years or so have been painful and horrible, but that we were celebrating in joy and having a chance to create new memories that didn’t include the pain and the tears.
I hope Joan would have approved.

Anyway, I didn’t set out for this to be a breakdown of Joan’s memorial service, but that’s kind of what it turned out to be. One of my favorite authors, Gerald Durrell, said in the prologue to his book “My Family and Other Animals”: “….I made a grave mistake by introducing my family into the book in the first few pages. Having got themselves on paper, they then proceeded to establish themselves and invite various friends to share the chapters.”
With the Lenzers it’s kinda like that.

I’ll get back to posts about cats and gardens and idiots at some point soon.


For Laura and Valerie…..

Filed under: @ 8:42 pm

June 10th, 2014: Book

August 9th, 2014: Series

August 9th is a Saturday. My place with beer? Or, I suppose, it’d better be Scotch. More authentic donchaknow! And the dude playing the lead is _SMOKIN’_ hot!

For all those who don’t understand this post….. Well, maybe it’s better if you don’t. At least if you’re male! :D Andrew is threatening to hole up in his man cave and hide, but I think at least the premiere needs to be a shared experience.


Happy Birthday!

Filed under: @ 9:38 am

In addition to May 7 being the day I got my graduate degree, May 7 is also *fanfare* kitty birthdays!

Happy birthday kitty nubbins!

baby kitty nubbins

grown up kitty nubbins

It Changed My Life

Filed under: @ 8:54 am

“March 15, 1990

Dear Ms. Hammond:

We are pleased to advise you that you have been selected for a position in the 1990 entering class of the Washington/Oregon/Idaho Program in Veterinary Medical Education. You should take great pride in this significant achievement since many more applications are received than can possibly be accommodated in the entering class.”
They meant it too. The year I applied there were more than 400 applications. There were 120 people interviewed and 60 were accepted.

The letter was signed by the dean of the veterinary school and by the dean of student affairs.

I had applied to the veterinary medical program at WSU in the fall of 1989. My application process had a dark cloud over it from the very beginning.

My application was late. I didn’t receive the application packet until the day before it was due. I had received an extension, but it looks bad, y’know? Needing an extension on the initial application to graduate school.

And because I applied late I didn’t know that I needed to register for the October GRE. Because it was freakin’ October before I learned that I needed to take the October GRE it was, of course, too late for me to register for the preferred test date. I had to take the GRE in December so WSU wouldn’t have my GRE scores before mid-November as they required. Strike two! An application extension is one thing, making them wait for test scores on top of that? I’m screwed!

I didn’t have a GPA so I had to take the Veterinary College Admissions Test. The admissions committee needed another number with which to evaluate me. And, of course, I wasn’t in time to preregister for the VCAT so I had to register at the door which meant that my test scores (you guessed it!) would be delayed by two weeks. Oh I’m screwed! I’m screwed screwed screwed screwed SKROOD!

Then January came and I got a call from Barb Robbins at the Student Affairs office. My faculty evaluation for fall quarter had been due at WSU by the 5th of January. Where was it? A side note: Never trust a brilliant nebbish to do ANYthing on a timetable unless you stand over him with a stick. During my senior year at Evergreen I had an individual contract that got me credit towards graduation for picking up a couple of classes I needed — physics and genetics — and for doing volunteer work at a wildlife rehabilitation center. My faculty advisor, a brilliant molecular biologist by trade and ornithologist by avocation, was one of the most absent minded little nebbishes I’ve ever had the misfortune to depend upon. I put a BIG note in BIG LETTERS OF FIRE on my advisor’s bulletin board, I put a note on his door, I reminded him at every bloody opportunity I had that my fall quarter evaluation HAD to be in Pullman by January 5th. When I got the call from Barb ON January 5th, I went racing to my advisor’s office. The notes were still there, but he vaguely said “Oh, was that supposed to be this month? I guess I overlooked that.” This was 1990 remember. No e-mail. There might have been a fax machine on campus, but the students didn’t have access to it. I burned rubber to the post office and probably blew $20 in super fast, supersonic postage to get the evaluations to Pullman by the next day. I am still grateful to my then advisor for helping me put together a contract that year that allowed me the freedom to do basically what I wanted and get college credit for it, but DAMN he’s flaky as a snowstorm unless you’re microscopic or have feathers!

A week later I got a call from (you guessed it again!) Barb Robbins at the Student Affairs office. My GRE scores were supposed to have been at WSU by January 7th. Where were they? When I registered for the GRE I had checked the little box on the registration form that said “I need my results sent to:” and I’d provided them with the address. But apparently they didn’t believe me (or, perhaps, the people processing the registration forms were brilliant molecular biologists/ornithologists) and while *I* had my results, WSU did not. And WSU couldn’t, of course, take my word for it. I incinerated several hundred miles of phone line talking to the testing organization, got them to agree to send my “official” test scores to WSU the next day, then ran for the post office and spent another $20 on super special extra supersonic postage to get my copy of my GRE scores to Pullman by the next day.

I started to make plans to move to Seattle after graduation, get a job as a veterinary technician, learn to play the piano (something I still haven’t done) and re-apply for the next year. Oh I’m screwed. I’m so, so SCREWED!

Then, in late February, I got a letter. A skinny letter. Skinny letters are bad, right?
I think I screamed when opened the letter that was inviting me for an interview. I know I called my parents. I may have thrown up.
And I made plans for a whirlwind trip to Pullman. My friend Cynthia, bless her for a kindly soul, agreed to come with me to share the driving and to keep me from wandering into a corner and getting lost. We left Olympia at a little after 6 p.m. and hit Pullman sometime around 1 a.m. I was awake at *five*.
To say that I was a babbling idiot during my interview is giving babbling idiots a bad name. I don’t know if they’re still doing it this way, but when I interviewed they were pulling all the little psychological tricks in the book. The interview-ee sat in a soft chair in the middle of the room. Nothing to hide behind, nothing to hide your fidgety hands or nervously twitching feet, and shorter than the interviewers. The interview committee, all wearing white coats, many with stethoscopes around their necks, and all with engraved name plates reading “Doctor” sat behind an ENORMOUS polished wooden table. I could recognize the tricks, I do have an Evergreen education after all, but I could do NOTHING to defend against them. I was a nervous fucking wreck.
And the first question out of the first interviewer’s mouth was “Who is Helmut Kohl?”
I can laugh now. At the time I didn’t find it as funny because I was too overwhelmingly grateful that, as I had been sitting in the hotel room while Cynthia french braided my hair for me, we had been watching the television. The television *news* to be exact. The television news that was detailing some or another doing of the Chancellor of West Germany, Helmut Kohl.
I think the interviewer was a little disconcerted when I popped right out with “He’s the Chancellor of West Germany.”, but since the interviewers were only allowed one question per, we had to go on to the next white coated sadist.

I don’t remember who was on my interview committee except the last interviewer. Dick Westcott. Dean of Student Affairs, professor of parasitology, and all around great guy. A passionate educator, superb at wrangling stressed, lunatic students, and a wicked sense of humor. Dick was prone to walking around campus with a walking stick that was made of a plasticized bull’s penis. During my interview Dick sat at the end of the table (camera left) with a largish stack of papers in front of him. When all the other interviewers had asked their questions and I, stumbling, babbling, and ending an inordinate number of sentences with a trailing off “so…..”, Dick looked at me and started leafing through the stack of papers.
“I see here in your self evaluation from your freshman year at Evergreen that you mention the book “A Town Like Alice”. What did you think of it?”
And the first thing that popped into my mind was “Oh thank God you chose to ask me about a book that I actually finished reading!” (unlike about 2/3 of the other books that I had been assigned to read during my freshman year at Evergreen.
You all know the end of the story so I’m not giving anything away when I go on to mention that for the next four years, every time I saw him in the hallway, Dick Westcott would say to me “You know, I read every single page of that Evergreen transcript of yours!” He gave me a hard time about that academic transcript pretty much until the day he died. Dick was a superb educator and I miss him.

I got back to Evergreen limp, entirely disenchanted with Pullman (February is gravel season in Pullman and anything that isn’t still covered in muddy snow is covered in the gravel that is spread on the streets for traction in the snow. Pullman in February is a pretty revolting place.) and convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was double down, hopelessly, S. K. ROOD.

A week later I got the skinny letter quoted above. Skinny letters are bad, right?
My hands were shaking, I was nauseated and hyperventilating. I opened the letter and my life was changed forever.

Four years. God, four years. Especially in Pullman, which, to a good liberal, western Washington, football neutral hippie girl and her good liberal, Oahu and Olympia, football neutral hippie boyfriend, four years can be forever. Certainly at the time I was pretty much convinced that four years would never pass and I’d be stuck in that dusty Hell forever. But it did, and I wasn’t. And four years later they gave me a diploma and a stethoscope and told me I could call myself “Doctor”.

May 7, 1994

May 7, 1994


Pardon me, but do you really believe that?

Filed under: @ 6:21 pm

I had all these lofty ideas of puttering in my garden for a bit after I got off work this afternoon, but I’m still not over the galloping buboes that I caught last weekend and it’s too hot (okay it’s only 77F, but still) for me to get Trogdor out and burninate the little plants and grass starts that are growing in the cracks in between the patio bricks so I’ll take this opportunity to whip this out

I know I’ve introduced the idea of the “Dear Client” thread. But for those who are new to UADN allow me to explain. “Dear Client” is a collection of letters, an ongoing monologue if you will, from those of us who subscribe to the Veterinary Information Network to some of our most special clients. “Special”, you must understand, has a very broad definition in this case. “Dear Client” is a therapeutic medium for those of us who have to say things out loud (as it were) to SOMEone to keep the words that we have to say to some of the pet owning public from bursting out of our heads through our eye sockets.

And so I present:

Dear Client

When I asked “Were you planning on having your puppy neutered?”, your response was “No, because he won’t get into dog heaven without all his parts.”
I gotta ask…. Do you actually believe that or are you telling me that because your macho military husband is too worried about his own manhood to do what’s best for his pet’s health because if his dog were castrated that would mean he’s a eunuch too?

Enquiring minds want to know


I wonder what the airfare is like?

Filed under: @ 1:31 pm

Some years ago I found, while watching a Blackadder episode (and as an aside, if you’ve never seen Blackadder I’d recommend it. It’s pretty damn funny.), what has to be my favorite threat of all time.
Faced with a catastrophe of his own making and wanting to avoid the consequences of same Blackadder states: “I’m going to Nepal to live as a goat!”

Yesterday I was involved in a discussion with one of my online veterinary buddies who was in the midst of contesting an unemployment claim. The fired employee said, in her claim to the unemployment commission, that she’d never been told that she had to show up to work or she’d be fired. That it wasn’t stated in my colleague’s employee manual that regular attendance at one’s job was a prerequisite for keeping same. The unemployment commission wasn’t questioning my colleague about why this twit had been fired, they were asking my colleague if it were true that her employee manual was so deficient. 8O

Today I went to Wild Birds Unlimited to pick up some sunflower seeds for our piggie, er, bird feeders. I got the bag of seed, schlepped it to my car and dumped it in the back. Then I noticed the wording on the back of the bag. “Directions: Open bag. Place seed in bird feeder.”

If we, as a society, have dumbed down to the point where it has to be explicitly written that one must show up to one’s job if one is to keep it, and that there is legislation that requires the producers of bird seed to put instructions for its use on the back of the bag I’ve only got one thing to say.



Before & After

Filed under: @ 7:15 pm

So March has been a giant slavering turd of a month, but for the most part it’s over now. Well, except for the garage. Right now our garage looks like a particularly energetic bomb went off, but I don’t live in the garage, I only interact with the garage for a few minutes a couple of times a day and it can, by god, stay looking like a particularly energetic bomb went off until I damn well feel like doing something about it.

We would, once again and forever, like to extend our gratitude to the following:

Curt, Shawn & Annie (and Anastasia for keeping Della busy), & Steve for the gracious gift of a Saturday afternoon to help friends move heavy shit. We have no words but thank you.

Mom & Dad for lunch, companionship, good suggestions, and a remarkable chocolate stout cake. Also for bedtime stories without which I wouldn’t have been doing much sleeping over the last few weeks.

The Lenzers and assorted hangers on for grief, support, chaos, humor, and a lot of love. They say you don’t actually know someone until you see them under the most stress. In the last month Lenzers have shown me that you don’t necessarily need great stress. As always you have provided grief, support, chaos, humor, and a lot of love. It’s nice to know that I’ve always known the real people.

And I’d like to add a shout out to my boss lady, Melinda Cumming, for putting up with me missing shifts, leaving early, being frazzled, short tempered, and glum without getting too worried about it.

All that having been said…..

So let’s go back to, oh, about the 21st or so.
Friday the 21st, I got up, ate breakfast, and started truly alarming my cats by, instead of sitting at my computer for a couple of hours as is my habit on my day off, started moving things. And moving things. And moving things. The scope of this project encompassed the entire upstairs of our house except for three small bedrooms, and the entire downstairs except for Andrew’s office and the laundry room. Which meant that we had to compact about 2/3 of the house into 1/3 of it.
I got things off walls, I packed up books (note to self: books are HEAVY, use SMALL boxes the next time). I moved fragile knick knacks, I took apart shelves, I moved what furniture I could and I wondered how we’d managed to move so much shit into a small house in such a short period of time.
Saturday? Same thing! Except we were also emptying the fridge so the guys could move it Monday morning.
Sunday? Same thing! Only add Shawn & Annie with Anastasia and Della, Curt, and a metric boatload of sushi as a bribe for helping to move the heavy shit. Andrew’s hand is well healed from the surgery that he had earlier in the month, but he only had surgery three weeks ago and is strictly forbidden to lift anything heavy. As I can recall it Sunday afternoon was the last time before now that we had any peace and quiet. After we finished moving heavy shit and after we’d finished lunch, we adjourned to the porch for talk and toasted marshmallows. For the record, if you don’t have graham crackers Girl Scout Thin Mints work amazingly well for S’mores.

Monday morning I packed up the cats and went to work. Ivan The Installer and his goons showed up Monday morning and proceeded to move the stove, the dishwasher, and the fridge then pulled out the godawful carpet, the vinyl in the kitchen, and started to put the new flooring in.
This is the dining room before:
Before DR:Disgruntled Flitter

Please excuse the disgruntled cat in the foreground.

And here’s a closeup of the dining room carpet:
Closeup:DR Diamond Pattern

I believe it’s what’s called a berber carpet? Not sure. Small, hard loopy things with a raised diamond shaped pattern that was guaranteed to be almost impossible to vacuum. Who puts carpet with what amounts to PITS in it in a dining room?

Vinyl in the kitchen? Mostly white. Who puts WHITE vinyl anywhere, let alone in a KITCHEN?!

This is what the living room looked like when I left on Monday.
Before LR:Disgruntled Flitter

Please excuse the disgruntled cat in the background.

Closeup of the carpet:
Closeup Powder Blue

Powder. Freakin’. Blue. No one, but NO ONE with children, grandchildren, friends, pets, a garden, or FEET puts powder blue carpeting ANYWHERE. There are colors that are harder to keep clean, I’m sure, but it’d be hard to find one.

Came home Monday evening and the stove and dishwasher were in the living room. The refrigerator was on the back porch, there was no carpeting anywhere, and no where to sit. We had a pair of wickedly annoyed cats. Ate pizza in bed, put the cats away for the night, and woke up way too damn early the next morning to do it all over again.

Ivan the Installer and Vlad the Installer showed up Tuesday morning. Andrew reports that it was loud.

Andrew checked into our home away from home, The Embassy Suites, on Tuesday afternoon. The cats, thank god, adjusted to the whole situation fairly quickly. The cats, in fact, thought that sleeping with people was a charming idea and they were enchanted with having an UNDER to the bed. We have a captain’s bed on a solid base so there is no under to our bed. Under the bed was a BIG favorite.
People sleeping with cats, however, was not so popular. The cats might have slept well, we didn’t so much. Pogo likes to sleep on my head.

Wednesday and Thursday passed pretty much in a blur. I was really glad to hit Thursday evening and not have to plan to go to work again the next morning.
And Thursday afternoon Vlad called and said he was done. WOO HOO! So we planned that I’d come back from work and we’d go to the house to see whether or not we’d be able to move back in on Friday.

No. No we couldn’t.
We got home Thursday evening and opened a door. Two people each took one step inside and were promptly shoved back out the door by the STANK. It was literally breathtaking. Eyes watering, lungs shrieking, we backed out and closed the door. A little planning and we mounted an assault on two doors at once. In the house, outside to breathe. In the house, open a window, outside to breathe. And so on.
We were here for probably a half hour opening windows, turning on fans and marveling at how ABSOLUTELY FREAKING GORGEOUS THE FLOORS ARE!!

After Stairs

Living Room:
After LR II
After LR

Dining Room/Kitchen:
After DR
After DR:Kitchen

These photos, by the way, weren’t taken on our whirlwind tour Thursday evening. By the time we left Thursday evening we could both feel our DNA unwinding so the idea of staying to take photos was one we did not entertain.

Friday morning I was back at the house at 8:30. I had had romantic notions of sitting on the porch with all the windows open enjoying the sunshine while waiting for the dudes to show up to re-install the dishwasher and deliver the new fridge, but it was, as is has been for most of the last six weeks, pouring. Also the house! Ay-yi-yi! As much pre-planning, moving, smooshing, taping, and covering in plastic as we had done, the house was COVERED in microfine dust.
So Friday morning I came home, I opened all the windows (actually the stank had dissipated considerably) I turned on all the fans and I started to clean. I was here for (totting up on my fingers) 10 hours cleaning on Friday and I’m still finding little patches where there’s dust.
We were actually scheduled to stay at the hotel Friday night, but Andrew in his wisdom, asked why we should. The house was livable, the stank had dissipated, why stay at a hotel, as comfortable as it was, full of high school chorus members when our bed was calling?
So we ate dinner bundled up the cats and checked out. Our bed is GLORIOUS!

Andrew and I have both spent the last two days unpacking, cleaning, re-cleaning, moving, pushing, shoving, reeling, writhing, and fainting in coils. The house looks like ours again (except with MUCH better floors), the cats are settled and happy (except that it’s 10 after 7 p.m. and I’ve not fed them dinner yet), and I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS EVER AGAIN.
Except that the house needs painting.
That, however is going to have to wait until we recover from this.
Living Room:
Living Room
Kitchen/Dining Room:
Kitchen/Dining Room
Family Room:
After FR
Come on over. Just please take off your shoes!


Rest in Peace

Filed under: @ 8:52 am

“Memento, homo … quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris” (Genesis 3:29)
“Remember, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou wilt return.”

Joan & Tony on the sofa

Joan Lee (Linn) Lenzer. March 18, 1930 – March 10, 2014

Requiem Aeternam dona eis, Domine
Requiem et lux perpetua luceat eis:
Requiescant in pace. Requiem. Amen.

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