Pumpkin Pogrom 2022

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 2:38 pm

This Saturday marked the long-awaited return of the annual Pumpkin Pogrom. This was a smallish affair, in the name of COVID safety. Many pumpkins were sacrificed to the Gourd Gods, and a good time seemed to be had by all. Many thanks to everyone who participated!


Blessings on your hat and the head beneath it.

Filed under: @ 6:01 pm

Valerie and Curt are right, it’s not fair to leave y’all hanging. And truthfully I didn’t do it on purpose, I always did plan on coming back and finishing the story.

Let’s see.

So we were in the ER at Christus St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe feeling like we’d both been set upon by rabid Sumo wrestlers.
After I finished having my hypersensitivity reaction and they’d convinced themselves that neither of us was going to spontaneously combust any further than we already had, the medical folks told us to go home (oh how I WISHED) and go back to bed.
Which we promptly did.

A profound nap later and we were addressing part B of this most clustered of fucks. Which is to say, we were trying to figure out how we could get home. NOW!

Andrew was sitting in his bed with his laptop and phone. Andrew was taking on the “how soon can we travel” and the “how in hell are we going to get from the airport to our home?” part of the issue.

Since I’d made the reservations I was the lucky stiff who got to deal with the plane tickets. Piled in pillows on my bed I was switching between my phone and my tablet.

I started with American Airlines. We’ve got tickets for July 6th. We want to see if we can move them up to July 4th. Shouldn’t be difficult, right?

WRONG! This might have been true in some universe but the multi-verse version of our reality was the “Wow you need a really sucky vacation.” one and it absolutely was not easy.

I spent an hour on the phone with the ticketing people at American Airlines. I had gotten far enough that we had new flight numbers, new times, and new seat assignments. Since we’d purchased first class tickets *and* flight insurance we weren’t even going to have to pay extra to change our tickets.
But when it came down to issuing the tickets the computer at American Airlines shit the bed.
Another half an hour passed while I improved my familiarity with the hold music for American Airlines ticketing.
The ticket agent with whom I had been working finally came back and asked if I’d booked my tickets directly through American Airlines.
Why no. No I hadn’t booked directly through American Airlines.
Which, of course, was the problem. To be able to change my American Airlines tickets I’d have to talk to the people through whom I’d purchased the tickets. Travelocity for the record. Why on EARTH would I think that I could change my airline tickets by talking to someone from the airline? Silly me!

So I went to Travelocity. I went to the “I want to change my plans” part of the website. Which told me I had to talk to the airline.

Much language.

Y’know that part of pretty much any website out there where you can click on a menu, a tab, or a button that says “Contact us”? You wanna know how challenging it is to find that section of Travelocity’s site?

Andrew ordered dinner while I was arguing with Travelocity.com. I finally, FINALLY found somewhere that I could go for live chat help and was promptly told I had to wait for the next available warm body to answer.

We ate dinner.

45 minutes later I was connected to a lovely person named Avinash in some place like Bangalore (I assume. I know that English is not this person’s native language at least.)

I proceeded to spend the next *TWO HOURS* on live chat with Avinash.
I was falling asleep in the interstices of my conversation with Avinash before we got everything hammered out.
But by 10 p.m. on Friday July 1st Andrew and I had tickets for a flight from Albuquerque to Phoenix and a flight from Phoenix to Seattle that would land us at home around 3 p.m. on Monday the 4th.
After offering blessings on Avinash’s hat (and head) we shut down the tech, plugged everything in to recharge for the next day and went. the. fuck. to. SLEEP!


Thank you Christus St. Vincent

Filed under: @ 5:14 pm

Friday morning came around and, in a passionately desperate attempt to get the EFF out of Santa Fe before we had to remove ourselves from the hotel and sleep in Meg’s back yard or something, we decided to call around and see if we could get an Approved Treatment sooner than Saturday morning.
At that point we really didn’t care who we had to run over to get there, we just. Wanted. Out. I can say with authority that I have never been so homesick.
So we called the health department. Who didn’t have any idea what we were talking about. They didn’t have doses of monoclonal antibodies to administer, why would we think they did? The person that I spoke with actually seemed affronted by the question.
We knew that the hospital that was just up the road from us wouldn’t be able to help. It was they that had told us to call their infusion center the day before. So we called the only other hospital in town, Christus St. Vincent.

Yes! We were told. Their ER did have doses of monoclonal antibodies to administer!

So we threw on garments that might have been classified as clothing and headed for the car at full steam.

Which, for the record, is a remarkably snail-like pace when one has Covid.

Andrew had far worse respiratory signs than I did. I had the fatigue and body aches more dramatically than he did. I felt like someone had spent most of the previous 24 hours trying to remove my bones and had stopped halfway.
Which is why Andrew drove.

Drove me up to the front door of the Christus St. Vincent ER in fact. I got out, flolloped myself up to the triage desk and said (I swear I’m not making this up): “I tested positive for Covid yesterday and I heard you guys have doses of monoclonal antibodies. I’m hoping you can either make me feel better or kill me.”
The dude behind the triage desk was remarkably sanguine about that statement. He printed me out a wrist band and told me to go sit over there.
Which I gleefully did. Standing up was not my favorite thing right then.

In the mean time Andrew was abandoning the car in the closest possible parking spot which might have been the “reserved for physicians” parking area. I can neither confirm nor deny that.

When Andrew flumped himself up to the triage desk and told them that he was a solid organ transplant recipient and that he’d tested positive for Covid the night before the dude behind the desk was not at all sanguine. Andrew got a wrist band and was hustled off into some (to my perception) mysterious back room in the blink of an eye.
15 minutes later they called my name and I shuffled into the room where they’d secreted Andrew. It looked like a re-purposed conference room, being large, airy, and separated from the rest of the emergency department by solid doors and windows, but at that point the only thing that really mattered was that there were reclining chairs on to which I could collapse.
Which I did.

Nurse took my vital signs and, having had the detailed story from Andrew a few minutes previously, only took a very brief history from me.
Nurse went to get the attending PA who, having gotten the detailed story from Andrew a few minutes previously, only asked me a few questions and told me that he’d already ordered me a dose of the monoclonal antibodies.
Prior to this experience I’d not realized that miracle workers wore ceil blue scrubs and Dansko work shoes.

Presently we had both had IV catheters placed. Some time after that the nurse came in with the drugs. 10mL followed by a 10mL saline flush then, since this is a relatively new drug and since Andrew is a solid organ transplant recipient, 45-60 minutes of observation.
The nurse filled Andrew up with *The Good Stuff*, filled me up, then went over to the computer work station do start in on whatever paperwork she had to do while keeping us under observation.

I had hoped to nap but within a few minutes I felt like someone had reached their fist in through my chest and was squeezing.
Then I noticed that my lips and the tips of my fingers were all tingly.
It was as I was saying to the nurse “Hey, am I supposed to feel like this?” that Andrew looked over, gasped, and said “You are BRIGHT red!”
Which is apparently a good way to get the attention of a nurse.

Nurse hooked me up to all sorts of monitoring equipment and, having assured herself that I wasn’t actually at a point where she’d have to trigger all sorts of alarms, went to go get the PA. Who brought the attending MD. Both of whom poked and prodded at me but since the reaction was calming down they decided that they didn’t really need to give me any sort of drugs.
I have the peculiar honor of having been only the second of thousands of people to whom Christus St. Vincent had administered that particular monoclonal antibody to have an immediate hypersensitivity reaction to it.




Filed under: @ 5:37 am

We grabbed Libby — Caitlin was staying home with Calvin since he’d been sick enough to go to the ER with, as it turned out, croup two nights previously — and headed to Julia’s house on Thursday morning.
There was a good deal of chaos going on there. Julia was very much interested in taking her two older kids to see the pueblos and Julia’s mother in law, Marianne, was also in favor of pueblos. Julia’s wife, however, was the dissenting vote so we ended up bagging Bandalier National Monument in favor of driving up to the Santa Fe National Forest.
Andrew and I had been told by a nice lady at an art gallery that this alpine retreat was lovely, cool, forested, and crisscrossed by nice little streams. Meg had confirmed that report and had recommended a second place up in the mountains so up we went.
And up.
And up.

Seattle is close to sea level. The elevation of Santa Fe is something like 7200 feet. The elevation at the top of this mountain was something like 10,000 feet. It was everything that we’d been promised. Cool, tree lined, crisscrossed by nice little streams. It was quiet and breezy and didn’t smell anything like a western Washington alpine region. The resinous evergreen scent was quite different.
I wasn’t really surprised when I was winded walking around on the short hikes that a few of us indulged in. There simply ain’t no air up there. At least not according to my lungs.

We went back down the mountain for a late lunch at an incongruous Japanese restaurant that is attached to a hot springs resort just outside the boundaries of the Santa Fe National Forest.
It was good food, but I wasn’t really hungry. And I was beginning to realize that I’d had a headache for a while. By the time we got back into the car I was really tired.

By the time we got back to our hotel – after a stop at the Albertson’s pharmacy for Sudafed, Benadryl, and a thermometer (my nose had started to run) I felt bad. Scary bad. Tired and achy and stuffed up and hot. And the Covid test I took once we got to the hotel turned positive after about five of the fifteen minute run time.


So It’s Been a Month

Filed under: @ 6:32 pm

Thirty one days actually. Lessee, that’s nineteen trips back and forth between here and First Hill, 10 or so medical doctors, 20 or more nurses or medical assistants, and countless needles collecting buckets of blood.
It’s $150-ish in parking, two separate and very tightly packed parking garages, one carefully engineered sneaky back route that got us past the traffic most of the time, most of a tank of gas for my Forrester, and a $237 speeding ticket for driving 24 MPH in a 20 MPH school zone. Don’t forget to watch your speed when you’re driving in school zones in Seattle!

We saw Dr. Reddy today. We’ve been seeing Dr. Vadivel, the medical director for the transplant center, and last week we saw Dr. Gravetz one of the surgeons. Dr. Reddy, who looks an awful lot like the Dr. Reddy who was my freshman anatomy professor at WSU, but who isn’t related, is a nice dude with a very comforting manner. Andrew has gained 20 plus pounds since the surgery, all fluid weight. Since I’ve got to go back to work on Monday and, of course, since my medical knowledge says “Hey, you probably shouldn’t be gaining 20 pounds of edema this far post-op!” I’ve been a little wound up about the whole situation.
Dr. Reddy, however, spoke to me doctor to doctor and managed to get the information through my head that while this isn’t something that they expect a post-transplant patient to have, it’s not an UN-expected occurrence thus I don’t have to fuss about it too much.
Doesn’t mean that I won’t, of course, but it does mean that my level of fussing can be ratcheted down a notch.

Which should be a relief to *my* MD since I won’t need a refill on that Xanax as soon as I might have otherwise.

I’m sorry to have to go back to work. Sorry, of course, because I enjoy puttering around the house and spending time with my husband, but also sorry that I won’t be going to Andrew’s appointments with him. We’ve met some truly stellar examples of the human medical profession. I’ve been very impressed with the level of dedication and care that everyone has shown and I’ve been thoroughly gratified at how those people to whom I have revealed my profession have adapted their language. Because we’re “just” animal doctors veterinarians often get a lot of disdain from some human medical professionals, but not from any of these folks. Having a highly specialized medical professional speak to me with the respect they would another human medical professional is a little unusual in my experience. Most “RDs” (“real doctor” being a mildly pejorative term amongst veterinarians for those human medical professionals who look down on us as less medically educated than they are) are a little snooty or a little irritable about dealing with veterinarians, but I’ve not gotten a whiff of that in all the time we’ve been doing this. I’m thoroughly impressed.
I’m also sorry to be at a point where I won’t be able to keep up with some of the other transplant patients we’ve met. Dirk, for instance, got a kidney and pancreas transplant 3 days after Andrew had his surgery. Nice guy, formerly a type 1 diabetic and he’s still getting used to the idea of not having to check his blood sugar all the time. Dirk lives in Tacoma but he and his fiancee have been living in an extended stay hotel during all of this. Oh, and he shares Andrew’s birthday. To the point where the lab tech at the transplant center yesterday had to come out and confirm Andrew’s name to go with his sample because she’d just looked at the birth dates on the paperwork and wanted to be sure that the right paperwork went with the right samples.
And I’m also sorry that I have to go back to work and leave Andrew at home with this cat who will be ramping up his neediness by at least half. Andrew says that his co-workers already stop during phone conversations to ask which of his stuffed toys Pogo has killed this time (Pogo having a rather penetrating “I just killed this for you please come and praise me.” call) and I rather imagine that he’ll just get louder and/or more frequent for a while.

But we’ve got this pesky mortgage and there’s this pesky need for health insurance. The last real vacation we had was May of 2017. I do *not* count last spring’s trip to Hawaii as vacation since it is *not* vacationing to be doing what we were doing during that trip. By the time Andrew’s surgery came around I was ready to run amok slaughtering everyone in sight just to get some me time so having had a month of us time has been refreshing. Still not a vacation, but at least refreshing.


And Now, a Message from the UAdNSPCA….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 3:44 pm
Or, what happens when you’re snowed in with access to a video-capable smartphone.


It’s DONE!

Filed under: @ 6:14 pm

When we lost the Scamper in 2007 we decided that we would continue family tradition and plant a rosebush for him. So Scamper’s ashes, his food bowl, a special favorite treat, and his favorite toy were planted under a climbing rosebush that spring.
I’d found a metalworker at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show who had built a trellis that I really fancied out of scroll work cast iron. When I bought it it had flat feet – a problem for those of us wanting to put the trellis in the ground instead of in a house – so the metal worker welded a couple of 18″ pieces of rebar on to each of the corners. Before we planted Scamper’s rose I had dug four holes, mixed up four bags of concrete, and planted the trellis in them. It would not, I figured, go ANYWHERE.
And when Scrum died a little over a year later we gave him his Egyptian burial on the other side of the trellis and planted another climbing rose.

And it was lovely for 10 years.

Until last fall when I thought to myself… “Self, are those climbing roses leaning more than they were last spring?” And, of course, the trellis had had enough motion over the years that the cast iron center bar had fatigued at a spot just above the feet (a.k.a. at the base of my now 10 and 11 year old climbing roses) and had started to rust through.

So I bought four 6′ pieces of rebar, pounded them 2′ into the ground and attached the trellis to them with 2″ ratchet straps so that it wouldn’t fall over during the winter and spring and planned to replace the trellis over the summer.

Today I finished. 🙂

My grandfather was and my father is the type of person who can build things. I’ve never really been very good at it so I’m immensely smug about the fact that I dug the site, built the forms, set the blocks, poured the concrete, and did all the woodworking (sanding/shaping/staining/finishing) and assembly myself.
Because I am my father’s daughter and my grandfather’s granddaughter this sucker is STURDY. The uprights are varnished, pressure treated 4″ x 4″s bolted into 8″ square 20 pound pier blocks which are, in turn, sunk in 2″ of concrete. The horizontals are 2″ x 6″s bolted to the uprights with 8″ X 3/4″ bolts. And all of the rest of the attaching was done with 3″ deck screws.

Because I am my own person, however, and not necessarily just an extension of my paternal bloodline, I can legitimately point out that the two uprights on the left side are about 1″ closer together than the ones on the right side. That the stain on the horizontals is “fruitwood” and the stain on the cross bars is “golden oak” because I didn’t check to see that I had enough of the “fruitwood” colored stain. And that I haven’t put in the cross bars between the horizontals (and may never do so) because since the uprights are about 1″ different from left to right that means the horizontals are too and right now I’m really disinclined to cut progressively larger bits off of the rest of the crossbars that I manufactured to make them fit correctly.

I think it’s a pretty good job anyway.

And if it falls down I give up!


Another Pumpkin Pogrom Down The Hatch

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 7:21 pm

Many thanks to all who participated!


Anyone Wanna ‘Fess Up?

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 3:12 pm

Would the person(s) who sent me this amazing Man Crate of exotic animal jerky care to admit to it, so I can thank him/her/them properly?

UPDATE: Turns out it was the awesome folks at my place-o’-employment. Thanks so much everyone!

Man Crate


Has Anyone Else Noticed….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 5:16 pm

That Aaron Paul


Looks for all the world like Chris Hardwick’s parallel-universe evil twin?


Sorry, didn’t get a lot of sleep last night.


Beg Pardon?

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 2:44 pm

Like so many of us, I have become altogether too dependent upon the (hopefully) beneficent ministrations of the fine folks over at Amazon Prime. I have surrendered a small but not insignificant portion of my free will to their mind-croggingly vast inventory of must-, might-want-to- and why-in-God’s-name-would-anyone-wish-to-have items for just about any occasion or predilection. In the process I have also become somewhat indentured to Amazon’s recommendations, based on carefully-tuned algorithms, lovingly coded by the finest Morlocks of our generation to suss out my every whim and tempt me at every click. Sometimes, however, they seem to get it hilariously wrong. Like this time, just f’rinstance.

I’ve been looking for a new charger case for my Samsung Galaxy S7. A fine phone if ever there was one, but unfortunately the un-augmented unit has woefully underwhleming battery capacity. In the eternal race for slimmer and slimmer phones—presumably so that they are easier to lose a grip on and unintentionally deposit in the john whilst trying to Google your Facebook—Samsung, like all phone manufacturers, has had to sacrifice something, and that something is battery life. I, with my Swift Premium Brown ‘N Serve Sausage fingers, am not particularly interested in owning a phone slim enough to use as a scalpel, but I do want the horsepower, high-quality camera and other features that come with the latest line of phones.

The compromise comes in the form of a phone case that contains an additional lithium-ion battery. There are lot of them to choose from, now that the S7 has been out for a bit. I have one of the earlier varieties now, and it’s okay, but it doesn’t do a lot to actually protect the phone, so now that the market has matured a little I went on another expedition into the Amazon to see whether I could find something a little more to my liking. There are a few newer, reasonably-priced battery cases out now, and while perusing the selection, I came across this:

Say What?

Amazon, far be it from me to question the power, the precision, the overwhelming efficacy of your digital minions who plumb the vasty deeps to bring me the most relevant cross- and up-sell offerings this side of Heaven. At this point, I am entrusting you with more and greater insight into my habits in all areas of my life than it is possible that I with my meager meatware am able to achieve. And yet, in spite of all the computational dei running through your machinas and all of the demographic scintilla you weave into the fabric of commerce every second of every day, of this I am relatively certain: I have pretty much locked down the act of taking a whiz. But thanks anyway.


Another Great Pumpkin Pogrom

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:06 am

Pumpkin Pogrom 2015

Many thanks to all who participated!


Caitlin and Cameron Sittin’ In A Tree

Filed under: @ 5:09 pm

Cat & Cam 2014

Caitlin Rachel Pomaik’ai Slattery & Cameron Phillip Hughes

Mazel tov you two! Best wishes for a long and joyous life together.
Sorry we couldn’t be there. We love you!


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.



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.


Pumpkin Pogrom 2013

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 4:08 pm

Many thanks to all who participated. Click on a picture to get the full-sized version.

Pumpkin Pogrom 2013Pumpkin Pogrom 2013Pumpkin Pogrom 2013


From This Year’s Independence Day Celebration

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 2:32 pm

This was without a doubt the most hazardous July 4th we’ve ever hosted at 121….well, technically it was only almost hazardous. Two aerial fireworks managed to go waaay off course and fly into the garage, nearly tagging two of our guests, both first-timers. Ah well, try not to hold it against us, guys….

After our niece Anastasia (okay, she’s really our friend Shawn’s daughter, but that whole crowd is like family to us) narrowly avoided a Close Encounter of the Burned Kind, she retreated indoors. After a particularly rambunctious 500-gram cake seemed to—finally—spend itself, Don, Rob and I (none of us the petite type) all sort of crept towards it. Noting our progress from the living room bay window, Anastasia was overheard saying to no one in particular, “sneaky potatoes….”  😆

Other than that, it was lots of fun. Much food and good cheer. We got to show off our new patio, which worked exactly as planned; we easily seated 8–10 people outdoors, and everyone seemed to enjoy the new setting. Many thanks to everyone who came out.

Here’s a clip of one of Don’s FrankenFireworks, two 200-gram cakes duct-taped to a 300-shot Saturn Missile Battery. I think it was one of the missiles that almost took out our niece. 😯

[flv width=”960″ height=”540″]http://www.uncle-andrew.net/blog/pics/fireworks-2013.flv[/flv]


Election Eve wisdom from “Da Youf”

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:31 am

Got this from my father via email. Apparently he and my Mom were chatting with my thirteen-year-old niece Lucy last night when the subject turned to the upcoming election.

Lucy is quite erudite, in her own very special way: she has an amazing grasp of language, with an insanely outsized grasp of wordplay and deadpan comic timing. When my parents asked her what she thought of the presidential candidates, she replied, “Romney is boring. He sounds like a teacher lecturing on the history of dust.”

What about Obama, they asked?

“I like him,” she said; “he has big ears, which is funny, and makes children laugh.”

From the mouths of babes, indeed. Here’s to you, Babe. 😀

And to All, a Good Election Night.


Pumpkin Pogrom 2012 Was a Success!

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 4:00 pm

Pumpkin Pogrom 2012

Many thanks to those who participated!


Here I go again!

Filed under: @ 12:19 pm

6 a.m. tomorrow. Century Link Field.
Three days and sixty miles later I’ll end up at Memorial Stadium Sunday afternoon.

It’s stupid that this should be fun, but god DAMN that’s a lot of fun!

Here’s the route. I’d love to see folks! Andrew, Shawn, and my parents are planning on something for Saturday, but I’m too full of my own details to know the details of that meeting. Y’all will have to talk to Andrew if you’re interested.

Photos and commentary to follow….. Like next week sometime after I’ve recovered.

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