Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Miss Bit’s Quest

Miss Bit is our house panther. She is the eldest of our three kitties. She does not suffer fools lightly. Same with dogs. And pretty much any other living being within her domain. Her days are easy and her worries few.

Until that one time…

Miss Bit: Huh! I sense a problem. The magic square has failed to produce heat. I must notify the staff.
Tammie: Oh, jeeze Bit! Ow! You have pointy feet. Where are you going?
Miss Bit: Your words mean nothing. I must speak with my staff. This table is extra tippy and now I have hot stinky bean juice on my feet. Fortunately, staff is right here. I shall inform them.
Me: Hey! Your feet are pointy and wet. You spilled my coffee, you brat. Oof, get off of me.
M.B.: Staff! Fix the problem! I shall return to the magic square and await your arrival. Oh no! Floor is lava, I must retrace my steps.
Me: Again? What are you doing?
M.B.: Once more I have the bean juice on my feet? Staff should fix this table.
Tammie: Did you just wipe your pointy feet on my shirt?
M.B.: I hear nothing. Now, I shall await staff.
Me (continuing to watch the television) …
M.B.: …    … Oh, for Bast’s sake. Staff! STAFF! Dammit.
Tammie: What now?
M.B.: Lalalalala… It’s the tippy table and bean juice. This must be repaired immediately. I shall inform staff again.
Me: Aaah! Get off me, you pointy-toed monster.
M.B.: Staff. The magic square is dead. You must come NOW. Also, fix that table. And the floor is still lava. Now, I will return to the square and await you again. Oh, bean juice!
Tammie: Stop spilling my coffee, cat. Oof!
M.B.: I weep for my magic blue square. Your words do not comfort me.
Me (still watching the tube): …
M.B.: What did I ever do to deserve the likes of you, hmmm? Did I accidently murder the mother of moths? Fine. I shall once again attempt to roust staff.
Tammie: No! Stop it! You’re spilling the coffee again!
M.B.: If I leave some of my fur in your hot bean juice, will that silence you? Here!
Tammie: Noo!!
Me: CAT! Go pester elsewhere.
M.B.: My feet are dry once again, staff, thank you. However, the magic blue thing is still cold. I will meet you at the square. Make haste! You’d better follow me, the floor is still lava. Watch this table. It will splash bean juice on your feet. Also, put some fur in the hot bean juice in the cup it holds. I think it believes it deserves an offering.
Tammie: I JUST got that last cat hair out of my coffee, and here you go again. What is your… oh, wait…I washed the cover for the heating pad. I’ll be right back.
M.B.: The floor is… never mind.

Moments later, Tammie returned with the clean blue cover and the heating pad was once again ready for use.
Tammie: There. Are you happy now?
M.B.: What is this? You also have THE SKILL? You may be staff.
Me: See? She likes you.

A few months later…

Miss Bit: It is time for a nap. The magic blue square must be activated! Staff. Staff! STAFF! Oh, fine. But don’t think that because you have changed where you recline that I cannot reach you, despite the floor continuing to be lava. I shall take the long trail, across the wide seat, this small, but well-placed bird-watching table, then past the strange window you stare at…ooh, is that warm? Hmmm, I shall stand here a moment and ponder.
Me: Bit! Get down! You’re blocking the TV.
M.B.: This is nice, but it is not the magic blue square. I shall continue my quest for staff. This wide window sill is fine for some cats to sit on, but for now, I shall only traverse its length in order to reach the new place where staff hides. Now, we’ve reached the tricky part.
Me: Oh, look out! You’re gonna dump that box right off that chair. Get off of it, it wasn’t meant for climbing, you nitwit.
M.B. Staff calls encouragement to me. That is a good sign. Perhaps this time staff will hasten to do my bidding, unlike last time. The plateau of mess must be crossed with caution or falling debris can cause me to touch the lava floor.
Me: Kitty! Nooo! You’re knocking the mail off my table! Don’t step there, watch out for the remote! Not my coffee! Do NOT step in my coffee!
M.B.: Staff. The magic blue square gives off no heat… Follow me! Careful, the plateau of mess is tricky. From here, you must climb the chair that moved from the dining room and then walk across the sill.
Me: Dammit, kitty!
M.B.: Don’t let the giant warm window distract you, you still have a ways to go. Ah, here we are…Where are you? Why are you still way over there? Do you not understand the urgency? I am middle aged, but I can still make the long journey. I don’t know what your problem is. I will show you.
Me: Oh, not this again. What do you want? Here, have a butt scritch.
M.B.: Staff! Well, all right, this is not bad, and I suppose I can return the favor.
Me: Ow! Ow! Ow! Do NOT dig your claws into me.
M.B.: It is time to go. You must journey to the magic blue square!
Me: Stop walking across the mail! Get away from my coffee!
M.B.: Bean juice! Staff still does not follow. The magic blue square is dead to me.

It only took three trips across the wilds for me to remember to turn on the heating pad. I’m gonna need new slippers, though. That floor was hot.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Lighten Up!

I'm kind of hard on keyboards.

I mean, I don't use them to beat up intruders, zombies, or politicians, nor do I pound senselessly on them in anger. I just use them. A lot. And sometimes I get up before everybody in order to write in peace. Which brings me to the problem of sitting down in the semi-dark of early morning, looking at the computer screen while attempting to write.

Despite years of keyboarding, my hands cannot find the damn home keys without me peering myopically at the damn keyboard. Actually, it's easy when there's light, but in the dark? Nope. Interesting things appear on the screen when I can't see the 'board. Then there's a lot of fumbling and farting around until I finally get settled. Then, of course, I suddenly feel the need for a sip of coffee and there goes the neighborhood again.

I was using a small laptop USB light with some success. Unfortunately it's on a gooseneck which isn't quite strong enough to hold it in position, so it begins to droop and I get to adjust it frequently. Not impossible, just annoying.

Then the keyboard that came with  my computer finally gave up. After years of writing stories, a couple of the keys, important keys, began to fail. It was annoying to not be able to type using the shift key, the space bar, and the letter H.

Enter the ergonomic keyboard that was given to us. You know the kind: it curves and has a bump at the space bar.

Yeah, that was fun.

I tried it, I really did, but it didn't help. It took so much effort to press the keys, that my hands ached more after using the keyboard that was supposed to alleviate such discomfort. Plus, I had to relearn the keyboard. It was still the standard QWERTY style, but the shape was just different enough that I couldn't just watch the words appear on the screen, because those weren't words. I'd have to watch my hands and hope things were going the way I wanted.


Then I started reading reviews of mechanical keyboards. 80 million keystroke lifetime (damn, that's a lot, even for me) and they are easier to press. And then there's the amazing clicking sound... I just had to find one to try it.

But they aren't all the same. Some have Cherry switches, others have green ones, and they are different. Of course they are. Why make it simple, when complicating things with options that make people like me whimper is way more fun. Ordering an expensive keyboard and discovering it wasn't for me, isn't high on my list of fun things to do, so I just waited until I could try one out myself.

Luckily, my "local" office supply store had some. I fell in love. The ease of keyboarding, coupled with the delicious click of the keys created a wholly satisfying typing experience that I've not had since my old IBM keyboard back before computer mice were a thing. I loathed the tiny "enter" and backspace keys on it, but the sound and feel were delicious. I missed that.

So, there I was, shopping for keyboards. The guy helping me said his store does price-matching, so I got the same deal I would have if I'd made the purchase online, plus I didn't have to pay tax on it. I figure I saved somewhere in the neighborhood of $50, and I'm ok with that. Ok, I was kind of not stoked about the cost in general, but I had to try. If I was going to keep writing, I was going to have to do something. The less my hands ache from typing, the more I can do and since writing is one thing that makes me truly happy, it's worth it.

Plus, this beast feels super sturdy. Nice and heavy, so it's not going to go skittering all over the keyboard drawer, or creeping away from me until I find myself hunched over like Quasimodo for hours on end.

I was worried that my old computer wouldn't understand what this fancy-schmancy keyboard was trying to say, but after a few restarts and words of fury, I was able to get everything hooked up and working.

At the beginning of this post, I was whinging about the difficulty of typing in the dark. My new keyboard lights up. It LIGHTS UP! In RAINBOW colors.

Actually, I can make it do all kinds of things, like ripple (oh, that was cool until I realized it was making me dizzy), activate (which kept the keyboard dark until I was pressing a key, not exactly helpful for writing in the dark) and about five other lovely tricks that threatened to give me seizures. I've settled on the one that just changes the color, slipping gracefully through the 16 million colors of the rainbow in a gentle flow of joy.

I can find the home keys. Even in the dark!

No more droopy light, no more desk lamp that wakes the dog, who then insists I stop everything and do his bidding, despite being an hour earlier than he ever gets up, and no more groping for the right keys, hitting keystroke combinations that erase vast quantities of work.

And the sound... Not too loud, just nice clicking. FYI, my keyboard has green switches. I'm still not sure what that means, but I like it.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Walking the Dog

My quest to combat diabetes has resulted in several big changes in my life, most of which surround the areas of diet and exercise. The food part has been pretty easy, but exercise isn’t my favorite thing to do.

At all.

Which is why diabetes took it upon itself to make my life miserable. It’s in my genes, therefore I made it easy to settle in and change everything.

So we got a dog.

Ok, we didn’t get the dog because of my diabetes, we actually got the dog because my dad loves dogs and I thought it would be a good idea to have a critter that would keep him company those few hours he had to hang out by himself on weekends, and to sleep with him at night.

That didn’t last long.

“He snores,” Ye Olde Fartte said the morning after he spent his first night with the dog. “He doesn’t just snore, but he also grunts, twitches, and hogs the bed.”
“Hmm, sounds like someone else I know,” I said, risking a glance at Tammie.
“Yeah, well I don’t want him sleeping with me any more.”

I worried that the dog would get into the cat food, or worse, the cat boxes if he was left to himself at night. But I needn’t have worried. He’s actually quite the little gentleman.

Except when he’s on a leash. The minute a lead is clipped to his halter, he turns into the Tasmanian devil from the Bugs Bunny cartoons. He chases things and feels compelled to RUN from one P-mail spot to the next. This crazy dog even wanders while he’s leaving emojies. That’s fun to pick up. I feel like a demented reenactment of Hansel and Gretel, only instead of stones or breadcrumbs, I’m following dog turds.

It took a couple weeks, and a new halter, but now he’s doing a bit better, not pulling quite so hard on the lead, unless all this exercise has just made me faster and better able to keep up with him. This is all fine and good until he sees another dog, then my little sweet doggie goes from ridiculous Tasmanian Devil, to a hell hound, all bark, snark, and teeth.
“I’mma gonna kill ‘im. I’mma gonna kill ‘im and eat ‘im! I’mma gonna do it NOW! NOW! NOW!”
“You may NOT eat that dog.” I find myself repeating that several times on our walks. The owners of the other dogs think I’m being funny, but I’m totally serious. He WILL eat their dog!

And then there’s “THE Dog!”

It goes around town, pulling a wagon filled with tourists. It clip-clops down the street several times a day, and sometimes when we’re out on our walk, we see it. We see it and we want it. We want it because we want to EAT IT!!!  Because we haven’t figured out it ISN’T a dog. A funny smelling, giant-assed monster of a dog. But we don’t care, WE WILL EAT IT!!

And another wrassling match ensues, with me insisting he cannot eat the horse, and people think I’m being funny. They laugh as I hoist the little beast into my arms, doing my best to keep my face away from all those damn teeth and flailing paws bedecked with sharp claws.
“No. You have to check your P-mail and I’m pretty sure I smell an emoji or two lurking about in your gut.”
“DIE! DIE! DIE! HATEFUL BEAST! I SHALL DESTROY—” I turned away so he couldn’t see the horse any more and the threats ceased.
“You were saying?” I asked.
“Do you smell that?”
“Can you be more specific?”
“I think Angel from the book store left me a message over by the hotel parking lot. Let’s go!!!” And off we go, the horse completely forgotten as we resume our trek to find the holy grail of pee spots and offload a few emojies. Thankfully, I am equipped with emoji traps, which I employ, then hang on the handy-dandy clip attached to the dispenser. We finish our trek with me sporting a bracelet of dangling poop sacks.

I’m not sure how this is going to help me combat diabetes, but it certainly is keeping my ego in check.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


The cats are cowards.

I mean, they're brave enough when string is involved, or those damn toy mousies. In fact, with the exception of Thud, they're fine with the red dot of death.

Even when new people come in, they're curious enough to stare from their favorite vantage points. But... we have visitors. Noisy visitors.

See, my dad has to use a commode in the bathroom because he tends to fall. But when he sits down, he "flops" into whatever seat awaits him. He has broken more chairs than the whole WWF combined. Recliners, dining chairs, he's even done damage to car seats! Unfortunately, his flopping caused the commode over the toilet to push against the tank. This broke the seal and we had water. Lots of water. We got it cleaned up, and I fixed the problem, then told him to keep watch.

I try to give him privacy and only go into his room when he says he needs something. Apparently, mushrooms growing in his bathroom don't bother him, so he didn't say anything. Then the other day he fell against the toilet harder than usual and it started to leak. But he either didn't notice or thought it would stop before it got bad. It didn't and water began leaking rapidly from the toilet and no one was the wiser.

So away it leaked. A lot, like two streams from the tank, all the way across the bathroom to the bedroom door, a good eight feet distance. Knowing what I know about modular homes, I didn't want the problem to get any bigger, or the floor to get soft and rot away. Mold had already become a problem, so this just solidified our resolve to get it fixed before it became a much bigger, more expensive, problem requiring us to fish the toilet out from under the house.

Enter, contractor dudes, a.k.a., TEH MONZERZ!! They brought their big, stompy feet, their loud voices, and worst of all, THE SAW!!! Jeebus H. Crispy, that thing is horrifying to the cats.

When it started up, Meow dashed under the vanity and Freya Fish-whore took up her place under the bed. Thud, with nowhere else to go where he could be alone, attempted to take up residence under the recliner but changed his mind when Ye Olde Fartte pushed the button to lower the footrest. This caused much hilarity for about ten seconds. I had no idea where he'd gone until I went to heat up some soup for lunch. I opened the cabinet door and...

Me: What the hell?
Thud: Yeah, that's what I'd like to know. What hell has come here now? I thought you'd be the last of it.
Me: Asshole. You'd better be nice or I'll sic the red dot of tail death on you.
Thud: No, YOU be nice. I have yet to shit in your shoes, but don't think I haven't considered it before this moment.
Me: You shit in my shoes and I'll toss your furry ass outside. Remember what happened the last time you went outside?
Thud: Mommy cried.
Me: I was referring to the wild things-
Thud: NO! Don't remind me! Damn long-eared menaces. They LOOKED at me! WITH THEIR EARS!
Me: Those were slugs.
Thud: Yeah, whatever. They were horrible.
Me: Look, just move over, I need to heat up some lunch for Ye Olde Fartte.
Thud: Well, for him, I'll let you have a pot. I bet he'll appreciate the special seasoning I put in it.
Me: I'll be sure to wash it well before I put food in it.
Thud: Why do the others actually like you?

Just then the reciprocal saw started up and with a loud POP! Thud poofed out before disappearing deeper into the cabinet.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Tuna Dance

“Make some tuna salad for your folks’ lunch today.” Tam said as she got ready for work.

I wanted to yell, “NO! Anything but that!” but I refrained from doing so. It was such a small thing, and well, with no electric can opener, I thought I might actually have a chance to survive the task. I sighed. “Ok.”

She had already set the can of tuna on the counter, so I pulled the mayo, pickles, and onion from the fridge and started chopping. Everything was smooth and easy. I went from one section of the kitchen to the other, smoothly and easily. It was SO smooth and easy, I considered adding singing and dancing to my kitchen activities. I’m usually hindered in my kitchen waltzes and arias by the feline members of the family, but not this time. I had all that floor space to myself.

I opened the drawer with all the kitchen gadgets and pulled out the hand-operated can opener and glided my way to the sink where the can of tuna awaited. “Click! Clunk! Hiss!” went the can opener and the tuna can.

“MEOW!” said Frey Fishwhore. “Gimme fish! You got fish!”
“Yeow!” I exclaimed, stepping away from reaching claws, “back off, fur-face. I’m fixing lunch for my parents.”
“No fish! This is people food.”
“Fish juice! Fish juice! Fish juice!”
“I have nothing to put it in because there is too much food in your dish.”
“Ha! No such thing as too much food. Gimme fish juice.”
“That’s my foot.”
“It nice foot. I pat it.”
“Remove. Your. Claw.”
“Gimme juice?”
“Fine, I’ll put it in here until I’m done with the can, then you can have your juice in that.”
“You gonna leave me chunks?”
“Not if you sink that claw into my leg again.”
“Ok. Look. No claws. I pat you nice leg.”
“I need to get this over there. You need to move out of my way.”
“OOH! Fish juice in fish can! Juicy, juicy, fish juice!”
“Move! Out of the way! No! Not that way! Dammit! Oh, shit, look out!”
“Whee! We’re doing the fish juice dance!”
“No! I don’t want to do that dance. Let me finish making lunch, then you can have juice.”
“AAAAH! YOU STEPPED ON MY TOE! I HISS AT YOU! Now, I touch you with my non-hurting claw.”
“Sorry, kit—HEY! Ow!”
Silent glares from Freya Fishwhore as I began mixing the tuna salad. The moment I began to hint that I MIGHT be heading back to the sink, she darted into what she knew would be my path.
“Oh! Cat! Just! No! Look out! Move your tail! And the rest of your body!” My smooth and easy kitchen experience was taking on all the grace and tranquility of a mosh pit.
“Fish, fish, fish, fish, MY TOE! I HISS!”
“Missed me, you idiot.”
“I not even try to hit you, beast, but next time I draw blood!”
“You want fish juice?” I asked, waving the container of tuna water over the sink drain.
“You better not!”
“Yeah? Or what?”
“You aske me ‘or what???’ I tell you what! I know where your shoes are! Gimme fish juice or I leave you present you only find with toes!”

Yeah…still not a cat person.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Lemonade Stand

I’m trying to make lemonade. I’m doing a pretty good job of it, but I will admit I’m a little tired from the effort. I’d try to sell you a glass, but it’s not that kind of lemonade. It’s the kind you make when life hands you lemons…

My holiday plans were radically shifted when my father became very ill one night. He’d been working on it for a few weeks, gradually losing his apatite, feeling very nauseated, and, because he does love to share such information, NOT POOPING. My father has very few boundaries.

Sunday night, he was in so much pain, my mother woke Tam at 2:30 and said, “Pop needs to go to the hospital.”

Fast forward to the ER doctor saying they need to transport him to Portland immediately, because he needs surgery and their surgeon won’t be there for another week. “He will not live if we wait.”

Things get a little confusing here, because my mother insists he was taken by helicopter, while Tam says they went by ambulance, running lights and sirens the whole way. Whatever the method of transport they used, Pop lost consciousness twice on the way due to pain.

When they got to Portland they rushed him into emergency surgery where they discovered a ruptured duodenal ulcer, approximately 3 centimeters in diameter (about the size of a quarter). The surgeon had never seen one so large, and called in the other surgeons on his team. They all agreed it was the biggest they’d seen and now they had to figure out how to fix it.

Long medical story short, they patched him up, drained off the fluid in his abdominal cavity (about three liters), blasted him with heavy duty antibiotics and stuck him into ICU, where he stayed for two nights (and almost ended up there for a third, because the old fart kept pulling tubes out of places they needed to remain). Good times.

My mother, whose grip on reality keeps shifting without warning, has been spending a lot of the time being very sad (understandable, unless you’ve been a witness to the skirmish they call a marriage for the past 65 years). All of a sudden, they’re back in love and she’s a weepy mess. It’s kind of weird, but whatever.

We ended up staying with my dad’s sister, Aunt “This Looks Bad”. Seriously, she can look at your hangnail and make you want to end your life before it does. Every time my cousin called, she’d say, “Oh, honey, it doesn’t look good…” even though I told her he’s only in ICU until his blood pressure stabilizes, but otherwise things are going fine.

She and I had many long chats, and I will freely admit she was very helpful with my mother, and I’m extremely grateful for her allowing us to stay in her lovely home. But… she’s a little shallow at times. We were talking about my plans and what my schedule is for making it happen. I said I’m working on it as quickly as I can, but when I’m called away for things like this, it does hinder my progress. I had also mentioned that I work on my manuscript in the mornings before I go to work because it’s the only time I have right now.

That’s when she suggested I “put [my] little book project on hold.”

Put my “little book project…”

Little. Book. Project.

Oh, yes she did.

The sky fell, my world screamed, and my heart wept. I went numb. I smiled and said, “I only work on it in the morning, or after I’ve exhausted myself getting the house ready and I need to stop.”

She barely acknowledged my words, just reminding me of what my priorities are, or what she says they should be. Then I was informed that I will not be able to take care of my parents and I need to put them in a home, because she knows what it’s like.

Funny, people tell me that, but people don’t really know what I’m capable of doing or how strong I really am. I held back my desire to write while I raised a family and it nearly ended me.

I work in a job where I’ve come home with concussions, jammed fingers, and bruises in the shape of footprints on my chest, all from out-of-control students. Yet I went back. I lifted, changed diapers on students almost as big as I am, and kept a wild child from injuring several students just by speaking calmly and gently.

I’m not normal. Most people don’t have jobs with those things in the description, so to tell me I can’t do something because THEY can’t do it makes no damn sense to me. Seriously, would you approach a cowboy and tell him he can’t ride a horse because you tried it once but it was too hard and you fell off? Or telling a nurse she can’t give shots to people because YOU’RE afraid of needles???

Yeah, that’s kind of what it feels like to me. People who haven’t been doing what I’ve been doing for the last ten years are telling me I can’t do what I’ve been doing, only with my parents instead of students. I can’t do it because they couldn’t do it.

So. To all those folks who think everyone is equally skilled at every damn thing, have some fucking lemonade. I’m gonna go work on my “little book project.” 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Taking a Look Around

I’ve been busy. Work takes up an inordinate amount of my time, which is a shame, but since it pays the bills (or most of them, anyway) and my writing hasn’t quite reached that level, I’ve got to keep the job. Money is more than a little tight, and my parents have decided they can’t help with expenses, even though they promised they would do so when we were working on getting the house. Ok, I’m drowning in debt right now and it sucks. Like a lot. And I’m a little scared. But I have a job…

The manuscript is coming along. Editing is taking a great deal of time, since I’m trying to be more careful and not let some of those “brain bumps” slide by. It takes a lot more effort and energy on my part, but I’m pretty sure the final outcome will be worth it.

Moving has hit a low point, however. I’ve been working on trying to get the place in order, but there is so much stuff here, stuff that isn’t even mine, that I’m more than a little overwhelmed. It’s taking a lot longer than I expected, which depresses me, which slows me down, then I have to leave to take care of the parental units, so I lose time working on the house, which depresses me, and stuff doesn’t get done, which depress—you get the picture. I’m a little depressed.

Here’s the deal: these are first-world problems. I have a job. I have a home (well, technically, I have two of them, which is one too many, but that’s a twisted tale filled with “are you fucking kidding me?”)

But these are problems only those with plenty can claim.

Yes, my life is currently a shit-storm of messy, but I’m whole. My children were able to grow up without fear of being blasted into oblivion by a car bomber (although there was always that fear in my heart of some lunatic gunman coming onto campus and fucking everything up), there was food on the table and a roof over our heads. Our vehicles were usually functional, and if one went toes up, I was a stay-at-home mom who could drive the man to work and pick him up again if I needed the car for anything.

Life wasn’t perfect, but it was good. It still is.

Life isn’t perfect, but it is still good. I have so much, and a great deal for which I am thankful.

And I just realized that I am lucky.

If my house wasn’t so full of other people’s stuff… if there was room in my house, I would be happy to host a refugee family. I would do my best to give them some security, shelter, and whatever they need that I have.

But the place is a wreck and stuff is piled everywhere while I attempt to get organized, so I’m reluctant to open my doors to anyone. Maybe they wouldn’t care. Maybe they would be so grateful for a safe place to stay, they wouldn’t mind the boxes of stuff piled here and there, boxes of embarrassing excess that makes me want to scream and tear my hair. Maybe they could use that stuff when they have their own place to stay.

Looking around, I see now that I have so much, and I’m a very lucky woman.