Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I have the best boss in the world

She made this for me. Last night. Stayed up till midnight, and she's an early-to-bedder (as I've had to become in order to function in the Real World).



Each ball is made from bits of yarn; she cut the yarn in pieces so that the right colors were in the right places.



She used tiny white nails as knitting needles. I'm so impressed with her creativity. She'd seen a big tree decorated with balls of yarn in a mall and decided to make a little one for me.




Love that woman!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Wooooohooooo!


I can't believe I did it.

Because I'm just so doggone good with computers, A and her mom are going to a now-sold-out Hannah Montana concert in January. It only took 35 minutes of inputting the number of tickets, typing in the secret code, and waiting to see if tickets were available. Thirty-five minutes, input, type, wait, rinse, repeat.

Hannah

But I did it. It was totally worth getting up at 9 a.m. on a Saturday.

Miley Cyrus

Tickets for these concerts are already selling on ebay (I guess the some of the sellers are "fan club members" who got tickets yesterday, but some are selling tickets "in good seats to be announced", which means they hadn't even bought the damn things before they listed them) (I hate people who make it hard for normal kids to get in to see their idols, but that's another rant for another day) for incredible prices. I mean, $3000 for 4 seats? And mommies and daddies will buy them for their precious babes. One person on ebay was selling the fan club passcode for presale for $750--no guarantee of getting tickets, just for the chance to try for fan club presale tickets. I think that the fan-club-presale thing needs to be rethought.

But my precious babe is going to see Hannah Montana, and no scalper was involved, just a little fancy fingerwork on the Ticketmaster site. Ha!


UPDATE, 12/17--I'm still finding it hard to believe that I actually was able to get these tickets through Ticketmaster. I have problems with Ticketmaster ($10 service charge per ticket, $1 facility charge; aren't they all getting a share of the money anyway? Extra charge for parking, etc.), but they're the only game in town, except for those scummy scalpers. Hannah's shows in the Northeast sold out almost before they went on sale, and scalpers on ebay were selling the tickets for thousands of dollars for 2 to 4 tickets, and people were buying them. I thought that ebay ruled a few years ago that tickets couldn't be sold for any more than the face value of the tickets, but it seems that's no longer true. Or maybe it was just for those states that had outlawed scalping, I don't remember.

Last night I checked ebay to see what they're going for for this particular city. I was pleased to see that many hadn't sold (I checked "completed auctions"), and those that had, for the most part, were more reasonable than the shows in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticutt, etc. There were still a few really unreasonably high sales (like $2500 for 2 tickets, not even front row), but most were in the $100-150 per ticket range (tickets were $25--nosebleed--to $65 through Ticketmaster, plus that $11-per-ticket charge), and I'm betting that people who only needed 2 tickets bought the maximum of 4 and wanted to sell the others. The higher prices were scalpers'.

If I could have gotten 2 extra tickets, I'd have been tempted to sell them for $300-400 and fly myself down to take A to the show. But I wouldn't have done that. I'd have sold them for face value. Plus the $11 charge per ticket. There are lots of little girls who really really want to see Hannah Montana in concert, and they deserve the chance to do it at a reasonable price.

Two days later, I'm still thinking: I scored tickets to the hottest show of the decade!!! And I did it with my own little fingers, a lot of patience, and without resorting to scalpers.

Update update: You do know who Hannah/Miley's father is, don't you? Here's a little hint:

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lily, the radiator cat



Okay, it's not a radiator, it's heating vent. But she still hogs it, no matter what it's called.

Zippy had a haircut


Done by his cousin, Kara, at her new grooming shop, Kipper's Cuts.

Chester (when his head isn't in the toilet)

Lunching with the ladies (and a few men)

Just look at this! It is so cute!



It's a little Yorkie, if you can't tell from the photos. The giver knows me well!



And it opens to reveal a little hideaway which holds a tiny bone.



Today was our Special Education department meeting, and instead of having the usual this-is-what-the-principal-said type of meeting, we decided to have a covered dish meal with a $1 gift exchange. This was my gift.

I typed up the names and cut them into individual pieces, then put them into a basket and took them around to those who wanted to participate. One of the guys was reluctant, so Mary (head of the SpEd department here, and my boss) told him that she’d do the shopping for him.

(Do I want to admit that there’s one guy in the department that most of us don’t know and haven’t seen often because he works in another wing of the school most of the time? And that he never speaks to anyone or smiles or responds when spoken to? And he’s big and hairy and scary-looking? And that at least 5 of us drew his name and then hastily put it back in the basket and shuddered and denied that we’d drawn it? And that by the time he drew a name, it was his that he drew? Only one other was left by that time, so I told him he had to put it back. And I’m really ashamed to admit that, at the luncheon, he was very cordial and laughed a lot. Didn’t look nearly as scary when he laughed.)

So we all found cute little gifts that cost practically nothing. Some were handmade. Some came from The Dollar Tree. The best one (beside my Yorkie and the gift I gave to Mary--whose name I legitimately drew after the scary guy's name: a small personal fan to be used during hot flashes) was a note printed on pretend parchment, tied with a red ribbon, talking about the recipient’s upcoming wedding and that she’ll give a 2008 penny as soon as they’re released, for the recipient to wear in her wedding shoe for good luck. Very sweet.

Everyone seemed to have a good time. And the food was GOOD!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Just for comparison

It's now 70 degrees.

People in the mid-to-southeast are

Total morons when it comes to snow. Idiots. Give us an inch of snow and we're doomed.

Last Wednesday morning's weather was a perfect example. An inch of snow and drivers panicked. Completely. Granted there was a bit of ice along with it, black ice, which makes it worse. But people aren't used to snow anymore. Add the number of inexperienced drivers determined to drive to school come hell or snow and it's a recipe for disaster. Then add in the low budgets that the city sets for snow and ice removal and it's just ridiculous. Also, since we rarely have major snow storms, we don't have the equipment to remove it. (Prime example: The Richmond area. A few inches of snow and they're closed for over a week. Really.)

We haven't had a major snow in years. (I've doomed us now. I'm very superstitious.) For a few years we had a lot of snow; in February of 1993 we had over 3 feet and schools were closed for 2 weeks. Of course, at that time I was working in a rural county with roads on two mountain ranges, and if those roads aren't passable, the whole county is closed. I was living in the city, though, and it was almost a week before my road was plowed.

The following winter we had two more 3-footers, maybe a month or less apart. Again, schools closed. I couldn't get out of my garage for days.

In January of 1996, two days after I gave my two-weeks' notice to the rural county to come to work for the city, we had a storm that covered the cars in the parking lot at home; only the mirror of my car was visible. It drifted badly. That time schools were closed for the remainder of my two weeks; talk about lucky--I didn't have to make up all that time!

Since then we've had a few snows, but nothing like those. I can remember maybe two since I've known Tom, and I was living in a quadriplex whose owner plowed the driveway and sidewalks right away.

Last year I think that we missed maybe 2 days due to bad weather, the year before, only one or two. Before that, we didn't miss any days one year.

Thursday we opened two hours late, which is almost as unusual for us as closing. Did I tell you how bad the freaking parking lot was? A solid sheet of black ice. There had been no chemicals or gravel applied. Not even an attempt. Because "chemicals don't work until the high 20s" (see previous post about this). Uh uh. It's just a slap in the face for those of us who made the effort to get to work. They don't want to spend the money to make it safe for those of us who work and attend school here.

I feel so loved.

Whaaaaaa?

Some comments that I swear were there last week have disappeared. What is going on???

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Destash!

My dear friend, Tonia, is destashing some really nice yarn because her insurance is balking at paying legitimate medical bills. Go on over and check out the yarn; I'm buying some recycled silk that I've always wanted. I'd much rather that the money go to Tonia than the yarn company!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Perfect Storm (stupid title, came from this article)

Posted 2007-12-06 on http://www.dnronline.com/

Open Schools, Slick Roads Upset Parents In City

By Jeff Mellott

HARRISONBURG - Some parents questioned Harrisonburg School Superintendent Donald Ford's decision Wednesday not to delay or call off school because of snow- and iced-covered streets.

Speaking Wednesday afternoon, Ford said he regretted his decision.

"For those parents who were not only inconvenienced, but actually experienced genuine concern about the safety of their children, I am really sorry that happened," he said.

Angry Parent

City resident and parent Sid Caplan was angry about his experience.

First, Caplan said had to pick his son up after his school bus became stuck on Smithland Road early Wednesday morning. Then, after dropping his son off at Harrisonburg High School, Caplan's car slid down the driveway and struck a curb, damaging a wheel rim.

Caplan said he was frustrated trying to get news from city and school officials about his son's bus.

"I got more information from my son stuck on the bus on his cell phone - that he is not supposed to have. I am glad he had it [Wednesday]," said Caplan, who happened to have the day off from his job at Augusta Medical Center. (note from me: Kids aren't allowed to have their cell phones turned on during the school day, but they may have them on the bus or anywhere else up until the time they walk through the school doors.)

Caplan, who recently was hired by the city as a part-time bus driver, went to the scene.
"There were kids walking away. Some parents were coming to pick them up. At least three parents' cars got stuck," Caplan said.


Road Conditions

Smithland was not the only place where city streets were treacherous.


"Slick," said Harrisonburg Police Department spokesmen Lt. Kurt Boshart in describing road conditions.


Boshart reported that a car slid into a parked police cruiser on Central Avenue. No injuries resulted from that incident or from numerous others around the city, he said. (note from me: That police officer is my nephew. Good reflexes, Steven!)

Another car also slid into a city transit bus on Pear Street but did no damage, reported City Transportation Director Reggie Smith.
"We had numerous incidents this morning. I would dare say every bus slid or spun at one time or another," Smith said.

Tough Going

Two school buses needed assistance on Wednesday morning, he said, including the bus on Smithland Road around 7 a.m. The other bus was on Kelley Street at 8:15 a.m., Smith reported.

Drivers did not attempt several inclines to pick up students, he said. Some school buses kept their schedule but others were more than half an hour late, he said. "All in all," Smith said, "our drivers did an excellent job, and we were lucky considering the conditions."

Making The Call

Anticipating the storm, Ford said he checked the weather at 5 a.m. and detected nothing. Ford saw snow at 6 a.m., but he still had no indication that road conditions would deteriorate so rapidly, he said. (note from me: Bull hockey. Check the Weather Channel. It clearly showed the bands of snow coming across, not to mention the "snow advisory" in effect from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m.)

With bus drivers getting ready to start, Ford decided school could open.

Ford, who says he received about 10 calls about his decision, said he returned telephone messages to those who left contact numbers. "Going to school is never going to be a top priority to me over the safety of children," Ford said.

By Wednesday evening, only the city school system had announced delays. Due to inclement weather, Harrisonburg's schools will open two hours late today.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Jinky!



I love Jinky. I love his mommy. We're email buddies. She knits, too, and made some cute sweaters for her dogs.

Check out Jinky’s book. If enough people order it, he'll write another one. The world needs another Jinky book.

One inch of snow cripples western Virginia

Every stinking school system in this part of the state (and WV) are stinking closed this morning. Except our city school system. It took me 15 minutes to drive the 5 miles after I dropped Tom off this morning. Roads had not been treated. The damn school parking lot hadn't been touched; we couldn't tell where the lines were, so we're parked all over the stinking place.

So far at least two buses--full of children--have been in accidents and have to be towed. There have been many parents calling in saying that their kids have been in wrecks; at least two teachers have been in wrecks. My boss can't get off her street. Tardies have been totally suspended today because kids are just coming in when they can get in. Many buses are either stuck or haven't picked up kids at all.

Happy freaking Wednesday!



Okay, the lot isn't as bad as I thought. Only two or three cars are blocked in with dumb parking.

And the weather forecast is calling for another wave of snow to come through starting any minute. Wanna bet we'll be here till 3:00 anyway?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

No sign of Stumpy

We're still hoping that he'll come back after hunting season. Lots of little males in the front-yard herd, but no Stumpy.

Look who's in the front yard

Right now:







And here you can see our West Virginia porch lights. I think they've been up for about 8 years.



I'm heading out to the kitchen to make my specialty, homemade vegetable beef soup. It's my favorite comfort food. Mom mentioned that she made some last night, and it sounded good to me. It's very bland, very plain, and I love it. Tom adds lots and lots of hot peppers to his; he doesn't like bland. That's okay with me; I don't mind if he doctors his up so he can tolerate it. He's the primary cook here; this is the only thing I cook. And he's a good cook!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

For Tom, November 24 (I'm a little late)

lolcats - HappyƂ Anniversary!
more funny pictures

For Leetie and her band


Tacocat.

Mothertrucker

The roads were wet last night as we headed home around 6 p.m. It's about a 30-mile drive over a two-lane road through a national forest along a river, gorgeous in daylight no matter what time of year it is. After dark, though, it's just a two-lane road that we have to drive twice a day; this time of year, both drives are in the dark.

We were behind a couple of slower vehicles, not unusual in this part of the county. There are three nice long straight stretches, though, where it's usually easy to pass someone who wants to take his/her time. Last night we passed these slower vehicles, legally, I might add, on the broken line, with no oncoming cars in sight. Those are much easier to see at night (as long as they have their lights on, of course).

At that first straight stretch, after we passed the cars and were back in our own lane, the passing lane ended. There was a car coming toward us in the other lane. So, naturally, the tractor-trailer that suddenly appeared behind us, bearing down on us at about 80 mph (the speed limit is 55) decided that it was the perfect time to pass us. On the solid, non-passing-lane line. With a car rapidly heading toward us.

Tom could see that the truck couldn't possibly safely pass us and get back in the right-hand lane before the car hit it, but the trucker didn't care. Horn blaring, he sped up and continued to try to pass us. With a car rapidly heading toward us. Tom sped up so the truck could get back into the lane behind us before he hit the car head-on. Mr. Big Trucker didn't appreciate the gesture; he swerved behind us and turned on his high-beams, sped up, and stayed right on our tail for several miles until we hit the mountain. (Not literally, of course.) Several times he tried to pass us, but by that time we were both kind of irritated with him (I was much more irritated than Tom, and much more vocal. And louder.) and didn't allow him to do so.

The trailer must have been empty, because I figured that we'd lose him after the first or second curve on the mountain. Those curves are short and sharp on the Virginia side. Trucks (and cars) have to slow down.

Nope. Mr. Big Trucker was right on our tail halfway up that mountain, full-beams on the whole way. I'm proud to admit that I flipped him the bird.

I was almost hoping he'd pass us illegally so I could get his license number and any identifying marks on the truck. At that point it occurred to me that he had plenty of time to memorize our license, too. Whoops.

On the West Virginia side of the mountain, just over the top, there's a pull-over for trucks. All trucks are required to stop there to check their brakes (evidentally Virginia isn't as interested in her drivers'/passengers' safety, as there isn't anything like that on that side), and often slower cars will pull over to allow more impatient drivers to pass, even though farther down the mountain there are a couple of legal passing lanes.

Last night we left Mr. Big Truck behind before we could see if he stopped to check those brakes which he obviously hadn't used too much on the way up. I'm betting he didn't stop. But there was a small car in the pull-over area, inside light on, doing something, trying to find something, I don't know. But it took so long for Mr. Big Truck's lights to appear on the WV side that I'm thinking that Mr. Little Car pulled out before he came around the curve, slowing him down. Because driving down a mountain certainly wouldn't have slowed him down any.

Didn't matter. As soon as he could, he passed the car and the milk truck that was ahead of us, which meant that Mr. Big Trucker was right behind us when we pulled into our driveway in the middle of a sharp, long curve a couple of miles (by road) from the bottom of the mountain. He barely slowed down.

Mothertrucker.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I love public education

Where's Stumpy?

Another weekend of hunting season has gone by, and we haven't seen Stumpy since last Monday.


I'm worried about him.

The other deer have been around. A couple of times there have been as many as 10 or 11 in the yard, all mommies and babies and yearlings. Old Mommy and her baby are almost always waiting out front from about 4:30 p.m. until we leave around 6 in the morning.



This is Old Mommy's baby, or I think it is. It's always with her. This day she came alone for a while. I don't think you can see it in this photo, but she has a little black mark on her lower lip that distinguishes her from the others. It looks like those are little horn buds on its head, so I guess we'll have to come up with a boy's name.



Okay, in this photo you can see the black spot on his lower lip. Things like this are the only way that we have to tell who's who around here.

Hmmmm, after looking at those two photos again, I'm not so sure that the first baby is Old Mommy's (or whoever she is).


Once again, Old Mommy and whoever-he-is. Whoops--that's a girl. The first one is a boy.

Is it time to go home yet?

New Santa Fe hat

Please excuse the fuzzy photo. I'm too lazy to try to take another one.

See the difference in the gorgeousness when the number of stitches is changed? I used 88 stitches in the first one, I think, and decided that as long as it's going to be a bigger kid's hat, why not make it bigger on purpose? So I went with, I think, 106 stitches. Something like that. Still size 6, 16" addi turbos.

*whines* It's not pretty. The colors are still wonderful, but the placement isn't what I had in the smaller (ha!) hat.

I wonder what'll happen if/when I try to knit a me-sized sweater from this yarn. Am I doomed to stripes, or will it eventually, as the number of stitches/needle size is increased, sort of smooth out again?

I'm almost afraid to try.

Phhhtttttttthhhhhbbbbbbbbttt

*sigh*

That gorgeous hat turned out to be big enough for a 3-year-old. I was so disappointed. I've made that hat before and it's always been infant-sized. I used the same needles and similar yarn. Not that I'm an expert knitter or anything, but I usually get the same results.

So Saturday night Tom and I went to a teeny tiny restaurant in town to hear Tony Furtado (there was a total of 44 tickets available, 34 were sold, and I don't think the place could have legally held 10 more people). I took my knitting; I don't care how good the music is, I can't just sit. And I have what my sisters and I call that "uptight white ass" thing going on, so I simply cannot dance through a show. Can. Not. Much as I want to. So I knitted.

I knew that the hat was too big, but it was so pretty. I had to finish it. I did, and I immediately knew that it was going to be torn up and reknit. But instead of simply doing that and getting on with it, I had to take a new hank of yarn, wind it into a ball (while sitting in the "front row"--all five chairs of it, not that I was sitting in all five chairs) and make an incredible mess of it. It took me an hour to get all the knots out of the last few yards.

So I started a new hat, one from the Toast colorway. It's okay; it's not my favorite, but it's got brown, blue, and cream in it, or maybe it's gray instead of brown, I'll have to check the photos, so it's an okay hat for a little boy. It's just not gorgeous.

Another woman came up to me at the break and thanked me for knitting there; she felt then that she could get out her knitting. Huh? I got over that a long time ago. I knit everywhere. She was older than I am, too. Hell, I knit at a Billy Joel concert. (That's true, but meant to be sarcastic.)




See? Just not gorgeous.



I ended up sort of making up a pattern and combining it with one I already have. Okay, I just ripped off the pattern. I didn't like the rolled edge of the first one and I'm not particularly crazy about the eyelet row and tie in the original pattern. It's cute, but not boy-cute. I got the pattern as part of a kit on ebay years ago and I've used it many times (like I said, it had always come out the right size before), but I like a ribbed edge better. And I like the fit of the decreased top.

And I like the way the top swirls.

The show was wonderful. The audience was appreciative. I knit three inches of a hat in the dark. Good night all around.

Even if the hat isn't gorgeous.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Back to knitting and yarn

A couple of knitting-related items:

I'm knitting a hat for a co-worker's baby, his first. He's taught English here for the last couple of years, and it turned out that he taught my youngest niece in college, too. His baby shower is Monday, so I started the hat a couple of days ago and am almost finished.

I'm making it of Claudia's sport-weight yarn, Santa Fe colorway, and I am just thrilled with the yarn and the colors. It's tightly twisted and has such a nice feel to it. The colors are blending so beautifully that I want to make a top or sweater for myself of the same yarn.







Second, here's a photo of the last bag 'o' yarn from work, with Chester the Cat for size comparison. I'm up to over $6300 retail that's been given to me in just a few months.



I love that job.

(Except that I finished my dye-room clean up early yesterday and there was nothing else for me to do, so I ended up vacuuming the office, which contains a huge bird cage for a huge bird, and now I'm stuffy. I'm allergic to birds.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Did I say stupid?

Have you ever heard your eyes move? It's really freaky.

It happened to me yesterday. It's happened before, when I started taking a new antidepressant or antianxiety drug, but I'd forgotten how bad it is.

I started out taking neurontin last Wednesday at noon. I took it Thursday at noon, too, then realized that it wasn't working out too well. I tried Friday at bedtime, but I was stupid by Saturday. I took it Saturday and Sunday evenings earlier, but by yesterday I was pretty much reduced to being a mouth breather. I could feel my IQ dropping.

I had an appointment with my allergist yesterday morning. For the first time he didn't insist that I have asthma. I kind of knew that because none of the many, many asthma medications he insisted that I try over the last few years worked, including albuterol. The tests that the pulmonologist sent me for a few weeks ago proved that I don't have asthma. Dr. Allergy finally said, "well, I guess you don't have asthma." But. There's one more test that I could take to see if I do, and Dr. God could do it. I nixed that idea fast.

So, Dr. Allergy went along with it and prescribed prednisone. I know it's bad bad bad for the body, but it clears up my stuffy nose and, best of all, my cough. Unfortunately, I can only take it for such a short time that the symptoms come right back. This time he prescribed it for a few days longer with a few days' worth of tapering off. Already, after one dose yesterday at lunch, I can breathe through my nose and I'm coughing less. It's a miracle drug.

But oh I was sick yesterday. I took the prednisone with lunch, and within half an hour I was so sick I could hardly sit, much less stand. Of course, that was my time to answer the phones in the main office, and there was no one who could "sit" in for me yesterday. I just hope that I gave the right meds to kids who came in for them. (I haven't heard of any deaths yet.)

That's when I could hear my eyes move. They swished. Loudly. I couldn't think. I had a big project to finish by 3, my laptop cord has decided it doesn't want to work for the school system any longer and I had maybe 3 minutes of power left before the laptop battery died, and people kept talking to me and expecting me to talk back. And make sense. I managed to make the changes I needed to make to the database I was working on, saved it to a cd and also emailed it to myself in case I needed to use another computer until I can get another power cord, and then the cord started working. (It's worked on and off today, and another one has been ordered. I love that the school system buys three-year warranties on its laptops, and even if it isn't covered by the warranty, they order parts without question.)

I called my after-school yarn job and begged off for my afternoon shift, all $10 worth of it. I hated to do it, but my eyes were swishing. I was afraid to attempt to pick up and walk with a 14-gallon stainless steel pot, and I'd probably mix up the dyes and really screw things up, so I very very very carefully drove the 4 miles to pick up Tom and we went home early. Luxury! Except that my eyes were swishing. And the sun flashing through the trees was absolutely painful.

Poor Tom wasn't feeling well either (but his eyes weren't swishing, thank goodness) so he went to bed at 6 p.m. I made it to 7:15. (I watched "Everybody Loves Raymond", which I rarely have a chance to see. Guilty pleasure.) I slept soundly till 1:30, and that was it. Ambien can't overpower prednisone's insomnia after 6 hours.

But this morning my eyes weren't making noises and I don't feel so bad. I haven't taken any meds yet either. I'll do that after I leave my yarn job.

And I'll pray that my eyes don't make any more noises.

Are you a teacher?

HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU ARE A TEACHER? by Jeff Foxworthy

1. You can hear 25 voices behind you and know exactly which one belongs to the child out of line.
2. You get a secret thrill out of laminating something.
3. You walk into a store and hear the words 'It's Ms/Mr. ___' and know you have been spotted.
4. You have 25 people that accidentally call you Mom/Dad at one time or another.
5. You can eat a multi-course meal in under twenty-five minutes.
6. You've trained yourself to go to the bathroom at two distinct times of the day: lunch and planning period.
7. You start saving other people's trash, because most likely, you can use that toilet paper tube or plastic butter tub for something in the classroom.
8. You believe the teachers' lounge should be equipped with a margarita machine.
9. You want to slap the next person who says 'Must be nice to work 7 to 3 and have summers off.'
10. You believe chocolate is a food group.
11. You can tell if it's a full moon without ever looking outside.
12. You believe that unspeakable evils will befall you if anyone says 'Boy, the kids sure are mellow today.'
13. You feel the urge to talk to strange children and correct their behavior when you are out in public.
14. You believe in aerial spraying of Ritalin.
15. You think caffeine should be available in intravenous form.
16. You spend more money on school stuff than you do on your own children.
17. You can't pass the school supply aisle without getting at least five items.
18. You ask your friends if the left hand turn he just made was a 'good choice or a bad choice.'
19. You find true beauty in a can full of perfectly sharpened pencils.
20. You are secretly addicted to hand sanitizer.
21. You understand instantaneously why a child behaves a certain way after meeting his or her parents.

As for #8, I've always said it should be a full bar, and 11 and 12 are so true.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Hamster wheel, part deux

Tom and I left work early yesterday afternoon to go to our dr. appt with our new GP. This is a big deal. I've had a difficult time finding and keeping GPs for the last few years. First there was the lady doc who left without any notice after three years in the office. I saw her on a Wednesday and found out two months later, when I called for an appointment, that she'd just up and left town the next day. I liked her; she always listened to me and was helpful.

Fortunately (I guess) another doctor had bought her practice. I made an appointment for a prescription refill visit, left work, and sat in his waiting room for over two hours. During that time I heard all kinds of griping from his nurses. When he finally saw me, he bitched about the help, told me that he didn't have time to discuss my meds with me, and anyway, he didn't think I should be taking those meds. I calmly told him that the doctor who had the practice before he did had prescribed them, my psychologist had recommended them, and I intended to keep taking them. He hastily scribbled out prescriptions for 30 days' worth and tossed them at me, sneering. The man sneered at me. He then told me to make another appointment to discuss these things.

On the way out, I once again heard the nurses discussing Dr. Charm in low voices. When one finally asked if she could help me, I told her that I wouldn't be returning and would soon have my records sent to another doctor. She was sympathetic.

Tom suggested that I make an appointment with his doctor, whom he liked. I did, and I liked him too. He was always on time, he was thorough, he listened to me closely and was willing to try new ways to manage my cough.

Unfortunately, it turned out that he liked women and self-prescribing drugs, not necessarily in that order, and not necessarily legally. After his first trial was delayed a couple of months, the state medical board suspended his license for a year.

So another doctor came in to fill in for him until he could regain his license. Unfortunately (again), another woman accused Dr. Lover of sexual impropriety in his office, then he was arrested for forging prescriptions for narcotics, and regaining his license became an improbability. Doc Crazy filled in for about 8 months. Doc Crazy was old, very old, and very hyperactive. He couldn't stay in the exam room for more than a couple of minutes before he was up and running to find his prescription pad, some book or other, or to ask the staff a question. He was also extremely slow. The average appointment with him lasted about 2-3 hours. It got to the point that I wouldn't make an appointment unless I was dying. Forget refills.

Last week that office called me to tell me the results of my chest CT scan that Dr. Pulmo had ordered (and who hadn't bothered to call with the results). The nurse said that they had a new doctor, so I made appointments for Tom and me.

We left work early for appointments starting at 3. We shouldn't have done that.

Of course some sickie lady was sitting in the waiting room moaning and groaning and they took her in first (had worked her in). I can understand that, but. Our appts were at 3, and it was 4:45 before the doctor came in. We'd already expressed our displeasure at having to take sick leave and then sit that long, and the nurse said that this was the first time he'd been late in the two weeks he'd been there. Well, the last new doc to come in, Crazy Doc, took 3 hours with my first appointment with him and they'd had to work someone in there, too. But, Dr. New Doc actually listened, even though there were patients waiting after us (he damn well better take time with us). I'd taken in a number of things I'd printed from the internet about my cough, and he read the email from the dr. in Warrenton (who emailed more info today for the GP) and prescribed a low dose of Neurontin (I thought it was for seizures, but it's for neuropathy) that can be increased up to 10x this strength. He said it's well-tolerated by most people, and it shouldn't make me stupid. He told me to stop taking benedryl because it's drying me out, to keep water or warm tea with me all day, and to stop talking as much as possible. (Ha! I answer the school phones for 25% of each day.) He said to start taking Xanax again in combination with Neurontin. Also, his recommendation is to move somewhere it's warm and humid. I told him I can't do that for another 5-8 years, but I'll keep that in mind.

He said that he thinks that my bronchial sacks are probably inflamed and that's what's causing the cough. Water doesn't help because the tickle isn't in my esophagus. He thinks that it might be time to do a brochioscopy to see if my lungs are inflamed. I asked why on earth no doctor had said that before since I've had just about every stinking test other than that; he said that it's invasive and more dangerous because they put a big tube down the throat and into the lungs to take a sample. It can collapse a lung.

So I'll try Neurontin first. I took the first one today. I don't feel too stupid yet.

At least, not much more stupid than usual.

My life on the medical hamster wheel

I went back to the pulmonologist yesterday morning. Basically he can't help me and he wants me to come back in 6 months. Um, no.

The long story: he says that my lung function isn't as good as it should be. That's what the allergist says too. But I don't wheeze or don't get short of breath when I walk or climb stairs. The pulmo insists that's why I cough, even though the tickle comes when I inhale, not exhale. I argued with him. He's not used to patients who argue with God.

He wanted me to try more asthma inhalers, and I told him no. I've spent thousands of dollars on those things and they don't work. The tests that I had prove that I do not have asthma and I don't respond to asthma drugs. So there. He then said that all he can do is send me to a cough treatment center in BOSTON. Yes, Massachusetts. I showed him the articles that I'd googled and printed before I went to his office, and one is by an ENT in Warrenton (VA) who specializes in treating sensory neuropathic cough, which describes exactly what I have. He brushed that suggestion right into the crapper. No more ENTs, he says. The center in Boston has an ENT, a gastroenterologist, and a pulmonologist, and he wants me to see them. I don't see the difference; an ENT is an ENT as far as I'm concerned. One is one hour away and one is 9 hours away. I won't see any more ENTs in Hburg or Chville, but I will see the one in Warrenton if I want to.

So I emailed the dr. in Warrenton. Within 30 minutes I had a reply, saying that he'd be glad to see me (and my insurance $$$), but my GP could try the drugs he uses for this cough, amitriptyline (which I've tried, and it really helped, but it made me too stupid so I stopped taking it; mixed with Effexor it was too much), nortriptyline, tramadol, and Neurontin (gabapentin). He said that he has one patient on two of the drugs. We're seeing our new GP this afternoon, so I'm taking his email and the article he wrote, and we'll see what happens.

I told Dr. God that I'm worn out fighting this cough. I'm getting off the hamster wheel. No more asthma drugs. If necessary, I'll go to NIH or the Mayo Clinic. No more farting around with local "specialists". Give me a GP who will listen to me.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Stumpy's harem


Maybe, just maybe, Stumpy has rounded up his own little harem. It seems to consist of his sister, Stella (who is very antsy these days; maybe she realizes that she's his sister and that just isn't done--but this is West Virginia, after all), Molly (who turned out to be a boy), Jason and Kelsey the twins, Old Mommy, and a couple of assorted adult females and their babies. They've been hanging around together all summer, except for the newer ones and Old Mommy.

Stumpy disappeared for a few days a week or two ago, but he's been back with the ladies and babies since then. He's very comfortable at the house; the others tend to jump and bolt a few feet when we toss the corn at them, but he just stays put. He stalks poor Old Mommy and chases her off when he sees her; she in turn chases off the babies. Stella bolts at every little sound. Molly, Jason and Kelsey bolt but come right back.

Old Mommy, whoever she is, is old, fat, and pretty placid. Her face looks like a donkey's to me. She must have pretty much eaten and rested all summer, because she's in wonderful shape for an old deer. She hangs around the porch for hours waiting for a handout.

It's so cool to drive up the driveway in the evening and see several deer lying in the tall grass, one or two off to the side, and more coming down the hill and around the house. Tom sends Zippy outside to do his business; he and the deer cross within a few feet of each other and don't even seem to notice. Later, when the deer have eaten all their corn and have wandered off into the yard, if we go outside they run right back, even if we don't call them. There are as many as 11 in the yard at once; the usual group is 8, but lately there have been a few more.

Photos follow.

Old Mommy

Stumpy, Molly, Jason and Kelsey



Fat Old Mommy



Stumpy and friends



There are 9 deer in this photo; they're watching the other two who'd just gone down the hill to the creek.

Doggie Knitting

After quite a long break, I'm knitting doggie sweaters again. For a while, when my left eye was so bad, it was difficult to knit with needles smaller than 13 or 15, but now I'm back to knitting with smaller ones. I've knit three doggie sweaters, small ones, in just over a week. They're different colorways of the same yarn, Moonlight Mohair I think it is (I could lean over and dig into my bag and check, but that would involve, well, leaning over).

I think that I blogged the pattern last week sometime, Penny from knitty.com. It's the easiest and fastest pattern that I've found yet. After the first sweater, I've modified the pattern a little to add a little tail or skirt at the bottom after binding off at the rib cage. It looks a little more finished to me that way, like a little more time went into knitting it, and it was maybe an hour more time. These sweaters will all go the UYR. If you check that page, you'll see some sweaters that I knit last winter: the blue tweed, bright green fur, Kooky black, and turquoise with fur trim. That pattern is similar to Penny but uses straight stockinette stitch, while Penny is all 2x2 rib.

This is a photo of the latest one, in Purple Mountain; the others were Rainforest and some other poetic name; the yarn is by Lion Brand. I'm not a fan of the yarn, but then I'm picky these days.



But you know what yarn I hate the most? Lion Brand's Homespun. It has a twist in it of some kind of string along with really fuzzy (almost squeaky to me) acrylic, and the acrylic slips and slides along that string and clumps up in knots. I'm knitting some scarves for the teen moms' program at the high school, and I really wish I hadn't promised to knit them. I didn't know what yarn they'd give me or I'd have said no. I finished one and have two more to go. I really hate touching that yarn, much less knitting with it.

Tonia, what we discussed last week? I took your advice. *wink wink*

Friday, November 02, 2007

More Sanibel photos