Priscilla, Queen of Everything

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A long time ago I lived in a really crappy neighborhood.  And this cat showed up and looked so pitiful that I had to feed her, she was so raggedy and sad.

I told my friend Mark about her and he decided to take her in.  Somehow he remembers the date:  July 25, 1997.

That cat.  Mark took her to the vet and she got the Cadillac treatment.  She needed some expensive dental work among other things, and Mark commented that she was gold-plated now.  So she remained in my head:  Priscilla, the Gold-Plated Cat.

A few months of good grub and her coat came in.  Gone was the raggedy little thing.  She had the most glorious, soft, luxurious coat.

Today Mark had to say goodbye to her.  Her little body finally wore out.  He gave her the calm, gracious exit that we all deserve.  Here is his farewell to her:

On July 25, 1997, a friend of mine, Debra Robertson, rescued a starving stray kitty and offered me the chance to become a cat dad. At the time, I think Deb and I had watched the very slightly offbeat movie, “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”. The poor recovering stray kitty didn’t have any voice left due to outdoor misadventure. She had this really gravelly voice, like one would expect from a drag queen who had spent their entire life in a smoky bar. She even had big hair. Thus I dubbed stray kitty as Priscilla. Made sense at the time… You had to be there.

For the first two weeks she spent the entire time under the sofa in the living room. I had to sit down next to the sofa every night after work to talk to her and set out tempting treats. Eventually she acclimated and laid claim to the house. She and I have had many adventures in moving and home projects over the years. She had developed into a very social cat that worked the room when guests came over. Quite the Deva.

She helped to keep me grounded during some very difficult times. Cats (and dogs) are very much in the moment. There is very little worry about abstract concepts like grief, aging, or fear of job loss. They persevere because that is what life tells them to do and they take joy in the moment.

She had a few close calls and emergency visits to the vet, but overall she maintained very good health in her advanced years. Not being able to climb the fence anymore, she was content to patrol the backyard. I had landscaped many trees and bushes back there for stealthy rodent ambushing. The pond became her favorite water supply and source of entertainment.

Over the last few months Priscilla had been steadily declining. I knew things were changing and time was catching up. This week she took a further turn and stopped eating. Last night she let me know that it was time. I spent the whole night going back and forth on what to do. I didn’t want to be premature if she was still enjoying life. But I also wanted to do right by her and not make her go through further discomfort. Her systems were shutting down and she couldn’t get comfortable.

Today we had our last morning ritual together. Something we’ve been doing for years. We made our way to the pond, sat for coffee in the garden, then had treats on the patio (her favorite chicken & gravy baby food).

The very kind vet lady came over at 8am and explained the process. We went upstairs to Priscilla, rather than move her about. Priscilla passed away on the bed, on her favorite fake fur blanket, receiving scritches and pets. There was no fear, pain, or unfamiliar surroundings. It was very peaceful.

The vet wrapped her in a special blanket and took her to the crematorium. I plan to have a memorial marker made and will place it in one of her favorite spots in the garden. I miss her even now.

When I get home from work tonight I will begin the process of cleaning up/packing/throwing out all the things I’ve grown accustomed to supporting; food dish, water bowl, litter box, toys, and favorite blankets. It already feels strange. It’s going to be a rough week.”

Rest in peace, beautiful, merciless Priscilla.  Until we meet again.

3 Legs on the Fourth. And a Torso.

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So about 12-ish years ago I was hanging around on one of the campuses of the local community college, for reasons I can’t even recall.  Probably I was enrolling in a class?  And this musical group was playing a free noontime concert, and it was so compelling that I sat down and listened to it.  And that was 3 Leg Torso, and it was magical and stuff.

Years later I found a website and downloaded a few songs that were up for free.  And have lovingly loaded them onto each computer and mp3 player and phone that I have ever used.

Last fall they played with Storm Large and it was so fantastic I was practically schvitzing.  It was the first time I’d ever actually seen them since that noontime concert all those years ago.  They did not disappoint.

I got a new job last fall and it has been stressful.  Christmas was all set to whiz past in a blur, and I had a hard time getting into it because I was so busy and stressed.  I had one. single. day. off.

Then The Lovely Rhonda found this:  3 Leg Torso xmasAnd we went to see it and Christmas came bizarrely alive.

This year we found ourselves at loose ends for the 4th of July.  Usually we are at family camp at Camp Adams for the 4th, but this year we were home owing to the fact that the 4th fell on Saturday, the day camp was over.  We pawned the children off on their other households under the guise of “since we’ve hogged it these past five years you can have a turn, you’re welcome” and savored the idea of a leisurely day of holiday barbecues or similar.

But then.

A few days before we left for camp, TLR found an event: 3 Leg Torso, playing on the rooftop of what used to be a high school but has been transformed into a swanky multi use type of thing with a music venue inside. Fully catered, bar available, view of the fireworks.  And, a wedding was taking place.  A same-sex wedding, which is relevant to our interests as well.

We took a friend, Marie, and her exchange student from Osaka, and we braved the heat.

Did I mention how expensive the tickets were?  They were expensive.  Like, crazy expensive.

We arrive, feeling very much not cool enough for this event in both ways:  it was hot, and we are not the cool kids.

And we head up front to get seats and Marie sidles up to one of the guys and OMG.  Marie knows this guy.  And we start talking to them and they sit down and eat with us and it’s all fangirl up in here.

And because the event was kind of last-minute, and the tickets were so spendy, there weren’t that many people there to see the show.  it was like attending a private show.  It was seriously so much fun, you guys.  It was surreal.

3 Leg Torso rooftopSeven years ago TLR and I shacked up together on the 4th of July.

Best anniversary ever.

Ode to Papa Murphy

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So back when my offspring was barely over a year old or so there was a Thing That Happened.  It was a traumatic thing and not something I’ll talk about a lot here because it is of a sensitive nature to another person, and that person is deserving of some privacy about it.  But I will say that it involved a mental health issue, and it turned my life upside down.

For a while the Thing That Happened was very much a part of my daily life, and it was stressful.  I am an anxious person by nature and if a Thing happens in the life of an anxious person, that person may not cope all that well.  I basically didn’t sleep more than four or five hours a night for years.  I still have issues with sleep, but it’s not as bad as it was then.  Every light in the house stayed on, the TV was on day and night so that I wouldn’t have to be alone with my thoughts, and I submerged myself in World of Warcraft after my daughter was in bed for the night.  I maintain to this day that WoW probably saved my sanity, by giving me an escape and providing me with a way to connect with other humans without leaving my house.  My kid was in bed by 7pm and I rarely could sleep before 1am.  That’s a long time to spend alone with scary, stressful thoughts.

Sometimes when the Thing was especially bad the person involved would be hospitalized, and this was a huge relief.  They were safe and I was relieved of a little bit of responsibility for a few days.  Or a few weeks.

Sometimes when this happened I would drive home by way of the take-and-bake pizza chain and I would get a pizza that had all the things I liked (but nobody else did).  And maybe I’d get a six pack of decent microbrew, or some sodas.  And I’d sit after my baby was in bed and I’d enjoy some pizza and I’d play some WoW and I’d feel relaxed for the first time in probably months.

Nowadays the Thing is not a part of my daily existence.  Well, it is in that I work in mental health, but it’s not part of my personal life.  I am and will always be anxious, and with a fairly demanding new job and being in school and having kids and being busy and stuff I have a certain amount of stress and pressure, but compared to the Thing That Happened this is kinda small potatoes.

Tonight The Lovely Rhonda is off experiencing things that I’m not interested in experiencing, so I dropped her off with friends and came home.  Having an evening to myself is extremely uncommon.  What to do?

I thought about going to a movie or something, but honestly nothing appealed to me as much as just being at home, on this rainy, blustery night.  On the way back home I picked up a small pizza from the take-and-bake place, and after it was out of the oven I ate some of it and drank a soda while I played WoW.  It brought to mind those days of incredible stress and despair, and worry, and I am grateful when I look back at how much relief and solace these ordinary things brought me.

raz with dino 2015

Family Photo Fun Time!

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So there was recently a death in my family, and I don’t really want to talk about it here.  It was tragic and senseless and sad and we are all sad.

In our sadness my brother and I went to see my mother, because that is what you do when you are sad, you go visit one another to just make sure the remains of your family is still actually intact.

We lunched and talked a bit and then Mother broke out the big ol’ boxes of family photos.  We sought out pictures of our lost one and in the process we unearthed so many gems that I finally gathered up a little trove of them to bring home and scan.  You will not be disappointed, internets.

Exhibit A:  a young Me riding a preschool precursor to the mighty motorcycle.  This photo was taken in Rota, Spain, where my father was stationed at the time in the Navy.  I am sporting a shy little smile and an enormous cast, which I wore for seven of what I am certain are the longest months in any mother’s history.  I had had a tumor which necessitated a bone graft and this cast is essentially what kept the lower part of my wee tiny baby leg attached to the rest of me.

Deb 19 months April 1969Exhibit B: Dad gets a motorcycle.  Rota, Spain, February of 1970.  My mother sent this photo to my grandmother and notes on the back: “Rob & his most prized possession.  That’s $900 worth of motorcycle.  He’d sell me before he’d sell it.”  Note that he bears a passing resemblance to a young James Garner.  He now bears a passing resemblance to an older James Garner, if James Garner were of hardier German peasant stock than I suspect he actually was.

Dad Bonneville 1969Exhibit C: The children pose with Dad’s friend’s Bonneville.  We were probably not permitted this close to Dad’s.  Note the funky aftermarket pipes.  Also, Mother informs me that she made this dress for me, and that my brother Craig had a matching shirt that she also made.

Deb Craig BonnevilleExhibits D and E: Spanish Motocross.  Somewhere near Rota, Spain, December of 1969.  Does Mother not look extra glamorous in these?  I can’t get over it.  She is in the orange jacket.  May I bring your attention to Craig and I guzzling beverages from cans in the first, while he is also wearing someone’s golden astronauty-looking helmet?  And LOOK at the split-window VW bus in the second!  This is too much.  It’s too much, I say.  motocross 1969 motocross 1969aExhibit F: Mother and I pose with Bonneville and pregnant dog.  It is noted on the back that this was before the dog, Busta, had her pups.  What happened to Busta or the pups is lost to history, at least until I inquire of Mother.

motocross 1969bExhibit G is my grandmother, Vivian Irene Kuno, and I think those are cousins.  My Mother can certainly fill me in, I’ll have to ask her.  This photo is not dated but my grandmother was born in 1923 and looks around 7ish?  So in the neighborhood of 1930ish.  The names, from left:  Vivian, Francis, Bernice, Marjorie, Eunice, Jeannette.  How Grapes of Wrath is this picture?

Vivan Kuno and cousinsAnd lastly (for tonight, as this is all I have managed to scan in as yet, but more will follow), Exhibit H: Grandma Vivian, stylish and young, 1948.  She looks as though butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, and it probably wouldn’t, and I say that with tremendous love and respect.

Vivian Kuno

Fernichers

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So recently The Lovely Rhonda and I decided to replace our bed, which was becoming a canoe.  We both spent our nights clinging to the edges and trying not to roll into one another, except when I would somehow (allegedly) end up in the center of the bed and (allegedly) wallow there in all my glory, thereby (allegedly) restricting her to a thin strip of the mattress.  This is entirely hearsay and she can’t prove anything, but to humor her we spent an insane amount of money on what had better turn out to be the nicest bed anyone’s ever slept on, including Elvis Presley and the Queen of Anyplace.

Off we went to a mattress retailer and procured a mattress that cost more than my first car.  It cost, in fact, more than 3 times what I paid for my first car.  Of course, that was in like 1994 and it was a ’66 Chevy BelAir beater, but still.

Then we thought to ourselves, well, I guess it’s time for real furniture.  We already had a sort of a real bed in that it was a wooden headboard and footboard and all that, but it was from Ikea.  Which is like real furniture except flimsier.  Now we were upgrading to a bigger bed, so…  we found ourselves in a big-box furniture store which for the sake of argument we’ll call Por, for that is similar to its actual name and nicely describes the feeling we left with, searching for a sturdy, heirloom-quality bed set.

We wandered around, marveling at the many truly hideous collections and occasionally appreciating a few items.  After narrowing it down to two styles, we hunted down a Ferenghi and commenced with the haggling.

I kid.  I’m not a haggler.  I find it stressful.  I’m not scrappy in that way.  Just tell me the price and let me get this over with.

The nice salesman, whom we shall call Tad the Wonder Boy, oiled his way over to us and opened the faucet of smarm.  I believe he may have even referred to us as “ladies,” which just goes to show.  I’m not sure what it shows, but it does.

It turned out that the one collection was completely out of stock, so we decided to go with the other.  “Oh, well, that one’s mostly in stock,” said Tad the Wonder Boy encouragingly.  We hashed out the details and arranged to pick up the in-stock items at the warehouse.  I signed away some of my future earnings and away we went.  (It’s okay, though; no interest and no tax, if you’re worried about our spending habits.  It’s on time but at least it’s not on time and racking up interest!)

We arranged with a friend and her pickup truck to fetch the in-stock items, which was promised to be all but one item.  This occurred in the rain and dark, the friend got lost, and I was fighting the flu, so yay.  Goooood times.  We squeaked in at the last moment to get the stuff — but no.  Only the bed frame was in stock.  TAD YOU LYING BASTARD COME DOWN HERE RIGHT NOW, I wanted to say, but I held it in.  Just keep swimming.  We tied the gargantuan boxes to the truck and inched our way home.  Unloading the boxes was sure fun.  Not only were they huge, and now damp, they were also ridiculously heavy.

A couple of days later here comes a message from Tad.  He does not understand why they did not provide me with all of the furniture items promised.  He insinuates that the warehouse folk are perhaps enthusiasts of certain quasi-legal herbal remedies. He offers to have the remaining items delivered, free of charge.

Uh, no.  When I call back to schedule delivery, the very nice lady tells me that if they deliver, they will have to charge state tax.  Instead we are promised a gift card at the conclusion of the deal.  Fine.  I’ll take it.

Oh, and also.  Tad had his head firmly lodged way up his posterior regions when he told me we could pick the items up when we planned to, because the items (aside from the bed frame) wouldn’t actually be delivered to the warehouse until days later.

Then the other night I finally got off my lazy, trying-not-to-get-the-flu butt and measured the room.

Um, you guys?  We have a problem.  The furniture is too large to fit.

Today I returned to Por and informed them of the problem.  They congratulated me for at least measuring before I got the furniture home.  We swapped out the dresser/mirror for a taller, skinnier chest of drawers.  Which sadly won’t be here for a month.  I then drove to the warehouse and took delivery of the existing, miraculously in-stock nightstand and chest of drawers, which equally miraculously fit nicely into the back of the Minivan of Justice.

While I waited for the alleged herbal remedy enthusiasts to gather my items from the capacious warehouse, I observed a well-dressed couple returning a mirror.  It possessed a flaw, they said.  This led to the following text message exchange:

Me: Watching a bitchy yuppie couple inspect a mirror for distortion.

TLR: Oh boy.

Me: “This mirror has the same flaw!” *stamps tiny high heel impatiently*

TLR: Wow.  I can’t even imagine.

Me: I believe they are fetching yet a third for inspection.

Me: Meanwhile mr and mrs bitchy resting face fume silently

Me: Now he has his arm around her protectively.

TLR: Must protect her from flawed mirrors!

Me: She will blame him for her ugliness and he will say it’s not the mirror! And she will shoot him with his own gun.

TLR: HAHAHAHAHA

Dudebros and Dirty Hippies

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So last weekend was Labor Day weekend, which we celebrated by driving for hours to the middle of nowhere and camping in a big wagon-wheel campground. We did this with I don’t know, several thousand other like-minded individuals from every walk of life. We camped and then in the evenings we went to see some music. Some Brandi Carlile and some Dave Matthews Band.

You may recall that I am now lightly disabled in that my glorious feets decline to carry me for long without discomfort that progresses into bona-fide pain. I’m still adjusting to this idea. But in the interest of being able to go to the zoo, the fair, Disneyland, etc, we purchased a scooter off of Craigslist recently. And I now have a disabled parking pass, because on a bad day a trip to the grocery store is pretty iffy and every step saved is a blessing. It’s kind of ridiculous. And sad. And it really, really pisses me off.

But it is what it is, and so because I didn’t think I could manage the long hike to and from the campground we inquired as to what accommodation could be found there.

So it happened that we found ourselves in the ADA part of the campground, which is closest to the general store and the shuttle and so forth. And as I understand it, it’s somewhat quieter than the standard campground, although a surprising number of people have zero compunctions about having loud conversations at 7am in a campground full of sleeping campers. More on that later.

If you’ve never been to the Gorge Amphitheater, you’re missing out. It’s pretty much perfect.Kinda amazing, no?

I’ve seen DMB here on a couple of other occasions but had reserved seats each time and stayed in hotels.  This was totally different.

For starters, we got lawn tickets.  Above the flat area where the reserved seats are, where there would be balconies in a theater, is the lawn.  It’s a terraced hillside and it’s general seating aside from a small reserved area.  We had intended to sit on a blanket in this area, perhaps with event chairs, and while away the afternoons.

But then we saw the ADA section.  If you camped in the ADA section or parked in ADA parking, you got a wristband like so:

247… Which in turn enabled you to sit in the ADA section of the amphitheater, and also to use the ADA restrooms which are quite nearby.  The top photo shows the view from the ADA section.  It’s not bad, right behind the reserved boxes, and nobody stands up and obscures your view like on the lawn.  It’s first come first served, but this wasn’t really an issue if you got there in time to see Brandi Carlile perform, which we did.

The shows were amazing.  DMB performed Long Black Veil which I am told they NEVER do, and also Crash, which they NEVER play, and also Spoon, which THEY DON’T EVER PLAY IN CONCERT OMG.

We had our personal fanboy Robert along, and he was very enthusiastic about the aforementioned factoids.

Robert is a bartender and all around awesome guy, and we had a great time camping with him.  For starters, we found that we could bellow ROBEEEERT! at him very satisfyingly.  He showed us the ropes of camping and was a delight to have around.  This is him:

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ROBEEEERT

The Lovely Rhonda was also in attendance, of course, and our friend Joni whom we know from nursing school.  Here they all are at the first night’s show.  Note how tidy and well-groomed everyone looks.

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They may have sold some adult beverages at the show, which we might have enjoyed. Maybe.

The real fun, however, was in the camping.

For starters, TLR is not a camper.  I was told early on that she required hotels, hair dryers, lattes, etc. to travel.  There will be none of this “camping,” so I was told.

Then Robert said we should camp, so suddenly we were camping.

Yeah, I’m not sure what happened either, but there it is.

We actually purchased a tent.  And these foam futon-y things we found in the As-Is section of Ikea.  Originally we were going to sleep in the back of the Minivan of Justice, but then we got the tent.  Why?  I don’t know.  It just kind of happened.  Because TLR said so, that’s why.

The ADA section is interesting.  It’s also overflow for “Premier” camping, which is basically ADA amenities for 75 dollars more per night and a fence around the area.

Behind our site was a big fifth-wheel trailer.  After a while a guy who we named The Nicest Man in the Whole Wide World ambled over.  He was from Montana, and his son has had ALS for seven years.  Here they are:

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This is not the best photo of them, it must be confessed, but it’s the only one I have.

The son can barely move or speak.  This is what he wanted to do, said TNMITWWW, So here we are.

They managed to get a message to Dave Matthews asking for an autograph, and Dave signed the freaking set list for him.  Because Dave is awesome.

263When it was time to pack up we shook TNMITWWW’s hand.  We said we hoped to see them all next year.  But I’m not sure we will.

Elsewhere in the campground we saw so many interesting folks.  Like this lady, who spent the majority of all three days wandering the ADA section of the campground talking on her cellphone.  From the bits of convo I overheard, it was all gossip and chit chat.  WTH lady?!

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Hastily snapped photo with finger.

At one point I did attempt to shower, but the line just to get into the shower, disabled or not, was at least an hour long.

Welp, looks like another layer of deodorant it is!  The Lovely Rhonda stayed for the shower but I just couldn’t sit there that long.

By the time we got home, my hair was starting to form actual dreadlocks and TLR stayed carefully upwind of me at all times.

Next: Going Home

Flu sucks.

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So I am currently hosting some kind of convention for crappy viruses and the upshot of this is that I feel really, really crummy.  This has been going on since Sunday afternoon when instead of running a few errands, doing a little housework, and settling in to a few carefree hours of masters-level homework, I found myself paralyzed by fatigue in my Really Big Kinda Ugly Leather Recliner.

I failed to really seize on the importance of this until bedtime when I began to shiver uncontrollably.  This is when the whining began.  The Lovely Rhonda can attest:  “Man, I feel crappy.  This is like tuberculosis crappy.  Nobody said I would feel this crappy.  I don’t know if I can go on feeling this crappy.”  I spent the rest of the night alternately sweating and mourning the loss of virtually all of the strength in my entire body.

Yesterday (Monday) I spent laying in bed.

Those of you who know me, even only through FB or similar, may note that this is unusual for me.  While I am admittedly lazy, there is also a limit to the amount of idleness I can stand, so eventually, even when afflicted with pneumonia or the actual bona-fide flu, I will still do laundry or alphabetize the bookshelf or something.

Oh, not yesterday.  I laid in bed so long that my back hurts.  I did shower and had grandiose plans of going to a store to purchase soap and root beer, more out of needing a small errand to get me out of the house than any urgent need for either item.  But then I sat down to put my shoes on.

I wear orthotics in my shoes and transferring them to a different pair of shoes (because motorcycle boots don’t really go with shorts) was more complication than I was prepared to handle.  I went back to bed.

I have virtually nothing to show for yesterday, and that for me is pretty impressive.

Today is slightly better in that I actually emerged from bed and then made coffee and toast, and sat watching Carol Burnett DVDs for a little while.

Now I’m going to go lay down and gather strength for showering and looking at work email.