Monthly Archives: December 2012

Say goodnight, 2012.


So it’s New Year’s Eve.

Shortly I’m going to log off and make fudge and take it over to some friends’ house and sit and play games and talk to people and eat things dipped into other things and drink things mixed with more things (but not very many things because I want to come home tonight safe and sound, so really it’ll be mostly soda) and aside from the fact that The Lovely Rhonda won’t be there, it’ll be a) lovely and b) essentially a repeat of last New Year’s Eve, except I drank more things that time.

I won’t be sorry to see the end of this year in some respects, because some Difficult Things happened, but there were other things that happened that were nicer.  So it’s not like it was the worst year ever.

We lost an ebullient backyard Lothario of a cat who mercilessly slaughtered every small animal that crossed his path.

We gained a petite girl cat who loves food in almost all forms and sleeps curled up in an impossibly small ball.

We lost the friendliest, most unassuming fetch-obsessed dog in the world, and with him the, um, fragrant clouds with which he liberally salted the house.

We gained a small black bundle of energy, part terrier, part wiener dog, whose only real fault so far is that he cannot resist the siren call of the hallway carpet if left alone too long.

We endured many discomforts that cannot be discussed here, and we were not always nice to each other.

We always made up and learned from our mistakes.  Mostly.

Okay, maybe just Rhonda did that part.

We did millions of loads of laundry, paid many bills, washed many dishes, and sent many text messages.

A few days from now we will stand in front of a bunch of weirdos our friends and family and pledge to keep doing what we already do, only now with certain legal benefits previously unavailable to us.   And we will eat cake and high-five each other, or something, and life will continue as it has but more so.

Come on in, 2013.  Stay a while.  Maybe about a year?



Only Panicking a LITTLE


So I’m getting married in less than a week.

Yes, friend(s), one week from today I’ll be at the beach with the wife.  The actual wife.  Of me.  My actual wife.

We’re gathering steam for the final week of preparations.  I’d go into lengthy detail if I thought either of you would care, but since I don’t think that is the case, I’ll just boil it down to a couple of things.

For starters, the house has been un-Christmased.  I’m allowing the boxes of decorations to mellow in the living room before the final push to unearth their dwellings in the garage, which is a major sh!thole.  This is not entirely my fault, although I am certainly a contributor — the drywall and other materials for the last stages of the home improvement project are all in a big heap on one side of our adorable mini-garage, making it more of a filthy jumble.  I’ve lost enthusiasm for rooting around in junk for today, and there’s always that one stinking ornament that shows up after you’ve stowed everything, so the living room is where the three big totes are living for the moment.  I’ll finish that up tomorrow, unless someone wants to come over and clean out the garage right now.

No?  Nobody wants to?  FINE.

I’ve also done some vacuuming and am about to embark on that most delightful of tasks, cleaning the litter box.  I cannot wait for the cat’s face to heal so that we can retire the litter box once again.  I keep wanting to ask him if his face hurts, BECAUSE IT’S KILLING ME, HA HA HA!  But I refrain, because he does not speak the English.

In my opinion The Lovely Rhonda should be volunteering to clean the box at least one-third of the time, since her cat Hermione is contributing at LEAST one-third of the contents of said box, but I doubt she will see this my way.  Perhaps a pre-nup is in order…

Today I attended services at the church.  I was alone because TLR is at work today and the children are at their other households.  Everyone at church looked upon me in wonder and amazement: Just  you today?  Because I normally do not exist in nature without at least one orbiting child, if not three, as well as the future Mrs. Me.  And when I nodded, Yes, just me, each person without fail said something along the lines of Well, good for you!  Enjoy the peace and quiet!

Anyway, while I was there I looked around the sanctuary and the meeting hall and thought, OMG WHO IS GOING TO DECORATE THIS PLACE FOR THE WEDDING DO WE HAVE ENOUGH NAPKINS I HAVEN’T FINISHED THE SLIDE SHOW OR MUSIC GAAAAAAAAH.

And then I drove home and clutched the cat to my breast and rocked while muttering to myself about pew bows for a good hour, before I came to my senses.

It will all come together, and it will all be okay.

In the meantime, if either of you are interested in coming over to tie a bajillion little golden jingle bells together into bunches, drop me a line.


Frugality has its price


So the large main cat came in looking all pitiful with one side of his face all swollen up.  It was so swollen and he was so pitiful that I dragged myself out of my pajamas and through the shower in the early evening on Christmas Day so that I could go to the store for kitty litter.  He’d need to be kept in overnight and taken to the vet in the morning.

When I got out of the shower I could just see that something had happened in the vicinity of his face.  I will spare you the gory Technicolor description of what followed except to say that it’s a good thing that The Lovely Rhonda is a nurse, and also that I understand why veterinary technicians usually wear scrubs, i.e. are not naked and dripping wet whilst tending to an animal with a large abscess.

At this point we figured that his face would now heal on its own and let him back outdoors.

The next day TLR texted asking me to pick up litter after all since he was back and looking sad again.  He went to the vet that morning and was reasonably patient while they shaved half his face and cleaned what turned out to be a pretty ugly open wound on his cheek.  A quick shot in the behind of antibiotics and he was good to go.  “Oh,” says the vet, “and keep him inside for two weeks.”

Which is like saying, “Oh and also?  Teach him to recite pi to the forty-seventh digit.”

This morning he meowed piteously at our bedroom door until I let him in.  All went swimmingly until he climbed on top of us both and began to yowl.  Suddenly the bed exploded into activity when Rhonda sat bolt upright and hollered, “YOUR CAT IS PEEING ON US.”

And so he was.  And it was disgusting.

Which is how I ended up in the side yard hosing out the litter box at eight o’clock in the morning.  I’d fashioned a small temporary one out of a plastic storage container but I feared that perhaps it was too small for His Majesty’s liking, thus leading to the fun this morning.  The old litter box was full of rainwater and used kitty litter.  O joy.

Later I entered the kitchen in search of disinfectant and an old dish brush to finish my delightful task.  “And by the way?” I said to TLR, “The next time one of us just hauls a full litter box outside and leaves it in the rain instead of emptying it, it’s grounds for divorce.”

“But you can’t divorce yourself,” says TLR.  “Because I’m pretty sure it was you.”

“Oh, I don’t know, right now I think I could,” says I.  Twenty minutes spent prising clay spiked with cat turds out of a plastic box will do that to a person.

Also?  If you are out walking  your dogs and you see your neighbor standing in their side yard grimly hosing a litter box out at 8am on a forty degree morning, you can feel pretty secure in the idea that they are not doing this of their own free will.

The litter box is now ensconced in the laundry room and Himself is driving us all crazy meowing at all the doors and windows.  I think we will be lucky to keep him in for three days.

I may never feel clean again.  I informed Rhonda that it might be easier to just start over and clone me from some DNA off the hairbrush.

Oh and?  I could have driven to the store and bought a new litter box in the time it took me to clean this one, but somehow it felt just a little excessive.  Apparently fifteen dollars is my threshold.


Good Boy, Otto.


So the other night I was back in one of the kids’ rooms “helping” them wrap some gifts for The Lovely Rhonda.  And TLR came home, knowing where I and the kids were, yet still called to me from the other room.  I was slightly annoyed, but eventually came out of the bedroom to find her with Otto.

Otto who greeted everyone with a hearty bark and a tail wag like the lash of a springy steel cable but was now splayed awkwardly on the floor with a blank expression on his face.  Otto who was clearly not right.

We had to call someone to stay with the kids while we whisked him off to the vet.  I think we both knew Otto wouldn’t be coming home from this trip.  He’d had to be carried to the car.  He was panting and he couldn’t stand up.

The vet told us he probably had a hemangioma — a tumor.  His spleen, he said, was huge and had sharp, defined edges.  His gums were pale and his temperature was dropping.  He wasn’t in any pain but there wasn’t anything anyone could do.  He was thirteen, a gray old man whose enthusiasm for The Ball had never faded.  Yesterday he seemed fine, maybe a little less energetic, but up and moving around and eating.  Today he was leaving us.

We went back to the inner recesses of the vet office to say goodbye to him.  He was already mostly gone and when he heard Rhonda’s voice, he let go completely.  The vet gave him the medicine just to be sure he didn’t linger, but he didn’t charge for it.  He had been Otto’s vet since he was six weeks old.  Everyone there was so nice to us.  I’m sure they see this kind of thing every week, but they were all so nice to us.

His bed and his crate are gone from the house.  There is more floor space and fewer noxious clouds without him here.

We would have it all as it was before if we could.

He was a good boy.

The very good dog

With Bells On


So we didn’t send out too many paper invitations, because the wedding is pretty soon upon us and we are lazy busy people.

They turned out nicely, for homemade from a kit.  We are also cheap budget-conscious.

This is the reply card:

Did you hear a bell ring?

As you can see, Mother will be in attendance, allegedly with bells on.

The whole bell thing got The Lovely Rhonda to thinking.  It’s customary to shower the bride and bride with something as they leave the sanctuary, the church, the billiard hall, the Walmart — whatever location they have chosen for their nuptials.  It used to be popular to use rice, but then everyone got upset about the poor birds eating uncooked rice and getting tummyaches or something.  Then it was birdseed, but it turns out this makes for slippery conditions, and no one wants a newly-married man or lady to end up in the hospital with a sprained ankle (youthful bride) or broken hip (me).

So, says TLR, we shall have a basket of little bunches of bells, and so they shall ring us out.

Now, I can see a few flaws in this.

For one:  there will be children in attendance.  Children cannot hold still.  They like to ring bells.  They think that wedding ceremonies, no matter how awesomely lesbian and long-awaited, are super boring.  They will jingle bells when bells ought not be jingled.  There will be shushing, and perhaps crying.

Also: that is a LOT of bells.  I know, because I went to the place where you can buy such things and I bought a sh!t-ton of bells.  It will sound like a hive of angry yuletide wasps.  I’ll be surprised if we escape with our eardrums and/or sanity intact.

And?   Holiday PTSD.

But, despite all this, or perhaps because of it, I think it’s brilliant and look forward to sitting around tying bunches of bells together to put in a basket.



So yesterday I woke up Angry, and the other six dwarves: Cranky, Pissy, Funky, Disorganized, Impatient, and Depressive.

I suspect this was a combination of hormones (because I am elderly) and a delayed reaction to what happened in Connecticut.

Those babies.  Those teachers.  Those families.  My heart hurts.  I think everybody’s heart hurts right now.

I’m not engaging in the gun control vs. mental health funding debate going fast and furious on Facebook, because I am not that kind of person.

Hello, I work in mental health.  I’m always going to be pro-mental-health-care-accessibility.  Which means funding.

And, although I don’t enjoy the thought of anyone shooting anything living, I’m not anti-gun.  Look how well it works to outlaw drugs.

So, I don’t know the answers.  And I don’t want to debate them here.

I just know that yesterday was a hard day for me with very little joy in it.  I did a bit of holiday shopping and found that I could not make up my mind about anything, so even a few small purchases seemed to consume half the day.  I did manage to pick up some silvery metallic hose to wear to the wedding.


And school.  And Christmas.

What were we thinking?

Today will be better, perhaps.  Already I woke up and thought, I will try on The Dress with The Silvery Hose and The Shoes. 

Everyone should have a shiny black dress with a smart little jacket that channels the spirit of Lucille Ball, and shoes that look pretty swell and don’t hurt to walk in.

And just now, the small cat discovered the cursor and batted at the monitor quite fetchingly, and also attempted to make off with my fuzzy hat which she has been sleeping on every chance she gets.   Come to think of it, yesterday afternoon when I got home I sat down on the couch for some quality time with The World’s Most Affectionate Cat and soon found myself with all three cats and two dogs curled up within five feet of where I sat.  It may account for the slight lightening of my mood by the time The Lovely Rhonda got home.  She is very tolerant of me and deserves a medal.

I’m staying home to avoid inflicting myself on anyone in case this is infectious.  I’ll get some stuff done and it will make me feel calmer.  Tomorrow will be a better day.

The guy in the place with the thing


So recently in Our Fair State the voters decided it was okay to be gay.

Well, a narrow majority decided that if you’re going to be gay, you might as well be able to share in the abject horror dream within a dream that is marriage.  While you’re here.  In the state itself.  Not so much in other states, except the ten others that agree on this point.

Naturally, many individuals of the homosexual persuasion found this to be pretty exciting.  At last!  Just like the straight folk, we can kiss half our stuff goodbye if things go south!

I kid.  I’m a kidder.

Some people lined up at midnight in your larger cities.  Well, probably just the one.  Washington state really only has one large city.  The Lovely Rhonda and I don’t happen to live there, so that option was not available to us unless of course we wanted to drive for three hours in the dead of night and stand around in the chilly night air.  This would involve a babysitter and all kinds of hassle, so we opted out.

Instead we hustled the kiddies off to school and headed over to the courthouse by way of Starbucks.  Because coffee.

Once we arrived and wandered in the main door, the elderly volunteer stationed there took one look at us — sensibly-shod, traditionally-built women carrying lattes — and directed us to the second floor without asking what we were there for.  “How DID he know?” we marveled at one another.

Upstairs a very dapper African-American gent — he was so dapper that “gent” is the only word possible to describe him — instructed us to pre-register at the handy computer terminal and return to him for one of those take-a-number slips.  He even had a corsage pinned to his lapel.  We found out later that he has worked at the courthouse forever and had toiled long into the night and returned early in the morning to make sure everything went smoothly for people like us.  And he was issued the very first license, to finally marry his longtime partner.

Needless to say it took all my steely resolve not to blubber like a French soccer player.

We got our paperwork all taken care of and a photographer was on hand to take a few candid shots of us afterward.  I was not permitted to keep my latte in hand as was my wish, but apparently this is not all about me.

Afterward we drove away.

I am 45 years old.

This is the first time I will be able to legally marry the partner of my choosing.

*commence blubbering*

It comes in a plain brown wrapper!

Life Changing Accessories


So I’m the one who cleans the shower at our house.  It’s an arrangement borne out of a) The Lovely Rhonda’s bleach allergy, b) the excessive mildewy-ness of our particular shower which necessitates the use of bleach, and c) the fact that TLR is willing to take care of the bill-paying.  That last point alone is enough to carry this arrangement pretty far.  Guess who usually also mows the lawn and vacuums?

At any rate, I hate scrubbing the tub out.  It’s a cruddy job that involves a lot of bending over and grunting, and it’s not like anybody’s going to throw you a party for scraping a layer of mildew off the crappy old chipped tub.  But, it’s necessary and so I do it on at least a quarterly basis.  DON’T JUDGE

The worst part of the deal is the plastic shower curtain liner.  We have a fabric shower curtain and then one of those clear plastic liners you hang inside to keep the fabric one from getting gross.  So the inner one gets gross instead, and if I were a better person I would attempt to clean it, but by the time I get around to cleaning the dang shower the liner is pretty far gone.  I spring for the two bucks for a new one and problem solved.

Except wrestling that stupid thing off the rings and wrestling a new onto the rings was enough to throw me into a Hulk rage.  We had these cheap plastic rings that snapped open and closed, poorly.  Ugh.

And I’m elderly, so my vision is starting to get funny.  I’m nearsighted with just enough astigmatism to make life interesting, I have the beginnings of cataracts, and just because that wasn’t quite enough fun, I’m getting that irritating thing that happens to old people where I can’t see anything unless it’s either far away or three inches from my nose.

So I’m wrestling with annoying plastic rings, they are above my head, and they are just far enough away that I can’t see them clearly.


Cut to this past weekend, wherein I made the pilgrimage to my brother’s New Improved Mormon Stronghold.  He and the wife and tater tots just relocated and the new house is a corker, replete with interesting wall treatments, a different color of 80’s shag carpet in every room, and the remnants of a 60’s era intercom system, except here and there where the consoles have been removed in which case there are holes in the walls.  I am told the previous owners, the Winslows, enjoyed concealing the holes with strategically placed artwork.  Thus such acts of creative decorating are now known as “winslows.”

I was wrapping things up and preparing to leave and managed to locate one of the bathrooms for a little pre-departure visit.  In a moment of idleness as I meandered in, I glanced upward toward the top of the shower curtain.

And there they were.

Shower curtain rings, nice ones, with two hooks to hang the shower curtains on.  One hook toward the inside of the tub, one toward the outside.

HOOKS.  To hang the shower curtains, PLURAL, on.  No rings to open and close.  No struggling.  No cursing.  No drama.

Why did I not know these existed before now?

It was like the heavens opened up and a beam of purest white love shot out from the clouds, illuminating the shower curtain hooks while a chorus of angels sang out and unicorns farted glitter all over the bathroom.

Although the glitter might have been from the Winslows.

Naturally I raced to Bed Bath and Beyond All Reason the next morning and bought a set, and this afternoon, barely able to contain my joy, scrubbed the tub out and replaced the shower curtain liner.  The rings slipped onto the rod with ease and it felt as if I could practically toss the liner in the air and have it magically land on the hooks, it was so ridiculously easy to put the darn thing up.

It’s the little things, people.  God bless us, every one.



So I’ve had this exchange recently with my mother via email.  It’s not the sort of thing I want to share on this blog, but an offshoot of it is that we ended up discussing the fact that I am a big weepy crybaby.

It’s true.  I am.  Do you hear that?  I’M COMING OUT AS A CRYBABY.

I cry at stuff all the time.  It waxes and wanes with The Hormones a bit, but the underlying baseline is that if it will make someone cry, I will cry at it.  If it won’t necessarily make someone cry but might, I will cry at it.  If it will make only the most inveterate of wussy crybabies cry, I will cry at it.

I’m not saying I cry every single day, but sometimes it’s a crapshoot.

An excerpt from the email exchange:

Mother: You’re my sweet little crybaby!

Me: Delia has inherited this from me.  You know what else makes me cry?  Live music!  WHY!!!

Mother: It’s all my fault. Did I not tell you stories of my tear-filled childhood?

Grandma would send me into the store in Wood Dale, a town of microscopic size where everyone knew everyone, with a list of items to buy and even then, insulated by the list, attended to by someone who knew me, no conversation required, I would STILL cry.

Live music evidently falls into the category!

So there you have it.

And?  It’s the holiday season.  There are HALLMARK COMMERCIALS.  I cannot  watch television for the next 22 days.

Compare. Contrast. Weep.


So I have this wonderful, brave friend who is living her dream.  She’s in France, speaking French all the time, eating things that sound French even if they aren’t just because she is in France, and she does these things that you can  apparently do in France much more easily than here.  Here is a FB post I just read:

“You know what? I’m not going to work today. I slept in until 9am, translated a French poem, watched the last sad bit of the reign of Henry VIII, and made a celery root/potato mash with garlic and olive oil and topped it with sauteed lemon chicken breast for lunch. It’s a nice(ish) afternoon, and I think I’m going to spend it walking around the lake before I go to the Haydn motet concert at a local church at 5pm.”

Let us contrast this with my day:

“You know what?  It’s 10am and I’m in plaid flannel pajamas listening to the dog eat kibble.  I overslept so I’m not going to church.  I’m going to make coffee, sit here surfing the web and playing World of Warcraft while doing endless loads of laundry, until I cannot stand my own filth and idleness any longer.  At that point I will shower and do things that are slightly more worthwhile and meaningful.  Chances are good I’ll eat something vile and reprehensible later while starting my online Master’s program.  None of it will involve a Haydn motet although I might listen to Christmas music on the soft rock station since nobody’s home to judge me.”

If the children were here it would involve more shouting about turning the TV down and stop hitting your sister, but they’re off at their other households.

Anyway, three of the seven deadly sins right here.  YAY ME!

(To be fair, she has no children and has worked very hard to be where she is, and I do not begrudge her one iota of her happy French life.)