Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Well, kids. I was able to make it to Moab. A lot of times when it seems like things aren't working out easily, I wonder if the universe is trying to tell me that whatever I'm trying to do just isn't the best idea. This time, after my sister-in-law had to drop out of the trip because their dog is very old and they didn't want to leave her with anyone else, and then I wasn't sure I could make it after finding out I had Grave's disease and wasn't supposed to get my heart rate up on a trip that was all about strenuous hikes and hilly mountain bike rides, the trip was actually almost perfect. 

My brother showed up to our house with his tricked-out van around noon on Friday. He had a three hour Zoom meeting, so John and I went to lunch, and bought groceries and finished the last little bit of packing. We probably got on the road at around 4 pm. 

We stopped in Des Moines to eat dinner, and then drove the thirteen hours left overnight. I say "we", but I really mean John and Bill. I wasn't comfortable driving at night because I have terrible night blindness, and also my Graves disease can give me double vision. I just couldn't imagine driving an unwieldy vehicle, and suddenly seeing two of everything. Yikes!

We made it to Grand Junction, Colorado at around 10 the next morning. I had never been there before. It is a cute little town with a lot of mountain bike trails and a bike path that goes on for 20 miles. 

I'm having a hard time sleeping in general with this stupid Hyperthyroidism, but it was even harder trying to sleep in a van on VERY bumpy roads in Colorado, so I was exhausted when we finally got to Grand Junction. So, the boys went mountain biking while I got a few more desperately needed hours of sleep.

Since I'm not able to get my heart rate up, John had the brilliant idea that we could just rent an e-mountain bike for a few days while we were in Moab. Of course, I didn't have that e-mountain bike in Colorado yet, so I asked the guys if they were okay with riding around on the flat bike path, and getting dinner and a beer while we played. I heard there were cool murals and sculptures along the path, but since it was almost dark when we got to it, and we were starving, we didn't get to see them. Next time!

We went to Taco Party for dinner and the food was really great. I also had a delicious margarita. It was just what the doctor ordered...So to speak. We rode to a brew pub after dinner and sat on a rooftop deck for one more drink before we headed to our Motel 6 for the night.

The next morning we drove straight to the Bar M Ranch trails in Moab. I didn't remember them being so hilly, but then I didn't have to worry about getting my heart rate up too high the last time we were there, so it's not like I was very aware of the hills back then.

I tried to go slowly, but you have to have some momentum to ride the rocks. I rode a little longer, and then decided to let the boys ride the harder trails while I chilled out in the van. I was getting out of breath on the climbs, and I didn't have to look at my sports watch stats to know I had gone way over the 140 beats per minute, my doctor told me I had to stay under in order not to die of a heart attack or stroke.

When they finished mountain biking, John suggested that we ride the bike trail back to where we found the giant dinosaurs. If you've ever met me, you probably know that I love all of the cheesy things: Dinosaurs, aliens, Big Foots (feet?), Bat Boys... They all amuse me. So, when we were driving to the trails, I saw the giant dinosaurs, and I wanted to get closer.

 I was very happy to meet the fake dinosaurs. We looked at buying tickets to get even closer and see even more, but they were $18 a person, and even I couldn't reconcile that cost to hang around with some sculptures. I did buy a "Philosraptor" t-shirt from the gift shop, though.

We finally got to our campsite by around three in the afternoon. I'll write more tomorrow, hopefully, but the first day and a half of our trip was fun and very educational. It was instructional for me to figure out how I was going to navigate this stupid Hyperthyroidism/Grave's Disease. It was annoying to see how many things it affected. I found myself talking about it way too much, but I was learning about it as I went, and limited by it and I had to remind my traveling companions why I was so tired, and irritable, and anxious, and all the other annoying things my body was doing to me. Believe me, I felt VERY lucky to get to go to Moab, I just had a lot to figure out with my new condition while I was there.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Doctor, Doctor, Can't You See I'm Burning, Burning

 Well, okay. I finally got a treatment plan for my hyperthyroidism. I got my most recent blood work back a week and a half ago, but since my doctor was at a conference in Scotland, I never had anyone let me know what any of this meant. I looked online at the numbers, so I was pretty sure I had Graves Disease, but I still wasn't sure exactly what that meant for me. So, I messaged the doctor who was filling in for my physician, and told him I would love to have more information about everything. All I knew about my new disease was what I had read online, and some of it was confusing. 

I sent the new guy a bunch of questions, so he would have time to find the answers before he wrote back: Could I go on vacation? Was there a certain heart rate I should try not to go above? Did I read the latest result right, and do I have Graves Disease? If so, what was my treatment? If they weren't able to start treatment right away, could they give me something for the insane anxiety I suddenly started having the last few days? One of the things I read when I was doing my scary internet searches was that if my disease wasn't treated, I could have this thing called "Thyroid Storm". Contrary to what you might think, it isn't just a great name for a classic rock cover band, it's a life threatening situation. Imagine me reading all of the possible issues, and not having any medical professional to talk to about them, and being a spaz to begin with, but then having severe anxiety on top of that. Oh, the scenario storms I can create in my head...

Anyway, the substitute doctor messaged me back and said he would text Endocrinology and get back to me as soon as he heard back from them. Then he called me at work and was very kind and patient and answered every question I had. He told me they were going to start me on Methimazole. I told him that I am pretty sensitive to any drug or alcohol (they don't call me two beer Churly for nothin'!), so he might want to start me on a fairly low dose to see how I reacted. He told me that my thyroid levels were so high they would have to start me on a big dose, but that he'd use the lower tier of it. Most importantly, he said that I could go on vacation, but just to really watch my heart rate, not to ride or hike alone, and to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. So, we leave this weekend, and Jaysus, Mary and Joseph! do I need a vacation.

 I started taking my new meds on Saturday morning. They can take up to 4 - 6 weeks to really start working, but I have noticed a slight change or two already, and some side-effects too. I've been having some joint pain now, but my anxiety has calmed down a bit. I actually woke up cold last night. Between hot flashes and the hyperthryroidism, I can't remember when the last time the whole world didn't seem to be burning up. I also had a horrible nightmare for the first time in years, and I'm hoping that's not some kind of awful side-effect too.

So it is that I have a treatment plan finally. I've read that there could be a lot of medicine dose adjustments in the first year, but sometime after being on the drugs, the symptoms go away, so I am crossing my fingers, and my eyes,and my legs and whatever else I can, that that is the case for me. I have a follow-up appointment in October, and when we get back from vacation, I have to swallow irradiated dye, so they can scan my thyroid. I have so many things to look forward to. Sigh.

We have excellent house and cat sitters at the ready, and I will get to go to my beloved Southwest. Don't worry...Or do, depending if you want to be inundated with pictures, I will take a million photos and obsessively document that whole trip. Most importantly, I will be careful and keep any storms (thyroid or anxious scenarios) at bay.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

It's Another Day, Another Chance. I Wake Up, I Wanna Dance

 Well, kids. It's been a challenging Summer. I know listening to people talk about their health problems is about as interesting as listening to someone go into great deal about their dreams or complain about their jobs, but I'm sure I've already subjected you all to that before, and now I'm going to subject you to having to read about my health problems. I promise that if you want to go into great deal about your health problems or how much you hate your job, I'll be there to listen. If, however, you want to go into great detail about the dream you had last night, I may only pretend to listen while my eyes glaze over. Fair warning.

Sooooo, anyway. In late June I started having migraines too often again. Then on July 10th I got more of a period than I've had for a couple of years. Like, I didn't bleed a bunch, but it went on for six days, and there were more migraines, and lots of feelings, and I hated everything and everyone, but wanted to eat the whole world. Then it was over and I had more migraines.

Then John and I took a week of vacation where we stayed in town but rode bikes, and JUST as my migraines were finally starting to dissipate, I lost like seven pounds in about a week. Which wasn't a bad thing for me, since my doctor says I need to try and lose about 20 pounds to get to some kind of "ideal" weight which may not be all that realistic for me. It was also really hot and humid, so I figured it was just water weight from not having air conditioning and sweating for 24 hours of every day. I started doing this thing where we'd go on bike rides, and I would get to some point where I was suddenly overheated and I felt dizzy and I'd have to either turn around and go straight back, or one time I got a ride halfway through our bike ride when we met friends for lunch in Kalona. Then last Friday I woke up with really bad dry eye and scratched my cornea just by opening my eye when I woke up. I have had all of these symptoms before (except for the easy weight loss) and so I just figured they were all from the lovely perimenopause I have been going through for the last 700 years, (or at least that's what it feels like).

Lucky for me, my annual doctor's appointment had originally been scheduled for December, but my doctor had a cancellation and so it was rescheduled to last Monday. I went in and told her my usual complaints. I talked about the dry eye and asked if there was some shot of lubricant they could give me in my arm, that would help with my dry eye, my peeling skin, and horrible muscle cramps, or at least some kind of HRT (hormone replacement therapy) that I could use, but she said no on account of my stupid breast cancer. Oh, I almost forgot, my blood pressure was up, just the systolic, but I'm a spaz, so I didn't think that much of it. 

My doctor decided to do a little blood work. They did a TSH and free T4, just to make sure my thyroid was doing what it should. I was like, "whatever". I'm sure it's fine. But I was wrong. My TSH level was .01, which in laywomen's terms means I have hyperthyroidism. As if I needed to be any more hyper...Since the symptoms are almost exactly the same as those of perimenopause, I wouldn't have even thought anything about them, and just be glad I was finally losing a little weight. Apparently, that would have been dangerous. The biggest issues for untreated hyperthyroidism is heart attack and stroke risk. Awesome. I already have a HUGE genetic disadvantage there. 

My next step is getting my blood drawn again on Tuesdays to check for antibodies that will let me know if this is caused by Grave's Disease - an autoimmune disorder that is one of the main causes for hyperthyroidism. It also causes eye issues (think Marty Feldman). They will probably do a scan of my thyroid too. There are some treatment options. One is a beta blocker. There are also meds. If neither of those work, then they do the radioactive iodine thing, and if that doesn't work, then they just take the damn thing out. No matter what, it probably means I'll be on meds for the rest of my life. I suppose most people get there with blood pressure meds, HRT, cholesterol meds, blood thinners, anti-anxiety/anti-depressants, or what have you. I've been lucky so far, is how I look at it.

Because this is usually easily treatable, the biggest drag is just for the immediate future. Until we get this thing figured out and started on a treatment plan, I'm not allowed to get my heart rate up - no running, no swimming, no biking (except I'm allowed to bike to work and back as long as I don't go too fast. Which means I can't be late for work ever), and no lifting weights. Of course, we had this great, fun, vacation planned at the end of September to go hiking, white water rafting, and mountain biking in Moab, and we might have to reschedule it. I'm waiting until at least next week to pull the plug on it. We'll see what they say after the antibody test. The reality is, that it could take four months for the thyroid meds to kick in. Can you imagine how hard I will be to live with if I can't play outside for FOUR WHOLE MONTHS? I can go for walks, and hikes, so that's at least something. But you may want to send love and your best wishes to John in his time of need.

Soooo, that's how my week went, how about yours? I hope you all have good health, and any issues you do have are easily treatable.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

How's it Feel to be at the Center of Magic, to Linger in Tones and Words?

Okay. Well, Since it's the end of June and I'm already two months behind, I thought I would finally write a post about the books I read in April and May.

I read six books in April. Since it was still pretty chilly this April, I wasn't yet in Summer reading mode. Which means I actually read things other than escapist, beach books, and lady detective novels.

1.) The first book I read, was "Matrix", by Lauren Groff. It told the story of a young girl who was cast out of the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine, and sent to a poverty stricken nunnery, where most of the women were starving. She uses her smarts and creativity to make the convent prosper, and to protect the women under her charge. I did like this book, I just didn't love it. It was uneven for me. I was really engrossed in some parts, and others, I found myself a little bored. 

2.) "The Consequences of Fear", by Jacqueline Winspear was my second book for April. It was on the new books shelf at Prairie Lights, and it had a plucky woman detective in it, and you know how I feel about books with plucky woman detectives. It takes place in 1941, and it follows Maisie Dobbs. What I didn't know until after I read it, is that it is the 16th book in a series of Maisie Dobbs stories. So, I did what any intelligent person would do, and bought the first six books in the series, that I will try and stretch out for the next several months. Believe me, I know this book is unrealistic and cheesy, but that's the fun in reading them for me. ESCAPISM!

3.) Because April is Earth Day month, I finally read Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring". It was getting passed around to all of my co-workers when I was in the California Conservation Corps in 1985, but I moved to Big Bear Lake to work at a ski resort before my turn came. It is depressing, and scary, and all of that stuff. but it was also one of the reasons people started thinking about the dangers of pesticides and DDT. Too bad people aren't smart enough to stop the wide spread use of pesticides altogether, but at least it got DDT banned, and that is why we get to see so many eagles again.

4.) My fourth book is a reread from a book I LOVED as a kid. I texted my sister to tell her I bought it, in case she hadn't thought of the book in a while, and of course she said she already owned a copy. Duh. "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler", by E. L. Konigburg is a book I hadn't read since I was a kid, and it didn't really lose anything for me when I read it as an adult. A brother and sister runaway to live in an art museum? There's a little mystery to solve? Whats not to like?

5.) I read Barack Obama's memoir, "Dreams of My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance" as my fifth book. It was a very honest look at his issues (and America's issues) growing up as a biracial man in the USA. I really enjoyed this book. I also thought, "Man, he wasn't thinking he was going to run for president when he wrote it." There was no bullshit about not inhaling anywhere in it. I also had a couple of things in common with him. His father left him IN Hawaii, and my father left us FOR Hawaii. I didn't realize that he went to Occidental College either. I lived in Eagle Rock for a little while when I was in Los Angeles, and house sat for the head of the theater department on the Occidental College Campus. Anyway, I thought it was a great book, if not a little long in spots, much to my ADHD's chagrin.

6.) The last book I read in April, was Jhumpa Lahiri's "Whereabouts". It was a short book, about a woman living in Italy, and her musings and experiences and anxiety and isolation. Of course, it was well written, and each chapter was a different experience. The big deal with this book, is that it was the first book that she wrote in Italian and then translated into English. I thought it was beautiful, and sad, and thoughtful.


With May comes my Summer reading attention span...Or lack thereof. Like I said, lots of escapist reading. 

1.) The first book I read in May was "The Last Report of the Miracles of Little No Horse", by Louise Erdrich. I will just say this, I love Louise Erdrich. I have read almost everything she has ever written. This book is about a white woman who changes her gender, and becomes a priest on a reservation. He is being interviewed by another priest about whether one of the nun's of his congregation should be considered for sainthood. There is magic, and amazing storytelling, and everything you could want in a Louise Erdrich novel. 

2.) I read the first Maisie Dobbs book for my second book for May. It starts before World War I, and you get to read her origin story, and meet all of her friends, and find out their relationships. All of those things I was clueless about when I read the 16th book in the series in April. Again, it's not in any way believable, but who the hell cares? It's a fun Summer read, and I have no eff's to give if you want to try and judge me for reading crap.

3.) The last book I read in May was Michelle Zauner's "Crying in H Mart". If you want to know what I thought about it? I loved it. It was a memoir about her relationship with her mother (and her father too) that she wrote after her mother died of cancer. He mother was from Korea, so there were cultural, as well as generational differences between them, There was also anger, and guilt, and finally, some understanding, and cutting both herself and her mother some slack. 

Okay, since I have about two hours until July, I can already say that I only read two books in June. It's okay. They were fun books, and I will tell you all about how I felt about them in another post. But now, I want to wish you all good reading, and tell anyone to f*ck off who judges you for reading escapist books in the Summer...Or any other time of the year for that matter.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Well, I Wish I Was In New Orleans, I Can See It In My Dreams



I sure suck as a Blogger these days. I keep trying to be better, and then I end up doing a bunch of other stuff and not getting around to it. Jeanne Parsons, one of my favorite teachers in high school told me, "you always make time for the things you love." So, I am doing my damnedest to try and make time to write more. Sorry to all of you who have to read my babbling.

Okay, so anyway. I'm still writing about our vacation in May. On Saturday, Stinky's husband was there to hang out with us as well. He flew in the night before, and after delays, he finally made it to new Orleans around 12:00 that night.

After getting some fuel at our favorite neighborhood coffee shop, we walked the Crescent Park Trail to the French Quarter. It's about a mile and a half walk, and it takes you right to the French Market.

It has a dog park, beautiful gardens, and sculptures. If it hadn't been so hot and humid, it would have been the perfect little jaunt.

We even found some Happy Birthday graffiti for our special girl.

We wandered around the French Market, and I ended up buying an African mask and a little carved sculpture of three people all entwined. The guy who sold it to me told me it meant UNITY. Which I thought sounded cool, until my son-in-law said, "So, you bought a statue of an orgy?" Um, I honestly didn't see that. I guess if it really is an orgy, that could be some kind of unity too, right? As long as everyone is consenting and having fun? Whatever. So, I bought a carving of an orgy. So what. I'm sure the guy who sold it to me is still laughing at the old, white, Midwestern, mom who bought an orgy sculpture from him. I'm here to amuse people, apparently.

After buying all of our touristy stuff, we had a great lunch together, before we went our separate ways. Stinky and her husband went back to the house to secretly decorate the outdoor space with black balloons and streamers for The Oldest's birthday, and we went with The Oldest and her boyfriend to the WWII museum.

Let me say this, I would probably not have gone to the World War II Museum on my own volition, BUT holy hell, it was really cool and well done, and I'm so glad that Coadster asked us to join her there.

Coadster is a history nerd. She loves to research and read all about different times. She would also love to argue with you until she proves to you how RIGHT she is, and that is why I think she should be a lawyer, but anyway...She loves reading about World War II, on the battle front, and the home front. I have learned so much from her.

Sooooo, we went to the World War II museum, and really, everyone should check it out. They talk about all of the different theaters of it, and have testimonies by the people who were involved, and each area is set up like it was from the view of the soldiers. For instance, the Pacific theater starts in a room that feels like being on a ship, and then you walk into the next room that feels like you are on a tropical island, and meanwhile there are TV's with videos playing around each area. It was pretty damn cool and interesting.

They talked about the prejudice that happened for people of color, and there were three current soldiers in army fatigues walking through it at the same time we did. Two of them were white and one was black. It was great to hear them discussing and asking questions of the black soldier about his current experiences in the military. And that's what I mean about this museum. It really makes you think and ask questions and relate it all to how things are now.

At the beginning of our museum tour, a woman told us that we really needed 6 to 8 hours to see everything, and my poor, minuscule, attention span almost hightailed it out of my brain at the thought. Lucky for us, we saw a lot of what we wanted to see in just a few hours.

We made it back to our place, and The Oldest loved the birthday decorations her sister put up for her. We all rested at least a couple of minutes before we headed out again for the evening. 

We had all heard that if we wanted to eat BBQ in New Orleans, we needed to hit up The Joint. we were very lucky that it was just a few blocks away from where we were staying. I got chicken, and coleslaw, and mac and cheese, and it was delicious and made me very, very happy.

The Bywater neighborhood is also where they have all of the murals. If you know me at all, you know how much I love murals, and the one in the photo above was probably my favorite from our trip.

After dinner, we walked toward the French Quarter. My brother-in-law messaged us from Ottumwa to tell us that a band called Tuba Skinny was playing at a bar for free that night and we decided to check them out. Boy, were we glad we did. They play kind of 1920's style jazz, and there were tons of people dancing to it. I LOVE to watch people dance like they know what they're doing, and that's what we had there. All of these people swinging their partners and practically jitterbugging. I was in heaven.

We finally made it back to the French Quarter again. John and Stinky and I didn't last too long, because we had been there the night before, and Bourbon Street is fun to check out and people watch, but once every ten years is probably enough for me. Stinky's husband, however, wasn't with us the night before, so we went with him to see it. He wanted to go to some bar that was on the show, "Fix My Bar". Is that really the name of the show? Oh, well. It's something like that. So, we checked that out, and Stinky wanted to go to Channing Tatum's bar, which was fine. It just would have been a lot more appealing to me if Channing Tatum had actually been there, instead of just his cut-out.

Anyway, the whole trip was lovely. We had a few instances where one or all of us got cranky, and a couple of times where I disappointed my kids by not being able to read their minds, or maybe they told me they wanted to do something, and I didn't listen to them, or whatever. We had the whole family trapped in a car for a long time, and then hanging out in a house together for a long time, and we all have our own PERSONALITIES, and yes, I'm yelling that word at you, because that's what all of our personalities would do to you if you met us in person. So, we all spent a LOT of time together and we didn't kill each other, and we're all still talking to each other, and we all had a lot of fun together. So, Coadster's 30th birthday trip to New Orleans was a smashing success. Seriously, if I were rich, and there weren't scary hurricanes, or climate change raising the ocean levels, I would move to New Orleans in a minute, I loved it so much.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

There is a House Way Down in New Orleans

Kids, I've been so bad about writing in here. This past month, I've been killing myself trying to get everything planted in my gardens, and I'm STILL not done yet. Sigh.

Anyway, I'm still trying to write about our vacation two weeks ago. On the second day, we made it to New Orleans at around 1:30. We stayed at a VRBO in the Bywater area. It was perfect for me. It's kind of the artsy/ hipster area. There are dive bars, a larger gay population, and murals painted everywhere. The houses themselves were works of art

The house where we stayed was incredible. It was old and full of character. It had a parking spot, and a great outdoor area.

We all have said that we want to go back to New Orleans sooner rather than later. I really wish that we had had a couple more days to explore our neighborhood better, but I guess we'll just have to plan to do that the next time we head down.

Okay, so we got all settled in our place and then walked to a cute little brew pub for lunch. It was a late lunch. I think we ate at around 3 or so. Which is important later on in the post.

We stopped to take photos on our walk home. Check out this house!  Power to the people! But also, I don't think even John would be okay with me painting our whole house like that, and he's pretty damn cool about the kind of shit I propose to do to our house.

Since we didn't know the city at all, we took an Uber to the French Quarter about an hour before our Voodoo/Ghosts/Vampire tour was supposed to start so we could wander around Bourbon Street a bit. It was a crazy zoo, but a very fun place to people watch. The kids all got drinks, and then we headed to meet our tour.

It was Friday the 13th, PLUS it was dark and stormy, so it was perfect for a creepy ghost tour.

The Oldest giving me the stink-eye for taking pictures.

Taylor was our tour guide. We knew we were going to love him when he came walking up wearing a Cramps t-shirt. He really knew his shit too. 

The next night we were walking past him, and Stinky yelled to the people on the tour, "Hey! Taylor is the BEST tour guide. Be sure you tip him well."

He turned around us and saw us. Then he yelled at John, "I remember you, Silver Fox! Making you laugh last night was even better than the $80 your kids tipped me."

I asked Stinky if she really tipped him $80, and she said, "No. It was probably closer to $30, but he's smart, so he exaggerated it to give today's tour the right idea."

While we were on the tour, we got to see a couple of Second Line processions. Usually, they are for funerals and weddings, but this was graduation weekend, so they were doing them for the graduating seniors. A Second Line procession is basically a little parade specific to a certain event. Most the processions we saw were for weddings. I love watching them. I still haven't seen one for a funeral, but the wedding ones, are great fun.

So, as our little tour went on, we heard a lot about all kinds of evil people, voodoo curses and beliefs, and then they got to the Kathy Bates from American Horror Story house (otherwise know as Nicholas Cage's former home). As we walked, I started feeling worse and worse, by the time we got to the American Horror Story home, I was downright peaked. I think it was a migraine, but John thinks it was because I was hungry. I did say I was starting to get hungry, but when I'm REALLY hungry I get cranky and hard to take. This was me seeing stars, and starting to pass-out.

I told John I had to sit down, but this is New Orleans. There are no benches, and who knows how much puke and urine are covering the sidewalks on any given night. The Oldest's boyfriend came to rescue. He took off his sandals, so I could sit on them. I sure hope he was up to date on his tetanus shot after standing barefoot in those streets.

Anyway, Stinky called us an Uber, and the kids went back to the tour. They said it was almost over, so we didn't miss much. I felt better after I got home and could lid down. Again, I'm pretty sure it was a migraine without the pain part. They have made me throw up and pass-out in the past. I had only had two beers, so it wasn't too much alcohol, and storm fronts can give me migraines, so that's my guess. Although, The Oldest's boyfriend thinks it was the ghosts of the tortured slaves at the Lalaurie House haunting me that made me feel faint. It WAS Friday the 13th, so you never know.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Most of My Heroes Don't Appear on No Stamps

Oh, man. It's been forever since I've written. As usual, I have a great excuse - May is a ridiculously busy month for me and general, and THIS May was my Oldest's 30th birthday, and she wanted to go to New Orleans with the family to celebrate it, and how the hell does any sane person say no to that? Yeah, I don't know either.

So, anyway, the whole first part of the month, I went crazy trying (and failing) to get everything planted in the garden before we left for New Orleans, then we went on the amazing trip, and then the last week I've been recovering, and STILL trying to get everything planted in the garden. So, now I am finally getting around to writing in the blog. I will start with the first day of The Oldest's 30th birthday trip.

We left Iowa City at 5:30 in the morning on Thursday, May 12th. We stopped in Cape Girardeau, Missouri for lunch, and then wandered down to the Mississippi River, where they had cool murals. We skipped rocks for a few minutes before we got back in the car to drive to Memphis, Tennessee, where I had never been before.

I know a lot of people like to go to Graceland when they visit Memphis, but we only had an afternoon, and we were WAY more into seeing the Civil Rights Museum. If you've never been there, I highly recommend it. It is powerful and heartbreaking and so well done. It is housed in the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr was shot. 

It covers the history of Black oppression in the United States, beginning with the first slaves who were stolen from their homelands and forced to live in violence and bondage here in the U S of A. It then talks about Reconstruction, and Jim Crow. Everything is so haunting and terrifying during slavery, and then when they get to the parts with the KKK.Why are people so messed up?


It moves on to Rosa Parks, and the Civil Rights movement, and how many people fighting for the rights of African Americans were brutalized, murdered and jailed

The museum then talks about Martin Luther King's role, and how he was murdered at that very hotel.

The second part of the museum is across the street. It's the boarding house where the killer shot and killed Martin Luther King from a bathroom window. That part of the museum mostly dealt with the aftermath of MLK's murder and the conspiracy around his killer or killers. We were all very quiet at the end of our museum tour. There was so much to reflect on. A good museum will do that to you.

After we were done at the Civil Rights Museum, we went to our airbnb and tried to figure out where to eat. We are a family of women who get very HANGRY, so finding food is extremely important for us...And especially for poor John, who has to deal with us.

I found a BBQ place that looked amazing and had chicken and seafood, but when we got there, it was in a pretty depressed area of town.  I figured that's usually where the best BBQ is, right? We entered the joint, and there was one guy behind the counter and a bunch of his friends hanging out in front of the counter. They were all very nice, and the guy behind the counter said, "Sorry, but we're out of a lot of our BBQ". Then the menu posted had a lot of stuff crossed off, so we decided to eat somewhere else. I'm sure after we left they were all wondering how the hell these Wypipo ended up in that neighborhood.

We headed to Beale Street, and BB King's place had a $10 cover charge with only the shortest little wait for a table. We were all in. 

We had an amazing meal and fun drinks. Two different bands played while we were there, and they were both really good. Although, if I can go a while without hearing "Tennessee Whiskey", that would be more than fine.

After we ate, we wandered around Beale Street for a while. It was pretty early on a Thursday night, so not much was happening. The Youngest wanted to check out the Coyote Ugly bar, but it was almost empty. The poor woman paid to dance on the bar looked almost as bored as I was.


We finally had enough and went back to our AirBnB. The Oldest had to go back out and pick up her boyfriend from the air port, but not before she got to tease her sister. Our place only had two bedrooms, so I figured The Youngest would sleep on the couch, but she found an air mattress in a GIGANTIC closet and decided to sleep there. Poor little Harriet Potter, forced to sleep in a cupboard under the staircase...

We all went to bed pretty early, so we could get up as early as possible and head to New Orleans on Friday the 13th. What could go wrong?

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

In a World of Simians, I'm Waiting for My Thumbs, On the Planet of the Apes, This Song is Sung


I haven't been great about writing lately, so I am cheating by putting up a post that I wrote on my original blog in 2005. It's about nicknames we give people:

Zira - Planet of the Apes

A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend of mine about a neighbor who I thought was kind of annoying. I never mentioned his name but because this is Iowa City, she figured out who he was and told me that she and her friends used to call him Senor Scratchy Patches because of what she described as "an unfortunately placed skin condition that he felt at liberty to touch". Gross...but that's what makes it funny.

Ever since then I've been thinking about nicknames and remembering monikers that were given to different cutomers at all the various bars and restaurants I've worked. When you wait on people, you don't always remember their names and nicknames really help reference people. Sometimes the monikers are based on their order - like there has been a mocha man at almost every coffee shop I've ever worked at and when I worked at The Mill there was that jesus freak guy we always called the chicken man. Then sometimes the nicknames are just mean and those are usually reserved for customers who are annoying and/or rude and people who don't tip well.

One of my favorites was from when I worked as a bartender at Macy's in San Francisco in 1986. There was a woman who we always called Zira-Planet-of-the-Apes. She was never just plain Zira, it was always the whole, long name. I thought she looked more like a combination of Zira and Ruth Gordon but it would have been way too long to say, Zira-Planet-of-the-Apes-Ruth-Gordon. I have no idea what her real name was. She would come in every Monday and be horrible and never tip the waiter but she would put tons of money in the jar for the pianist to play "New York, New York" at least 6 times a night. She always ordered a VERY dry vodka Martini. Which meant she didn't want vermouth. Which meant what she really wanted was vodka with an olive but she was too pretentious to order that. So, instead the waiters would come up to the bar and sing, "Zira-Planet-of-the-Apes" and I would know exactly what to make. It was way more fun than giving me the order the regular way.

But while I was laughing at all the nicknames I've always labeled other people with, I did have to stop and wonder what nicknames people may have for me. It's not like I can stop one of the guys at the Co-op and ask them if they have another name they call me. I'm sure they wouldn't tell me if they did and would I want to know? If it was bad enough, I'd have to start going to the Coralville Co-op and never be dumb enough to ask a question I didn't want to know the answer to again.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

I'm Flat Broke, But I Don't Care, I Strut Right By With My Tail in the Air

Okay. Now I am going to tell you a long, weird story about what happened last Friday. So, there has been this BEAUTIFUL, possibly part Maine Coon cat that has been living under my neighbor's porch for a few months now. At first I wasn't sure if it didn't have a home, and just liked to lurk around our house because we love birds and squirrels and other small animals, and make a welcoming place for them, or if she needed some alone time from her family (which I understand), or what? But it was becoming clear to me that she was either lost or abandoned. One day she even sat in our backyard and cried, so I thought she was hungry, and gave her some of the cat's dry food, which she snarfed right up. I told John and he said that I shouldn't feed every animal I met. Then I tried to explain to him how food was love in my world, and I love every animal I meet...But ultimately, as much as it pains me, I had to admit that he was right. I shouldn't be feeding the BEAUTIFUL, stray, possibly Maine Coon cat, even though it was so sweet and followed me around my yard and rubbed against my legs for pets and scratches.

By Friday after work, I decided I should help the poor girl, and called the animal shelter. They said they were closing and I should call the Community Service people, and they would come and pick the cat up and bring her to the Humane Society when they opened the next morning. Cool.

So, I called the community service people, and they sent some guy out. We'll call him Chad, since the kids are saying that's the male equivalent of a Karen. Anyhoo, Chad comes over, I tell him the story, and that the cat is in the breezeway. 

Wait. Let me back track. While I was calling these people, the sweet girl kitty was lying on her back next to me, so I could rub her belly, and when the animal shelter guy talked to me, he told me to put her in a contained space. So, I picked her up and put her in the breezeway, where she FREAKED the f*ck OUT. I felt like shit. Here is this BEAUTIFUL girl all loving and trusting me, and I put her in the breezeway, and then betray her even more, by sending some Chad to pick her up against her will. She did NOT seem to appreciate the fact that I was trying to help her by getting her to a safe space. As far as she was concerned, I sold her out. I felt so bad...And still do.

Isn't she gorgeous?

 Anyway, Chad went in our mess of a breezeway with his cat carrier, and set it down in front of her, like he thinks she's going to calmly walk right into it. Huh. Then she moved, and he set it in front of her again, and she jumped over it and ran to hide behind some big pile of crap in our breeze way. Then Chad came out of our mess of a breezeway, and said that the cat doesn't seem to want to come, and he didn't want to hurt her by forcing her out. Ummmmmm. Has he ever met a cat? What cat in their right mind would calmly walk into a cat carrier? The cat carrier means you go to the vet!

I tried to be tactful (never my strong suit), and instead of asking if  he was new to the job, I asked him what he normally did when he tried to pick up a cat. He didn't give me much of an answer. Instead, he sighed and went back to the truck to get longer, thicker gloves. When he came back, he tried again, and then gave up again.

Chad came out and started saying something like, "Well, the animal shelter will tell you that a cat is an apex predator, and if you get rid of one apex predator, another one will come and fill that void..." Wut!? How the hell do you respond to that? First of all, we have lived here for 12 years and we have never had any kind of "apex predator" living in our backyard before, and second of all, what is he even talking about? Watch out! Don't make him get the cat, or bears and tigers will move into our backyard! So, I asked him if he was trying to say that we should just let the cat be feral, and not try to get her to a safe place? 

He said I should just call the humane society in the morning. I told him that I couldn't leave her in the breeze way. That's how we enter and exit our place, and she'll escape. Also, she came willingly the first time, but she's a cat, which means she's a lot smarter than I am, and she will never trust me again. So, Chad sighed and went back in. He chased her out from under the table, and she hurled herself against the screen door, and her paws got stuck on the little ledge where the screen hits the window, and he tried to use one hand to get her, and he not only must not have met a cat before, but he must be terrified of them. I suggested he use both hands to get her, and he did and she let him put her right into the cat carrier without a fight. I wish my cats could have been there to watch how a GOOD cat enters a cat carrier (the answer to that is NOT jamming every limb against the opening of the crate).

So, if that wasn't an example of  how no good deed goes unpunished, then the next little bit is a better example: Because I live in a very small college town, Chad happens to know one of my neighbors, and the next day, he was out with his wife or girlfriend and our neighbor, and some of their friends, and after a couple of beers, he started talking about some bitch (me), who made him come pick up a cat that was CLEARLY not lost, and probably just belonged to someone in the neighborhood. Wow. Apparently, Chad didn't want to do his job, and decided to create a story in his head that I just wanted to torture a poor cat that one of my neighbors owned. Why would I want to hurt a cat? I have no idea. Maybe to just make Chad's life hell? I mean, I get it. I don't always want to do my job either. I just don't blame other people because I have to do it.

I called the Animal Shelter on Monday to make sure she was okay. That's when I found out she was a female. I asked if she had a chip, and she didn't. Let this be a lesson. Get your animals chipped, so they can be returned to you if they get lost. I had to ask if they thought she had a home and was just hanging out at our house (old Chad made me paranoid about it). She said that she looked like she had been homeless for a while, since she was a little malnourished and she had some mats in her hair. So, I did feel better about it all. She said that if no one claimed her, and she got acclimated to her surroundings, they would get her spayed if she needed it, and try to get her adopted. 

If any of you are looking for the most BEAUTIFUL, and sweetest cat you will ever meet, please adopt her...And tell her I'm sorry.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

So, I'll Continue to Continue to Pretend, My Life Will Never End, And Flowers Never Bend With the Rainfall

Every year I think I'm going to be better about planning my gardens. I lie to myself that I'll pay more attention to when I should start my seedlings, I will research plants more, and write down all of the plants I want to get, and maybe get all crazy and actually diagram where my perennials will come up, so I don't accidentally dig them up, thinking they're some kind of weeds. Sigh. I haven't done any of that yet. Already this year, I forgot when I planted my seedlings last year (too early), thought I had waited a few weeks later, and then realized I planted them almost to the day, the exact time I did last year. Double sigh.

So, all of my seedlings are ready to be planted right now, but with as cool as this Spring has been, I'm sure I have a month before I can get the warm weather seedlings in the ground outside. I bet I'll have to dig down a mile to keep my leggy tomatoes from flopping right over. Of course, NEXT year I'll be better about when I plant my seedlings (much later).

I did remember to keep a fence around my seedlings, since a certain Gus who thinks spinach and lettuce are delicious would wreak havoc upon them all.  This year I planted two different kinds of tomatoes (Brandy Wine and Beefsteak), Genovese Basil, kale, Mexican Torch Sunflowers, some leaf lettuce, and those little yellow flowers that are called Billy Ball Craspedia. I took a vacation day last week when it was warmer and planted broccoli, kale, and spinach outside. This weekend I plan on planting Sugar snap peas, beets, leeks, more lettuce, and arugula. It makes me so happy to play in the dirt now, and then get to eat all the organic stuff in a month or two. I also love being able to give away extra veggies and flowers to friends. Speaking of which, let me know if you want to come over and pick up some kale seedlings.

Every year without fail, some woman I don't know because she never introduces herself, walks by my front yard garden, tsks and says, "I admire your optimism..." And she walks away as I'm saying, 

"I'm only planting Spring stuff this early that can handle a frost, BITCH!" Actually, I leave the BITCH part out, because I'm neighborly like that. I'm just hoping she knows it's implied. Why does someone need to walk past my house every year and judge my gardening? Especially when there are so, so, so, many other REAL things she could be judging me on.

 Anyway, this year I am going to probably bore you with my gardening posts because I really do want to be better about remembering which flowers and veggie plants I want to buy at the best times, and not dig up perennials that I forgot I planted, and have my yard look even more extra. And this time I REALLY mean it...