Friday, July 28, 2006

The Lizard

I swiped this from a friend who emailed it to me. I've no idea who to credit for it, and worse yet, I've committed the sin of doing some minor editing too. So if the original author's ID should turn up, then: 1. Sorry, please excuse. It was just too funny to pass up. 2. Thanks for the great story!

***The Lizard***

If you have raised kids (or been one), and gone through the pet syndrome including toilet flush burials for dead goldfish, the story below will have you laughing out LOUD!

Overview: I had to take my son's lizard to the vet. Here's what happened:

Just after dinner one night, my son came up to tell me there was "something wrong" with one of the two lizards he holds prisoner in his room.

"He's just lying there looking sick," he told me. "I'm serious dad, can you help?" I put my best lizard-healer statement on my face and followed him into his bedroom.

One of the little lizards was indeed lying on his back, looking stressed. I immediately knew what to do.

"Honey," I called, "come look at the lizard!"

"Oh my gosh!," my wife diagnosed after a minute. "She's having babies."

"What?" my son demanded. "But their names are Bert and Ernie, Mom!"

I was equally outraged. "Hey, how can that be? I thought we said we didn't want them to reproduce," I accused my wife.

"Well, what do you want me to do, post a sign in their cage?" she inquired. (I actually think she said this sarcastically!)

"No, but you were supposed to get two boys!" I reminded her (in my most loving, calm, sweet voice, while gritting my teeth together).

"Yeah, Bert and Ernie!" my son agreed.

"Well, it's just a little hard to tell on some guys, you know," she informed me. (again with the sarcasm, you think?)

By now the rest of the family had gathered to see what was going on. I shrugged, deciding to make the best of it.

"Kids, this is going to be a wondrous experience," I announced. "We're about to witness the miracle of birth."

"Oh, gross!" they shrieked.

"Well, isn't THAT just great! What are we going to do with a litter of tiny little lizard babies?" my wife wanted to know. (I really do think she was being snotty here, too. Don't you?)

We peered at the patient. After much struggling, what looked like a tiny foot would appear briefly, vanishing a scant second later.

"We don't appear to be making much progress," I noted.

"It's breech," my wife whispered, horrified.

"Do something, Dad!" my son urged.

"Okay, okay."

Squeamishly, I reached in and grabbed the foot when it next appeared, giving it a gentle tug. It disappeared. I tried several more times with the same results.

"Should I call 911," my eldest daughter wanted to know. "Maybe they could talk us through the trauma."

(You see a pattern here with the females in my house?)

"Let's get Ernie to the vet," I said grimly. We drove to the vet with my son holding the cage in his lap.

"Breathe, Ernie, breathe," he urged.

"I don't think lizards do Lamaze," his mother noted to him.

(Women can be so cruel to their own young. I mean what she does to me is one thing, but this boy is of her womb!)

The Vet took Ernie back to the examining room and peered at the little animal through a magnifying glass.

"What do you think, Doc, a C-section?" I suggested scientifically.

"Oh, very interesting," he murmured. "Mr. and Mrs. Cameron, may I speak to you privately for a moment?"

I gulped, nodding for my son to step outside.

"Is Ernie going to be okay?" my wife asked.

"Oh, perfectly," the Vet assured us. "This lizard is not in labor. In fact, that isn't EVER going to happen...Ernie is a boy. You see, Ernie is a young male. And occasionally, as they come into maturity, like the males of most species, they Just the way he did, lying on his back."

He blushed, glancing at my wife.

"Well, you know what I'm saying, Mr. Cameron."

We were silent, absorbing this.

"So Ernie's just...just...excited," my wife offered.

"Exactly," the vet replied, relieved that we understood.

More silence. Then my viscous, cruel wife started to giggle. And giggle. And then even laugh loudly.

"What's so funny?" I demanded, knowing, but not believing that the woman I married would commit the upcoming affront to my flawless manliness.

Tears were now running down her face. Laughing. "It's just...that...I'm picturing you pulling on its...its...teeny little..." she gasped for more air to bellow in laughter once more.

"That's enough," I warned. We thanked the Vet and hurriedly bundled the lizards and our son back into the car.

He was glad everything was going to be okay.

"I know Ernie's really thankful for what you've done, Dad," he told me.

"Oh, you have NO idea," closed mouth, my wife agreed, collapsing with laughter.

2 Lizards - $140...
1 Cage - $50...
Trip to the Vet - $30...
Memory of your husband pulling on a lizard's winkie...Priceless.

Moral of the story: Finish biology class. Lizards lay eggs!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Accidental Hermit

"Copious Sleep."

That's what some of my docs call it. At certain times of year, I sleep 12 or 14 or 18 hours each day, day after day. Usually it's in a 10-12 hour chunk, then one or three long naps.

It's from the allergies. From inhalants, like the seasonal big waves of pollen that wash over me like chloroform.

I absorb it from breathing, from pollen in the air contacting my eyeballs, even from my skin.

Avoidance is the #1 plan of attack. Avoiding foods I'm allergic to isn't always easy, because the food sensitivities change over time, and you don't always know what ingredients you're eating unless you do 100% cooking from scratch. Why I even make my own chocolate sauce. But the food allergies, that fascinate the docs so much - *If you're allergic to all foods, then every time you eat you can die! How can you be alive??* - foods are not nearly such a big allergy issue to me as inhalants are.

Avoiding air, now, that's downright tricky. This is why you'll see me refer to being locked up inside the house for days or weeks or months at a time: I'm staying in a controlled-air environment. I was always fine by myself; I'm very self-sufficient, and an introverted loner, and I thought I didn't need much human contact. That was before I really understood what unasked-for isolation feels like. I'm a hermit not by choice, but by accident.

When the pollen ramps up I'll switch to a nocturnal existence. Sleeping through the high-pollen hours of daylight means I need less sleep. Think about it: Most plants bloom in the day; at night the weed and tree flowers sleep, and soon the air is much cleaner. If I'm breathing naturally cleaner air I'm less allergic, so, less sleepy.

And, if I'm active in the *bad* hours, my body is more tied up in its battle as I quietly fight for life and consciousness in the day. In a high-allergy state, my immune system is pouring anti-allergen chemicals into my system. Histamine sets off a huge and complicated chain reaction in the body. It's war, and it's absolutely exhausting.

In my house are a variety of HEPA air filtration machines, humming away, cleaning my air for me. Most have *ionizer* buttons turned on, too. There's a double filtration system on my central A/C - electrostatic filter on the air intake, and a near-HEPA pollen filter where your A/C filter usually goes. I have an ionizer in my car, a 12-volt unit plugged into the cigarette lighter.

I'm taking high-dose steroids, Prednisone, 25 mg one day, then 45 mg the next. If you take higher and lower doses on alternate days, the side effects are lower. Stuff like facial hair, bone loss, facial swelling, weight gain, stretch marks, liver damage, diabetes, heavy bruising and *staining,* kidney damage, and cutting years off of one's life expectancy.

Not to mention, immunosuppression - the whole point of taking the Pred - leaves me more vulnerable to those deadly germs I carry, and germs I pick up from others. And with the infections getting worse, I've had to cut back on the Pred. I was taking more, before. I've already almost lost my left foot to infection - *luckily* it's only permanently maimed - and the recent surgery on my right hand has left it partially deadened.

Other allergy meds I take are diphenhydramine (Benadryl), 150 mg/day; doxepin (Sinequon) 10+ mg/day; guaifenesin (mucous thinner and expectorant); generic Flonase and Afrin inhalers; and asthma inhalers as needed. The Benadryl or doxepin alone would put a horse to sleep. For me, they usually have a paradoxical effect: The sleepiness induced by pollen is so pronounced, taking the antihistamines actually wakes me up by lowering the allergic response.

Time has no meaning for me. Days of the week don't matter, since I lost my job, my career, my profession at age 32. You can't work if you can't leave the house, or if you try your best and go there, but keep passing out at the office. Looks bad. It scared 'em.

Hours don't matter either. I cram most of my medical treatment needs into the winter months when I'm much healthier. When I have to do doctor days in pollen times, I see them in the morning, before the pollen and the gasses released from baking asphalt get their worst. Otherwise, who cares what time it is?

I drift along. It's really not so bad. Days and weeks and months pass by, and finally fall comes and I start to get better, then winter arrives. Everyone starts telling me how great I look. My face changes. My eyes aren't swollen half shut any more, but it's more than that. Partly it's just that I look aware again. Alive. A walking talking conscious self-aware intelligent and intelligible person.

Walter can tell when I just breathed something particularly allergenic. Sometimes he knows even before I do, he can see it coming on. He's never been able to describe what my face looks like, exactly, but it changes somehow, and he'll hustle me back inside or to a chair or grab my mask or oxygen or whatever, often a minute before it hits me and knocks me down.

When it does, I lose my sense of balance. Or almost pass out, or do, all the way. Once, long ago, I fell backwards down a flight of stairs. Sometimes my head starts rocking back and forth, slowly, like an animal hunting a scent. Weak, and can't walk. My lips get numb, my hands can't close, my sense of gravity disappears and I don't even understand which way is *up.* It's a bit like when I was a child and loved to spin in a circle, arms out, faster and faster, until I got dizzy and fell down because I couldn't feel how to stay upright any more.

Cognitive impairment. Can't talk. Short-term memory goes. Ask me a question, or to make a decision, and I'm lost. Like that time I was at the blood lab, and the lady at the window asked me my name - and I just froze. Could not remember. She understood, and asked me for my driver's license and saved my day and I will never, ever forget her.

And the pain, the pain, my God. And depression. I close my eyes and I can almost see the molecular actions going on inside, the biochemicals getting blocked from reuptake, or swarming into my synaptic gaps and pushing good chemicals aside, or nasty stuff plugging into receptors you'd rather were never filled. Sometimes I say I can't think good because the histamine is clogging up my synaptic gaps.

Once - again this was long ago - Walter and I were still living at the condo in Pompano Beach and it was impossible to get the inside air very clean, it was air shared with other units, and there was carpeting and upholstered furniture in there, everything awful to an allergic person. Still, the air outside was far worse. I'd been inside, *in jail,* for weeks. Too sick to read or even watch TV. But at least I could still talk to Walter, I had that much, and we love to talk. But then - that last little bit of function left me. He saw it. I couldn't talk any more and couldn't understand him very well, and I wanted to cry. It was all I had left and I couldn't even have that one little thing, to be able to pass some time talking with the man I love, it was gone and I felt such despair...

That was before I finally agreed to take the high dose steroids. Doctors either love it or hate it, and I believe much of the *hate it* results from social pressure, fashion, more than science. Some doctors I have now never knew me back then. My rheumatologist is a Prednisone hater on principle. He refuses to accept that I made a conscious and informed choice to take high dose steroids and that I don't regret it one bit.

I spent 6-10 months a year bedridden before I took the steroids. That's not living. I know I'll die sooner now. So what? I was mostly dead already. I lost so much of my life to sickness and I'll never have it back. Time I could have spent with my grandmother Helen before she died, when she needed me and I needed her and instead I was asleep in bed. Better to have more life now, when I'm still 48, and still healthier than I would be at 58 - would be, with or without taking steroids.

Last year, I did little posting during the summer. I try very hard not to get on my own case too much over my disabilities, my limitations. But I wanted to try, this year, to keep posting through the bad times. I told my Pops, Desert Cat, my true blogdad, that I would post just about anything rather than stay silent. And I mostly have kept up. And I tell you, there is little in this world more wonderful than hearing your blogdad say, *I'm proud of you...*

Don't be sad for me. It's much better than it used to be. And I have something few people do: When you're living on gravy time, when you could have, maybe should have, been dead several times over already, you can develop a sense of freedom that others never achieve. I don't like country music much, but somehow I heard a country song come on the radio, *Live Like You Were Dying,* and I laughed and cheered. Oh, I can relate.

I enjoy the hell out of my life. I no longer care if people think I'm ugly or look unfashionable or eccentric or foolish. I really and truly don't give a rat's ass. I'm alive, alive and kicking, and I have most everything a human truly needs, including real love. How rare, how very rare and fortunate, that is.

I do things I enjoy the hell out of that many people are afraid to do, like getting all dirty when I garden. I do almost nothing that I don't enjoy, and the icky stuff is almost always medical stuff, and I deal with that pretty well now, I think. (How do you get to be great? Practice, practice, practice!) I'm never ever bored, and that's about the only thing I hate to be, is bored. I don't have to go to work and deal with work stress any more, and driving in rush hour traffic and wearing panty hose. Poverty stress, sure, but hey. I'll take it. This is not just *happy talk,* I hate that kind of bullshit, and you know what? I don't have to do it. I don't have to do ANYTHING but live.

This is all just a roundabout way of saying, *Slow posting, folks. Bear with me.*

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sassy Escapes, to Blog Once More!

She did it, folks! Yes she DID! Yay!

Not only is her blog rescued, Miss Sassy's misbehaving ball gladder is OUT and she's home at last.

Naturally, it didn't go off without a hitch.

Well...actually, I guess it did. Only thing is, no one would admit it. They tortured her with cold food and (shudder!) grape jello and ice cold coffee and all the nurses wandering off after they promised they'd do some fresh coffee or a pain med...and all the while, she was actually already signed out. The idiot doctor just didn't bother to come by for his final look-see.

This resulted in her being held hostage for an entire NIGHT. Then - did they let her go the next day? Especially considering her papers were already SIGNED?


They did not. Thought she'd like to hang around for more pointless sleepless torment.

So instead, having had enough already, she got dressed and left.

They're probably still out there, wandering the streets calling her name...while she's safe at home at last, nice and comfy, in her own bed with her own hot soup and whatever she needs. And can rest, finally, finally.

Except that after she got home and went to sleep? Which she never could do in that hospital? and she thought she was away from the meddling *Don't You LET Those Patients Sleep!* folks?

They called her on the phone at home and...WOKE HER UP.

That fool doctor. The one that never came by when he was supposed to, see.

He made up for his thoughtlessness! Yes he DID! By calling her at home and waking her up to - get this - to SEE HOW SHE WAS DOING.

Probably felt like he'd stepped on a hornet.

Rose Pic to Die For

You want to see a drop-dead gorgeous picture of a rose? Check it out:

I keep going back there just to look at it.

I bet she took that picture with her Nikon.

I've got one, too. In fact, it may be making the rounds of my yard pretty soon. With a photo like that it's hard not to get inspired.

Monday, July 17, 2006

News from the Sassy Front

Miss Sassy Sistah, who is extremely funny and smart and sweet and tough and loves good food and is a great storyteller and, oh, is just about everything you want in a blogger - well, she got her gallbladder out this morning at 6am.

I got mine out in 2001. It was no fun. I did have some minor complications, but still. The pain when I awoke from surgery was almost the worst I've ever felt. And believe me, that's saying something.

So I'm hoping she'll be okay. But I don't know.

See, just yesterday, somehow her entire blog got ate.

The day before major surgery.

And the wonderful, efficient, sweet - excusemeImeankickass - LL said she'd help. But! I couldn't find Sassy's email address in time! And off she went to the Icky Place, without all our mama'ing to speed her on her way.

Here that's email address now:

I just can't imagine how awful that must have been, to lose your blog the day before gall bladder day. And Good Ol' Blogger never answered her call for help. Never answered any of mine, either, except once or twice I got form letters telling me to check my cords and clear my cache, or some such bs I'd already tried.

So I'm hoping all y'all can send her a note to say we hope she's still kicking ass real good, and not bleeding out too much, and can breathe some, and has, uh, well they make you move your bowels and REALLY get on your case about it so I hope that's worked out good - so to speak! - and all that kind of thing. Plus, that she didn't assault any nurses or docs or techs as they did awful rude things to her.


If any of you hear anything about how it went, could you please leave me a comment or email? I'm off to bed now but I'll be up around 4 or 5am to check back.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

An Obscene Tomato for Acidman

Yup. Posted by Picasa

Biscuits are GOOD for you!

Okay. Here are k's buttermilk biscuit recipes. Dissertations follow.

*Several Biscuits*

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Sift together:

1 3/4 c flour
1/2 t soda
1 t sugar
1 t salt
2 t baking powder

Cut in:

5 T butter - or, 1/4 c lard

Mix in, lightly:

1 1/4 c buttermilk

Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheet. Cook 10-12 minutes, till only lightly browned.

*Millions of Biscuits*

8 c flour
2 t soda
1 T sugar
1 T salt
1/4 c baking powder
3 sticks butter

Use 2 parts mix to 1 part buttermilk. One biscuit is around 1/3 to 1/2 c mix. So, use 1/2 c mix, and 1/4 c buttermilk, for one largish biscuit.

c means cup
t means teaspoon
T means tablespoon

Flour is highly sifted these days, but it does make a better biscuit to sift all the dry ingredients together. No, I won't hold a gun to your head! It's YOUR food. If you don't sift, use a fork - not a spoon - to mix the dry ingredients together.

Cutting in the shortening (fat) can be with a pastry cutter if you have one; with a pair of knives; or, just rub it into the flour with your fingers. The finger method is actually quite good. It's best to cut in half the shortening first, to the size of peas; then put in the rest and cut some more. You'll see some graininess and some larger bits when you're done. It doesn't take long and it's not hard work. Don't be scared.

You don't have to grease your *baking sheet* but I find it helps. I use spray oil on aluminum foil instead of a baking sheet. Lazy. For more than one or two biscuits, you need a sturdier base - so I put the foil on the baking sheet. Easier cleanup.

I love to cook. This is a very good thing, for lots of reasons.

One? I'm allergic to all foods, more or less. To deal with universal food allergy is complicated. My food allergies change all the time; I desensitize and resensitize, and I'm allergic to different things in different degrees - which also changes. I try not to eat the same thing two days running (*rotate*). I try to reduce the number of ingredients in any given dish, a sort of minimalism. That reduces the total number of food allergens I'm exposed to.

Mostly, we listen to our own body's reactions to know what's worst lately and avoid that altogether. And - the only way to really know what's in any dish is if you cook it yourself, from scratch.

Other reasons? It's worth the income of a part-time job to do your own cooking. It's worth another part-time job to shop wisely. And I'm on Social Security here, folks. Can't work, and get a joke of an income. So the money matters like you would not believe.

Because I use better ingredients, and don't eat the prepared chemically foods, it's far healthier. Good for the chronically ill. And the domestic satisfaction and stress reduction it provides are beyond price. Boy, your house smells GOOD!

It takes LESS time to cook than to drive around getting so-called *fast food* - not to mention the time of additional work hours needed to pay far higher prices for lower quality food. And, not to mention the stress of driving in traffic and waiting in line. Yuck.

Last but not least? If you can't cook you are NOT independent. You are voluntarily giving up control of a significant part of your life, for the financial benefit of the sellers of prepackaged food. Me, I like to be in charge of my own self.

Lecture over! Fun begins!

Good ol' American biscuits are a great treat. IMO. Sometimes people from Somewhere Else don't get the attraction of biscuits. To each their own, and all.

They have lots of fat in them, so suck it up. If you stop eating the unsatisfying fat of fast or prepackaged food, and eat nice natural homemade biscuits, you're eating LESS fat. Real for real.

The *Million Biscuits* version above is because I make my own *mix,* a big batch of all the ingredients except the liquid. Then, I can mix up only one or two biscuits at a time when I want to eat one.

For some foods, refrigerating this way doesn't work. For biscuits though, it actually improves them. It has to do with the way the shortening layers with the flour, and resting time. But you don't need all the technical details. Just believe everything I say and you'll be fine.

Like any happy cook, I adjust recipes over time. It's almost always a work in progress. So I'll include my most recent *notes to self* on changes. It's been a long time since I made a small batch, and I may have wanted to use a bit less salt in it, but that's a very fine-tuning thing.

Whether you want your biscuits *dropped* or *rolled* is up to you. I put down my own preference, which is dropped, because I'm way lazy. This means you just mix the buttermilk in, scoop a spoon of batter out, and drop it on the sheet. No rolling pin, no cutting with a cutter or a water glass, or making patties with your hands. If you want rolled biscuits, use less liquid.

I love buttermilk and it's also very good for you. I splurge a bit on the buttermilk - I use Marburger gourmet buttermilk, and it's NOT low-fat. If you want to use sweet milk, you'll need an adjustment in soda for best results. Let me know and I'll look it up.

For the shortening, I use butter. For a flakier biscuit, use lard or Crisco - one of the hard white shortenings. Personal taste. Now: If you insist upon ruining a perfectly good batch of biscuits by using margarine or some effing *spread* or bs so-called *healthier* (NOT!) other fat substitute, please do NOT distress me by telling me so. Further, do NOT blame me for the sorry results of your otherwise very commendable efforts.


Generally, if you're not satisfied with the results, the usual culprit is the baking powder. It doesn't stay fresh for long. So if it's been in your cupboard a while, please, buy some new. If you're broke, there's a way to test it for freshness before you buy a new can - again, let me know.

Once you put in the buttermilk, don't overmix the batter. That develops the gluten in the flour - the very reason that yeast breads are kneaded. Biscuits call for the opposite. The less you mix the flour, the more tender your biscuit will be.

That's another reason why refrigerating the mix actually improves the biscuit. It *rests* the gluten.

Now then! Mix, cook, eat, and be happy! Slather those piping hot suckers with whipped butter and honey or jam or just whatever you want. I hope at least ONE of you Biscuit Recipe Hollerers actually MAKES them, now, and lets me know how it goes. Any questions, feel free to ask. I mean that, too.

Friday, July 14, 2006


Well, hell. Been having some computer issues here. Cableman says it's the router not the modem after all. We'll see what Walter has to say about that end of things.

But at least, I'm sort of on-line again.

And I had a most interesting day, and made a little money driving the English guy around, and will be off doing the same tomorrow. Then I'll catch all y'all up on everything.

Till then...keep your head above the water. It's creeping up on everyone this week, it seems. Surgeries and wacked-out moms and workplace weirdies and more.

I know - i KNOW - you'll all make it through.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Desert Rose

Adenium obesum. Well, probably. If it's some other kind of Adenium, then you have my apologies, pretty flower, for misrepresenting your heritage.

A desert rose by any other name....

I love this intensity of color. The odd-looking shape is great too. And there's a whole subset of plant fans that are gaga over the caudiciform base on various plants - this, famously, being one of them. Posted by Picasa

See, its other, far less dignified name, is Fat Plant.

Another word describing that kind of base is *elephant's foot.* A prettier turn of phrase, there. Especially if you like elephants.

This plant will set seeds. If you grow new plants from the seeds, you don't know for sure what color the flowers will be. They're never quite duplicated. Maybe there's less white, or the reds are less intense. Or more.

What you WILL get, though, is a good fat foot.

If you root a cutting, you'll get the exact same color of flower. Sure. Same exact plant, right? BUT!!! You'll almost never get a fat base.

So a person who wants a Desert Rose needs to know, if it hasn't bloomed yet, that the color of the flower is unknown.

And if it's a cutting, that they're choosing flower color over base.

Now...If they get very lucky - or have the patience to watch and look and wait - they get a great flower on a plant with a great base.

k was not only that lucky, she got the little one for like $7.00, a few years back. WAY below retail.

At this size and quality of color and development, it's a good candidate to be stolen now. (A lot of plant thieves around these days.) And, we also get people coming by offering to purchase it for ridiculous sums. Hundreds of dollars. I'm not selling.

I love this flower so much. I feel like I could fall inside those colors. And then...rarely, and only at certain times of releases a gentle and delicate fragrance, barely there, that makes you want to bury your head in that plant for hours. And just breathe.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Coming Back to Life


I've been reading that word a lot, folks commending the end of those bloggy hostilities.

And my most favorite result of all?

A healing.

A certain blog I'd given up for dead is back with us again. Alive. Alive and kickin'.

Livey, author of Northwoods Woman,
started a blog when she didn't know how to write. She asked her blogdad, --How does one write?, and he told her, --Just like you're telling a story.

So she did.

She doesn't have a degree in English or creative writing. She says she's naive, and in some ways she is. She's quite intelligent, yet at the same time a bit unschooled, unpolished. She's lived in those north woods for many years, and I spent time in those exact same north woods as a child, camping and fishing. It's truly remote. You don't get a lot of exposure to big-city sophistication up there. I mean, that's the whole point.

In other ways, she's seen and been through things that are so terrible, other humans don't always survive them. There's some real-world exposure that can carve a person up like a piece of meat. Some live. Some don't.

She survived. Scarred, but alive. And she's been working on getting those wounds healed better, in a healthier way, for ten years now.

Me, I admire the hell out of her. She's got memories, issues, that would cause others to be vicious and mean, greedy and spiteful and destructive. The sort of thing you'd expect, maybe even forgive, even if you knew you couldn't condone that behavior.

But she didn't take that road. She's not like that.

About the worst she ever does is gets a little nuts sometimes. Most of us do, here in the 'sphere, and in the world. She's got way more reason than most.

She makes mistakes, social mistakes especially, and sometimes she does things she shouldn't. But she doesn't understand why they were wrong. Not yet. She's working on it. She does say - and I believe her - that she doesn't make these mistakes on purpose to hurt people.

Having made a lot of mistakes that same way myself, I'm perfectly willing to cut her a lot of slack. Especially when I see her trying so very hard to understand what happened.

Her heart is bigger than those big north woods, bigger than the huge night skies full of stars that you get to see up there. She is brave and tough, and fierce in defending the old folks she cares for in her work. She does this while carrying the burden of terrible physical health problems of her own. Constant pain is only the beginning.

She's an honest person, beyond what we usually see. A person who can hear very hard things said about herself, and then sit there and analyze it all, ready to accept what part of it is truth. She wants to figure it out, to be the best and the healthiest person she can be, and she never gives up the fight.

She almost changed the fight, lately, because she pretty much had to. I could see that. Even as a professional problem solver, I could not see any other solution. Not giving up, no, but changing it for her own protection.

Instead, she took part in a small miracle. Settled it. She's safe again, pretty much. As much as we can any of us expect to be, I guess.

And she's blogging again. And I am SO happy to see this.

Whatever your position on individual blogs and bloggers, one thing we say we condone is the freedom of speech and of expression that the internet, and this odd world we call the blogosphere, provide. If it's not to your taste? Read elsewhere.

To lose another unique voice from this world really would have been a sad, sad loss. Especially when it was so unnecessary.

Welcome back, Livey.

Peace Breaks Out

Blogwars are not for me.

I'm a peacenik.

One thing many of us expected after Acidman's demise was that the associated blogdramas would cease.

They did not.

As I've already said, I have no dog in those fights. I do have compassion for people hurting and grieving, who can get caught up in stuff like that and wish they hadn't.

The blogosphere takes some rightful criticism for these blogdramas, both from within the 'sphere and without. And of course, as a peacenik, I dislike them too. I reserve my disdain for those who stir things up on purpose. There truly are individuals who do, for their own amusement. If they were the only players ever involved, I'd say, Fine. Have at it! Whatever floats your boat.

But unfortunately, in real life it doesn't work that way. Collateral damage ensues. In one case a few years back, I heard of a woman who'd been posting *inblognito,* was *outed* by an enemy, and lost her job because of it. I despise nastiness. It's unkind.

I do recognize that not all participants are there willingly. Speaking in very GENERAL terms, I've seen in OTHER blogdramas how some folks are innocent victims of provocative and/or stalking type behaviors - if I remember right, the lady who got fired was generally considered one of them. And I don't like the *blame the victim* game, so I really feel for the ones who get targeted and don't know how to escape, and then get vilified on top of everything else.

Now - back to this specific situation - here's why those issues can actually NOT MATTER.


Because two women who both cared very much for Rob Smith, and were grieving, and were the principals in the blogdrama that ensued AFTER his death, have declared peace.

Only the uninitiated will fail to grasp how very remarkable this is.

They emailed. They talked on the phone for five hours. They learned things, each about the other, that they hadn't known before. They learned things about each other's relationship with Rob Smith that they hadn't known before.

One comment that's been floating around is how Rob, if he's still with us in spirit, is probably having a good laugh over this most recent of blogdramas surrounding him. Of course, never having known the guy, I can't say this with any authority - but I think they may be right.

So it actually may be dishonoring his memory for these two to bury the hatchet in the graceful way they did.

If so? Sorry, guy. But I bet you'll get over it. ;-)

If he's glad about it? Good going. I like.

Ladies? I am so very proud of you both I feel like I'm about to explode. I say this: You have done great credit to the blogosphere, to each other, to your selves, and to the memory of a legendary blogger.

Stevie and Livey : You have honored the 'sphere. I honor you.

Friday, July 07, 2006

That *Other* Decision

So many people, commenters and emailers and neighbors and friends, have been telling me about losing their own loved pets. The more I learn, the more I realize what good luck we've had. One lady had to put down an animal a year for five years. Another recently lost two, and her remaining two are both elderly. All four were with her for a long, long time.

With remarkable good luck, I got out of that "other" decision. For both my cats. And I am so glad of it. I know that luck was all it was. I almost took Babycat in to be put down on Monday morning - but the vet wasn't in. This way, I had three more precious days with my cat, and also one last try to keep him with me.

I grieve for all of you. Especially, my heart goes out to you who've had to put a loved animal down. What terrible strength that must take, how very, very hard an act of love that is to do.

I have to say this truth: I'm not sure how peaceful it was for him. I'm not positive he fell asleep because I know I fell asleep first. I'm wrestling with that. I want it to be what happened, but I'm not positive and I never will be. I was so exhausted, watching over him for two days, and not being able to sleep much during that time, of course not, who could?

I do know for sure that the hard part wasn't nearly as bad or as long for him as it could have been. Around a couple of hours total were hard, and even then, he wasn't struggling except for a few minutes toward the very end. That's when I stopped everything else and just sang to him and talked to him, and he quieted down and pushed his head into my side. And, I hope, he slept.

You see, he comforted me.

He comforted me, and that's when I could finally sleep.

And I do know, absolutely, that snuggling next to me was the only way he would ever have wanted it, given a choice. He lived for that. We would fall asleep holding hands almost every night and sometimes for two or three naps a day. He was a very, very sweet and loving cat. What a great blessing in our lives.

Babycat slept right next to me, stretched out on a heating pad, with a little pillow for his head. He had prehensile toes and would curl them around my finger with that surprising strong grip of a human baby. Sometimes he'd pull my hand to his head, Pet me! time to pet me now! When he wanted to hear his songs or stories, he'd pet my mouth to tell me so. Mama, make your mouth move. Sing to me! talk to me!

Reading in bed next to him was a great treat for us both. I'd read and pet him, and he'd catnap and purr. After I turned out the light and lay my hand out toward him, he'd put his little paw in my hand. Or sometimes he'd push his head into my palm.

He always waited for me to fall asleep first. Walter and visitors tell me he'd carefully stand up then, very gently so he wouldn't wake me, and gaze long at my face, studying, to be sure I was asleep. Then he'd jump down for a quick drink and nibble of food, and come back and stretch out beside me and nod off.

So I know he'd want to be with me at the end, in bed. He paid a price for it that last couple of hours. I can't know how high that price was for him. But I am so sure that he would not have chosen that other alternative, that I think I can get through that part okay.

Hands across the Ether, and the Rainbow Bridge

For the comments and emails you've sent, and for *just stopping by* too: Thank you all. I learned about the Rainbow Bridge just recently, from a beautiful tribute on Nancy's blog *My Garden Spot* when she lost her beloved once-in-a-lifetime dog Brain: Since then it seems like I've heard about this poem everywhere I look. I've reprinted it below.

It reminds me very much of some things that happened after this one's mother, April, passed away in August, 2002. I love to think about them playing in a beautiful field full of butterflies and wildflowers and all their friends. And being there for us, to see us again.

When someone, anyone, has been with you for 22 years, it's an adjustment to live without them. I don't know what the next few weeks will bring. It feels very strange. Empty.

I've heard before how our readers and fellow bloggers give us strength in a way that may not make sense to outsiders. I'm beginning to understand that feeling much better now.

Thank you, commenters and emailers and *quiet* readers, all.

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When a beloved pet dies that has been
especially close to someone here, the pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all our special friends
so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine,
and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill or old
are restored to health and vigor,
those who were hurt or maimed
are made whole and strong again,
Just as we remember them in our dreams of days gone by.
The animals are happy and content,
except for one small thing,
they each miss someone very special to them
who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together,
but the day comes when one suddenly stops
and looks into the distance.
His bright eyes are intent; his eager body quivers.
Suddenly he begins to run from the group,
flying over the green grass,
his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you
and your special friend finally meet,
you cling to each other in joyous reunion,
never to be parted again.
The happy kisses rain upon your face
your hand again caresses that beloved head,
and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet,
so long gone from your life,
but never absent from your heart.
Then, you cross the Rainbow Bridge together.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Another Loss

I was hoping to leave some of these sad topics and be back with my friends and garden and everyday life here.

But not yet.

This one's on me, me and Walter. And some others who knew and loved him, too. He loved my mother and nephew and niece and dad and Sylvia and a little boy named Kaleb...

And if you're among those who think the loss of an animal is nothing? you don't begin to understand what love is really all about.

My old, old cat died last night. He'd been doing better after the kidney infection treatment, but Monday morning he was failing, badly. I spent two days in bed with him, on a death watch. Moved the laptop in, my meds and equipment, all of it.

Finally the doctor was back from the 4th of July holiday, and we saw him yesterday morning, Wednesday.

He didn't think much could be done. He asked me: What do you want to do?

I said, Can we put him on fluids, like we did for his mother April?

Yes. And try some more antibiotics, too.

We did all that. Lots of fluids yesterday morning, and I gave him a big-needle subcutaneous dose last night, too. But in the end nothing could help. He was just a very old cat, in kidney failure, sick and exhausted, and his time was come.

At the very end I could see he was suffering some, and any suffering was far more than I wanted to see. I made myself have nerves of steel for this. The only thing I could think of to do to comfort him was to talk to him and sing to him, his favorite songs I've been singing to him for most of 22 years. And you can't talk or sing right if you're crying.

So I snuggled him up against me, and he pushed his head into my side. Told him stories about how he was born and the funny things he did as a kitten. Such a fine boy! Such a handsome young man! Did you know that you're my faaaavorite kitten in the whooooole world? I put my arm across him, just where he likes, and finally we drifted off to sleep.

When I woke up this morning, he was dead.

He's not suffering any more.

He's not suffering any more.

He's not suffering any more.

oh God, please God, I want him back.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Happy 5th of July!


I see I slept through all the fireworks.

But I hope all y'all had a great one, anyway.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Some Final Thoughts

This week of mourning for Acidman is drawing to a close. By all accounts I've come across, his send-off - the services, the gatherings afterwards - were just right, fine and fitting tributes that he would have approved of and enjoyed. That's some unusually good luck.

Probably the kind of good luck that people make.

As the week wore on, among the blog eulogies for this man I never knew were more fine and fitting writings. I saw little to none of people pretending he was never a jackass. Among the ones that spoke most to me, and to some others, were these:

Kelley at Suburban Blight,
Juliette at Baldilocks,
Steve at Hog on Ice,
Rube at You Bitch - a very funny piece called The New Guy,
Nancy at My Garden Spot,
Desert Cat,
Acidman's excellent friend of 30 years, Catfish,
and the woman he'd had his last serious connection with - including the subsequent blogdramas - Livey, Northwoods Woman,

Kelley is Livey's blogmom, and Acidman was her blogdad.

Would you like to do something to honor Rob's memory? Make a donation to the American Diabetes Association. The complete info is here:

Catfish, who is spoken of as having no filters - and if you read him for a minute, you'll see why - has been a beacon of strength and graciousness throughout. I read post after post of thanks to him for this, for being such a rock in his own time of great loss. This side of Catfish, this pure and true Southern gentleman, might surprise folks from other parts, or any people who are lazy and ignorant enough to bore their own selves by only looking at what's immediately apparent in another human being.

I see so many interesting accounts of the contradictions inherent in this Acidman. Often I see him called *a true Southern gentleman,* yet I know a true gentleman does not call women cunts and black people niggers. The examples of his tenderness and harshness, his superb advice and his foolish choices, abound. He was - and also, he wasn't.

We're all a mass of contradictions. Perhaps one thing that drew others to him so, that sense of being *larger than life,* was because in him those contradictions were so very large.


Speculations on the cause of his demise have been surprisingly few and courteous. People are curious, and I myself don't consider this automatically inappropriate. Most of what I've seen fits with my own thoughts on how it occurred. While, as I said, the jury's still out, I think it might have gone something like this:

We have here a man whose health has tanked, whose bad choices are starting to overwhelm him, and who's seeing that the hope for improving many of these things is not so good. While he recently survived a perforated ulcer and subsequent peritonitis and gut surgery, I can tell you very well that curing serious infections can fool you. I won't bore you with any of my own experiences there just now - no, I will later! - but it's quite possible that it recurred.

I think it was on Catfish's blog a month or two ago that the subject of pain treatment came up, and Catfish said Robbie had been throwing up from pain. That happens. But at that rate? I wondered at the time if it weren't at least partly due to the belly complications acting up again.

Add the damage to his liver from years of alcoholism, to his entire system from prostate cancer and its difficult cure, a family history of early demise. Added up, I think it made it possible for him to just...quit.

I don't think this man wanted to die so much as he didn't want to keep on living in the condition he was in. There is a difference.

On reading of his death, my first reaction was that he wouldn't have deliberately done this without seeing his beloved Grandmommie first. His *suicide post* said he hadn't seen her for a month and really needed to. Catfish pointed out other things he would have done too, like saying goodbye to his closest friends. His beloved daughter was coming to visit in a week. The timing was off.

And he posted again after the *suicide post.* That would not be characteristic of most peoples' suicide notes, surely. It was characteristic of Acidman to rant some about wanting to die; it wasn't the first time by any means. If he was so sick he was about to die from natural causes, writing that rant in his extremis would make sense.

Livey, an astute health professional, talked about the connection between physical and mental health. She put it in such a way that it rang eerie bells for me about what I'd just posted about my cats saving my life.

You see, if you're really sick, and you don't want to keep on living like that but you also don't want to commit suicide, you don't have to kill yourself.

All you have to do is give up.


Was he really, at heart, an atheist? There's another question being bandied about a bit. A few who knew him have said he acknowledged a God in rare private moments. That his argument wasn't against God's existence, but against the turns his own life had taken. That he was mad at God, and we don't get mad at something that doesn't exist.

From what little I've read of him, I'll put in another two cents' worth: he seemed angry at the charlatans who prey upon believers, and angry at those who try to force others to live by their own religious beliefs. Those are both angers that I share.


As I've said, Acidman and I never knew each other, and probably never would have. Not just because I am, and must remain, a hermit; we were simply too different in too many ways that matter. I dislike being around the sort of train-wreck life that so fascinated his many readers. Personal taste. And while I certainly can't begin to guess, it wouldn't surprise me if he'd have had a similar reaction to me - though perhaps not on a train-wreck issue. A boredom issue, maybe!

Catfish, you and I don't know each other either, and for my recluse life and other reasons too, I expect we never will. But that doesn't mean I have any less regard for you. I can honestly say that I truly do not wish to add to your sorrow in your loss of your loved and loving friend.

But I've been grinding my teeth down, keeping my mouth shut, holding back an intense fury at something you and Rob and I do have in common: terrible pain, and terrible obstacles at getting it treated.

I know, absolutely, that Rob Smith's problems getting treatment had nothing to do with any of his friends or family. It had everything to do with people who think they have a right to impose their moral code on others. The sort of people who a friend of mine calls *health Nazis* - they'll kill you to save you from smoking cigarettes.

Or, too often, to relieve their guilt or anger over a friend or family member who died of a drug overdose. You see, if they can sue the prescribing doctors, and make very stringent laws against pain meds, they can pretend that their dead loved ones weren't really responsible for their own actions.

To the extent they added to the burdens of Rob Smith's life, added to his suffering, to his losing hope and wanting to give up, those people are, to my mind, very close to being murderers.


I see I've spent a quiet week on my blog, mulling over all the events surrounding the demise of this man I was pretty much uninterested in. More than anything else, I can now say this for sure: I can see why so many others were very much interested in him and the things he had to say. I can see not just why people got angry at him, but why so many of the same people held him in such high regard.

Thank you all for listening.

I'm done.