Monday, July 30, 2007

Allergic Half to Death and Bitching and Moaning About it Too. Excuse, Please.

The sleeping bit is usually because of either the *fever sickness,* or allergies.

Or both.

Or, toss in a good flareup of the rheumatoid arthritis too. Get 'em going all three at once? Yup. Sleepytime, round the clock.

I said, starting out, that I'm on vacation here not just from regular life but my health problems too. That's a lot of the purpose in staying here for so long. Once I realized my overall systemic allergic response was much lower here than in South Florida at this time of year, I knew I'd be stronger physically if I hung around breathing cleaner air for a while. A very good thing indeed.

Mentally and emotionally, too, it's been just wonderful. Many of you can understand from reading her blog that Livey is a truly good woman, and a gifted health care worker. And you also understand - being discerning people - that experiencing those qualities in person has a far greater impact than just reading about them. It's healing to me to be here.

When you have to do something requiring you to be as strong as you can, it's a good idea to pay real attention to building your strength. Work on it, mind and body and heart.

I have to do some potentially dreadful health work when I get home. Now they've finally ID'd the mycobacteria, it's time to slam it with more antibiotics. The permanent 2-antibiotic regime I'm on seems to be containing it okay, but it's not enough. My IgG tanked too, and I'm susceptible to new infections now in the worst way of my life. I was immunocompromised before. That's why the left foot, my skin, everywhere really, kept getting infected or reinfected the last several years.

That was BEFORE the IgG tanked. IgG is the immunoglobulin that actually produces the white blood cells that fight off infection. It tanked, and I ended up hospitalized with a lung infection. Apparently this is a classic response to low IgG, recurring upper and lower respiratory infections. Add on a bunch of allergic responses, with asthma and post-nasal drip and congestion and airway swelling and all that damn snot everywhere? The good old Great Breeding Grounds for germs?


Not good.

When I get home, I'll be hospitalized for 24 hour observation as my ID doc administers 2 oral doses of whatever 3rd antibiotic her research tells her is the best one to try. This is because of my history of allergies to antibiotics. If I'm already inpatient, if I get another bad allergic reaction, they can keep me alive much easier.

If I am allergic to it? Or, if it simply doesn't work?

She estimated I'll need seven weeks inpatient, getting slammed with vancomycin or whatever IV antibiotics are best for the myco.

I've carried this infection in my arm for 3 years now. Am I pushing things, not getting the treatment immediately? Perhaps. But it's been hanging around for a long time, and I am on both Cipro and minocycline, so it's not as if I have no protection at all. Not to mention: past experience has taught me that trying to fight off infection while I'm in an extreme allergic state is much harder.

Well. Finally, the pollen here got to me. Livey too. We're both walking around with purple puffy eyes, fatigued beyond belief. Breathing that pollen is like breathing chloroform.

But I'm still far less allergic here than I would be in South Florida right now.

At the same time, my fevers have spiked badly, and the arthritis eating every piece of my connective tissue, head to toe, has gone bonkers. Bad pain days, bad ones.

Crashing a bit.

I'll sit it out. I'll be fine, get better soon as the pollen goes back down. Head slowly home, and do what I gotta do.

In the meantime...well, if you'll bear with me, I just had a need to gripe a bit. Break vacation mode and whine a little.

Because tonight I really wanted to go see Snowshoe Baseball, and I was just too sick. Too sick to drive the couple miles to the ballpark and sit on my scooter and watch the show.


I try SO hard to be patient with all this health stuff. Mostly I pull it off okay. I never forget how lucky I am to still be alive and still have the use of almost all my parts.

But when it stops me from doing things I really want to do? Stops me from having a little fun weeding, or trying out this new meatloaf recipe, or making bread and brownies for that sweet Old Mr. Half Ear, or taking pix of these great mushrooms sprouting up?

Or going to Snowshoe Baseball?

I HATE that.


Thanks for listening to all that goop, everyone. Thank you, very much., I'm going back on vacation again. So - as they say -

Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Overheard in the Northwoods

Stop licking my feet!

Did you fart?

Is this your snot rag or mine?

-I LOVE onions!
-How do you feel about onions, anyway?
-I just LOVE them! I LOVE onions.
-Why don't you make some onions?
-YESSS!!! I'm gonna make some onions.
-Good! Have some nice onions.
-Okay. i just LOVE onions!

I HATE dropping stuff in the toilet!


Was that you or the dog?

Pooping is GOOD.

-What's that?
-New game. Kinda like Pong.
-Oh! I remember Pong.
-Me too.
-Lotta people don't remember Pong any more.
-OH NO!!
-What happened?
-I dunno! OH! I WON! (pleased)...Uh oh! I got 3?!? I got like a BILLION all running around at the same time!!!...AW MAN I only had 1 left and I died!
-Now I won! Oh look it's making lightning and everything!


I have awakened.

Not sure how long I've been asleep. Couple days, maybe? But! I'm back.

What time is it? must be - espresso time!

I see it's become Sunday.

Have a great one!

Thursday, July 26, 2007


I have never been so pleased with my blog in my entire life.

For two years, I've been living with colors I wasn't happy with, a layout that kept running all over the place, and no blogroll.

Suddenly my little baby blog is growing up.

THANK YOU WENDY! THANK YOU LINDA! THANK YOU JACK! And thank you All Commenters too, for your feedback as it went up and down and inside out and upside down and all those funky things that happen when one is working on the template.

Me, I didn't do one speck of it. Nope. I was weeding. And still, all that template work just wore me down to a nub.

All I want to do right now is fix up the blogroll a little more and post post post. But I'm heading off for a day of sleep instead.

The dreaded Postus Interruptus! OH NOOOOOO!!!


But...I'm going off to sleep ever so happy, anyway.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


You may be noticing some odd things happening on the blog as Livey (et al) tests things, trying to fix the title-getting-cut-off problem.

This time Livey requested scrambled eggs not popcorn. You GOT it, cookie!

My response to the perfectly sensible questions posed by the incomparable Mama Bear and Jack, both of whom Understand These Things, where I do not...


Such a NICE day to do some weeding!

I shall forward your email to Livey.

eeeeeeeeeekkkkkkkkkkkk urg phobe challenged

but an EXCELLENT driveway weeder, bye bye!

k and the Teenage Entourage

I just LOVE blue.

Long ago, during my stay in Northwest Louisiana, I acquired a Teenage Entourage. This was after my allergies knocked me off the job forever, and the bit with the secret-alcoholic fiance was over, except for the stalking part. Other awful things were happening left and right. It seemed like a good time to sit out by the pool for a while, and have a nice rest.

These kids were there for summer visitation with their non-primary custodial parent, all of them the children of divorce. They needed an adult around to swim in the pool. (MINORS MUST BE ACCOMPANIED...) Unemployed, ill, being stalked by a nice sweet big teddy bear brain-damaged gun freak...I hung out at the pool as the other adults worked, and made sure those kids could swim.

They ranged in age from 11-17. Almost all were named *Jaimey,* except for T and Tony, but each *Jaimey* spelled it differently. A couple were troubled in pretty scary ways. After their parents realized I wasn't some sort of fruitcake who had a thing for teenagers, the parents and kids came to trust me. I wouldn't let the kids get away with bad stuff, but I also let them know I cared about them. And I did. I still do.

They particularly liked my Love Life advice, and were forever quizzing me on Important Relationship Issues. They liked to play little jokes on my funny last name. In their ways, they were very sweet to me, and helpful. They'd get my mail when I couldn't walk. Bring me food to cook for them, and incidentally to share with me, with great delicacy for my poverty. They'd call the cops if the stalker ex showed up again - we didn't have 911 service, so I taught them how. I think of them quite often. I hope they're all doing well.

One day sitting out by the pool, they started to notice something.

My bathing suit was blue.

My beach towel was blue.

My oversize buttondown men's shirt was blue.

My cigarettes (I used to smoke) were Merit Ultra Lights, in a blue and white package.

My cigarette lighter was blue.

My flipflops were blue.

My can cooler, the rubbery thing holding my Coca Cola, was blue.


We'd been quiet for a bit. Lazing in the sunshine, not swimming, sitting and resting at the pool table.

One of them looked over, with perfect studied casualness, and slowly drawled out this remark:

--You can tell k doesn't like blue.

Which, at the time, had us all suddenly ROTFL'g half to death. I never heard the end of that one until I moved away.

And now, you, I FINALLY have a BLUE BLOG! Whoopee!

Okay. We're still working out the kinks. If you use Mozilla, it looks fine. But in Internet Explorer, the title seems to be cut off at the top.

We'll get there. Livey is working on it for me, since I am incurably technochallenged. I make her popcorn as she studies the template and fixes things.

But if anyone knows how to stop the title from getting cut off, please let us know, okay?

And then? Before you know it, I shall FINALLY have a REAL FOR REAL BLOGROLL!!! of my VERY OWN!!!

boing boing boing!

Oh, I'm so excited I can't stand it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Weeding, Snowshoe Baseball, and a Shyness Attack

The Weed the Driveway project is tootling along ever so nicely. I seem to have knocked my blood sugar out of whack, and walking isn't an exercise I can do to work it back down. So tomorrow I'll be out there doing some vigorous bits of the weeding work, and see if the diabetes gets better.

I love to weed. Another of those *odd hobbies.* I find it endlessly absorbing. And Livey's driveway is made of driveway gravel, which sounds way dull, but instead is way, way beautiful stuff. I love to talk to the critters out there, and pick out pretty rocks to bring back to Florida, and find all sorts of interesting artifacts as I dig around.

Hey. If you did what I used to do for a living, and do it 80-90 hours a week, and now have all sorts of icky health things to deal with instead of that dream job and its corresponding income, you might take a lot of pleasure in sitting down and weeding a driveway too. I consider myself extremely lucky for being so easily amused. It's just so...soothing.

And tonight we went to our third Snowshoe Baseball game, a highly entertaining Northwoods delicacy. Another extremely fine activity. I've come to see that sports photography is much harder than it looks on TV. But I've gotten some pretty good pix by now, and hope to be sharing them with you soon. This one is a truly unique game, as much because of the fans and ballpark as the sport itself.

Which all adds up to a tired but happy blogger. I wanted to put up a quick note here so you know I'm not dead - some folks back home were ready to send out a search party - but for now it's bedtime. I have some emails I'd like to catch up with tomorrow. All y'all know who you are. tomorrow morning, with any luck, I'll get over this shyness attack and be able to properly thank Leslie.

Until then...Have a seriously GOOD one, everyone!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Mysterious Evolution of the All-Boob Chicken

I think that much of what passes for *healthy* eating often is the result of fashion rather than science. That the fashion appears to be driven by science, when it's not. Junk science, perhaps.

I know there are people who truly prefer the taste of breast meat on their fowl, as opposed to those of us who like the dark meat. We're lucky here in the Northwoods: Livey genuinely likes the breast meat, and I don't, so you never ever see us poking each other's hands with our forks on the way to the chicken plate.

There are also many people who eat breast meat only because they feel like they're Supposed To. Breast meat is much harder to cook. It gets dry so easily and often it isn't as flavorful as dark meat. Then those people end up not eating much chicken at all, because they don't actually like the breast meat and they feel guilty if they eat the dark meat. So they end up back at McDonald's for dinner.

People. Honestly. This is SILLY.

One of the most important factors in eating right, and keeping one's weight under control, is to NOT eat food you dislike, and DO eat food you DO like.

I mean reasonably healthy food. If all you like is McDonald's? Well. I better not even go there, okay? Except to say, while moderate amounts of fast food (or most anything else) is perfectly fine, a diet of nothing but fast food is truly not good. A steady diet of nothing but candy isn't, either.

But that's a rant for another day. Today I feel an overwhelming urge to study up on the Evolution of the All-Boob Chicken.

Check it out. Here's a nice little whole fryer I bought and cut up to cook.

I've been doing this for many years. Cutting up your own chicken is very easy and fast, it's much cheaper per pound, it's *homey,* and I get much more use out of it. I use the neck and wing tips and tail and some bones to make chicken stock or soup. I can freeze any meat I don't want to cook at the time, which I often do with the backs. Once I have several chicken backs in the freezer, I take them out for a nice chicken back bake. Yum! Or use them for soup.

Plus, that way I can clean out the chicken backs. It's the lungs and stuff in the back that make some nutritionists say backs and/or dark meat have more cholesterol. If the silly twits would clean out the organs before testing, their readings would be hugely altered. Organ meat is full of cholesterol - a type of cholesterol I don't like the taste of. So why eat it?

The same point goes for the so-called *fattier* dark meat. When they do those food tests for fat content, they leave the fat inside the thighs. Eeeew! Not me. I trim it out both before and after cooking, and cook it in such a way that much of the fat is rendered out. Eating some fat is not bad for you. In fact, if you include some fat in your meal, you get full faster and don't overeat as much. Me, I just make sure I don't eat the fat I don't actually want to eat. Big chunks of fat in chicken or beef or pork is very unappetizing to me.

Another important point: the less handling any meat gets at the meat factory, the less bad stuff it picks up before you, the final consumer, eat it. I'm talking everything from rat hairs to e. coli and salmonella. Meat recalls are usually for products like hamburger. That's gone through a lot of processing, and had many more opportunities to pick up germs and other contaminants as a result.

It isn't wise for us immunocompromised folks to eat processed meat, especially when I can do it much better at home, for less money. I like to see what gets put into my food, okay? And I'm on a seriously limited budget, and disabled. Cooking saves me about $500 per month. That's big dough when you're broke, and a good *occupation* when you can't contribute to your own income by working outside the home.

Think how much harder employed people have to work to get that extra $500. Then, they spend a lot of time picking up pre-cooked food elsewhere, not to mention the added stress of more traffic, etc. Wouldn't you rather spend that time cooking, with your family, instead of working more hours to pay more money for food that's lower in quality?

BTW, if you buy boneless chicken - hugely more expensive - you've just wasted good money in order to deprive yourself of a source of dietary calcium. Now you gotta buy more supplements, too. D. U. M. Leave the bones in. Tastes better that way too.

So: here we go, with more and more people eschewing dark chicken meat for breast meat, even though many of them don't actually like it.

Chicken manufacturers, of course, want to satisfy the demands of their customers, whether those demands are sensible or not. Sensible customers aren't necessarily good for the bottom line.

Ergo: chicken companies have worked hard on developing chickens with bigger and bigger breasts, and smaller and smaller thighs and drumsticks.

Okay. I can see how gross raw meat pix look on a blog. But I only cooked one half of the breast and froze the rest for Livey to have later on. I wanted to show In Living Color what this weirdly proportioned bird looks like.

The pic of the fried chicken only has one half of a breast, at the upper left, and look how large that is in proportion to the rest of the bird.

The upper right of the raw chicken pic shows both breast halves. Can you see how the breast is almost as much as the WHOLE REST OF THE CHICKEN?!?

Did you know that chickens didn't used to look like that?

For many years I've been cutting up whole chickens. And roasting them whole, and doing all sorts of other interesting things with them. I have seen many a chicken in my day.

And I tell you, this All Boob Chicken thing is just...strange. It's unnatural.

How do they walk around? Don't they, like, fall forward all the time from the weight?

Oh. Forgot. Most of them are raised in those little cages or something. Okay. They probably can't move much anyway so maybe that's a non-issue.

Oh! Until...Did you hear about Florida's Pregnant Pig amendment? We passed a constitutional amendment that required pregnant pigs be given a cage large enough for them to turn around in. They Friends of Preggers Pigs couldn't get the ag department to pass a simple regulation, so they put it on as a constitutional amendment. In Florida the people have a right to amend the constitution by vote if the legislature or state departments don't act in accord with the will of the people. It passed. Today, all Florida pregnant pigs can turn around in their cages just as they please.

Now I wonder if they'll do an All Boob Chicken amendment.

If chicken boobs keep developing as rapidly and ardently as they've been, it could be the only way to save those poor chickens from hopping around backwards, dragging their boobs behind them in the Free Range dust. Or sitting in their mini-cages, boob down, and unable to do much besides lift their underweight little heads for some more chicken feed.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Speaking of Great Bloggers...


Some of you may actually have heard this enough already. But me? I can't say it enough, so here I go again:

I have the greatest blogdad in the 'sphere. There's a reason I call him my *true blogdad.* Many blogparents inspired our decision to blog without even realizing it until we tell them. That's why this is a world where the baby names the parents. Bass ackward, as it were.

But my blogdad? He ACTS like a blogdad. Patiently and over a long time, despite my shyness and technophobia, he encouraged me to start blogging. He's also spent countless hours emailing me with answers to blogging questions, helping me out with health problems, and even mobilizing the Scooter Crew last year. That scooter made an enormous difference in my life.

And despite being an otherwise perfectly dignified civil engineer and ever so handsome Desert Cat, he doesn't even mind me calling him Pops.

I just LOVES me some Desert Cat! Pops, you RAWK.

So have a really great one, and many happy returns.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sparrow Has Hatched!

Many of you know Sparrow from her superb work on Bitchfest, and from her great comments around the 'sphere. That woman is smart, perceptive, funny, creative, and thought-provoking. Yup. Great blogger qualities, there. What we all love to read.

You may also know that Bitchfest went into some sort of terminal computer thing and did a Sudden Death. It was tragic. Not even the near-magical LL could resurrect it.

Maybe it was another of those *Meant to Be* things. Because...

from the ashes of Bitchfest, Sparrow has arisen. With her very own new blog. And it's beautiful!

Welcome - formally and on your own two wings - welcome to the 'sphere, Sparrow. I have a feeling you'll do very well indeed.

Go over and say HI! to our new hatchling, folks. It's well worth your visit.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Not a Sparrow, However.

Last week's Meals on Meals run gave us a nice Photo Op. This bird was very close to the graded dirt driveway we were on.

Normally, critters like this would fly away. Especially after the look on its face! Doesn't that say, Hey. I SEE you and I'd rather see you GO than STAY.

Ackkkk! these blasted HUMANS!

It wasn't until I looked at the downloaded pix that I saw why it didn't move. It was guarding its beautiful eggs from us. Eggs we had no idea were there, even though we slowly inched the car so close to the bird, we ended up about 3' away from it.

The bird didn't like us there. But it never moved away. More like: *Leave? nope. don't even THINK about it.*
Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 16, 2007

WHEE!!! We're Back! We are ON THE AIR!


It turned out that after all our frustrations with the internet connection, it wasn't the new computer at all. Nope. It was the old modem. Just as Walter suspected.

So after Livey spent several hours talking to the phone company - who's also the internet provider here - all it really took was a 5-minute visit from this Cute Phone Guy, gently bearing a new modem in hand as an offering to this Northwoods Goddess.

And how do I know he was a Cute Phone Guy?

Just as we were finished delivering Meals on Wheels this morning, Livey's cell phone rang. It was the Phone Guy, and he was pulling up to Livey's drive. We were maybe half a block behind the man. So I got a good gander at him.

And dropped Livey off to do computery things, and virtuously went off to Walmart. I was in need of a nice dose of Walmartians, myself.

I came back with some tasty dinner stuff and refilled meds and lo and behold, what did I find?

The HAPPIEST blogger you ever saw!

OMG, we NEEDED this! We have been offline for most of 5 DAYS!!! heebee jeebee AAAUUUGGGHHH!!!

Okay. The new modem was free. It's got us totally wireless, although of course this only really works with a laptop. Still, she's free and unencumbered at her computer desk now. Up to 6 computers can work off this new modem at the same time.

And me?

Not only can we post and surf simultaneously - I'm writing you this post from the LIVING ROOM!


Okay. I really wanted to check in tonight. I have a LOT of catching up to do, so if you haven't seen my *footprints* in your sitemeter, or gotten any emails from me lately, you will soon.

Now? Bedtime.

Gonna be hard to sleep around here tonight. Might hear the pitter patter of surf-hungry little feet. See some more of those 3am comments.

Or...Hmmm. Wait a minute.

I myself don't even need to get out of BED to blog any more!


How's that for a whole new twist on the pajamas business?

Sunday, July 15, 2007


If you read Livey's blog, you know that the modem or router blew and both the girls are out of commission in terms of blogging. Hopefully they'll be back online by Monday.

K thanks everyone for the donations and she will thank you all when she has internet access again.

(by the way, this is LL)

Friday, July 13, 2007

How the Little Prince Deigns to Drink His Water

In all my life, I've never seen a cat drink water this way.

First, he puts his paw in the water bowl. Sometimes he dips it several times. Like: poke poke!
-hesitate- poke!


he brings the paw up to his mouth...

and LICKS the water off his paw.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Specs

Desert Cat said he couldn't find the specs on this computer anywhere. So it may be even more up to date than I thought.

Here's what the boxes say for each component:

GT 5464
Personal Computer
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium PC

Intel Pentium Dual-Core Processor E2140
Each core operates at 1.6 GHz, 1 MB shared L2 cache, 800 MHz FSB

1024 MB DDR2 Dual-Channel Memory

Intel Graphics
Media Accelerator 950
Up to 224 MB of shared video memory
PCI-Express slot available


56K ITU V.92-Ready Fax Modem

Hard Drive
7200 RPM with 8 MB Cache

Gateway Portable Media Drive Bay

Optical Drive
DVD+/- RW Super Multi Drive with Dual-Layer Capability

6-Channel (5.1) High Definition

Amplified stereo speakers, Premium multimedia keyboard, and USB optical mouse

10/100 Mbps Ethernet LAN

15-in-1 Digital Memory Card Reader
Compact Flash I & II, IBM Microdrive, Secure Digital (SD & Mini SD), MultiMedia Card (MMC, MMC Plus, RS-MMC, & MMC Mobile), Memory Stick (MS, MS Duo, MS Pro, & MS Pro Duo), xD-Picture Card, SmartMedia Card

Pre-Installed Software
Microsoft Works 8.5, Microsoft Money 2006, Digital Image Starter Edition (60-day trial), Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 Trial (60-day trial), Adobe Reader, Cyberlink Power 2Go, Gateway Games
Powered by: WildTangent, NetZero, Gateway Connect, McAfee Internet Security Suite (90-day subscription)

Gateway FPD1975W TFT LCD Monitor
19" Widescreen Monitor
1440 x 900 Resolution
720p HD Ready
700:1 Contrast Ratio
8ms Response Time
300 nits Brightness
Enhanced Color Perfection
DVI-D with HDCP Input
VGA Analog Input
GatewayShield Theft Deterrence

HP Deskjet F380
All-In-One Printer, Scanner, Copier
Black and Color, HP Photosmart Essential Software, HP Photosmart Express
Print/Copy: Up to 20 PPM black, 14 PPM color
Scan: Optical 1200 x 2400 DPI

Git ‘er Done

I have a confession to make, and I hope you’ll forgive me.

The way it all went down - we got the computer late Monday night.

I know half the fun of something like this is the actual shopping part. Computer people love to compare prices and specs. I apologize for depriving you of that! I didn’t mean to lead you wrong about the timing of the purchase, either. Between me needing 27 hours of sleep, the installation leaving us mostly offline for 2 days, and wanting to tell you all the details, I just couldn’t get it together until now.

For some reason, our internet connection is still very dicey and I'm burning up with the need to comment and read and post. Oh Lord, and to thank several of you individually, already. Ah, patience, k. Patience.

Livey wants you to know she’ll be posting about it too. She’s been very busy learning how to navigate all this new stuff and having trouble getting the printer installed. She wants to wait until she has the time to make sure she says it right. She can write a post in like 30 seconds. This tale won’t be one of them.

Here’s how it all came to pass.

I’ll have to be heading home soon, and there are certain things I wanted to do here before I came. Walter and I had talked over most of them. One was this: We’ve known Livey’s computer was half-dead for a long time. Walter and I, and some of our mutual blogger friends - notably my priceless blogdad Desert Cat - have had this on our minds for some time.

I came here hoping to find some way to convince Livey to accept at least some of the cost of a new computer as a gift, and not just from me and Desert Cat and Walter, but also any of her readers and commenters who’d like to be in on the act. Doing it before the dinosaur died would be good. Ya know. In a planned, non-emergency way, right?

It didn’t turn out that way. Yet…without the silly thing croaking, I don’t know if it would ever have worked.

She’s quite fierce in refusing help for certain things. When it’s financial help for something that involves caring for or about another person, I’ve noticed, she’s more willing to accept it.

The thing blew on Sunday night. Monday was a big day for us. We started the morning delivering Meals on Wheels. Livey’s last trip to the dentist in faraway Antigo was at 1:15 PM. A woman who’d balked at paying a small but important chunk of money Livey had earned finally wrote her a check. That needed to be cashed at the writer’s bank so it wouldn’t go bad. A trip to Fleet Farm was on the list. Fuel up the Saturn for $3.02/gallon, rather than $3.44. Stuff like that.

And…while we were out, we might as well run by Wausau, home to the closest Sam’s Club, where I needed a few things. It’s only another 15 minutes away from Antigo.

Livey hadn’t quite got the cell phone bit down yet. If you lose me in a store ‘cause I scootered off somewhere, just call me on my cell phone.

I zoomed into Sam’s and all the way back to the meat department. Picked up the cell phone and called Walter.

--Walter! I ditched Livey. She may find me any minute. Can you do a little research for me?

--Sure. (He was stuck in a hotel room, waiting for his clutch to get fixed. He had a good internet connection there.)

--Okay. Find the best place here to get a computer.

I’d already checked out the Sam’s computers and Walter said they cost too much.

He called me back. --The closest Comp USA is in Madison. --Nope. Way too far. --Okay. Best Buy?... Found it!

He read me the address and phone number. The closest Best Buy to Livey’s house was in Wausau. What a stroke of luck!

She made it to the meat department and found me, eeek!!! I hung up the phone right quick and said, --You know, someone told me there’s a Best Buy around here? Do you know where? Walter wanted me to go check out something for him.

--Yeah!-- Livey said. --It’s right here in this shopping center, just down from Sam’s.

YESSS!!! (to myself.) --Oh (nonchalantly). Okay. Good. Can we go there, do you have enough energy left?

--(tired sigh…) --Yeah. Okay.

heh heh heh!!!

By then we were both completely bushed. We’d been going and going since 10:30AM and it was around 7PM already. Braindead, both of us.

Good thing too.

Because she might have figured everything out, otherwise.

I ditched her again, hiding out by Dairy Products, and called Walter back. After bringing up Best Buy’s inventory on his laptop, and looking it over, he recommended a Compac SR 5130 NX. With the standard 17" monitor it was $470; upgraded to a 19" monitor, $590. Once you need reading glasses the larger monitor helps a lot. So, roughly, the whole shebang for $600. No big gaming or anything, not fancy, but not the bottom of the barrel either. Moderate. It should last her for a while.

Her old monitor was usable but in really bad shape. Her printer worked, but it was 5 years old. A printer could wait. A new monitor was very close to a Must Have.

We checked out of Sam’s and headed over to Best Buy. Meanwhile, Walter was ready for my next call.

We checked out the Compac. Livey noticed a Gateway that was on special, only $50 more than the Compac. Gateway model GT 5428 (I think)?

Scootering by, I could see that Livey prefers Gateway overall. But the 5428’s specs seemed misleading to Walter. Something about its dual-core processing not really being dual-core? (Sorry. It’s all geek to me!)

I was playing it up still, asking her questions. This woman is NOT helpless around computers.

She wondered why I wanted her opinion when I could just ask Walter. --Hey. Two heads are better than one.

We went back and forth, Compac, Gateway. Walter thought the Gateway was comparable. --That’s more personal taste now. Ask which one she likes better. It’s for her.

So…Pretty soon I said, --Well, everyone’s different, Livey. Pick whichever one you want. Because this one’s not for Walter. It’s for you.


--Livey. If I walk out of this store with NO new computer for you, I will be DEAD MEAT. My life is on the line here. I will get KILLED.

--(suspicious) Okay. Who’s behind this?!

--I can’t tell you yet.


--More than one person.

(Quiet.) --Is Desert Cat one of them? And LL?

--Maybe. Among others. Walter, for sure.

--Oh GOD!!! I can’t pay you guys back! It would take like years or something, I can’t do it.

--Right. We know that. That’s why you don’t have to. This is a gift to you from the blogging community, Livey, and you really must accept it. Because WAY too many of us will go absolutely bonkers if we don’t get our Northwoods Woman fix. Okay?

--Oh my God…Okay. Okay.

I could tell she was about to cry, so I tossed her in the path of the head sales man. That’ll brace ANYONE up in a hurry. Sort of like watching a friendly shark scent you out in the water.

Then we called Walter again. Talked to salespeople. The sales man set up some special discounts, then he palmed us off on a nice, funny, hard-working, but less experienced young sales lady. Walter was on and off the cell phone answering our questions, and we handed it around between Livey and me and the sales lady and me. We worked out deals including an upgraded monitor and an all-in-one HP printer for almost free.

Sales staff was really pushing that old Gateway - *Only 5 left!!!* Free upgrades left and right. Walter, continuing to research the 5428, said it looked like old-style components reworked with new other packaging, dumping near-obsolete parts disguised as near-current. He kept asking me very detailed questions about the specs, carefully checking into them. He didn’t like the GT 5428 and he wanted to know why.

--Ask about the next higher Gateway models-- Walter said. --I’m looking at that particular Best Buy store’s entire inventory online here. Where are those higher models in the store? Go look. Livey likes Gateway. They’re much better Gateways and they don’t cost much more.

--Okay. Give me some model numbers.

He read some off. I relayed them to the sales lady, who looked thoughtful. --Those models seem familiar, but I can’t seem to remember where I saw them.

--Oh, they’re in your store here, somewhere. They’re listed in your store inventory.

That got a double-take from her.

She went to look them up in the Best Buy inventory.

You know where they were?

In the store, yes.

In fact, technically speaking, they were even out on the sales floor.

Not actually on display though. See, they were way high up on a side wall, on forklift-level shelves, still in their boxes. Hidden in plain view.

Probably waiting until the last 5 old GT 5428’s were sold before the better ones went on the display shelves. Satisfying any agreement to have them *IN INVENTORY,* yet not competing with the old clunkers they wanted to sell off first.


This brought out the old negotiator in me. I don’t like underhanded tactics and this seemed underhanded to me. Suddenly I didn’t want any more giggling around.

--Do we want a $150 package to install all sorts of anti-virus anti-spam anti-adware anti-spyware anti-phishing software that really works, as opposed to the usual stuff that really doesn’t, plus we’ll *optimize* your computer too?

--Walter. Do we?

He laughed. --No thank you. You can download all that for free. I’ll help. Now: looking at those Gateways? The 5464 is a true dual core. Go for that one, pricewise it’s your best fit.

--Hey saleslady. Any reason we can’t get a Gateway 5464 with the same upgrades?

Suddenly she didn’t seem quite as happy any more. Her face dropped juuuust a bit.

Got her! HA!

She went around to find a manager.

We were hanging out by the wall with those way high GT 5464’s. Livey, exhausted, lay down on the floor. Her feet and hips and neck were killing her. I guarded her from passersby, sitting on my scooter. I looked her in the face and said, --Okay, Livey, tell me. I know I wore you way way out today. If I had done this first thing in the morning, when you were fresh, would I have been able to talk you into it?

--No. I really don’t think it would have worked.

--I thought so.

(big self-satisfied grin!)

The sales lady came back. --Those Gateway 5464’s? We’d have to get one WAY down from the shelf. They’re still in their packages, haven’t been put out in the store yet, see?

(I’m thinking, --Yeah. BIG hardship, there, get a box down.)

And hey. We’ll have to open it up I think…

(yes, you may have done that once or twice before, too, open up a computer box…)

Walter’s back on the phone.

--This is really important-- he said. --You can upgrade the memory on that model. Ask them how much it would cost to upgrade it now instead of later.


--Hey saleslady. $?

--Upgrade from 1024MG to 2 GB? $40 each, 2 sticks - we have to replace both sticks because they’re each 512’s, it’s not just one stick that’s 1GB. It’s usually $120 per stick for that, installed.


--Do it! It’s way worth it. Buy it now.

Later we found they’d still charge $39 to install that new memory too, but if we installed it ourselves it would void the warranty. They’d only charge the install fee one time. (yeah, such a deal!) A bit of bickering and another call to Walter and we agreed. Still half off, after all; two sticks installed for $120 instead of $240.

Finally, around 9:15 - the store closed at 9 - we were out of there. The final total on our receipt?

One Gateway 5464 computer, reg. $499: $421.99.
One Gateway 19" wide FPD1975W monitor, reg. $219.99: $187.99.
One HP Deskjet F380 all-in-one printer, reg. $79.99: $29.99
Two 1GB memory sticks, installed, reg. $120 each, total $240: $118.98
Geek Squad: Free
Reward Zone membership (discount points for future purchases): Free
Taxes: $41.74

Grand Total: $800.69.

Savings, by their calculation (FWIW!): $280.00.

Computer specs aren’t my field. I’ve been paying more attention than usual to what computer info I read at Desert Cat’s and LL’s and Bane’s and so forth. How well we actually did on the specs here, I’ll bow to you computer lovers out there. My feeling is that we bought a better product than we were heading for at the outset, at about the same cost.

Remember Walter’s original recommendation, that Compac listed at $590? Add in the memory upgrade for $120, and $40 taxes - $590 plus $160 - and that’s $750. Now add the printer at $30.

So. A similar package with the Compac instead of the Gateway would have cost $780. Our grand total for the Gateway package was $800. It looks like the Gateway is a better product. I think that was some pretty good shopping.

The way the timing worked out, I emptied an important personal savings account to do this. But I was prepared for that. I knew there were enough fans out there to help put at least some of the funds back in, and like I said, we’ve wanted to get this together for Livey for quite a while anyway.

I think this was Meant to Be. A storm ate the old geezer computer. Walter and I had enough stashed to front the purchase. Livey and I were already scheduled to go out to that far-away town, which has the closest Best Buy to Livey’s house, the very next day. Livey was so fatigued I was able to browbeat her into accepting our little plan.

This next part was very unusual: Walter was available, comfortable in a hotel room, and had a good internet connection to give us invaluable guidance. Ha! Even this: it was ME that killed off the old computer, plugging it back in after the storm. Hey. It meant I could roll over on my back, expose my throat, and cry --Mea culpa, mea culpa! please, allow me to do SOMETHING to make it up to you!-- (You see, Morris? Devious. Sparingly, and for good.)

Could we have gotten something a little better, a little cheaper? Maybe. A great internet shopper usually can.

Could we have done it and brought it home that night, here in this remote area of the country? And done it together, before I left to go back to Florida? In person, negotiating for the best deal, with Walter there on the other end of the line, paging through the entire inventory of that particular Best Buy?

Nope. No way.

We are satisfied.

Oh…and, BTW, Livey gave Walter the 512MG memory sticks we replaced.

He earned ‘em. Don’tcha think?

Christmas in July

Yes. Computer stuff strewn all over. Packing materials. Guts. Not to mention, all the stuff that was sitting on top of the computer table.

You know what the place looks like on Christmas morning when there are kids in the house? Livey was a bit horrified I wanted to post these. But NO! That's what it's SUPPOSED to look like!

Together with 27 hours' worth of unwashed dishes. All nice and clean now.

And 27 hours' worth of pots and pans, too.

Martha Stewart would NEVER have let it come to this. No. She would have hissy-fitted some poor beleaugered underling into working unpaid overtime to clean this up YESTERDAY!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Announcement! I Am Awake.

I just woke up. The last time I was sort of functionally awake was 6PM yesterday. That lasted about 1/2 hour. I almost didn't make it from the couch to the bed in time.

Since 6:30 AM Tuesday, I've been asleep. All day, all night. Woke up around 9:30 this morning.

So...27 hours of sleep.


Can anyone out there beat that one? It may be a record for me too!

THANK YOU, all who've already contributed, or sent notice of contributions to come. And thank you for all those nice comments I saw down there too. I'll be back with you soon.

Just wanted to check in and let you know I'm still alive.

And - so is Livey. My Lord, that woman is one happy camper! She's bouncing off the walls with joy, folks.

This is a very happy house to be in. I'm soaking it up like sunshine on a cloudy day.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Livey's antique computer finally bit the dust.

We had a big huge thunderstorm night before last, with a lot of lightning. I'd been regaling her with all sorts of horror stories from Florida, Lightning Capital of America. We get Lightning Fried Computer for dinner all the time.

So she unplugged it, which she usually doesn't. The storm raged on, with really close strikes, right by the house. Nice and dramatic! The poor animals were shaking and shivering. The satellite went out right in the middle of a movie she'd been waiting to see for weeks and weeks.

Finally, the storm abated. Livey was watching her movie again. I felt I was not so technochallenged that I couldn't plug a silly little computer back in. Honestly!

But - when I plugged it back in, there was a loud pop.

A very ominous loud pop.

So much so, I didn't even tell her about the noise it made until the next morning, yesterday, Monday.

Meanwhile...the monitor and modem came on, but not the tower. I thought it was me, see. I must have been pushing the ON button wrong. Not holding it long enough? Too long?

Nope. The internet connection is fine. I'm able to use my laptop, but her desktop is fried.

For a blogger to lose their computer is a terrible thing. Terrible.

She was far calmer about all this than me. I know it's ridiculous to feel guilty about plugging it in and hearing the pop, that computer death rattle, but sometimes I have to remind myself.

She wanted to take the desktop apart once again and try to fix it. My overall feeling is that anything would be better than what she has. Her antique computer, running on Windows 98, was rebuilt around 10 times already. It's very slow and does bizarre things when you're in the middle of posting. It's so shaky she can't use spyware or adware or virus protection. The monitor is so bad you can hardly see my pretty pix!!! Not. Good.

She's patient with it, just as I am with my own old desktop. But it's just purely way too old now, and its time has come. It wants someone to recover the precious photos of her life it holds inside, and whatever it can yield up of her old writings, and then it wants a decent burial.

Yesterday, Monday, we had an extremely long day at the dentist, then doing errands while sort of far from home. It's 5am Tuesday and I'm just now getting to bed. I've been emailing and commenting and talking to Walter about computers and things, and I wanted to update you all at least a little before I hit the sack.

After extreme arm-twisting last night, i got Livey to agree to accept financial help toward a moderately priced new computer. Walter and I will pay for whatever can't be covered by donations. We both like to give gifts when we can, and Livey's done a lot for us. So while we aren't in great financial shape ourselves, one way or another, we'll come up with enough to get this done.

Livey's given a lot to the blogging community. She's done so at some cost to herself. Her life is not an easy one, and her health is not good, but she works very hard. She simply doesn't have enough to get a computer right now, and that's all there is to it.

If she's entertained you, made you laugh, made you feel better with her sweet comments...if you'd like to help just because she's There...then please, do what you can to help out. That means that gamut from sending prayers and good thoughts her way, to hitting her PayPal button, or mine. Believe me, any amount will help. We'll pool it all together.

Oh! AND! She realizes full well what this means: Just because *I* am here visiting, and hogging her internet connection, does NOT mean she's off the hook for posting.


Now she has to be SURE to keep us very well entertained! Frequently! And she KNOWS it!


If that means all y'all find comments from me at 3 am, and new posts at 5:30 be it.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

8^O !!! She MOONED Me!


I'm a slowpoke. I just AM. Deal with it.

I'm cooking. Livey had a long tiring day and a vicious migraine headache and was her dinner on the table yet, even two hours after she got home?

Nope. I'm making pasta. An Italian sausage sauce, and rigatoni, and marinara sauce. It takes time, okay? It just DOES.

So she's prancing around all hungry in the living room. --Hey! Where's my dinner? Is it done yet?

--NO. Not yet. When it's done I'll say so. Hold your horses! Keep your pants on, woman.

Whereupon she dashes into the kitchen, bends over and moons me!

By the time we finally stop giggling, dinner is done.

Livey's Garage Sale

Those of you who follow Livey's blog may remember the Garage Sale bit. In her work, she cares for the elderly and the less competent among us. A time comes when they pass away, or leave home and go to an Assisted Living facility. Part of Livey's job is to dispose of what possessions remain after the family, probate, etc. goes through them.

She acquired so much stuff she needed a $50/month storage unit to hold it. More stuff is packed into her garage at home, including an old Cadillac. It's getting time, now, to shut down the storage bin and move the sale to her house.

Garage sales are a part of life in the Northwoods. There are loads of *Garage Sale* signs and customers too. But when the weather's nice? No sales. Everyone's out on the water fishing and boating and swimming. Any customers are usually looking, not buying. So a hot day during a holiday week can be a dicey proposition.

You put out a sign on the road, and people see it and go on in.

Here's Livey's Sign at the Side of the Road. When a customer said the sign was small and hard to see, we added a mop to make it more visible.

It definitely helped. But perhaps a little something...

THERE we go!

And here it is!

Livey has great stuff at great prices. Last year a local radio station made a big round of the Garage Sales, traveling about to see them and talk them up on the radio show. Whey they came to Livey's, the DJ mentioned what cool stuff and good cheap prices she had. The customers say so too, cruising the merchandise.

Okay. Trying not to be TOTALLY useless...

Me, I want to help. But I'm limited in more ways than one. Somehow I'm just no good at selling the stuff, or even at arranging it. I had a few flea market days myself last summer and it just didn't work out. Not to mention, it requires a certain type of physical stamina. A type I'm running low on.

But! I CAN scooter up to the road with the sign. And get pix of the pretty wildflowers on the way back. This looks like your classic milkweed to me, with a nice little bee.

What's this? Dunno. Not Queen Anne's Lace, though it looks similar.

A very nice young man from Illinois bought this ice fishing thingy. It's to let you know when a fish is biting. The contraption on the left raises up. The fishing line runs over it, and it bobs when a fish comes. I guess they don't use those little plastic red and white bobbers I did as a kid.

75 cents! Can't beat THAT, huh?

k likes this place, too

Back in the days of our furniture shipping business - not to mention personal use before that, and a thorough exposure to them for real estate analysis - I became more than a little familiar with storage units, light industrial warehousing, etc. Their *back yards* bring out the little kid in me.


Are these the weed called *Lamb's Ears?* If not, they should be. They're amazingly soft to touch.

Pretty, pretty! They look a bit like Bachelor's Buttons.

And these look like pussy willow, although I'm quite sure they aren't.

The Stuff One Sees, Exploring

Some day I'll probably run across a dead body. It's just that I go exploring in places like this every chance I get. Lots of neat stuff in construction sites and commercial *back yards* and vacant lots and illegal dumps. Illegal dumps are also attractive to murderous body dumpers.

Meaning, sights like this catch my attention.


I've made gloves like this too. Bricklaying. Nothing to do at the end but toss 'em out.

Back to the wildlife...

and, keeping a photo record of everything I swipe out of Livey's merchandise.

Cool welder's helmet on the left. The Christmas tree stand is for holding my epiphytes-on-driftwood creations.

Be Sure to Watch Out for Bears

There WAS a little incident here a while back.

Here's what it looks like as you drive into the place. Livey's space is on the right. Another row of buildings is on the left, mostly 6 units per building, with a small space between each building in the row.

And this view is from Livey's storage bay, looking out.

See the space between the buildings?

One day as Livey worked away, a big ol' BEAR came wandering through there.

Didn't buy a damn thing, either.

We closed it up early yesterday and went shopping. Since summer's already halfway over here in the Northwoods, the retailers are suddenly deep-discounting lots of their summer garden stuff. I get to admire all these things I can't possibly grow in South Florida.

k LOVES yellow violets!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Will It Rain On My Parade?

The Lake Tomahawk 4th of July parade was held by Bear Foot Park.

There were garage sales too.

And the semi-permanent ad hoc flea market was in full swing.

People lined up along the route - complete with umbrellas - because the parade started at 2PM but at 1:30 it was raining.

Oh NO!!!

Don't rain on our PARADE!!!
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Cute Stuff for Sale

Plants. Carefully timed, I'll wager, for this busy day.

Ah, back in the day...

when we were wee tykes, ourselves, playing with Tonka toys and such.

Now? All grown up, playing with snowshoes instead.
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Okay. We're Ready.

Ready here? Yeah. Livey stuck a flag in her bun.

Looking left. Ready? Yeah, we're ready here.

A boy came by with the cutest kitten. Free kittens, across the street! Livey looked at one that was almost a twin of The Little Prince, but some RUDE lady had already laid claim to him.

Looking right. Ready? Yup. Are they here yet?

Hey! Yes, they're coming on down!


The parade is a traveling one. They go to at least 6 different towns, since this is a small town, spread out sort of place. Our 2PM starting time depended on the rain and traffic issues at the towns before us. But it wasn't late by much.
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They're Here!

It looks like we're opening with the American Legion.

With the Command Post as rear echelon.

I couldn't tell which of the riders was the actual recipient of the Citizen of the Year award here. Or who did the awarding. Or why. But the lady looking at us seems to take her role quite seriously.

As opposed to most everyone else, who sported lots of big grins.
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