Wednesday, August 29, 2007


So here is Livey, yelling at me to post.

heh. What are adopted blog sisters for, anyway?

Don't worry, we're fine. We've been a bit quiet the last few days but although we were up to our mutual derrieres in alligators, they weren't really bad ones. A bit snappish, but puny enough to beat back with a good big stick.

See Pico the Cat up there, snoozing away on my banner? Once I got back from Door County, I thought a day or so would do it for the sleep effort. But no. I really do know better than to try to forecast Required Days of Sleep any more. Why I ever blithely predict only one day of it is beyond me.

So first I slept for several days, then Livey did. She's been pretty sick. On top of that, part of what's exhausting her goes beyond her physical ailments. It's the fallout from trying to get her medical problems treated, and getting frustrated in those efforts.

Her primary doctor is a first-class jerk. Livey suspected for a while that Dr. Jerk had written something in her file about Livey being a hypochondriac.

This is absolutely ridiculous. Just take my word for it, okay? I've been here watching her for three months. I've been with her now on several doctor's appointments. I googled and reviewed a fair amount of surfed up literature on hypochondria. Without laying out all the gory details, Livey clearly does not meet the criteria. Any simpleton could see that. It's way off base.

Last week, Livey finally reviewed her medical file. Here are the results.

If any of you have ever had a so-called health professional say that about you, when you truly were sick, then you know how awful it is. It knocks your feet out from under you. Unfortunately, one result is that you tend to respond in ways that incorrectly appear to verify their suspicion. You get anxious and depressed and object to what they're saying. You're worried about your health, and say so. You want them to run diagnostic tests instead of just ASSUMING it's *only in your head.* When they *reassure* you that there's nothing wrong, you don't believe them and don't trust them.

Because you SHOULDN'T.

But all those reactions? Why, they're listed in the DSM-IV-TR - the psychiatric *go-to* diagnostic manual - as symptoms of hypochondria!

I took one of the supposedly *standard* tests for hypochondria myself. I know, and anyone who's seen either my body or my chart knows, that my medical problems are genuine and serious; and that I don't have hypochondria. Yet when I took that test, I scored way high for hypochondria. I do have to spend some time thinking about and working on my health concerns. Sometimes I worry about them, or get depressed for a while, whatever.

That's extremely reasonable for someone with my health problems. In fact, if I didn't react that way, I'd need psychological help. I'd also have much worse physical problems than I already do, because that's what happens when you fail to manage your illnesses as best you can.

Dr. Jerk first put that *hypochondria* bit in Livey's chart in 2005. But you see, Dr. Jerk is not qualified in psychology.

So what the hell was she doing making a diagnosis she's not qualified to make?

Especially without even performing any psychological tests?

Let's assume for a minute that Dr. Jerk really did believe her own trumped up diagnosis. The fact remains that a patient with hypochondria can still have serious and real medical problems that must be treated. Psychological issues need to be treated too - not just used as a handy excuse when a doc doesn't want to bother to figure out what's physically wrong.

The appropriate course of action would run something like this: Test the patient for physical ailments. Refer the patient to a qualified psychologist, who then runs psychological diagnostic tests. Work with that psychologist to determine what is and/or is not physically wrong with the patient.

Dr. Jerk, the *physical* doctor, would then treat any genuine physical ailments; the psychologist would treat any genuine psychological ones.

If I - totally not a doctor, me - can learn that from a fairly brief internet search, surely Dr. Jerk could too.

One thing that disappointed me during my search was the lack of medical literature about the misdiagnosis of hypochondria among patients with real ailments. Yet both myself and many others have had that happen to them. The internet abounds with anecdotes from patients about it, including many examples of misdiagnoses where a patient was sent home with that *reassuring* pat on the head, then almost died from the genuine, and untreated, medical problem.

Not to mention cases where the patient, unfortunately, did die.

But medical studies conducted to find how and why docs misdiagnose hypochondria? Not. If there are any, they certainly weren't easy for me to find.

So I'll make a perfectly unqualified diagnosis here, based on nothing but observation and my understanding of human nature. I diagnose Dr. Jerk as a lazy nasty creep, who doesn't want to be bothered with a patient with multiple symptoms - a *high maintenance* patient - and instead of honestly saying,
--Sorry, you aren't the patient for me because I'm too busy to deal with you just now-, she blames the patient for her own illnesses instead.

You'd think that it wouldn't be hard to find another doctor. You might also think that a doctor that nasty would lose her client base to other doctors, just due to good old market forces. Yes. They should lose patients to good docs. Doctors that have good skills, that they're willing to apply, and are able to do so with a courteous bedside manner.

Unfortunately, up here, there is a dearth of good docs. Not many people. Not many patients.

No competition.

See, most docs have a lot of bills to pay. Medical school ain't cheap, and neither is malpractice insurance. Good ones tend to gravitate to more populated areas with a larger patient base, where they can make enough money to pay those bills.

So here in the Northwoods, finding another doctor to go to isn't easy. At this point, though, it's essential. That will be one of Livey's tasks in days to come.

If a doctor fails you, FIRE THEM. Go hire someone else.

Over and over, I get this sense, here, of subtle forces at work. I've been planning another little camping trip, up to the UP, the upper peninsula of Michigan. I want to do some more agate collecting. I'd planned to leave on Monday.

I got rained out.

That was good news, though. Livey's car had a flat tire, and she needed the Saturn to get to her appointment to see her psychologist. This shrink isn't an MD, but is a nurse practitioner. Livey was referred to her by a previous excellent therapist who'd moved away to Minnesota. The new shrink knows Dr. Jerk full well.

I desperately wanted Livey to keep that shrink appointment because there was so much riding on it, you'd be amazed. Her whole health treatment! Getting her GI problems addressed, dealing with the total BS *hypochondriac* garbage in her medical file, the allergies - all this totally untested but obvious symptomology.

When I saw Livey come back in the house after that appointment Monday, she was surrounded by this almost tangible aura of settledness.

I cannot tell you enough what a relief that was.

The shrink is qualified to make psychological diagnoses. Yes. Livey is not a hypochondriac. No.

But that Dr. Jerk? Guess what. Between you, me, and the lamppost, she's got some psychological issues. Not to mention, she's said to be well known for the nasty, dismissive creep that she is.

When you've gotten a false diagnosis of *hypochondria* from an unqualified physician, having a qualified psychologist explain how, and why, you are not a crazy hypochondriac can be the most comforting thing in the world.

Now that's what I call reassurance.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Back in Lake Tomahawk

Yes! I made it. I got in around 12:30 last night.

Tired but happy. Very happy.

Very tired.

So for now I'm off to bed. And tomorrow I finally get to catch up on my favorite blogs.

Meaning, of course, they better be good!

nite nite everyone...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

DC Brew for Breakfast

Yesterday morning I was back at the little coffee place with internet access: the DC Brew. It's a Starbucks knockoff, and they seem to like folks sitting there with their computers. In Starbucks land, this is said to make the place looked more *lived in,* drawing in more customers. Hey. They want to give me wireless access, and a table for hours at a time, all for the price of one big giant espresso? Overpriced espresso, sure, but hey. The whole package is way cheap at the price.

As I sat down yesterday, a guy came in for his coffee. I'd seen him fiddling around with a very nice bicycle in front of the cafe. It's good that it was a nice bike, because he'd ridden it here all the way from Chicago.

Yup. You heard right.

He's doing the *circle tour* around the peninsula, like me. But on a bike. That's 360 miles from Chicago to Washington Island and back to the cafe. On the way out the door, he was asking about the road to Manitowoc. Another 75 miles, there.

This morning, I myself am in a hotel that has wireless. Such a very fine thing! I got tired of roughing it and splurged. It's a Super 8 - a surprisingly decent one, but still a *budget hotel* - yet it cost $70 for one person one night. That's after the nice desk clerk threw in every discount he could dream up.

He's a good guy. I met him when I first arrived, and he tried hard to find me a room that night. Because it was a weekend in Serious Fishing country, it just didn't work out. But he remembered me, and I him, and when it came time to find a real bathtub and bed and all that, I came back here. This is the best rate in town, and I only got it because it's midweek (vacancy time) and the motel's pool and whirlpool are out of order.

I've been exploring local campgrounds. I see one very close to Sturgeon Bay. Being a sort of a *plain jane* state park, it's relatively less booked up, and easy to get a campsite. I want to come back here, and that one looks like an interesting option. They even have a scooter-accessible cabin for the disabled.

But for now, it's time to head back to the Northwoods. I've been rockhounding like you would not believe. The car is jampacked with great stuff, and on the way back, I'll be beachcombing for agates every chance I get.

And then I'll settle back in for a few days, and have a chance to fill all y'all in on my trip here.

If you've ever heard people say Door County is an incredibly beautiful place?

They're right.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Jonesing? ME? Naw...

Well. Not any more, anyway.

Midweek, we got the great good news that Walter was going to be passing just south of us here, through Wausau on his way to a delivery in Green Bay.

Miss Livey's been agitating for a Walter visit. When she talks to him on my cell phone she says, --Where are you? Montana? Arizona? North Carolina? Okay. Now you can come here!

*Here* is so remote, that wasn't likely to happen. In the old days when we actually owned the company Walter drove for - different story. But you can't ask a major trucking firm to let you drive their truck all over on little side jaunts. Do you know how much fuel COSTS these days? Egads!

But we could easily meet him in Wausau...And to my complete and utter astonishment, Walter agreed to meet Livey.

Old World schooling and charm notwithstanding, Walter's not much of a people person. Like my Babycat, he's a one-woman kind of guy, and most of the rest of humanity is just background. Those I love, he takes an interest in. Yet I couldn't talk him into meeting Livey. I tried everything. Like this: You claim your appearance, all road-weary, is holding you back? Okay. What if Livey says she won't put her face on?

No dice. All my negotiations failed. He's on to me by now.

So I handed her the phone. He capitulated in two seconds flat. Whee!!!

Walter had to get from Seattle to Green Bay in a short three days. It was chancy. Too chancy. He just couldn't get through on time to stop and have dinner, or breakfast, with us in Wausau, on his way to the delivery.


I could meet him in Green Bay after the delivery, but Livey can't do that. It's about 3 hours driving, and her fractured, bone-spurred, messed up neck can't take much driving. It bounces her around enough that she's got that white face of intense pain by the time we get home after much shorter jaunts than that.

So they didn't meet after all. Drat!!!

But us? Yeah, we did. For the first time in 5 months.

The *new* truck, which had been horridly contaminated with huge amounts of cleaning and scenting products when he picked it up in Atlanta, was finally aired out enough that I could go in there and see it. Another first. I arrived after midnight so we visited a bit and then went to sleep, all snuggled up like a couple of cats.

Like heaven. Just like heaven.

He didn't even get dispatched until midday the next day.

Ah, people. After five months.

I can't find the words for this. I know that some of you understand, from your own experience. I'll leave it at that.

And I've gone walkabout, haven't been back in the Northwoods since then.

I sit here now in Door County, in a little Starbucks-type cafe in Sturgeon Bay. I'm driving all the way around this peninsula. It's every bit as beautiful as I've always heard. I've seen a lot of America, but this is my first time here.

It's the first time I've been in an *internet cafe* type place. I just had my very first panini, too. It was good.

My camera ran out of juice and I didn't bring my camera charger. At least the computer is charging up! I'm off again soon, with my trusty Microsoft Streets & Trips pulled up and sitting on the passenger seat, as I beach-hop my way around the island. One of my all-time favorite things to do.

I am content.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

FREE VOTE!!! Vote Early! Vote Often!

As some of you know, Miss LL the Loopy Libertarian - aka Mama Bear - does a great deal of volunteer work for our military folks. Recently she went to the Milblog Conference, where she was asked to sit on the board of a new charity: She said she wasn't qualified and turned it down. They came back and begged a bit and twisted her arm ever so nicely and...well, you know. There's a reason we call her Mama Bear. A couple reasons, actually.

Of course, as so many of us know, one of those reasons is how she jumps in feet first to rescue our sorry ignorant selves when our blogs get all mangled up and she is THE go-to gal to fix them. She zips in and bops around with her Blogger-code-radar brain, and like 2 seconds later you pull that sucker up and it's all pretty again! Try to thank her and she may well get all growly on ya. heh!

Now she needs a very simple thing back from us. And people? She has MORE than earned it. AND!!! She ALSO just passed her 2-year blogiversary. It's Blogiversary Present Time! She knows exactly what she wants for her blog birthday, and it's free, and it takes only a couple minutes, and really it's not even for her at all. How often does that happen? So listen up.

First, here's some of what America's Wounded Heroes does:

Provide financial assistance to military personnel, policemen, firefighters, and EMT's wounded in service who have put their lives at risk to protect and serve American citizens. Enable such persons to obtain relief in the area of special adaptive mobility equipment such as motorized wheelchairs, golf carts, segways, and other mobility devices not provided for by the government and private insurance. Give such persons monetary grants for the transition from hospitals or rehabilitation facilities back to active service or monetary grants needed for the transition from hospitals or rehabilitation facilities back to civilian life.

Me, I like this sort of thing, very much. I mean, come ON. I'm a scooter person, okay? I'm also a person who needs oxygen and can't get it because I worked so hard to bring my lungs back to relative health that I got UNdiagnosed with COPD, which is supposedly medically impossible.

Voila! Medicare now refuses to pay for my oxygen: they only provide it for COPD. It's not allowed for other lung conditions like dyspnea (shortness of breath, a contributing factor in getting new lung infections). Oxygen is expensive, and I can't afford it on my own. And yes, I do still need it. I just spent three days in the hospital not long ago because of another lung infection. Yeah. Oxygen is actually beneficial for things like dyspnea and preventing and healing lung infections. It's why the hospital gave it to me. Gee. Go figger.

So we have some issues here that I can really relate to. Many are issues that few other such charities assist with, yet they're truly important ones.

Now, most of my own health problems are simply happenstance. I got rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 8. My immune system has malfunctioned for so long now I can't remember what it's like to feel no pain even for a minute, much less a full day. I became superallergic at 22. Things went downhill from there. None of the big stuff was because of my job or any actions I myself took. Sometimes stuff just happens, and with me, that's what it did.

As an alternative, imagine this for me: Say you were one of the first responders working to rescue people, then to recover bodies, from the World Trade Center bombing. Remember how we watched them on TV, some of us glued to that screen all day and all night with tears streaming down our faces, watching the responders working round the clock until they dropped from exhaustion - then they'd take a two hour nap, get back up and do it again.

As a responder out there it was a point of honor to keep going, never to stop until there was nothing left to do. Your family saw little of you, you rarely ate or rested. This was more important. Your government told you the air was safe to breathe, so you didn't use any masks or respirators as you worked. No: You were alive. You survived it. Why would you even dream of complaining about the work or the air?

Six years have passed. Time and toxic dust have taken their toll. Your lungs are shot. You were - I'll call it *misinformed* - about the dangers of breathing that air without protection. Now you can't breathe right, and strange illnesses and fatigue overwhelm you. You can no longer work. You have a family who depends on you, not just for income, but for ordinary day to day needs like getting the grocery shopping done.

But you can't do that. You're too sick.

So, being a fairly logical and reasonable person, you go tell the Social Security folks: too sick to work = disabled; I wish it hadn't happened to me but it did, and I need help. You may even get your approval determination in a fairly smooth manner. What you haven't seen yet is this: the Social Security approval doesn't mean it's over.

Because here comes good old Medicare, and they tell you, --Oh, no, the government determined the air was perfectly fine over at the World Trade Center, so you see there can't be anything that wrong with your lungs; sorry, no oxygen for you. And about that mobility problem you have? How you can walk, some - but when you try to park, then walk into the store, and shop, and then walk back to the car, you're so fatigued and dizzy you can't drive home? So even though by Social Security standards you're disabled and can't work full time, and even though you really aren't able to get around like any grownup should? Well...sorry. You actually CAN walk SOME. So by our standards you're just not quite disabled enough in THAT specific way, so no Medicare scooter for YOU.

Or: Say you were badly wounded in the service, or on the job as a cop or EMT. It's been a long haul but after loads of surgeries and physical therapy and hard work and medication, you think you can work again. Okay, in a limited fashion, but still. There are things you can do even though you lost too many limbs or whatever to work your old job. All you need is some extra mobility help to get around at a new job...but wait a minute! No, that's not an actual MEDICAL need really. Nope. You can get by without it, medically speaking. Hey, that's what you've BEEN doing. Extra mobility to get around certain buildings at a certain job or so forth, that's just a work need. Not medical, not covered. So...sorry Charlie, you have to get that on your own.

Even though, of course, since you haven't been working, and any disability pay you get is nowhere near your old income, you most certainly are not able to afford any of that equipment on your own. Nope. You're lucky you can keep your family fed.

Stuff like that. Yes indeed, it happens all the time. Just trust me on that, okay?

This charity provides those things to the people who lost their health when on the job, working for US. For you and for me.

Think about that for a minute.

They lost their life as they knew it because they were fighting our war, or policing our neighborhood, or rescuing those who survived the World Trade Center bombing, or were speeding to respond at a serious accident scene and some fool ignored their ambulance's lights and siren and crashed into them.

And the assistance they need to regain what life they can after their debilitating injuries and/or illnesses is NOT provided to them by the government they were working for. That's actually us, there, the people they were working for.

This sort of thing really matters to me, okay? They gave way much to us - and even though we want to, we're not always making it up to them.

So here's our Mama Bear, busily rebuilding America's Wounded Heroes' new webpage, and suddenly a funding opportunity comes along. It's from a site called VAJoe, which exists to help military folks. They're doing a voting contest. Pick your favorite charity and they'll donate funds to the top winning charities.


Mama Bear sees a way to get this new charity some funding. Oh yes.

And all it needs from us is a VOTE. Not money, okay? Just a free VOTE.

Go there, please. Click this link: It only takes a minute or two. You do need to fill in some information on the first page. You do NOT need to do it on the second page. NO unrequested emails will show up in your box, no one will bother you, no one will sell your address to those nasty spammers. No no no.

And if you should happen to have other family members handy? Ask them to vote too. You only get one vote for yourself. But everyone you know, they can vote too. Even your kids! In fact, here are some fine examples of how other folks go about doing that. Check out the comments.

Whether any of those voters are using extra email accounts and so forth to vote more than once is something I know nothing about. I am, after all, a true blue technolame-o.

But I will say that there are times when doing something like that for a good cause is not necessarily such a bad thing. Should you be tempted to do so, of course, I'm the last person to tell you how to go about doing it. That lame-o thing there.

If you do, though, I promise I won't tell.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Break Out the Cigars!

And you better make them the Real Good Ones. Primo, folks.

I say that because of the quality I see here in this new blogchild. Check it out:

Livey and I have now been cohabiting long enough to have spawned a little one. Of course, this kind doesn't take the whole nine months. We are extremely proud to be co-blogmothers to Jan.

She's been a commenter at Livey's place from time to time, and more recently at my place here, too. She said she would have been earlier but couldn't figure out how to fill in the lines to leave a comment. She's making her way through Blogger, learning how to post and spellcheck and put the pretty stuff in. Of the two of us blogmamas, of course, Livey's the techno mama here.

You know I'm a semi-permanent technolame-o. So I have a soft spot for all bloggers who start out with that additional trepidation, the blogging part itself.

That's extra. It's added on to those concerns most of us have that say: --but why would anyone want to read this? what if I actually don't have anything interesting to say? what if I do at first but then I run out? what if someone is really rude and I don't know what to say to them? what if I hit the wrong button and the whole thing blows up? what if I make some kind of typo that really upsets someone when I didn't ever mean it at all? and and and...

I really do think those things won't be an issue here. I have to have a very good reason, me, to ever make a statement like that. But ultimately, of course, YOU are the judge.

Would all y'all do me a favor, please? Check it out for me, okay? I'd like to see if my assessment is right. Tell me what you think.

Tell her, too.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Allergy Eyes

In this pic, they're already doing much better than they were this afternoon.

I ran out of my Ester C. I realized I'd been out of it for some time. Vitamin C makes a significant improvement in the allergies, arthritis, and fatigue. The *ester c* is a less acidic formulation, much easier for my beleaguered bloody gullet to handle.

Yesterday was a bad pollen day. Pretend you're a weed. It's been dry, but it finally it rained on Thursday. Friday the sun came out. If you're a weed, wouldn't you go hog wild on the reproduction side of life?

Of course. Water and sun? Most plants just love that stuff. The net effect is a big fast pollen spike.

I ran into that spike yesterday doing errands. So I should have been on guard. I wasn't.

Today it rained again in the morning, then the sun came out midday.

By then, the pollen began to build. Fast. It always does as the day progresses, but add that triple whammy of first dry weather, then rain, then sun, and boy oh boy it goes nuts out there.

So. Back to the Ester C. Sure it would help with that pollen spike. But waiting until Sunday to get some wouldn't kill me. I could have been safely weeding here today, which is what I really WANTED to do. At Livey's place there are mostly woods, very few blooming weeds, so I'm in a little micro environment of relatively lower pollen. Even the weeds I pull here are almost never polleny ones.

Did I wait until tomorrow morning to go to the store? Nice and early, when the air is still relatively clear?


No, I just HAD to go to town RIGHT NOW, and get the silly Ester C, driving past all kinds of roadside weed fields on the way. Livey came too; she needed a few things herself.

By the time we were done with this very short errand, and sitting in the car in the Walgreen's parking lot, I was reeling. Blasted. Dizzy, no sense of balance. Shaking like a leaf. High pitched voice like a little kid, eyes burning, gooping up in my nose and sinuses and eyes and throat and lungs and ears. Itching all over. Throat spasming inside, it feels like it's closing up completely. It gives me some cognitive dysfunction too. Trying to talk and think can be very difficult.

I plugged my 12-volt car ionizer into the cigarette lighter. Usually after just a few minutes, the ionizer gives me enough allergy relief to safely drive back home.

Not this time.

Livey was watching me. She does this with a wonderful comforting attitude of complete professionalism. Matter of fact, non-intrusive, just being there - but completely aware of what's happening, and completely ready, willing, and able to take the reins. Watching my back, you know? Finally she said,

--Do you want me to drive?

And I said, --Yes please.

And wobbled my way out of the driver's seat and into the passenger seat. I took the ionizer off the dashboard and held it in my arms, breathing its cleaned up air, all the way home.

Once home, I slammed that nasty histamine with some nice Ester C and extra Benadryl, and turned on the air filter in my bedroom and lay down. Hours later, my swollen eyes were better enough to be able to see a bit again.

If I'd thought of it earlier, you would have gotten the really dramatic Allergy Eyes pic. But this one should at least give you a general idea.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Salvage Adventure Is Adding Up

Well. So far, so good. Taking back around 25-30% of our materials provided us with $107.90. And we aren't nearly done, of course.

I'm pleased!

I've been taking fun pix of it all, which probably doesn't surprise you. Then I noticed I have so much dirt on the lens it's actually getting noticeable. So I'm off to surf up the directions for cleaning it.

Just in case it's different from the old SLR's and so forth.

This digital stuff still amazes me.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

More Mouse News!

Livey noticed something when she clicked on the baby mouse pix, to embiggen them.

See the babies? Those are TINY. They were not much bigger than my thumbnail, and my hands are very small. The rocks that camouflage them so well are little pieces of driveway gravel.

Now check out the 3rd pic. Here, I'll reproduce it.

Click to embiggen. If you move the pic so you can see up toward the top of it, there's a water bottle. A half pint, only 8 ounces. Small.

If you look just above and to the left of the top of that bottle, you will see...another mouse!

It was heading under the lawn mower when I got the pic. I had no idea it was there. None. Its colors blend in perfectly with the driveway gravel. In fact, even though I embiggened the pic after posting it, and thought I'd looked it over pretty well, I never even noticed that mouse.

Livey found it. She was looking towards the lawnmower when Mama ran under it, so Livey checked the photo in case Mama - or the baby being birthed - was there.

Who is it? Who's in that picture? The mama mouse? Or her first baby, finally born?

Oh YES! The Baby Meeses LIVE! kdzu! DON'T LOOK!!!

It looks like the Baby Mice Rescue approval/disapproval votes are precisely divided along gender lines, so far.

Well! Please excuse, Mr. kdzu, but the reason there are no new mice pix is...

the mama mouse came and rescued her little ones!

I got out there pretty early today. But I just wasn't ready to go check on them right away. I wanted to stay in my state of suspended information for just a while longer.

Then Livey got up and came outside, and went to check on the contents of the little cardboard box.

And! It was empty. AND!!! Undisturbed.

Almost any predator around here would have moved the box if it went in after the little babies. Even the snake would have pushed the box around some. The dog or any other quadruped would have shoved it quite a bit. An owl or other bird, too. The box was pretty well shielded when we got done with it, and the top was tilted over it, with just enough room for a mama mouse to climb in.

So, it looks like it's perfectly reasonable to assume Mama came and got her little ones, just like she did with the first baby. Hustled them off to wherever her new abode is.

Don't worry, kdzu! There are SO many predators around here, the rodent population is kept under pretty good control. That 500-mouse increase would happen if there weren't lots of critters here that eat mice.

But there are. We wouldn't want to starve out the owls and snakes and dogs and foxes and ravens and skunks and cats and eagles and raccoons and fishers and weasels and bears and and would we?

Of course not.

We gave mother nature a chance to rebound from the disturbance we ourselves made. From here on out? It's up to them.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Oh NO! Baby Meeses! LL! DON'T LOOK!!!

I am bone tired.

We both slept in today, then worked on our little projects here around the house. Weeding's a bit difficult when it hasn't rained for a while. So last week I investigated some other things, and discovered that a pretty little storage shed Livey and her dad built was crammed to the rafters with aluminum cans.

Clearing out the shed could really help her out. She's paying $50/month for a storage place. She needed it for awhile to hold all the stuff she acquires from her patients when they want to clear out their homes and move into an assisted living facility. But she's sold off enough to close the space down, and that's what the goal is.

Now, this next part may take some of you back to your college years.

I realized there's a fortune in cans in that shed.

I asked Livey if she'd mind if I sorted through them and figured out the best way to salvage the various kinds.

Get this: She not only said, *Whatever your little heart desires* - oh, I LOVE to hear her say that! - she offered to split the proceeds with me.

Now that got me really motivated!

Well. I had an exploratory trip yesterday, trying to figure out all the rules for this stuff, and came back home almost $50 the richer, and got rid of hardly any cans yet. heh! I really did have to go there to learn all the Rules, which get complicated, and vary with each drop off site. I'd tried just calling them on the phone, but that didn't do much good.

I came back to re-sort everything properly, and I'll head back out in a day or two.

Yeah. I'm slow. Verrrryyy slow...

So I'm sitting out in the driveway, contentedly sorting away, while Livey was cleaning out and organizing her garage space, getting ready to bring home the things in the storage unit.

Suddenly, she screamed.

I got up and ran over - well, hobbled, you know - camera in hand.

She'd picked up a box to go through it, opened it up, and saw a mouse. Screamed and tipped the box over on its side. The mouse was acting strange: it didn't run away.


Because the poor thing was in the process of giving birth to a tiny baby mouse.

She finally ran away, child halfway born.

Now, you know I love critters of almost all descriptions. Livey is NOT partial to mice. But she is a mother. And it broke our hearts to realize what had happened.

Oh, no.

There was nothing to save our Livey from, or to see, or take any pix of. Livey started to pick up the things that fell out of the box when she tipped it over.

And suddenly noticed there was a wee little baby mouse among them.

Oh, no. Poor little thing!

We got a small cardboard box and put the little baby in it. It was squeaking amazingly loudly, calling for its mother. Brand new newborn baby.

We put the cardboard box by the lawnmower, where mama had run off.

But...a few minutes later we heard more loud squeaks. From another direction.

Where we discovered there were two more babies, next to the wonderfully soft nesting material mama had made for her little ones.

Oh, no.

Livey brought me the lid we'd propped over the cardboard box by the lawnmower. I put the nesting material in it, and the two babies, and we took it back to the lawnmower area and looked in the part of the box that had held the first baby.

That first little baby mouse was GONE.

Mama had already heard, and rescued, her first lost baby, in that short amount of time.

That helped.

We haven't been back out to check the box for the other two babies. There are all sorts of critters out here that eat mice, including Livey's dog. Nature eats nature. We both know it. I think that, for now, we just don't want to know what may have happened to the other two.


I'm going to go to bed hoping Mama is fine, and all four - or more - of her little ones are safe and warm and nursing now.

Yeah. I know.

Only a mouse.

In some ways I'm a softie, okay? I just am.

Meet Pico the Cat

He's sitting up there, laying down actually, on my banner.

He's so like my Babycat, who passed away July 5, 2006 at the ripe old age of 22. I loved him and his mother April, and we were bonded in an uncanny strong way.

I can tell the difference in their looks, but their similarity is so striking I still do a double-take.

Pico was a cat belonging to a friend of my wonderful nephew, b. b told me, Pico was a damn handsome cat... strong, big- a prime, alpha male mouser.

b did up the photo and blog title for my banner, and said: i like the juxtaposition of the "quest" with the image of the sleeping cat. it kinda gets at the individual dichotomy of k - so much will and excitement, so much time forced to sleep - and also the larger struggle we all have with our desires, hopes, and dreams and the reality of finite time and energy (and, face it, will power)...and of course, the cool thing here is that in spite of the (somewhat cynical) meaning its implying, the cat is rather happy and content, and just plain fucking cute.

I love my nephew so very much. He's the one who graduated from college this spring. Coming to see him graduate is why I left Florida to go on this summertime road trip odyssey.

He is THE greatest nephew. I'm so proud of him I can't stand it sometimes. A wonderful man, with a wonderful long time significant other.

And look what a beautiful banner he made for me!

Thank you, b. I finally feel like my blog is *me* now. What a great feeling that is.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


No no no. Not that wonderful dad who coached Little League and sang in Rocky Horror Picture Show and so forth.

The EATING kind.

See, over at Pretty Lady's the other day, commenter-blogger-artist Chris Rywalt mentioned making meatloaf for his wife the engineer.

I like meatloaf. Depending on the recipe, I even like it a LOT. But I always had trouble making it come out consistently. And I remember Chris mentioning before that he did a lot of cooking and was considering producing an actual cookbook.

So I asked Chris if he had a good meatloaf recipe. Voila! He did, indeed. And kindly, Pretty Lady posted it.


Then I had to sleep for a week or so and some time went by. I had some ground pork to mix in with the ground chuck, but it didn't make it.

Poor Livey had to fend for herself for dinner AND breakfast for a while. And when I get back out of bed I'm a little...slow. I wanted to cook again but I was taking baby steps.

Luckily, Trig's had chuck On Sale $1.99/pound, yay!

Livey brought home over 3 pounds. This was GREAT. See, our tastes in seasonings and procedures are a little different sometimes, like with everyone.

All that meat meant I could I make...TWO meat loaves! Do a little experimenting.

I finally picked my cooking day and I was ready, but when I started it was a little late in the day and we were already hungry. That's why there aren't many pix. Sorry everyone! I had to concentrate on getting that food in the oven.

Okay. I realized early on that all that careful mixing by hand was holding me back from cooking meat loaf more often. When you mix ground beef with other things, it's best not to compact it too much. I get tired standing up, can't do it for more than a couple minutes at a time.

But Chris says he uses a dough hook sometimes.

Hmmm...I don't have one here. But I can half-way imitate it by using the little hand mixer but with only one beater in it instead of two.

And it worked! Cool!!!

Then, since I don't have a blender or food processor here, I considered how to get the onion and carrot fine enough. Okay. Easy. I grated them on a cheese grater. The garlic I put through a garlic press, so that was fine enough. Bread crumbs I'm used to making by hand. Dry them out a bit on low heat, let them cool and wait till they're completely dry, then crumble with your fingers. I got that done the day before. The work time is very short, the drying time can be long.

So. Starting with all the ingredients we had in common, for each meatloaf I had:

Apx. 1.25 # ground chuck
Apx. 3/4 c bread crumbs
Around half of a large and very sweet Vidalia onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 t salt
1 egg

I further seasoned them as follows:
Livey's, by request: Apx. 2 t Italian seasoning and 1 t oregano

Mine: Apx. 1 T poultry seasoning (substituted for thyme)
I grated carrot

I gently and carefully mixed each one separately with the hand mixer and one beater. It worked great! It was well-mixed but not compacted.

Livey wanted hers to stay in the Pyrex loaf pan. Me, I wanted the inverted stand alone kind. Great chance to try it both ways.

I don't have a meat thermometer, and Livey's oven runs a bit cool, so I cooked them for about 50 minutes on 350 degrees (probably that meant 325 degrees).

Then I put the oven on 500 degrees for around 8 minutes to get the crusty crust.

At the very end, the juices in my pan got a little blackened. But that was only at the outside of the meat loaf, the actual loaf wasn't blackened at all.

So out they came.

And they were PERFECT! Oh my!

They were BOTH delicious. Wonderful flavor and texture, nice and juicy, nice brown outsides. Perfectly cooked in the middle, no pink.

And for the first time in a very long while, I couldn't even say which version of an experiment I liked better. I kept going between them, testing. Nope. One was simply not better than the other.

We demolished them pretty well, and still had just the right amounts left for meat loaf sandwiches.


Thank you, Chris! That was great.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Yes! The town of Mercer has the Big Giant Loon.

We just KNEW we were in the Right Place.

We just LOVE us some loon!

Okay. Simmer down, kids. Here's some Important Loon Info.


More Looney Love

So, we continue with the local theme...

A remembrance of paddling about, looking for loon love in all the right places...

A nice raffle...hopefully to aid in various loon-worthy themes...

And for those who express their loon love a little differently...


Kitsch Alert!

I'm very sorry to say, we missed the Loon Calling Contest. We just couldn't get our sorry butts in gear in time.

But we did get in on the *Festival* end of the Loon Days Festival.

There were these magical expanding blouses.

Fits ALL sizes. And they really did, too.

Some very colorful decorations here.

And oh, my inner 4-year-old just longed for one of these Slinky Bracelets. Only $1!

But I abstained. I'd thoughtfully left almost all my financial resources back at Livey's house.

Further Afield

Paintings on old window screens. The proprietor told us these screens are not so easy to come by any more.

Pretty lacy stuff.

A satisfied customer, with a $53 2-piece copper cat.

Old photos, including an old Harley Davidson shop.

But Wait!

Okay. I mean, I can see how some of these relate to local interests and materials, all that.

Rustic wood furniture for the fish camp.

Or loon camp, as the case may be.

I am, in fact, determined that this will NOT be the only kind of bear I'll see up here.

OH!!! I understand!

It's just Topic Drift!


Cool by me.

FOOD! Food is always on topic.

Now that's a pretty universal theme. I haven't had a brat in so long I have no recollection what they taste like. But I seem to remember not being so fond of them.

Bar food.

Gotta have brats, around here. The lady said if you come buy a brat she'll shut up.

Cheese curds are another local favorite I'm not familiar with. Livey doesn't imbibe, because she's not observant of the Basic Food Group called *Cheese.*

Funnel Cakes!

Yet another delicacy I've never tried before.

Funnel Cake Man was a bit startled when I took his pic. But he said he didn't mind. They pour the batter through a funnel into hot oil.

Flips it over like you would a cake donut.

Pretty! Tasty, too.

~The End!~

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Loon Days

We're off to Loon Days today.

This festival is a celebration of...the Loon!

That's the bird with the wacky call. It sounds loony.

Among the highlights of Loon Days is the Loon Calling Contest.

This should be entertaining.

The pix, of course, won't tell us what the sound is like. I mean, the new camera does do video with stereo sound. But have I learned how to use that function yet? No.

But I bet the pix will be fun all by themselves.

We're off! Back in a bit.