Sunday, November 30, 2008


There are two types of people in the world: huggers and non-huggers. As a non-hugger, I know the other camp exists, and I’ll put up with it, but you’ll never catch me invading someone else’s personal space without a close relationship and a physical separation lasting at least six months. I’m guessing that the huggers of the world don’t understand what they’ve done to offend all of the non-huggers.

I realize that all of the huggers pity the poor non-huggers, and I know I must occasionally look like the piemaker on Pushing Daisies, but it’s just the way I am.

Anyhow, here’s an episode from work as seen from the eyes of the non-huggers and the huggers. There were four of us (me, Scrawny Mike, Jeff, and Lourdes) in the breakroom. It was the day before Thanksgiving and people were starting to leave since it was after noon.

What actually happened:

I was leaning against the counter, in front of the toaster oven. Jeff and I were talking about something when I saw him look at the first aid kit mounted on the wall. He reached past my shoulder for the latch and I moved out of the way so he could search through the bizarre and useless collection of band-aids contained within for something he could wrap around his scabby cuticles.

What Lourdes and Scrawny Mike saw:

Lourdes and Mike were a few feet away when Jeff awkwardly leaned forward as if he were going to give me a hug. Lourdes even started to say “Aw….”. Then I moved out of the way and Jeff opened the medical supplies.

What, I’m supposed to give my brother a hug at work since I’m not going to see him for four whole days? Right.

I still think Lourdes was disappointed.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Reason #968 Why I Will Never Take a Job with On-call Shifts Again (*)

Scene: Approximately six months ago, 7:30am, Saturday morning. I have to be at the hospital for treatments on the in-patients at 9. I’m in the shower, naked, with shampoo in my hair. The Nextel phone, which goes no further than two feet away from me all weekend, rings. I shut off the water and grab the phone, hoping that I’m not going to shock myself as I drip suds all over it.

Me: “This is Dr. B.” (Subtext: This had better be really important.)
Hospital receptionist: “Are you in the hospital?” (It’s always a really bad sign when the call starts out like this.)
Me: “Nope, I’m at home. What’s up?”
Receptionist: “We just had a client walk in with a rabbit.” Pause. “It doesn’t look very good.”

(For those unfamiliar with the hospital, having the receptionist tell you that something doesn’t look good means that it’s pretty much dying in the lobby. I had a client come in once with a seizuring bird and the receptionist didn’t mention it.)

Me: (Shivering in the shower, doing calculations on how fast I can get the soap out of my hair, get dressed and drive without being pulled over.) "I’m at least twenty minutes away. Can you get whoever’s on small animal emergency to triage and I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
Receptionist: “Okay.” She hangs up.

I put the dripping phone back down on the back of the toilet and turn the water on full blast to get most of the soap off. I decide to skip the jeans in favor of scrubs since I’ll be seeing a client the minute I get there, so I run out of the bathroom to grab the clean scrubs off the dryer, thus letting the cats into the bathroom.

At this point I’m rushing around getting dressed, brushing my hair, brushing my teeth, and in general opening and closing drawers much more quickly than usual, which leads to Ripley getting his foot closed in the drawer. He compounds the problem by jumping off the counter (with his foot still stuck in the drawer) and ends up hanging in the air by one leg. By the time his foot is unstuck, he’s not putting any weight on the leg.

There aren’t any bones sticking out, but I’ll be gone at least eight hours, so Ripley is now coming to the hospital with me. I shove him into a carrier and run out to the car. Total time since phone call: less than ten minutes.

As I’m going 85 mph on the freeway, I call the hospital.

Me: “Hey, it’s Dr. B. Can you let small animal emergency know that I’m on my way in with one of my cats – he got his foot stuck and is now non-weight bearing on the leg.”
Receptionist: “Okay, I’ll let them know.”
Me: “How’s the rabbit?”
Receptionist: “Oh, it died right after I talked to you.”

And yes, I got charged an emergency fee for my cat.


(*) I know, I know, “never say never”, “it’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings”, blah blah blah. However, to put this in perspective, here are some things that would actually be strong enough incentives:
1) Cure for cancer,
2) Neil Patrick Harris becomes straight and only wants me when I’m on call,
3) Approximately $1,000,000/minute (tax-free) for a two hour shift, followed by early retirement.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I know at some point I'll get another dog. I've been tentatively planning to wait until after Lucy is gone, but I'm also open to adopting another dog sooner if the perfect match comes along.

A number of years ago Rvan decided that he was ready to settle down with someone, and embarked on a series of legendary, disastrous dates.

Without further ado, here are the six ways my attempt to adopt a dog last weekend was like one of Rvan’s bad dates:

We met online:

In this case it was a craigslist ad that said that the dog was at a shelter and had a limited amount of time before being put to sleep. The dog in question, Katy, met both of my requirements: 1) Good with other dogs, and 2) Good with cats. That’s it. That’s the list.

The craziness began before the first meeting:

I emailed the person who wrote the ad and told her about my situation. After three or four exchanges, I finally figured out that the woman didn’t work at the shelter (which was not obvious from the ad), but that she’s been trying to resolve an animal problem at a trailer park, and she was the one that brought the dog to the shelter in the first place. She mentioned that she was having a hard time getting the dog back out of the shelter, but didn’t say why. I assumed it was some sort of paperwork problem.

We finally set up a meeting on Saturday afternoon, which would give her time to get the dog after the SPCA opened at 11am and to run some unspecified errands. I gave her my cell phone number so she could call me half an hour before we were supposed to meet on Saturday.

At 6:30 on Friday night she sends me email complaining that I didn’t answer my cell phone when she called. This is my first concrete sign that she may not be dealing with a full deck. I considered stopping the whole thing at that point, but I figured that I could deal with a little craziness since I’d only have to deal with her once.

(The one that got away.)

Meeting in a public place:

Since the dog was in Sacramento, I agreed to meet the rescue person at a park downtown, a 30 minute drive from my house. I'd bring Lucy along, and that way the dogs would be able to meet in a neutral place.

It was a typical city park complete with sleeping homeless person. Lucy was acting like an idiot and barking nonstop. (She learned this lovely behavior from people at the dog park petting her every time she barked.) The other dog, Katy, was pretty calm and didn’t really seem to care about much.

This was when I found out that the reason the crazy woman was having a problem getting Katy back from the SPCA was that Katy failed the temperament test. Apparently she snapped at someone when they hugged her. I’ve known enough nice dogs that have failed shelter temperament tests to not be overly concerned about this (especially since Katy let me do everything to her at the park), but I was a little annoyed that this was the first time I was getting this information.

Oh, by the way, I’m seeing other people:

The first person I talked to when Lucy and I got to the park was the other person who was there to see Katy. It was news to me that anyone else had replied to the ad. Oh, and there was another person that was supposed to meet the dog that evening.

I really like you but…

After a while at the dog park, the crazy woman offered to see how Katy did with my cats since any sign of aggression would be a complete deal breaker. So we drove back to Woodland. The good news was that Katy didn’t even seem to notice the cats at all. The bad news was that Lucy got completely bent out of shape about having another dog in the house. (I think she would have gotten over that fairly quickly.)

It became fairly obvious that a visit to the home had always been an adoption requirement. That’s pretty common, and I didn’t have a problem with it, but a) you really need to tell someone about it beforehand if that's the case, and b) why make me drive out to Sacramento if we’re both going to have to drive back to Woodland?

Anyhow, the crazy person said she liked me, but didn’t like the sagging fence between my house and the house next door. I can understand her concern, but the neighbor’s yard is otherwise secure, and dogs tend not to leave back yards unless they are left alone out there. I don’t leave my dog outside when I leave.

I’ll call you:

The crazy woman wanted to check out the situation at the other place, but promised to call me and let me know either way. It’s been four days. I think I’ll just assume that Katy found another home.

On the positive side, even Rvan eventually found someone...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Random Thoughts

Dishes best served cold:
1) Revenge
2) Gaspacho (if you like it, which I don’t, but assuming you did…)
3) Pumpkin pie

That final one is really important because I bought a frozen pumpkin pie while grocery shopping this evening, baked it, and then got tired of waiting for it to finish cooling. It just isn’t the same.


I get the next veggie box on Tuesday, and there will be no kale. Woohoo! (And there was much rejoicing.)

One of my friends pointed out that I could just tell the veggie people not to put kale in the box, but I keep thinking that there must be some way to make the stuff taste good. Surely it can’t only be popular because it’s the only green that will grow at this time of year.


The cats are decidedly more affectionate (with me, the dog, and each other) when the heat is off. Apparently they are only foul-weather friends.


Satin sheets sound like a really nice grown-up idea, but it kinda sucks when the bedspread keeps falling off the bed because the sheets are too slippery. Flannel sheets sound a bit fuddy-duddy, but maybe it’s time I embraced my inner fuddy.


I swept up those damned pollen cones for the very last time today. But I still have a hole in the roof.


Cranberries are actually pretty good when sautéed with pears and pecans. You don’t actually have to make jelly out of them. Imagine that.


Who likes lima beans? I mean, really. (Trick question!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Kale Chronicles

I’ve been cooking a lot more lately – partly because I have more time (even with the commute), and partly because I have to use up all the damned vegetables, and that’s not going to happen if I eat frozen pizza. I will make it through the potato-leek soup (which I hereby dub spuds-a-leeky) by next week, but only if I continue eating it for dinner every night. The cranberry-pear glazed yams were quite good, but I have yet to figure out how to make something more than just barely edible out of kale. (The birds are getting a lot of kale these days.)

As much as I’d like to believe that I’m just amazing in the kitchen, the following picture is probably more representative.


On a separate note, the elliptical showed up last week, and I finally put it together on Saturday evening. There were a whole lot of pieces in the box. That was good news since the box was 140 pounds and I wouldn’t have been able to muscle it inside if I hadn’t unpacked most of the box on the porch. The bad news was that it took three hours to assemble. But assemble it I did, and I didn’t even have any extra pieces at the end. Go team! (There’s a ‘me’ in team, you know.)

My legs are a little sore this week…

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I Cannot Tell a Lie

Well, it was a cedar tree, not a cherry tree. And technically I didn’t chop it down, I paid other people to do so. But other than that, George Washington and I are together on this one.

I’ve tried multiple times to get a picture that shows exactly how big this tree is, but it never seems to work. Then, this morning, on day two of the tree chopping extravaganza, I took this:

All I needed before was for someone to climb up in the tree and provide a proper scale (after first chopping off all of the branches that would get in the way of being able to see said person).

After the branches were removed and lowered down, there was just the trunk spiking up into the air. Since there wasn't any way to lower things easily, the removal method was to cut off six foot sections at a time and let them fall. As the tree guy warned me, you could really feel it when one of those fell. At one point a bunch of my neighbors were outside and started applauding when a particularly big section hit the ground. (The tree guy also warned, before they started, that he "couldn't promise there won't be holes in the lawn when we're done.") Since the trunk was about ten feet from the house, the sections were falling right in front of the window. I finally decided that I would feel stupid if I were killed by a falling tree trunk and moved away from the window.

This is what the front lawn looks like tonight.

It makes my house look sort of like a monopoly hotel.

Anyhow, the tree is down, the house is still standing, and I need to go cross the Delaware or something.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Patron of the Arts

Apparently living with me is conducive to producing artwork. (Please note that I make no claims, good or bad, about the quality of the aforementioned art.) Is it my stunning personality, or maybe just the lack of cable…?

Ten years ago Jojo the Enforcer spent the summer with me. Among the highlights of that summer:

- I found out that Johanna is easily confused by the plots of straightforward movies, mostly because she can’t tell the actors apart unless they have some striking physical differences. If one of the characters isn’t bald, fat, or lame, forget it. And if she gets confused, she goes to sleep.

- Johanna borrowed Jeff’s old car, Vlad the Impala. The car had two drawbacks (aside from its age and size): 1) it didn’t warn you if you left the lights on, and 2) one of the tires had a slow leak. I’m sure you can figure out what happened all summer.

- Johanna bought a clock for her bedroom and hung it on a nail one foot above the mattress she was sleeping on, which was on the floor. It was a very interesting look.

- Dearly departed Bonnie, the semi-feral cat, almost got stepped on many times. I thought she and Johanna had finally started to bond when I can home and found Jo playing with the cat toys, but then I found out she was tossing them at Bonnie, not to her.

Anyhow, here is the visual recording of that summer:

And just for comparison’s sake, the cup that Johanna made for me at the same time K-poo made hers (~25 years ago). The two year age gap between them meant that labels weren’t actually necessary, but she added a legend ("Koala Bear Regions") to the map anyhow.

I'm just like one of those Italian Renaissance people, except I take showers and I haven't made anyone paint the ceiling. Yet.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My Cup Runneth Over

Temporary sickness, as far as I’m concerned, should be considered a blessing. If I never got sick I would be tempted to fear death. As it is, I’m forced to remember that there are worse things.
On the other hand, being sick just pretty much sucks. And that’s my excuse for this entry being a few days late.
Anyhow, before my sickness drove K-poo 500 miles away, she gave me a (slightly belated) birthday present, a hand-painted mug which I will now share:

The scenes are amazingly lifelike, especially if you spend a whole lot of time in my house staring at the cats...

And the green cone in the back yard with the dog crushing the flowerbeds nearby...

And, of course, that fateful day when we played polo. This particular scene illustrates the reason that portraiture was so popular back in the day -- I've apparently lost about 30 pounds and I've got the mallet in the proper position. K-Poo is the one on the ground with the horse nowhere in sight. By the detailed brushwork, you can see the grace inherent in the fall.

Contrast that with the cup I received about 25 years ago by the same artist:

I think this might be a squirrel, but I'm not totally sure about that. I suppose it might be a space-alien Tyrannosaurus rex. Or maybe a zombie fox.

Luckily this picture came with a label. And that's probably a good thing...

I'm fairly sure that a child psychologist would have some interesting things to say about those pictures, but K-poo turned out pretty well anyhow...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

My Home is My Castle (mostly ruins)

It turns out that there’s really no qualification that you have to have in order to own a house aside from the ability to sign your name to about 80 sheets of paper, and a little money (or no money, in the case of many of the mortgages made in the last ten years).

For me that’s a good thing, since I never would have passed an ownership test. Granted, I’ve never been cited by the fire department for having four feet high weeds in my front yard (unlike a certain other family member), but I still may not be the right person to maintain a house.

Exhibit A: When I first moved in, there was a number sign hanging from the front light pole. It looked just sort of okay. Then, it broke and fell off the pole, so I glued it back together again and hung it back up. After that, it looked a little less okay since there were brown glue streaks on it. Then it broke again, and I just propped it up against the house. That was a year ago.

Meanwhile, K-poo moves in, and in less than two months she has painted a room, replaced the casement window operator, set up the drill press, and fabricated and hung a new sign.

Exhibit B: I’ve owned the house for six years. I’ve never really decorated it for Halloween aside from one year when I put up fake spiderweb stuff (which I took down after the new year). K-poo moves in and makes it look cool.

Of course, she has a little extra time on her hands. But still…

Oh well, at least my jack o’lanterns have always had two eyes. And my hands are strong enough to sign all 80 pages of the loan paperwork.


Other random notes from Halloween:

- Naturally, after months of dry weather, it rained on Halloween.
- K-poo and I independently said that one little kid looked like our nephew Aiden. Then K-poo adds "that just makes me want to grab him and keep him here." I don't think the kid's mother heard her, thank god. Because being known as the house with the crazy cat lady isn't enough -- K-poo's trying for the label of just plain crazy.
- My plan to break my October no-junk-food fast with all of the leftover candy was foiled by all the damned trick-or-treaters. Next year the light stays off.