Saturday, August 22, 2009


I took delivery on my car on Thursday. Her name is Daisy and she's soo cute. I lub her.

I started this Cash for Clunkers at the very start, when they were threatening to shut it down because it was so popular, and I took delivery on the car the day the dealer said they wouldn't write any more deals for the program. Whew, that was cutting it close.

All in all, I don't have anything but nice things to say about the CA DMV. The phone line hold time was nutty, yes, but once I put a request in, they came through with flying colors. When Dear Butcher had to get an registration history printout for the car (couldn't be me -- I'm not on the registration for some reason) he walked in, took a number, and was back out the door again in less than five minutes. He never even sat down. Wow.

Anyway, the Scion is cute and peppy. She needed a perky name. I was going to name her for one of the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel, but Sir Anthony didn't really fit. Neither did Ffoulkes. Neither did Dewhurst. Generally, I'm not a fan of Margueritte, but Daisy seemed to work.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


I got the Title!

I got the Title!

Wednesday we went down to the dealership and bought a Scion Xb. Yay! It will come in from the port this week. (Here's another cool thing -- our mortgage rate automatically adjusted downwards yielding us an $800 monthly savings. With a decent down payment on the car and Cash for Clunkers, we end up with a $300 monthly car payment. So, yeah, we're still ahead by $500. Sweet.)

Now the dealership is saying I have to find proof of last year's insurance before I can take delivery. (The clunker has to have been insured for at least a full year before trade-in. I have this year's insurance card, but I'm back to rummaging through drawers to find proof of last's year's insurance. Sigh. I think I can get proof on Monday from AAA. Hoop. Jump. Hoop. Jump.)

Staying cool and calm, but excited nonetheless.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Cash for Clunkers

Dear Butcher found out late last week that my nasty minivan qualifies for the Cash for Clunkers program. (Oy. My minivan, that thing's on its last legs. Cracked windshield, two speeds on the fan are busted, all the interior trim has been picked at by my anxious son, there are holes in the carpet, the sliding doors sometimes still stick shut, the rear brakes are shot, it needs new tires, and it's overdue for all of the fluid maintenance. Other than that, it still drives in a straight line when asked.)

So this is an easy thing, just bring one car down and pick up another car. Except for when you can't find the title to the car you've owned since 2002.

We bought the car while we were living in a rental as we were selling our old house. Then we packed everything up and moved up here in mid 2002. The title's not in the "important papers" box with the birth certificates and the passports. Hey, wait a minute, neither is the title to Dear Butcher's car. Huh.

Monday I went through every filed bit of paper in the house. No titles. I went through my desk I used to use when I had set up shop in the extra storage shed in the back yard (from 2002 - 2003). No titles. I went through all the bookshelves in my bedroom. Found a title!

It was the title to Dear Butcher's car!

Except that Dear Butcher's car is a Prius and we're not trading it in. I check online with the DMV -- how long does it take to get a duplicate title? It won't say. I check AAA's website. They won't say either! Hey, wait a minute guys. What gives?

I can transfer ownership of the car at the same time I request a duplicate title, but cash for clunkers requires a paper title in hand. Ugh.

I finally trot down to AAA, stand in line, and ask them if they do duplicate titles there. Yes. And if I come back tomorrow with the title holder then we can get the title tomorrow? Yes.

So on Tuesday Dear Butcher and I trot down to AAA. cna't really walk out of there WITH the title. You can put in the title request, and you can place a papeless title transfer through AAA, but it takes thirty days for DMV to print and send a title.

We ended up going to the dealer anyway. Maybe they know of a magical way to -- wait a minute! They do indeed!

There's something called a "72 Hour SPecial Processing Service" which if you send the title request by mail, only by mail, to this address in Sacramento with an extra procesing fee, you can get the printed title with a 72 hour turnaround. OK, then.

After we look at cars, we trot home. Cash for Clunkers may go away by Friday. If I can get this going I just might be able to get this thing turned around -- but the DMV is closed statewide on Fridays. It's pushing it pretty tight. Salesman says maybe it will be extended and we can go forward on Monday, but try for Friday. I go to fill out the paperwork and stick it in an envelope when I realize that I don't know what the "extra processing fee" is. So I call the number ont eh brochure the dealer has given me.

8.5 minutes of hold.

Lady answers the phone and I ask about the "72 hour Special Processing Service" for duplicate title requests, saying that I'm interested in knowing what the fee is.

She's never heard of it.

"But I'm holding a printout from your website which was retrieved today."

"No, we've never had a program like that. It's thirty days to get a title."

"Listen, I'll read it to you. 'For information regarding fees and other services please call....' See? I'm calling for information on the processing fee."

"Well, you might have to call the Sacramneto office."


8 minutes of hold later, I get a lady on the phone who has heard of the program and who does know the amount of the "Special Procesing fee". Excellent. Fifteen bucks. Fine. No problem. Then she gives me the most exact address information I have ever experienced. Where to put spaces. Where to put a dash. Where to put a line break. Okaaay.

Then she says, "You know, it's not really 72 hour turnaround. You can't rely on it."

"That's OK. I understand. I'd like 72 hours, but the world isn't going to end if it comes in later."

"The processing time at this point is 2 to 4 weeks."


So kiddies. 30 days for regular, 2 to 4 weeks for "72 Hour Special Processing Service."

If Cash for Clunkers goes til Labor Day without the income restrictions that Harkins would like to add and if the California DMV can get me a title within four weeks, I might get a smaller better car. My fingers are crossed.

What I find silly about this "Special Processing Service" is that "72 hours" is IN the title. Guys. Who thought that was a good idea?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Fish Pie

Sort of a casserole of a post here. A bit of cheese, a bit of white sauce, a bit of left over salmon, and Hmmm, tomatoes aren't going to work here, are they?

My nephew's coming to visit. The son of my kuh-RAY-zee brother. Now that my nephew is 17, he's decided that 17 years of this foolishness is enough. He's had the chance to witness the craziness up close and personal through the years leading up to the divorce, the years of the divorce, and the aftermath of the divorce. He put this foot down recently to say, "Enough. No more. I have no need to talk to that person again, he's an embarrassment as a father, and I won't visit him anymore." Nephew is not doing well in school and is sort of rambling about in his life. Ayway, he's coming out for a quick visit. We may be asking him to hang out longer.

Hobbes seems to be getting slowly better. He's got a waist again and has meat on his bones. He's blind as a doorknob, but his attitude seems to be coming back.

Went to the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco yesterday with Neo. Haven't been to a botanical exhibit in years. For $5 it was a nice way to spend the day.

Read Susan Wiggs' Lord of the Night the other day. I was NOT expecting to like it -- I read Both Charm School and Horsemaster's Daughter and didn't care for either of them much. OK, so it had a nice cover and (Oh, look at that!) it's a reissue. And hey -- it's a RITA winner? Huh. Wonder how it will go. WOW. What a great book set in a great time period (Renaissance Venice). The May-December relationship is fantastic. Great great book. Not only on my keeper list, but also on my re-read list.

Poking along through Sabrina Jeffries Don't Bargain with the Devil. Jeffries is usually one of my comfort-zone authors. Sometimes she's fantastic, sometimes she's ok, but she's always a good fit for me. I don't get angry at her books or her characters while reading, and I know there'll be something to enjoy along the way, even if it's not one of her better ones. This one I'm just sort of reading it until I finish it though. Nobody's sparking my interest at all. I don't find this magician fellow at all believable as a magician -- he feels very "Victorian fellow in dark tails and top hat", when that personna was *invented* by a particular magician well after this one would have happened. But, and here's a great big HOWEVER, I still enjoy the book a fair amount and can enjoy reading it, even though it doesn't quite make sense.

I read a posting on a forum the other day that I'm pretty sure was someone telling me to fuck off and go home to my palace under a rock. Except maybe it wasn't about me. But I think it was. Except.... No. Definitely someone else. But? No. Stop it. Here, Suisan, what if it is directed at you? So what? Right? (I finally wrote someone else on email and asked her if I was out of line or if she was annoyed. She talked me down out of the trees pretty quickly. Which was nice.) Reminded me so very much of that bit in Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird where she's telling her students that they *will* experience paranoia and come to believe that everyone else in the reading group is talking about them, only to have one of her students call her to say that she's sure that everyone else in the group is talking about her. Turns out everyone in the group has been terrified that everyone else is talking about them. Agh!

Thursday, July 30, 2009


For someone who neither drinks nor has her act together mentally or emotionally, I am weirdly obsessed with watching Intervention on A&E. I'm also addicted to VH1's Celebrity Rehab. I remember saying to Dear Butcher one time, "There's a part of me that wishes that I had something that was this easily identifiable. 'Ten weeks rehab, one year sober living, live like this, and off you go!' But instead I'm just dealing with all the crappy stuff under the surface that makes people go get stoned to hide from."

Dear Butcher said, "That's really weird. But on the other hand, I know what you're getting at. That if you were able to stand up and say, 'Out of my way! I have X!' then it would be easier somehow." After a bit of a pause he added, "Thing is, all that crap you're working on, all these people don't even know is there. So maybe you just skipped a step and they don't know they've got decades of work ahead of them."

"Well that's depressing."

"Yeah. Why do you watch this stuff again?"

I guess it's cathartic. Or dramatic. Makes it all look easy and doable. Like a cooking show. I am never going to make ANYTHING I've ever seen on a cooking show. Ever. I've never looked at a recipe from the show online and I'm never going to. But I love the chopping and the stirring and then the reaching into the second wall oven to ("Here it IS!") pull out the finished cake/casserole/roast/dessert/glistening object. The addiction shows are like this. The whole show is a slow parade towards that second wall oven. (Is that why people used to put two in a house, so that the cooking show fairies would come live in the second one?)

I've stumbled now onto another show which truly gets under my skin. Alarms buzz and elbows sweat and the back of my neck gets tingly. It's the show, Obsessed, a spin-off of Intervention. Oooo, that hits a lot closer to home.

Look, I know I've got chronic depression. I've been depressed most of this year, and suffering from various forms of anxiety or panic attacks in the years leading up to this one. I know my grandmother had mild OCD, I've heard that her grandmother spent the last months of her life on her hands and knees scraping out the cracks between the floorboards with a toothpick. I know my mother obsesses and ruminates. I ruminate and pick fights with voices in my head. I know there's a strong tendency towards hoarding in my family. My aunt had eight saddles, about twenty bridles, countless collections of books and ceramics and iron work and letters and, of course, the horses.

My mother has a hugely cluttered house and way too many pets. We counted them all up once when I was a kid -- 93. Let that number sink in for a sec. 93 pets in a three bedroom Dutch Colonial in the suburbs. She hired help, so there were never piles of things preventing entrances into rooms, no clutter on the floor. For a bit there she went down to no animals, and slowly she started acquiring parrots -- I've lost count. I think there are twelve or fifteen now? Anyway, a significant number.

I've tried to keep the number of pets low, and for the most part I've succeeded, but my bugaboo is clutter. Piles of laundry. Piles of mail. Piles of "things that belong to the kids". Piles of "things that don't belong in this room." Piles that have been sorted. Piles that are waiting to be sorted. Piles of lethargy. Piles of guilt.

But the house is always workable. Unpleasant, but workable.

Now here's where I put in my big disclaimer on the rest of this post, because it's important here to note that recently I've gone on a Huge Purge of my things. I separated the 30 odd paperweights I don't want anymore from the rest of the collection. I took my old rug out of Phebe's room and replaced it with one that fits, even though I don't have room for my childhood (and honestly quite unattractive) rug. This means I'm seriously considering selling it because I don't need it or want it here. In the past month, I've taken at least twenty of garbage out of the house. I dropped off three dollhouses to Goodwill, along with four boxes of outgrown clothes. When I get my butt in gear, I can organize, toss, sort, and move on. It's just hard to ramp the engine up that high. OK, having said all that....

Last night I went out of my way to find an Obsessed episode on "On Demand" cable featuring an extreme hoarder. The sort who can't enter and leave his own house and is in danger of getting evicted for health violations. He doesn't have feces or trash on the floor, but he's filled his space up with antique store finds and clothing and objects that remind him of his mother. He sleeps on a mattress stuffed in a doorway because he cannot get to his bed. His electronic keyboard is in the bathroom. There are no visible chairs or tables anymore. You get the picture.

Poor weepy, pathetic, paralyzed Russ. How could he let it go on year after year? As he enters therapy camera follow him to an antique store where he buys *another chair*, another OBJECT, to stuff in his house. The chair will be used in celebration when therapy ends as a truly comfortable place to relax. It's a symbol of future success and companionship; purchasing it fills him with hope. It's so pathetic and so sweet somehow.

We see him struggling, with the help of a very sympathetic therapist, to give away a strange stuffed snowman with teeny stick arms, a giddy expression, wearing a lilac and lime green winter hat. It's obvious even to him that this object is not necessary, but he can't quite bear to part with it. After much discussing of his anxiety levels, the importance of this object, etc., he starts talking about why this particular stuffed snowman holds meaning for him.

The purple on the hat reminds him of his dead mother.

It was given to him when he was lonely. To give it away would remind him that he could be friendless and lonely again.

To give it away would be giving away some part of his mother all over again.

Oh crap. Breathe, Suisan. You are not like this. You do not have stuffed snowmen you are clinging to. You are not face down in the gutter reeking gin and flop sweat.

Typing this now I'm a whole lot more rational. I used to not be able to see any wood on my desktop. I used to not be able to move the keyboard a millimeter in any direction as it was held in place by mounds of mail and printouts and I-don't-even-know-what. Today I've got Hobbes' glucometer kit, two pencil holders, one coffee mug, a notepad, a Zorro figurine (Hello, Zorro.), a printer, and a rolodex on my desk (along with the monitor, keyboard and mouse). Wide expanses of wood abound. I can even put the glucometer back in the drawer and gain more space. I'm clearly not drowning in crap, and I've never been quite as paralyzed as this poor man.

But I completely recognize his impulse, his need to hold onto objects because they are like people and they are not as dangerous as people.

Many years ago, I gave away my grandmother's sewing machine. It was an awful avocado green thing in a rickety table, and I rarely used it. I knew it had to go elsewhere. But I had a terrible time giving it away. (Oh lord, just thinking about this process makes me start wringing my hands.) I was filled with guilt that I didn't appreciate it. My grandmother had loved it, I loved playing around on it when I was a kid, she gave it to me, knowing I'd love it and I really didn't use it at all. What a screw-up. She wanted me to love it. She wanted it to make me happy. There must be something wrong. If only I dedicated myself to making something with it, then I'd rediscover my love for the sewing machine. So I did. I made stuff. And discovered that I don't really like sewing. What the hell was wrong with me? I should like this. Thousands of women all over the world like to sew. What's wrong with me?

Eventually I worked through all that and said, "Screw it. Grandma would be horrified if she knew I was doing this to myself. Come to think of it, she used to curse this thing out. I'm not sure SHE liked it all that much either." I unscrewed the legs from the table, put the whole thing in the car, drove down to Salvation Army and donated it. And then I got back in my car, hugged my steering wheel and cried. I ended up asking my grandmother to forgive me for not enjoying her gift; I can only assume she did so because the tears dried up just that quickly, and I drove away from the sewing machine.

I'm not paralyzed by hoarding -- I mostly have a cluttered house. I know how to self-check and I know how to purge.

But it is odd and slightly scary to watch someone else express thoughts that flutter through my head. It means something. It reminds me of her. I won't be so lonely if I can hold it. At least they flutter through my head and don't take up permanent residence.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Deep Breath

Saul has a friend over.

That may not seem like a news item, but for us it's a momentous occasion. His friend also has behavioral problems, is highly competitive and prone to sulks and rages, but on the other hand, they understand each other. Parents understand each other too. When you call to say, "I think we're done" each side knows what the other is saying. Not that there's a meltdown right now, but you need to drop everything and get over here promptly.

It's cute to be down here and hear them giggling upstairs. I wish he had more than one friend, but a good one is better than having lots of bad ones.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Clicks and Morning's noises

I used to hate mornings. "I'm not a morning person," I'd moan into my palms, as if rearranging my cheeks would help me wake up.

On the other hand, I'm not an afternoon person (hunger, boredom, self-flagellation for not accomplishing more this morning) nor an evening person either (fear at the close of the day, heavy eyes, lassitude -- or the feeling that somewhere there's person who looks just like me wearing a dress with a splash of sequins at the shoulder stepping into a red-boothed cocktail lounge from some 1950's movie who's about to enjoy a smart cocktail and witty conversation and she's not me but I was her or she could have been me and I'll bet her couch doesn't have this weird musty smell).

I've learned over the years to like mornings. The only person in the barn, no music yet, just hay sifting and pellets crunching and the sweep of a broom, cold damp air, and birds. Once the horses were all fed, retiring to my kitchen, making my own cup of coffee and sitting at my funky table that never met up with the wall. Sipping that coffee. Cold feet, stained hands, warm throat. Best part of the day.

Now that I don't have infants my mornings are back.

Hobbes wakes me up at either five or six in the morning. He doesn't even consider going to Dear Butcher's side of the bed. He stands next to me in the pale dark wagging his tail so that it slaps my bookcase. Thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk. He's not anxious or annoyingly eager or begging. Just steady. Slow. "Hey Lady." Thunk, thunk. "Sun's up." Thunk, thunk. "It's time." Thunk, thunk. Doesn't that hurt, Hobbes?

It's cold in the kitchen. It's a stupid kitchen. Lots of windows that don't open and drafts that come through them anyway. The guinea pigs rattle their water bottles at me as I walk past. Tikk-a. Morning, lady. Tikk-a. Mr. Herriman, my aged neutered boar, often chews on the bars in the morning. Odddly, he doesn't "WHEEP! WHEEP!" like the girls. His wheeper seems to be broken. He wheezes faint puffs of air instead, like an old man stepping down out of a bus. I think he took up bar-chewing in the mornings the way an elderly bus rider might take up rattling his cane.

Dog goes out, gets hopelessly lost in the back yard and needs me to leap-limp out there to rescue him. He's blind -- sometimes he finds something in his vision, like today with the quilt thrown over the chair, targets it, and snakes towards it with desperate authority. Head down, front paws taking huge high steps, straight body lancing right towards the edge of the cliff. "I have no idea what this big white object is," his body says. "But it must be important if I can see it."

"No! No!" I'm calling out to him. "Here." His body stops, his head lifts to catch the breeze, as if he can smell my voice. And he decides the white thing must be the house and starts churning again. "No, Hobbes. Over here." And I have to tiptoe out the door, stepping over globs of dried mud on the patio, prickers everywhere, shards of wood my son has left in the aftermath of some experiment involving a hammer. Lay my hand on Hobbes' neck and talk him home. Always an adventure, dude. Can't wait until it starts raining again.

Dog can't be fed until 7. So that's an hour for me. He flings himself to the ground by the front door, bones clattering on the wood floor. The cat's gone out now with all the fluttering around the back door. The guinea pigs have rediscovered last night's hay and are burbling to themselves. The backyard birds are chuttering.

Blissfully, the chickens are still asleep. I don't mind the chickens too much during the day, but we've got one who Announces Her Movements with hugely loud cackles once or twice a day. If I could identify her when she's silent, I'd gladly remove her from the premises. As it is, I'm left with pelting her with wood shards and globs of dried mud once she gets going. That doesn't stop her, and it only makes me feel guilty, so now I just imagine her cartoon self exploding once I hear the first of fifty -three or more "ca-CAW!"s. Sometimes a random thought goes through her Jurassic head and that sets off a long string of ca-CAW! ca-CAW! ca-CAW! comments on how the world ca-CAW! ca-CAW! ca-CAW! needs to listen to the birthers ca-CAW! ca-CAW! ca-CAW! and Fox News and ca-CAW! ca-CAW! ca-CAW! show more respect for Sarah Palin. I hate that bird. But thankfully she's still asleep.

I need to make coffee. Problem is that running the water in the kitchen sink seems to make the guinea pigs think that a commuter train somewhere is going to leave without them. Many zoomies and laps around the cage. Where are my keys? Rosa, where did you put my briefcase? Get OUT of my way! Well, I was just sitting here eating breakfast, what's your problem? Hey! What? Hey! Did you see the time? Where are the keys? Lettuce orgies, festivals of veggies calm them down, but I was hoping to just make myself a pot of coffee without having to -- OK fine. Have some lettuce. And radishes. And tomatoes. Do you want some cucumber? Gosh, you guys are cute.

By then the coffee's done, the sun is up. There's some time to sit on my oddly musty couch (I must clean this thing. Maybe this afternoon. Stop kidding yourself.), inhale coffee steam, warm my hands and breathe.

The animals and me and warm hands. I think I am a morning person.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

"How the hell are you?" she wrote.

"Miss you," another wrote.

"Why don't you ever update?" my daughter asked.

"Are you OK?" someone else asked.

I dunno. I should have an answer. But I don't.

I haven't been writing because any time I pull up the blog I see that I haven't written since February and I don't know how to fill in that gap without writing a novel. I'm not sure I want to relive parts of it either.

I'm suffering from having people read my blog too. It's better and easier to write when it's confessional, but then people in my family read it and I want to curl into a ball. There are mutterings in the back of my head that are better left undisturbed -- or rather, they don't mind coming out into the light to play, but I can't quite handle the reactions they bring up in people I share my house with.

Simple updates are these:

Hobbes, my diabetic dog. He's lost a lot of weight and developed cataracts from the high glucose levels. It took him all of four days to go completely blind from the onset of his first cataract. He's also had neuropathy in his face which caused half of his face to go slack. He's a mess. He makes me cry in frustration because I cannot get his elbow callouses to bleed on cue when it's time to run another blood glucose curve. For dog his size he should be on 8.5 units of insulin twice a day (17 units total). Currently he's on 20 units of insulin twice a day (40 units total) and he still has never registered a single blood glucose test in the normal range. (Yes, my meter works just fine.) He clearly has no pancreas at all. I was getting ready to euthanize him in June, when he suddenly rallied and started eating and putting on weight. (He likes Dear Butcher's ground mixed meat on top of his kibble with a heaping handful of baby carrots on the side.) He crashes into walls in the house, falls off the bed from time to time, and sleeps a lot, but when he's awake he's happy and playful and we'll keep looking after him until he stops eating again.

Bagheera, my lovely black cat. Bagheera was a Christmas present from Dear Butcher a few Christmases ago. He got into cat fight about two months back -- cost me $300 I didn't have at the emergency vet. Sigh. But he healed up fine. Took him to my regular vet for his yearly shots and a check up. Now I've just discovered a growth at the site of his rabies injection. Vet is very careful not to mention the word sarcoma, but I know about rabies injections in cats. I'm supposed to report back to her in two weeks as to whether it's growing. Sigh. Hopefully it's something else. Hopefully there won't be any advancement in diameter.

Neo, my eldest daughter. What an artist. We finished up her year of homeschooling and now she's all set to start up at the public high school in the fall. She went to classes this summer at California College of the Arts where she blew them out of the water. This fall I'll be taking her down to CCA every Saturday where she'll participate in a figure drawing class for high school students. She's a good kid still. Very proud of her.

Saul, you all know Saul. Saul is doing great, fantastic, wonderful, and well. He's still at Cornerstone, the program run by the county that works for him. He's got a good therapist there and is working through a lot of his anxieties. We had an IEP in April that was borderline awful -- my district wants him to come back to the Middle School here and there's no room for him in the Cornerstone Middle School program. But, we actually came away with a good solution. He's being retained next year so he can continue with his therapist, so he's repeat fifth grade. However, once a week he is going to try coming up to his home district's middle school so he can start transitioning into classes. I don't think the Friday thing is going to work AT ALL, but I'm willing to try it if only to say, "Look. Now we have proof that he's not ready to go into large classes."

Phebe, my youngest daughter, went away for a month-long sleep-away camp. She loved it. *Loved* it. She rode horses and swam in a lake and made me a lovely little ceramic pot and slept in a cabin in the woods with no electricity and wants to go back next year.

Me, the blogger. I dunno how I'm doing. Once I got Saul established, I basically fell apart. Right now I'm working on putting all the pieces back together, although I'm finding that some of them don't fit quite right. There's a lot of bruising and rough edges. I went to Kaiser for a check-up and told my doctor that I wanted to see someone in mental health -- I can't sleep and my mind keeps racing. I'm going to this decent enough guy, nothing special, but decent. Every time you go, they have you fill out a magazine survey: Give yourself three points if you've been sad more than five days out of the last week, one point if you've been sad any day during the last week.

I'm sitting in his office last time, saying that I broke out of some of my paralysis and attacked the house. Threw out bag after bag of garbage and sorted through every room. Took me about a month to pull the whole thing together, and I'm still no quite done. He looks at his computer screen. "Yes. I was going to comment that you are different this time. You've gone from a 21 to a 7."


"Your score. Last time you were an 'over twenty', now you're a seven!"

Oh good lord. Stop looking at the computer screen and Look At The Patient. I fucking hate Kaiser.


In other news, I got an email last night from a friend asking me if I'd run for school board. I only have a few more days to "pull papers" to get my name on the ballot. Yeah, with California's budget the way it is? With the HUGE cuts that are coming down the pike for public education AND public mental health (Saul's program) AND county services (Saul's program), now is the time for me to sit on the school board? Oh, I think not. I'd either be throwing things from the podium or sobbing into my shirt at every meeting. Would make for good cable access television, but it's not for me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Whoa. What a letter.

I was web surfing this morning and came across a blog that looks intriguing.

I just read the following post, and I have no words. I did in fact start hyperventilating while reading it, leaned back in my chair with my hand over my chest and just started muttering, "Whoa. Whoa. Whoa!" over and over and over.

A sample from Psychotic Letters from Men

That's like looking into the jaws of death, right there. Yikes.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Picky eater

Hobbes won't eat. His diabetes is giving him indigestion.

This is bad for a diabetic dog. In order to get insulin, they must have eaten a full meal. Diabetic dogs get fed twice a day, no snacks, each meal to be followed by a shot. Food makes blood sugar go up, insulin makes it come down, so you give the shot after you've made the sugar go up. Dogs apparently (and I'm still learning here, bear with me) have more spikes in their blood sugar throughout the day, so there isn't as much blood sugar testing as there is with humans.

Hobbes is still dumping ketones in his urine, which means his diabetes isn't under control. He's not in "full blown ketoacidosis" but I'm not clear where the dividing line is. I've asked about sub-q fluids and the vet says not yet. She also says that sub-q's don't really flush the ketones and that we should rely on getting the insulin to take effect.? (This seems fishy.) He's not at danger levels. Let's tempt his appetite a little more, and then we can increase the insulin safely without throwing him into a low-blood sugar episode. Yeah, but the ketones make his nauseated. I'm stuck in an endless loop and I can't get out.

Hobbes is hungry all the time. He sniffs at the cutting board whenever I'm in the kitchen. When I make him a meal, he walks towards it very slowly, sniffs, wags his tail, and then usually gently burps, tucks his tail between his legs and slinks out of the room.

Vet says that food will get him going and will settle his stomach. Vet says: try baby food. Yay! He likes veal baby food! Until the next meal, when he sniffs it and slinks out of the room.

Vet says to try Hills Scientific diet A/D (which has about as many forms of liver I have ever seen in one food concoction). She says they use it after surgery to tempt appetite. Yay! Hobbes wolfs down A/D. Off I go to the vet to buy more cans. Hobbes still likes it. I mix a little kibble in. He still likes it! Until the fourth meal, when he sniffs it and slinks out of the room burping.

Vet says to start him on Pepcid AC. He is probably rejecting foods that have made his stomach hurt in the past. Vet says: change all the associations. Get a whole new type of dry food. A whole new brand of canned food. Get rid of everything else, he'll probably never eat it again. Start with bland stuff and work up to the new brand. Something mild tasting. No liver. No lamb. Let me know how it goes.

The Pepcid seems to be working somewhat. However I am at a loss to figure out what I can use that is bland and tempting. Here's everything he once ate that he now walks away from after a few bites.

Chicken broth, canned.
Chicken broth, homemade
Veal baby food
Ham baby food
Beef baby food
Turkey baby food
Raw egg yolk
Raw whole egg
Scrambled egg
Scrambled egg with onion and cheese
Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese and rice
Iams dry dog food
Canidae dry dog food
Canidae canned food
Canidae dry and canned food, mixed
Hills A/D
Hills A/D with Canidae kibble cleverly hidden inside mouthfuls
Chicken thighs, sauteed
Hamburger, cooked
Hamburger meatballs, homemade, including dog vitamins, bound with oatmeal and egg
Cheese, all kinds.
Pork chops, leftovers, meat only
Dog vitamins as treats

All of these things he once ate. All of these things I have resorted to feeding him by hand, mouthful by mouthful.

Then I think to myself, "He ate about one cup. That's close to a meal, right? And I know what I can feed him tomorrow."

Only to have him refuse the next day.

But he is gaining weight. So something's working. And he puts up with the shots fine. He still eats baby carrots as a treat (those have always been his favorite), and I don't want him to stop, so I've stopped handing them out after every shot. So now he's getting pricked but not always getting a treat for it. (Why won't you eat cheese, for goodness sake?)

I have another phone consult with the vet in the morning. I think we just have to increase his insulin by a unit and see what happens. And I'm ready to do sq's. I think the vet thinks I'm not. I'm not fighting with the vet, not by any means. I really like her.

But it's a strange thing to wake up in the morning planning your children's lunches and breakfasts (Does Saul get home lunch today? School lunch? Does Phebe have her snack? Do we have milk for cereal this morning?) while also trying to be creative with the dog's breakfast. (Must feed him no later than 7:30. Rice? No. Maybe pasta and broth? No. Kibble and... No. Maybe if I cook him something.)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Business Plan

Today is Neo's birthday.

Happy Birthday!

Her birthstone is garnet and every year I try to get her a small garnet piece of jewelry. Today we're home, looking at the gray drizzle out our window. We had plans to go down to a fabric store in Berkeley today, but I have to take Hobbes to the vet for a follow-up visit (He's home now, stable, but needs to see his vet for long-term care.) and, here's a bizarre thing, Saul doesn't have school today. He goes back Tuesday. So he's here unexpectedly. The trip to the fabric store is off. OK. Let's go to some funky small antique shops and find a cute piece of jewelry. Then this afternoon I'll bake your birthday cake.

Oops. It's Monday. A lot of shops here are closed on Monday if they're open on Saturday. I'll call first.

Brring, Brring, Brring.

"Hullo?" someone says in a very sleepy voice.

"Um. Hi. Is this Jewel of the Night?"


"I'm sorry. I may have the wrong number. Is this the store Jewel of the Night?"

"Yeah... I mean it's my house. But yeah."

"I was calling to see if you were open today?" Good lord this is weird.

"Well, I was going to, but then I looked outside and you know. It's kind of gross out there. Right?"

"Uhh." Hang up. Hang up!

"I mostly work by appointment these days. What did you have in mind?"

You work by appointment? Really? There's an interesting plan for an inexpensive jewelry shop on Main Street in a small town. It's not like you're selling first editions or something. Soldiering on I offer, "Well, today is my daughter's birthday and we thought we'd come in. You know. See what you have."

"Unh." Lots of rustling noises here as if newspapers are being moved or bedsheets dragged across the phone. "OK. Like, what time did you want to come in?"

I can't believe I'm setting an appointment to buy earrings. "I have to take my dog to the vet's this morning. I dunno. Twelve? Sometime after twelve?"

"Oh good. That gives me time to take a shower."

Boom! Head explodes. I don't need to know how clean you are! What a weird person. Heck of a business plan you've got there, lady.

We're going to the art studio down the street instead.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Well, now we know

My big lovely boy Hobbes has just been diagnosed with canine diabetes. He's in the emergency hospital racking up an enormous bill, well over a thousand dollars of supportive care.

They've started him on insulin and are trying to regulate his dose. If he stabilizes, then he might come home today, or maybe tomorrow. He doesn't have organ failure or any infections, so that's good. It certainly explains his precipitous weight loss and lethargy though.

He'll have to be tested and given insulin shots twice a day from now on though. I'm fine with doing that, but I'm still reeling from the diagnosis. OK, I should clarify that. I was secretly thinking that it must be cancer as I watched him get thinner and thinner every day. I'm glad it's not cancer. And diabetes is not any sort of a death sentence. I just have to redefine myself as an owner of a dog with a chronic condition.

Ooo! Just thought of an excellent side effect. I can no longer travel to visit my mother nor entertain any conversations regarding travel to visit my mother. "Do you want Hobbes to DIE? I can't leave him with a sitter. He'd DIE!"

His glucose levels were insane. Normal blood glucose is like 120? His was 700. (Forgot the units there. My dad the engineer would kill me for posting a number with no units.) There should be no glucose in the urine. His urine glucose came back at 1,000. Geez, man. How do you have values like that and still bark at the car next to us at the stop light on your way to the hospital? He hasn't been perky in days. But bring a sick animal to the hospital and look out. Ears up, tail wagging, panting at the nurse, walking on a taut lead to the exam room. "Oh boy. Doctor's office. Hi there! I'm Hobbes. Hi! Pleased to meet you!"

I keep thinking I can hear his nails clicking on the sliding door as he taps it to be let in. I think the cat is looking for him too.

Side note: Neo is going to be FOURTEEN years old on Monday. Fourteen. One four. How is that possible?