Sunday, April 30, 2006


That title should be read using your most dramatic Captain Kirk impression. And it's all about Dave, so help me, who is HIGH-larious. I KNEW he'd come through when I set him the assignment, but the extras...OH, the extras! (Content warning--at the end of the post, there may or may not be a cartoon penis. Click over at your own risk, then read to the end also at your own peril.)

Now to sit back and see how many Google hits I get for the phrase "cartoon penis."

Um, Hey, Bella?

You've got that "Big Daddy" t-shirt on backwards, kiddo.

Look, can a sister just bus her mac 'n cheese bowl in peace?

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The "Field" Trip

Because we've been stuck inside today, weathering a deluge of Biblical proportions, I can post about our day with cousin Shannon hauling hay.

It was actually late afternoon on Easter, and as I've spoken of here before, our horses are starving for grass on the side of this rock where we now live. At the suggestion of my grandmother, I had called her brother, my uncle, Harold. Harold has--wait for it--a HAY FARM. Yeah. That's right. And it didn't occur to me to call him up and see if, maybe, I dunno...he had some HAY. Well, I did, and he didn't, but he said he'd ask around. It wasn't two hours later before I got a phone call from Shannon, who is actually a distant cousin of mine, and who I remember from years ago in the Arabian horse club as a sweet, sweet young girl in love with horses and showing, with a kind heart and a soft hand with a horse. Now she's all grown up and *sob* having her own baby! Anyway, she said that she had a barn full of Harold's hay that she wouldn't be needing, and I was welcome to it. After the month of "Sorry, no" I'd been hearing, I nearly cried. Heck, I might have, I don't remember.

So, we loaded up and drove the 40 miles or so to Shannon's farm. I nearly had an apoplectic fit of jealousy at the acres of lush greenness.She also had some neat animals, and now I really want a donkey. I think this one's name was "Lester."And an adorable miniature horse...And then when we got to the actual hay field, there were deer! Harold feeds them from great big ol' feeders, and does not allow hunting on his property, so the deer are living the good life.Bella was beside herself with all the wide-open space.Alex and I mostly just sneezed, and after a lot of hard work on the part of Alex and Shannon's husband, we had the first load of our reward ready to go. Oh, how green it was, and how lovely it smelled! (Achoo!)Bella most definitely thought she was the foreman of this operation.Do I think the horses appreciated the effort? They didn't even wait for us to stop the truck, much less unload the trailer, before they were grabbing mouthsful!All in all, a successful day, and we'll be going back for more. Thanks, Shannon! The entire photo set here, if you like.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Late-Night Catchall

Gasping for breath, here. It's proving a tough spring, mood-wise, for Alex, and that means a tough spring for all of us. We love him and support him, which we hope he knows, and try to make sure that the worst part is over as quickly as possible. He's been three weeks "down" now (not "down" depressed, but just "down" as in basically out of commission due to the unpredictability of his med tweaks and adjustments), and I know he's sick of it.

In dog adoption news: Gee, I wonder how our sweet Jacy is doing with her new family? Is she enjoying her retirement? Are they feeding her well? Is she getting along with everyone? Sheesh. Every dog should have such a life! I know I ain't had any lobster lately!

I'm down to the last packages now. Did the big ones first, so you should be receiving those about now. I just now am finishing up on the $25 packages. I will post a list in the next 24 hours or so of everyone (first names only) whose package has been shipped, and if you don't see your name there, HOLLER! Some of the list is paid orders, and some are contest winners or other freebies for reasons only you know, so check even if you didn't order. I still need addresses on some of my GBBMC winners, so if you were an Auden-namer, email me your mailing address at mishahouseATaolDOTcom.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Behold The Lawnkeeping Glory Of My Husband

Or, "How To Make Hypomania Work For You." (Click to enlarge pictures, as ever.) The man did all this in less than one day, really. First, the wild, unkempt crape myrtles were brought into line. Mrs. Previous Owner, it seems, couldn't bear to have the trees touched with any sort of pruning device. Which was her prerogative, but insulted every crape myrtle sensibility I have. They were just OUT THERE, these crapes. Alex knows of my feelings about ornamental trees, and worked like a dog to subdue them. After all was said and done, he had filled a 16' flatbed, several feet high, with crape myrtle limbs. And we have now liberated them all from the ropes and bungees that were wrapped around them, trying to hold the sprawling limbs up.Isn't that better? Now you can actually mow around the trees! And you can pick up limbs and leaves, but there are always some Ninjas scattered across the lawn, as seen above.I'm not totally against the "wild" look...I kind of like the area on the other side of the house, the part we view through the living room windows, with the koi pond and the mishmash of lush growth that is there. To the left of those purple iris, there are dozens of cannas just sprouting. I can't wait to see what color they are!The bamboo here is just starting to come up. I don't know what the flowering white stuff is, but it has now been overtaken by honeysuckle, which was smelling divine tonight. I won't let it enthrall me, though, because I know its true desire is to take over the place.I have always, always, wanted big ol' yucca plants. And that weeping variety of holly.The pond, besides having flowering waterlillies greening up and making pads now, sports Japanese iris, both in the water and bordering it. It's beautiful.You can't imagine the leaves that were just everywhere like snowdrifts, that Alex got rid of somehow. The "front" (which to us, is actually the side) of the house even looks nice and neat now.Check out this crazy rosebush that can't decide what color its blooms should be--isn't it great? (Of course, in that first shot, the rarest rose of all is the one pointing at the camera!)Anybody got a guess on this plant? If it helps, the leaves are succulent. Some kind of sedum, saith Sue.And then there's this...some sort of ornamental plum, I think. I like it better for its crazy lean toward the house. This area, someday soon, I think will be Barbecue Paradise for Alex.He also built raised beds for some rosebushes, and planted them, and made another one for the Dortmund rose that we transplanted from the other house, and put in solar-powered lamps all throughout the landscaping, and all kinds of other stuff, but I think my favorite thing was still the glorious lack of dead LEAVES everywhere!Oh, and tucked away in a leaf-covered hole, Alex discovered the creature we are simply referring to as Number Two, for obvious reasons:We have not yet discovered Number One, or anything past Two, but Alex did stop on the busy highway and rescue a companion for Number Two yesterday. We're imposing on the new addition that it is the opposite sex of whatever sex Number Two is, and we're calling it "Letter B."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I Am So Glamorous, Or Me And My Neti Pot

Ever since the precedent was set by this post from the incomparable Anne Glamore's "Tiny Kingdom", I have been wracking my brains to come up with a similar unflattering personal-grooming procedure that I could take pictures of and post for the entire internet. My brains being small and thereby easily-wracked, it didn't take long to come up with the answer: The Washing Of The Sinuses! What could be more interesting than seeing someone with no makeup and her hair pulled back in a most severe manner go through her bedtime routine of pouring salt-water through her head? And to know that she does it every day?

When you live in the CDC's "Most Allergic Place In The U.S." you learn all the pollen-fighting tricks. This is my best one. Secret weapon. It looks crazy, but when there is a thick, snow-like coating of yellow pollen over the entire world, and your dogs go outside black and come back in with yellow legs, trust me when I say that I know whereof I speak.

Usually, I would just make my own saline solution from iodine-free sea-salt and warm water, but my Mom recently discovered the SinuCleanse Nasal Wash System, and GOSH, I'm lazy, so it's perfect. Here's what you start with:You simply empty the contents of the packet into the Neti pot,and add warm water.Stir until saline solution is completely dissolved; just a few seconds. Honestly, the little plastic stirring-paddle is unneccessary if you have, um, a finger. The use of your own God-given digit also allows you to feel when the salt is dissolved.Now you're ready to stick it up your nose! See how pretty you look! And remember to breathe through your mouth, the better for to not drown. Tilt your head to the side opposite the nostril with the Neti-nozzle wedged into it, and start to pour.I have these mutant tiny nostrils, so I have to jam the thing pretty far up there to achieve the desired "nostril seal." You probably would not have this issue. My husband swears, as did my father, that the reason the women of this family have congestion problems is because of our allegedly tiny sinuses. He should talk; He only has ONE sinus. The other one is calcified, or some freaky thing. I nearly drowned him while trying to convert him to the Neti Pot because of this. Looking back, that's kind of funny (only because he survived, you understand). The flow through the sinus cavity starts as a trickle, then just flows straight through. And I swear it feels good.Then you clear your nose by blowing it gently, and repeat the process with the remaining nostril. What you see here is photographic documentation of the cleansing of my #2 nostril, as evidenced by the large salt-water stain on my shirt. That's what happens when a right-handed person attempts to use a Neti-pot with the right hand while simultaneously trying to photograph the process with the left.
There. Don't you all feel educated? And better-looking? But seriously--respect the Neti Pot, because it can change your life. Or at least the way you breathe and how often you get sinus infections and colds. Go forth and cleanse.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

My Girl

For when you are older, and reading these often wild ramblings and pointless anecdotes, hopefully getting a sense of who your Mom is and was...I want you to know what a spectacularly delightful thing you are, and always were. Right now, I only want to tell you about this weekend, which was for a large part a misery for me, for reasons previously mentioned.

You crept downstairs Friday night in the middle of the night. I was awake, minding my pain, sitting up with it, you know (actually, I hope with all my heart that you never do), keeping it company, reading to it, letting it watch "The Godfather," whatever it demanded. You came right up to the edge of the bed and said, "I am too sad to sleep in my bed until the sun comes up. I need to sleep down here with you." Let it be known, in case I grow old and lecture you on the evils of allowing your child to share your bed, that I just smiled and lifted up the covers, and you snuggled right in, all warm smooth skin, sparkling bright eyes, flashing smile, soft kisses, and sweet baby's breath in your whispers.

We whispered a conversation that lasted a good 30 minutes, at least, and wandered hither and yon. You wanted to know if Grandmommy Judith was sleeping at her house. In her bed? Head on her pillow? Did she say her prayers? Did she sleep as soon as she closed her eyes? And Grandmommy Lynette?

Yes, yes, yes. Yes, yes, yes.
Is Daddy sleeping?
If I talk loudly, I will wake him up?
And just then, a big snore from Daddy, and your eyes wide with surprise and silent laughter. What was THAT?
Daddy snored.
He did?
Do I do that?
Oh, no. Little girls are much more delicate.
Thoughtful consideration, then, Do I toot when I sleep?
Well, yes.
Ohhhhh. But only very softly.
If you say so.

I wish I could remember that whole conversation, wish I had it recorded so that I could replay it for the rest of my life. It was peppered throughout with declarations of huge love for your entire family, and on that secret night of ours, especially Mommy, who needed them. And hugs. And kisses. And snuggles. And I just lay there holding your perfect little child's body in my arms, tears welling in my eyes, wishing you this same joy someday, this same aching, heart-stretching, beautifully painful, swelling emotion. There is no more perfect love in the world, My Darling Girl, and I want you to know you've given it from the very beginning.

On Saturday, when you overfed your fish--a LOT, and I put them, for safekeeping, in a clean bowl of water, up on a shelf until the tank could be cleaned, and you came in to find them gone, and burst into tears, crying, "Did my fish eat themselfs dead? OHHHHH I'm so SORRY! I don't want them to be died!" it nearly broke my heart. I scooped you up and showed you where they were, and it was all right then, but still you clung around my neck for some time, saying how sorry you were. I hope Carl and Gil live the longest possible goldfish lives. (If they didn't, I tried.)

I spent the day Saturday mostly in bed, curled in a fetal position, and often crying from pain. I tried not to let you see. You orbited around me like a little satellite of happiness, doing anything you could to get a smile or yet another hug. It wasn't hard. At one point, I had occasion, I forget what (but I expected a much more localized answer than I got), to ask you the question, "Bella, what do you want?" You wrapped your arms around my neck, pressed your cheek into mine, and said, "I just want alllll my family to be happy!" I told you that you were making sure of that. And you do.

Today, it's been much the same. I think my favorite moment was when your Daddy did or said something silly that made me laugh, and you immediately said to him, "Thank you, Daddy, for making my Mommy laugh!" All I could do was laugh more, repeat your thanks, and wonder to myself, "What manner of three-year-old IS this?"

You're a God-given gift to me, you are. To your Daddy as well, but as you know, this space is all about me. Hopefully Daddy will post something once a month or so. Maybe. But you are every bit the sunshine in his solar system that you are in mine. To paraphrase something that you first said about me, "You are the best daughter I ever heard of!" I love you.

Oh, and I don't guess I'd be a proper mother if I didn't, as my mother and her mother before her, probably as far back as the beginning of time, did, wish you at least a wee bit of this, as well. Cherish it all, My Dearest. Not one part of it lasts long enough. Not one.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Where Ya' At?

It's been a rough coupla. Alex is having a tough time with med changes, and mid-week I had a migraine bad enough that it landed me here:It was bad timing, with Alex going through his own health stuff right now, but somehow, the two of us have always each managed to pull through and tough-out our own crap when the other one is in trouble. So after 36 hours of migraine, and not being able to get in to see my GP (and having the "on call" doctor unwilling to offer me any relief besides a prescription to which I have a dangerous allergic reaction), I gave up, and my Mom dropped me off at the hospital. I checked in at 3:00 P.M., and settled in for what I knew would be a long wait, since this small hospital doesn't actually HAVE a doctor present in the Emergency Room...they have to call one in. When I got there, the waiting room was virtually empty, and the stupid T.V. was blaring "Montel," and to add insult to injury, it was one of the days when he had that Sylvia Brown "psychic" woman on, with the annoyingest voice in the world.I had stupidly brought a book to read, as if my eyes could focus. Stupid. And there it laid.Reminding me of Bad Puppiness. (OK, actually, there are no "bad" puppies, and when something like this happens, you should roll up a newspaper, and smack yourself soundly over the head for leaving a precious BOOK within reach of Puppy's teeth.)Right on my heels, naturally, came a horde of people who, no matter how much pain I was in, how much I was puking from it, etc., I knew would be triaged ahead of me. Heck, one guy didn't seem to know who he was. I passed the time by making calls to my insurance company's customer service department to verify the fact that I had, indeed, made every good faith effort to see my Primary Care Physician before going to the E.R. Supposedly, this means that they must treat my E.R. visit as a PCP visit, with half the co-pay of Emergency Care. We'll see.You might be wondering why I had my camera with me. I have no idea. I think I brought it to the office to show Mom some of the pictures from our hay-fetching weekend. So, at this point, I got called back to an exam room, along with FIVE other people, simultaneously. No one had been called back the entire time I'd been there. I shut off the exam room light, elevated the head of the bed (to lie down in Migraine-Town makes your head explode), and settled in for a long wait.Cocked my head back at a weird angle so as to cut of some circulation to it at the base of my neck, thereby relieving some pressure, and stared at this for a while:Saw a nurse, got an emesis basin, was assured Doctor would be "right in." (Aren't they always going to be "right in?")Sat up, pinched of circulation of temporal arteries, stared at this for awhile:Speculated on the possible gruesome contents of this:And then, the CAVALRY arrived! Or so you'd think, anyway. Alex got there. See the apparent look of tender concern he has for me, the sweet thing!That's what you'd think. He was there all of 5 minutes before he complained that the only seat in the room hurt his back, and asked if he could lie down. On my gurney. I debated briefly as to whether to puke in my basin or spit in his eye. Glamorous, isn't it?Both would have made my head hurt worse, so I held it together. It was at this point that I heard the words, "Whatta they got here that I can get into?"Fortunately, the doctor finally showed up, and established that I needed a shot, just like last time (July 2005) and the fortyleven times before that. He left the room with a chipper "We'll get that shot right to you."During this wait, I notice that Charming and Hilarious Husband's cell phone (which, yes, he wears holster-style, on his belt) has a message didsplayed, and try to read it. Charming and Hilarious Husband sees me struggling to make out the text with my migraine-impaired vision, and immediately pulls an Elvis voice and hip-swagger, and cracks, "See anythin' ya' like, darlin'?" OH, the fun he is when you're in screaming pain! Eventually, I did get my shot.Fortunately, since I'd been around this block before, I didn't have to wait too long to be released, and we were finally on our way.Off home we went. See that shadow at least 20 feet ahead of me? That is Caring Husband, "helping" my drugged self out of the hospital. He was actually singing the chorus, "It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp," but I really DO think he'd have noticed if I hadn't made it to the truck.My final comment is on this thing which has driven me crazy for YEARS--the "illustrated pain scale:"I would like to see this chart reconstructed by Dave, preferably using Bad Monkey as the model. It's just all wrong. These balloon-heads have not been hurt enough in their lives. First of all, that "No Pain" guy. WHO is he kidding? This is not absence of pain (unless you've been in acute, chronic pain for some time, and it suddenly stops)--it's a downright hootenanny! My husband made some ribald speculation at what might be happening to that "No Pain" guy at the moment he made that face, but this is a family site, so I won't repeat that here. "No Pain" should begin, in my opinion, with the #2 guy. He's non-committal. He's not ecstatic, but no way do I buy that he's in "Mild Pain." Mild Pain should at least get you a wrinkled eyebrow. "Moderate Pain" guy just looks confused. I'm not sure what's up with him. He belongs, at best, in the #2 spot. Likewise, slide the #4 guy over into the #3 spot, and the #5 into the #4 spot. That last guy doesn't even look like "Severe Pain" to me yet. Again, these balloon-people have possibly not been hurt enough to appreciate true pain. I think maybe I have. Now, for the "Worst Possible Pain" representation, you've really got to have some screaming (which--a tip from me to you--gets you moved WAY up in the triage line, and out of the outer waiting-room lickety-split). The Edvard Munch figure would be a good inspiration, but MORE pain should show. "Worst Possible" has GOT to be, like, "limb in a combine"-caliber pain. And that's all I have to say about that.

I did manage to sleep off the worst of the headache while Alex held down the fort, and then as soon as I was better, he succumbed to his medical problems, and has basically been asleep since Wednesday night. See? We take TURNS being useless. That's what marriage is all about.

NOTE: For those of you receiving soap packages (they're going out in staggered groups, because, DANG, that was a lot of soap!), just a note on caring for your natural soap. It contains all of the natural glycerins it had from the start, so you have to keep it DRY between uses, especially the Castiles. Use a soap rack, not a dish. Do NOT let your natural soap sit in water or moisture between uses.