Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Reputation As A Consumer Preceeds Me

customer woman

And yes, Cracker Barrel. I ordered a sock monkey, because the sock monkey people at Schylling, via do not make their monkeys out of a sock AT ALL, which, if you ask me, kind of negates the toy being in any way a SOCK. MONKEY. Not that I'm bitter. If only they'd known they were trifling with Customer Woman, they might've thought twice before sending me an inferior monkey. Yay, Cracker Barrel!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Simple Wishes

Usually NaBloPoMo snaps me out of my slump, but I just couldn't quite get there this year. There's so much on my mind that it feels overwhelming to try and get it all down here, though I know that that's exactly what will help me put it into perspective. Pretty much all we're thinking about is Alex's condition, and what to do about it. We're getting zero help from the medical community--not, I think, because they don't care (although, at the end of the day, they go home, away from us and our problems, so really, what incentive do they have to care overmuch?), but because they're quite sincerely stumped. It's the constant theme what we eat, breathe, go to sleep, and wake to every day.

The total pervasiveness of the situation was driven home to me one day last week when Bella came running up to me, breathless, to report, "NPR is doing a story on a man with a brain injury--you should come listen, maybe they'll have an idea to help!" Broke my heart, that did. And if that wasn't enough, there was the day I took Bella to the doctor when she had a touch of bronchitis. There was a man with a child across the waiting room from us. I didn't pay a lot of attention; the kid was sitting in the man's lap, and they were quietly playing, talking, and looking at books. Then Bella whispered wistfully, "I wish Dad was like that dad."

All I could say was, "Honey, he was. And hopefully he will be again." She, like me, craves the norm. Give us mundanity. God grant us an uneventful life. We'll take it, you know? The status quo sounds awfully sweet when you've been deprived of it for a while. It made me think that I'd kind of like to take a minute and remind myself, my daughter, our family, and even the man himself, who my husband was, is, and God willing, will be again.

He's smart. Wicked smart, in that quick and agile way, so that you have to be on your toes to keep up when he's really rolling. He loves books, loves reading. That's something that he misses so much right now, and it seems really cruel. I read aloud sometimes if he feels like he can concentrate to listen, and that's pretty good. He can do just about anything with electronics, just from looking at them for a few minutes, which always blew me away. "What do you mean you don't need the manual?" He can build anything, fix anything. He would love to be doing that right now. We used to have crossword races. Doesn't that sound delightfully dorky? It sounds wonderful to me. He's a video game impresario, with lightning reflexes and an innate ability to solve brainteasers and puzzles.

He's an animal lover, and gifted in the way he deals with them. Horses who hate the entire world will walk right up and nuzzle him, and every dog on the planet loves him on sight. Foster dogs we've kept have immediately ingratiated themselves to him. When Delta met him, she literally took one look at him, and was his from that moment on. I still remember it--it was in my kitchen, in my little house by the air base, in the winter. I remember the way she looked over her shoulder at me as he pet her, very plainly conveying, "Hey, thanks for the food and stuff up to now--I appreciate it, but, well, HERE'S THE LOVE OF MY LIFE. You understand." I don't even know how many hours he's logged walking colicky horses, and he's never even ridden them. He didn't have pets, really, growing up, so my world must have been a sort of a shock, but he just went with the flow, and never missed a beat. When he decided he wanted a dog of his own, I got ready to buy whatever he wanted...and was delightfully surprised when what he wanted was "a little poodle, not a big one like yours, but not one of those tiny ones." That "little poodle" was Reggie, who went on to become our first show champion, and Alex's prized possession. He has always been ridiculously proud of that dog, and as I told someone recently, you've never seen anything really funny until you've seen a big hairy man in Carhaart coveralls and a John Deere cap tucking a well-coiffed miniature poodle into his jacket and running out to the barn to let it pee, because "it's raining, and his show coat might get wet."

He would do anything to keep me from being unhappy--I can honestly say that I don't know of anything that upsets him more than seeing me being upset. He has dealt with some of the ugliest of realities, so that I wouldn't have to. When Montrachet died, it was me who saw him off, but it was Alex who dealt with every unpleasant detail that followed, so that I wouldn't know the prolonged pain of seeing my big boy's once-powerful body without him in it, and of having to dispose of the remains of the magnificent animal who was my pet and friend for so many years. Alex took care of all that, as he did when we lost Victor, and later Magic. I can't even express my gratitude for that, and he did it without even thinking about it.

He has a dramatic flair, and a romantic side, for sure. He once, when I'd told him how much I enjoyed a trip to Hawaaii, had tropical flowers shipped to me...from there. The very first gift he gave me was a small hardbound collection of the poetry of W.H. Auden, who I had mentioned briefly, ages before that, in one of many seemingly trivial conversations, as my favorite poet. Once I told him of some ancient Arabic lore on Arabian horses, and how I'd read of it in a long out-of-print book that was impossible to find...and then on my next birthday I received a copy of that very book, in amazing condition. I can't even imagine what it cost him. Discussions of literary themes and devices in classic literature brought gifts of annotated texts of those books on the Christmases that followed...always something thoughtful that I'd forgotten about, and he hadn't. When I was scheduled to have enormously invasive surgery, surgery that was sure to require a lengthy recovery period, the summer before we got married, he spent a month working at my house, in the brutal heat, every day, to build gorgeous flower beds, so I'd "have something pretty to look at out the windows." During that long hospitalization, he went and found anything and everything he could think of that he knew would mean something to me, from spearmint essential oil to Ray Charles CDs.

Have I ever told the story of the moment I knew I would marry him? It happened as he passed to me, through the passenger window of my truck, an angry wild goose in a Wal*Mart sack. You can't make up romance like that, folks.

We'd been on our way to my house, from visiting his parents, and the interstate happens to go by a Wal*Mart distribution center next to a large man-made lake. At this time of the year, there were wild geese stopping at the lake--tons of them. One had somehow gotten up next to the interstate, and had apparently been hit by a car. It was walking around near the shoulder, one wing sticking up at a crazy angle, obviously unable to fly. I was horrified at its plight, and as we passed by, I looked over at Alex, who was driving. I didn't say anything. He looked back at me, and said, "What? What do you want me to do? I saw want me to go back and get it, don't you? You want to rescue that goose!"

I just looked at him, not speaking, because really, it was a ridiculous thing to ask.

"Oh, my gosh, I can't believe I'm doing this," he said.

He got off the interstate at the next exit, and drove back to the exit before the geese, got off and back on again in the direction we'd been traveling when we first saw the injured bird. Muttering all the while about how he could not believe what he was doing, he pulled well off the shoulder and stopped the car. I sat and watched as he ran, scrambled, hopped and slid through a huge (and thankfully dry) drainage ditch after the frightened and hurt goose, eventually coming up victorious from the fray, subdued (and frightfully angry) goose in hand, ignoring the stares of passing motorists. He found a Wal*Mart sack on the side of the road, made a hole in the bottom, and poked the goose's head and neck through the hole, so that its wings were held pretty much in place at its sides by the bag. There was really nothing that would do at that point but for me to hold it in my lap until we got home.

And so it was that I found myself looking over a furious, hissing honker, into the eyes of a man I already loved, and thinking, "I'm definitely going to marry him."

The goose, I am happy to report, while never regaining the power of flight, lived out the rest of her days on our pond, well-fed and content.

When he found out that he was to be the father of a little girl, he wept with joy. She was, and has remained, the culmination of everything he ever wanted in his life. His daughter is his life, his love, his reason for trying. He wants nothing more than to be everything he can possibly be to her. He has been hopelessly in love with his child from the moment they laid eyes on each other. She is so very like him, and he would move heaven and earth to please her.

That is not, of course, all of it, but it's a little, and just a sample of what we'd like to have back. Really, anything in the neighborhood, at this point, would be well and gratefully received. Is that so much to ask? It seems so simple, from where I stand.

ADDENDUM: Neither of us realized it until my mom called with her good wishes, but today is our anniversary! Nine years.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Low-Carb Thing

For several months now, we've had a dietary shift of direction here...well, I have, and Alex and Bella have been along for the ride a little bit. What I've given up entirely are sugar and refined grains and potatoes, and I only consume the tiniest bit of whole grains. It's something I've known I should do for a long time, but it just sounded so HARD. No sugar? No cherry Coke from Sonic in the afternoon? No crackers with my cheese? NO BREAD? How would I live?

I did a lot of reading, with the major influencers of the plan I ultimately chose being Gary Taubes' scared-straight treatise on food and obesity, Michael Pollan's books, and the books and websites of the Drs. Eades. This is NOT some crazy, high-fat orgy of cholesterol...I'm not having bacon and bacon sandwiches with bacon chips on the side. But I'm also absolutely not worrying about things like saturated fat at present. I may get to a point where weight loss slows down enough that I DO have to start paying some attention to denser-calorie choices, but it hasn't happened yet. The light-bulb moment for me was realizing that humans have zero nutritional need for cereal grains. None. It's something that just hadn't ever occurred to me before.

To tell the truth, it hasn't been that hard, really. In exchange for the things I was giving up, I got to stop worrying about some other things, like fat content and calorie-counting. I very rarely even have to count the carb content in the food I'm eating, because once you learn the basics, it's just super-easy to keep each meal or snack coming in at 1o grams net carbohydrate or less. You basically just load up on quality proteins, healthy fats, and non-starchy vegetables--all you want. The only thing I even have to halfway watch are my fruits, but I stick to the high-fiber fruits, mostly, so even then it's pretty much cruise control. My big indulgence is a bit of 85% cocoa chocolate almost every day.

What I like: Not having to "fuss" with calories, fat grams, points, portions, etc. Losing weight steadily and easily. Having ZERO G.I. issues (which, if you've been with me for a while, you know were a SERIOUS problem for me). Having fewer headaches. Never feeling "bloated" or overfull. Never feeling hungry.

What I don't like: Lack of convenience and "quick and lazy" options. Picking up a sandwich or tossing a frozen pizza in the oven, while still an option for Alex or Bella, isn't an option for me. Many, many more trips to the grocery store than I'm used to making--lots of fresh food means frequent re-stocking of the fridge. Lack of variety in snacking (this may just be my personal lack of imagination, but I wind up having the same snacks over and over, mostly different kinds of nuts and cheese).

What I miss: Crackers and milk. That's pretty much it. I do occasionally work a glass of milk into my day, but I really have to plan for it. Likewise, high-fiber crackers are not out of the question, but they do have to be worked in carefully. This doesn't really fit my usual cracker-eating style, which begins with an open box and ends when there are no more crackers. For my crunch-cravings, I'm pretty much left with almonds.

I don't always manage to stay on the straight-and-narrow with this way of eating--I usually mess it up when I'm tired or in a hurry. My biggest temptation is sushi, and every time I have some, I wind up feeling bloated and gross...and that's just because of rice.

Anyway, I wanted to post about it, because I know there are a lot more of you out there who've been doing this longer than I have, and that you'll have great suggestions and more to think about. Got some protein-dense snack ideas? Conversions of recipes that would traditionally be carb-laden? I'm eating tons of Blue Diamond Bold almonds and making tons of vegetable casseroles. A recent dinner was shrimp scampi with broccoli and whipped cauliflower gratin with carmelized onions--and it was perfect. I need more meals like that on my menu!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Best Thing Written In this House Today

be afraid

Clicky to view, or read transcript below screenshot:

Email From Bella

Mom, thank YOU for taking me out to go trunk-or-treating with you and trick-or-treating with Grayson! I wonder what I will be next year... Dracula? A Witch? Scary Godmother? (like in the show Scary Godmother) A Skeleton? What do you suggest? Godzilla? *laughs* The Incredible Hulk? (P.S. I made Elvis' hair with my Tigger Pop! *laughs again*) You tell me what you suggest! Elvis? E-Mail me back and tell me!

I love her little *laugh* asides.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Don't Need To Be This Needed

Really, I'm not that good a person. I don't have enough patience, enough compassion. If you'd asked me a year ago, I'd have said that I do...but I'd have been wrong. Because this life is wearing me out before my time. My stomach and my head always hurt, I'm more tired than is justifiable, and "irritable" does not begin to describe my state of mind.

We've been to just about every doctor we can, and they're all coming up empty as far as a diagnosis for Alex, except that "probably" his bipolar disorder has morphed into a different form of the disease than what it has been for most of his life. I'm not really buying it, but what I do know is that he is miserable almost all the time. The rare smile or laugh I can manage to elicit is a huge victory. We're beginning the disability process, which is depressing in and of itself.

I'm very, very worried about how he will fill his days now, because the more he isolates, the less active he is and the more depressed he becomes. He's already checked himself into the hospital for depression once this month, and talked about doing it again earlier today. He seems to really need order and guidelines and a solid routine, but how is he going to get that at home alone every day?

I'm also torn about how much help to give him. He's capable of a good number of things--he feeds and tends to the animals, and helps get Bella ready for school in the mornings, for example. But other things (confoundedly to me) seem beyond him, like preparing even simple meals for himself. I worry about him going hungry, which he does pretty much every day if I don't feed him. It doesn't seem to be a matter of can't as much as a lack of will, if that makes sense. When Bella begged him the other night to make his special spaghetti, he gave it his all and did a darned good job. So the ability is there, somewhere. The therapist we were seeing suggested that I might be doing too much for him, so we've been having a kind of standoff about lunches...he should be able to put together a sandwich, darn it. Instead, he goes without. All day. And then has fast food on our way home from picking Bella up from school, because he's famished...and then expects a full meal to be prepared later that night after Bella goes to which point I balk in a big way, because, as I've said, I'm just not that good a person.

Complaining that you can't believe you have to go to bed hungry elicits the following response from me: "I can't believe you're going to bed hungry, either." Our freezers, pantries, and fridge are FULL of food. What they are not full of, I suppose, are completely prepared, ready-to-serve meals. But you know what the components of meals are? FOOD. So yeah, it makes me a little bit crazy to hear, "There is NOTHING TO EAT in this house," when I can walk 10 feet and put my hands on fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, poultry, meat, cheese, etc.

I guess I'm going to need to start packing lunches as if he were the one going out of the house, instead of me. I can't really think of anything else to do, to avoid having the same stupid fight every night. And I'm just selfish enough that it really galls me to have to work that into my schedule. See? Not that good a person.

I'm really having a difficult time with the transition from partner to... partner/caregiver, or whatever you want to call it. It's too easy to get all whiney and I-didn't-sign-on-for-this-y, so I try not to do that, but gosh, it's hard. And it's especially hard when the person you're doing it for seems to be angry with you about 80% of the time. I love him, you know? And I love him enough to understand that his anger comes from frustration--a well-earned frustration with the brain that is betraying him--and that he's not really angry at me, he's just angry, period, and I'm...well, I just happen to be here. But you know what? Understanding it does not making it easier to experience it. And it doesn't stop those occasional fantasies of running away from it all, leaving the crushing responsibility behind and just starting over.

But I could never do that, no matter how bad it gets, because, I suppose, when you get right down to it, I'm not that bad a person, either. No, wait, I don't like how that sounds. Because I would not judge someone who felt they couldn't withstand this burden, and chose to get out from under it. I think of that old hokey song, "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother," and it almost applies. Because my husband's problems? Well, they ARE heavy. Really heavy. But he's my husband, and I love him, so I own them too, and they're mine to carry. I just need to devise a better yoke.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Car Gets 40 Rods To The Hogshead, And That's The Way I Likes It!

Bella's got a little upper respiratory infection, and has been out of school all week (and can't go back tomorrow, despite testing negative for flu and mono, because she had a low-grade fever today). Today we went to the doctor, and got a prescription for antibiotics and sinus meds. We had to go to Walgreen's to get them filled, and this resulted in a good hour of standing around the store waiting. Waiting is not one of Bella's favorite pastimes. Nor mine, for that matter, but I've gotten a little better at it over the years with practice. She was reading every label and every sign in the store, with running commentary. CONSTANT running commentary. The following was the most memorable portion.

Bella: "One Hour Photo."

Me: "What, Hon?"

Bella: "Over there. 'One Hour Photo.' I think you can have your picture made while you wait!"

Me: "Oh, no, Sweetie, that's a photo developing center. People drop off their film there to be developed, then come back in an hour to pick up their pictures."

Bella: (enunciating the first word slowly and deliberately, as if sampling something new and exotic) "Film? What do you mean?"

And then they called our name, and I paid for her medicine and my Geritol, and came home to soak my dentures.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

It Was Supposed To Take Longer Than This

...For her to be smarter than me. Still just 6 years old, for another month or so, and in the second grade now, *sniff*, and demonstrably smarter than me. Just a couple of recent examples:

While playing World of Warcraft together (in the desert zone of Tanaris, for you fellow geeks--er, WoW players), I get owned for the 10th time by one of those giant basilisks, and complain to Bella, "These big lizards keep stunning me, and I can't move!" To which my daughter responds by looking at me as if I've gone quite daft, rolling her eyes, and saying, in a tone that should be reserved for very small children or adults who have suffered brain trauma, "Well, Mom...they are called 'Petrifiers.' So...that's kinda what they do."


And then, there's this.

sushi in bed, bad movie, perfect Valentine

This local restaurant that we love features sushi and bulgogi as its main menu items. One day, Alex's mom meets us for a lovely dinner there. While we're driving over, we're speculating on the origins of the place's name, "Kopan." That exchange went something like this:

Dense Parent 1: "Do you know what the name means?"

Dense Parent 2: "No, I don't...I know that the place in North Little Rock, Kanpai, gets its name from a toasting word--I saw people raising glasses to each other and saying it somewhere."

Dense Parent 1: " could be the name of a town or something."

Dense Parent 2: 'I don't know. We should ask the waitress."

A small voice with a slightly superior air rises up from the back seat.

Bella: "Well, bulgogi is Korean food, and sushi is Japanese..."

Dense Parent 1: (condescending and indulgent) "That's right, Honey."

Bella: "Get it?"

Dense parent 2: "Get what, Sweetie?"

Bella: (heaves sigh) "KOrean...JaPANese...see? KO...PAN. KOPAN."


Me: "I'm sorry...did a SIX YEAR OLD just figure that out before any of the rest of us?"

I'm still a little stung, so tonight while she was at GAs at church, we had sushi without her.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Manufacturing Misery

Alex and Bella and I were at lunch today at a local restaurant, and it was one of those seating situations in which our booth was right beside another booth, just kind of visually separated by a wall with a bunch of plants on top. My point being that we could hear every word of the conversation from the people sitting beside us, a fact of which they seemed to be completely oblivious.

As many of you may have noticed, I've recently been kind of awash in pitifulness, feeling helpless about what's going on with Alex's brain, and what the implications might be for our family. I listened--wasn't really trying, but couldn't exactly help it--as the party of four (Grandmom, Mom, Daughter and Daughter's live-in boyfriend, both of whom happen to live in Mom's house with at least one child of their own) discussed such commonplace topics as shopping for furniture and a lost set of keys. I was actually feeling envious at what I considered to be the absolute blissful mundanity of these people's concerns. How lucky are these people beside me, that they can all express themselves so easily, and have such simple, uncomplicated lives? Do they realize how great they have it? Would they believe me if I told them how jealous I was of their furniture shopping and trivial key-loss issues? What a grand life they had!

Then the arguing began. Still, I smiled to myself and to Alex, who I had by now drawn into my eavesdropping. They were arguing about the keys, because someone had moved them, causing someone else to be locked out for a very brief time. This is all they have to argue about? How beautifully uncomplicated their lives must be! How happy would I be if all I had to worry about were some lost keys?

As the arguing progressed, it began to involve all four of the people in that booth, and it began to get more heated, though covering no less (to my mind) trivial ground. Someone left a cup of water on a nightstand, and someone else had to carry it to the kitchen. Someone promised to chip in for laundry detergent, but didn't, and then used a cup (!!) of someone else's detergent. Someone washed their own dishes, but not anyone else's. Someone promised to fix the vacuum cleaner, but didn't. But that person tried to fix the vacuum, and the problem with it was not what the first person said it was, and oh my gosh I have hated you since I met you and I have hated you my whole life because you are a horrible awful person who was always mean to me and don't you dare use that baby as a pawn to punish me and we have had enough of this and WE'RE LEAVING RIGHT NOW AND NO, I WILL NOT SIT DOWN AND BE QUIET GET UP RiGHT NOW WE ARE GOING!


Apparently, what bubbles to the surface isn't always what is creating the bubbles...but we all pretty much know that home truth. Another thought I had was that we are amply able, as humans, to manufacture misery of our own when there just doesn't seem to be enough of it happening organically. I realize how much I, myself, have done this. We do abhor a vacuum, don't we? (Especially a vacuum that you promised to fix but the brushes weren't rolling yes they were no they weren't I looked you don't know shut up shut up SHUT UP!) Since reality has been on the harsh side for us, I haven't been borrowing too much trouble. But did I, when things were easier? You bet.

I'll be trying harder to not do that, in the future.

For all of you who have been so caring and concerned about what's going on with Alex, he's doing a little bit better. He has had every neurological, toxicological, biological, and everything-else-ological test that medical science has to offer, eliminating every possible condition under the sun and leading us right back in a circle to the exact thing that we went in telling them this was in the very beginning: A traumatic brain injury. We're awaiting the "official" diagnosis, but he has begun speech and cognitive therapy to try and reconnect the synapses that are misfiring (or whatever it is, all you brain surgeons among my readers). The outlook, with therapy, is very hopeful. Already, his movement and gait are tremendously improved, and his speech is getting better every day. We're working on sequencing and coordination now, and have even been able to incorporate video games, like Boom Blox (hand-eye coordination, planning) and World of Warcraft (planning, cause-and-effect, sequencing, coordination) into quite a workable form of home therapy.

If anyone with brain injury experience has any tips or exercises for getting all your grey matter's mojo back, we'd love to hear from you. *MWAH* to you all.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Barfight, Gunshot, Mauling, or Slim?

Originally uploaded by ninjapoodles
I just had some pesky skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma; don't get nuts) removed from my neck, and the resulting wound is a bit more than I'd expected. The mole itself was smaller than the end of a pencil eraser, but the plug they removed from my neck was much bigger than that. And it HURTS.

Anyway, every time I pass a mirror, I'm taken aback at how awful it looks right now. And I know that for the next 10 days, I'll be asked about it. A LOT. I've always kind of hated explaining my various medical infirmities to all and sundry. Something about an injury/condition being visible seems to give anyone you run into the urge to ask you about it. (Don't believe me? Start limping just a little, and be amazed at the numbers of complete strangers who ask you why.)

So I'm trying to decide on a colorful story to go with my new distinctive marking (which, at this point, might as well be an eyepatch). Feel free to vote for your favorite, or add your own.

A. Barfight
B. Gunshot
C. Mauled by the Lonoke County Bear
D. Messed around with Slim
E. Other (please describe)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Things Can Get Tough, But Here's Why That's OK

My Mother's Day Card
Originally uploaded by ninjapoodles
On the inside:

"Happy Mother's day Mom! (I hope.)

Because you are the best.

I hope you have a grand ole time so that you can rest.

I love you Mom.

Things can get tough, but when you're there I get the feeling, somebody's watching over me so that they can help me.

Love, Bella"

Monday, May 04, 2009

Live From Limbo

I write this from a sort of suspended animation, as we await results from some of the many diagnostic tests Alex has been put through in the last few days. It's an odd sort of anticipation. We're afraid they'll find something, and more afraid that they won't.

I haven't shared, very publicly, what's been going on with Alex, but I think the time has come that explanations will be required most everywhere, and also, there's the chance that, of you people out there reading this, someone might have gone through something similar. There may be insights to share, and God knows we could use some, because we, and our doctors, are so far stumped.

Something bad is happening--seems to be happening with his brain--and that's about all we know for sure. It does not appear to be related to his bipolar disorder, nor do that disease's attendant medications seem to be implicated. The only way I can describe it to anyone who hasn't experienced it firsthand is that he seems to be... degenerating, somehow. I seem to be losing a little bit more of him every day. I can only tell you what it looks like.

His short-term memory is severely compromised. He can't recall things that happened yesterday, or even earlier in the same day, sometimes. His ability to reference any sort of timeline is for the most part gone. Things that happened last year, he recalls as having taken place "a couple of weeks ago," and likewise, something that happened a couple of weeks ago could, to him, seem to be six months in the past.

He is confused a lot of the time, and understandably, is quickly frustrated by even the mundane. He seems to have particular trouble with communication--with getting the thoughts in his head into words and phrases. There is still a quick, brilliant person trapped inside there, and he can't explain what he's thinking...and occasionally doesn't realize right away that he's not making sense.

My athletic, strong, quick-reflexed husband, he of the near-supernatural hand/eye coordination, has become slow, weak, and clumsy. He's lost so much weight that he's now well under his high school weight--11 pounds in the last week. His gait is a slow, shuffling/shambling sort of walk, with arms outspread on either side, as if walking a tightrope. Frequently, one hand or the other will pinwheel briefly in the air, looking for balance. Sometimes I need to help him walk from one room to another, and getting in and out of the truck is a challenge. Needless to say, he can't drive a car.

His speech is slurred, and often confused. I've seen other people--shopkeepers, parents at Bella's softball games--dart glances at me as if to check and see if I realize that there's something wrong here. I have no doubt that sometimes, strangers assume that he's been drinking. If you didn't know him, and you observed him in conversation, you would most likely think him intoxicated.

If you didn't know him, and you observed him walking, his gait slow, with painfully short, shuffling strides, arms out stiffly at his sides, slightly bent over, you would most likely think him very old.

Our neurologist has ruled out a couple of the scariest possibilities, like early-onset Alzheimer's (too young) and Huntington's Disease (no involuntary movements), but beyond that, she's kind of baffled. We've gone in for an EEG, extensive bloodwork, 24-hour urinalysis for heavy metals and other things, and today, an MRI of his brain.

And so, now, we wait. And for Alex, the waiting is torture, as is being prisoner to a traitor body and brain. I try to anticipate his needs, to understand what he wants to say so he doesn't have to go through the agony of trying to get it out, to remember to take care of things he would normally take care of himself. I try to be patient, and I am not always successful, to my lasting shame. Often, feeling overwhelmed with all that must be attended to around here, I find myself "stuck" behind him in a narrow space in the house, trying to get by him as he makes his painfully slow way around, and I have heard myself snapping, "MOVE." And then I see his shoulders sink, and my heart follows. I apologize a lot. He apologizes more, and his apologies are for things that in no way require apologies, which breaks my heart more. "I'm sorry I'm like this." "I'm sorry you're stuck with me."

Worst of all are the times when he just looks at me with all the sadness in the world in his eyes, and says, weakly, "I don't want this."

So, I love him. I give him everything of myself that I can, and I help Bella to be understanding and kind. I do what I can. I cook. I grow things. I pay bills. I plan for a future in which I'm the sole income-generator in this household, and I look for ways to supplement that income if I can. I don't think about how I will take care of him and earn a living, should he not recover from this state. I refinance the house, and trim the budget. I am rarely doing all the right things, and am never perfect, even for a minute. Often, I'm not even close.

I pray. And I hold him at night, which is when he seems the most lost and scared.

..."and I scream, 'If you want him, you're going to have to fight ME.' "

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bustin' Out All Over

found a good one (2)
Originally uploaded by ninjapoodles
Spring is. The season that I've learned to greet with tremendous apprehension is, this year, turning out to be the salvation of my spirit.

The hardware in my Frankenfoot is migrating and causing pain, the other foot's bone spur is getting worse, I have a little toomah in my wrist, and my hip is broken (OK, that last one may be an exaggeration, but I did get a shot into the bursa of that hip this morning, so hopefully it will be feeling much better by tomorrow, if I can stay still enough today).

My husband is still broken. Broken, depressed, anxious, confused, and frightened. We don't know what's going to come of that, but I'm trying to prepare for the total loss of one income, which is stress-making, to say the least. Big changes are in order, which I believe I can handle, as long as I don't get a lot of resistance from my family here...I'd give that even odds.

But Spring and Earth Day have colluded today to bring forth an amazing display of rebellion against despair. The natural world is everywhere, and it is telling me, "Hey, Sweetcheeks, they'll have to do better than that to get US down, right?" And I find myself wanting to agree.

And so, I devote the rest of this post to a list of praises, blessings, things that are going right.

I did not, in fact, break my hip.

Local farmer's markets start in full force this weekend.

Strawberries are available by the bucketful at roadside stands everywhere.

MY OWN strawberry plants are blooming like crazy.

My itty-bitty lemon tree is fruiting!

Chicks are hatching (Langshans and Black Copper Marans).

After an absence of three years, we have puppy breath in our home again.

Actual green things are growing on the barren hillside above our house. Granted, those things are weeds, but I'm choosing to believe that they will, at least, slow down the erosion that usually deposits a large part of the hillside at my front door this time of year.

The eight pretty little quail hens out by the koi pond should begin laying adorable, tiny, speckled eggs any day now.

The pair of turkey hens that did not get eaten are laying adorable, huge, speckled eggs.

My favorite Marans hen has gone broody, and is setting a nestful of turkey eggs. This should be good.

Bella caught a caterpillar, researched its care, built a little habitat for it, and was rewarded today by a neat little cocoon hanging off the end of a stick inside the Mason jar. Soon, we'll get to see that perfect metaphor of spring, renewal, and rebirth.

I have grapevines and a new cherry tree to plant!

Both of our difficult neighbors are being nice and making improvements to their property. This means that you should come buy the house next to ours that's for sale. Come now!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Wedgies of Love

As I sit at the desk and read my email, I feel a tickling sensation at my lower back, followed by the stifled giggle of a certain 6-year-old.

"What are you doing? Leave my underwear alone."


"Seriously--quit it. You're not giving your mother a wedgie."

"Oh, C'MON! Please?"

"NO. Now quit it, and go get your shoes on so we can leave."


(With a hug around my neck, whispering) "It'll be a wedgie of LOVE."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Day Her Father Started To Smile Again

It's been gone a long time, even that tiny smile. Look, it's even in his eyes! Progress. We have a long road ahead of us, still, I know...but I'm choosing to see this as encouragement. At this point, I HAVE to have something to hope for.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Bella's on spring break from school this week, and additionally, is a little sick with a touch of bronchitis-type stuff. So, as you can imagine, we're scrambling for indoor activities for her, and she's not so much on board with Mommy's Super-Fun Laundry Blowout Extravaganza. Smart kid.

During the feverish days, she spent hours in the middle of our big bed, reading from The Complete Calvin & Hobbes. She also spent a lot of time on the floor of my closet with her markers, paper, and huge dry-erase board, which is pretty typical for her.

As a longtime Bill Waterson fan, I was delighted beyond belief when my own six-year-old came rushing excitedly into the living room, carrying a large cardboard box, and announced, "I made a transmogrifier!"

It was, indeed, a pretty faithful rendering of Calvin's trusty space/matter manipulator, with "Transmogrifier" written on the side, and on the top, a dial, bright yellow construction-paper indicator arrow, and a "start" button. I think the settings on the dial of this particular transmogrifier are a nice snapshot of my daughter's current state of mind. There are eight of them, and they go in this order, clockwise:

Ruler of the Universe
Smartest Person in the Universe

I love how "fairy princess" is obviously a wholly different entity than either "fairy" or "princess," and I'm kind of hoping that "Prince" might refer to the diminutive performer from Detroit. I'm just not going to ask, and pretend that it does. And I did check, and the "President" setting does not turn you into Barack Obama, but it makes you president yourself. I'm under the impression, however, that when you become President, you get to keep the Obama family (this child desperately wishes for siblings, and is also completely and totally enamored of the Obama sisters).

My favorite part of the whole thing, though, is the implication of that final setting. Because it's obvious, even to a six-year-old, that the Ruler of the Universe is NOT going to be the Smartest Person in the Universe.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

If It Weren't For Bad Luck...

Well, you know the rest. Or, at least you do if you were ever subjected to "Hee-Haw" as a child.

I knew, when I registered for BlogHer '09, and paid the money, and also made a deposit on a hotel room, that I was tempting fate to slap me down. And the slapping has commenced.

Our mower is in the shop, and on the same day we found out what THAT was going to cost us (enough for a new laptop, *sigh*), we lost an entire section of fencing that will have to be repaired and will run another several hundred dollars. Alex lost his keys here at the house somehow, and though a locksmith came and opened his truck, he'll have to have all the keys on his keyring replaced.

Speaking of Alex, he's still really not doing well at all, though he's improved enough that he can make it to work again, which is always a good thing, considering the bills we have to deal with. Bleah. OK, I am not officially boring MYSELF.

What do you do when you need money that you don't have? I'm scrabbling around for things I can sell, and have had some luck there, but there's a long way to go. YES, I had an "emergency fund," but we've already had an emergency this year that depleted that to the point that I've had to start over building it up again little by little. I can't imagine, at this point, paying for the stuff that has to be paid for, and still being able to make the trip to Chicago in July...but I dearly want to.

I have done some interesting bartering and haggling for things we needed lately, and that is turning out to be very rewarding. You don't get cash, usually, but in this economy, you might find that you actually get a higher monetary value in goods and services than you would if you you dealt in cash currency. Some of the things I've sold and/or baterted with or for lately include live turkeys, extra roosters, eggs, seed potatoes, strawberry plants, and fresh raw milk from Guernsey cows which I can't wait to make into cheese.

I'm getting set up to make soap again, because that always brought in a small but steady income. I'm going through Bella's baby clothes and toddler clothes and preschool clothes to pick out things to sell (*sniff*). I'm ruthlessly combing through our storage shed and picking out anything that hasn't been used in the last couple of years, and running straight to Craigslist with it. I'm cutting out XM Radio service (which really hasn't been the same since Sirius bought it out, anyway), eliminating much of our DirecTV bill, stripping down our phone service to bare bones (I really wanted to take us off the LAN line altogether, but our DSL is tied into it, so we wouldn't be saving much).

Magazine subscriptions must go, the few that are left. The daily newspaper that NO ONE HERE EVER SO MUCH AS OPENS is on its way out. I met with much resistance over this last one, because everyone is just in the habit of getting the newspaper, and it seems so uncivilized not to get one...but honestly, we get nearly 100% of our news on the Internet, and we get it instantly instead of waiting another day for the paper to print it. We supplement that coverage with NPR and, well, if I'm honest, The Daily Show.

I'm getting back to my coupon-obsessive roots, though the things we buy now are even further into whole-foods-only dogma than ever before, and we're not buying any bread or cereal or crackers or sugar in any form...but I can still make great strides with coupons by focusing on toiletries and paper goods. We've been coasting off my giant stockpile of free toothpaste and shampoo, for example, for nearly two years, and the supplies are getting low.

I'm becoming a utility-nazi, too. Opening windows, shutting off the A/C, obsessively checking that lights or appliances aren't left on (or, in some cases, even left plugged in). No water wasting!

I'll be planting more veggies and fruits than ever before this year, and storing as much as I can. The strawberry plants are already beginning to flower, and I'm looking forward to about 50 quarts of strawberries being put away during spring and summer, as well as tons of squash, zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, onions, and every herb under the sun. Using gift cards I'd been given for Christmas, I found a FoodSaver on sale through Amazon, and will be getting LOTS of use out of that puppy, by buying large quantities of fresh, organic, grassfed meats and freezing it in portion sizes. Ditto with our own cockerels and at least a couple of turkeys, which will be going to freezer camp as soon as they're well-grown. I'll also buy bushels of whatever produce I can't or don't grow, and freeze it for later use. What I put up last year has really lasted well, and we should be using up the last of that supply just as this year's crop is at its prime. That worked out well!

I happily sell fresh eggs, which for me is kind of neat because it hearkens back to my depression-era ancestors. Back then, to be called an "egg-seller" was pretty insulting, and meant that you were pretty darn desperate. Well, so be it. I've never felt that there was any shame in doing anything that needed doing when it comes to supporting your family. So I'm out there gathering eggs every day. The chickens MORE than pay for their own keep that way, and I've learned that they can even provide a decent profit for us if I sell some of their eggs for hatching, instead of eating.

Speaking of selling poultry products...I'm also selling poultry itself. If anyone is near here and would like a start in chickens, I have a couple of trios of young adult Buff Orpingtons (a trio is two hens and a rooster) for sale at a good price, and also three Tom turkeys who are at prime butchering age, or would just make gorgeous decorations strutting around your place. I also have a few started chicks for sale.

Is there anything I WON'T sell, at this point? Well, not much. So many things around here are in desperate need of repair, and we're only a paycheck or two away from total disaster...which is no way to live. I'll get us back out of it, though. I don't much doubt my ability to do what it takes in that regard.

What about you? What do you do when you must have money, and there just isn't any? How are you cutting corners? How much are you saving? Where is this economy hitting you the hardest?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Happy Birthday To My Husband

I dearly wish that I could give you what the salutation implies: happiness. I put in an order for it quite some time ago, and I'm still hoping that it arrives soon.

The sooner the better.

I love you.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


The end of an actual bedtime conversation I just had with my husband:

"Alex, I am warning you now--I swear, if I EVER wake up, and find out I've been on a submarine without my consent? I will be SO pissed."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

BECAUSE, That's Why!

I get a lot of flack about my dogs. There are too many, they're underfoot, they live in the house and sprawl on the furniture, they steal my expensive goat cheese, they require frequent haircuts, they eat better than most people, and they're ninjas. Why? Why, Belinda? Why do you have all those dogs? Why do they live in the house? I never quite know how to answer that last one, because I have no idea why people who keep their dogs exclusively outdoors even want to have a dog. And I'll be the first to admit that, yeah, according to most peoples' standards, I do have "too many" dogs. Could I get rid of one? Well, no. But you'll notice that I haven't added any more since the numbers have been at this level. Can't we just call that progress?

But see, last night was a bad night for me, as many nights are, lately. I was agitated, anxious, and couldn't relax and go to sleep for love or money. I was really stressed. And then, at some point, the old dog at my feet stretched out and laid her head across my legs. She breathed an enormous sigh, and with that exhalation, relaxed and sank the whole of her weight into my legs.

All at once, I felt better. Yes, just like that. I immediately felt my blood pressure lower, my heart rate slow, and my jaw unclench. I felt at peace. All the things I'd been trying in vain to achieve all day long, a dog accomplished in one well-timed breath, and I went right to sleep.

And THAT is what good dogs do, and why it's nice to have a few (or more) of them around.

Monday, February 16, 2009

In Which I Learn A Valuable Lesson

goat gettin' her beer on...see next photos / This is Today 25

Last week, Bella was invited to her very first sleepover party. At age six. I was stunned. I can't remember going on a sleepover before I was eight or nine years old, and I think I called my mom to come get me from the first one of those. But, as you might guess if you know her even a tiny bit, my daughter was beyond stoked for this event--no hesitation whatsoever. So, we RSVPd, got the address, and headed over at the appointed time on Friday afternoon.

Right before we left, I went out to the henhouse and gathered the morning's eggs, and packed a new carton with a fresh dozen. Alex asked me, "You're taking them some eggs?" I said, "Sure." I didn't honestly think twice about it--it just seemed a natural thing to do, like sending Bella to her first day of school with a jar of watermelon pickles for her teacher. I knew from our hosts' address that they lived in a subdivision that almost certainly didn't allow hens, so super-fresh eggs would be a nice thing to have, I thought.

We left our house, which was piled with laundry (both dirty and clean) and hosting an incubator full of hatching chicks. The Christmas tree had still not made its way down to the basement storage area (St. Patrick's Day is the the traditional hoist-the-tree-downstairs deadline, right?), and the house was full of riotous poodles. Dishes soaked in the sink. The living room floor was dominated by Bella's work-in-progress of a lifesize person, rendered in two dimensions out of multiple sheets of copier paper, which gave it an air of "crime scene."

Outside, dead leaves lay in foot-thick drifts all around the property. Broccoli and Brussels sprouts plants sat propped against the window, waiting to be planted in the garden. Random junk lay scattered, well...everywhere. More poodles ran riot in the yard, backdropped by a pile of scrap lumber. Roosters crowed constantly, and turkeys gobbled, also constantly. Chickens darted this way and that, scratching up every bit of living greenery they could find. Feed sacks awaiting trash day sat in a tall stack next to the fence.

As we pulled out of our driveway and onto the street, we passed the ramshackle tree "fort" that some neighbor boys are building in the woods so close to our property that it gives the appearance of belonging to us. On this day, the fort was newly festooned with attractive plastic tarps that had been salvaged from somewhere after what looked like a lifetime of hard use. On our street, we drove around pothole after pothole, caused by runoff from the goat farm...OH, the goat farm. A true spectacle of country life in all its glory, with its frequently-escaping goats and the trash they'd tear into and scatter on the street (as depicted in the photo atop this post--that is the street side of the fence the goat is on, mind you).

Of course, I didn't really notice these things at the time--not consciously. Who would, when they see it all, every single day of their lives? No, I didn't notice it in the present...but it all floated to the top of my mind as we made more progress into their neighborhood.

The subdivision. Wow. All of a sudden, the streets were wide, and perfectly paved. Instead of dodging random livestock, you had only to slow for golf-cart crossings. Instead of semi-feral dogs padding down the road, there were bicyclists riding on either side of the grand streets, in specially-constructed bike lanes. Whoa. The yards were perfect, one after another after another. So much perfectly manicured grass! So many artfully-sculpted boxwoods! Paving stones, sidewalks, fountains... As we drove on, we began to see gated communities, smaller subdivisions within the subdivision. Houses got bigger and more stately. I'd never known this world existed, and it was only moments away from my own home.

Suddenly, I was hyper-aware of myself in a way I hadn't been before. My just-washed hair and unmade-up face. My jeans and sweatshirt. The distinct possibility of something worse than dirt on my shoes. I felt the way I imagine the hillbilly wives often featured on "Wife Swap" must feel in the opening moments of their adventures. I mentally inventoried everything that Bella was wearing, everything she'd packed, the way I'd braided her hair, the gift she was carrying and the way it was wrapped. That all checked out, I hoped. Her father and I, however--we looked fine for OUR house, which was located, apparently, in another universe five miles away. I'd be lying if I said all this wasn't causing me to wonder if we were denying our daughter something critical to her development--a real neighborhood, where she could go outside and play with other children at a moment's notice. Where neighbors just walked across the street to chat when they saw you outside--my mind boggles. I mean, sure, it's one thing for her father and I to declare ourselves hermits, but are we doing her a disservice? Oh, my self-doubting brain, how I love you.

As we pulled into the party hosts' driveway, Bella, in a matter-of-fact voice, announced, "Well, this house is preeeetty fancy." At first, I thought it was two houses with a shared driveway. Nope. Here was garage space for no less than five cars, while I myself enjoy garage space for NO cars. In fact, our living room is (or was) a garage. The house was huge, with a sweeping, two-story entryway. When we rang the doorbell, I was in full country-mouse mode, standing there clutching (and re-thinking) my carton of eggs, and feeling plainer than a mud fence. Bella was, of course, oblivious to any such inner struggle, and I'm pretty sure Alex was, too.

We met the host parents, who were perfectly lovely and gracious people. I may have been stunned momentarily silent by the spotlessness of their gorgeous home, because I found myself dumbly shoving a dozen eggs at them. The mom looked momentarily puzzled, and laughed, "You're giving us eggs?" I must have looked stricken, because she immediately recovered with, "Oh, you're seriously bringing us eggs?" She wasn't being unkind, just caught off-guard, I think. I said, "I just gathered them this morning, and thought you might like some fresh ones..." At this point I was rescued from my discomfort by the dad, who grabbed the box, opened it up, and began rhapsodizing on the joys of fresh eggs. They began asking us lots of questions about our chickens, and we told them how many we have, and about the turkeys, and that we're hatching chicks all the time, and many of the life choices I'd been feeling insecure about moments before. Then the dad looked me right in the eyes, with an expression that must have looked similar to my expression when I saw that glistening banister rushing upward into the light-filled foyer, and asked, "Where do you live that you can have all this?"

I returned to my chaotic home that afternoon feeling pretty much OK, and even smiled as I passed the goat farm.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

There Are Some Things In Life You Just Don't Anticipate

EE cross chicks

Setting: Our bedroom, midnight.

...peep peep peep peep PEEP PEEP PEEP PEEP PEEP! PEEP! PEEP!...

What is wrong with those chicks?

It's not even all of them--it's just ONE. Listen.

I know, it's that one with the weird-looking head. He won't shut up.

Do you think he's brain-damaged?

I don't know. I'll go see. They don't make noise like that unless they need something.

(I go into the hearthroom, retrieve Loudmouth Chick, and bring him back into the bedroom, in a paper towel. He is cheeping his tiny, fuzzy head off. LOUDLY.)

What is wrong with him? What is wrong with you, little dude?

Here, set him down on the towel.

Oh, look at his feet! His toes are all curled up--he can't uncurl his toes! He has toe cramps! That's why he's peeping--his toes hurt! Or he can't make his way to the food and water, and he's hungry and thirsty.

*blink, blink*

Well, he's deformed. We should probably cull him now...

Yeah...should I...?

Wait, lemme look for something first.

What are you doing?

I'm searching "chick curled toes" on Chickenpedia. Watch, there will be 100 posts about it. Yep, here's a picture that looks just like it.

So, what do we do about it?

We have to put it down.

Oh. OK.

WAIT--let me just check a few more threads...

For what, tiny corrective shoes?

Maybe. AHA! (I get up, and come back with scissors, cardboard, duct tape, and the deformed chick.)

What? Are? You? Doing?

I am making a tiny pair of corrective shoes for a baby chicken.

Are you kidding me?

Do YOU want to snap his tiny, fuzzy little neck? Feed him to the dogs?

And that is how I came to be sharing a house with a clutch of chicks, one of whom is currently wearing some stylin' little boots.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

All Over The Place

And all of a sudden, I'm everywhere. I'd be ever so beholden for some comment-love at these other sites, if you have a minute to spare:

As of next week, I'll have been with BlogHer for three years. I've just posted my very first "official" piece for them, a movie review: "Coraline" in 3D A Real Gift For The Senses. I'd be honored if you'd check it out, and touched if you'd comment.

Over at, Just In Time For Valentine's Day: The Suckiest Wife Ever. (In case you haven't guessed, it's ME.) This might also explain a lot of those of you who've been wondering where I've been.

I've even made an attempt at sliding inconspicuously back into the rotation over at The Arkansas Times Blog, with Hey, Arkansas--Long Time, No See!

And if anyone would like to pop in to our place for quiche or omelets, we have GOT YOU COVERED.


Saturday, February 07, 2009


Overheard from the backseat of the truck, my daughter discussing with my nephew--her older, wiser cousin--how she would spend $100:

Bella: "Well, $20 I would use to buy candy. Then $10 on toys."

Grayson: "Bella, $10 would buy one or maybe two toys--that's not many toys."

Bella: "I already have plenty of toys, so I don't care for more than one or two. And for the next $10...I would probably go to IHOP."

Grayson: "That's only $40. What will you do with the rest?"

Bella: "Get a tattoo."

Overheard from the bathtub one night:

"AaaaahhhHHHH! I just have! So! Many! Ideas...I think I might KERPLODE!"

Pancakes and tattoos. It's enough to make a mom kerplode.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Women Bloggers to GoDaddy: "ENHANCE THIS."

That rallying cry from the super-sharp Glennia Campbell, immediately following Sunday's Super Bowl. Glennia, like many of us, decided that she'd finally had enough of GoDaddy's objectifyingly sexist, puerile, and all that aside, just plain stupid boobalicious ad campaign. We're also fairly disgusted at Danica Patrick's willing involvement in same.

We're tired of women not being taken seriously as human beings--for much of the advertising world, we're only as good as how much our bodies can be used to sell things. Heaping insult on injury is the fact that, as GoDaddy MUST SURELY KNOW, women make up a commanding portion of the heavy Internet-using demographic. So they're insulting and demeaning a market to which, by all good sense, they should be catering. It's baffling. As Consumerist's Ben Popken noted, it's as if their motto is, "GoDaddy: Because chicks never register domains!"

When asking why a company would behave this way, we can only conclude that it's, well...because they CAN. Because this idiocy works. Because their bottom line, carried on artificial breasts, is strong.

Well, Glennia had finally had enough. She wrote to GoDaddy, expressing her dismay at their ad campaign, and cancelling her several domain registration accounts with them. They didn't care.

I am another woman who, being cheap and all, has multiple domains registered through GoDaddy. No more. I'm answering Glennia's unintentional rallying cry, and dumping GoDaddy like a bad habit...which is, essentially, what it is. There's no good reason to use a company like this. According to Glennia's update as of today, another registrar,, has proactively stepped up to the plate and is being smart, acommodating, and respectful in helping GoDaddy deserters transfer their domains to the care of a company whose directors have unscuffed knuckles and are able to breathe through their noses.

If you're a woman, and you have a domain or domains registered through GoDaddy, won't you join me, and Glennia, in a form of protest that makes a difference? If you're a MAN with a domain or domains registered through GoDaddy, hey, they're not exactly complimenting YOUR intelligence, either. Let them know that you are too smart and too civilized to have your decisions informed merely by the presence of boobies. Because you ARE better than that, guys.


If you're like me, and slow to make nit-picky technical changes (because, really, isn't the status quo always easier than doing what's right, at least in the short run?), Glennia has helpfully posted a detailed step-by-step guide to transferring your domain(s) away from GoDaddy. The folks over at are ready, willing, and able to help out.

Let's let GoDaddy know that there's no way to enhance crap to make it look like anything but crap. We're better than this. AND this.

EDITED TO ADD: When I hit "publish" on this post, and the site came up, I saw, through a delicious twist of fate, that the BlogHer sidebar ad on the right was for I didn't even know that they were a BlogHer advertiser, but am thrilled to learn that they are!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Live-Blogging The Stupor-Bowl! Really!

Started off by attempting to get here via "" That's got to be a good omen. Yeah...I've been away a while.

Commercial: OK, right off the bat, Doritos' "YOU DON'T KNOW ME!" commercial laid me right out on the floor laughing.

Oh, man, Journey still sucks SO HARD. I hate them soooooo much, I do. I have no idea of the identity of Young Native American Steve Perry, but he's not helping. The sucking, it still goes on and on and onnnn AND OOOOONNNNNN.

Is Bruce still The Boss? I don't know who runs the day-to-day operations. I think he just named Coldplay as his successor, though I can't be sure. Costas just explained "omerta" to everyone. Why do I feel like he's a tool? I'm beginning to wonder if perhaps I forgot to apply a fresh hormone patch today, because, hello? CRANKYPANTS.

Watching Larry Fitzgerald warm up. If he had on a tutu instead of those shorts with that ensemble, he would look like the baddest ballerina on the planet.

If we're going to have to relive forty-leven other stuporbowls during the breaks, I am not going to last long before I strangle on my own drool.

How many Mannings are there? Are there more? Someone tell me now if there are. I've had enough Mannings. Did I mention CRANKYPANTS?

OK, so, this is...the Tough Guys Saying Tough Things Cliche Montage? I love men. Testosterone makes you silly.

Commercial: If "Medium" is coming back this season stronger, faster, better...does that mean she'll finally be a "Large?"

Jay Leno on the NFL. Thanks for nothing, NFL. Geez, I can't stand watching or listening to Jay Leno.

Yeah, I think it's time for the hormones.

Or Obama! Turns out that works just fine. Lauer-Obama interview. Nice. Thank God--literally, THANK GOD--this is our president. How comforting it is simply to listen to him make small talk, and to know how smart, capable, and level-headed he is.

Commercial: Yep, the e-Trade talking baby is still funny to me. "Shankopottamus." HA.

I'm being noticeably weakened by this eternal pre-game show. I think I'm going away until it's REALLY game time.

I think it constitutes some sort of football-based blasphemy to be leafing through the latest copy of Mother Earth News while the Super-Bowl is on. Oh, well.

Sportscaster: "Ben Roethlisberger has very unique feet." Well, NO, HE DOESN'T. He has unique feet? OK, sure. 'Unique' = 'one of a kind.' You can't be more the only one of something than being THE ONLY ONE of something. People who get paid huge amounts of money for talking on my TV should not use words unless they know what they mean. Just saying. No one is "very" unique. The end.

The hormones should kick in any minute now. But right now? I want Keith Olbermann and Tiki Barber to go up into that press box and clear it out, and just call the whole game themselves.

Wow, Chris Collinsworth has a whole lotta forehead. I know, I'm still annoyed with him for teaming up with Costas to try and wreck my Olympics-viewing experience.

HEY, here we go! The teams are actually entering the field. Can anyone tell me how we, as sports fans, began the decidedly odd tradition of waving dishrags around at sporting events? I can't remember this happening before I was college age.

Walter Payton Man of the Year Award goes to Kurt Warner. Montage illustrates that obscenely highly-paid professional athletes contribute charitably to their communities. Maybe they should give ethics lessons to Wall Street.

Faith Hill sings. What, you think I'm gonna snark on Faith Hill? Lady's got pipes.

Sully the hero pilot gets props! Good deal.

Jennifer Hudson, anthem. My guess is 62. She adds 62 superfluous notes to the traditional anthem, is my bet. Or higher. Anything above 62, I win. OK...I missed the new-note count, but she did end on a totally different note than is written, so that counts. She's got serious chops, and gets bonus points for getting big tough football boys all choked up.

Commerical: G.I. Joe movie? Dennis Quaid is G.I. Joe? Or is this the version where "G.I. Joe" is actually a unit consisting of many people? Does it matter?

Let me get this straight: We're 26 minutes in, and just now getting to the coin toss? I've always suspected that football causes odd stretches in the space/time continuum. Petraeus tosses. Wait--shouldn't he be, I dunno, overseeing something somewhere? Also, in some attic somewhere, there is a portrait of an aging Lynn Swann, because, DANG. Dude looks GOOD.

No one who looks anything like Kurt Warner has ever bagged MY groceries. What's up, Kroger?

Commercial: Smashing Pumpkins are selling Hyundais now? Wait, what?

Story from my past regarding Vince Lombardi: Years and years ago, my best friend David got some really nice Louis Vuitton luggage, and I infuriated him for months on end by always referring to the logo as "Vince Lombardi" instead. The end.

Judging from my husband's bellowing, something good just happened. Apparently there's a game being played in between all the commercials. Alex has promised to run the DVR back for me if there's an extremely repeat-worthy play today.

John Madden just said "penetration" 5 times in once sentence. I am not even kidding.

Commercials: NBC makes internet/text lingo joke, 10 years too late.
Bud Light tossing-guy-through-office-window spot FAILS.
Audi scores, because, well, Jason Statham.
Nostalgic/patriotic/whatever from Pepsi.
"Angels and Demons," because "The DaVinci Code" didn't suck ENOUGH, apparently.
Jack Black and Michael Cera just lost 65% and 90% of their credibility, respectively.

Score is now 3-0, Pittsburgh. Lots of chest-thumping going on. I love men.

First quarter is over! WOW, this goes a lot faster when you're blogging!

Potato-Heads commercial for Bridgestone plays on hip, current theme of nagging, back-seat-driving wife. Way to keep up with the times, Bridgestone! Maybe you can run this spot during "The Honeymooners!"

In other news, Vin Diesel still, apparently, exists. And is up to NO GOOD, making more fast and/or furious crap.

Wow, Castrol, you just flushed 3 million dollars!

Holy objectification, Doritos (have you guys hired the geniuses behind the AXE ads?) and GoDaddy. Ouch. DANG. Danica Patrick escorts American women one step forward, ten steps back. Oh well, Doritos, you can always fall back on the hilarity of guys hurting each other and smashing stuff.

Speaking of gender issues, Pepsi is marketing a diet soda for men? Wha--? Oh, well. Men like seeing other men get hurt! WIN!

I think there was a cameo by a Rocky Horror character in that last Budweiser spot. Seriously. See? I don't know how many Budweiser Clydesdale ads we're gonna get this year, but so far, these aren't great--the stick-fetching one was just plain weak.

You know, I like Will Ferrell as much as anyone, but I'm sorry, the success or failure of this project relies solely on the quality of the sleestaks.

Oh, the ball game. Yeah...looks like 10-7 Pittsburgh, with 6 minutes left in the half. Meanwhile, Pedigree's "Maybe you should get a dog" adoption-drive spot ROCKS.

Hey, turns out we needed MORE STAR TREK! Who knew? Oh, and I forgot about that Toyota ad earlier. Apparently, the Venza looks like your face, so you should buy one. Now.

Bud Light continues its lame "drinkability" series. Can someone explain to me how "Hey, this liquid beverage is totally drinkable!" is a selling point? I mean, can you imagine a restaurant aggressively marketing its food as "edible?" I am obviously not cut out for advertising. Still, bonus points for using Conan O'Brien in that earlier spot. Speaking of "drinkable" things, how come Gatorade, with all their money, can't come up with anything better than this?

On the other hand, the Teleflora ad with the boxed flowers that say, "No one wants to see you naked" did make me laugh, right at the end. At least it was better than H&R Block's lame "Death and Taxes" spot. Death. Does his taxes. GET IT? It is subtle, no?

You tell 'em, Hyundai. We are really socking it to the international automakers, no? No. I didn't think so.

Good heavens, there's Jay Leno again. Do we have to keep looking at him? Oh, see, he's driving one of his 8,472 sports cars, and its license plate says, "FALL." Which, I'm sorry, I glanced at and saw "FAIL," and I'd bet everyone else who uses the internet more than a half-hour a week flashed on the same word.

I think John Madden just said that Pittsburgh has "an ethnic backfield." That can't be right, can it? Still 10-7, still in the first half. Football is LONG.

Yes, Cheetos, we get the whole "karmic justice" angle...except that's not what this is. This ad campaign of yours is telling us what, that when people act like total nozzles, we should just be double-nozzles back at them? I don't buy it. Or Cheetos.

Better than a talking baby? Two talking babies. I guess. I admit I'm not exactly tough on the talking babies. They crack me up.

Still looking forward to "Up," but wishing Disney-Pixar could've given us a little more of a peek. Additionally, "Monsters vs. Aliens," from Dreamworks, looks fun, and leads me to wonder just how much 3-D we're gonna be subjected to in upcoming months.

LOOK OUT--it's the first Alex-mandated replay of the evening! Interception by James Patterson? What? That can't be right--he's busy writing those fairy-tale-titled murder mystery novels. Oh, wait, maybe it was Harrison. Alex likes it when defensive linemen get to score big. So, "something" finally happened. 'Nother touchdown + field goal, and the score stands at 17-7.

HALFTIME! And the part of the game where the talking heads explain fundamentals to me, such as the fact that the team who scores the most will win the game. Thanks, guys.

I just have this to say about the SoBe 3-D commercial. I would happily watch NFL players dance around in UnderArmour ALL DAY LONG, so please point me to the standard HD version of this commercial, OK? Ah, asked and answered--here we go!

It's not new, but the commercial where roadies run the world? I love it. Even if it is Sprint-Nextel.

Halftime shows are kinda...I dunno...tragic. I don't really wanna see Springsteen reduced to this.

NBC's ads have been pretty lame tonight (3-D! 3-D! 3-D!), but the Heroes + Favre spot was pretty cute.

I'm a little confused as to why, given the state of current events, Toyota would use their Super Bowl ad buy to show us giant gas-guzzling trucks pulling heavy loads up a steel spiral...that is on fire. Toyota? Um, you're just about the only automaker doing business in this country that has your head above water right now, and that ain't because of your truck sales.

Can the stadium not find any more current music than Ozzie Osbourne's "Crazy Train?" What's going on, NFL? Oh, yeah...the game's back on, and the talking heads have now had time to gather enough data to bludgeon us senseless with statistics for the next two hours.

All right, fine, I admit it--I laughed out loud at that stupid Bridgestone ad with the dancing astronauts. I think it was the song choice that did it to me--I mean, come on, who among us isn't a slave to Marky Mark and/or his Funky Bunch? And I LOVE the Coke commercials that are adapted from video games. This latest one isn't as good as the Grand Theft Auto-based one from last year, though. That one was my favorite. But why are they referring to it still as "Coke Classc? Didn't they just announce recently that the "Classic" tag is being retired?

Clydesdale commercial #3, again weak. I hate to break it to all the fans of anthropomorphized horses, but "three generations ago?" It is to laugh. There have been 20 generations of Clydesdales in this time frame, at least.

All of a sudden, here in real life, it is pouring down rain (I know, as opposed to all the other things it could be pouring down). In buckets. I told Alex it was raining. He looked at me funny. I said, "Can't you hear it raining?" He asked, "Is it raining?" and I said, "Either that or our house is on fire." And that is the funniest thing that's happened in our actual life tonight. You're welcome.

Holy crap--first Vin Diesel, now The Rock, also apparently still working. I THOUGHT OBAMA WAS GOING TO FIX STUFF LIKE THIS!

On TV, something has gone HORRIBLY WRONG with our reception. Is it a transmission problem from the network, or a DirecTV problem? We have no idea. Ah, there. Fixed. Guys are still running around and falling down, without going anywhere, a lot, looks like. Whew.

Hmm...somewhere, some more points were scored just now. Or several minutes ago. I have no idea. Score's now 20-7. Also, somehow, another Transformer movie got made. Seriously, did we need that, Shia?

FIRST LAUGH OUT LOUD FOR SEVERAL MOMENTS EVENT OF THE NIGHT Award goes to I can't begin to describe it, but if you watch it, it's the guy walking by and saying "Hi, Dummy" that does it. Alex held it together until the koala got punched.

And that pastoral Coke ad was pretty good, too...with all the bugs? Yeah. Like you need Coca -Cola. You also do not need Frosted Flakes, but they will help build parks for your kids if you buy their cereal, which will help make your kids too sluggish and fat to play sports in the parks. Not sure I'm following the logic on that one. If they were helping to buy your kids video games, sure...

John Madden: "Nickel, nickel, nickel defense, nickel offense, blitz, nickel, nickel." Remaining talking heads have obviously decided the outcome of this one, because they're spending a whoooole lot of time talking about each other at this point. Hey, I just looked up and saw a fumble. Woo-hoo.

Wishing I had started keeping score at the beginning of the game, counting how many times an announcer says, "This is the Super Bowl."

Looks like you're gonna need 3-D glasses to read the paper in 2009.

Holy everloving snorting grasshoppers--Ed McMahon and MC Hammer are shilling for, which apparently shelled out $3mil for an ad buy. I am just...this is simply wrong on so many levels, that I can't even now remember the Coke "Mean Joe" homage ad I just saw. Cash4Gold! Where we'll buy your gold for 25%-35% of its actual pawnable value! Can't beat that! With a stick! And while we're on the topic of suspension of disbelief, here's a gem: The ladies love some Taco Bell, fellas.

Hey, another touchdown just happened. So now the score is 20-14, with a million and a half or so years to go. And that Alec Baldwin ad was really creative. And with a lot of punch around here: "What are you going to do, turn off your TV and your computer? HAHAHAHA." Indeed. Let's hear it for "cerebral gelatinizing" television programming. And then they scoop it out with a melon-baller and gobble it right on up.

Football is still happening, and I swear there's the same exact time on the clock that there was a half hour ago.

Commercial with kid scooping up a jarful of air, to illustrate GE's wind energy initiative...I thought for sure it was gonna be an ad for the Keeling curve...though I'm not sure who would've sponsored that. You know, because of the glass flasks he took up onto the volcano...oh, never mind.

MacGruber Pepsi spot gets points just for using the term "mouth-hole."

"5 minutes to go" in the game. STILL. Astonishingly, Hulu's servers have not failed for me one single time today. Kudos to them!

I want to see someone defend their roughness as "necessary." Although, it ain't gonna be THIS guy.

Hold the phone--something may have actually just happened in this game. All of a sudden the announcers sound like they care, and Roethlisberger looks mightily perturbed.

The problem I have with televised football is that, unless it's a passing play, by the time I figure out where the ball is, the play is over. And we have a ginormous TV in this room. No excuse for my old-lady eyes. And the score is now 20-16, because of something I totally missed while typing. WHOA--and we have an Arizona touchdown, putting them in the lead for the first time in the game, 22-20. And I care precisely as much as I did all during the time that Pittsburgh was ahead. Which is to say, lots.

This just in-- Football announcers are given to hyperbole. Here's the formula: "That [thing that just happened] might just be the [superlative superlative]est [thing like that thing that just happened] in the HISTORY OF FOOTBALL!" And someone squeezed in another point while I was having that revelation. 23-20, Arizona.

GoDaddy. Seriously. You're killing me here. Do you really not know what percentage of intense internet users are female? Really? Also, Danica? KNOCK IT OFF, Sister.

And here we go again--Santonio Holmes somehow wound up within the 5-yard line, so Pittsburgh could conceivably flip this thing again. 43 seconds to play, and...the pass is good. Alex is happy. 35 seconds left. This is the point in a football game where I start chanting, "Go, go, go, GO!" inside my head, but not for any particular team...I'm rooting for an end to the game. With no death, serious injury, or overtime.

27-23, Pittsburgh again. HOW MANY TIME-OUTS DO THESE PEOPLE GET? 22 seconds left to play, which is the real-world equivalent of 6.25 hours. Now it's down to 5 seconds. But it's taken 10 minutes to get there. 3...2...1.

Wow, that is a lot of confetti. Who cleans that up? OH NOES, the sad defeated boys camerawork! I hate this part! I am lousy with major sporting events, simply because someone has to lose. It's not nearly as painful in pro sports, though. The losers still get paid, right?

And now, we're done. Until next year, chumps! Actually, I'll most likely be doing this again for the Oscars. You're thrilled, I know.