Friday, December 28, 2012


And lots of it! You know what's awesome? Shoveling PAVEMENT instead of rutted frozen grassy gravel! Oh boy, it's a pleasure. Shoveling snow is fabulous OCD delight anyway because of how you get to figure out the best way and do it all neatly and stuff.

My mom was out with the snowblower but there was too much snow for it, or it was too wet, actually. I think the wetness was the problem. It all bunched up and blocked up the twirly screw blade thing and meant the snowblower didn't, you know, blow snow.

However I was out there shoveling partly because that's just what you do when it snows, partly because I really love that kind of exercise, the whole body large muscle group kind of thing, and partly because if my elderly mother was going to be out grappling with the snow, I was too. So I shoveled a whole lot and got all totally sore and achy. I would take some ibuprofin but oooof, it's all the way over there!

We were both wrecked after a couple hours of that and retired to our respective comfy chairs. Mine is in my room. The same comfy chair I've had since, ooh, 2003 or something? Is that right? Comfy chair, dog on lap, giant yellow cup of peppermint tea, the second Sherlock Holmes movie on the dvd player so I could admire the lovely Robert Downey Jr. and the lovely Jude Law despite his Watson mustache.

I find holidays very stressful, but less stressful when I'm by myself, so this was more stressful than usual. Though all my shiny new dwarven weaponry sure mitigates the stress, huh? Remember the axe? There was a beautiful shiny hatchet to go with it! And a Thorin Oakenshield action figure, man, how cool is that?

I went outside with both axe and hatchet to do some (wait for it) Christmas chopping. Say it out loud. Hee!

The snow is taller than the dog's legs are long, poor dog! He keeps bounding over it in these hilarious leaps because walking through it is too hard. I just get delighted when he does the bounds. And sometimes he springs, like straight up with all four legs but then he lands further ahead. Whereas the bounds are leaps forward, front legs outstretched, like the Greyhound on the bus. When my dog does a series of three or four springs in a row, I just about perish of delight.

At the apex of the spring, he's sort of poised in midair with all his legs bent. Oh oh oh. It's the best thing ever.

So it's been dog walks and clearing paths and cutting brush and rendering bridges usable again, up until the snow snowed. Internet is highly intermittent on the computer, no idea why, which makes it impossible to write anything here. In fact since the laptop monitor broke I wasn't even turning it on for a long time but I missed writing waaaaay too much, apparently writing on the desktop isn't working for some reason, so I got out the screwdrivers and fixed the laptop more or less. At least the monitor works now. Unless you jog it. Then it goes black. SO NOBODY MOVE.

Actually the laptop keeps freezing up, too, which is seriously irritating. The whole thing is irritating. And I do need to get out of here and get on with things, as soon as I can. A more hopeful and forward-thinking individual would be sorting and packing but there's really no room to do that until it's time.

Also it would be better if I knew what I was doing once I'm able to do it. You know I want to go out to Oregon again, the place I want to be, but then I think about little niece and nephew and sister and brother and family and all, and then I'm confused. Except then I remember how I'm all dysfunctional in the east for reasons that are either tremendously obvious or completely unclear.

Today for no reason I decided to pull my hair back in a headband thing after my shower, including bangs, and oh boy do I look different. I can't get over how old and alarmed I look with no bangs! Maybe bangs cover up all the most important facial worriedness locations? My goodness. I guess I need to cut my hair after all. Goodness gracious me. Wow.

Every so often I think, Guh, tired of having to cut bangs every dang month, what if I grew my hair long and it was all silky and rippling in a slow-motion breeze? Except then I remember that instead it would be a big fuzzy isosceles triangle shape and I would look like Albrecht Durer and have a constant headache. Oh right! That!

Anyway I'm just going to be head down writing for the foreseeable future since I'm failing to cope with everything else. Well, writing interspersed with dog walks, cat snuggling, brush clearing, chopping of things with axes and hatchets, and so on. And apparently twelve to fourteen hours of sleep per day. Whee!

Wake me up when we get there!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Seven and some cookies

Seriously, this is no good. Any stress and I get the crazy shakes! I had to go get the key to the gun safe and then unlock it and actually face my assorted guns, so I could measure them and see how big the weapons chest needs to be, so I can buy the wood, so I can start planning and carving and all that.

Except now I'm shaking uncontrollably. Which bodes ill for my future gun ownership, I guess.

Some guy two counties away, like an hour and a half by highway, went out and started shooting people at random today. He shot three cops. I can't even stand it. So I figured I'd better DEAL with the guns in some way. I'm not entirely sure of the logic there, but so it goes.

Anyway the longest one is 47 inches and I own seven, not nine, counting the two that are from kits and are basically props. Though I had a double barrelled shotgun that seems to be missing. Where did that go? Must ask brother. Actually my first thought was that he missed it when getting them out of my closet to lock them up, so I had to go digging through all my clothes. Not in the closet, though.

We probably swapped.

Anyway now I'm eating peppermint chocolate cookies one after the other like a crazy person because I'm shaking all over and, I don't know, therefore cookies?

I'm glad 90% of the people around here are Amish. Not that they don't have guns--they totally do. But they're pacifists. Like aggressively pacifist. If that's a thing. Like me!

One of my best friends from college who's a fellow pacifist Quaker type like me (I would totally be a Quaker if I didn't have to go to the meetings--I'm an introvert pacifist non-joiner crowd-o-phobe Quaker who's actually quaking at the moment) turns out to be a gun owner also. I did not know that! I found that strangely reassuring.

I still love the Winchester, even if it's not the lever-action kind. It's the kind you get in movies all the time because you slide this big wooden part up and back to reload from the magazine and it goes chunk-chunk all dramatically. It's one of the ones that doesn't work, though. I mean it jams all the time. The French one from the 1890s doesn't work either. The two kit-built ones don't work, or at least I don't have black powder and whatnot to use them and I'm not sure I'd use guns built from kits by amateurs, would you? The shotgun works and the rifle and the old M1 from WWI or whenever.

So now I know what weaponry I own. I guess that's good, right?

Mmmm, cookies.

It's snowing! Flurries and stuff!

I had the most amazingly baroque dreams last night, all gigantic landscapes filled with crenelations and textures and very long steep slopes covered with terracing and shops and houses and gorgeously realized buildings. There were walls full of strata and warehouses of things, stacks of beautiful dresses, books as far as the eye could see, table after table of interesting old knickknacks, religious statues pertaining to no actual religion, dramatic cityscapes revealed after coming through a mountain pass, with the sunrise bursting between cathedrals. And so on.

Actually I dream quite often about very lived-in ancient cities high up in the mountains, people living for many centuries on very steep slopes.

One of them was the texture of dribbled candle wax. The whole city. Smooth bulging stone like that, like you get from dripping limestone caves.

Also I dreamed I was learning to rappel but they were like, First thing you have to do is spin around on the vertical axis so you're not scared anymore after that. And I was NOT going to do it. So I just climbed up and down the ropes on the rock wall and escaped into the aforementioned mountaintop cities.

My dog took care of his own torn claw, thank goodness. I got it away from him. It's just like if you broke a nail and it tore into the quick, know what I mean? I needed to trim off the torn part but wouldn't let me. So I'm very glad he did it himself. Yikes!

We went out to poke the creek with sticks and unblock the blockages and a very old dead wild rose trunk stabbed me right in the thumb knuckle joint with its vicious thorn. Ow! It bled and bled and bled and turned into a big purple lump. So dog and I are a pair. All gimpy. Sort of.

I'm forced to take today off from serious creek wrangling because I'm too sore and limpy. I mean, I'd do it anyway. I want to do it. But good sense prevailed. It's nasty outside, damp and freezing and gray and miserable. Not fun weather to be out in. Out in?

So that's the saga and now the cookies are all gone, woe. I feel mighty peculiar and have all day. That's kind of why I decided to face the guns, in a spirit of not much to lose. Who imagined that effect would follow? Not me! I'm going to bundle up in my Professor McGonagall robes and knit my weird sweater while rereading City of Bones, Ashes, and Glass. All three cities, I mean. I just read Clockwork Angel and had the distinct impression it was relying on having read those three first. Which I did, but it was years ago now. Hence the reread.

That should be my personal family motto. Hence the reread!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Chop chop

The machete is not an ideal tool for cutting down those weedy sticks, it turns out. You have to grab a handful of them and bend over and chop about eight inches from the ground.

In unrelated news, my back is killing me. Aaarrrrgh!

We got the path cleared all the way to the bridge in the field but it was super hard. And my arms might fall off. And my back hurts too much to bend over and pick up my arms. Also, with what?

The bridge, sheesh, you can hardly tell it's even there, it's so deeply covered with mud and reeds and muck. I have to take the shovel and rake down there and try to excavate it. And I need to work on the creek all the way from there up to by the barn.

It's going to be super hard, y'all. You know I love this kind of thing though.

Except Gawain Dog somehow tore one of his claws off. Well, most of the way off. Ow ow ow. It hurts just to look at it. I need to cut it but I don't think either one of us wants that. So I might not, at least for a while. He's getting around fine. If it looks like it hurts him or it gets infected, though, he's going straight to the vet.

He was off gallivanting on his own while I was hauling trees and things out of the creek, so I don't know how he managed to do it.

Today I finally figured out there are eight bridges. Holy crap. One was in the creek, three were deeply buried (and two of those still are), three were unusable because of brush.

Actually there are a bunch of creeks. It's not like it's all the same creek. I feel like I should include a map as a frontispiece, like Agatha Christie. Where is the frontispiece of the blog?



I'm all disoriented by the sudden lack of Christmas knitting. Should I finish the most beautiful sweater in the whole world? Should I cut flannel quilt squares for my super cozy quilt? I'm bewildered by options! Basically I don't want to sit in the comfy chair and knit and read. Not for a long time. Or today at least. I'm just overwhelmed by this overpowering aversion, see. Good time to Do Other Things. Plus the kitty has claimed the comfy chair anyway. I'm not making the kitty move.

Oh! I forgot the best part of the path/bridge thing: the deer have been using the path and the bridge! How cool is that? So it's much clearer than it would have been otherwise. I used to mow this path but haven't since, ooh, forever ago.

In addition to the machete, cutters, rake, and shovel, I also need to bring a saw. That's a lot of hardware for a walk around the field. BUT after another bunch of cutty/choppy trips out there, I should have a viable dog walking path. Woohoo!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Notorious rake, Regency, bonnets

I have a Regency romance to read, the genre often populated by notorious rakes who then turn out to be good at heart, or else get turned to the good by our heroine. But today my notorious rake was just a metal rake. And I was in the creek in my black rubber boots with the rake, decimating the watercress.

Really it's absurd that the two scourges of this land are a) wild roses and b) watercress. I mean, come on. But they were both introduced by someone with more Regency romance than practicality in their head, I think.

Another scourge is some kind of olive tree. It pops up everywhere. I want to cut them all down because nonnative species are officially pests. You're actually supposed to fight them because they kill off or crowd out the native species. But I'm not allowed. Sigh!

I did massive work in the creek such that now I'm all sore and limpy and ache all over, especially in the shouldery backy kind of areas.

Also two small Amish children came up the driveway singing Christmas songs, loaf of fresh bread with a bow on it in hand, and stopped to look at me. Little Katie Mae, she said, "What are you doing?" while my dog jumped all over her little brother, who speaks some English now, I was pleased to discover. I said I was trying to clear a channel in the creek to lower the water level and drain the front yard, which is a total swamp. Katie Mae was like, "Oh, I see." And they took the bread up to the house and visited with my mom.

It was totally fun to dredge out the creek, though. I got utterly mucky and splattered with stinking creek mud and so did the dog. And then we both got well washed. Actually since his paws were especially black and gross, I put the plug in the bathtub during my shower and then afterward picked him up and put him in the water and scrubbed him down, to his surprise and alarm. He's conked out asleep and I'm vaguely prodding work that needs to be done without actually accomplishing anything much.

My arms are all sproingoingoingoingoinging like they've been twanged. And there's still a very large rock that has fallen in front of the culvert outflow that I need to haul out of there. I'm considering options. The water is coooooold and the mud is vile but the whole thing is moot if I don't move this rock. I can budge it so it's just a matter of finagling all Stonehenge-like, lifting, propping, lifting more, propping more. And so on. Except that the deep silt makes that a little iffy.

Oh well, I'll get it done. Leverage! I will use it! I mean, literally!

The culvert itself is half full of silty mud. I have to figure a way to get that out of there. Shovel, I guess. Though now that the water level is lower and it's moving much faster, maybe it'll get washed out. It's really light and soft. I put a gloved hand into it and couldn't even feel any resistance.

Yes, I enjoy this sort of thing WAY too much. Clearly I should be a groundskeeper. Like Hagrid! Or isn't he the gamekeeper or something? Anyway I can grow pumpkins and you know I'm all over the flesh-eating slug repellent. Is that for flesh-eating slugs, or does it eat the slugs' flesh? I'm never quite sure.

I had that ultrasound this morning. The tech got out a squirt bottle of that goo they use and said, "Don't worry, it's nice and warm," and it was. She squirted it onto my side in a spiral pattern. I said, "I feel like a pancake." It reminded me of warmed syrup. She said, "Ooh, a pancake would be good right about now." She was totally funny. I asked her whether they really did take my gall bladder out, because how can you really know for sure? and she said yes, it's definitely not there, so that's good to know. She thought that was a hilarious question. And then she told me that lots of people tell her they didn't have their gall bladder out when she can see perfectly well from scars and from it not being there that they did. Isn't that odd?

Anyway all the tests say I'm totally fine except low on platelets for some reason, but nobody's worried about it, I guess? Okay! I'll take some iron or something. Actually I don't know what you do for that. Make more! But how?

I feel like this is something that should go on behind the scenes, without my active involvement.

I have plans involving that path through the fields I was trying to make before, only this time with the machete to cut down all the endless weeds or reeds or whatever those tough 4-5 foot tall stick things are. They're too tough to knock down by stomping but it would take my whole life to cut them all down with the clippers. We'll see how the machete does. I really want that path back!

Most of what I've been doing here is maintenance and restoration, come to think of it. Bridges, paths, creeks, downed trees, and so on.

Oh! The plumbers came again yesterday. That's because all the water fell out and then there was none. There was this loud gurgling behind the basement wall right under the water intake pipe so I told them that on the phone and they came out and dug up the back yard and found a veritable fountain. They fixed all that and tracked so much mud through the back hall, you would not believe it. So! Much! Mud!

I'm going to have to shampoo the rugs. Including the doormat. It's okay, I like doing that. I also mopped a lot. And then spilled a cup of tea on the floor. Tea cleans stone floors really well, did you know?

Otherwise I'm just reading like a fiend, finished up all the bizarro Christmas knitting yesterday (knitting only happens while reading) and mailed it out today, working on various sundry other projects, and feeling a sort of existential vagueness that comes from being here, where time doesn't pass and everyone you see is from the 17th century. Or do I mean 18th?

Bonnets, man. Bonnets.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Something about this house makes you think about plumbing ALL THE TIME. And water. And drains. And all that kind of thing. Someone in a Dorothy Sayers book says that if you want to start a conversation in the country, talk about drains.

I hit water a foot down when trying to turn over my mom's garden. It wasn't like this in the past. So I've been looking at the creek that runs through the yard. It's all full of watercress and weeds and muck and bushes and branches and crap. I think I'm going to dredge it in a mild sort of way. A little light dredging.

It's all silted up and the watercress holds everything. It used to be about a foot wide but now it's five feet wide with five feet of mud on each side. I mean. Water. It comes in, it doesn't go out. The yard is a sponge up almost to the house.

I'll have to be stealthy about it. Dredge it bit by bit. I'm considering daft ideas like leaving my rubber boots down in the barn. Which might be smart anyway because of mud. Let's do this thing!

So how are you? I'm still in shock from yesterday, that horrific massacre at the school. I don't understand it. It makes no sense at all. The person who did it must have been seriously unstrung and damaged and needed some help he was not getting. He went home and shot his mother. And then he went to a school and shot a lot of kids and teachers, very accurately, by the way, they're saying 28 deaths from 100 rounds, which shows terrifying calm and cold-bloodedness and skill. I have to wonder what people saw in his behavior prior to this, don't you? What did he act like? What did he do? What did he say? What did he write in his English papers?

Like, we've all known people (men) we thought were creepy and scary and dangerous, but what do you do with that information? You just stay away from them. You watch them as much as you can and you stay out of range and try to limit what they can do.

I think we should have a better way of dealing with that, though as soon as I started thinking about it practically, I ran into all sorts of problems. But you know the way people call in scary terrorist behavior or a package they think might be a bomb? They could call in this sort of thing, right?

Except all I can think of is how everyone brown and Middle Eastern got grabbed after 9/11 and how horrible that was, and how unfair. And how if you started trying to find the people who might go crazy and shoot a lot of people, how that would play out. Would every oddball get reported? What about only oddballs with the means to carry out mass murder? How paranoid would our mostly harmless oddball community become? And who would that be? Goths? Hippies? Nerds? Comic book people? Dachshund owners? People who watch Real Housewives shows? Tea Party loons? (I vote you lock up the entire far right, myself. They are terrified, terrifying, racist, hateful, and extremely well armed. But then I'm a debilitatingly anxious lefty pacifist with a safe full of inherited uncle guns that I'll never use, half of which don't even work.)

I read Seth's eye-opening post about the pragmatics of even seemingly simple things like banning assault weapons, and how the definition is very fuzzy and the manufacturers are highly adept at getting around them. And it's true, it's very easy to get a whole bunch of magazines and keep on reloading even the simplest one-shot rifle. Which makes any gun potentially an assault weapon.

Which is the problem. Who are the people who would do this sort of thing? How do you tell? Which are the weapons that would be used?

I don't know how to solve it. I really wish I had some better ideas. I read there are 90 guns per 100 people in this country, which sounds insane but then again I suppose I own seven (or nine) so there are six (or eight) friends who don't own any right there. I think it's generally like that. People who have any have multiples. Most people don't have any. In rural areas, people almost all have guns, seriously. It's not like it's rare or anything. It's rare not to have them around. And I suppose people involved in urban crime have them, but I don't know who else in cities would.

But then the school shootings are nearly always suburban, aren't they?

The whole thing makes me very unhappy, obviously. I mean, we have driver's licenses, but that doesn't stop all kinds of people from killing each other with cars every day, so I'm not even sure licensing would work, because you can't tell what someone is going to do or who's going to go off the deep end or we would already be trying to help those people and keep them from hurting others. I don't know. People do horrible things every day. This was especially horrifically horrible and vicious and senseless and awful. If I knew what to do to make it never happen again, I would do it. But I don't know what that would be.

I do remember the shooting at Penn State, though. Some ROTC guys tackled the girl who was shooting while she was reloading, which means just the time it takes to eject one magazine and grab the next and put it in. They tackled her and disarmed her and saved umpteen lives. It's what you always hope will happen, isn't it?

How many people do you personally know who have a concealed carry permit? I can think of three or four offhand. And these are lovely lefty academics, one a sociologist who works in dangerous places, another a bear biologist, and so on. It's just not simple.

I would hope at the VERY least we could get a ban on high-round-count weapons, assault weapons, or whatever you want to call them. If someone could come up with a way to stop all this, a practical way, that would be fantastically awesome. I'm not really sure screaming at each other helps much, though. That just makes me sadder. It makes me want to go out to the creek and dredge. Do a little dredging. Yes.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

We await with great anticipation

...the arrival of the plumbers tomorrow, with their miniature earth-moving equipment and their grim prognostications about the state of the underground pipes. Alarm! Hope! Alarm!

Also I refilled one of those big rectilinear jugs with the spigots today and the water was GREEN. Okay, greenISH. But next to the identical but pre-plumbing jug, which is clear and blue, it looked hideously murky and vile.

I am still not drinking the water. You can tell how squirrelly I am about stockpiling because I still have at least two gallons in the blue cooler. And there's more stashed around the house. Oh yes. It's like that.

Oh! Yesterday was the drama that wasn't day. Three things!

1. Exciting interview! I haven't heard anything yet, you know how that goes, but I'm all hopeful and worrying and trying to think of appropriate superstitions to enact in this circumstance. Nothing comes to mind, though.

2. I got home after that and my mom hadn't gotten up yet, completely out of character for her. She's always up at around 8 or so and this was 10:30. So of course I was sure she had shuffled off this mortal coil overnight. Except then I thought, If I go in there to check and I wake her up, she's gonna strangle me. And if she really has shuffled off, then waiting won't do any harm. I mean, what's going to change, right?

So I cleaned my room, on the theory that either the house was about to be full of people or it wasn't but it just needed to be cleaned anyway. Win win, right?

She's fine. She woke up around 11, astounded that she'd slept that long. Me, too! I am so tactful, you know, I said, "I thought you were dead! But I didn't want to go see in case you were asleep!" She thought that was funny. But not as funny as my sister did when I told her about it. I thought she was going to need medical attention, she laughed so hard.

Well, you weren't here the day my mom said to my brother, go upstairs and see if your father is still breathing, and he did, and he wasn't. See. (That is our dry kind of humor. Go upstairs and see if your father is still breathing.) So anyway. I was all reviewing the procedures and wondering how to call up my brother and sister and what to say. And remembering stuff like how the funeral home guys made me take my mom into the kitchen so she wouldn't see the, you know, body bag or whatever going down the stairs.

So that was an interesting morning.

3. Then I had the doctor's appointment and the PA was befuddled because I don't have kidney stones (good) although my symptoms indicate them and also I have all the symptoms of a gall bladder gone bad. She was just beside herself. You have all the symptoms! But no gall bladder! I don't get it! Pee in this cup!

Now I have to go see the GI doctor on Friday. I'm hoping he knows what this is. My mom keeps coming up with all kinds of ideas out of left field, but I can't get irritated and demand to see her medical degree that she doesn't have, because I'm glad she didn't croak, know what I mean?

Also I forgot to tell the PA about the paternal pancreatic cancer, can you believe that? They like to know these things. Maybe they do know. I mean I think he went to that doctor's office. Anyway I'll tell the GI guy. But it's probably going to get me scary tests that I can't afford. GI guys love endoscopies. Urgh.

I went and got seven or nine prescriptions filled (how come I don't know with prescriptions or guns?) for absolutely everything all at once. I don't even know quite why. I guess panic. Two new ones the PA gave me to cure stomachal issues and nausea. And all the old standards.

I still haven't counted the guns. Do you know why? DO YOU? Because my dad's URN is locked in the gun safe! I know! What a weird place for it, huh? Lordy.

Actually I'm planning to build myself not so much a gun safe as a *weapons chest* like Buffy had. Only I'm thinking of carving it. Like that one ancient Germanic carved box thing, what's it called? The Franks casket! Yes! Northumbria circa 650 CE. I had such a great time carving that sign of the prancing pony for my brother. I definitely need to carve my weapons chest. It's going to be a mile long though, because of the rifles. And actually the Franks casket is whalebone.

Except among the trees and leaves it would be things like bunnies and cups of tea and Mr. Kitty curled up on the couch and Gawain bounding through the fields. I should put Buffy on there too, somewhere, huh? And Moya. And a TARDIS.

I should look around the antique/junk stores for some really old hasps and hinges.

This could be amazingly fun, huh?

Okay so I grabbed all the Christmas music cds and I'm going to put them onto the ol' ipod and on my phone and stuff and get festive up in here. With the festiveness! With the seasonal beverages and foods! Yes! I shall bake the seasonally shaped cookies and decorate them appropriately forthwith! Raaaarrr!

Monday, December 10, 2012


Oh my, I'm a wreck and stuff. Also typing with the dog on my lap with his chin on my shoulder. He's so cuddly! He's also very sensitive to when I feel like utter crap and tries to cure it by applying his dog to me over the greatest area possible.

His dog, of course. It's because some security guy asked if I had any weapons on my person and I was like, "No, but I have them on my dog." I mean, I didn't say it. I just thought it. Also I do not support the right to arm dogs. But if I have a person and it's my person then obviously he has a dog and it's his dog.


My dog in his zeal to heal keeps stepping on the amazingly sore spot, upper right quadrant blah blah where the gallbladder used to be. I feel like this is one of those mysteries about the thing that didn't happen or wasn't there. The mysterious dog who didn't bark in the nighttime. Or something.

So anyway. Doctor tomorrow! Or rather PA. But I trust her more than some doctors I've known.

It only hurts to eat, drink, take a deep breath, sit, stand, or lie, so I don't know what I'm fussing about.

Actually I do. Nausea! It's back. It came back yesterday in force. Today even drinking water makes me nearly throw up. I was awake at 6 again with all of the pain and nausea and whatever.

Anyway I hope it's like, a gallstone, and not, like, some horrendous and expensive thing. I hope it gets cured with, I don't know, a $4 prescription at Walmart, and not, say, ten thousand dollars' worth of tests and surgery and that sort of thing.

I forgot to tell her about the kidneys. Whoops. There's some kind of kidney revolution going on. Probably related. And in retrospect I should have gone in weeks ago, so just yell at me now.

Aaaaaaah! Stop yelling at me!

Oh and there's pretty much no water in the house, heh heh. I did a batch of laundry yesterday and it ran it all out, which it shouldn't have done since no one had showered or anything that day. So. We're on very little water here. It sucks. They'll be back THURSDAY to dig up the reservoir and unblock the pipes and fix the leaks, except that may take digging up the entire many hundred yards of woods where the pipe runs down to the house. I mean there may be whole tree roots going through those pipes. Hoping not, obviously.

Oh and the massive plumber-induced asthma attack that won't quit.

Fun times! Whee!

I have some really great apples, though. Cortlands as big as your head! Mmmm, apples.

Also ginger ale.

Hello! I am full of complaints today! My laptop is busted and no longer among the working electronics of the world! Maybe I will just sulk and watch Sherlock some more! Except it's that cliffhanger and it's all very mean to John and I don't like that. Also not enough Mycroft for my tastes. More Mycroft!

I just found out Martin Freeman is four years younger than me, hahahahahahaha! Ooh boy. Also apparently he's in Hot Fuzz? Mycroft is much more my guy, to be honest.

Yes, basically I'm panicking. I'm, what's that word? Catastrophizing! Yes! What if it's something dire going on in there? What if I need surgery, hospitalization, doomful things like chemo or whatnot? What if I'm not allowed to eat any more CHEESE? I know!

Okay you don't probably know this but my dad's pancreatic cancer started EXACTLY like this, odd pain in the upper right quadrant, nausea that wouldn't go away, and so on. And he had to have a Whipple! Feel free to look up what a Whipple is. Basically they gut you like a fish. They cut out half your stomach and most or all (?) of your pancreas and a piece of your small intestine. And your gall bladder if you have one. The full name of it is pancreaticoduodenectomy and you are glad there are no pictures here.

Like I said, catastrophizing. You don't get to jump from "my tummy hurts and tea makes me barf" to "pancreaticoduodenectomy" and not get called on that. It's probably something minor.

Minor options:

adhesions from gall bladder surgery
appendix gone bad
bust a gut chopping trees with a 10 pound maul
bust a gut hauling my crap up and down the eastern seaboard
bust a gut carrying furniture up the stairs, especially that heavy table
bust a gut picking up my cute 35-40 lb dog all the time
bust a gut lifting the fez of 35 lbs of cat litter out of the bathtub every day (at least when showers were allowed daily)
ate too much cheese (guilty!)
ten million other merely mildly annoying options since I'm pretty much clueless about medical stuff, even if I was totally flattered that the doctor's office phone person asked if I was a nurse

Must resist powerful urge to go downstairs and eat all the cheese! My logic goes: I feel terrible no matter what I eat, plus I might get told not to eat it anymore tomorrow, so CHEESE TIME.

Plus I have an untouched block of organic yogurt cheddar made by Mark, the Amish guy who grew up across the street, from the milk of the cows I can see out the window, plus I remember when Mark was two years old and running around the fields after his dad, who's my age. Mark and his wife are totally going to buy this house when we finally have to sell it. I love that. I really do. I love knowing who's going to live here next already.

Mark makes amazing cheese. Oh boy it's so good! My sister is always bringing him back interesting cheeses from her world travels. 

I just met his wife the other day, riding on her scooter with their little boy in front of her. It was awesome because we both instantly knew who the other person was even though we've never met even once. But we know all about each other. I think that's fabulous.

Also, isn't it great how I can go from oh oh oh pain and nausea am totally dying oh woe and then wind up logically in a place that says GO EAT ALL THE CHEESE?

I am Jack's raging bile duct!

I'm sure I'll return to my regularly scheduled dithering about L.A./Maine/Oregon and Winnebagoes and power and/or hand tools and knitting and the furry housepets and fixations on awesome television actors soon. Or else medical medical medical! But seriously, I'm really really really really really really really hoping not. Really.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


You know how on Sudoku you can click "validate" to make sure what you've done is right? I totally want that button in my whole life! Am I doing this right? Validate!

Well, actually I just got a big validate in my real life because I WAS THERE for the team of plumbers when they needed me. All that work I've been doing over the past few months? TOTALLY NECESSARY and proven to be so yesterday! AWESOME.

I can't even express how amazing that feels. It's right that I came here. It's right that I searched the whole freaking mountainside for the spring. It's right that I cleared those paths and fought with the murderous wild roses and hung pink ribbons all up and down the mountain to mark the way to the spring. It's right that I cleared the reservoir of all those roots. It's right that I put up a sign that says "RESERVOIR -->" and stuck that old laundry detergent bottle up on a tall stick.

I took two different plumbers on hikes up to the spring on two different days! I knew where it was. No one else on the whole planet knew where that spring was until I found it. None of this would have worked out, none of the fixing of the water, if I hadn't done all that stuff.

Also, in a more direct way, I was right to be so neurotic about buying all those coolers and giant square water jugs with spigots on them and to keep filling them all the way up, because we can't drink the water right now. It's all muddy from Larry actually being down in the reservoir. Also, Larry was down in the reservoir. I told my mom I didn't think she should be drinking Larry's bathwater, even if he was wearing a neoprene wetsuit/waders at the time. She poured out the water she'd just run into the coffee pot and got some out of the jug. Good! We've used up most of one already.

All these things, all at once. Awesome.

Now that's a nice feeling. That's a payoff!

Good thing, because I got a massive asthma attack from whatever fumes they were cooking up in the basement with their plumbers' purple PVC glue, holy cow. But not until 6 a.m. when I got up to go to the bathroom and discovered I was breathing like I'd run a marathon. I'm all wheezy today and kind of grounded. But that's okay because three of the four beings in the house (not Mr. Kitty, who hid the whole time) are completely flattened by the flush of plumbers (no?) we've had through here the past two days.

Hi! Adventures! Wow!

They replaced the pump, so now the shower doesn't just dribble water on your head. Cool! Of course it was Larry's bathwater pouring on my head, but still, nice to have a shower again.

They have to come back Monday with the baby backhoe and dig up the reservoir to find the leak, which we're all hoping will be right there at its mysterious second outflow pipe. And to blast the compressor up the pipe to the spring. That should be exciting, all of it.

Larry went up the hill with a chainsaw and cut a wide enough path for the baby backhoe.

Hmmm...actually, I have a distant memory of a pump in the barn, right by the central support beam. I wonder if that was connected to the reservoir somehow? I should go down there and dig that up tomorrow. All those five foot long black rat snakes should be hibernating now, right?

Maybe I won't do that after all. Heh.

Yesterday I also finished up part one of a big everyone-gets-one Christmas present project and mailed it off. Awesome! I have part two to finish today and tomorrow and mail Monday. And then part three, maybe, unless I cancel it out of pure Grinchliness due to the behavior (poor) of the recipients. And then part four, which is just silly because it's for me and my mom, neither of whom actually want these things. But then, neither does anyone else, I'm sure! It's just a fun and silly project to do.

I will explain more clearly LATER. With PHOTOS.

And! I am thrilled beyond belief at the prospect of meeting up with most awesome Sumara in L.A. in April! And visiting everyone I miss so much! And running around to all those places I used to run around! Up Mt. Hollywood! And so on! We will have so much fun!

It's weird how much that just changed my whole perception of things, having that to look forward to, oh boy!

Also since My Work Here Is Done (more or less) I can actually think about scooting on out of here, when the long-awaited sum Part B arrives, whenever that is. Jeez, I hope it's soon. I remember saying, "Christmas?" to my brother as an extreme joke about how long it would take, but now that looks hopeful. Come on, Mr. Shadow! Not far now, right?

I even had fabulous dreams. Okay, one was a dream. The other was me entertaining/calming myself while trying to regain the ability to breathe this morning. I have all these strategies for that, mostly involving places to live, like I'll think of all the amazing people I know, organized by the place I was, or I'll imagine a whole dream house room by room and decide specifically where all my stuff goes. But this time I imagined a roomy Winnebago type thing. It was terrific. I could totally see living in one of those with the dog and cat and traveling around writing wherever I was. Stopping here or there for a month, visiting people, going to Crater Lake. You know. Fun times!

The actual dream was excellent because in it Martin Freeman was my dad's old Army buddy but somehow my age (which makes no sense) and he and I completely fell for each other during a visit, which then turned into a weird Doctor Who episode we were in with Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones. There was even a twist! Martha kept trying to protect me and Martin from this evil black goo dripping in from the light fixtures, but then, twist, her friend spilled a glass of Wishniak on my arm and that turned out to be the evil goo we were supposed to avoid!

Dun dun!

I'm not sure if there's a connection between Martin Freeman and Freema Agyeman except maybe my brain likes palindrome-type things when casting dreams. I think it's a hilariously great combination of names to come up with while asleep, though. How cool is that?

Thursday, December 6, 2012


I've learned to be suspicious or maybe skeptical of the part of my brain that sees patterns in absolutely everything, faces in paneling, owls in distant houses, meaning in the way the cows are organized across the road. Why do the evenly black and white ones hang out together and the more black ones hang out together? Why are the black ones oriented east-west and the black and white ones not?

Actually that could be because the sun feels great on a black cowhide but isn't as noticeable if you're black and white.

And why mottled, you know? It's like Labradors. Labradors come in black, brown, and yellow. You don't get them mixed, like black and brown mottled, or brownish-yellow. They stay distinct colors. Like the cows. You don't get gray ones. You have a whole batch of cows born from the same black & white bull with a herd of mixed black/white/black & white cows and they come out all random.

Patterns! I know!

I know this part of my brain works WAY overtime and is part of that OCD whatever brain thing. And I know it's REALLY GOOD at Sudoku to a downright creepy extent. So even when I don't know why a 2 should go a particular place and I couldn't articulate it if I tried, I put it there, and it's right.

Yes. My brain does Sudoku without me. I think that's odd. It does a lot of math without me, honestly. Keeps track of the checkbook, such that I'll get deeply uneasy without being clear why, then look it up and see, oh, that's why. Subconscious math and logic circuits! I like it!

But I do try not to read too much into the constant reappearance of men named Wayne. I should look up how common that name is, just so I have numbers, but then those would be skewed by my rural locations. More Waynes when rural! That's a fact.

Wayne was here today to fix the ridiculously useless water system. We went for a hike! I took him up to the reservoir and then up to the spring. He refused to put his orange vest on properly, though in the past he has refused to go up the hill during deer season, so go figure. (Of course he doesn't know I know that.) He had many probing questions about what happened with that job I had ("It didn't work out," I said,) and how come I'm doing office work when I'm a professor and what does that mean, your PhD also "didn't work out?" Actually I think I said it "dint work out" because the local accent is contagious and I'm a language chameleon.

There are at least two things wrong with the water, I'm glad to know! No, three. Three things wrong.

One is a leak, possibly at the reservoir. He's going to come back with a teeny backhoe and dig it out. Of course I wanted to dig it out myself but he looked at me like I was utterly bananacakes. I just like digging, okay? I might dig it out anyway. But I also need to get cracking clearing that path I've been clearing all fall. There are many trees across it, you guys! My brother and I got rid of maybe 1/3 of the blockages. Wayne's going to bring a chainsaw. Yay!

Two, the pump is busted. And as an adjunct to that, the spaghetti system of pipes my dad put in down in the basement is a mess, so that all needs to get taken out and replaced. So that's basement work. They may come do that today. I'm resisting the urge to do all my laundry before the water stops working entirely. I did have a shower and fill my big blue drinking water cooler, though. The one with the spigot!

Three, there's a block somewhere between the reservoir and the spring. He's going to put a compressor on the lower end and blow it out the top like my dad used to do. I'll be on the uphill spring end of this, I can tell you right now. I also have the job of putting some kind of ball over the pipe up at the spring to block it off so they can work.

Once all those things get fixed, we should have a) enough water coming into the house and b) water pressure that is consistent and sufficient and c) a pump that doesn't quit working all the time.


The baby backhoe might not come until next week.

Isn't all that exciting?


Here's the other excitement, though mostly it consists of me shaking my head in disappointment and alarm, and then eating lots of weird snacks. I was wigging out two nights ago and took that medication I'm supposed to take when wigging out. Which I used to take EVERY NIGHT but then got off it via hellacious withdrawal AGAIN. And then yesterday I went to run all my errands, which went great except I bought all this outrageous stuff that I never would have bought in my usual state of impulse control.

Here is a list:

presents for my Mom (that was intentional and successful, to the letter)
new iron (the old one broke)
gigantic dark green turtleneck
" " black turtleneck
" " white turtleneck

Okay, so far so good. I didn't strictly need turtlenecks but they're fine and were vastly on sale. Okay.

Here's where it gets weird:

two bags of Hershey kisses in the shiny red/green/silver wrappers
butterscotch Krimpets (family size box)
chocolate covered graham crackers
at least four other kinds of cookies that I'm too embarrassed to go look at right now
two bags of hard pretzels
two bags of cheesey popcorn
three 2-liter bottles of soda
a 12-pack of vanilla Coke (I KNOW!)
two boxes of Kraft mac and cheese (the white cheddar kind, at least)
two boxes of Triscuits

I could not believe it this morning. Could not. What the hell? It looks like I'm having a party! A party for people who really want diabetes. Seriously, that is just not right.

I might take most of the cookies to the food bank. I say most because SOMEONE has already gotten into some of them yesterday when impulse control was at low ebb. Jeez.

Vanilla Coke. In cans. Have I ever even had vanilla Coke before? I don't drink soda. I just don't.

Oh, the 2-liters. One of ginger ale. One of cream soda. (ARGH.) And one of something bizarre called Black Cherry Wishniak. Made by Canada Dry. What on earth is that and why is it in my room with me?

Wishniak. Goodness! It's from the Ukrainian for black cherry (logical) but apparently it's also an opprobrious epithet! Look at this!

Cream soda, oh my giddy aunt.

I really can't eat this stuff. I'm still in varying degrees of agony from the gallstone's exciting journey through the ductwork and I feel horrific when I eat anything, particularly anything with sugar. Like, brown rice for breakfast, I feel fine. Oatmeal with sugar on it for breakfast, I feel horrible. And my whole abdomen from ribs down swells up. Actually from diaphragm down. You can see the line of my diaphragm. It's freaky.

Which is not good because that tends to indicate the pancreas. You do not want to frak with the pancreas. Also I get very edgy when discussing things having to do with pancreases (pan creases?) because of how my dad's turned on him and ate him up from the inside out and then he died. Across the hall from this room. Horrible. I get jumpy.

Gallstones can cause all sorts of havoc in the upper digestive area, it turns out. Even when they just go on through. And I still don't have fever or jaundice or any of the scary symptoms. However, I'm going to the doctor as soon as I get on the phone and call. Though I'm slightly cramped in my scheduling due to needing to be on hand for Wayne and the Bobcat plumbing cadre.

So there's that.

At the store I also got this kind of fusible fleece interfacing that I'm hoping to press together to itself (two glue sides together) and then cut out to make wings for the Brunhilde hats I've been knitting. Yes! I will show you a picture when they're done. I spent all weekend and most of this week just spraining my brains trying to invent and knit wings that looked like wings but, you know, it dint work out.

Oh. I also got Christmas socks. Well, one pair is white and fuzzy with black fuzzy around making a white penguin face. Hard to describe. And the other pair is blue (of course) with a snowman who's holding out another tiny snowman from a string in the manner of River Tam with an ice planet. Of course I was riveted by the bizarre nature of those. And the blue.

I seriously want to go back up the path with my shiny new red axe and chop those trees out of the way for Wayne, you guys! With my plastic goggles on! And my big yellow boots like the farmboys wear! Though mine are Doc Martens so my cover for being an alien outsider is blown. My non-existent cover.

Hey, do you want some cookies and weird soda? Come on by!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Miles and miles

Puppy and I walked to the nearest store today for oatmeal. It's something like 35-40 minutes each way with lots of cows and horses and mowed down cornfields to look at. And a big brown bull eyeballed us for a while but then decided to pretend we didn't exist. Thank goodness. Three strands of electric fence wire don't look very sturdy between you and a bull.

We got so tired, we've been basically sitting around ever since. Sitting around the kitchen for a while, reading, then lying under a quilt on the bed, reading, dog next to me and cat snuggled up next to him. Isn't that awesome? If I could drink tea lying down, that would be my idea of paradise right there.

Also there was excellent potential news today, which is vague but so is the news, so We Shall See.

In the crisis narrowly averted category, I let puppers out and came around the bushes to discover him romping with a little black and white kitty on the lawn, bouncing around and playing. Except that wasn't a black and white kitty. I called him off and he ran back to me, and the skunk ran off the other way. Yikes! Yikes! Yikes!

It sure was cute. But I don't think my dog should mix up skunks and cats like something out of Pepe LePew. He was playing just like he would with our own Mr. Kitty. That's probably what saved him from being sprayed, unless it was a girl skunk, of course. I mean, 50/50 odds, right?

Actually my first thought was that he had a soccer ball.

I was revealed to be one of those people who sees the same image in every Rorschach yesterday when I looked at a drawing my niece had done and was like, "Obviously it's a bunny. See the ears, and this is the body, and this is the fluffy tail." Then my mom was like, "Actually it's upside down, that's a rainbow, that's a cloud, and that's the sky." Oh! So not a bunny, then?

I've seen two bunnies in two days. Does something awesome happen if you see three bunnies in three days? Tomorrow we're going looking for wabbits!

Oh boy, I'm wiped out! We've been going for shorter walks almost every day, but this was a good long one. Relatively speaking. It's not up and down Mt. Hollywood or anything. Sigh! Gawain dog would LOVE that hike! All those hikes!

Rural PA is infinitely better than rural Maine for dog walking, my goodness. The visibility is part of it. Mowed cornfields and horse and cow pastures let you see forever, unlike twisty roads through tall woods. And people go a lot slower here, I suppose because there are so many people walking on the roads all the time, including tiny children in all black.

Also rural Maine drivers seem to be just tremendously out to lunch in general.

I'm on my third Jenny Crusie book in two days. I had to talk the library lady into letting me check out this big stack of books. She did what they always do at first: look at the books, then tell me you can only check them out for three weeks. As if I'd bitten off much more than I could chew. Ha! It was a bunch of Crusies and Agatha Christies, you guys. It's glorious stuff but it's not Kierkegaard. I had to say, "I read fast." Which is true, after all.

This is not my favorite library. Too small, weirdly arranged, cramped, not enough good books at all. I can actually walk in and come out without anything I'm excited to read. Madness! But they have the BEST books for sale at all times, donated books, excellent ones. Terrific quality hardcovers for cheap. So I try not to be so hard on them for their less desirable attributes.

They also gave me a hard time about not having two phone numbers, insisting I had to give them a backup number, too. Nope. I just have a cell phone. She asked me for a relative's or neighbor's number and I kind of boggled and then *almost* gave them the phone number for the Amish family across the street, just out of cussedness, but then I didn't because they do NOT need two phone numbers, for crying out loud, and anyway don't bother those nice people about overdue books or whatever. She grudgingly allowed me to have a library card anyway.

A minor triumph over the soulless minions of orthodoxy! Yay!

Speaking of which, the IRS wrote me a letter and said they finally decided I'm all paid up, after sending me letters every couple of weeks for ages now that said they were still thinking about it. Basically a letter that said: "Hold, please." Only in print.

What teeny tiny micro-dramas! I love it.

I think the gallstone situation has resolved itself. Things are getting less sore. I am oh so pleased about this, believe me. And not just because of CHEESE. But, okay, yeah, kind of because of cheese. Mmmm, cheese.

In fact I bought provolone at the Amish store along with my big bag of oats so I could make pizza tonight, mmmm! And someone's car alarm went off in the gravel parking lot as the dog and I were walking down to the road, which utterly tickled me. The place is lit by propane lanterns. You have to pay cash. Nothing is electric. But of course there's a generator to run the freezers and the coolers. Shhhhh.