HBB: A dark room on a gray day

It's 4pm on a gray day. I'm still in my sleepwear sitting in bed. The shades are open just a few inches to let just a little light in.

Nope, this isn't a bad mood.

Next to me Keri is hurtin big time from a migraine. I've spent the day bringing up various ice packs and keeping her company. That's about all I can do. The dark room, ice packs and rest are about all she can do for these. Lately, they've lasted days and made her feel really crappy.

I'm glad I have this day off. I may not be able to help out, but it's nice I can be here to try. Keeping quiet is a challenge for me. In case you hadn't heard, I do have moments of lack of coordination. This can lead to thumps and crashes. :)
We're thinking about trying a audio book now to see if this will provide a good distraction from the pain. It can't hurt. But, I guess that's easy for ME to say.


HBB: Results Good!!

Okay, so after we got the good results on Monday, things zoomed right back into the hectic swing of things. All of a sudden, it's Saturday, and I haven't posted!

Here's how it went. KinnicChick and I stayed in a Hotel near the hospital the night before the MRI. I had the MRI very early in the morning. Then, we waited for the eternal hours between the MRI and the meeting with the neuro-oncologist. We got coffee and wrote and wandered around.

Then, we went for the appointment to get the initial results.

First, we had a bit of a shock. The doc pulled the wrong MRI results on to the computer screen. These MRI results showed a pronounced tumor in a brain. The results made no sense since this showed a head with much more brain than I have. But, it was still an initial shock. The error was corrected and the doctor displayed MY results.

All looked good. I've formed an almond-size cyst that is new since the last time I was in. But, this is no problem.

All in all, very exciting news. Much relief.

Then the doctor looked back at the recent tests on my brain function. He looked at the results, then the MRI, then the results. He told me that he would not have expected the good level of memory I have based on the MRI. He told me that I must be exercising my brain in the right ways. That was nice to hear.

Afterwards, KinnicChick and I talked about how much it surprises us each time we see the MRI results. Let's just say that we were reminded that "HalfBrainBoy" is quite the appropriate name. And, I appreciate the doc's nice words about how I've been able to use what I've got. I've been lucky. And, I've had wonderful people around to help me.

Now, it's time to head into the holidays. Especially this Christmas, I think I'll have one of the nicest Christmases ever. I think this Christmas I'll likely feel the most gratitude ever.

There are my most favorite christmas cookies! KinnicChick's secret recipe. Time to start the holiday feasting.

I wish the best to you and yours.


HBB prompted to remember "then" and "now"

The post yesterday about the MRI had caused me to reflect a bit. It's been a wild ride.

Things are so good now.

I was looking for pictures to give an idea of how good things are now, compared to a things didn't looks quite so good.

What better than a picture as I left the hospital after surgery side-by-side with one that shows this summer's fun?

Your brain in pain:

Your brain having fun:

Any questions???

Just so there isn't any doubt, I opt for the "brain having fun".

Oh, and one last thing. Keri, when you try to make rabbit ears above somebody's head, make sure they aren't wearing a hat. :P


HBB: Thoughts on brain tumor follow-ups

Monday will be an interesting day.

I approach Monday with very mixed feelings.

Monday is my regular follow-up brain MRI to see if everything is stable. After the MRI , there is the wait for some of the most intense hours experienced. Then, there is the meeting with the neuro-oncologist to get the results.

I would be lying if I said I didn't have any worry. Maybe just a tiny bit. But, the day I have these MRI’s are also like my own personal Thanksgiving Day.

I have a new set of feelings about these brain MRIs each time I have them. But, there is no way I can approach these days as “just another day”. I knew a brain tumor survivor, a guy who had a similar type of tumor. He said that, after years, he approached these follow-ups as nothing more noteworthy than a dentist appointment. Years down the road, one of these “dentist appointments” changed his life.

I think I’d lose out on something if I felt that these MRI where nothing more than dentist appointments. I think I’d miss out on an opportunity to feel such intense feeling of gratitude and relief.

I was recently listening to someone who was waiting on biopsy results. She described the feeling so well. She said, “I KNOW this is NOTHING…but there is just this part of me which realizes this COULD be something.”

Exactly. There is always the "what if".

Monday, I will get good results. I know I will.

I hope. Life is too good right now.

So, I know they won't be finding any enhancement or growth. All will continue to be stable. But, there is a small voice tapping me on the shoulder, “…but, it COULD be something”.

And, I probably pay a bit more attention to that small voice because I’ve experienced receiving the unexpected call, “we’re sorry to tell you, you have a brain tumor….” After experiencing the unimaginable, you realize the unimaginable can happen.

I don’t really think this is a sign of excessive worry. This MRI really IS nothing. But, it gives me a chance, if I will pay attention, to realize how lucky I’ve been that it always been nothing. And, once again, I have a vivid reminder of how far I’ve come.

These days are strange. I’m working. I’m playing. I’m doing housework. Keri and I are reading or watching movies. Then, suddenly, in the middle of it all, there is a date on the calendar that could throw everything into a single-minded fight for survival. Again.

It won't throw us into a fight, because the results will be nothing. But, still...

I’ve been reminded that EVERYONE, each day, has the potential of running into some unexpected life-changing crisis. I realize this. But, I have this on my calendar. It’s different when it’s a single point in time. Monday: Celebration or Crisis? I guarantee that by the end of the day, I will be feeling something fairly intense.

And, I’m told I’ll likely have these follow-up appointments for life. Part of me groans at the hassle. Part of me wants to forget about it. But, fortunately, there is now still a part of me that appreciates this as a reminder to be thankful. There is nothing like the big relief from good news about a brain tumor.

Now to make the big decision, which kind of music should I request on the headset in the MRI? And, where to go out to celebrate after the good news?


Let the Records Show, You Have Been Warned

I head to the local Relay For Life 2008 Kick off meeting tonight to pick up the packet for the team.

Yes, it's that time of the year again for all things Relay to enter my head and begin to swim around and take root. I may not be on the committee this year (thank goodness for a break for my wee brain from that) but that just means I'll have more time for our team and to have more time getting creative with ideas for fund raising and having fun!

Expect to hear more about the power of purple from me around here. Maybe you'll consider a quick donation for the holidays? I mean, what's better than tossing your money to a great cause like cancer research than tossing it away on more unnecessary disposables?

And? If you live in the area and happen to read this site, I may be hitting you up to be on the team. I love a full team of 15 people. The more the merrier. If you haven't been on it before but have considered it, consider it hard. If you have been a member of the Merry Brain Trust (no, I'm not changing the name, but it is the Holiday season), be prepared for recruitment season to begin. My new Team Captain and I are looking for YOU.

Give that some thought and bookmark my site. We'll talk.


I'd like to Teach...

Lying here thinking I should go to sleep. Was just reading a few other bloggers and happened upon Schmutzie... This piece. It brings back some pretty interesting memories of my days in lessons on the Organ. With Mrs. F.

recital day... god help me.

Oh yeah. Good times.

That's about all I wanted to say. It just seemed like it was time to update around here. Since somebody had gotten too busy to write or something.


Inspiration Needs Prayers...

A teacher from the middle school Kel attended could use your prayers. They had a retirement party for her early this week because it is now obvious that she will not be able to go back to work. I don't know all of the details of where she is with her treatments, but she could use your prayers. Patti's cancer started out as a suspected sinus infection and if you remember, turned out to be a melanoma in her sinus cavity.

You can read about her journey on her CaringBridge site.


HBB's firey hot dinner

I've learned I'm no fireman.

That's okay. Neither is my boss.

Tonight I was having dinner with my boss at a fairly swanky restaurant. It had white linens and low lights and candles. Very classy. They have paper table covers so the wait staff can write their names to make you feel at home.

As we were recovering from a large dinner, my boss leaned back in his chair, wishing he was already in his recliner. Just then, a frantic woman at the table next to him was trying to get his attention. "Sir, sir, SIR!" she was pointing behind him. Just then I noticed flames leaping up behind my boss. He whipped around thinking he was on fire. Actually, the empty table behind us was in flames. The candle had caught the paper cover on fire. The fire was growing quickly.

My boss was closest to the fire, so he started trying to smother it with his napkin. This killed much of the fire, but it started to spread in a new direction across the table. The whole time plastic from under the tablecloth was starting to drip to the floor as it melted. I looked at my glass of water. My first reaction, at a time when split seconds counted, was, "pouring water on it would make such a mess!" GAH! But, my sensible side took over. I grabbed my glass of water and flung it across the table top. My boss did the same with is. A waiter followed immediately with an entire pitcher. We returned to our table with our charred linen napkins.

The smell of melted plastic was terrible. We stayed and talked about how terrible our fire-fighting skills were. I, for one, obviously have no fireman instincts to speak of. We were also talking about how amazing it was that we were so oblivious of a small campfire right next to us in a busy restaurant. It was a little startling. I was also amazed at the speed of it all.

Even as we sat paying the bill, (No, no "fire sale" discount), we were chuckling about the number of tables around us who were asking the waiters what the smell was. They were oblivious of our heroic (albeit unskilled) firefighting.

Have you ever had one of those friends with whom you know some unexpected adventure will always follow? We need to start charging restaurants NOT to frequent them.


Halfbrainboy: The Tunnel

I have to put a picture of this.

All of this summer, I've been waiting with great anticipation as I watched the construction of this pedestrian/bike tunnel outside my window. This tunnel meant access to many things, including the grocery store and my doctor's office.

A few weeks ago, it was completed. It was a thrill to walk through it the first time. Now, I've used this to shop and meet friends and have appointments. I've been able to get to all without needing a ride.

Some may argue that this is an example of huge waste of tax-payers' money. I can understand. I also have problems with money spent on projects that seem to benefit a select few.

But, I also argue that $4 per gallon gasoline, and increasing health problems from our sendentary lifestyles, might add to the argument for easy pedestrian access to things. I know this is used. I can watch the tunnel from my apartment window. It does draw the foot and bike traffic.

This also enhances more than access for just myself. On the opposite side of the road is an assisted living building. I spoke to a resident from that building as she discovered the tunnel for the first time. A whole new world was open to her.

So, I might be bias, but I'll enjoy it anyway, even in the sub-zero of winter.


Another angel.

I cannot believe what I am seeing. I am in complete shock.

Sahara is gone. Please send your prayers to her family.


HalfBrainBoy: My Coffee

I've mentioned that I have in my kitchen at least 7 different devices and methods for making coffee. I guess you could say I have a plethora of coffee toys. Or, you could say I have a problem.

"Coffee, thou are my friend."

I do like coffee. Just a little.

I like the nuances of coffee that is created different ways. I also like the looks of coffee-making devices. Some people collect stamps. I collect different ways to ingest caffeine. Same difference.

Now, I present proof.

I've thought about showing proof for awhile now. Keri suggested I take a picture to show all of my coffee stuff. I agreed. Someday, if I can locate everything, and also locate a bunch of clear counter space in my apartment, I would take a picture.

Then, last week, tragedy struck. I grabbed some mail from the counter. There was an instant frozen in time as I saw the French press start towards the edge. I stood frozen as it crashed to the floor, shattering into an explosion of glass shards and still-wet coffee grounds. What a sad sight. And, damn it, I needed coffee! Right now!

I toyed with the idea of straining the glass from the grounds splattered across the floor. But, I realized the half hour to scoop up the glassy, caffeinated mess would far surpass even the most lenient "5 second rule" concerning food on the floor.

I debated leaving the mess for morning. It was late. Keri texted a stern warning that I would regret that. So, I longingly scoop up the grounds and glass and cleaned up the appliances and cabinets.

So, to make a short story very long, I was motivated to capture my dwindling coffee crap before there was too little to brag about. (errr, rather, to be embarrassed by?)

Without further ado, I present for your consideration, "Keith's coffee collection."

There's the standard brewer that wakes me up each morning. This guy keeps me awake enough to be employable. I guess I owe him a lot.

There's the press pot mug that Keri brought me from her last Badlands trip. This gets me through the weekends. And, it's cute to have matching his and hers coffee mugs.

Next, there's the teeny-tiny French press. This one is advertised as unbreakable. I'm starting to appreciate this feature.

The espresso machine. Keri surprised me with this a few Christmases ago. I love making coffee when it actually takes some skill to produce a palatable result. And, I love the fun accessories I got from wife and daughter two Christmases ago.

Italian coffee maker. It's been used twice. Coffee is good. Kind of fun to watch. But, it's left red paint on two different stoves now.

Single cup filter. This guy I bought to try my hand at making coffee like they make in our favorite Vietnamese restaurant. I even special ordered some Vietnamese beans. If I remember right, Keri thought the results choked down pretty well.

Uhhh. I'm embarrassed. In the effort to be complete, I had to include this. It is, after all, a way to make coffee. I use it as my emergency coffee stash. See that red box? At the sound of the depleted caffeine alarm, rip open the box. Tear the pouch. Place in boiling water. Pace while it brews. Drink very fast. *Ahhhhh*

If I count right, that's 7 remaining coffee-making devices. The 8th *sniff* will need to be replaced someday. As I type this, I realize there is another medium French press that I visit on weekends.

Oh, and those bean grinders. You never know when one might break down. So, it's always good to keep a spare. *Heh* (Keri, missing your burr grinder yet?)

So, now you can stop wondering. It is true. I have at least 7 ways to make coffee.

Have a good, wakeful day. I know I will.


RIP wrap up...

I'm going to do a quick wrap up from Carl's RIP 2007.

I was part of the Peril the First in which I agreed to attempt the following:

Read four books from any of the genre's discussed on Carl's blog and so I chose...

1. The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics) by H. P. Lovecraft and others (because of the movie my family members are involved with)
2. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (because Jen told me I should)
3. Lisey's Story by Stephen King (because I've never been able to resist his work for long)
4. Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore (yes, lightweight, but I think I'll need it by the time I get here, and hearing Mystical laughing out loud at another of his books just makes me want to dive into something totally irreverent and funny just in time for the darkening days of November)

I read these books, plus books two and three of the Vampire series of books by Stephenie Meyer. Because the story by Lovecraft that the movie I have family involved with was not in the book I mention in 1, I had to get another book of stories by Lovecraft. That way I was also able to read the story, The Thing on the Doorstep, which I found delightfully creepy!

I really loved being involved with this challenge. It forced me to step outside of my usual reading rut of NYT bestseller list novels, chicklit books and autobiographies. And I entered the realm of H. P. Lovecraft. I ended up reading several of these short stories aloud, sharing them with HBB. They were even more fun read this way.


She inspired so very many...

Catching up on some of the blog posts that I missed while we were out of town... Lori was one of the most inspirational bloggers who wrote with candid frankness about all aspects of life after diagnosis.

She will be missed.

There s/he is!

HalfBrainBoy and I have gone back and forth on this for years. One or the other of us is always letting the less-than-sunny side of our personalities out and then the other offers up a cheery, "There's that happy optimist I've grown to know and love!" earning a much deserved eyebrow. Luckily we balance each other and we aren't typically both at the pessimistic phase at the same time.

Today I stumbled upon this little ditty and decided to see just which side of the pendulum I'm really falling these days and low-and-behold! So take that HBB. I'm solid and right in the middle.

You Are a Realist

You don't see the glass as half empty or half full. You see what's exactly in the glass.
You never try to make a bad situation seem better than it is...
But you also never sabotage any good things you have going on.
You are brutally honest in your assessments of situations - and this always seems to help you cope.

How's your disposition these days?

Let's all keep on the sunny side of life in these ever darkening days, shall we? ;)


More Shopping at Mineral Point...

Results in this:

Oh NO! Now we have to put away all of this stuff!

But also, some really nice stuff like this:


and my cute new coffee mug (I'm becoming the crazy chicken lady):

New coffee mug

And some day we'll figure out where we're going to hang this cool Autumn Tree of Enchantment Spirit Orb...

Tree of Enchantment/Autumn

So relax, HBB... We'll find a place for everything and it will all be very cool. No worries. Have another cuppa latte. Kick back. No problem.

HBB really enjoys his espresso drinks...


Mineral Point 10/07 Shopping

So we had a very successful day of shopping in Mineral Point today. We hit several galleries and shops and bought things for gifts and things just because we liked them. If you think you'll be a gift recipient, don't look at the photos. HAHAHA.

Here's the booty:

One day's shopping yields

This was found out at the Brewery Pottery Studio, which is one of my favorite places to go when visiting the Point. HBB hasn't ever been there before, so I was excited to share it with him this trip.

Johnston Gallery Pottery

I bought this, oddly enough, at a little shop called In the Bag, which is a store specializing in made to order purses... but now that I actually write this paragraph, and write the name of the shop, the fact that I purchased wine there isn't quite so odd to me as it seemed at the time... ;)

Vampire Merlot

We ended up eating at Mineral Spirits again this evening. If you'll recall from the trip with Mystical from last year, this was where I nearly ended up wearing a gentleman on my shoulder one evening while I was trying to eat. He kept getting closer and closer. Or rather his butt did. I honestly thought he was going to sit on me. Or perhaps just use my shoulder to lean on during his conversation. It was an interesting, loud evening.

I've happened upon a favorite beer down here this year. Spotted Cow Ale is a little bit fruity and not at all bitter or dark. So for the second night in a row, it has been my drink of choice.

They haven't had exciting desserts to choose from, so tonight we walked over to the Old Royal Inn where they served up a brownie sundae for two. And it was fantastic. Had I not been wearing boots too treacherous to walk the hilly streets, I'd have been able to walk off my dinner/dessert/beer combo, but instead, after that wonderful coffee and chocolate extravaganza, we had to come back to our hotel to unwrap all our exciting purchases and take pictures to share with folks back home.

We head back home tomorrow, but hopefully not before we head back over to High Street and do just a little more shopping. There were a couple of things that we looked at and thought about going back to check one more time after giving some more consideration to. I have a thing for glass. It sparkles and shines when the light hits it in such a way to make me smile. And there was a fish from my childhood that my grandmother had - glass, of course - that I think is what I'm reminded of when I see many of these gewgaws. So I've had my eye on several glass ornaments (like that you would see here at the Johnston Gallery) in many different colors, and we both went kind of crazy about a large glass hanging disc that had red and pink in it. So we need to go back and see if it still has the same impact on us, I think. Hey, at least we aren't always just impulse buyers, we do think about it. :)

Mineral Point 10/07 (*updated*)

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers for Grant and his family. Those of you who read and are in this area, the memorial service and funeral information are posted on his CaringBridge site.

HalfBrainBoy and I are in one of our very favorite places to hang out this weekend. No, not New Mexico, although we hope to get there very soon, too. This weekend we are in Southern Wisconsin in the little town of Mineral Point. You've seen me write about this before if you are a repeat reader. Mystical and I visited MP last fall about this time, with a day trip to Galena, IL. And HBB and I have been here on several visits ealier, bringing Keli along with us, too.

The town has such a great feeling to it. You can see a video about it here. (It is available in two formats, one for mac, and one for windows...) I think we like it so much because of the many artists who live here and sell their work from their studios and various galleries. Shortly before HBB's brain tumor was diagnosed, we even entertained the thought of buying a building that was for sale on the main street through the down town area and having a business or two there and living above it. We also looked at several of the old homes that were for sale. They have some incredible real estate available. There are still homes here that we are interested in. We look every time we visit.

We took the long and scenic route down yesterday. (And yes, it was longer than we planned because neither of us has any sense of direction any more - I believe a GPS is on order for us this holiday season and it has become extremely necessary!)

**And now? I'm off for my turn at preparations for the day because we want to get to the cafe for breakfast! I'm not sure if we'll dine at the Red Rooster Cafe today or the Shake Rag Cafe. Either would be fine for an old fashioned greasy cafe brekkie.**

6 pm update - Turns out they've turned the Shake Rag Cafe into a simple snack bar and gift shop. So we had our breakfast at the Red Rooster. And it was good. More in a bit. With photos! Oh the shopping we did!

But first, we're off to dinner and Walgreens for a few things I forgot to pack (packing at 10 the night before is not a good idea... I need to learn to make a master packing list). I'll leave you with this photo...

High Street



Darling little Grant stopped his suffering last night at 9:40. Thank you to all of you who were praying for him and for those who visited his site to answer his questions and give encouragement.

He was the embodiment of courage and strength to many in how he lived with this disease.

Please continue your prayers of strength and love for his family.


LibraryThing Meme

I try not to do meme's very often. The ones about books and reading suck me in, though. Mostly because I am curious about what they will look like when I'm done with them and then I've spent so much time formatting them I figure I may as well post them.

This one is apparently the list of LibraryThing's top 106 titles tagged unread. I've been jumping around out at LibraryThing for half an hour at least trying to find that particular area to see how old this list is and if there is a more updated one, because I would think it would change every time people put their list out there, but I cannot figure out how to build the list. I suppose in the search engine. But I'm not sure what criteria was used to create it in the first place... unread fiction of any age? Perhaps. The older titles wouldn't change that much (older meaning those at the top of the list for my purposes). But it was taking forever to try and run the search with that criteria. So I gave up and used the same list that was circulating.

The instructions read: Bold the titles you’ve read. Italicize the titles you have on your bookshelf but haven’t read. And now having done the actual formatting, I know that there are some that I need to head over to my own LibraryThing site and add to my bookshelf. That's always fun. :)

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : A Memoir in Books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera (on my list for 2008)
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible
Angels & Demons
The Inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-Present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake
Collapse : How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an Inquiry into Values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

There are so many italicized because Keith has so many of the books from his college days and I believe they are still sitting in boxes in storage from our move.

I know that if Keli and Keith did the same, their list would look much different than mine. Keli took some kick-butt lit classes in high school and really read some great stuff and had a terrific teacher. Keith had a wonderful experience at the small liberal arts college he attended in the corn field in Iowa, and also in his richy-rich high school. The boy had a great edumacation, is all I'm saying. I was not required to do a lot of reading of the greats. So they sit there on the shelves and I do not tend to challenge myself all that much. I read a lot, but it tends to be of the more contemporary bent.

How does your list look?

the girl...

Keli is making hats now. Teach her a trick and she is a whirling dervish. She does not use a pattern. Like the headbands, she was winging it and made it up. Oh but that I were so clever. I love them. She has people asking for them. I told her she should set up an Etsy store as suggested by a friend. She doesn't plan on it at this point. She can crank one out in a day. *sigh* Oh the cleverness of she.



Two of my inspirations have updated their Caring Bridge pages.

Connor was an honorary chair at the Relay For Life last June with HalfBrainBoy. His story was quite amazing and gets more amazing with each passing day as he thrives. You can see his latest update here and see a beautiful new photo of him. Meeting his family at the Relay and hearing his story, the universal story of survivors, fighters, well it makes me proud to do what I have been doing for the past five years as we've come together as a team since Keith's brain tumor.

Grant lit the torch for our 2006 Relay. Find his latest update here and feel free to go to his guestbook and answer his latest question. His family prints off the pages of responses that he receives and reads them to him. They are a highlight of his day.

And please include these beautiful children in your prayers.


Blog Action Day

When I signed up for this, I was swept away in the heat of the moment. Emotions were high upon seeing the thing, watching the video, reading the excitement and thinking, "Hell yes! What if every blog posted about the same issue on the same day?!" That would be really something! I was caught up in the spirit of the event. It sounded like a good idea at the time, even knowing that I really had no in depth knowledge of the environment or ideas of what to write about today. Back when I put that little button on my blog I thought, "I'll have plenty of time to do some research around the web using their resources and come up with something."

HA. Queen of Procrastination that I am (another nickname for me, CursingMama...), I postponed the research part, and every time that I came here to this little blog and saw that little button, it nagged at me a wee bit. I should have put the date on that button so that I would be reminded of just how quickly it was coming up because here it is! And I'm no better prepared than I was when I signed up. But today it is and I'm committed. So here goes...

The application of poisonous chemicals to lawns and farms for pest and weed control nearly cost me my husband. Oh, I know that's a pretty big statement and I really have no proof. But I'll stand by it. He had a brain tumor removed (as any long-time reader knows) in 2001. We were told the tumor had been there, growing slowly, for many years. When he was a young man of 16 or 17, he lied about his age to get a job working for a chemical company. (He was supposed to be 18.)

His job was to drive around to the stores and go to the garden centers where he would remove the old stock (you know, the old containers that back in the 80's were more lethal and toxic than they'd get away with now and ate through the containers faster than they do now... heh) and clean up the messes. If those stores needed any restocking he would also bring that product along with him in his VW bug.

HalfBrainBoy says:

Much of the stuff was powder. So, opening a case of it often unleashed a small cloud of powder left over from packing. Sometimes some of the big glass gallon jugs of pesticides would have leaked in the crate. I'd wipe off the jugs and put them out. That kind of stuff. So, contact with the chemical wasn't specifically part of the job. Maybe that was worse. Because it wasn't part of the job, I would be cleaning up weed killer dust and pesticides with paper towels and my bare hands. Maybe if I was SUPPOSED to be in contact, I would have been given masks and gloves and such. Maybe.

I know it got to me at least. After a day's work, I would feel like the inside of my sinuses were "sunburnt". That's how I remember describing it.

But, as you know, at that time, we all really needed the money. It was good money. My oldest brother was doing the same job, so he got me in there. (Kinnicchick interjects: Oldest Brother died last year at age 42 of a heart attack.)

It felt better than flipping burgers. At the time.

And, who knows? That was a long time ago. But, it seems possible.

Or, maybe it was that history combined with the atrazine in our well that was right up against the safe limit set by the government.

Yeah, who knows? The atrazine that caused those frogs to be deformed in the experiments done at UC Berkeley. But you know, there are many scientists who are quick to point out that frogs are not people... so you shouldn't assume that just because atrazine is bad for frogs...

Whatever. There is a reason that chemicals are only handled by their makers with hazard suits and gloves. And then they put those same chemicals into products that we use every day. Like nail polish remover and hair dye. On our scalp... where it leaches into our heads and bloodstream. Tell me that doesn't have an effect on our health.

So I'm going there. I'm making that connection. I believe his brain tumor is connected to that job working for the chemical company as a teenager breathing those harsh chemicals daily and cleaning them up without protection.

I'm grateful every single day that I didn't lose my husband to that brain tumor. And every single year that has passed since with clean MRI rides.

And downsizing to this town home and away from the well with the atrazine that was just below dangerous and into the 'safe enough' limit set by the government; the move that had nothing to do with our health or trying to move to town so we could walk more and save the environment in that way, but hey, now that I think about it, every little bit helps so yeah... I'm grateful for that too.


Right to Privacy ranting by HalfBrainBoy

Warning: The following contains a little bit of venting and a whole lot of soapbox.

I just need to say a few things. As many times before, I have something to say about walking.

First, let me give a little background. I walk because I don’t drive. I don’t drive because brain tumors and driving often don’t mix. I’ve been told once to get comfortable with the idea that I probably never will drive again.

So, I walk. Usually, I like to walk. I’ve gotten used to it. I like the pace of doing errands at a walking pace. I even don’t mind the snow and rain. It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something when I get things done in nasty weather. Usually, I have the choice of getting a ride with my wife. But, I also like the side benefits of walking. It is healthy to walk. It is a cost-savings to walk. It is environmentally sound to walk. It also can calm me to walk. So, this is not a complaint about walking in general.

No. Surprisingly, this is a diatribe about the right to privacy.

There are things about always walking that I never thought of. For example, did you know that the canvas tote bags with 3 arm straps instead of just 2 are WAY better? Did you know that a typical canvas tote can hold more weight that I can carry?

Also, I did not know that walking in the big, ritzy suburbs of Minneapolis makes a person a mark for any insults teenagers choose to hurl from their passing cars. I’ve heard all sorts of comments about my mental stability, lineage and orientation while walking down busy suburban roads. Also, when I approach crowded parking lots by way of the sidewalk, I get many wary and suspicious looks.

I must admit, years back, I probably would have had the same reaction. Now, I’m on the different side of the equation. So, I walk. I carry bags when I walk. I have found that it is easiest to combine many errands into one trip. So, I carry some bags to carry what I need.

Does this make me look like a homeless bag-person? Sometimes. Okay, maybe often. I find it kind of funny. I make a better than average living. I could sit down and have a coherent argument on Existentialism or Differential equations with the best of them. I wear decent clothes. BUT, I walk! Even when it isn’t a nice day to walk!

Usually, I laugh off the misperceptions as harmless. I even find it teaches me a thing or two about knee-jerk judgments I make on a daily basis.

But, another thing I’ve learned about doing several errands at once, is how convenient it is to have a portable storage locker to take from errand to errand. (Read: the automobile.) Think about it. You go someplace. You get stuff. You put it in the car and go other places and then only unload it all when you get home.

Hmmm. No car. But, I still want to do more errands than just one since I’ve walked a mile to get to the shopping area. What to do… Good thing I have a good backpack.

Or is it?

Today, I was just out walking on a drizzly day getting a couple of things done. I visited my daughter and her friends. I did a little work on my laptop. Then, as long as I was here, I went to a big-box, chain hardware store nearby. I needed a hinge stop for the door and a dustpan. Not critical, but again, I kind of like to walk. So, I figured I would extend my walk and get something accomplished at the same time.

I go in and I spend maybe 2 minutes in the store. I know where everything is. I get what I need and proceed to the check-out aisle. I’ve checked out and I’m bagging my hinge stop and dustpan. I am just about to turn to go and I hear, “excuse me, sir, may I look in your backpack?”

I kind of froze. Yes, I totally understand. Shop-lifting is a major problem in these places. I’m not naïve at all. I fully support a store doing what it needs to keep all their profits from going out their door unpaid. Really, I do…..

To an extent.

I know how bad it is to walk into a store carrying a backpack. I know it is suspicious. So, I always keep the backpack securely on my back. I don’t take anything out or put anything in until I’m paid up and out the door. I don’t crouch in corners or look around suspiciously when shopping. I am an honest person with nothing to hide and I want them to know it.

Still, I had figured someday, someone would want to see what I had in my bag. I’ve even pictured this moment dozens of times.

I pictured this. Knowing I had nothing to hide, I would jump up on the nearest checkout counter. I’d do my best impression of Patrick Henry. I’d yell, “Give me privacy or give me…” Either that, or a Norma Rae, but I’d hold up a sign saying “Right to Privacy”.

I mean. Just as I explained. I am super careful to look completely on the up and up. I understand what the store is up against and I don’t want to make things hard on them. But, I also don’t have a choice about the backpack. Does that mean I shouldn’t be allowed to shop? Or, rather, shop without expecting to be frisked at the end.

Okay, you might think this a hyperbole. And, you’d kind of be right. But, with my background, this seemed very important. I was in the USSR once. I saw what total lack of privacy is like, and what it does to people.

I was raised very liberal. I went to a very liberal school and I stood in peaceful protests and waved signs for liberal causes.

And, I don’t feel I should be put upon even more because of issues arising from brain damage from a tumor.

Many would say, “what’s the big deal, there is nothing to hide. It’s a condition of entering the store.”

I would say, “Yes, but I should have a right to shop without little kids rummaging through my bags and finding embarrassing things, like my complete collection of Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVDs.” Stuff like that. It’s never clear cut. But, allowing it to stay so vague allows for a lot of slipping of the line.

So, I’ve been ready. I’ve had my speeches ready for when someone asks to look through my things or check out my person. I was ready to make a little stink. I was ready to win one for the right to privacy.

I’m so disappointed. And, maybe, relieved.

So, here was this, maybe, 17-year-old kid. He was just doing what he was told to do to make his hourly wage.

And, here was I knowing I had nothing to hide, tired and just wanting to head towards home.

My reaction? After all these daydreams of taking a stand on the right to privacy?

“Sure, no problem. Here, let me take it off so it will be easier.” ..easier to blur that bill of rights thing.

He told me it was no problem to keep it on. So, we stood in the doorway as other shoppers walked by un-frisked. He opened the many compartments and rummaged through my stuff. I stood still with my head down feeling something similar to having a doctor exam in the middle of a busy store.

Quicker than it felt, he was done. As I left, he said, “Thank you.” I actually thanked him back.

He added, “Next time, it might be good to leave your bag in the car or at the service desk.”

Deep breath.

“Thank you.”

I thought, “Oh, yeah, the CAR! Why didn’t I think of THAT??” And, “Never in a million years am I going to leave my bag at the service desk to be tended by a bunch of distracted teens.” As often, I was carrying a client’s very expensive computer, and some important medications. I had the computer so I could do a little work before walking to the store.

Don’t worry. I understand the overreaction going on here. And, again, it may sound otherwise, but I really do like being forced to do walking I wouldn’t do otherwise. Really. Maybe this situation just hit a raw nerve that started with all the suspicious glances towards the suburban bag-guy. Or, maybe the nerve that was rubbed more when almost hit by drivers only looking for cars in the crosswalks. Or, maybe, I’m kind of afraid of what happens when we start to think too many little things aren’t important.

But, now I’ve gotten it all out. Thank you. I really feel much better now. Now, I think I’m going to go for a walk. This time it will be along the pathway that leads through the forest and next to a pond – a place where cars and store security guards aren’t allowed. Aren’t allowed even in my thoughts.


Lisey's Story Review

A quick review for the RIP Challenge...

I didn't want the department of complaints write up I did here to be the one and only thing I wrote about this book and therefore the only thing I could link for Carl's review site, so I thought I would write up a quick little review.

I had some difficulty getting involved in Stephen King's novel, Lisey's Story. But I don't believe that was anything inherently wrong with the book itself. To be quite honest, I think the problem was more me wanting to get back to the Twilight series. I made the mistake of reading Twilight first and having three completely different books for the remaining challenge books when what I really wanted to read instead was New Moon and then Eclipse. I didn't want to have anything to do with another author or set of characters. My head was still wrapped up in Edward and Bella. I had chuckled my way through a completely off the wall book with Coyote Blue, but now King was expecting me to look at relationships and love and death and something more real life...

Once I took a look at the calendar and saw that I had started book three of the challenge on the fourth of September, however, I took a breath and gave myself permission to relax about it and promised myself that if I would just settle in and read it and give it a chance, I could take some time away from the challenge to finish the Twilight series before going on to book four. (I knew that would take about three or four days out of my time, so what was the big deal? And realistically, they were part of the genre and would count toward the challenge if I needed to swap them in for part of it anyway...)

So I settled in to Lisey's Story. The tale starts two years after the death of Lisey's husband, a novelist of some regard. (A stretch here for a King story, eh? ;) A writer character!) She is beginning to reach a place where she can start to face saying goodbye by closing up his writing study, part with some of his things and face his darkness.

As I looked into selecting a new novel from his works and read some reviews on this piece before making my purchase, I noticed that others said this was a personal book for him that had a lot to do with his relationship with his wife and things he has been through or emotions he has been through since his accident. I don't know about that, but I do see this as a very different kind of novel from others he has written. There isn't a physical thing that is bad, like so many of his earlier works (I'm thinking here of Cujo and Christine, The Firestarter, etc.). This has more of the inner demon theme going.


The Latte Jig - by HalfBrainBoy

How do you do the Latte Jig?

This is my version, tonight:

Put a venti Pumpkin latte in my right hand.
Put a double espresso, brownie and napkins in my left hand.

Walking back to work from Starbucks, a driver stops for me at a stop sign because I'm in the crosswalk.

To acknowledge such a rare and noble act, I raise my right hand in a sign of thanks.

This ejects pumpkin foam on to the left leg of my black pants.

Quickly, to avoid it soaking in, I use the napkins in my left hand to brush off the foam. This pours half the espresso down my right leg.

All this while convulsing across the street in front of the stopped car.

I think this driver is very happy she stopped. I think I may have made her evening. Next time, I think it would just be easier to flip her off. :)


The Weekend - HalfBrainBoy

It's Sunday night already. How did that happen? Okay, how many times do you hear people say, "Hooray, it's Sunday night, I've had too much weekend"?
I'm going to test my memory and see how this weekend was.

Left work early. That's always a plus. Keri and Keli picked me up early so we could get a good start on our weekend. Have I ever mentioned how I love the flexibility of my current job? And, have I ever mentioned how I like being an hour car ride away from home instead of... a 2 hour car ride, a 3 hour flight, AND a 45 minute car ride...away from home?

When I travelled for work, I would have to leave work on Friday morning at 10am to make it in the door at home by 7pm. So, I might still be gone from home all week, but things are better.

That's just getting home. Then, there was settling in to home, making sure we got our dose of chuckles with an episode from the first season of SNL.

Saturday, we started out with coffee at the new coffee shop the daughter wields caffeine. The coffee was good. It was very good. It was so good, daughter suggested I lay off the coffee for a little while lest my head start to spin. So, I did. I waited 15 minutes before my next cup.

That evening, we had our own version of iron chef at home. Daughter and her boyfriend made a kale, potatoe, celery soup. My wife and I made gazpacho. (My wife would rather distance herself from the results, so I'll clarify that I did most of the gazpacho.)

We sat. We ate. Good laughs. Good company. Good food. Well, some good food. Some good food. Some interesting food. Maybe we aren't gazpacho people. Maybe my version of gazpacho is ahead of its time. Maybe I'd better not enter the restaurant industry any time soon.

But, it was much fun. And, it would be nice to repeat the experience. Next time, I'll make spaghetti-o's.

After dinner, we watched another SNL episode. Then, Keri read a horror story to me.

Today, I spent part of the day testing my caffeine endurance back at Keli's coffee place. It was nice to spend quiet time talking. But, now, a horde of customers would be nice, too.

Keri and I took to the kitchen again, today. This time, we took on something bold. We took on baked potatoes. No accidents. No fires. They tasted as they should. We laughed. We were full. All in all a success.

After dinner, there was even table-side entertainment. Keri continued reading a book to me. A good book. A book with laughs. Uhhh. She'll have to tell you the name. I forget.

Keri's reading to me is a tradition started back during my brain surgery recovery. I couldn't read much then. Movies mostly made me dizzy. But, there was lots of time to pass. So, she started to read to me. She read and read. Out on the screen porch she read to me. In the car waiting for appointments, she read to me. As I tell people this, I realize how cool this is. I mean, when was the last time you were read to since become an adult? But, wasn't it fun as a kid? And, wasn't it fun to have someone want to share a book? And, doesn't it sound great spending hours sharing the same story and same laughs? Yeah. It's like that. It's as good as you'd imagine. Maybe a bit better. Have I mentioned lately how lucky I am?

Then, we got back into reality. I'm back at the apartment preparing for work tomorrow. Keri is home getting ready for her busy week with truffles and all.

I know it's a long post. But, I'm just trying to eke out a little bit more weekend before I head towards bed.



You may have noticed the button up there on the right with yesterday's date on it. I mentioned it in yesterday's fine print. I was truffling yesterday from 2 in the afternoon until 7:30 last night at which point I drove to Chan to pick up HalfBrainBoy and then began the drive back to our place, stopping off at a grocery store to get the pieces of our dinner. When we got home, we assembled that dinner and finished it around 10. By the time I got back to the blogroll it was around 10:30 and HBB was having some connectivity issues and was trying to do some work so I was trying to see if I could figure out that little problem and didn't get much further than I had been.

Therefore, I'm going to continue on visiting all of you on my blogroll and commenting everywhere. Because as noted elsewhere, now that I'm reading from a feed reader most often, I sometimes don't always make the extra few clicks to go to your site and comment if I don't have something important to contribute. (And let's face it, this is blogging so how often does that happen?) I want you to know that I'm still reading, even if I'm not often commenting. Because you are important to me.


Candy Man

There just aren't enough photos of rats on the internet.

Candy Man

I know, right?

(I'm also well aware that the place is a mess... in the process of a little redecorating so what else is new? I wanted to put up a banner that was a little more personal and a little less, well... blogger. As soon as Keli's computer is functioning again, I'm going to see what she can do about using her mad photoshop skillz toward making something that fits up there a little nicer for her pop and me and we'll have this place looking good as, er. Better than it does now. And if you'll notice the extra button up there on the right, you'll see that I won't ONLY be visiting you during this 24 hours and reading and slipping quietly away into the ether. I'll actually be leaving some mark of my existence. I'll be lurker no more! Today anyway. Click on the button and say hello to Schmutzie. If you please.)

Happiness Points

Gratitude? Happiness Points?

Sure. Why not?

  • They finally have some Traveling Wilburys out on iTunes. This makes me happy.
  • I woke up during the night (okay, technically it was some time this morning since I didn't get to sleep until well past 2) with an idea for NaNoWriMo. I actually had the presence of mind to write it down in the notebook I had beside my bed. (No, I will not tell, so do not ask... I am superstitious enough to believe this will jinx me...) I typically do not go into November with an idea that sticks. The idea I end up with at the end of 50k is something that comes about three or four false-starts into the month sometime a week or so in. This makes me wonder if I should save this one until I've made a few different attempts.
  • I did not make it through the Lovecraft book over the weekend as planned. I'm on page 41. And I'm beginning to think that the stories get progressively creepy/gross. This one is terrific for that.
  • Happiness is the new scone at Dunn. White and dark chocolate chips. And the previous new scone, raspberry white chocolate. Wasn't I the one who once (okay many times) said "White chocolate is a sin against nature!" in my best mommy voice?

And now I'm thinking if I shouldn't be saving this material for CursingMama's Smiles on Wednesday...

Six Degrees in the Coffee World...

I went to bed half an hour ago with the best intentions of getting more sleep tonight than I did last night (when I ended up watching the first episode of the new season of Grey's Anatomy online - don't get me started about that...) and here I am online...

Might have something to do with the coffee I mainlined (kidding) today bouncing between The Mighty Dunn and The Green Tree, the all organic fair-trade, shade-grown coffee shop where my daughter is now employed. (I just learned that October is not only Breast Cancer Awareness month, but also Fair Trade month!)

It suddenly popped into my head as I was lying here thinking about coffee and various people that I have met in my travels far and wide to various coffee shops that while I am spending most of my free time and some work time too, if that work requires long uninterrupted spans of computer or writing time these days hanging out at the Mighty Dunn, my daughter will now be spending many of her hours kitty-corner across the street at her new coffee bar. And I find it funny (maybe it is the lateness of the hour) that she is dating Michael, who is the brother of Justin, who is dating Leah... who works right across the street at yet another coffee bar 3Hats. (Which coincidentally, was my former haunt prior to TMD coming along and where I happened to meet my good buddies, Michele and Wes, who now work at... The Mighty Dunn!)

Okay. It isn't Kevin Bacon or anything... But I think it's pretty crazy. And as I told Keli in an email before I wrote this, I'll probably delete it later today when I wake and remember writing it. (If I remember writing it.)


Seven Ways to Commit Blog Suicide

I've been tagged by my friend, KathyC for a little assignment. I won't be able to complete it in nearly as clever a way as she did, but I'll give it a shot... because goodness knows I've done my fair shot at this particular topic.

  1. Jump around and have multiple blogs so that people are having to follow you from site to site at any given moment. Luckily, I've managed to stay with this little blogspot site since November of 2003 and for the most part, the three or four readers who have been with me since that start haven't had to do much jumping around. Prior to that, however, I had sites at Diaryland, a different site here, another spot that I can't remember which was similar to Diaryland, there have been a couple of joint efforts here within blogspot in the meantime which didn't last, and one or two other efforts on my own, as well. But at least there has been SOME consistency here. The title at the top has done some changing, but the address has stayed the same.
  2. Change commenting hosts so that comments get dropped completely and lost in the ether or even shut off and it appears you have nobody visiting your site. Well, yes. Comments from haloscan didn't get hooked up to the site again after the latest site refurbishment, but I know where they are. The problem is that I now have comments in blogger and comments in haloscan and never the twixt shall meet. *sigh*
  3. Speaking of changing the look of the site, make changes frequently and make them really major so that when people who don't visit often show up, they don't recognize that they've been to the blog before and always feel they are newbies and don't form a bond. Totally me. However, I think I've gotten much better about this of late, too. I suppose it has to do with having a new house and making changes in the home decorating arena instead. I have a new area to unleash my need for updates and modifications and Make! Pretty! Colors!
  4. When people do read and make comments, be sure and avoid commenting at their blogs if and when you stop by their place. Don't email them in return or even bother to reply to their comment on your own site. Okay, I will admit to being very haphazard in this department. I've jumped all over the place on this. When I learned that a popular blogger that I visit frequently always emails everyone who comments on his site, even if it is just a couple of words in return, I was determined that I would do the same. I started out doing this. That lasted a week. My heart was in the right place. I could probably get back to that because my inbox is now completely clear. After years of hundreds of messages in my stupid inbox I finally cleaned it out completely. What a breath of fresh air THAT was. And seriously? I get so few comments, how hard can it be to email everyone. Then I went through a spate of always commenting in my own comments. But who comes back and reads those? So that's just kind of silly. I visit everyone who is a regular (yes, all three) and MANY more through a feed reader (with over a hundred blogs) but only when they have updated.*
  5. Be very irregular about writing. Make sure nobody knows when you are going to update. Skip days and sometimes weeks at a time. Heck, take three months off! And then suddenly go through a spurt of extreme verbosity! Yep. I do this all of the time! There was a time when I actually had a lot of people stopping in to read. Then I just really needed a break and stopped writing and they fell away. So now I'm back to just three.
  6. Don't have a theme/topic that your blog is based on so you can draw a particular audience. I did have a theme at one time. I still do at some points in time. But for the most part? No. Not really. I just talk about a lot of different stuff. Which is why there are fifty different labels/tags and why I've never drawn a specific group of people.
  7. Post photos that only you would want to view. Oh sure. I know all about this one. Remember the cup of blackened noodles from the mac and cheese I tried to make in the microwave? Who else would want to look at that? *sigh* It's a good thing I'm not paying to keep this blog on the web. Or that it doesn't have to keep an audience to survive. It's just barely hanging on because I have a loyal three people who drop in from time to time.

I'm not tagging anyone, but if the three of you want to take this on, feel free and leave a comment so I can edit to add your link. Smooches!

*Some of you do not show up on my feed reader and it makes me very blue. Any suggestions of what I am supposed to do about you? *coughMichellecough* I have no idea when you have updated. :(


RIP 2007

And now, because of the latest update over at Carl's place (he's having a contest which is sending participants of the RIP Autumn reading challenge off to everyone's sites) I thought I should do an update on how I'm doing toward the challenge. I've had my first drive-by visitor earlier today and they had to go back a month to see my last update on the challenge.

So I signed up for Peril the First and the following four books:

  1. The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics) by H. P. Lovecraft and others (because of the movie my family members are involved with)
  2. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (because Jen told me I should). I thought this was a terrific first novel. And while it bills as a young adult novel, from what I'm getting from reviews from other bloggers around the net, I'm not the only adult who is enjoying the series. It is, as many (most?) other vampire stories, focused more on relationship than the whole vampire theme itself, and after having read through other series' of this nature (The Vampire Chronicles comes to mind by Anne Rice), I have to admit that perhaps I should have been reading those in the YA genre all along because I appreciate the theme to lean more heavily in the relationships than in the gore.
  3. Lisey's Story by Stephen King. Normally I do not fear anything by SK. But this novel was hefty in weight and I was worried about reviews I’d been seeing when I made the purchase. Every review talked about the cutesy secret language he used between the characters. This had me worried and when I picked up the book I piecked it up with serious doubts and did so very slowly. I was only 25 or so pages into it when I spent last Friday writing with Marge and told her that I didn’t know how I was going to slog my way through “the King novel.”

    Marge: Which book are you reading by him?
    Me: Lisey’s Story
    Marge: What is it that you don’t like about it?
    Me: I’m just having a really hard time getting into it. It is starting so slowly.
    Marge: I read it. I really liked it. It isn’t much like his other works…

    And she went on to tell me how she felt about it and that seemed to open me up and give me some sort of permission to let go of my pre-conceived notions (which I never have after reading reviews… seriously? Reviewers piss me off typically because I usually read bad movie reviews and then go storming into theaters ready to do battle and prove them all wrong so what was up?). I still despised the cutesy language, but by the end, I got it. Or rather, I swallowed it for the most part. The main character, Scott, had been through some serious shit as a youngster. And in my head? I heard his voice (young voice) as Caleb, the young boy from American Gothic (someone’s at the door…) and he totally deserved to have as many oogy boogy made up cutesy words going on in his world as he wanted. Whatever of those he wanted to, he could share with his wife, that’s cool. He was a survivor and she was his savior. And it’s SK. So you have to go with the flow. Here’s a man who has written over fifty novels. They aren’t all going to speak like they were educated and have the same flat dialect as I want them to. Very few people can pull off writing with an accent. By the end of the novel, I was grooving with it is what I’m saying. It took me several hundred pages to get there, and who wants to trip so much when there is such a story to be had while you are stumbling along??? Holy jeebus could I beotch about it a little longer?

  4. Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore. I knew I’d probably find this funny after having been read some excerpts of his stuff by a friend. But I had no idea what a crazy romp through Wild Mind I’d be on with him. Native American legend, spirituality, destiny seeking… absolutely out there. And I enjoyed every bit of it, enough to know that it left me hungry for more of his writing. I’ll be reading Lamb next. (Some time after the challenge, of course.)

As it stands now, I've finished all of them but the first one. And I'm slowly plugging my way through that one. In addition I also read New Moon and Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer and will be waiting for book four with Keli, probably sitting in line at the damn bookstore the day it comes out. For the first time ever. Because we are hooked. Or I am, at least. Over a ridiculous YA relationship/series.

I mention about number one that I chose it because of a movie my family is involved with. I actually ended up buying the wrong book. As a result I've ordered another book which has the write story in it, but it was out of print and will not arrive for potentially a couple more weeks. In the meantime I've decided to read The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories in addition to the other one. I'm not even certain the one on order will arrive in time to read it before I was rather hesitant to dig into the Lovecraft because I've never been that into science fiction, which is what I understood his genre to be for the most part. Since beginning the book and working my way through the first few stories, I'm realizing that it's far more than a bit of science fiction.

So I'm enjoying this challenge and am very glad that I've joined on. I've discovered a new/old writer, a new/new writer, and managed to get back to doing some serious reading over the past month. Now, as Mystical says, I just need to kick it into high gear on my writing, and seeing as how NaNoWriMo is opening up the gates of their website next week, I'm sure that is going to take off soon, too.

Who's up for writing a novella in the month of November? huh?


I've been following along this week with LifeTwo's week long series on "How to be Happier" which focuses on the work of Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar and his book "Happier."

Today has brought forth all sorts of interesting reads...
First we learn the four archetypes of happiness and their descriptions. These days I'm afraid I fall more into the Hedonist type than any of the others, while HalfBrainBoy spends more time following the Rat Racer type (except on the weekends...;)) And of course, the Happiness archetype is the preferred type to be following. I could go into the descriptions and explanations, but why bother when you can head on over to the link and read all about it yourself? Besides, there are several posts which come prior to today's that you should read first if you are interested in this.

Also, if you are a younger reader, don't let the location of the information scare you away. It's not just for us old folks. Happiness is attainable for all ages! :)

There are exercises included in the posts and links and insightful comments from others. I wanted to include info here for others who may not already know about it.

Posted today in other areas of their site, they discussed today that becoming more organized can make a person happier because the more organized you are and more simplified your life is, the more time you have to do the things you really want to do. Well, being the little type-A organizational freak that I am, I was all over that one. When blogger Greg asks the question, Can You Organize Your Way to Happiness? I answer a hearty YES! And he provides fabulous links to sites that make me happy just knowing they exist. *sigh*


Random Bullets of my evening...

  • It would appear that 5:54 is walking through the neighborhood of kinnicchick and halfbrainboy time. At least on Monday afternoons!
  • I have an appointment to get our biga$$car tuned up tomorrow morning at the crack of morning. The big 120,000 mile appointment. Do not ask me why I scheduled it so early in the morning. I guess I thought it would be a good call. You know, get it in early and they'll have it done so much more quickly. This means I'll be dealing with the rush hour traffic of people going to work in the cities. It will be great. And pricey. I ran the car through the car wash last week. Ever since then it has sounded like it hasn't had grease anywhere. Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeel. People look for us blocks away when we are coming down the street. I'm guessing they think there must be a runaway train cruising through town without benefit of tracks or something.
  • I'm tired of the ridiculously overblown Croc/escalator hype. Please. Escalators can catch shoes no matter what you are wearing. Flip-flops, sandals, etc. It has just come back into the media again because of the tot's incident. I'm always waiting to have my shoelaces caught in the escalator. Why do you think I wear Keen sandals? Why do you think I stay out of malls? Take the steps. They're safer. And you get exercise.
  • It is raining. Again. A really good storm. Hoping my daughter's roof doesn't leak. Again.
  • Had a great visit with KathyHowe, CindiRella, and CursingMama on Friday Night when we gathered for another Girls' Night Out at the Howe House. We even got to try out Cindi's hoop!
  • I removed the link to our local Relay For Life fundraiser because the site has been turned off. When the new site is activated and our team is registered, I'll get it linked up once again. In the meantime, I'd be happy to see you donate to the American Cancer Society here. For more personal giving, I happen to know several people who are currently battling cancer or have recently been fighting and could use your financial contributions. Email me and I will point you in their direction so your dollar can be used in the most direct and helpful way possible. Smooches to all of you.
  • I have acquired another chicken/rooster. Do ya'll think this may be turning into an obsession? This isn't just a chicken, however. This is a bobble chicken. I found it rather difficult to take a photo of the bird for it didn't want to stand still!

bobble chicken 1


Childhood Cancer Awareness Month...

News from the battle lines.

Sahara had surgery this week. That nasty inoperable gbm with which she was first diagnosed, was a misdiagnosis. There is fabulous news in their world. You can visit her blog and learn more about it there. But things are looking much brighter than they did the last time I wrote about her here.

Grant is still lighting his family's world with his lovely life. He brings them joy and shows determination with every passing day. He asks questions which he loves to have answered in the guestbook of his CaringBridge site, if you care to answer. His parents read the answers to him, which he enjoys.

Connor and his family received wonderful news this week. No more brain tumor! Do you remember Connor's story? He was dianosed with Congenital Glioblastoma multiforme stage 4. His family was given no hope when this was found. Always search for hope. Always. Never give up.

Do you notice what these stories have in common? These inspirations are young people. They are not the only inspirations I've had on my list who have been young. No, not at all. I'm sure you could add many more to the list, too. I'm writing of them tonight because I received a strong reminder when I went blog-walking today and visited another inspiration of mine, Deb. I'm sure if you've been reading here for any length of time, you will remember her. She's been walking her own journey for a while now. Well today she had a post that put all of these young people racing into my mind and all of the others who are fighting and have fought. She reminded me of why we are doing this. Yes, I got involved because of HalfBrainBoy's journey. But I stay involved for all of them. Thank you for your continued involvement, Deb. And thank you again for the reminder... Because sometimes I need a kick in the ass.


What book?

Stolen from CursingMama Knit Motorcycle.

What book is KinnicChick?:

You're Cat's Cradle!

by Kurt Vonnegut

You believe quite firmly that free will deserted you long ago and far
away. As a result, it's hard to take responsibility for anything. Even though you show
great potential as a leader of a small 3rd world country, the choices are all made ahead
of time. You're rather fond of games involving string. Your fear of nuclear weaponry is
trumped only by your fear of ice.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Works for me... and now, what book will HalfBrainBoy turn out to be???

You're The Guns of August!

by Barbara Tuchman

Though you're interested in war, what you really want to know is what
causes war. You're out to expose imperialism, militarism, and nationalism for what they
really are. Nevertheless, you're always living in the past and have a hard time dealing
with what's going on today. You're also far more focused on Europe than anywhere else in
the world. A fitting motto for you might be "Guns do kill, but so can
diplomats. "

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Works for him too...

Original Divas...

Because Katie is in Turkey and is not allowed to see things on wordpress, I present

Original Divas...

Back in the late 90’s I got my first computer at home. Because of my work as a quality control analyst who tested software in the world of Information Technology I had to be able to provide support at times and whined and whimpered when my rotation for on call would come about. I found it difficult to wake up in the middle of the night to those phone calls when I would have to figure out what the problem was based on a description over the phone by a voice of a (typically) crabby night operator who didn’t know some of the software systems any better than I did.

Getting a computer at home allowed me to be able to hook up to the computers downtown and do some actual research and visually see what was going on. This made life so. much. easier.

It also opened up my life to the world wide web. Internet for the masses. Magazines online. Research of any subject that I fancied on a whim. And I was off and running. How amazing was that?

Shortly after that, I found a website that was discussing Oprah and her weight loss and fitness guru at the time, Bob Greene. His book Make the Connection was the latest and greatest thing. A discussion group formed from that site, rather like a bulletin board or perhaps that is exactly what the first group was. I really can’t remember anymore. I bet my friends, do. It was on one of the women’s magazine sites.

Well, there was a lot of discussion going on there, and a lot of support and caring and friendships forming. And one day, the web had a hiccup and the site went down. And that one day stretched into two and three… I had an email address or two for some of them and we began to send emails in the background: “What’s going on? Have you heard from anyone else?” And it began to dawn on us that we needed a backup plan and contingencies. :)

So many more email addresses were exchanged when the site came back up (I think quite honestly they couldn’t handle the volume of interest and discussion that was going on in their little site!) and different ideas were discussed (like yahoo groups, for example). These people were becoming important to each other and didn’t want to lose contact again!

In the year 2000, one little gathering of those brought together through the power of the internet took place in the city of Chicago, Illinois. They are pictured here. The anniversary of that event was just over a week ago. Happy Anniversary of our Chicago Diva Fest, ladies. I’m so very proud of us for maintaining our connection for such a long time. I love you like my sisters and hope we are able to come together again very soon.

Divas in Chicago

Peter, Amanda and Jane

Katie and KathyC and their girls

News from this side of the river...

News from my world that's almost fit to print...

  • The one trial I've almost been involved with wrapped up this week with the defendant being found guilty of 2nd degree intentional homicide. I know I've said it too often already, but I'm very grateful I didn't end up on this jury. They never would have picked me, though. I was far too biased walking into it. The day I read about the police call in the local paper I said (not just to myself but out loud, for crying out loud) "Oh this guy is so guilty, and stupid!"
  • It's Friday, which means HalfBrainBoy heads this direction from his weekday place across the river. What will we be doing this weekend? Maybe spending a little time with extended family if we're lucky. Maybe doing a little shopping for the next big thing on our finishing the new home list. Probably watching a little Mystery Science Theater 3000 (to satisfy the geek in us).
  • Had an email from my niece this week informing me that she and her cousin are interested in joining the Relay Committee. What was that I said about the younger generation stepping up to the plate? She lost her grandpa to this insidious disease less than a couple of weeks ago, so it's deep in their hearts to find the cure, too. Still, I'm proud of the girls. There aren't many 16-year-olds who step up and get this involved.
  • Considering the whole ridiculousness of the man vs. women outlook of the list, I thought Busymom's list was quite apropos. You? In fact, we could make the list MUCH longer given that outlook...

I guess that's about enough news for me this morning before I've even finished my first cup of coffee. I've already broken a piece of my bracelet off and haven't even struggled through the first short story of this final book in the challenge. I'm determined to sit here until I do. One story. They're actually pretty short. I can do this. And then I'm going to do some writing. Because Friday is writing day, even if Marge isn't here.

Have a great weekend. What's on your list of fun things to do this weekend?


Here I sit...

Sitting here listening to the little red roomba dash around the wood floors cleaning up after us and doing some cleaning up of my own on a document for Truffles by BC.

Also trying to work up the desire to begin the fourth and final book of the R.I.P. Autumn Challenge, which for me is The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories It's the one for which I most wanted to get involved in the challenge, and yet the most challenging book of all.

But now, I have to finish up my document tasks, print them off and head to the coffee shop. Work calls.


Decorating... it just keeps on creeping along...

Not much has happened since our last report on decorating from the home front. We are, for the most part, living with the decisions made so far and letting them settle. We are getting the feel for living in this space and seeing how we utilize the various rooms and what we think we still need.

Last week we drove in to our development and the guy who has a blinds company was just loading up his car after meeting with one of the new town home owners. We stopped to chat with him about coming over and delivering his pitch to us some day and he said he actually had some time right then if we were open. Perfect. So he stopped in and we chatted for forty-five minutes giving him our feel for what we wanted in window coverings and he showed us what he was doing in the development here and in Blaine. He wrote up a bid and said they could be installing in just a couple of weeks, which is really good news as we are very tired of sneaking around in the dark at night.

I'm thinking that installation should happen about the same time as the delivery of our bedroom furniture, which feels like it has taken forever.

The living room furniture is being lived in. We like it just fine, but it is not enough. Still looking for the perfect recliner to finish it off. And wishing we'd gone with one more chair or perhaps the loveseat in addition to the sofa/chair combo. And we're still looking for the pieces to put beside the fireplace. Because the perfect things just haven't come along yet. If only that sideboard to match our dining room had been two inches smaller. *sigh*

And the perfect rug will be found in New Mexico as soon as we next travel there. I can feel it.

The southwest feeling is just exactly what the doctor ordered, though. And the girls are totally enjoying hanging out here. When we have it all together, we'll have a party and invite you all to come.


For Phil...

My SIL Diane lost her father this weekend. I do not even remember when she told me that he was waging his own war on cancer, but I know that she puts forth her own quiet efforts whenever Relay comes around. She has so many other things going on all of the time with two very busy high school aged kids who are active in more activities than I could even name. And she and my brother work full time as well. They are the ultimate fast-paced family of today. I'm not sure how they keep it all straight. (Probably less time on the computer, heh.)

In fact, I have two brothers who's families live lives that are much faster paced than my own. They accomplish more in one day than I manage to get done in a week. I envy how many checkmarks they must have on their to-do lists in comparison to mine.

This took an interesting turn.

What I really wanted to say...

We hope that at some point soon, everyone in Phil's family can breathe a little easier knowing that his pain and struggle has passed. But until then, our deepest heart felt condolences and sympathies are with each of them.