Monday, February 26, 2007


Remember last week?

Pictures for you

Remember all the melting of the snow?

Remember how I said that I'd go tromping in a few days and start my way-too-early hunting for new green noses?

Well, of course, I lied.

And a good thing, too, otherwise I'd have missed this:

Pictures for you

Gen-u-ine daffodil fingers reaching toward the warm, warm air! Right outside my door, where I could see them as I hollered at Molly-dog to "Go Potty! Go on! Get going, now! You go Potty! Go Potty! NOW!"

It was so lovely and warm, I didn't even need shoes on the warm pavement. I did, of course stay on the concrete and not go romping in the snow along side. Here, I even took a picture to prove it:

Pictures for you

Ooooooh! Which is more blinding-white? The snow or Diana's feet? I'm almost to the time that I'll throw some polish on those long-hidden tootsies. Almost.

The weekend was soon to be here! The weekend with the rainstorms! Remember?

Well, seems like they got the temperature wrong by about 20 degrees.

Pictures for you

And that 20 degrees meant that instead of a fuckload of rain, we got a fuckload of snow.

The kids were happy, though, and spent much of Sunday morning having a snowball fight over and around the huge piles of snow that lined the driveway.

So, we went from anticipating all the snow being gone to getting a good foot of it all over everything, with some drifts of 2-3 feet and the 6 foot piles from the plow. I do realize that this is nothing to those living in places like Buffalo, NY, where the snow would be higher than the roof of my house. (And how the hell do you clear your walk? If it's 11 feet high, how do you toss the snow over that? I mean, just look at our front walk. And that's only about a foot of snow fall!)

Pictures for you

And so my tootsies are covered, again, as are the daffodil fingers and the tulip noses that are just inches away.

Pictures for you

Hmmmmm..... I feel like I'm forgetting something.....Oh! Of course! For those of you wondering how poor Beaker fared, I'm afraid that this now makes Snowplow, 3: Beaker, nil.

Pictures for you

He'd be flat on his side if it weren't for all the snow that's acting as a pillow as well as a blanket. Nighty-night, Beaker. Sleep tight. Dream of spring and no more marauding plows.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

And So It Begins, Again

Sunday, it was winter.

Monday, it was less winter.

The temperature jumped 30 degrees, there were geese flying north in the sky. More than 1 or 2 obviously sick and delirious ones. Flocklets. Several flocklets. (Or is it 'gaggles'? Gaggles of geese? Gagglets?)

Driving home after work, I saw actual brown ground rather than brown snow along the side of the road. Pulling into the drive, there was a pool of melted snow in the driveway from the 4' piles along the side. I sat there with my mouth open, hand mid-reach for the garage door remote.

Damn! I'll even do Winston Churchill one better. It is the beginning of the end.

So what did I do?

I ordered these:

4 highly disease and cold resistant apple trees that should need absolutely no spraying.

2 cold resistant sweet cherry trees. (Finally! Sweet cherries! All I've been able to find so far for USDA Zone 4 is pie cherries.)

2 Wisconsin weeping willows. (We need willows. We neeeeed to hear the wind blowing through the willows.)

3 Jostaberries. (Never heard of them, but what's a garden without surprises? And they have fall color! And even if they aren't tasty--though they sound like they are--I'm sure the birds are going to love them. I just hope they can do alkaline soil, unlike those weenie blueberries. (Sob! I've finally reached the conclusion that one can't grow blueberries in soil with a pH of 13.99. Ok. I exaggerate. pH of 13.89. Or thereabouts. It's the mile of limestone under the inch of topsoil. No fighting it.))

A variety of cold loving early, mid and late season strawberries (I've got a nice patch going but need more! And More! AND MORE! I'm competing with the small-handed ones and the dog in this.)


I think that's it, so far. Plus, those cold hardy blackberries that I re-ordered after the ones from last year went tits-up after being abandoned without telling me by whoever brought them in from the delivery guy last year, are coming.

Then, in another month or so (Too early! NO! Too early, Diana! slap, slap) I'll start driving by nurseries that aren't on my way home.

It's supposed to rain this weekend and be in the 50s? Can this be true? (and perhaps get the first of the thunderstorms), so I'm anticipating some real snow melt. (Gee, now I get to worry about flooding in the basement. Never, never happy.)

All this means is that in a few days, I will be wandering about the land with my schnozz an inch from the soil, in a raincoat, not a parka, peeping under mats of decomposed leaves and such looking for the noses of bulbs. It's too early, by a few weeks, but I won't be able to stop myself.

So, stomping I will go, with dog and girl. (The boy will have no part in it for there are no aliens to shoot in this slow bent-over shuffling along the paths.) Then I will come inside, glowering and glowing, for it is soon to be my time of year, just not quite yet. The time of muck and manure. We should be able to plant trees and bushes in about 6-8 weeks and garden things in about 12 weeks, so I need to start seeds (eep!) in about a month. Or less.

So much to do, so much to do.

I pity you all as I will take it all out on you, telling you of it in absolutely excruciating detail.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

My Turn III

And, so, we come to that fall back post series I reach for when I'm truly desperate for something to post: The turn about questions! You who have been with me for ages know how this works. I get to ask a series of pointless questions and I solicit your answers. It works both as a way to throw up a post without having a single damn thing to say (like that's any different, you'd quickly point out) and get those beloved comments flowing, because who doesn't like giving their opinion to a captive and supportive audience? As I am a fair and balanced person, I will answer in green. Green for the color of the grass and leaves that I am starting to pine for. (There, is that pathetic enough?)

1) What is the one food you would choose if you were condemned to eating only one thing for the rest of your life? Pie. Can't go wrong with pie. All sorts of pie to choose from: Shepherd's, sour cream apple, chocolate. Oh yes. Pie. You might even be able to finagle some sort of loophole and claim 'pizza' as 'pie', especially if you had some sort of New England/ New York/ New Jersey tie.

2) What famous person do YOU think you look like. Doesn't have to make sense to the rest of the world. Bridget Fonda. We've got the same chin and cheeks. I also like most of her stuff, so that's incentive to think I look something like her as opposed to, say, Andie MacDowell, who I have neither her chin, cheeks nor do I like pretty much any of her work.

3) What did you have for breakfast today? Some turkey lunch meat slices, 2 pieces of cranberry bread, coffee and 2 chocolate cookies. Oh, and a handful of peanuts. (Sugar, salt, caffeine, grease...yup. All 4 food groups well represented.)

4) Any vacations planned for the summer? Where? Bah. Sore subject with us. What fool asked this stupid question? We would dearly love to be able to journey back to The Old Country, (Portland, Oregon), but it will depend on Charles's summer class schedule. Bah. If that falls through, we hope to at least take a long weekend and head to northern Wisconsin or the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which we should be able to reach by car in 1/2 a day. Woot! The life we lead. I do get to go to a training conference in New Orleans in a few months, but as I will be needing to cram scads of things in my brain, I will only be able to have a few hours to wander around the French Quarter before I leave. Oh well, better than nothing.

5) If you could bring anyone back to life for 5 minutes to yell at them, who would it be? Jim Henson. I'd berate him good for not treating his pneumonia in time. The world's gone to hell in a hand basket and needs his creative touch. The Muppets are not the same and he's to blame. He should still be alive and I'm pissed at him for not being so.

Aw, that's enough.

Your turn.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Hah! Made Ya Call

So, there I was. Monday morning. Stomping the residual snow off my boots as I stood by my desk at work, turning on the computer, stacking the piles of charts and messages left for me during my absence into a single ascetically pleasing pile, when I happened upon The Message.

It was left by one of our receptionists, L, who is excellent and has a sense of humor. Basically, it requested for me to call ASAP!!! a woman named Barbara who was calling on behalf of Congressman Tom Price, as they wanted me to be the chairperson of some health care committee for the state of Illinois and they needed to do the press release.

??? (insert confused dog expression, here)

"Who's Congressman Tom Price?" I asked my cohort and office mate, the chiropractor.

"Dunno. Never heard of him."

I read him the message, which wasn't any more helpful on the second reading. Or the third.

Scratching my head and figuring there was a mistake (because no one in their right mind would be looking for me to be on, let alone chair, a State committee), I asked L, who had taken The Message. She didn't know what it was about, either, but did note that this person often called for another of my partners who basically would ignore the messages or would tell her to toss it.

Completely intrigued, I did what any of us in the blogosphere would have done.

I googled him.

Turns out he's a Republican from Georgia.

Even more perplexed as to why a congressman from Georgia would be calling me to call ASAP!!! (or at least one of his minions), I picked up the phone and dialed away. The phone was pleasantly answered by someone not named 'Barbara'. I explaned that I had a message to call, was asked my name and address, and then told to first please listen to the following recording and that she'd be back on the line to discuss it when it was over.

A few seconds into it, I nearly hung up as it started with something akin to the Following (Not verbatim as I don't have that sort of memory, but the substance is correct):

"Hello, this is Congressman Tom Price. As a fellow phycian I am sure you are as concerned about Senator Hillary Clinton and her socialist agenda for the future of health care. You are also concerned that others may take control of the practice of medicine out of our hands..." There was some other stuff along the same lines. You get the picture. The whole thing lasted about 2 minutes.

Then the nice woman not named 'Barbara' came back on the line and asked if I had listened to the recording. I said I had and that they really, really didn't want me, as I was a staunch Democrat.

"Oh. I'm sorry about that," She said. "Sometimes there is a mistake on our lists. I'll just remove your name. Thank you."

And we parted company.

I was about to ask her if she meant that she was sorry that she'd called me in error or if she was sorry to hear that I was of such a sorry excuse for a physician, as we are all, clearly, conservatives. (I figure that's the only way they could have gotten my name, from some generic list of docs.)

But, at least I wasn't hit up for a campaign contribution, as I'm guessing that's what the ASAP!!! call was all about. Can't imagine a Georgia congressman would be having anything to do with an Illinois State committee. Sorry. Should have played along for a bit more and given you more of the scoop, but I have my limits, even in the interest of blogging.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Babies Having Babies

I am, it seems, a Grandma.

I'm a little thrown by this unforeseen development, thinking that this was something that was about 20 years in the future, if it was something that was to be at all, but life throws us curve balls.

It all started innocently enough with Sara's check-up on Friday. She was seeing her new pediatrician, Dr H, who I know and like, personally and professionally. She is a worthy replacement for the fabulous Dr P, if anyone can be said to be worthy.

I set Sara up for this a day or two in advance, as springing something on Sara that does not involve zoos or chocolate is not quite the wise thing.

Everything seems fine until we are called back and my darling daughter, who is not a shrinking violet under normal circumstances, turns into a 40 lb tumor on my right thigh, face pressed to my jeans as I waddle down the hall with a rather bemused look on my face.

The nice peds nurse tries her best to get Sara to warm up to her, and has some success in that Sara complies with getting on the scale and standing up straight for her height and so on.

We are then left alone to get her into one of those little kid gowns and await "Mommy's friend, Dr H".

Sara decides to sit on my lap for the wait. We chat. It's nice.

With the knock on the door, Sara is suddenly overcome with African Sleeping Sickness. It's phenomenal. She slumps in my lap, her head against my chest, eyes resolutely closed, softly snoring in a very unconvincing manner.

Dr H looks at me strangely.

Sara continues to feign sleep.

Dr H asks the usual questions and tries to believe me when I describe my little chatterbox and wild-woman.

Sara continues to feign sleep.

Both of us shrugging, the physical exam commences.

Sara continues to feign sleep, despite a trial of tickling under the arms and the soles of the feet. She does not even flinch. She opens her mouth on command (and her eyes for the 2 seconds necessary to check her pupils).

We consider the diagnosis of locked-in syndrome.

It is the easiest exam poor perplexed Dr H will have all day, we are sure.

After all this, I ask Sara to please open her eyes as I have something important to discuss with her: The Shot Talk. I explain she will get 5 (yes, 5! containing a total of 9 separate vaccines) shots and that it will hurt, but not for long and that I will hold her and it will be over soon. She is asked what her favorite color is for a bracelet that she will receive as a prize for going through all this.

"Violet," is her answer.

Not 'purple'.

She is very, very brave with all the painful shots. She cries silently with big tears that splash on my arm, but doesn't pull away very much. I feel like total shit, of course, but try to console myself with how much shit I'd feel like if she came down with measles or tetanus or hepatitis A or any of the other 6 maladies.

She is told she is the bravest of kids and is given not one, but 2 different violet bracelets, a violet heart-shaped ring, a rubber duck with a princess crown, bubbles in a violet container and a pencil (alas, blue). We head out for lunch to celebrate her bravery and to stop at the pharmacy to fill her fluoride prescription. It is there that my fatal mistake is made.

Remember that I am now a Grandma?

Oh yes.

She got to pick out a toy for her bravery. (Yes, I spoiled her. I did this completely intentionally. I don't want her to remember the shots, I want her to remember the good stuff she got. This should be the last time she needs so many shots unless she goes off to the Peace Corps, and should that be the case, it'll be her own fault and she'll just have herself to blame. In my defense, this is the only time I've done this for her. Colin also got some very nice presents when he got his appendix out and was so terribly brave through all that pain. I do believe bravery in the very young deserves to be re-enforced strongly and with more than words. So there. Sue me.)

And what did she choose? Not one of the art things. Not a game. Nope.

You guessed it: A new doll.

And not just any doll. A baby doll that cries and giggles and burps. (Oh! the glee those burp sounds cause. Oh! The hundreds and hundreds of times that poor baby has had to fraaaap. A baby doll that starts to fuss and then loudly cry if you just let it sit and ignore it. (You stop the crying by stuffing a bottle in its demanding little mouth.)

Sara, for her part, is not a bad baby doll mother. She has given it tons of attention, never leaving its side, even waking it when it finally gives up and 'sleeps'. (Clearly Sara's not learned my Rule #1 of Motherhood: NEVER WAKE A SLEEPING BABY.)

This extended to her hollering to me from the toilet as she demanded that I "Take Baby," so she could wipe and wash her hands.

Which is why I found myself holding Baby in my arms, doing the Mommy bouncy-walk, while I kicked the laundry basket down the hall, to an intense feeling of deja vu.

This has continued for most of the weekend. Finally, last night, Sara decided that Baby needs to just 'cry it out' and things were quiet.

And so, I am left to ponder my ascension to Grandmahood, something that is especially ironic given my work at the local Health Department in the Family Planning Clinic, doing my level best to prevent pregnancy in other people's kids.

I really hope this trend doesn't continue, as I am also Medical Director of the Health Department's STD clinic. If it does, I hope it's something curable, say with that new HPV vaccine.

I'm thinking I should push for her to get it at her Kindergarten physical. And, I'll be damned if I'm getting up with Baby if she cries at night. Sara had the kid, she can have all of that fun. As it is, she keeps trying to pass her off on me while she takes over bedtime reading responsibility.

Grandmas are too old for that shit.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

In Her Next Life She'll Choose To Be A Husky

Poor Molly-dog. She's been longing for winter for such a long, long time. And now that it's really here, she finds that it's not as, well, warm as she'd hoped. For the past near-week of sub-zeros (Fahrenheit) with another 20 degree drop due the the wind racing down from Northern Ontario, she's not wanted to be out for more than 2-3 seconds at a time.

It's really rather pathetic. She'll whine at the door or window, we'll let her out. She'll step out, turn around, and then flatten us in her need to get back to where the heat lives.

Now, this would be fine if she were like us, only needing to step outside to go from warm building to warm car to warm house, but she has steadfastly refused to be sensible like the humans and the cat and find a socially acceptable way to eliminate indoors.

She will dash out and pee in a matter of milliseconds (which is just dandy for the person at the door, but she has issues when it comes to pooping. See, she has a ritual she must perform that involves a complex dance of sniffing, pacing, turning, sniffing, and then finally trotting purposefully to her poop area 'round the side of the house and over by the little trees. This takes time, people.

Her solution?

The time honored one of 'holding it'.

And 'holding it'.

Finally, yesterday, the temperature was a balmy +10, so she and I tromped out to shovel snow (me) and romp (her). It was like she'd spent the last week cooped up inside the house, being taunted by the snow. Which she had. The joy! The glee! The pooping! She laid 3 very large piles in the space of 20 minutes.

Now that HAD to feel good.


Monday, February 05, 2007

The Bestest Day Of The Year (so far)

Pictures for you

And just why would Superbowl Sunday be such a great day, Diana? You've not followed football with any rabidity since the '80s and '90s, when the Seattle Seahawks kept breaking your heart and you and Charles lived on a dozen donuts and coffee for your entire Sunday's nutrition. (Well, donuts, coffee and beer in the evening.) You aren't one of the ones who watches for the commercials.

Ah, sillies. It's all about the guacamole.

This is the day when you get to eat all the guacamole you desire (and that's a large amount of guacamole, sweethearts). As Charles and I didn't go anywhere to watch the big game, we also didn't have to share the quart of fresh guacamole I made with anyone but each other. As I put the generous quart of guac in a wide bowl, there wasn't even the need to alternate our dipping activity, one after the other. We just put the bowl between us on the couch and dove in. To keep the guac company, I also made a big platter of nacho fillings for scooping with the chips.

I am now retaining water like a sponge from all the sodium, and farty from all the rest, but the glorious memory lingers on. (There are also leftovers. Leftovers that will spoil if not eaten in a timely fashion. Like for dinner, tonight.) Good thing I had a large green salad for lunch.

We also led off the festivities with a little taste test. Charles, 1/2 Yank, 1/2 Canuck that he is, is a fan of beer. Make that good beer. Not the stuff that looks like dilute pee. Here in the delightfully white-bread-and-neon-yellow-mustard region of the Upper Midwest, they drink Bud. And Bud Light. Sometimes a Miller. Corona if really, really being highbrow.

It distresses us greatly, especially Charles, as he is an altruistic soul and it truly pains him to see people imbibing such awful stuff.

We do not call it beer, for it is not.

He shows up at parties with good beer in hand, which sits in the fridge and, I am sure, is passed around later, after we've left the party, as a good joke. He is almost evangelical in this. Me? I'm less concerned about the immortal souls of my pals. If they can't be bothered to enrich their lives, well, their loss.

Which leads us to the collection of beers in the photo. We have 3 varieties of American 'beers'. 1 Bud regular, 1 Miller Light, 1 Bud Light. 2 bottled, 1 canned. A reasonable representation. These were given him by 2 'friends' to drink at the Superbowl, as, they reasoned in their quaint way, an AMERICAN INSTITUTION requires and AMERICAN BREW. (And by 'American' they mean 'bad'. We all know there are scads of excellent American beers.) So, we had a taste test. Not to see which was best. No, no. That would imply that they weren't all deeply flawed to begin with. I merely wanted to know if there was any gustatory difference between them.

We didn't bother to blind ourselves as to brand. We were equally biased to all. We also didn't bother to rinse the glass between brands. Why artificially add flavor by mixing our tasty well water with such offerings.

With trepidation, we took a sip, figuring that anything that looked identical to what leaves one's kidneys, should taste like what leaves one's kidneys.

And the results? Charles felt that the Bud and Miller Light were 'tasteless' and the Bud Light in the can was 'tasteless and slightly sweet'. Me? I disagreed. I thought the Bud 'tasteless' but BOTH the Lights 'sweetly tasteless'. We did try them both (literally) iced and warmed up a bit. This wasn't intentional, actually, but we'd left them in the green room, where we keep our boots and some gardening stuff and the outside toys (it's off the kitchen, sticking out on the back deck, and is barely insulated and not heated) and everything froze. Guess that's what happens when the outside temperature gets way below zero F. (Was -20F driving in to work today, with windchills of -35! Woot!) Unbeer freezes. So, I put the bottles/cans in the sink, watching as the contents foamed out the top when they were unstoppered. Seeking to thaw enough for true testing purposes, I put some warm water in the sink, which worked, of course.

I can say with definity that warming the unbeers did NOT result in any improvement. Instead, they just got nastier, and by 'nastier' I mean oddly sweeter.

We then dumped the lot down the drain, with apologies to the plumbing, and each had an Optimator Spaten. Which was neither frozen, tasteless nor oddly sweet.

So that's how we spent our Superbowl Sunday in the Casa Del Piffle. Doing our part for science and farting.

When you think about it, it really is best that we don't inflict ourselves on others, isn't it?


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Haikus For Beaker

Pictures for you

Hi. Remember me?
Beaker, here. I've been standing
taking mail for months.

All seemed well until
the much prayed for snow did fall.
Which led to the plow.

Menacing me in
the dark, pre-dawn, he bore down,
like a monstrous troll

I saw him veer and
aim right for me, smashing me.
Plow: 1, Beaker: nil

Finding me AWOL,
Charles dug me out and propped me
up the best he could.

Large rocks he piled
'round my post, "Good enough", he
said, then left for work.

Abandoned me to
my fate. 'Good enough' was NOT
'Good enough' at all!!!

For mere days later,
with the next snow, he returned.
Plow: TWO, Beaker: nil.

So, pathetically
I lean, spine broken, skull cracked.
I'm perky no more.

Blame me not if your
mail goes missing and future
refund checks are lost.

Not that I'd plot such
a thing. I'm just saying what
you sow, shall you reap.

So, I'll stop now; I'll
lean and glower, a broken
shattered, bitter soul.