Flat Out


It really does exist

I started the week with a bang – or at least, a flat and smoking tire.

As I left the Big Town, I noticed that Wednesday was not handling the way I was used to. I thought maybe it was the wind, but as time progressed, it became clear that it was more than that.

The “low tire pressure” light came on, but being the genius that I am, I did not make the connection between that and the increasingly rough ride, despite my brother’s exasperated observation of “Suz, those lights on your dashboard aren’t just there to be pretty.” In my defense, though, that light has been known to come on when only the minorest of tweaks was actually necessary. It’s the little light that cried wolf. Unfortunately, this time it wasn’t kidding, and was, in fact, a little too understated.

I finally realized that I had to pull over, and did so just south of Road 409 near the next town. A sheriff’s car with lights blazing pulled up right behind me. Does this count as being pulled over? If so, it’s the first time in my life. I also noticed that my back tire was smoking, and not in a good way.

Getting out of the car, even I could see that my low profile tire was so low that it was, in fact, flat. Also unfixable. Being a faux adult, I didn’t know what to do, so the sheriff said to call the emergency number on the back of my insurance card, which I did. The person answering the phone either could not or would not understand that there was no cross street. He could not locate Road 409 or its alter ego Point Cabrillo Drive, and disclaimed all knowledge of mile markers. He was probably in Kansas or something.

The sheriff took the phone from me and assured the Kansas guy that the tow truck driver would know where mile marker 53.34 was. Mr. Kansas texted me the name, phone number and ETA of the tow truck, which was an entire discouraging hour away.

The sheriff saw me back to my car, told me to put on the hazards, and went on his way. I felt so lucky that he was right there when I needed him. I felt less lucky that I had, possibly for the first time in my life, forgotten to bring a book with me.

It was nerve-wracking feeling my car, otherwise immobile, rocking as cars fully equipped with four working tires swept past me. Not everyone passed by, however. Two friends stopped to check on me, as did a total stranger and the UPS guy from the jobette. It warmed my marooned heart to know that even strangers in our little corner of the world care enough to try and help someone with car trouble.

Eventually, the tow truck appeared. It was manned by an outsized guy who looked like he had recently escaped from ZZ Top without having time to shower or brush his quite remarkable beard. Star would not have enjoyed his look. He told me that the job right before mine was on the mythical Point Cabrillo Drive, so all the time I was waiting for him, he was practically there. Much like the time I required roadside assistance in Florida, after a lengthy wait it took ZZ Top about 30 seconds to change out the utterly destroyed tire for the spare one.

He warned me seriously that I could not drive above 50 miles an hour and that I could not drive far on it, though he added darkly that there were idiots who did and paid the price for their folly. I observed that my fellow drivers would object to such a majestic pace on the highway, and he thrust the middle finger of his meaty paw toward the road and exclaimed, “Fuck ‘em! It’s your life!” He then gave me a shoulder hug, saw me back to my car, and said he would watch my back and tell me when it was safe to pull out, which he did.

As I made my leisurely way home, I was thankful for ZZ Top and his rough concern, the kindness of the sheriff, and the caring of friends and strangers. Also for the 30 year old beater car which got me to work today with its assorted collection of rattles and hums, all in one piece.

A YEAR AGO: A wonderful weekend.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A trip to the DMV. Not as bad as you’d think.

More Cats & Dogs

One of the side effects of the mystery ailment is a certain grumpiness and intolerance for nonsense, especially kitty-based nonsense. Unfortunately for me, Clyde’s interest in naughtiness remains unabated, and he has also decided that now is the perfect time for him to up his meowing game. I disagree with him strongly on this point, which he blithely disregards in the way all felines do. Silly humans!

In other cat related news, Jonathan’s mini cat Scout turns out to have Audrey’s intolerance for fleas. She also has Audrey’s intolerance for the vet, and then some.

Jonathan is convinced that if he ever takes Scout to the vet, it will destroy her trust in him forever. This is why it took a village to get her spayed, and why Megan went home after her third night shift and went over to scrobble Scout without sleeping or collecting $200.

Catching Scout and shoving her in a box is no easy feat, despite her diminutive size (less than 7 pounds!). There’s a reason she survived out there in the mean woods of Albion. Megan’s arms and hands were covered with battle scars as she carried her unwilling prey to Dr. Karen’s.

Interestingly, once she actually got there, Scout gave up and stopped fighting anything. It was like she was resigned to her inevitable doom. Dr. Karen agreed that an extended prescription was in order to prevent further Megan-filleting vet visits, and everyone went home. Jonathan reported that Scout was ultra suspicious, peering anxiously out of the windows and making sure her escape hatch had been restored to open mode before she settled down. She is recovering well from the trauma of the vet and the fleas, possibly in that order.

And speaking of pets, my landlord and neighbor Mark has a new puppy! Her name is Blue and she is cute as a button:

How’s that for a new neighbor?

A YEAR AGO: In keeping with our cat theme, Audrey gifted me with an extra-long Sunday. Thank you?

FIVE YEARS AGO: File under miscellaneous.

Marooned

I am coming to you from the couch, where I am ensconced with several feather pillows (did I ever mention my pillow addiction? I think the usual number residing on my bed is around eight. It’s less than half that on the couch, though they are beaded and/or velvet to make up for it), and my grandmother’s 80 year old quilt of love. Not only is it pink, but it is made of my mother’s baby clothes, my grandfather’s ties, and some of its creator’s aprons. Not to mention the fact that it was restored by Erica and Megan.

Keeping me company is a mug of chamomile tea (the mug with my initial was one of my favorite Christmas gifts), tiny bottles of Schweppes ginger ale, the creepy-poetic Lincoln in the Bardo, a cheery little read about the recently deceased young son of the great President, and some pills. The cats, as you may have noted, are conspicuous by their absence, when they should be keeping me company in my time of need. I’m pretty sure that’s in the contract. Audrey was busy creating a Dada work of art by removing the toilet paper from its roll. There have been several interested calls from New York and San Francisco galleries. Of course Audrey was just concerned that I had become bourgeois and complacent.

Clyde was up in his no girls allowed club house, aka the storage loft over the bathroom. His stealthy brother also enjoyed hanging out in that difficult to access location, but Audrey never goes up there and I usually enlist the services of a passing boy to get the Christmas decorations in and out of it.

So I am alone on the couch, listening to the rain on the roof/walls, which I no longer find soothing after 61 fun-filled inches of rain. I still enjoy the rain-induced frog song, though. I am marooned here because of an intestinal upset that makes trailing up and down the stairs from the sleeping loft to the bathroom an impracticality and annoyance in my (hopefully temporarily) weakened condition,

I am always shocked and annoyed when I’m ill, feeling that the system has let me down and should be more reliable. In this case, it is extra annoying since I was unable to accomplish any cooking or other house-related activities this weekend, and I was also unable to attend family dinner at Rio’s, where chicken enchiladas and Perry Mason* on the Predicta were on the menu. So I will have to face another week of work with no cooking done and no fun behind me.

Of course, Dr. Megan paid a house call, telling me that not eating for two days was “working against me”, despite the nausea, and prescribed toast, rice, apples, and whatever the pills are. What would I do without her?

*Some fun facts about the show are in this link.

A YEAR AGO: Stormy weather, inside and out. Can I stop worrying about the drought for now?

FIVE YEARS AGO: Rob was working around the house, while I was leaving the housework undone. Each according to his ability…

Night and Day

Nothing like a bad night’s sleep to set you up for a weird day at work, I always say.

Clyde the cat decided the middle of the night was an excellent time to leap on my unsuspecting form. Like most males, of the feline persuasion or otherwise, he is decidedly pro-boobs*, persistently making them both his landing place and launching pad, to their owner’s varying levels of discomfort. In this case, I was unable to brace for impact, and my reaction affected his dismount, in which a back claw scratched the hell out of my nose. The Russian judge gave him a 1.0 and I applied Kleenex to the surprising amount of blood. Anything on your face just bleeds like crazy.

Despite my justifiable annoyance and Clyde’s characteristic insouciance – he was equally unperturbed when he celebrated the arrival of the shiny New Year by smashing a shiny new gift which had every reason to be on the shelf where he had no business being – I tried to get back to sleep. I was just beginning to drift away when I realized I was perfectly positioned to take full advantage of the leak in my ceiling. Given the height of the ceiling, the drips were able to achieve maximum velocity, and were able to achieve positively Clyde-like results of surprise and impact. I got a towel to catch the drips and relocated my head to other side of the bed.

Clyde, of course, was fast sleep through all of this. And the alarm.

The next day, I arrived at work to discover that my boss’s sidelight window beside her office door had been shattered by a person or persons unknown. I also had a phone call from the landlord of one of our doctors, complaining of, shall we say, some hygiene issues.

In disposing of lint from the dryer – they share laundry facilities and live on the same property – she discovered a very large and very dead rat in the garbage can. In addition to this non-paying rodential guest, he has failed to take out the garbage for months and his collection of detritus in the laundry room/garage/morgue features a moldering animal skin, or possibly skins.

When asked about this, he said that an injured deer had died near the garage. As anyone would in coming across free roadkill on the premises, he had butchered it and put the meat in the freezer. He considered the problem solved. I explained that memories of the deer remained in the skin and that it, the garbage, and rodents of any kind, alive or dead, needed to be removed from the premises before his landlord removed him. He promised to talk to his landlord.

It is amazing to me that he got through medical school. Though not that his daughter is a vegetarian.

**As Xander Harris aptly observed in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Men like sports. Men watch the action movie, they eat of the beef, and they enjoy to look at the bosoms.”

A YEAR AGO: Feeling powerless. ‘Tis the season!

Crash

Little did I know that running screaming hand-in-hand with Jessica through the Haunted Hall of Horrors on Halloween would be the least scary thing that happened to me all that week.

I have always expected to hit a deer at some point on my lengthy commute, especially since the length of my work days cause more driving in the dark than I would prefer. I did not expect to hit a dog in broad daylight on the highway.

He came running out of nowhere, as they say. I slammed on the brakes, but not before I heard a yelp that lives in my nightmares and a flash of his belly as he rolled over. By the time I was able to get across the road, he had already run into his house. His owner came out and was super nice. She blamed herself for not leashing him and the dog for running into the street.

Needless to say, I blamed myself and still feel like a monster. The good news is that the dog is a) alive and 2) “only” has a broken leg. He does not have a mark on him. However, he was surgically repaired in Santa Rosa at vast expense, so it’s lucky for me that the owner absolved me of all blame and even gave me a big hug. We have been texting daily and it seems we both have a new friend. So maybe something good came out of something horrible.

It was a long drive home after that. When I was about half a mile from my house, a stripy kitty streaked across the Ridge in front of my car. Harmlessly, I am pleased to report.

A YEAR AGO: Just in time for Veterans’ Day, a visit from two veterans, telling war stories. Love you guys. And thank you to all veterans for your service.

Bad Omen

There hasn’t been much time for anything but work this week.

I have been leaving the house at 6:00 am in a mostly vain attempt to get everything done in time, blasting down the Ridge with Weezer to wake me up. I was amused to pull up to the clinic one day as they were singing Do You Wanna Get High?, a cheery little tune about the joys of opiate addiction.

I should have known that it was going to be a crazy week. The weekend that preceded it foretold doom to come, at least in my ever-superstitious opinion.

A Steller’s Jay got in the house and flew up to the skylight. All of the doors were open, so I hoped that my feathered visitor would escape unscathed, but unfortunately it thought that the highest window in the house was the way to go and made for it at full speed. It smashed into the glass with a horrifying thud and fell to the floor. I ran downstairs, but it was clearly an ex Jay.

Oddly, the cats were totally uninterested. Maybe if it doesn’t move, it’s not fun. I told a friend about the Incident of the Jay in the House:

Me: I think it’s a bad omen.
Him: Maybe if you live in a teepee.
Me, looking at the pointy ceiling: I kind of do.

I was less than thrilled to come home from work and discover that a friend of mine had stopped by my house with another friend. The house was not in my opinion visitor ready. Admittedly it rarely is now that I am out of it (in more ways than one) for 12 hours a day, but I would have appreciated the opportunity to pretend to be more civilized than I really am. And of course, the friend in question has made a pile of money in real estate in the Bay Area*.

I later learned that they claimed to love the house and thought it was really cool. As Erica observed, the house is basically a man cave, so maybe they did. And it was all over before I could do anything about it anyway.

The bad omen really kicked in a couple of days later, when my back went out on strike, making getting dressed and in and out of the car more of an adventure than I’d like. Ever since, I have been unwilling to risk the stairs so I have been sleeping on the couch with my grandmother’s restored quilt over me and Clyde beside me.

A YEAR AGO: My fairy godmother stopped by. One of these days, I should try being home when I have company. Though maybe it’s better this way.

*The few people I still know from long-ago high school days are all annoyingly successful. Richard and his pile of real estate money; my ex boyfriend Andrew, who is a vice president at NBC-Universal in London; and my dear friend Alice, who got a PhD in pure math in her 4th language after she finished her modeling career. She is now a vice president at Barclay’s Capital in London. Call me underachieving…

Unhappy Feet

It was a dark and stormy morning. I started it off on the wrong foot by putting my bare one into an alarmingly big (and remarkably cold) puddle by the table in the kitchen. That’s what I get for running around barefoot. My late, lamented stepmother found this habit deplorable. To her, only poor people went around with no shoes and it was utterly shameful.

Unfortunately for all of us, she was not around to see me get my comeuppance, or to notice the other big puddle near the sliding glass doors. Feeling like my house was falling apart around me, I went to feed the kitties, only to discover a large and slimy banana slug* in Clyde’s dish. I’m not sure which of us was more concerned. Clyde looked at it in horror (maybe it had bare feet) while I threw caution and the slug to the winds by grabbing it in my bare hands and chucking it into the woods. Why should my feet have all the fun?

The fun was just beginning. When I turned on the water in the shower, the water stayed persistently cold. It normally takes a while to warm up, and in the winter, I don’t have to add cold water to the hot, but it soon became clear that the pilot light in the flash heater was out.

As you would only expect in a house as eccentric as mine, where the light switches say “NO” when they’re on and you turn them off by flipping them up, the flash heater is located outside. Yes, where they keep the wind and the rain.

I pulled my coat, hat and flowered rain boots on over my PJs and deplorably bare feet and went out to investigate with a flashlight. It’s at moments like this when you realize that no matter how faux, you are in fact a grown up, and no one else is going to fix your flash heater in the early morning rainy darkness. I thought longingly of my brother-in-law Rob, sleeping innocently just yards away, and his ability to fix everything**. He could take care of this in less time than it took me to put on my coat and hat.

I couldn’t make it light by pushing the igniting button, so I went back inside and got one of those barbecue lighters. Then I pressed the gas button with one hand and, leaning back as far as possible, applied the lighter through the hole in the front and hoped for the best. I am pleased to report that nothing exploded and I lived to tell the tale. Also that the flash heater lit and stayed lit, much like F. Scott Fitzgerald.

On the other hand, my bare feet also discovered that Clyde had thrown up on the bathmat. At least it was on the way into the shower.

*When I still lived in the city, I came up here to visit my sister. Her bathroom is off the front porch, and when I went to use it late one night, I discovered a banana slug had wrapped itself around the doorknob by wrapping my hand around the banana slug. I shrieked with horror and I still think I could hear my brother-in-law snickering.

**He’s building more shelves for me! Stay tuned!

A YEAR AGO: Remembering my beloved father on his birthday.

Adventures In Cooking

OK…Take Three!

It took me more than an hour and no less than three attempts to make mashed potatoes, a first (and hopefully, a last) for me.

I dared to schedule a slow cooker dinner on a wild and stormy day, and amazingly was able to merrily use electricity all day to make the following Sunday dinner:

Cider Pork Roast with Apple-Thyme Gravy

1 boneless pork shoulder roast (about 3 1/2 lbs.), tied
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups apple cider
1/3 cup Calvados or other apple brandy
1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme leaves, divided
1 teaspoon pepper
4 Gala apples, peeled, cored, and sliced; divided
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon flour

1. Sprinkle pork with 1/2 tsp. salt, then brown in oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, turning as needed, 10 minutes. Transfer pork and pan juices to a 5- to 6-qt. slow-cooker. Add remaining 1 tsp. salt, the cider, Calvados, 1 tbsp. thyme, the pepper, and 1 sliced apple. Cover and cook until meat is very tender, about 4 hours on high or 7 hours on low.

2. Meanwhile, about 20 minutes before pork is done, heat 2 tbsp. butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add remaining 3 apples and cook, stirring frequently, until tender and light golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; tent with foil.

3. Transfer roast from slow-cooker to a platter and tent with foil. Strain slow-cooker juices and skim fat; set aside. Melt remaining 1 tbsp. butter in frying pan. Add flour; cook, whisking often, until golden and bubbling. Slowly whisk in juices and 1 tsp. thyme; cook until slightly thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a gravy boat.

4. Slice pork, scatter with reserved apples, and drizzle with gravy. Garnish with thyme sprigs and serve more gravy on the side.

I used the same pan I browned the pork in to sautee the apples and then to make the gravy (why waste the flavor?) and substituted regular brandy for Calvados.

Attempt One to make mashed potatoes came to an end when I smelled something burning. I knew I’d turned the slow cooker down to “keep warm”, so I lifted the lid on the potatoes only to discover that I had forgotten to add water.

I grabbed the pan, turned off the burner, and took the whole thing straight to the compost pile with the pan hissing in the rain.

Back in the house, I filled the burned pan with water and hoped for the best. I filled another pot with water before I even put the potatoes in it. Passing by to check on it progress sometime later, I lifted the pot lid only to discover that this time, I had forgotten to turn on the burner.

I am pleased to report that Take Three, with the three key ingredients of water AND potatoes AND fire was entirely successful.

I am going to be one scary old lady.

A YEAR AGO: A slightly more successful cooking venture, though not without its own adventures.

The Office Party

IMG_2170
It turns out hell is decorated quite nicely

Or “How I Learned More Than I Ever Needed to Know About Lottery Tickets”.

I should get a t-shirt that says “I survived the office holiday party”. Or maybe a medal…

Planning a party for more than 100 people is enough of an undertaking without the Powers that Be suddenly changing the date of said shindig to be a week earlier than planned. I had to unplan and replan everything that had already been planned.

I thought I had everything in place for the big day, but I was Foolish and Deluded, as Winnie the Pooh would say. The caterer emailed me that morning asking if it was OK if they brought the food an hour earlier than planned, since they had to get their van in the shop by 1:00. Did it matter if it wasn’t? And should I worry about the mechanically challenged van?

The holiday party was also the venue selected to distribute bonus checks. Four of the many employees have not worked long enough to get a bonus, and their manager was concerned that they would feel left out when everyone else got an envelope. Although the plan was known for weeks ahead of time, this manager waited until the morning of the party to freak about it and ask that these people get some kind of token gesture in envelope form.

It was decided to get lottery tickets. My boss said, “Get $20 worth” and said to put them on the store credit card. I dutifully went to the store and discovered that you need cash to buy lottery tickets. So I bought $20 worth with my own money.

Returning to work, I asked to be reimbursed, and while the accounting person was dealing with that, went to give the lottery tickets to my boss. She then told me that she meant $20 per person, not $20 total. I guess I should have known that “Get $20 worth” meant “Get $80 worth”. So silly of me.

I asked the accounting person to front me the money, and she gave me a $100 bill from the safe. Armed with this, I returned to the store, only to learn that not only do you need cash to buy lottery tickets, said cash cannot exceed $20 denominations.

Back to work to get the $100 bill changed into lottery-appropriate $20 bills, and then yet another trip to the store to buy said lottery tickets. “They’d better effin’ win something,” I said to the accounting person*.

The caterer’s van limped into the parking lot about then, and I helped them unload the giant insulated boxes of food. It soon became apparent that there were no chafing dishes to keep the food hot during the hour before the festivities began, although there were supposed to be. I called the party rental folks down the street, who happened to have some, and I went to the car for the fourth time in less than hour and headed to the rental place.

As I loaded the last minute chafing dishes into the car, I couldn’t help wondering how I had gone from managing millions of dollars of other people’s money to wrangling chafing dishes and buying other people lottery tickets. Clearly adulting is not one of my talents. Good job in the life department there, Suz.

Needless to say, I was too busy running around, cleaning up, and keeping dishes full to eat any of the food, though it got enthusiastic reviews. And no, I didn’t leave early, even though the halls were pretty much vacant by 3:30 in the afternoon.

I definitely didn’t win this lottery, even though I now know how to buy the tickets.

*They did; one person won $20 and another won $15.

A YEAR AGO: At home in a wine cask.

Less Dizzy, Less Blonde

I left work early to go to the physiotherapist, whose office is conveniently located a couple of blocks away. They had a cancellation, so I didn’t have to wait until December as originally planned. After filling out the requisite paperwork in the very Zen looking office, I went into the consultation room.

I explained what happened to the therapist, and she explained what was wrong with my inner ear and its alarming sounding problem of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. For the daughter of scientist (and someone who had a fairly successful career in finance for a couple of decades), my science and math brain is sadly lacking, so I will just say that the treatment is called an Epley Maneuver, and you can read about it here.

I will also say that the treatment was pretty unpleasant. I sat on a padded bench/exam table thing and the therapist took a firm grip on me before swooping me backwards and to one side with my head off the table. I had to keep my eyes open so she could see the fluttering in my pupils called nystagmus*. She held me there for about a minute as the vertigo jangled and spun its way out, and it was a very long minute. We then repeated this from the middle of the table and then to the other side, before sitting up and leaning over the floor.

You can imagine my enthusiasm for repeating this process a second time, but it was much better the second time, and I was hardly dizzy at all. For the first time in weeks, I was able to put my head on the pillows when I went to bed, and turn over to pet Clyde without suffering attacks of vertigo, though I still had to sit on the side of the bed for a minute before getting up in the morning the day after, but all in all, it was an improvement.

There may have been relief from vertigo, but there was no relief from the bill. Unlike Canada, where everyone sensibly pays a flat tax which rich people can’t get out of to fund healthcare, so things like this are covered, here I had to pay for the whole thing, even though I have insurance. I thought it would be like the dentist, where a certain percentage is covered, but instead, I have to spend $1,500 before the insurance starts paying for anything. So there went the money I had set aside for getting my hair reprettied for the holidays. So I may not be (completely) blonde, but I’m not (completely) dizzy, either.

*My sister told me that drunk people’s pupils also do this. Just another interesting piece of information from years of working on an ambulance!

A YEAR AGO: Back home from the city, with Thanksgiving looming.

Can You?

The vertigo is fading, though it still rears its ugly head when I lay down my pretty one, and reminds me that it’s still around when I sit up in the morning. I am in line for a referral to a physiotherapist, who is supposed to do some kind of desensitization therapy which I hope will get rid of the vertigo for good (which would definitely be good). A friend of a friend is also casting a spell for me. Whatever works.

Maybe it’s the “it will take you longer to recover because of your age” remark from the doc (who is at least 15 years older than I am), but I keep worrying that this is the beginning of the long, slow decline into old age, even though I’m not that old and I have always been pretty healthy. Maybe I took it for granted all these years. I promise to appreciate it more if the vertigo goes away forever. I swear!

While I was languishing in dizzy world, my sibs were busily canning the garden produce, and I came home one day to find that either the Food Fairy had stopped by, or Santa was doing a trial run*. There were jars of tomato sauce, relish, and salsa verde:

jars

So in the depths of winter, we can open a jar and taste summer again.

*I may not have a chimney, but I do have a wide variety of unlocked doors for the jolly old elf to choose from. Assuming Luna and Lupe (or Audrey) don’t chase him away.

A YEAR AGO: Rejoicing over the Giants’ third World Series win in 5 years. Next year, boys. Next year.

Dizzy Broad

I thought the cold I had was pretty minor. It was really just a runny nose – no sore throat, no fever, or anything else. However, whatever was going on inside my head was bad enough to leave a seemingly endless case of vertigo in its wake.

I wakened last week to find that my house was pitching around like Dorothy’s in the Wizard of Oz. I sat on the side of the bed and waited for it and myself to calm down, and then texted Dr. Megan. Her opinion was that the cold had inflamed my inner ear and I needed meclizine, which she picked up for me along with ginger ale. An unwelcome side effect of the dizziness is nausea, and as the week wore on, I felt an awed respect for all the women who endure months of morning sickness. How do they do it? I was homicidal after two days.

Although I was marooned on my couch with the house spinning around me, I was still typing up handwritten pages which my boss scanned and emailed to me. Looking down made me dizzy, so I propped up the papers on pillows and did my best, since we were up against a deadline.

The next day, I had to be driven to work. I have always wanted a driver*, though of course when I finally get one it’s in a Monkey’s Paw way because I’m too dizzy to drive. Nothing like not being able to drive to make you actually want to do it.

When I was still feeling weird toward the end of the week, I called the patient care coordinator to see if one of the docs could fit me in if they had a no show, and they did. I have to say, being seen is a very different experience when you work there. They called me when they were ready to take my vitals, and then the doctor appeared like magic. This is in sharp contrast to my usual experience of waiting for an hour to see the doctor for fifteen minutes**.

He checked me out and endorsed Dr. Megan’s diagnosis. When I asked him for an ETA on the dizziness leaving the premises, he gave me the unwelcome news that it could take up to two weeks. Why, you ask? Because I’m old! Yes, slowness in healing is apparently yet another of the delightful indignities a girl can expect as she moves gracefully through the years***. Or carefully.

A YEAR AGO: Dinner and a movie.

* I can’t understand why all those celebrities keep getting arrested for drunk driving when all they have to do is hire a chauffeur, which they can obviously afford. And what could be more glamorous and convenient?

**I was astonished when compiling patient surveys a couple of months ago that the majority said they were seen within 15 minutes of their appointment time. I kept thinking, “Who are these people?”

***I’m not that old. Not yet, anyway.

Hole in the Head

I started the week with losing a piece of a filling. One minute, I’m eating an apple at my desk, and the next, there’s a little black thing in my hand and what feels like a giant hole in my tooth.

Uh oh.

I immediately headed over to the dental department, which is conveniently located near my office, thinking that if you have to lose a filling, doing it just feet away from dentists is an excellent choice. Sadly for me (though happily for the clinic), they were booked solid the rest of the week.

So I called my regular dentist, and he was able to fit me in the next day. Fortunately, the hole in my head didn’t hurt, though visions of the million dollar crown that ensued the last time I lost a filling danced in my perforated head. I thought: it can’t be as bad as losing an entire filling and needing a crown right before A) a holiday weekend; and 2) having to fly across the country to testify in front of the Grand Jury. Can it?

It wasn’t. The dentist put in a temporary filling and scheduled me in for a real one later this month. I was delighted to learn that it was only $50 for this session and it will be a mere $34 for the next one, which I think we can all agree is a vast improvement over the $950 the crown cost. I hope from now on that the only crowns I have to deal with are in tiara form, and on my head, not in it. Princess Suzy has such a (diamond) ring to it, doesn’t it?

A YEAR AGO: Home improvements, Rob style.

Get Back

flowersFlowers Outside My Office Door

It’s been so long since it rained that when the pattering on the roof woke me up last night, I was unable to identify the sound at first. Eventually, my sleep-fogged mind realized it was a light shower. By the time the alarm went off, the showers had departed, leaving confused yet happy birds and frogs behind. Needless to say, it wasn’t enough to really water the garden or do any good, though it made the cats curious.

Speaking of cats, the boys turned 5 on Monday! Audrey is slated to turn 8 next month, and has recovered completely from her vet adventures, though my wallet may never recover. As for me, my back is still unhappy and not shy about letting me know. The irony is not lost on me that I’m limping around a medical facility like Igor, though there really isn’t anything anyone can do about it except stone me out on drugs, which a) I hate; and 2) would make it impossible for me to work. And work I have: I worked an eleven and a half hour day on Tuesday and so far this week have packed more than 30 hours into three days.

Today I finally had the sense to bring the small feather pillow from my couch as well as the heating pad to work, so I was able to sit in relative comfort at my sunny desk* during my long day. I tried to do as much as possible when trekking to the other side of the building – making it count! I still have no idea what I did to displease my dorsal region, and am displeased in turn that it’s still bothering me so much. Hopefully it will be better in time for Saturday’s celebration of Erica’s and my birthdays, so I can perch on a hay bale in reasonable comfort and sip gin cocktails. I may really need Jessica to escort me to my car that evening!

*My office has a window overlooking a courtyard landscaped with plants and flowers, like the one you see above. It’s a nice view. I usually don’t need artificial light, which is great.

A YEAR AGO: More car madness. You know, the usual.

In Vein

Poor Change! No-one loves you, including Me.

Especially when it includes working eight five days a week. It’s been fifteen years or so since I did that, meaning that I was younger and, as Jessica put it when she herself was much younger, “fresher*”. I also did not have to drive more than an hour a day to do it (in fact, my car problem then consisted mostly of finding parking for my 1966 Mustang convertible, Josephine). And I had a wonderful cleaning lady who came every other week and cost a mere $50 a pop.

Alas, none of these things are still the case, so I’m leaving the house around 7 am and getting back around 5, if I’m lucky. Unfortunately, the person I now work for is a night owl and tends to get to work around 10, whereas my preference is to get in early and get it over with, so I’m hoping we can find something that works for both of us.

Having said that, though, she is very nice, and I actually have an office again, though it is a mess:

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I am hoping that I can bring some order to the chaos and prettify it soon.

One of the things about working at a medical facility, even in administration, is that you have to be up to date on your immunizations. They scheduled me for a series that is required for all women under 40, and when I revealed the Awful Truth, they revised it to a blood test to make sure that I was immune to whatever these things are.

So I went over to get my blood taken, but the Calamity Suzy Factor made sure that it did not go as planned. It turns out that my veins are the only things about me that are not shallow, so the poor nurse spent a lot of time prospecting for a useful one with no result, much like a botched execution. Also? Those tourniquet things hurt. I don’t know how junkies do it.

As the search continued, I began to feel a little light headed and then nauseous, so the search was called off. The nurse gave me juice and peanut butter crackers and sat me by an open window until I felt better. To be fair, I hadn’t eaten in about 16 hours, but it was still a little on the embarrassing side. She was really nice about it, and apparently we will try again another day. Wish me luck!

*When Jessica was small, she noticed the difference in the energy level between Schatzi and my mother’s much older dog. Megan explained that Schatzi was younger, and Jessica nodded, saying, “Schatzi is much fresher!”

A YEAR AGO: An evening at the theater.

On My Way

Though I had a lovely dinner with my friends, I managed to spill some of the bouillabaisse I was bringing home with me in the car. It takes special skills, my friends. Or just a Suzy.

It was too dark to deal with at the time, but when I opened the car door the next day before heading to the jobette, it was quite horrifying. I scrubbed down the carpet where the spill had occurred, adding some Febreeze. When I went home that night, it was still scary, though not as bad. I had the heat on and the windows open, the way I used to when I drove my 1966 Mustang convertible. Unless it was actually raining, I always had the top down.

I scrubbed and Febreezed when I got home and again in the morning, and now the car’s interior is merely redolent of the ghost of bouillabaisse past.

It’s a good thing, because I’m heading to San Francisco today, and hours in a fish-scented car would make the trip even less enjoyable than it already is.

Of course, Roscoe took this opportunity to somehow injure himself. The fur is rubbed off above one eye, and it looked a little icky for a couple of days. I applied Vetericyn (every home should have some) and it looks better, but I have no idea how he did it. Dr. Megan says we never know what they do out there, we just have to try and fix it. She’ll keep an eye on it while I’m gone, as well as herding them in at night and feeding them. I hope they behave themselves and there are no all-nighters or late evenings.

As for me, it seems like there are a million things to do before I leave. Next week is Thanksgiving, and I haven’t ordered the turkey yet, partly because I’m not sure how many people are coming. I know Jarrett, Kalli and Paul can’t make it, but Dave and Jennifer may be here, and I’m hoping Lichen will at least stop by. I have a few errands I’d like to run while in the city, so I’m trying to get those set up, and have also been following up with the County job here and getting the runaround, as you would expect from bureaucracy. At least packing is easier, since I have no meetings other than my boss/partner/friend to discuss our future, if any. Stay tuned!

A YEAR AGO:

The Kitty Report.

Random Updates

You will be glad to hear that my back is back to its old and now much more appreciated self. I am still trying to remember to be nice to it to keep it in a good mood. A grumpy back is actually more fearsome than a grumpy Suzy. Imagine!

In addition to the temporary couch coma*, here’s what’s been going on around here:

  • So far, I have managed not to kill the new (to me) Japanese maple. I’ve been watering it every day for about three weeks, and so far, so good. It’s not showing any signs of trauma from being dug up, dragged here, and moved into a bag. I’m trying not to think about how sad it and the neighboring red Japanese maple will look in a couple of months when all the leaves fall off.
  • I had the bright idea of putting the cats’ dishes away when I went to the jobette or was otherwise out of the house all day. I’m sure this new policy was not popular with food fan Clyde, but I’m hoping it will be equally, or even more, unpopular with Yellow Cat. I figure if he slinks in there and finds it food free, he might cross us off his route. I think this evil plan has been somewhat successful, since on non jobette days over the past week, I’ve seen him only once, and he fled when he saw me. I kind of feel like a jerk, but I have a zero tolerance policy for bullying my kitties.
  • Wednesday had a vacation in Santa Rosa. The fix it lights came on yet again, and the car doctors here on the Coast judged the problem to be beyond their abilities. They recommended a place in Santa Rosa, where the mechanics not only figured out what was wrong with the car, but that the fix it was under warranty by Ford. So Wednesday got a whole new transmission on the house, saving me between $3-5,000 (not to mention $500 worth of rental car while Wednesday was in the shop). Apparently the problem is unusual so we should be good to go.

    Having said that though, today was the first time I had driven Wednesday around here since she got home from the Santa Rosa spa, and while enjoying the lack of lights on the dashboard and the ability to go around curves and uphill simultaneously without the engine jerk I had been suffering before the plastic surgery, I heard a loud BEEP and the low tire pressure notice and light came on.

    Sigh.

    I stopped in at the tire place on my way to work, and couldn’t get the key out of the ignition. The tire guy came over and I got out of the car and explained what was wrong. He reached in and took the key out. I asked him what he did, and he said that sometimes even when the car is in park, you have to push the gearshift forward a bit or the key is locked in the ignition. Apparently it’s a safety feature.

    Maybe I am as dumb as I am….

*While marooned on the couch, it occurred to me that I often wish I could just sit around on the couch all day when I have to go work and do other faux adult activities, and now when I could, all I wanted to do was…not. I guess part of it is my general perversity, and part of it is wanting to lounge when not drugged and damaged. Having wishes come true often seems to be more “Monkey’s Paw” than not.

New Kid in Town

Happy Labor Day, y’all! I am celebrating by doing as little as possible, whereas for my hard-working sibs, it’s business as usual. There are no holidays for emergency services*.

I did get back to work at the jobette on Saturday, though. I was careful of my back, and let my co-workers know that hauling around 30 pound boxes of visitor guides is out of the question for at least a week. While I was couch bound, I was touched by all the sweet and caring emails from my colleagues. My favorite was the one which read simply, “Drugs help.”

It seemed like a pretty long day, and I wondered if drugs, in addition to helping, stay in your system for a while. Though I hadn’t taken any in more than 24 hours, I still felt more out of it than usual.

When I finally got home from the jobette, I was greeted by Luna as usual, but also by a miniature Luna. I dropped my things on the driveway in surprise, wondering if it was the drugs, but it turned out to be a puppy! Mark had adopted a sweet little girl named Lupe:

Needless to say, I wasted no time in picking up Lupe and cuddling her, which I have done every time I have seen her since, despite the very scented flea collar she sports. It smells a lot like Old Spice, combining the snuggly, wiggly puppy experience with Old Guy fragrance.

She is super happy and adorable. Luna seems to enjoy teaching Lupe how to be a patrol dog, and I’m glad to know there will be two sentinels keeping the monsters at bay as Lupe grows up. She does need to learn about the cat flap, though:

*On the bright side, we can finally have Christmas on Christmas Day this year, since it falls on a Thursday. Yay!

On & Off the Couch

Today I felt improved enough to venture a couple of miles down the Ridge to look for a new (to me) doorknob for the other door in the bathroom. You may recall that after buying the new door and accessories, it became painfully obvious that the cheapo knob on the cheapo hollow core door would have to go.

My back did not enjoy jouncing down the dirt driveway or the dirt road leading to my neighbor’s place:

I ignored it, though, and looked through boxes of vintage doorknobs and faceplates before narrowing it down to three finalists, and finally the winner:

I knew I wouldn’t find a match, but I did find one in the same kind of tone and with a taper, so I think they will work well together. The new knob got the Rob seal of approval, too. Currently we are planning to paint the now blue door shiny black, which should look great with the black and white floor tiles. I think Rob is also going to paint the bathroom white after mudding in the wall next to the new door. It’s going to look great.

When I got back home, I put on the heating pad and then applied Glam Glow’s Thirsty Mud mask and Bright Mud eye treatment while enjoying the soap operatic antics on Nashville. The best line of the season has to be Juliette Barnes saying, “I guess nice just ain’t my color.”

The Couch Report

I’m still on the couch, but I’m getting better. The Magic 8 Ball and I are both pretty confident that I’ll be able to go back to work at the jobette on Saturday. I’m all set up, with pills and water close at hand, along with phone and TV remotes, all the better to watch Daria with, my pretty. It occurs to me that Erica is much like Jane Lane. Also, is it wrong that I have a crush on Trent? I mean, he’s a lot younger than I am. Also, he’s a cartoon, so our relationship is probably doomed.

Probably.

From my vantage point on the couch, it has come to my attention that Yellow Cat seems to think that he is now a semi-regular member of the cast, rather than a cameo as I thought. My lack of mobility has impeded the shooing process, but I have twice ejected him from the studio, where he was chowing down on cat chow with an air of entitlement that I found disturbing. I also caught him peeking in the living room door, and he didn’t leave until I levered Self off the couch, tossed the blanket aside, found my sandals, and lumbered out into the garden, carefully avoiding the construction materials spread around in order to avoid yet another Calamity Suzy episode. Later, he was hanging out in the sun by the new tree, and I’m sorry to report that I turned the hose on him, Grinch Girl that I am.

I never thought I’d be the kind of mean old lady who soaks neighboring cats, but he started it by fighting with my cats. Fortunately, they seem to run into the house and avoid YC as much as possible, so even if he is here eating all their food, he isn’t clawing them to pieces, so maybe this is the compromise we’ll all have to live with. And you know what a compromise means, kids: it means nobody’s happy.

On the bright side, the cats have been keeping me company in my time of need. Clyde has been multitasking by keeping me company while simultaneously napping:

Roscoe took advantage of my relative immobility and flexeril induced carefree attitude to get a drink on the counter, which is normally forbidden territory:

Sometimes a guy just needs a drink.

Meanwhile, outside, Audrey was keeping an eye out for Yellow Cat and any other would-be intruders:

Who needs locks for their doors when they have Audrey and The Glare of Death to keep trespassers at bay? Except of course for Rob, who brought me frozen pizza and ice cream and worked a bit on my bathroom, keeping the invalid company. Even Audrey loves Rob.