Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's four days until Christmas. I have all my shopping done, most of the presents are wrapped, and mountains of cookies have been made and tucked into a myriad of tins. The menus are planned from tonight through Christmas Day with such savory lovelies like roast beef and mushroom risotto, ziti with Italian sausage, fresh caught steamed shrimp, and homemade cheese ball. The house is (more or less) cleaned and ready for celebrating, and ready or not, the season kicks off tonight.

Now I just need to find my holiday spirit. I think I might have lost it - thrown it away in a box of old clothes during the summer, or loaned it to someone who never returned it. The question is, can Santa be Santa without his/her holiday mojo?

By all appearances, it would seem so, but I can tell you this: it's going to be a dark January.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Trip Rehash (A little Optimism Goes a Long Way)

Alright, I admit it - it wasn't a bad trip. It was actually a really great trip, and being somewhere else had the effect of removing a ton of bricks from my chest, even if only temporarily. Here in the Cackalackies summer is still hanging on with a sticky vengeance, but Autumn was in full swing as we headed up through West Virginia and Pennsylvania to Western New York, and the shore of Lake Erie. The maples and the sumac were incredible shades of coral, scarlet, crimson and russet, especially in upper PA and NY. (None of which, of course, are in this picture, but it's still a good shot of what Western NY looks like)We filled the back of the pickup with apples and cider, kielbasa and pepperoni, horseradish mustard and rye bread, peanut sticks and hard white cheddar; a cornucopia of all the things that mean home to us. We bought our apples at The Red Barrel, out in North Boston. We went to Schwabel's in West Seneca, to have Beef on Kimmelweck and German potato salad, because they've been serving it since 1837 and I think they're still the best. This is their cash register:We went and visited with my aunt, who is now at 65 pounds, but hanging on - she had more energy than I'd seen in her since she had the operation, over 4 years ago, and while one good virus could still carry her off, it gave us hope that maybe, somehow, she might just be able to get better.

I was worried that going with my dad to see his sister, and his friend who is in frail health as well, might tip him (and me!) over the edge into Dark and Twisty-ville - it has to be tough to see your peers passing, one by one - but he surprised me with his resilience. We talked about everything under the sun on the drive up and back, sometimes getting so engrossed that we missed our exits! It was a bonding experience for us both, I think, which can only be good. I think it helped that we went to Oil City and had dinner at the Yellow Dog Lantern, because the ladies who work there love to flirt with my dad, and he loves to give it back in kind. They sat down in the booth with us and told him if he weren't married he would be going home with one of them, couldn't believe he was 77, thought he must be only in his early 60s, and you know he loved that!The drive up to New York from Oil City was eventful - Route 8 ended abruptly above Union City (we were talking and missed the detour signs) so we took a dirt road or two and somehow ended up in New York, near Findley Lake. The Ace Hardware store was in Union City - I love the old bike and the ad for tux rentals in the windows!I missed the guys while I was away, but the rest of the shite, as posted before, yeah, not so much. I know I can't control how other people behave (as much as I might like to, as much as they might be begging to be disciplined), so my task now is to try and forget, or at least to ignore the flingers of bullshit - it's their problem not mine. Now I have to repeat that about a hundred times whilst looking severely at myself in the mirror - it's not my mess, I'm not going to clean it up!

Thanks to you all, who came and left a little moral support!

Picture below: the tribal lands where my mother swears they touch her cheek and ask, "What tribe are you?" Yeah, sure they do!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kinda Eyore-ish

Okay so you're not in my head (and wouldn't a therapist love to scrutinize that!) so you wouldn't know that the reason I haven't been writing is pure depression. I did feel like I was getting kind of hackneyed in the blogosphere, but that was just the tip of the iceberg that I slid off into the arctic sea of Fuckitall.

The kids are both in middle school now, so I have my mornings to myself again, which kind of makes me feel like I'm not pulling my weight, and of course I'm not feeling any inspiration to paint, which adds to that feeling of uselessness, though I have kicked up the home-made goodness as a result, which nobody is complaining about, except maybe my ever-expanding gut.

I find myself still mourning Mrs. Puff, probably because it was so unexpected and horrific, the way she died. I know there was nothing we could have done in the face of an avalanche of hemorrhagic strokes, and maybe that's what haunts me - that sense of complete futility.

I'm having the old recurring issue with living in this part of the world; being a yankee by birth (I have lived in the south for over 40 years, but I'm still a yankee - how about that shit?) and not christian (and I refuse to capitalize such a travesty of a word) is two humongously indelible marks against me in this small, backward-thinking town. Apparently all you have to do for social acceptance is give lip service to being the same religion as everyone else and talk through a mouth full of marbles. I kid you not. It doesn't matter if you're committing adultery, are an abusive parent or abusive spouse, or a dead-beat parent who leaves their kids to fend for themselves - if you profess your faith loudly enough, no one will care what you do behind closed doors (and these aren't stereotypes; every example I listed is someone I know, in all their sanctimonious hypocrisy, who treats me and my family like lepers). Being a kind and decent human being doesn't count for doodly without that "got jesus" lobotomized seal of approval. (Please note: I have nothing against Jesus himself, or what he had to say. My problem is with the trash that insists on using his name to legitimize their petty fear and hatred of anything that doesn't fit into their limited awareness.) I know there are people who are truly good christians - I know 2 personally, but there are so many of the other kind. Aren't they calling themselves the "Tea Party" these days?

So, on top of those delectable tidbits from the fantastic pile of shit that is permeating my existence on a daily basis, I have a trip to make, starting tomorrow. I'm headed up to Buffalo, with my dad. He's going to see his sister and an old friend, both of whom are in very frail health. He hates death, is even kind of phobic about it, so this isn't going to be a pleasure jaunt. I'm a little amazed that he's even going. I have to confess, I'm not sure I'm up to this myself, treading water in my own murky sea of personal bullshit, but I said I'd go. I'm going to take a composition book and try to do some journalling - angst is good for writing, right? I'm also going to try and carpe diem; to take it one day at a time and try, TRY to find some good in there amongst the craptastic chaff.

And at the least there will be apples - lovely crisp New York apples and cider to look forward to, right?

Monday, April 26, 2010


After watching and waiting for some sort of improvement for most of last week, the inevitable has occurred. Puffin Anne, aka Mrs. Puff, has passed into the shadows and drawn a pall over the hearts of those who loved her. Rest in peace, sweet Puff.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day Three of My Karmic Payback

Thank you all for your support yesterday - I was really in a bad place and it helped to know you were holding my virtual hand.

Puff came home from the local vet yesterday, with a saline IV and a couple of cans of AD (high calorie wet food). We found the kids'old playpen and set it up in the living room for her, to keep her contained and safe, especially when we're not with her. She had a brief moment yesterday when she actually turned to the right, as opposed the the perpetual left she's been circling on, and walked straight across the room. She also is able to swallow food, which is a plus to keeping her strong.

It occurred to me today that the local vet didn't send home any medication for Puff, though she had been given a dose of some kind of steroid before she left. I was reading online today that many vets prescribe cortizone, antibiotics, and even baby aspirin as part of the supportive care for a cat who's suffered a stroke. Yeah, well they weren't the vet in my town, but don't let me get on that rant right now - I knew when I took Puff to them it would cost a lot and there would be no definitive diagnosis - that's how they roll every time I've been there. So I called Doc, who is my personal veterinary hero, and he also pegged Puff's condition as a stroke over the phone, based on the symptoms, so I asked if there was anything I could give her to help with her recovery. He recommended Decadron, the miracle steroid for cats, and children's Motrin if she seemed to be in pain. He also verified what I had thought; that the enlarged spleen was due to the stroke and was working to process the blood from the rupture in her brain.

Apparently there are two kinds of strokes in cats - Ischemic and Hemorrhagic (and I'm pretty sure I've misspelled at least one of those)- Ischemic is when the blood supply to the brain is cut off and the brain basically suffocates, Hemorrhagic is when there is a rupture of a blood vessel in the brain. Based on the blood found in her ear, and the presence of blood behind her eyes, I'm thinking it was the Hemorrhagic one.

She is ambulatory today, albeit still circling to the left; she is agitated, which is also to be expected, but she can eat, she does sleep and wake up, and sometimes she responds to our voices. Doc seemed to think she might well recover, but that she would need to be on Decadron permanently to avoid further strokes (it's no guarantee, but what in this is?)

Bea came over last night to see her beloved Mrs. Puff, and offer support. I told her, half-jokingly, I thought this might be my karmic payback for talking her into adopting Bella, a polydactyl Siamese with a cancer of the mouth tissue. It does seem sometimes like I've become the geriatric guru of cats.

Did this ramble much? So sorry, I just needed to purge. Thanks again to all of you for your support - it really did help.

Evening Addendum - I should have thought about what the hell hemorrhagic really means, because as I sit here this evening, knowing that Puff suffered yet another stroke this afternoon, she isn't going to make it out of this. It is my hope for her, and probably for myself as well, that at this point, she goes quickly. We're going to keep her hydrated and comfortable, and try to ease her out of this world in as loving a manner as possible. And now I'm going to go blow my nose again and eat some damn chocolate.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

And Now We Wait

I saw Puff lying in the grass yesterday, when I came out of the house to go to the gym. Something about the way she was lying there, curled up next to the driveway, made me stop and take a look. She had a lot of debris in her fur, which granted, it is springtime and there is a lot of pollen on the ground, but it seemed like more than usual. I rolled her over to look at her face, and stroke her belly, check for anything unusual. She wasn't real responsive, but I might have just awakened her from a nap. I left her to her slumber and went to the gym.

When I got back from the gym, she wasn't lying by the driveway anymore, and I went inside to phone my husband before I had to go pick up the middle school kids. I looked out the front door, and saw her lying in the street. Garbling something to my husband, I slammed down the phone and ran out to get Puff, expecting her to be already dead. To my surprise, she was alive, but strangely not wanting to move.

I scooped her up in my arms, and ran to the house, where I laid her gently on the rug inside the door and ran to call the local vet. While I was on the phone she got up and half-limped through the kitchen and down the hall, seemingly searching, but for what I didn't know.

I took her to the vet, and the technicians examined her while we waited for the doctor to arrive (and why there was no doctor there at 2:30 pm on a Tuesday, I have no idea - there was only one other client there as well). The one technician discovered that Puff's eyes were not dilating evenly, and her left back leg seemed to be partially paralyzed. The vet arrived and gave her a once over as well, before deciding to do a few x-rays. With her permission, I ran home to check on the kids, who had come home with a neighbor while I was gone.

They did 3 x-rays of her body, and found no significant damage anywhere; no broken bones, no wounds or lacerations, just a little bruising near the back left leg, and a little near her lungs. They gave her steroids to reduce the swelling, and an IV drip to keep her hydrated. An enlarged spleen and kidney showed up on the x-ray, which in turn led to a blood test to screen for any underlying deficiencies, or metabolic issues. It came back completely normal. Meanwhile Puff was anything but normal; she was circling to her left continually, and her eyes appeared fixed and dilated still.

The general concensus is that Puff suffered some sort of trauma to the head, or possibly and more rarely, a stroke. I'm leaning towards the trauma diagnosis, though for the life of me, I can't imagine what happened to her. I mean, wouldn't a car have done more damage? She stayed at the vet overnight, and I brought her home today, but she is by no means out of the woods.

It is now up to me to make sure she gets fluids sub-cutaneously twice a day, and to try and feed her by syringe as much as I can, to try and keep her organs functioning as normally as possible while hopefully, she recovers. She also has no control of her bodily functions, so I'll need to clean her several times a day, when she evacuates or urinates.

I don't want to give up on her, but I also know that she might not come back from this. The vet and I agreed that I would try to keep her going for the next week, and see if she made any neurological progress in that time. It's a quality of life issue here: if she can't walk or feed herself, or use the litterbox, I have to make the call, and let her go. It's breaking my heart to see her like this, my beautiful, sassy, flower-catching Puff, just lying there, her eyes vacant and unseeing, her left side too weak to support her. We just lost Willow a few weeks back, to renal failure, and it's only been a year since Jasper and Squeak both died. I feel full up and unable to deal with death right now, but there really is no choice, other than the one I've made.

Please, send a little healing karma her way, won't you? We all love her so much.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Just Another Reason Why I Love Bea

Because she comes up with gems like this:


Just Say It.

The last one was:


Taste the Rainbow.

She does have a way with words!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Neurotic Fears and Growing Pains

It's been an interesting week.

Last week, my mother had a mild heart attack. This week, today in fact, she went into the hospital for a catharization (Sp?) diagnostic and they found an area in her heart that had 80% blockage. They're putting a stent (and the Blogger software is again having issues with my spelling!) in and she should be feeling pert in no time, but wow...

It would seem the halcyon days of my parents' good health are shifting into what is inevitable with aging, but hard to accept, which I believe is also par for the course (and I really hate it when I can't think of a better phrase than a golf-related one, for crying out loud). I've always told my dad (who's older than my mom by 6 years, I think) that he is way too much of an asshole to ever die young. Sheer ornery stubbornness will keep him going into his late 90s, barring any freak accidents with fence posts, shot guns, or wild animals - just to list a few possibilities in his skill range right now. But my mother, that's another story.

I have this horrible fear that she has given up on living - I know, that sounds terrible doesn't it? Maybe not so much as give up on life, and not giving a damn about confronting her mortality and trying to boost her odds with maybe giving up or reducing her cigarette habit, and getting regular exercise. It scares me, the idea of having a heart attack. I imagine it to be a claustrophobic squeezing of your chest; your heart sputters, your lungs close up, and you drown in a sea of stagnant blood. Sorry to be graphic, but nightmares often are.

What is worse than imagining my own heart attack, is to contemplate my life without my mother in it. It's not like I talk to her every day, or have Sunday dinner there every week, but I do rely on her, not only for advice on sick kids, or what's missing from that recipe she gave me last week, but you know, to be there. The last little piece of my childhood is still intact, that from-birth sense of continuity that all is as it should be, as long as my mother is in the world. I know I can't have it that forever, all things yield to Time's erosion, but maybe just a little longer, please?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wow, Ramble Much?

Well, could yesterday's post have rambled much more, or had more redundancy of word choices? Creak and groan, I am so very rusty at this!

Okay, so here is my edict to myself, concerning blogging, Facebooking, and general productivity elsewhere:

"Young lady, you are NOT allowed to log into Facebook more than twice a day, and ONLY after you have done your household chores, and written or drawn something. And you NEED to put that damn mini cinnamon roll down and go to the gym as well!"

I am already disobedient to myself, as I bite into the last mini-cinni on my plate. (It's already been touched - might as well eat it, right?) "Being bad feels pretty good" as Bender from The Breakfast Club would say, as I wash down the last morsel of sweet carby goodness with the dregs of my second cup of coffee, and ponder the crafting of today's juicy rationalization for avoiding the gym. I had a doozie the other day, you want to hear it? Okay, here it is:

So this time last year, I was pushing major maximum density, and in May I joined a gym. I lost 32 pounds working out and dieting (more or less) by mid-November. If I started back to the gym in April and worked out steadily until late fall again, I could lose about the same amount, maybe even more this year.

Isn't that a beauty? It sounds so rational, so logical, so very full of shit. How about this one:

Well, at least I haven't gained any weight back!

Only I have - about 5 pounds, which is pretty good, considering the cookie/doughnut/sweet roll trifecta I've been worshipping lately. (Again with a rationalization!)

Another ode to John Hughes, with paraphrasing:

"I'll just keep eating and gaining...I'll go, I'll go, I'll go...shit! I'll go!"


In other news, I read this post yesterday and it was so beautifully written, so completely apt, that I think I need to read it every day, as a motivator. Check it out:


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Groundhog Syndrome?

Is it Spring yet? Can I come out of the hole I've been hunkering down in for the last quarter of a year, consuming mass amounts of carbohydrates?

I've been having this internal conversation lately, about whether I should continue to blog or not. It certainly is more creative than playing Vampire Wars in Facebook, but let's not poke that bear quite yet. I kind of felt that I was becoming stale in what I was posting, that it ran in a cyclical format. Post about my life, my kids, the cats, drinking on a Sunday, and the ubiquitous photo -op post when all words had dried up and blown away. These are all things I am interested in, but are they things worth writing about, and more saliently, self-publishing? I don't have the kind of egocentric personality to think, unquestioningly, "Why yes, they are! Who doesn't want to read about ME?" Rather, I shrink inwardly, thinking of the exposed, winter-white underbelly I'm exposing. Granted, my ego is unrealistic enough to have thought, at the outset of blogging, that I would become a famous celebrity blogger, doing talk shows, writing a book, and somehow transcending the mundane.

Yeah, not so much, and most of the time that's okay with me. I don't really want to be accountable to thousands of readers, who are going to take issue with me every time I take a stance on something. There is less pressure in knowing that virtually no one will read this, but it does raise the question of why do it at all, and I don't really have an answer for that right now, because I'm waffling as it is.

I'm disappointed with myself, and a little angry as well. I start projects only to never finish them, and the biggest unfinished project I have is Who Am I? At 47 years old you would think I'd have that answer, but nope - nopety, nope - I'm clueless. I'd like to be able to place the blame elsewhere, but ultimately it's all on my head.


It's been a busy period, despite the self-imposed hibernation: I took in another stray cat I found wandering the streets during a snow storm. I thought she might be terminally ill, with something horribly contagious like Leukemia or FIV, but upon observing her I discovered she couldn't chew the dry food that the neighbors had left out for her. she would bolt it whole and then vomit it back up, which was causing her to dehydrate and slowly starve. I took her in, fed her soft food, and kept an eye on her. She was covered in fleas, even in January, so I bathed her. The water ran so red I thought I had opened a wound on her body somewhere, but it was only from the flea castings. When I took her down to see Doc after about two weeks, she was stable but still fragile. He told me that she had suffered a broken pelvis and jaw, and was anemic from the flea infestation, but other than that was healthy and disease-free. And that is how Miss Willow came to be among the chosen few here at the Temple of Bast.

But wait, there's more: I discovered on Monday that Pooh Bear, named for his prodigious eating habits, had an abcess on the side of his face. I cleaned it, dosed him with Amoxicillan and put him in solitary to rest. When I checked on him later I discovered he had another abcess a little further down his neck. Apparently he was bitten by one of the feral and intact males who roam our neighborhood. Luckily, he has had his shots, and I am an old hand at abcesses, so two days later, he's looking much better.

On the family front, my son, The Professor, came down with Strep for the very first time, at 12 and a half. It was the damnedest thing I've ever seen. He came home from school on a Friday, complaining of a sore throat and a headache. Saturday morning I looked in his mouth and there were the tell-tale pustules on his tonsils. We decided to wait and go to his regular doctor on Monday, since I don't trust the doc-in-the-box and he wasn't that severe, symptomatically speaking. Sunday morning, his throat had less white lesions, but it still hurt a bit. By Monday morning he had a clear throat, albeit a bit red and puffy. I took him to the doctor, he tested positive for Strep and he started his antibiotics. He's fine now, but I wonder: would he have recovered from the strep without any antibiotics? I've never seen anyone come down with Strep and two days later, be on the mend, but it sure looked like that was the case with him. I just wish I could bounce back like that!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Didn't the Tapdancer Look Good, Last Time We Saw Her?

Hello, my name is Tapdancer and I am a Facebook junkie.

I know - I was just in here, a few months back, touting my oh-so-virtuous offline time, and now I'm addicted again, and it's not even remotely intelligent, the time I spend. I could make the excuse that January is a month of hibernation, so where's the harm, etc, but um, what about the three months before now?

I'm telling myself that when I reach the 70th level of the Vampire Wars, and you either have to have 500 clan members or get eaten alive, that I'll quit then. And then I go and add 15 more total strangers to my friends list. Granted, I'm really careful of who I pick, but still - who am I and what has happened to the old Tapdancer?

Is there a twelve-step program for Facebook junkies, and if so, do I need neighbors or clan members to play, uh, join?