Thursday, May 31, 2007

football analogy

I had a presentation-thing today, and it was a touchdown. I think they were expecting a Hail Mary, but I pulled out the Music City Miracle. The powers that be doubted that I had the arm for that kind of play; I think they were surprised.

And the NFL commission asked me to come do a similar presentation-thing for the Super Bowl next year.

Maybe I'll get to meet Peyton!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Do you remember the genius game that required you to place crazy geometric pieces in their respective places before the timer ran out and the board hiccuped? I always had my moments with that game when sometimes I could rock the clock -- and other times I was just terrible.

This week I feel like I'm playing that game at work. One of my coworkers has brought her sweet 5 year-old son with her for the last two days. He has been running around like crazy, watching cartoons loudly (with his own verbal commentary, I assure you), and incessantly talking. I can hardly get my work done.

I like kids. Really, I do. I like to play. I like to read. I like to learn...

... which makes it harder for me to pay attention to what I'm supposed to be doing when he is next to me counting to 100 and getting caught on the 50s.

I took my Ipod to work today to see if I could drown out the kid. This was only slightly helpful. It did, indeed, drown him out, but then I couldn't concentrate on my work because I was too busy listening to music in my head. I would have changed it to softer music, but that's my cue to sleep. I might as well have done that because I didn't get a whole lot done.

I'm counting down the days until I can move into my office.

Speaking of moving, we had a heart to heart with one of the guys at the site today. We close in less than 2 weeks and there's all kinds of work left to be done on the house. We had planned on going by today to make a list of what needed to be changed before the walk-through (to make that trip more successful), and noticed that nothing has really changed in the last week and a half. We know it won't take long to fix the issues, but we also know it doesn't need to be put off until the last minute, either.

I bet they're behind because someone brought their kid to work to "help" them!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Big Orange Birthday

Today is Vol Abroad's birthday.
Take a moment and send happy birthday vibes her way!!

(I'd link to her blog, but the Mac does not like to play with Blogger. Here's the long-cut: )

Eischen's Bar

For our Memorial Day weekend celebration we took an adventure to Okarche (pronounced oh-car'-chee), Uglyhoma, to visit the state's oldest bar and to partake in its well-known fried chicken.

As long as we've lived here, which will be four years this summer, we have heard about this infamous saloon. We had heard such mouth-watering stories about 2 hour waits for their coveted fried chicken. We have talked a few times about making the 30-minute trip to sample some history, and had googled a map once or twice, but we had never actually pulled up our boot straps and ventured to find it --- until yesterday.

And so we went. It was a pretty drive. We stopped a few times along the way to take pictures of the landscape.

We pulled up to Eischen's, which from the outside looked like a not-so-historic site. It was brick with high windows with neon bar signs between the glass and the shades. Inside, it was dark like a skating rink. The floor, checkerboard black and white, had some kind of green stuff on it. (We couldn't decide if it was little pieces of felt or eraser rubbings. Either way -- it looked dingy and like it should not have been there, but somehow added to the ambience.) There were several rooms, each with at least one pool table. In the back there were lots of different video games, daring you to be a hero and save the world for a mere quarter.

We sat ourselves and were amused to see that there were only 6 things listed on the menu. We asked for an order of fried chicken and an order of fried okra... and of course I had to drink a beer from the oldest bar in the state! The juke box took us further back in time as we soaked in our surroundings.

Not long after that (and nowhere near 2 hours) we were brought a bucket of fried chicken (2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 wings, 2 drumsticks), a basket of okra, a basket of dill pickles, sweet pickles, and raw sliced onions, a basket of sliced white sandwich bread, and pieces of wax paper to eat on. There were no utensils, but we had plenty of napkins. It was enough food for 5 people, and it was yum.

The Hater and I decided quickly that it was, indeed, the best fried chicken we had ever eaten. The breast meat was juicy and perfect -- and will undoubtedly be the fried chicken that is served in Heaven.

The okra, although tasty and good, was no match for Nana's blue-ribbon competetion.

We ate until we couldn't eat any more, and visited the gift shop before we left. We were expecting the bar to be a time warp, but we had no idea we were actually traveling back to the 90s. We had to buy something to commemorate our trip. I was very intrigued by the t-shirts: my favorite said, "only a rooster will get a better piece of chicken". They also had several styles and colors of Eischen's ball caps, my favorite of which was camouflage with hunter orange lettering. We decided on a red shot glass that boasted Eischen's stamp, and I picked up a short history of the bar as we checked out.

The History of Eischen's Bar
(as taken from the flyer with the same name)

Eischen's Saloon was established in 1896 by peter Eischen and was opened until statehood and prohibition.

Eischen's Bar opened shortly after the end of prohibition by Nick and Jack Eischen, son and grandson of Peter Eischen. The massive back bar, a vital part of the history of Eischen's, was hand carved in Spain in the early 1800s. During the Gold Rush Days it was shipped to California. It was lost in time until it was brought back to Okarche in 1950 for the enjoyment of all who stopped by Eischen's.

On January 21, 1993, fire destroyed Eischen's and one of the things remaining is a small part of the antique back bar.

The Legend Lives On: On August 9, 1993, Eischen's Bar reopened. The small part of the antique back bar is on display along with several other mementos of the bar salvaged from the fire.

We stopped to look at the cases with pre-fire mementos on our way out of the bar. Indeed, a small piece of the charred bar was on display. It proudly watched over the bar from a dark corner.

This ended up being a fantastic adventure. We highly encourage everyone in the area to make a trip back in time to Okarche. It's one of those things you have to do at least once, and you'll be glad you did.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Uglyhoma Centennial

We've moved out west just in time to celebrate Oklahoma's 100th anniversary of statehood. Apparently most people think of the stage play "Oklahoma!" when they hear the state's name mentioned. Personally, I think of a dead, flat, lonely landscape and poor water drainage -- and oil rigs sucking up our natural resources. But that's just me.

The challenge in this, our centennial year, is to make the rest of America aware of what Ugylhoma has to offer, besides "beautiful mornings," "fringe-laden surreys" and "a girl who cain't say no." Given this challenge, here are some other borderline-interesting state facts about Uglyhoma:

* Oklahoma is not only the home of Ado Annie and Aunt Eller from "Oklahoma!" but of the parking meter (invented in OKC) and the shopping cart (invented in Ardmore). Now you know who to cuss the next time your meter runs out and you get a ticket. I wonder who invented the shopping buggy?

* The electric guitar also was invented in Oklahoma, by a Beggs musician named Bob Dunn. Jimmy Page, who rocked "Stairway to Heaven" for Led Zepplin, was from England, not Uglyhoma.

* The first "Yield" sign was installed in Tulsa. Again, now you know who to cuss if you're ticketed for not yielding.

* Environmental Protection Agency recognizes Oklahoma as having the most diverse terrain of any state in the nation. The state, according to EPA, boasts 11 distinct eco-regions, most of which are dead at least 8.5 months out of the year. We will not mention how the EPA feels about oil rigs.

* The state has more man-made lakes than any other state, which give us more than a million surface-acres of water and 2,000 more miles of shoreline than the Atlantic and Gulf coasts combined. Come see our fake lakes; we've got a lot of them and nothing else to offer!

* The Sooner State has produced more astronauts than any other state in the union. Owen Garriott is an Enid boy, while Tom Stafford is from Weatherford, Shannon Lucid from Oklahoma City, William Pogue from Okemah and the late Gordon Cooper from Shawnee.

* Oklahoma is home to the Amateur Softball Association and Hall of Fame, a world class zoo in OKC and more F4 and F5 tornadoes than any other state. When Gary England tells you to take shelter in this state, it's serious.

* Uglyhoma is the third-largest gas-producing state in the nation and ranks fourth in the production of wheat, cattle and calves, and Big Foot stories, fifth in the production of pecans, sixth in peanuts and eighth in peaches. People who live in Uglyhoma are also ranked second in the nation for extreme taxing of its residents with shoddy roads to show for it.

* The state's colors are neither OU's crimson and cream nor the orange and black of OSU but green and white. That and a dollar will buy you anything on a 99 cent menu.

* Oklahomans practice 73 major religions. The largest is the Southern Baptist Convention, with nearly 1,600 church and more than 960,000 members. Uglyhoma is also known for its extreme right-wing views; try not to think outside of the box in this state.

* Uglyhoma gave birth to Dick Tracy (cartoonist Chester Gould is a native of Pawnee) and Donald Duck (Clarence "Ducky" Nash, the original voice of Walt Disney's Donald, grew up in Watonga).

* Oklahomans have survived the Dust Bowl, any number of killer tornadoes, the 1995 bombing of Oklahoma City's Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and various oil booms and busts.

* People who live in Uglyhoma are nicer than yankees and west-coasters, but not as nice as those who live in the real south.

The official statehood celebration will be in November. In the meantime, individual cities are restaging various events associated with statehood and the settling of Indian Territory which eventually became our state. We will be celebrating by requesting the use of wind energy on our electric bill.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

complicated per Paul Harvey

I have heard from my endocrinologist for the official interpretation of my last round of tests. Nothing in the world of endocrinology is simple to understand -- so I'll explain this as best I can:

The Short Version:

My cancer is not any worse than it has been in the past several months. In fact, the bad numbers keep getting lower, which is good, but they're not yet low enough. The PET and WBS scans were negative, which means there are not enough cancerous cells lumped together to show up on the scan, but that does not mean they are not there at all. The plan is to wait six months and do this testing again to see what the numbers show (if they are worse, we will do another treatment; if they are better, we'll discuss different options).

The best news is that I'm able to still keep my New Year's resolution: As of now, there's no need for me to have another surgery, which I'm biased to think is damn good news.

The Long Version:

I take Synthroid every day because I no longer have a thyroid gland. It was taken out in my first surgery and I've had two ablation radioactive Iodine doses to fry what was left. Thyroid hormones are important if you want to live, so I now take mine in the form of a pink pill every morning. Normal people have normal levels of thyroid hormone in their blood stream and bodies. Occasionally people can develop problems where this natural level is either too high (hyperthyroidism) or too low (hypothyroidism), and both of these conditions have their own set of symptoms and problems. Sometimes people take Synthroid because their thyroid glands do not work as effectively as normal people -- they take it as a supplementation to their abnormally functioning thyroid gland.

Because I had thyroid cancer, we want to suppress all thyroid funciton that my body would normally make for itself. It's true that we've taken measures to kill all of the thyroid tissue in my body, but that does not mean that it's all gone. (Even during the surgery the surgeon has to cut around major blood vessels, nerves, and another important parts and organs in your neck, which leaves behind thyroid tissue.) Because we want to suppress my thyroid function, I am on a higher dose of Synthroid than normal hypothyroid people. We do this because we don't want any thyroid tissue in my body to think that it needs to work -- we want to suppress it all together, even the healthy tissue, because we'd rather it not play any reindeer games.

The lab we use as a tumor marker, thyroglobulin, will also "pick up" vibes from normally functioning thyroid tissue as well as cancerous thyroid tissue. It's not an exact measure of only cancer cells, but it's the best test we have for now. We use the thyroglobulin results as well as the results of the PET and WBS scans to interpret the status of disease.

My PET and WBS scans were negative, which means there were not enough cancerous cells lumped together to show up on the scans. However, the thyroglobulin was higher than we want it to be.

This is where things get complicated.

The thyroglobulin was not through the roof, which is good. Even though my value, lucky 13, falls within the "normal" limit of thyroglobulin, you have to remember that we're measuring this because of a history of cancer -- we'd rather it be zero, even when I am off of Synthroid (which suppresses thyroid funciton for me - which means that being off of the Synthroid, or suppressing the agent that suppresses my thyroid function, would also yield zero if there was no functioning thyroid tissue in my body). (Try saying that three times fast.)

At this point it is hard to say what the next step should be. Should we go ahead and work towards another ablation radioactive Iodine dose? Even if we're not 100% sure that the thyroglobulin picked up cancerous thyroid tissue versus remaining normal thyroid tissue? This would be my third dose -- the long-term effects of this cancer therapy would start to pose bigger problems for other organs in my body.

When my doctor was going over my results with me she asked me what I wanted to do. I told her that if she told me to strip naked and jump through a ring of fire into a tank of piranha, I'd do it after I rolled around in bacon fat. I told her I trusted her judgement and thought we should do whatever was the most prudent, and the most safe. I admitted that I've been telling her that I wanted to hurry up and have babies not because my clock was ticking but because that's the imaginary benchmark I've set for myself (I've imagined that when they tell me it's safe to conceive, than that means I'm out of the woods, done with this monkey on my back.).

We talked about the potential problems that might come with a third RAI dose, and we decided that we don't have a diffinitive reason to believe that my thyroglobulin is referencing cancerous tissue or normal tissue. Based on this, the plan is to wait six months and do this again (Thyrogen, the medication which encourages thyroid function without having to stop taking Synthroid + scans).

Six months may sound like a long time, but you have to remember that my type of thyroid cancer truly is a horse of a different color. It is typically very slow growing. If in six months we repeat these scans and my thyroglobulin is higher, we will assume it is cancerous tissue and discuss how to kill it. If it is the same or lower, then we'll have another pow-wow and play it by ear. In the meantime I have another appointment in three months for her to feel around, or palpate, my neck to make sure she does not feel anything abnormal.

Although I'm not popping the cork on a bottle of champagne, it's not necessarily bad news. It's just more hurrying up to wait at this point, which only highlights the reality of living with cancer as a chronic illness for us. For the rest of my life I will be followed and evaluated for progression of disease, which is the nature of this beast.

And that, my friends, is the rest of the story. Good day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

touchdown Volunteers

I received a random phone call today which ended up being a job offer from another hospital in town. It's actually a job that I had wanted before this one. I apologized that I was happy where I was and was pleased to share that their offer did not match what I was currently making. And I know for a fact that the benefits where I am now are better than theirs.

This is probably a good thing. If they had counter-offered more money I would have had to seriously consider it.

This makes the seventh job offer I have personally received this year. I am floored every time it happens.

I sent a text message to The Hater after I was off the phone. He replied this means I was "a blue chip nurse." I thought was a poker analogy, but he assures me it is a basketball analogy instead. Had it been a football analogy, no explaination would have been necessary.

The dead zone is fast approaching. The Hater never thought he would be rooting for Utah.

I'm ready for football time in Tennessee. There will be much orange in my office.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

smoking mad

The Hater and I have had an interesting evening.

This afternoon we went to a perfunctory rite-of-passage ceremony. Let's pretend like it was a wedding (except that it really wasn't). At a wedding ceremony you would imagine hearing some pretty typical things about love and hope, but imagine instead hearing a homily about how sad it is when someone dies. How death is depressing, but if we are still alive we should be glad that we're not yet dead.

Yep, you read that correctly. And imagine that while wondering what they were smoking before they thought a downer like death would be appropriate at a wedding, the speech itself was bad. Not bad as in tacky, which it was, but bad as in poorly organized and about 15 minutes too long. It was so bad that The Hater and I wrote notes to each other saying how bad it was... but waited, politely, until we were in our car before we gave our heated verbal critique.

If it had been my wedding, or if they had been talking about my loved one who had died in that way at someone else's wedding, I would have gotten up and left in the middle of the whole thing. It was poor, tasteless, and utterly tacky.

Boo. Hiss.

Twenty minutes later we're being seated at Redrock Canyon Grill in OKC, a snazzy nice restaurant on Lake Hefner. We usually only go there to eat when we are celebrating something, but tonight we were going because my father-in-law had sent me a gift certificate as a belated birthday present. We were still dressed up from the wedding, so it was only natural that we'd take advantage of being out and hungry with a gift certificate.

As we're eating and sipping our perfect margaritas, which I assure you they are, we discuss what a good blog post the bad speech would make. We start to notice that the restaurant getting smokey. The floorplan of this place has the kitchen open and in the back; you can see the cooks from anywhere inside. The waitstaff started running around in circles. They open the doors. No big deal, really -- we continue eating.

We start coughing before we're finished with supper. We notice that there's even more smoke and people are starting to get up and leave. I look over The Hater's shoulder to notice that two people are awkwardly shooting fire extinguishers, while I can still see a faint orange flicker up the wall behind the oven. The cooks are all outside of the kitchen area, looking at each other, and watching the extinguishers. I begin to tell The Hater that the roof is on fire, when I am interrupted by our waitress...

the blonde: It's just a little flame up behind the stove, but it's causing a lot of smoke.
me: They have out the fire extinguishers. You can see the flame from here.
the blonde: It's just a litle fire. There's no reason to evacuate yet. I have the tickets ready for all of these tables.

By the time we get back our change, both The Hater and I are hacking up our lungs. Billows of smoke follow us out the front door; we can hardly catch our breath. Before we leave the parking lot six fire engines report to the scene.

We grumble all the way home about how we now stink of smoke, how we were rushed through our supper, how we should send them the bill for dry cleaning our smokey clothes. We didn't start the fire; Redrock Canyon did it, but they won'd admit it. And as long as we're pointing our finger at poor acts of judgement tonight, not comping us dinner tonight while we cough from smoke inhalation at a smoke free restaurant is as bad as giving a death sermon at a wedding.

Boo. Hiss.

on picking and grinning

Sometimes I miss the sound of fiddles under the tall shade trees in the remade cow pasture that is now the home of the Bluegrass Reunion in Summertown. I don't miss the mosquitos or the humidity.

I plan on bringing back Dad's ukelele when I'm home for Sister's wedding. It's not exactly a violin, but if you come over and bring your guitar, we'll make do. We may also have to pretend that we have shade trees. There may or may not be mosquitos. Don't worry if you think you don't have any musical talent; we have plenty of spoons to go around.

Meanwhile, -- I've been fiddling with the blog template this weekend. I realized that I have been linked to blogs that no longer post anything. Although it was hard to delete those posters (most of them are real-life friends), their blogs have become duds. The novelty of the blog has worn thin, which I can certainly understand.

I'm getting excited about some upcoming things that will be going on with my job. Musical things. It's very possible that I have landed the greatest job in the universe. Until I know for sure, I think I'll just play it by ear.

Hum a few bars for me and I'll figure out how it goes.

Friday, May 18, 2007


This morning I heard a message on my work phone that I must have missed yesterday after I had left for the day. The PA at my endocrinologist's office called, which surprised me because earlier I had called the MA, who said the PA did not work with the cancer patients. My labwork and WBS results had come in, but the doctor would not be back until next week.

So I take these as preliminary results until the real doctor sees them. This news has three stages.

1. NEGATIVE pregnancy test. This is good for us on multiple levels. If I had been pregnant, I could not have taken the test at all. We didn't think we were pregnant, nor were we trying to conceive. This test was done strictly so that I could safely take the radioactive Iodine (RAI).

2. NEGATIVE scan (WBS). I did not glow. This means that although there are some crazy microscopic cancer cells still there, they have NOT grown out of control. I did not light up like a Christmas tree. There is no reason to believe that the cancer has metastisized (or spread) anywhere else in my body.

This was especially good news for me because I was really worried right after the scan. People kept coming into the room to make sure the machine was set the right way, which was disconcerning for me. But the official report is back -- and, honey, it looks good.

3. NORMAL thyroglobulin (tumor marker). My tumor marker was drawn before the RAI dose was given. This test was drawn after I had taken some special shots to alter my hormones without going off of Synthroid. This test reflects what my tumor marker would be if it was not suppressed by medicine. The results came back positive, but within the normal range for someone with cancer.

This is where things get sticky because I don't want to get really excited before the doctor gets to see these results. I don't know if it's really normal or high normal. I don't know if it's so normal that we'll just watch it or if it's borderline normal where we should probably be proactive and treat anyway.

Overall I interpret this as good news, but we're not going to pop the cork on the champagne until we get the official head nod and plan for the next several months. (What's next? Do we sit and wait? When do we draw another Tg? What is the green light we need before we can start making babies?)

Meanwhile, we drove by the house yesterday and the brick is going up quickly. It's looking great; we're very pleased with the brick that we chose. They hadn't layed the brick around the mantle yet... but with as fast as they're moving, it'll be finished soon (so long as the weather stays nice).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Today is LIVESTRONG Day. Across the country more than 200 events are taking place to engage communities with experiences that increase awareness and show support for cancer survivors and their loved ones. In addition to LAF's efforts in local communities, approximately 200 advocates (with at least two from every state and D.C.), will serve as delagates in Washington, DC, to demand that our nation's leaders invest in resources, treatment, and services for people affected by Cancer and to emphasize the importance of making cancer a national priority.

As an oncology nurse who became a cancer survivor, survivorship issues have been close to my heart - even before they were the clinical hot topic. Last year Lance asked me to blog against cancer. Although the same request was not asked again (and in spite of the fact that I wasn't chosen as a LAF delegate from the grand state of Uglyhoma), this post is my contribution to the cause.

Survivors today are much more educated than the cancer survivors of the past. For one thing, they know what type of cancer they have! One hundred years ago a family knew that someone had "the cancer" much like someone had "the consumption", but treatment details and modalities were rarely discussed. Now after a cancer diagnosis comes an avalanche of decisions: diagnostic testing choices, what type of surgery (if any is needed at all), which chemotherapy regimes, should biotherapies be included, what type of radiation therapy and to which fields, should complimentary therapies be incorporated, and even decisions regarding symptom management and palliative care have become a dialogue between a cancer patient and their physician (and their support system, too, if the survivor wants them included!). The waves of change are crashing around us, and now is the time for survivorship advocates to stand up and demand more.

More national funding for cancer research. More support services for survivors who continue to suffer from long-term and late effects from their cancer treatments. More psychosocial resources to adjust to the stigma and side effects of the disease process. Better, more efficient and cheaper testing techniques. More options. More education. More reasons to LIVESTRONG.

More Hope. As a Nurse Navigator I have found there is no more sincere or greater desire at the bottom of every survivor's heart than the need to hope. Hope for cure. Hope for survival. Hope for symptom control. Hope for the lack of suffering. Hope for the impact of their diagnosis on family dynamics. Hope that insurance will cover their treatment costs. Hope for conception and pregnancy after treatment. Hope for knowledgable and compassionate professionals. Hope that the nurse will only have to stick them once to get their IV started. Hope they have enough gas in the car to make it to their treatment facility. Hope for truth. Hope for personal strength during times of crisis. Hope that someone else will understand,really understand how they feel and what they are going through. Hope to live long enough to see the birth of a grandchild, a wedding, an anniversary, the Yankees win the pennant, Peyton Manning to win the Super Bowl, a graduation, a party – hope to be present for an important life event. Hope to keep their hair despite their chemotherapy regime. . Hope for better days ahead.

LIVESTRONG Day 2007 will stimulate those impacted by a diagnosis of cancer by giving permission to hope and empowering them with tools to use their passions to make a difference in their own cancer situations. The domino effect of LiveSTRONG projects across this country will both impact and change the system.

However, change has never been easy. If we look back through history we will find that big changes only took place after an angry mob demanded something be done. The Revolutionary War, the world wars, the Abolition of Slavery, Rights to Vote and Own Property, Marriage Rights, Prohibition, Healthcare, Education – none of these things were easy or quick changes and some are still in question today. Lance has used a metaphor of creating an "Army" to demand change in cancer care. Considering our past leads me to believe this cliche is more than appropriate. Awareness about the issues, needs and hopes faced by cancer survivors is the first step to create and motivate the angry mob that is necessary to initiate the change needed to implement a national agenda to address cancer in America.

Why is this important to me? I, too, hope. As a cancer survivor I hope that somehow my suffering might impact the system in such a way to make a stranger's cancer journey easier. As an oncology nurse I hope to wake up one morning and wonder what to do with an obsolete career after the cures for all cancers have been discovered.

Hope is an infectious disease; it's time to spread the pandemic.

Do you live under a rock? Here's some info about the Lance Armstrong Foundation: The Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) unites people to fight cancer. The LAF believes that unity is strength, knowledge is power and attitude is everything. The LAF provides the practical information and tools people battling cancer need to live life on their own terms. The LAF also takes aim at the gaps between what is known and what is done to prevent death and suffering due to cancer. We engage with and advocate for the public at large to pursue an agenda focused on prevention, ensuring access to screening and care, investment in research, and improving the quality of life for people affected by cancer. Founded in 1997 by cancer survivor and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong, the LAF is located in Austin, Texas. To learn more about the Lance Armstrong Foundation, visit

Monday, May 14, 2007


They say that each drop of rain is a miracle from Heaven.

We have had a unusually wet Spring this year, made even more unusual by the drought they've had at home.

The people who are building our house have gone from arguing with us that we wanted to move in "too late" to convincing us that we needed to wait later to move. The newest hold-up is bricking the exterior, made more difficult by the wet season.

The new timeline is that we hope to close and throw boxes into the house before we leave for Sister's wedding next month. We're not really worried about it, yet, but would have liked to settled sooner than that.

Meanwhile, I'm not-so-patiently waiting for test results from last week. Our fingers are crossed every which way around.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

* * * * * hero

We are so proud that we've finally beaten the "medium" level of the Guitar Hero video game. And not only have we beaten it, we've gotten the maximum 5 stars on each song. We have the coveted Viking guitar to prove it.

Unfortunately, our only choice now is to venture into the "hard" level. The problem is that our brain doesn't talk to our fingers fast enough to play those songs. We're well behind the learning curve, so this should take a while...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

looking back, facing forward

"Don't go into the light, Carol Ann!"

"nary a drop to drink"

"Nana's Salmon Croquets"

"let sleeping dogs lie"

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

death in the family

"reliable friend and sexy farm truck"

I am distraught to report that one of my best friends, Harrison, was sentenced to Chevrolet Heaven today after 25 hard-working years on this earth.

His death was a shock to our family. He was so strong and had made no complaints in a very long time. We took him to the Vehicular Intensive Care Unit after he stalled out and started smoking, which was a shock to us because he has always been a non-smoker. In fact, he was very much against the tobacco industry and thought they should have to pay for the treatments of most lung cancer patients.

The surgeon took him back to the bay, looked under his hood and raised him high on the car stick to palpate his undercarriage. I know he was brave; he's been around too many curves on Monteagle Mountain to be afraid of heights. His prognosis was so bad that it was suggested we do the brave thing and make him a DNR.

The VICU team told us that Harrison had a cooling problem in every way possible. All of his systems were damaged and leaking. His radiator was clogged, which caused him to go the way of Fred Sanford: he had the big one (he blew his head gasket). His flex plate was untorqued. Hoses, filters, pumps and lines were caddywompus. They also said he needed to be decapitated long enough to send his head to a machine shop to be fixed. The list of problems is longer, but it's complete enough to understand that the end is near.

Harrison's been there for me and not let me down for a long time. He knows how to sing back-up to my entire vocal repertoire, the story behind all of my life drama, where my favorite parking places are, how to get home. He's been a good truck and a good friend.

I feel like I had to go out to the corn crib and shoot Old Yeller.

We will have a brief memorial service tomorrow evening before St. Peter tows him to Heaven.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

hot not to make a sale

This afternoon The Hater talked me into going window shopping for furniture for the house. We have been talking about getting a new kitchen table and possibly a bedroom suit, too. And we know that time is ticking -- so we headed out to Reno in OKC to look for such furniture (with no intention to actually buy anything).

In this area of town the furniture stores are clustered like Republicans around rumors of WMDs. Unfortunately, most of them are owned by the same people. The same furniture is for sale for the same prices in several stores.

The last time we went window shopping for furniture (the loveseat), we also came home with a lamp that we bought on a whim at one of the stores. The funny thing is that we had no idea how cool it was until we got it home.

We're the type of shoppers who prefer the soft sell (just ask the guys who sold us our home and car). We like to be left alone. We usually research before we buy, and if we have questions, we will seek out the answers. We don't like pushy salespeople.

Even when The Hater and I were looking for engagement rings, he would have to buffer the salespeople when they locked target for a sale. WE'RE JUST LOOKING, THANKS. WE WILL ASK YOU IF WE HAVE ANY QUESTIONS.

Salespeople make me itch. They make my skin crawl. The more aggressive they are, the more likely I am to walk out of the store. It's not that I intend to be the bad cop; circumstances and fate play big roles in the big picture of life. (The Hater's strategy for aggresive salespeople is to ignore them. He wants me to mention this.)

Anyway, we went furniture shopping. Our particular awful experience was at "Mob Bills Furniture" today. It was so bad that even while it was happening, we decided this was a story worthy of being told:

We notice that every time we walk into a furniture store, there is a line of salespeople waiting to pounce like taxicabs at the airport. We naturally walk by them without making eye contact.

Mrs. Rove: (which wasn't actually her name, but we decided it was more than appropriate) What can I help you with today?
us: Nothing. We're just looking. We're not buying anything today.
Mrs. Rove: What are you looking for? I can help you find it.
us: (walking away, ignoring)

We went to the escalator and headed upstairs. We've been to this store before; we knew where we were going. In fact, not only was this the store where we had bought the lamp, Mrs. Rove sold it to us. I notice this as we are going up the escalator, about the same time as The Hater notices that she is following us (8 feet behind us).

We look at bedroom suits. Every time we slowed down to talk about one, Mrs. Rove (who was hovering all the while) swooped down to tell us information that we did not request. Keep in mind, this is a very big store and she is following us around the entire upper level of this store. We specifically told her that we were not needing information. We made no effort to seek her input or make eye contact.

The third time we stopped to look at a suit, Mrs. Rove interrupted us more aggressively...

Mrs. Rove: This is such a good deal for you. You can see...
genderist: We are just looking and need no help.
Mrs. Rove: (didn't slow down one bit) But this set is yadda yadda yadda...
genderist: (Had enough. Making serious eye contact and pointing finger.) Stop being pushy. Just let us look around. We don't want your help.
Mrs. Rove: (looking hurt) I'm not being pushy! (gasp) I'm just helping you!
genderist: No, you're not. You're being pushy.

At this point The Hater grabs my arm we continue walking.

Mrs. Rove continues to follow us, about 12 feet behind us now.

I'm pissed. The Hater is grossed out and suddenly feels guilty for encouraging me to go shopping for furniture.

On the way down the escalator we could not help but to notice that Mrs. Rove continues to follow us. She follows us throghout the entire lower level of the store. This time we purposefully did not slow down, as to not attract her honing beacon, until we found the exit.

From about twelve yards away she yelled at us as we reached the door:

Mrs. Rove: Thanks so much for coming by today! Let me know if you need anything!

The thing about this is that she yelled loud enough for everyone in the store to hear. It was obviously not directed to just us as she neared the vulture line.

We kept walking.

It was the second worst shopping experience for us ever. We decided that next time we go furniture shopping we should just wear stickers that say, "DFWM", which basically means 'don't mess with me'.

Incidentally, at the next store we were quick to tell the salesman that we had a really bad experience at Mob Bills with a saleslady harassing us. He picked up on the context clues and gave us his card, leaving us alone. We then used his name to fend off the other aggressive salespeople in the store.

His reward will be commission on our furniture sales next month.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Bob the Builder

We stopped by the house today to see what has changed in the last week...

The correct paint is on the walls. The hardwood floor had the drop cloths off of it, but it has not yet been stained or finished. The tile has been laid, and we really like it. The safety linings inside of the tubs have been removed. The trim is finished. The appliances and countertops were in the garage, still in boxes. The built-in bench is almost finished. The yard remains a big red dirt disaster. Some of the doors have not yet been hung. There are still some touch-ups that need to be addressed.

It looks like we're actually going to be living in a house soon.

The plan was to move mid-June, but The Hater received an email that asked if we wanted to move earlier than that. We might be changing the move date to early-June if we can. The Hater is going to talk to our landlords this week to see if we can sever our contract one month early.

We have not given much thought to the idea of packing. (We're blindly enjoying the calm before the storm.) We have talked about all the stuff that we're going to throw away and give away... so if we have something that you just can't live without or can't bear the idea of being trashed, let us know.

Talking about this, we're starting to realize how many decisions we still have to make regarding this move, the daunting task ahead. We are comforted by the words of philosophical masters: "Can we fix it? Yes we can!"

Friday, May 04, 2007

planning spontaneity

We decided to be spontaneous last night. We went to bed early only to wake up before midnight and go across the street to see the first showing of Spiderman 3, knowing full well that we should be sleeping.

We thought it was a good movie. The Hater, former comic book nerd, says there were two scenes that should have been toned down. According to him: "In general, it followed the story line with the comic book, especially with the alien costume. The Sandman's special effects were cool. However, he has a fear that they should stop creating new Spiderman movies now; he's afraid that producing more movies with other villans will turn the Spiderman movies in the flop that was the Batman series (3-5) in the 1990s. Although "The Lizard" was a neat character, he doesn't think he's a bad guy worthy of a whole movie to himself."

I liked the Stan Lee cameo. It screamed of the days of Alfred Hitchcock.

We ended up going back to bed around 3 am. The alarm was nagging shortly thereafter.

But we're posting tonight to declare that we did it, and it's important for us to add that we were not the oldest people in the theater. It's been a long day -- and we're ready to go back to sleep.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

oncology nursing month

They're giving everybody special months and days of celebration now!

Make sure you go out sometime this month and thank your favorite oncology nurse. They like that kind of thing... and brownies. They really like brownies, too. And wine, but not necessarly with their brownies.

Tune in next time when we celebrate making tape month and pinking shear hour!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

sick Sister

My Sister is sick. She has lost twelve pounds in the last week. She is pitiful.

She was coughing up a lung last week and went to the doctor. They gave her boatloads of antibiotics. The antibiotics gave her diarrhea, which isn't unusual. Unfortunately, they also killed all the good bugs in her gut. This left nobody to watch out for the bad bugs, so the bad bugs in her gut took over.

Today she went back to the doctor, who did lots of tests. Indeed, the bad bug is the culprit. She's changed antibiotics for the third time, and they've thrown in cough medicine for good measure. The chest x-ray confirmed that she doesn't have pneumonia. But she feels supremely cruddy right now.

She's been told to take off of work for the next week. The doctor said that if she doesn't feel any better tomorrow, then she'll have to go to the hospital for IV fluids.

The nurse has told her to chug gatorade like it's going out of style. Today she's had beef broth and a few crackers.

It's pitiful with a capital P in LBG tonight. We're sending her big, healing vibrations and hoping she'll feel better tomorrow.