Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Queen of the Fricken Universe

Julieta may be a diva, but Tabitha is the Queen of all things.

And, you know you can never correct The Queen.

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Can you see it in my eyes?

Cuddles is feeling much, much better.

Well enough to get on the back of the couch again. Although I do move her off, since she could fall and injure herself again.

Doncha just love that face?

She's even feeling well enough to stick her tongue out at me.

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Sleeping Puss

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And the Answer Is......


The little lady loves to burrow and hide in anything and everything, including sweatshirt hoods. It must be some kind of nesting instinct. She'll attack ferociously if you put your hand near her when she is scoping out a cozy dark hiding spot. She actually fell off the counter once, when burrowing in a dishtowel. I was there to catch her, of course.

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A closer look

This is the area to focus on. I know this isn't much, and not the answer you were looking for.
I'll try and post an answer tonight, from home - where all my PICs are.
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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Can you figure out this picture?

Tell me what you think is going on in this picture.

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It's a dogs life

The best place on a hot summers day is right in front of the fan!

Julieta leads the life of retirement and totally owns the couch.

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Remember that Baby Snapping Turtle?

Ready to release at the pond. This was around the first week in September.

Such a little guy, but he knew to swim right for cover.

We weren't there 5 minutes when son captured this strapping lil fellow.

Of course, the frog wasn't too thrilled.

It was right at dusk and the mosquitos were so bad we were both going to need a transfusion, so we left pretty quickly.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007


This is my baby, Cuddles. This is when she wasn't feeling very well. You can see it in her eyes.

She really is a beautiful kitty. She's always been fat and has the softest fur.

I'll try and take some more PICs of her feeling better. You can see the difference in her face and hear it in her meow. Not to mention that she's getting around much better and has foregone sleeping next to my bed for her favorite chair.

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Christmas PICs

A few Christmas PICs.

My nephew, Evan wasn' t feeling too talkative and didn't want to have his picture taken.

My other nephew, Shane was much more into the Christmas spirit.

Pirates of the Carribean sure has a way of opening a kid up! Evan loves the Pirates movies. That's my bro and my Grandmother in the background.

Dad, Mom, bro and Grandmother. Dad got a few hats to keep his poor bald head warm.
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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Space Out

I noticed my post on 1/11 was missing a good chunk of text. Due to some HTML glitch the second half of the post never appeared. If some of you thought this post ended oddly - that's why. I've fixed the problem and now the entire post is visible.

I ended up behind my Moms car this morning on my way to work. This is a rare occurance. I pulled up next to her, in one of the two left hand turn lanes, and started beeping my horn. Mom is a very intelligent lady. She's an RN and loves to read, do puzzles or anything to challenge her mind. The woman is Mensa smart. But, she's a complete space cadet when she is driving. I beeped my horn...once....twice.......beep!beep!beep! The guy in front of me probably thought I was a loon. Eventually, she looked over at the front of my car and her gazed shifted up to my passenger window. I'm waving like a fool yelling Yoohoo! to the closed window when she finally sees me. This isn't the first time this has happened. Most times when I drive by her in traffic I don't even bother honking my horn anymore cause she just doesn't hear it.

We have a family expression for times like this; "Gone to Maine", Maine being my parents place on the lake. Anytime one of the family zones out we refer to them as having "left" or "gone to Maine". Normally this involves the grandchildren and video games. Kids can become so hyperfocused that they are oblivious to all around them. Mom's videogame is driving.

So, if you see her driving sometime, don't bother trying to get her attention.
She's gone to Maine.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

In the Stars

Thank you all for your encouraging, caring and sweet words. I'll tell ya, I wouldn't wish my life right now on my worst enemy, maybe on my ex, but not my worst enemy. Your rays of hope are bright spots in my darkest moments.

I'm fascinated sometimes by how dead on my horrorscope can be. Today is one of those days:

A chance to show someone just how much you have learned will arise tonight. After some weeks of recreation and lack of focus, there is a clarity about what you need to get done right away. All other tasks in your life will lessen in importance.

I have blown off so many things lately. I just haven't had the motivation or inclination to care. Sure, I've put out a couple bonfires, but there are smoldering piles all around me. Clarity and focus is something I need right now and I hope the stars are right.

Cuddles is almost completely back to her old self. The injury theory was probably right. She's jumping on her recliner without a problem and I even found her on my bed over the weekend. She isn't sleeping beside my bed anymore and she's vocally demanding fresh water and food. Cuddles has this thing about not liking the water when the dish is half empty and will squawk at me until I change it for her. This sometimes means two or three times a day instead of once. Maybe if she didn't constantly play in the water with her litter dirty paws I wouldn't need to, but, I don't mind.

I've saved the best for last. Dad called this morning. They went into Boston yesterday for a follow up on the Gamma Knife. Although it wasn't a double contrast CT scan, the Doc couldn't find anything on it.

Let me say that again: THE DOC COULDN'T FIND ANYTHING ON IT.

I asked about the two that they couldn't previously treat and Dad said they didn't show up on the scan. "The Doctor looked rather puzzled, as if to say "Why are you here?". Mom & Dad are very happy with the news.

Yes, this is great news. So, why doesn't this make me as happy as it should? I'm afraid to get my hopes up. Every time I do - the other shoe drops and it devastates me again. My brain knows that it's illogical (sheesh - I sound like a Vulcan) to live life like this. My heart knows that there has to be difficult and painful times in life, if for nothing less than to appreciate the easy joyous times. Someone once said to me; anyone can do the easy times, it's how you weather the tough times that matter.

If only they could perform Gamma Knife on areas of the body besides the brain.

I know that our tough times are still not over. I need to temper my joy at the good news because the dark beast is still growing and spreading in Dad's chest. This ray of good news shining through is the light I need to focus on tasks at hand and give me some clarity.

May the stars continue to shine bright.

Clarification: In speaking with Mom last night I found out that there are still a couple tumors visible, but, they are "stable or shrinking". Although the CT scan wasn't 100% clear this is still good news. Dad goes back in three months for another follow up.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Taking whatever I can get at this point

Cuddles is doing better. She's been more mobile. Stuffing her fat little face. She's not as wobbly. I even came home from work one day to find her up in the recliner. Last night she kept following me around meowing at me until I sat on the couch and gave her some love. It was what we both needed. Cuddles has this sweet habit of reaching out and touching me with her paw. She usually does this when she wants to be petted or wants attention. When you finally do pet her, she'll wrap both paws around your hand and pull you in. A process she repeats whenever you stop scratching. Since Cuddles is improving, I suspect she might have gotten injured when she fell off the back of the couch last week. She probably has some arthritis and she certainly didn't land on her feet. It sucks getting old.

I believe animals have an empathic sense. They seem to know when you are troubled or sad. They steer clear when you're angry. The best medicine for when I'm feeling blue is a purring furball or a concerned cold wet nose pushing at my hand for some physical contact. It got pretty crowded on the couch last night, with the dog curled up in the crook of my legs, Tabitha perched on my hip and Cuddles curled up next to my chest. They knew what I needed.

Moms second mammography turned out OK. The ultrasound showed the the suspicious spot had shrunk. Cancer wouldn't do that in 6 days. The halo surrounding the spot was light, cancer shows dark. Mom also has a bruise in that area. Add those 3 up and the Doc's not worried about it. Mom has a 6 week follow up.

This is good news. Just enough.

Sometimes, I can't help but feel that we are lab rats in some Higher Power's twisted experiment. Some mad scientist wants to see how far we can be pushed before breaking. We're going along in our lives, blissfully ignorant, then BAM! My Dad gets lung cancer. But that's only the beginning. This experiment involves the study of putting us on an emotional roller coaster.

Give some hope with the Non Small Cell Lung Cancer diagnosis. Liver - clear. Abdomen - clear. Let's dash that hope with it spreading to the brain and a Stage IV diagnosis, a death sentence. Give them some time to adjust and brighten their spirits with some positive response to treatment. Let's see how they deal with the pros and cons of chemo.

They seem to be coping. See how they hold on to each glimmer of hope? Let them get through Thanksgiving and then, let's throw them a curve ball on the Dad's birthday. Hit the wife with some heart troubles, nothing life threating, but make it debilitating. A-fib, yea, that'll do. Keep the son's marital woes and the daughter's teen troubles going too. While we're at it, boost the brain mets and dribble out some optimism with the Gamma Knife treatment. Make it a good news/bad news thing.

They're one strong family! They're taking whatever we throw at them. Up the ante with something life threatening to the Mom. Progress the A-fib to Congestive Heart Failure, do it close to Christmas. Push them to the edge, then pull them back. Let the Mother recover.

What a resilient species. Look at how they try to push aside all their problems for this Christmas day. See how they protect the young ones by maintaining the Holiday routines? If you look closely enough though, you can see the anxiety in their faces. They're all thinking the same thing. "Is this our last Christmas as a complete family? What will next Christmas bring?"

The New Year always brings hope and optimism to humans. Hit'em hard with a double whammy. Give the Mother another scare with some cancer of her own, but just make it a scare. Then, kick them right in the face with the lung Cancer again. Bring them back to the beginning. Remind them of their mortality. While we're at it, toss some more adolescent problems, guilt, and financial trials at the daughter.

Their bonds may be strong, and they may cling to hope. But, we will break them.

Maybe it's nothing more than my overactive imagination or a coping mechanism. But seriously, how much can one family take? We are a good family, a normal everyday family. We pay our taxes & always try to do the right thing. We are a hard working, loving, respectful and protective family. We are not perfect. We are human. We have addictions, weaknesses, faults & frailties like everyone else. We are doing the best we can, like the rest of humanity.

My parents have risen above every test and trial that has been thrown in their path.

Despite having an abusive father and a poverty level childhood, my Dad has been nothing but loving, patient & kind, and has worked his ass off to make sure his children never went without. Mom has never wanted anything less than the best for her children and grandchildren. She's our fierce protector, best advocate and most honest critic. She has more faith in our abilities than we do, and drives us to reach beyond our self perceived limits. All this, in spite of a domineering drill Sargent for a father, and a selfish manipulative Mother.

They've stuck it out through raising two children - teenage years and all, bankruptcy & alcohol addiction. For better or worse. My parents are the exception to the rule, in this day and age of divorce and easy outs at the slightest sign of trouble. My parents have honored their commitment to each other through the better and worse. My parents have lived honorable lives, always putting, not only their children's, but also everyone else's needs, before their own. They've worked hard. They've sacrificed dreams to take care of aging parents. They have always done the RIGHT thing.

So, I have to ask: What is the reason they are being put through this living hell? They've done nothing to deserve this shit. I don't want to hear that crap about bad things happening to good people. What's the point of living an honorable life, if we are only to be shortchanged (read: Fucked over) at the time when we are supposed to be enjoying our retirement and the fruits of all our hard work?

My ex-husband has made a lifetime out of beating the system and taking the easy way out. He hasn't done his part to support or parentally raise the son he had to have. He's not only harmed, but has irreparably damaged the life he helped to create. This son-of-a-bitch will live to the ripe old age of 90 while my SuperDad won't. Where's the justice in a selfish, miserable SOB living a long and mostly healthy life and an honest decent giving human being having his life robbed by disease? Where's the punishment in giving a convicted criminal, food, housing and entertainment (TV etc...) while honest, law abiding people foot the bill and die younger than the felons they support?

Some believe we are given one life upon this Earth. How we live that life determines where we will spend eternity. Heaven or Hell. How can we be sure, since no one has ever returned from eternity to tell us it is so. Some say, what comes around goes around and bad people get what they deserve. Is there any proof? Am I to take it on faith that my ex will get his just deserts, while my son suffers the consequences of an inadequate father. My son deserves more than that. My parents deserve better than being totally fucked over, at a time when they should be bearing the fruits of their sacrifices and hard work.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


I got a letter in December from MCI from the toll fraud department about unusual activity on my phone. When I contacted them, I found out there were over $400 in charges. Then I got my $689 December phone bill.

When I confronted my son, he told me he had made the calls and he felt guilty every time he did and he wanted to tell me, but he knew how mad I'd be.


Didn't stop him from doing it again...and again....and again.

I spent an hour and a half on the phone yesterday with my local phone provider and various other providers regarding the charges, courtesy of my 16 year old hormone bomb son. Three of the companies were excellent about crediting the charges. Especially, when I explained that the phone is in my name, he wasn't authorized to make these calls, they allowed a minor access to their adult services, and I wasn't paying the charges. I requested blocks with each of the companies. The one I'm still getting the run around from is MCI. MCI was recently bought by Verizon; my provider. Verizon told me that, although the calls were billed by MCI (on behalf of the "900" company) they were not the "900 Company" provider and then connected me with said company. I ended up at some womans voicemail. I left a message, surprisingly, she did return my call. According to her, one of the two phone numbers called (repeatedly), they had no record of and I needed to call Verizon and have them credit my account. Verizon tells me that only the business that charged the calls can make a credit. Round and round I go.

I will get credit for the $600 in charges and, my son will pay me $600 for the calls and aggravation he has caused me. He's forbidden from using the phone and I've canceled my long distance service. Consequences for his actions. I have nationwide service on my cell, so that's where I'll make any long distance calls from. Whatever happened to the days when the worst a Mother had to worry about was finding Playboys under the mattress? Now, there are personals, phone dating, phone sex and who knows what else available with a simple dial of a few digits. To top it all off, when I was on the phone with one of the companies I found out that my darling son had made another call that day! After he was already busted and in such deep shit he'll still be shoveling when he's 30!

Mom was hit with a very strong sharp pain in her shoulder the weekend before she was to return to work. She was much improved after a Cortizone shot. The Doc still wanted her to have an MRI to rule out anything spinal. His diagnosis was a ruptured deltoid tendon. Nothing much they can do about it and it heals on it's own.

She received the MRI results today and she has spinal bone spurs that have caused two bulging discs in her neck. The spurs have actually moved her spinal cord. The Doc is optimistic that a shot in her spine and PT will correct it. As Mom put it, that's the least of her worries.

Mom has a second mammography scheduled for tomorrow because something showed up on the one she had last week.

Mom and Dad met with the oncologist today. The tumors are growing and either there are more or more nodes affected (I was too numb at the news to clarify). The front line Chemo, that seemed to be so effective, isn't working anymore. They are switching him to a different Chemotherapy drug, the second choice. His cancer blood count (whatever the medical term is) is back up to where it was when he was first diagnosed. Next week, they return to Boston to see the results of the Gamma Knife procedure Dad had on his brain.

My heart was breaking for my Mom as she told me the latest news. I couldn't find any comforting words as she said "I don't know what the fuck we've done to deserve this. They say God doesn't give you anything.." "That's bullshit!" I didn't even let her finish. "No one should have to go through all this. God and I aren't exactly on speaking terms". All I could do was cry on the end of the line with her and say "Oh Mummy, I'm so sorry". I wanted to be there to hug her, to try and take some of the weight off of her. I nodded my head in agreement when she said we need some good news and that that she wasn't sure how much more of this she could take. I couldn't speak through the tears, for fear of sobbing. I wanted to say something encouraging, something positive....But, I couldn't find anything good in this clusterfuck of hell.

Go ahead, say it with me people: WHAT THE FUCK?!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Not the Start I was Hoping For

Somehow, someone got ahold of my debit card number and racked up $173 in charges on my checking account. This has caused two overdraft transfers from my savings and a bounced check - to the tune of $205.

The very nice lady at the Credit Union told me that these thieves have a way of collecting your card info when you use an ATM. I'm not sure how, or when it happened. The charges started December 28th and the last time I used an ATM was December 21st. The scum perpetrating this slick scam didn't make large charges. They were small amounts appearing as "network" or "phone biller" charges. They showed up as point of sale transactions to 800 numbers. No charges were over $30, but they were frequent: 9 charges over 7 days, with 6 more denied charges due to insufficient funds.

Living paycheck to paycheck has it's advantages. I can only imagine how much they would have gotten, if I had a large balance, or only balanced my checkbook once a month. I check my balance online at least once a week.

Tomorrow I have to sit down with a service rep and write a letter formally disputing the charges. The nice lady told me I would be reimbursed the overdraft fees and the Credit Union would draft a letter explaining the fraud to the place where my check bounced. You cannot cash a check at this establishment for 14 days after a bounced check either clears, or you pay in cash.

The nice lady called two of the phone numbers of the fraudulent charges. The first just kept ringing. The second answered. When she asked the business she had dialed, the thick accented man replied, "You called me". When she started explaining the situation to the man, he hung up. Pretty shady.

My debit card was cancelled & shredded. Good timing, my check was to be direct deposited in an hour. Those SOB's weren't going to get anymore out of me. Bad timing with an empty gas tank, no cash & no way to cash a check (see above). SuperDad offered to give me some cash to tide me over. I feel like a total loser taking money from my parents. The circumstances of the situation don't matter, in my mind. I'm 42 years old and shouldn't be borrowing money from my parents. Add to that the guilt of them not accepting repayment or taking a check for the cash. Put everything else they're going through on top of that and I've got enough guilt to take me through the next millennium. That's just how I am.

Subject change.

My 21 year old puss; Cuddles is showing her age. It's been a week now. She's having trouble walking and her hind end gives out. She fell when attempting to jump on the couch & has fallen off the back of the couch. She walks like a drunk. Her eyesight is fine. Her hearing has been going for a while now. I'm hesitant in bringing her to the vet, because of the stress it would cause. She also hasn't been to the vet in years and the first thing they'll want to do is give her a rabies shot. To me, it's completely irrelevant to give a cat that has had zero risk of exposure to rabies in 15 years a rabies shot. Nevermind the fact that there's probably nothing they can do for her, she's just old. I understand that the vet would be legally bound to do this to protect other patients. She is still eating, drinking, pooping & peeing. I've made a soft bed for her next to my bed and that's where she spends all her time now, sleeping. It breaks my heart to know what's coming. As long as she's not suffering, I'd prefer she end her time at home, with me. Of course, if she tells me it's time, I will make that trip. She's a beautiful Calico that has brought such joy to my life (will post pictures of her lovable face soon). Never has a cat had such a fitting name, Cuddles. She reaches out and grabs your hand for more scratches and cuddles. She is the gentlest of felines, nothing but love from her.

Needless to say, this isn't exactly the start I was hoping for in the New Year. Maybe, I should have kept it simple and prayed for a better year in 2007. I almost titled this post "What the Fuck?!" Fitting, doncha think?