Veni, Vidi, Ventus --
The randomly chaotic and crafty scribblings of a deranged, wannabe artist allowed too many colours in her Crayon box.

Surgeon General's Warning: Some content of "From Pooka's Crayon" may not be suitable for: work, blue-haired little old ladies, the politically-correct, rabid moonbats, uptight mothers, priests, chronic idiots, insurance claims agents, Democrats, children, small furry quadropeds from Alpha Centauri, or your sanity.

Friday, May 16, 2003

A Pooka's Paradise

I ignored the blighted weakly tomato after moving it from a pot to the ground.

Today I found a tomato on it, and the plant is green again. Hurrah for ignoring it!

I need to remember to not garden when I'm in pain, though. Between my back, the bad flare-up, and twisting my ankle, I wasn't quite delicate enough when working with the green beans. I bought the bamboo arches for stakes to train the vines on, and I snapped one of the vines in the process. Dammit. I'm feeling very badly about this.

The Zucchini That Ate Cincinnati has leaves almost as large as my husband's ego.

Radishes will be pulled up tomorrow. Okra is getting ready to start setting fruit. Squashes look to be blooming soon. Zucchini still dropping all blossoms. Dammit. Grr.

The seeds that Thing 2 and I planted LAST SUNDAY are going wild. The new radishes are almost ready to replace the ones we'll be pulling, though I'm worrying about the heat and actually considering putting them in large leftover plastic pots and keeping them cooler up on the patio. The pots are more than large enough to hold a single radish plant, and I'd have better atmosphere control over them that way.

Green beans planted last Sunday are not only sprouted, but opening leaves. Less than a week. Man, this is just wild.

And once again, EVERY SINGLE SEED SPROUTED! Crap garden soil, and tada.

Still waiting for the Four O'Clocks to sprout.

Need to go work on the wisteria tomorrow and get it set to really start climbing. Fighting whatever those #*$&#*$& vines are nearby is making me crazy. They're trying to crowd out the two rosebushes that still aren't doing anything. I've really considered digging them up and moving them into the backyard where I can keep a better eye on them.

My pumpkins have taken over the weeding job for me. It's so funny! Those curly little pigtail pumpkin vines are wrapping around anything nearby, and are pulling shakier weeds right out of the ground with them.

I'm about to have some very cross words with the mosquitos in my back yard, oh yes. They're AWFUL! Grr, itch itch itch.

Nicotiana now tucked gently in with the Veronica Salvia, Hummingbird pink and a deep deep deep rose to go with the blue-purple Veronica. I moved the large tomato plant away from the Nicotiana and have that flowerbed now bordered by strawberry and zinnia pots.

Blackeyed Susan vines now twining their way up a trellis between my patio and the fence that I can't plant along. Stupid phone company. Anyway, the Susan vines are delicate and lovely, and a Maid of Orleans jasmine that isn't a climber completes the view that direction, set a bit behind it. They're far enough away that we shouldn't have to worry about bees on the porch, and right where the breeze will catch and carry the scent to us.

The trellis is also positioned so that once the vines fill out, we should have a bit of filtered sun on the patio.

Mini-petunias worked into the thinning spots where some of the early ones decided there wasn't enough sun and quit on me. Not my fault, the sun just *vanished* for a good three days and only reappeared after Tornado Watch winds ripped the clouds away. Nice mini that is a varigated salmon colour, and utterly lovely.

Peach Vincas tucked into a spot where hopefully they'll decide to be self-seeders and spread. I grew up with the pinks and whites all in front of the house (though us Suthun folk call em periwinkles), and once they settled in, they STAYED in, and even after my parents finally tried to get rid of them, long after I moved out, they'd still pop up every spring -- and still do, 30 years later.

Picked my strawberry today. (laugh) You try splitting one with everyone in the house.

I'm tired, but it's a good tired. In a way, it makes up for the hellish week I've had.

Being out there among the plants, watching the bees and butterflies (and the blue jay that gets SO riled up when we rake pine needles from under His Personal Tree) and Batman the squirrel and daddy Attila and just listening to the birds and the windchimes can do more for calm serenity than any bottle of antidepressants ever could.

All I need is land to till, fresh air to breathe, clean water to drink, and the seeds of imagination to make the world my own.

Pull up a chair and sit a while.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

A Pooka's Panorama

My porch extension is done for now.

DG showed up in time to hand me the last few paver stones. Plastic sheet beneath, a good layer of paving sand, the pavers and natural stone and other odd bricks make it look like it *belongs* there. Dirt atop, and worked into the cracks. Should have room to get Alyssum spilling over the biggest natural stone.

I could use four more to round it out and finish it off, but it's done. I have no skin left on my hands. Knee is skinned, the other bruised. I'm sunburned, of course. I'm exhausted, and I ache. People, I have CONTACTS in. No glasses for the Pooka!

And I'm utterly hopelessly expansively content. Happy. I *love* my yard.

I have small unopened blooms on my pumpkins, squash, and larger open ones on the zucchini. An abundance of tomatoes growing. Haven't really checked much today, work was concentrated on the porch area, so I don't know about the beans, peas, and okra.

The first planting of zinnias now have definite seed heads and will blossom soon. Thinned them out a bit more and tries replanting to see if they'll survive. All of them have so far, so I'm Happy.

I found lady bugs, yes, lady bugs in my garden! And there was much rejoicing, yay.

I have blue jays that chase the crows away and snatch wasps right out of the air. My birds all have feeders and extra goodies to keep them around. The squirrels have already eaten the hanger off one of the seed bells. I don't mind the squirrels at all, and we have enough feeders that it isn't a big deal at all.

... Honey? I'm home.

Friday, May 09, 2003

Raw Muscle Required

If anyone is interested in helping a Pooka with hot-sweaty-muscle guy work tomorrow, you're more than welcome to join the chaos.

They took me to get my Mother's Day present. With a limited budget, I put back so many flowers, so many hanging baskets, so many little 6 paks of them. Dammit. It just wasn't right.

Then we found the paving stones at Home Depot. They aren't what I wanted. I admit that up front. But they don't clash with the house brick like the ones at Walmart, and were cheaper.

We DID find the exact ones I wanted, the large irregular "natural" rock pavers and they were HUGE, but they were also 5 bucks each. Uh. No.

So we picked up paver sand, and 16 12x12 "pewter" (ie, natural concrete colour that matches the porch slab) concrete slabs that cost less than a dollar each. It doesn't sound like enough for the area, but we do have several large natural stones, and the longer rectangular concrete slabs left in the yard that we already put in that space. With what we already have, and spreading them some to be able to put Alyssum and some other flowering groundcover in there, they'll be perfect.

I'm not really going for a regular stepping/seating/standing place with this extension. You'll be able to walk on the stones, but it's more to move some of the planters out of the way on the actual slab so DG doesn't maim and scorch my plants with his blasted grill.

It's hot enough out there without some fool with lighter fluid starting a bonfire three feet from my tomato plants.

My largest pot is almost big enough to stuff my 10 year old in, but the base should fit with little problem on a slab.

So, tomorrow we put down another layer of black plastic and pull more sticker burrs and grass to finish the size of the area, get sand down to help level the area and provide a cushion base for the paving stones, figure out spacing (I'll be putting larger dirt sections where I want flowering groundcover around the natural stones that we have), and try to get everything set and down.

We found an outdoor porch swing that's FABULOUS, but $100 was a smoodge out of our budget, okay, SCADS out of our budget. But it had a very large canopy, two separate seats with drink holders and a little shelf and basket between them. Very nice.

It may not be a romantic girly Mother's Day, but I'm happy.

All I need now is my patio cover. At this point, gimme a couple of PVC pipes and I'll sew up the pavillion fabric still sitting in our garage with grommets and velcro to attach around the pipes, and I'll call it done. It's friggin hot out there, man.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Is it Fall Yet?

The word for the day is: "Muggy."

-- when the humidity is 90-100%, and it's not raining, you understand muggy.

-- when you pray that it DOESN'T rain because it will just make it worse, you understand muggy.

-- when you'd rather trade 120* dry summers for 90* and high humidity, you understand muggy.

-- when standing in the shade is just as miserable as standing out in the sun, you understand muggy.

-- when you sweat buckets and the sun doesn't dry any of it, you understand muggy.

-- when everything, including air, sticks to you, you understand muggy.

-- when you walk outside and your glasses steam up, only, your clothing is suddenly too drenched to wipe them off, you understand muggy.

-- when your cig breaks at work take twice as long because the damn thing won't burn, you understand muggy.

-- when even your water bottle looks up at you with a white flag of surrender and says "Dude, I'm going back inside," you understand muggy.

-- when your white flag of surrender refuses to wave because it has absorbed all the water it can hold and then some . . . you understand muggy.

-- when you dry yourself from the shower at seven in the morning and the towel is still wet or at least damp at 10 that night, you understand muggy.

It's just now May. It is almost 94* outside. Even the yellowjackets are on strike.

Man, is it Fall yet?

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Butterfly Kisses

The wildlife difference is just astonishing. At the apartment, we'd see sparrows, maybe a few house finches, and occasionally hear doves. And the bugs, always the bugs.

While sitting on the porch last night, I had no less than five different species of birds in the yard around me. We have a score of regulars that have learned we'll happily feed them. The doves are getting braver, as are the robins. The male cardinal sings to me almost every morning when I go outside.

I've never seen blue jays this ... blue. Their colouring is strong and utterly spectacular.

There are two adult squirrels that we see on a regular basis, a male and female. Fiesty and brave. Earlier yesterday, one of them was just going bananas, complaining and fretting and spitting and bitching up a storm for a solid five minutes. Hmm.

About 10 minutes after that, I could see why. A very, very young squirrel, still a little uncertain about his footing, scampered hesitantly along the back fence. He'd stop every so often and cower in fear from the doves that were substantially larger. Watching him try to figure out the fence corner, where tree limbs cross over and make a straight shot difficult, was wonderful.

Left my shoes and chair out in the lawn to go refill my "pesticide" spray bottle (it's amazing how well dishsoap and water repell plant-munching pests), and when I returned, there was a huge fat dove SITTING IN MY SHOE, along with another four right around the chair. Oh yeah, they're REAL scared of me. Not.

It's the butterflies that create the greatest thrill. I don't have an awful lot of butterfly/hummingbird friendly plants yet, but that doesn't seem to slow them down. There's a swimming pool next door, and one behind us, so moisture is always there for the butterflies. My petunias are a particular favourite, along with the tomato plants.

Squinty-eyed Pooka looks over at one of the bright pink petunias, wondering if I've caught one of the leaf munching pests in the act. All I can see is a long strip of green, like a cutworm or so. Grr. Must confront.

Closer, closer still. Then it opened.

Softest lime green, even the body, the butterfly was happily nestling into the heart of the petunia, drinking away. I watched it for the longest time, then reached to pinch off a wilted blossom in the same pot.

The butterfly startled, and rose.

He didn't go far. Pastel greens hovered around my head, then settled instead on the tomato right beside me and began delivering butterfly kisses once more.

Large black ones, easily the side of my hand. Smaller black butterflies with brilliant blue spots. Monarchs. Neon yellows. There is always colour out there now, a vast cry from when we moved in.

Butterfly kisses are always welcome in my yard.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

The Waiting Game

48 hours ago, I was willing to write off my attempt to grow cactus from seed as an interesting but failed experiment.

Today, I have one about half an inch high (mixed seed pack, Ali, so I've no idea what they are yet), and four more trying to poke through the soil.

24 hours ago, I was ready to write off my attempts to grow Black-eyed Susans from seed.

Today, I have two tiny shoots, with several more that have yet to unfurl their leaves.

It's all a matter of time. A waiting game of patience that I'm still working on returning to. It's always the waiting that gets to me.

My two smaller Patio tomatoes have surprised me. I have blooms that haven't opened yet. The Husky has another series of blooms, and the one tomato that was there has more than doubled.

The zucchini that was yellowing under the influence of three days of rain ... have the promise of shoots and blooms on every one of them.

I have ... a blackberry bloom! And there was much rejoicing. Yay.

The pumpkins are loving the transplant and have doubled in size. Yellow squash is still a bit puny, but it was the slowest performer of the seeds anyway. Okra and radishes all looking good.

Separated some of the veggie sprouts still in peat pots. Ran out of tilled room for them. I've got another 4 pumpkins and another 3 blackeye peas with no place to put them. Gotta figure something out.

I had to move the brandy snifter sunflower out to the yard. Thing went wild inside and had already outgrown the snifter. Transplanted, and another shoot brought inside to go wild.

I've got to thin zinnias tomorrow, and I'm dreading it. I need potting soil so I can try to save some of them. The Things zinnias have gotten their first true leaves.

Eldest child and I got most of them mulched today. Three days of rain, and full hard sun today, and the soil is already cracking around them. At least the mulch holds in enough moisture to try to counteract the evil Texas sun.

Got a package of Alyssum seeds from Clarinex as an allergy promotional bit. Thought that was damned clever of them. I love the Carpet of Snow, I just have to figure out if I have any bedding space for them once we get the zinnias all straightened out.

Mosquitos. ARGH. Got chomped a few too many times. That will teach me to go outside without the OFF sunscreen/bug repellent combo. Ugh, I itch.

Not too shabby of a day after having a couple of biopsies done.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Chirp. Chirp. BANG

Birds. Lots of birds. Chirp chirp twitter. Open eye. Look at clock.

Oh, why not. Stagger into semi-consciousness, guzzle caffeine, outside around 9 am. It was substantially cooler than inside the house, so it was comfortable to work in the yard for all of two hours. That's all it took to get miserably warm. I was back inside by around 11:15.

I truly am one giant freckle now.

Good News: At least two of the ant beds by the porch are just sugar ants or a family-similar harmless ant. How do I know? I felt a tickle. I looked down. My entire left calf was covered in ants, as well as my foot and shoe. Hmm. Ants. Nothing HURT. So I pissed em off and washed the whole squirming mess off with the water hose. Never took a single bite, and ants LOVE biting me.

Zucchini has now been transplanted into the garden. Yay! That left me the huge pot they were in (big enough to stuff a kid in) to transplant my largest tomato. Smaller two have now also been split into two pots.

It's amazing what another day can bring.

All of my seeds started in the last week and a half have now started to break through the ground except for my Black-eyed Susans, which have a longer germination period. Almost all of the others came up at the low end of the expected germination.

I now have: pumpkin seedlings, blackeye pea seedlings, tomato plants, radishes, green beans, okra, yellow squash, strawberries, and zucchini. One tomato plant has blooms, at least two of the zucchini look to bloom soon, and I think the strawberries have set enough to start blooming again. I pinched off all of the first blooms on them.

Blackberries aren't looking so great, and I'm not sure why. They grow like mad in the wild, but they just don't seem to like where they are. Time to do some intensive work on them. I need to get out there and trim off the sections that the hail destroyed. I do have some new shoots, so I'll just cross my fingers.

I've got a milk jug that's almost ready to be emptied so I can mix the Miracle Gro for my roses. Hopefully that will convince them to bud so I can figure out what they are.

Zinnias are all going crazy, as are the sunflowers and the tubby rat inside my shirt that's talking up a storm and giving me a bath. I think Oracle wants to go outside. (She did, and not only made the full yard inspection with me, but chattered and discussed it, too.)

The cardinals and mockingbirds are taunting me. They'll get right up close, but only if I don't have my camera.

Was thinking about the flagstone thing. We might be able to do a temporary fix, if I can get DG to help me with the heavy stuff.

There's a VERY large stone in the ground near the arbor. He's going to look at me like I'm insane. We also have a lot of flat, rectangular concrete slabs that were probably used at some time as stepping stones. Haven't collected all of them yet, so the Things and I need to go on a hunt. We DID find some concrete edging for the flower bed (tossed against the fence in the side yard, I mean, what???) that we also need to move.

It's starting to sound like I need a wheelbarrow big time. We have a wagon for the Things, but it will only hold so much.

My back, my left elbow, and my right knee are giving me fits. Despite the Vioxx, I'm back to using the cane today. I need to get some food in my stomach so I can take an aspirin or two to fight it. If I can get the breast reduction, the force placed on the arthritic knee won't be so bad.

I still have no voice. Cracked, gravelly whisper. I'm starting to get used to it. It's been at least two weeks now. I think I've fought it past the danger point of pneumonia, but I don't know how far I am into the clear, and I still gurgle when I try to breathe too deeply.

Are we having fun yet?

Friday, April 18, 2003

Hurry up and GROW!

Have you ever just stopped and *looked* at newly sprouted plants?

Radishes are heartbreakingly lovely, leaves puffed out to the sides like green butterfly wings. They always make me giggle for some reason, as though I'm also enjoying their stretching into new life.

Sunflowers, elongated and strong, always reach for the light (I have one sprout in a glass brandy snifter in the kitchen window that I can turn away from the light three times a day and still find it turned with its face back towards the sun).

Okra gives no sign as to what its future shape will be, leaves sitting round and fat and full. You can hardly believe that such circular elegance will eventually evolve into spiny pointed beasts. But mmm, they taste good. Gumbo, anyone?

Green beans are the testosterone of the patch, always overachieving with even the first breaking of the ground. It's never happy for a single leaf juncture, no, it demands attention with tiered leaves.

I like to play the guessing game with my plants. I rarely put markers on sprout pots and just wait for them to bless me with the happy identification. The Gardener's Maternity Room, I suppose. Is it a girl? Is it a boy? No, it's PUMPKIN!

The waiting is always the worst part for me. I like the weeding and the digging and the pruning and picking and cooking and all the clean up work involved. The in-between planting and picking is what gets to me.

I just hate waiting for them to pop up and say "Hello, I'm here!" And then you have to wait for them to grow grow grow so they'll produce food and seed. Drives me bananas. I'm normally a relatively mellow person, but I lack the serenity of patience.

I want my garden, and I want it NOW.

It was getting to me a bit on Wednesday. I had survived my neurology and MRI appointments, and wanted to DO. Unfortunately, we weren't all on the same page and it's a very long book. I awakened somewhat grumpy, and wandered out for my first morning sunshine. Quite often I do it before anything else (and oh, the joys of a privacy fence so that I don't have to get dressed to do it!), and it has become a necessary part of my daily routine to just pause and sit and listen to the world and watch what happens around me. With my health, I need all the serenity I can absorb.

With grumpiness in charge, I went for my dandelion break. And stopped.

Peeking out of Thing 1's pot ... leaves! A sprout! Jubilation! No ... TWO! We have TWO! And Thing 2's flowerpot! Oh, LOOK! Another sprout here, and here, and .....

Giddy. I went from grumpy to bouncing. Look! Growth! Green things! My vocabulary went straight to an elementary education level as I giggled. Babies, and new sprouts/flowers. Get me every time.

Note to self: Beg, buy, borrow or steal the means to enroll in Tai Chi classes.

This morning, I awakened feeling a little better, at least until I moved. Arthritis was acting up, and several joints utterly refused to get with the program. Grumpy moves back in. Limped carefully outside.

I walked into a whole new world of green.

Both of the kids' pots are covered with sweet little green zinnia leaves. ALL of the radish pots have little green butterflies coating the surface. Okra! Hey, that's squash! And a pumpkin sprout!

Omigod, is that a tiny blossom starting on the zucchini? And on one of the strawberries?

I hurt too much to truly do anything extensive, but I reveled in the new life outside while staunchly avoiding the news. Sometimes you can only take so much.

A shopping trip set us up with humus, manure (and hours of fun with the kids over the "You're buying COW POOP? EWWW!), and a bag of Magic Earth on recommendation. I peeked at the label, perked up, and said what the hell. They'll all get mixed into the tilled soil for the garden plots to help break up some of the really odd soil, and help raise the beds. A new tomato plant, a different type from the others and once again I looked a fool with my face buried in the leaves.

Now ... hurry up and GROW!

Tuesday, April 15, 2003


We found our first snake!

I'm almost giddy, really. DG and I were setting out the parameters for the garden plots, and he went to move a concrete slab that was in the way. The snake was under it.

Gloves on, I went to try to catch him so he wouldn't be in the way and get chopped up by the tiller, but I was afraid of hurting him so I didn't really make a grab before he darted off down into a deeper hole safely on the other side of the fence. Unfortunately, he made his escape before the Things could really see him.

Greenish-grey, more grey really, and a little smaller in diameter than my pinky. Never saw his head. Not really sure what kind of snake he was, but we finally saw one of them. No other colouration or markings, very subtle smooth scales.

Snake. *silly grin*

We also found our second, third, and fourth snakes. One tiny tiny, one medium tiny, one medium, compared to the larger (by proportion) first snake. Only got pictures of snake 3, the others were too quick.

Rough earth snakes, colubrids (ooo, me was right), that get aroud 13" or so and eat earthworms and slugs. They can have the slugs, lemme tell ya.

They're not only delightfully harmless, but very very mellow snakes.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Almost Stray

It's amazing what doubling my seizure meds can do. I feel functional. My God, I had a bra on *all day*. Still wearing it. Pain is minimal.

Only had 1 breakthrough today, and that was right before I came inside for the night. Freaked Thing 2 out to see my leg take off and spazz out on its own. But it wasn't nearly as bad as the one last weekend.

They're supposed to make me sleepy. So why am I hyper?

I think I'll make cookies.

Harley has lost her little kitten mind. Standard repeated phrase in the Pookastead for the moment: "Harley's Freaking Out again!" At the moment, she's smelling EVERYTHING. Cautious slinking ready to freak out and leap stalking up to everything in the room, sniffing it a few times, then stalking off to the next one. Earlier she was complaining loudly to me about something. Maybe the Mother Ship has been sending Final Orders or something.

Lot more work done outside. Went through the evil birdseeded flower bed, removing sunflower sprouts to peat cups for replanting elsewhere and weeding out the birdseed. I decided I'd try playing it cheap for weed control at the moment. Sliced up a black/green lawn trash bag, layed it out over the bad areas that weren't seeded, and pinned it down with rocks and mulch. Should be a lot of help.

Thinned some of the zinnias already. Well, thinning for me has a different definition. I hate the idea of pulling sprouts out and casting them aside, so instead I carefully ease them out of the soil with roots intact. Since the bluebonnets didn't survive the hailstorm (not after just being planted that day), I removed them to another section of the overgrown bed, opening up another large patch of flower bed. Moved a lot of the thinned seedlings over there.

The Things "helped" Mama by watering the azaleas, blackberries, wisteria, and roses for me. Thing 1 did bug patrol, looking for caterpillars and other critters camping on the plants.

My back porch looks like a nursery exploded.

Two patio tomatoes, now happily in a large pot. Roy's radish seeds are in peat pots to get them ready. Bean, squash, and okra pots watered. 'JackOLantern' pumpkin seeds planted in peat pots, along with blackeye peas.

Started flowers in terra cotta. Big black happy "girly" markered names on them, one for each Thing and one for Pooka. Thing 1 gets the brilliant Whirligig zinnias, an amazing red/orange/cream colour burst. Thing 2 gets Violet Queen zinnias with deep blue/purple blooms.

Me, I get the Black-eyed Susans.

Cacti and assorted succulent seeds in cactus specific soil. I'm hoping I can bring the pot inside the house for the kitchen window until they get going. And of course, hoping Zam or Harley don't decide they're interesting and knock them into the sink. We'll see.

You know, looking at it written down, the amount of work done seems somewhat less impressive than the steady ache in my shoulders felt it was.

Oh yes. Cookies. Hmm. I wonder if I even have the stuff to do it.

Off to find out. Ta, dahlinks.

Stars and candles and growing things

An oddity about me that is currently relevant: I usually garden barefoot. I *like* getting dirty, I like feeling the soil and smelling it. I like the sweating and the work.

I do NOT, however, like ... STEPPING ON A THISTLE. I got lucky, I only caught it with my big toe, but mother of mercy, that STINGS. Ow. Ow ow. More Roundup to be used liberally tomorrow. I hoestly can't believe how anyone could let a lawn get this bad. The yard is a fabulous size, and the idea of being unable to freely move through it is just mind-boggling. Half the attraction of this house is the size of the yard. I *NEED* to go barefoot in my yard. NEED it.

Earth mother. Hedgewitch. Tree-hugging dandelion sniffer. Oh, I've heard them all at some time or another. ;) I think it's funny, because it's all somewhat desperately true. There are few times and places where I'm happier than just being out in the fresh air, covered in dirt and making things grow.

No place closer to heaven than having the heavy earthy thick scent of tomato plants. Tomatoes are all right, I like them, but don't really NEED them or seriously crave them. The plants, however ... the vines. God speaks from them, I tell ya. I picked up two patio tomato plants today, and could hardly keep my nose out of them. Memory lane. That smell was a part of my childhood, watching my grandfather and his wonderful garden. Just brushing past the tomato plants released that smell, and it can bring tears to my eyes if I'm a bit sensitive at the time.

My green thumb came through him. Another oddity, considering there is no shared DNA. I'm adopted, and yet, some of my strongest personality traits have come through association with him. Poppie. He's been Poppie for longer than I can remember. Fields of heavy red and purple poppies along the fence of his yard, brilliant and gently fragrant. Roses of every colour and variety, the sweet tiny tufts of antique tea roses, climbers, and showy masterpieces. Pansies, petunias, lilies, flowers I can no longer even begin to name. I learned plant ID from this man. I learned to identify flowers, weeds, noxious things to avoid, the shapes of certain bird species, and the names of the birds themselves. This man has forgotten more about the world around us than most modern children will ever be able to learn.

When we lived in Washington, I didn't do much with vegetables. Strawberries mostly, but zinnias everywhere, marigolds, roses. Huge fragrant lilacs that filled my house as well as my yard when they bloomed. The scent of the lilacs lingered for a wonderfully long time when cut. My babies.

The military moved us back to Texas, and that put us in range of Wonder Man again. As we went down to Houston for the obligatory family adore the children visit, I carefully went through his yard with him at my side, picking choice stems from rosebushes to cut and root. Not a one died.

Moving here, to an apartment, killed me in a way. I was out of touch, there was nothing to help ground me, nothing to soothe.

I have a confession to make: I love weeding. I really do. Yes, it's mindless and tedious, but it's something that Always Needs To Be Done. Gently easing the weeds from around tender sprouts and watching the sprouts cheerfully grow stronger is a wonderful feeling. Doing something so basic and easy is intensely calming for me. I don't have to worry as much about fighting my body, and the distraction manages to ease the pain, at least for a little while.

Okra itches. So does crookneck squash. The spines scratch and sting. I know that feeling intimately, having wandered through the garden in search of ripe vegetables that my grandmother would promptly cook for us. And I don't mind it at all. I've an obsession for yellow squash to this day, cooked the way she did it: onion, sliced squash, cracked black pepper, butter ... and a touch of sugar. I'm drooling again, darnit.

But the garden is no longer there.

Age is catching up with the man who once caught me as I leapt from the top of a persimmon tree, convinced that I could fly. Age has taken away the man that carried me through woody fields on his back, picking The Perfect Blackberry as I pointed them out quite imperiously from his shoulders. A series of strokes have crippled the Superman of my childhood, the man who, when told by my mother not to let us go in the lake, casually turned aside as we "accidentally fell in."

It's hard to visit now. So hard to see Poppie unable to do the things he loves so much. His mind is still sharp as a whip, but his body has betrayed him. Another thing we hold in common. We raced with our canes one afternoon while visiting my aunt. He won. Go figure. Our bodies are fighting us, but for the first time in my life, I see something beating him. It hurts, oh God it hurts to see him like that. He has had to hire someone to even mow the lawn.

With our new house, I pick up the torch.

My children will learn, as I had learned. They'll absorb the appreciation for life and growing things, and learn which plants you can eat, which can hurt you, which ones need to be pulled. They'll learn how to prepare the soil, how to plant, how to pick and the joy of taking food you have grown yourself into the house and having it for dinner.

I miss him. I miss the man he was, and still deeply love the man he is. My children never knew him before age took its toll, but they already know that Poppie is the man that taught Mama to ease the seeds into the ground and coax food out of them.

Poppie, thank you.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Green Thumbs and Red Pookas

All three packets of zinnias are coming up nicely, sweet little heart-shaped leaves reaching for the light. Another few days, and I should be able to start thinning them out some. I hate that part of gardening, though. I always want to try and save every little sprout, even when I know they have to be thinned to grow well. I may see if I can't pull a pixelpusher and do some creative potting and have bunches sitting on the porch itself.

... do you have ANY idea how #@*$&#!* fast birdseed sprouts? ARGH! I'm fighting it all over the flower bed. I may end up just hoeing off areas and replacing with bagged garden soil to try to control the rampant sprouting.

I have to admit, though, that there is one nice thing about the birdseed. The sunflower seeds that were in it are also sprouting very well. The ones I tried to start just don't seem to want to take, but those are going wild. Trimmed out some of the best and have them in small starter pots to move when we get the next section of garden along the fence dug up and ready.

The roses that were here when we moved in are rather sad. I don't know if they've ever bloomed or been trimmed. I DID find my rose Miracle Gro though, so hopefully I can spark them into brilliantly fragrant life. I don't even know what colour they are.

I swear to God, the weedier grasses in the yard grew three inches since this morning. We've been talking to the landlord about our attempts to reclaim the yard, so maybe we'll get some help.

Most of the trees in the back need some serious pruning. Lots of dead branches. Then there's the hard thatch in the grass (oh, thank you SO much, stupid root grubs) that's going to need to be cleared out, the lawn reseeded, serious weed n feed time, and always the thistles.

The blackberries really took a battering with the hail. More thunderstorms on the way so I'm a little worried about them. Maybe we'll get lucky and they'll take. Mmm, blackberry wine next summer ....

After Sorcha, TMF, and Roomie took off early this afternoon, I hauled myself back out into the glories of my backyard.

Deviation: I missed this. I really, really missed this. My hands are an absolute disaster. You can totally write off my right thumb and index finger, the nail bed is just gone and there are heavy tears, new calluses, and blisters. I'm still getting over my sunburn which friggin itches like MAD. Yes, I am a giant freckle now. I don't know if the dirt will ever come out from beneath the few fingernails I have left.

And good Lord, I'm happy. I caught myself HUMMING of all things while I was out there this afternoon. I'm sure I looked like a total fool, sprawled out on my porch, dirt all over it, me, and the assortment of pots, sweaty and muddy and generally a human disaster area. I feel more centered again.

We desperately need to get our hands on a tiller so I can get the rest of the actual garden started. I've got the zucchini in a huge pot right now, but it's not going to last long. Another week or two tops. Gotta get the ground broken, dammit. Since we're running so slow right now, without a truck to transport the tools, I went ahead and started a lot of the seeds in leftover plastic pots from other plants already in the ground. Beans, yellow squash, okra. Then the zucchini.

Had to replant most of my strawberries today, too. The little pot I had them in was already overwhelmed. I thinned them out and put 2/3 into a much larger pot, leaving the one that had been in the top (a small version of a strawberry jar) in place.

Bluebonnets didn't make it. After that hailstorm, and since they tend to be picky and delicate, I knew they didn't have much of a chance. I think we'll try to seed start a bunch of them for next year so we don't have to worry about transplanting like that.

One of the wisteria is doing quite nicely, the other is just thinking about it. Time to fertilize both of them, and the azaleas as well. I knew I should have picked up more than two. Ah well.

I'm starting to think that the front yard is next to hopeless unless we go out and actually buy cut sod to try to salvage it. Man, that's a mess.

And of course, the fire ants. So far, no one has been bitten, but it's only a matter of time. Got to get stuff and get them the hell out of my yard.

June bugs everywhere last night. Harley was going totally nuts over them. Then again, the poor kitten has been having issues the last few days anyway. She is a *serious* talker now, and man, she's loud when she has something to complain about. Silly kitty.

Note: Things 2 & 1 do NOT like june bugs one bit, no sir. Total girly freaking out.

Thursday, April 10, 2003


Two acronyms that should *never* be used together:

PTA and RSD. Man, I'm flared up.

Can you just picture DG and I surrounded by PTA moms? Stop laughing. No, I mean it. Stop laughing.

Yes, we just endured a PTA meeting for the sake of Thing 2 and a school full of kindergartners that pranced up on stage and sang at us. Loudly. Enthusiastically.

From "Six Little Ducks" all the way through "You're a Grand Old Flag," some forty or so 6 year olds up in front of a full crowd for the very first time. And they did it very, very well.

And I must say that I have never in my life seen such a collection of certified card-carrying pasty-faced, four-eyed, plastic pocket protectored pencil-necked geeks outside of a Star Trek convention. You just know every one of those dads are bringing in more figures than a Playboy convention. White collar bastards. ;)

Unfortunately, they all think their children are exempt from things like manners.

I'm ... just going to leave it right there without another word. Otherwise, I might just go off in a rant and offend some sensitive goober who feels their little darling shouldn't have to wait for someone to move, that they have every right to push and shove at both adults and children alike, and that their openly kicking an adult in their way is just a cheerful display of spirit and individuality.

And for that sensitive goober, I have two important words that I'm sure will play an important role in their little darling's future: Death Penalty.

Never wanted a taser so bad in my life.

Let me clarify a bit here. Now I'm all for letting kids be kids. They're going to run and scream and play and have fun, it's what kids should be doing. It should NOT, however, be at the expense of anyone else, and should not endanger anyone else.

The child who kicked my cane because it was in his way did so with his parent sitting less than three feet away, watching him the entire time. Daddy saw me stumble when my support wasn't there. Neither child nor parent said a word about it.

The other little heathens that shoved and pushed through on the other side of me all but finished me off. Score one, and only one, for being as heavy as I am.

Isolated incidents? Not a chance. Even sitting down, I wasn't safe. No one else in the auditorium was either. I can't even try to imagine what these kids are like at home.

My children aren't angels, and I'll be the first to admit it. The Things, however, didn't push, or run and scream inside, said "Excuse me" when they needed to and hushed up when the program began.

Parents, if you're going to complain about the problems in the world, make sure you aren't part of them.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Bless You -- Twice

Have I mentioned lately how bloody frustrating Texas weather is? No? It bloody well drives me nuts.

We get most of the work done, only to have it announced that there's a high possibility of it freezing tonight.


So, the zucchini has been temporarily repotted and mulched, ditto for the strawberries. Berries have extra soil and mulch piled at the bases, ditto for the roses, azaleas, and wisteria.

I'm sure the zinnia seeds are just going to love it. Not.

Feel awful today. Worse than yesterday, if that's possible. Can't friggin breathe, I hurt, I'm wheezing and coughing and feverish. Yuck. Luckily the Things (knock on wood) seem to be fighting it off.

Pollen Count: 3285
Dear God.

Cigna has decided once again that my doctors know nothing. Instead of the diagnostics my neurologist ordered, they decide they'll only pay for one because obviously it's not worth working to find out what's wrong with me.

Insert neurologist's office into the equation. They aren't happy. They also have a solution. There's a diagnostic testing center that is currently Pissed Off at Cigna and several other HMOs. I'm going there now, even if it means having to do some driving to get to the place. Supposed to hear from them in the next 24 hours or so.

Instead of multiple appointments, all of my MRIs are going to be done in one single day. And cost me ..... NOTHING. Woo! No copay, no deductible. Nada.

Of course, it means that my appointment schedule is now tossed up in the air again.

It's kinda amusing. I get really quiet for a long time, and people wonder why. When I finally admit why, they get quiet. Works for me, man. It's a system, yunno, deliberately and carefully calculated.

Damnit. Something bit me when I was outside getting the plants ready. On my sunburned elbow, of course, and it itches like mad.

I must sneeze now.

Monday, April 07, 2003

And now for something competely different

And to round off a perfect weekend ...

Thing 1 and I are sick. She got sent home from school today hacking up a lung and running fever. That's how I woke up. Shivery, coughy, feverish, and miserable. Phooey. You can hand my lung back now, thank you. I actually *needed* my inhaler last night. I haven't used that in ages. Might be time to switch from Allegra to something else, because this SUCKS.

I don't know if all the outdoor work with our horridly high pollen count just set our allergies off so bad that they moved in to stay and we got sick, or if we picked up some bug, but I haven't felt this crappy in quite a while.

Didn't stop us from making a noonish inspection of the plants outside.

Everything but the bluebonnets are looking pretty good. Her tree is happily budding out all over. One of the wisteria is a little puny, but they're so hard to kill that I'm not worrying about it yet. The bluebonnets may be history. Dammit. Stupid hail. Lost most of the azalea blooms, but that's no real big deal. They'll recover.

Need to get the dead undergrowth of ivy out of the front entryway. Personally, I'd rather just yank most of it out entirely. We'll see if I can get permission for that. Did yank some of the undergrowth out, but I didn't have my gloves or a rake with me at inspection time, and I'd rather not disturb any snakes or centipedes without something between me and them.

Kinda funny. I'm pretty ambivalent about insects and other creepy crawlies unless they're actively touching me. Then it depends on what it is, and how big. Small spiders, no biggie, just a casual soft brush to get them off. Anything that buzzes, stings, or is otherwise bigger than my fingernail is another matter entirely.

Things 2 & 1 and DG, on the other hand ...

Bwack bwack bwack! Hey, I smell chicken!

I'd like to breathe now, thank you.

This is going to suck. I've *got* to get the zuchinni plants in the ground ASAP or I'm going to lose them. Don't know how that's going to work when I feel like I got caught beneath the lawn mower and shredded.

And I hurt. My body is responding very well to the first Neurontin increase, but the break-through muscle seizures are a lot worse. Luckily they're very rare. And it seems to be helping me sleep somewhat now.

But I pushed really hard this weekend, and my LEFT leg of all things is tweaking and bitching when I walk too far, and my abdomen is complaining. Who needs crunches when you can sit and bend to reach parts of the flower bed while weeding?

Sunburn is still a bit too intense. Owie. My left thigh and left shoulder which is alarmingly scarlet actively hurt. The right isn't as bad, really, just annoying.

Birds are really starting to enjoy the feeders we put out. Positive ID made on male and female house finches, a dozen or so mockingbirds, grackles, crows, some sparrows, a crane, male and female cardinals, robins, and somewhere both an owl and doves.

Need to find the hummingbird feeders.

Oracle and Cassandra both went outside to play with us yesterday. Roy got to listen to talky little Oracle bitch and bitch. I think she had fun, though. Cassie is just a sludge beast and clung to Thing 2.

We've let Zam out once, and he just thinks the backyard is the coolest thing in the world. Harley thinks the backyard is super neat -- until you open the door and take her out, whereupon complete panic reigns. She'll go wild catching the mosquito hawks that make it inside, but the outside world itself is just a little too overwhelming for the little girl.

Dammit, I wanna go outside and play!!!

Sunday, April 06, 2003

The Discovery Zone

Was outside by noonish yesterday. Didn't make it back inside the house until it got dark and the severe storms started rolling in.

I am sunburned. Ow. Pooka is no longer purple, she's scarlet.

BUT ... I have reclaimed the flower bed along the back of the house. Think jungle. Think overgrown for at least three or four years. Think doing 2-3 feet and having to stop and take a break. Think that this is a task of herculean proportions.

My gloves, which were brand new, need to be replaced. At least three of the fingertips are completely gone after all that work.

Both azaleas are in the ground now. DG actually managed to find me blackberries in gallon tubs, so they're already semi-started and a lot better than just the canes we found. Four blackberries in the ground.


-- one very angry centipede
-- twelve pieces of broken red crayon
-- eight decent-sized pieces of shed snake skin
-- dozen or so small worms
-- five big fat earthworms
-- more #*$#& root grubs than I've ever seen in one place
-- egg sacs and egg cases to things I couldn't even identify
-- one poorly-buried phone cable (ahem, DG) that for some reason still works
-- big ole spider that scared Thing 1 absolutely witless


-- despite "help," I got five times the work done when they went away
-- DG won't do garden work without scowling and glaring
-- if you give one child a job, the other will automatically scream "I wanted to do that!"
-- the job will never be completed anyway
-- getting all dirty and blistered and sunburned again feels GOOD

The bluebonnets are seriously wilting. Don't know if they'll make it now, but that wasn't our fault.

Last night, after Roy had come back with DG to do a porch cookout, storms rolled -- no, thundered -- into North Texas. "Super cell" they were calling it -- at least until it split into three storms of equal ferocity.

Pea sized to golfball sized hail with cell one. Heavy wind. Huge sheets of rain. Under that kind of pressure, only a few areas of the backyard really even attempted to flood. I feel sorry for the houses further down the hill though.

Second round brought a lot more hail, enough to turn the grass in the backyard white, and hard fast rain, even though the hail was smaller.

Third somewhat fizzled with mostly thunder and lighting and more rain.

Wisteria and azaleas made it through fine. Not a lot of hope for the bluebonnets now. My poor blackberries took some leaf damage, but the main plant seems fine.

We were lucky. Areas a bit to the south had severe high winds, lots of reports of funnel and wall clouds, and a half dozen or so unconfirmed reports of tornados spotted. Much roof damage, downed power lines, broken trees, car damage, the works. We dodged it. This time. It's spring in NorTex, man. Though really, you never get used to it.

Roy ended up spending the night because of the weather.

Around 10:30 this morning (and looking like a freckled strawberry), I was back outside to finish off the flower bed. Final weeding, mixing in of some good garden soil, breaking up dirt clods, etc.

Remembered the sunscreen this time. Hah!

Got three packages of zinnias seeded in the ground. Lilliputs, dahlia blend, and giant fantasies, yes, seeded in height order.

Sludged for a while on the porch with Roy till DG finally crawled back into the world of the living. Things went screaming through with water guns, and ...

... Roy offered Thing 2 a dollar if she'd squirt DG, who was still scowling and surly. I've trained my mercenary child well. She did it.

The snarling and growling and swearing didn't last long. Neither did the dry state of anyone's clothing. We've got staggered sizes of SuperSoakers, but Roy was the real fiend, as he turned the hose on. After a while, the three adults (snicker) were the only ones left in the backyard, and all of us completely drenched.

Tell ya, that water felt pretty damn good.

Another fireup of the grill for dinner, then DG took Roy home while I cleaned up after the mess. Got all three boxes unpacked and out of the kitchen (HAH! One intended goal for the weekend complete, take that!), well, except for the trash box that needs to go out now. Dishwasher unloaded and reloaded, box contents put away.

Even found time in there somewhere to do a couple more poses for a Poser package Burningham is going to be uploading to the market soon.

SO .....

... what did YOU do this weekend?

Friday, April 04, 2003

Sunset on the New House

I am gloriously, amazingly, disgustingly FILTHY! Hallelujia! I SO missed having a yard. Utter contentment.

I've got two purple wisteria in the ground to twine up over the arbor. DG found some very odd windchimes that sound absolutely lovely (they look like pan pipes), so they're now up in the middle of the arbor.

The two rosebushes in the bed next to it have been weeded, but still no buds yet. Need to get some mulch in there to help control the weeds. Saw an utterly stunning peach rose bush, but didn't cave since it wasn't cheap. Need to get some artwork sold, fast.

Have some weird climbers that I need to make pics of and see if anyone can help me ID them. Might yank them up anyway. Asked the neighbors along the back fence if they minded honeysuckle back there, since they tend to grow wherever the hell they want to. No problems with em, so now I just need to get the vines.

The dead jungle-y tree by the front door has been removed. Ivy needs to be trimmed back still.

One azalea in the front yard, a second in the back that needs to be put in the ground tomorrow. Might go back and get one or two more, because the corner I'm using in the back for them looks just gorgeous against the house.

Thing 1 brought home a bluebonnet plant, courtesy of the school garden and their nifty science teacher. Bluebonnets are now in the ground. The redbud she brought home last year for Arbor Day is now in the ground out of its pot, and going bananas. Happy tree.

Grass seed purchased to try to reclaim the front yard. The people here last ... well, let's just say they had black thumbs. Still need to continue thistle extermination. God, they're everywhere.

Seed purchased for beans, squash, zuchinni, and pumpkins so far. Going to take a lot of work to get the ground ready for them. Got a package of sunflowers, several zinnia varieties, and I've now totally forgotten everything else.

Oh man, I HURT, but it's The Good Hurt. I'm worn out, dirty, sweaty, and utterly content.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Penny the Poked Purple Pooka

Why did the orange stop in the middle of the road?

He ran out of juice.

Ah, Laffy Taffy. Inane, and yet so accurate. Welcome to my day.

Neurologist appointment, check. Note on check-in that I had lost another 3 or 4 pounds, groovy.

Poked, prodded, stuck, forked, reflexed, pushed, pulled, teetered, wobbled, and generally abused in every basic diagnostic way. Tuning forks are fun on the side that works, marching fire ants on the bad one. Wee me. Nasty little pokesy things to test sensation SUCK. Or stick. Whatever.

RSD diagnosis fully confirmed, forehead to fingertips, forehead to knee on my right side.

Fibro ... is actually an Iffy now.

Immediately ruled out my medications as being a cause. One more scratched off the list.

Doc does a few tests, takes a look at my meds, has kittens over the amount of Neurontin. We're not doubling it. We're not tripling it (well, we are ... for a week). He ranted and muttered a bit about my low dosage. I'm now looking at a daily total of 1800 once we reach that point. Maybe I'll stop falling down all the time now. The muscle seizures long ago surpassed spasms.

Said that for my condition, muscle strength was good, once I could force my body to resist the pushing and pulling. Of course, I have no coordination or balance whatsoever. They just won't listen to what my brain is telling muscles and nerves to do.

Multiple referrals and appointments made.

Tentative initial diagnosis on top of the usual, Peripheral Neuropathy. Just consider that just a generic "We don't know what's wrong yet," but he agreed that something was very wrong with my nervous system. Noted the "to rule out MS" scribbled next to name on sign-in info.

I had blood drawn today for 9 different tests.

Next Friday, I have an MRI and full dye-injection contrast MRI of my skull.
That next Monday, full dye-injection contrast of my entire spine.
That Wednesday, nerve enduction and possible EMG.

I'm not a Pooka, I'm a medical guinea pig.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

How many parents do you know of that have to stop and shout:

"No bloodletting, decapitations or other bodily dismemberments at the dinner table! I mean it!"

... and they aren't talking about what is being done to the food?

Thursday, March 13, 2003


We are in the process of The Big Move.

If you don't hear from me for a few weeks, never fear.

I'm either:

A) ... rotting in a jail cell for strangling DG and beating his head in with a spork while hoping someone will post bail before my new roomie decides to make me her new bitch.

B) ... still trying to figure out where to hide the body.

C) ... or sitting on a beach in Brazil sipping fruity alcoholic beverages and being fanned by a very muscular mostly-nekkid cabana boy named Raul whose only English phrase is "How may I serve you?"

If C) turns out to be the case, please. Don't send help.

(PS: Ann, got a big bag of clothes for you to go through.)

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Not dead yet

We have ... a house.

I'm still in a bit of shock here. We start moving in on the 14th or so. Of March. Like, this month. Move. To a house.

It's gorgeous. Everything we've really wanted. 3 bedrooms, 2 car garage, huge backyard. Stepford wife soccer mom SUV and minivan territory.

I'm nervous.

Finished up the last artwork for BTRC's "NeoTerra" module. "The Colonies" has been out for a while and is available at among other sites. Professional illustrator. This concept still blows my mind almost as much as the idea of finally moving into a real house.

I'll get some of the pics up from NeoTerra and other new work in a little while.

Got my new laptop at last. Jeeze, that didn't take long, did it? (ooo, sarcasm, just another service we offer) She's definitely more of a workhorse than Nemesis, but she's not as multimedia friendly. The sound on Nem was just fabulous. This is the standard laptop tinny, but otherwise she blows Nem away. Mobile P4 2.2, 40 GB drive, DVD/CD-R, 768MB of RAM (which Painter chokes on, whee), the happy ATI Radeon card that I demanded ... Still, I'm keeping the enthusiasm down. My faith in this company is shot.

Still recovering from my fall. Shoulder still tweaks out, still having headache problems and the occular migraines are back.

I'm now cutting TWO wisdom teeth. 34 years old, and I'm cutting teeth. Houston, we have a problem. And they HURT. There isn't room for one of them, and it's coming in crooked and right now with the move, we just can't afford to take me in to cut the damn things out of my mouth. Oral surgery is a serious risk for me anyway with the RSD, and the bad tooth just happens to be on the side of my head that's affected. Yay me. Not.

Still doing the monthly ear infection thing. I'm *real* tired of Cipro drops and Auralgan. Since it's "surfer's ear" (the ugly brother of swimmer's ear), there's a lot of permanent damage inside my ear, which unfortunately tends to leave some nerve endings exposed. Put in drops, scream as they hit nerves, and pray it goes away faster than usual.

The cats are nuts as usual. Certifiably insane, ie, normal cats. They're going to love the new house, tons of mad dashing space and a large tile floor in the kitchen for maximum skidding power. I wonder how long it will take Zamboni the escape artist to get locked in the garage by accident.

The Things are anxious about the house. Finally, a bedroom each. About bloody time, because I think they're going to kill each other if we stay here much longer.

Thing 2 has been doing the ear infection thing, too. Bad high fevers, the barfing which she always does with fever. Missed way too much school. The doc keeps saying that her tonsils don't look bad, so I am at a total loss for how to figure out what is wrong with this kid. We've done the unknown fever thing before, complete with spinal tap and other hell. I'm hoping the new house helps. Maybe we have a hidden black mold problem in this damn apartment. It would explain a lot.

Uh. Did I miss anything?

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

YOU, go to your room.

YOU, Time Out. Now.

YOU, lighten up.

YOU play nice. Don't make me come over there.

YOU, put down the lighter fluid and step away from the grill.

YOU are NOT taking that into your room. Put it up.

YOU ... well, I don't know WHAT you're doing, but stop it this minute.

I heard that. YOU go to your room, too.

YOU need to step away from the computer. Take a dandelion break.

YOU need more coffee.

YOU need a reality check. Yours bounced.

I don't care if SHE said you could, YOU can't. Face in the corner.

What the hell do YOU think you're doing with those scissors?

YOU go play in the microwave.

YOU, stop instigating. We've got enough of that already.

YOU, get a girlfriend.

YOU stop leaning on your elbow.

YOU stop trying to nuke the cats.

YOU sit down and stop walking on your damned ankle.

Monday, February 10, 2003

RSI Public Service Announcement

Attention, campers, Pooka has a few Rules of the Road for you to remember.

1) RSI is not a funny word. Repetitive Strain Injuries can be extraordinarily painful, detract from your quality of life, and impair not only your work but even your daily activities.

2) Any unusual signs of tingling in your limbs that aren't 'normal' like your foot falling asleep, and tend to repeat, need to be checked by a doctor. (especially to rule out something far more serious)

Tingling is usually the first warning that something isn't right on several fronts, though it doesn't always show up. Different people have different 'tell signs' that an RSI is occurring.

3) Early warning is just that. Watch yourself. Watch how you sit, how you sleep, how you type, even how you brush your teeth. Patterns of aggravation to RSIs are easily spotted. Breaking that behaviour is the hard part, but could prevent the injury from becoming serious.

Rearrange your work space. Adjust the height of your chair, your desk, buy a better keyboard. Watch yourself in the kitchen, how you cut food and stir.

4) Moonmama, stop leaning on your elbow.

5) Don't automatically take the word of the first doctor you see. Seriously. Some are cut-happy and want you on the table immediately. Consider surgery a last resort. Some won't take it seriously at first, oh, it's just a muscle strain, you slept wrong, it'll go away.

RSI does not "go away" without the cooperation of both you and your doctor.

You know your body. If you're tingling or hurting and you know it's normal for you, then you have a problem and you deserve a doctor that will take it seriously.

6) RSI is not the end of the world. It can be treated. Nerves can regenerate, muscle strength can be built back up. You don't have to give things up -- just change how you do them.

7) Anyone can develop an RSI. Anyone. Even Clark Kent. Being a perfect employee, a perfect mom, none of this matters to RSI. Equal-opportunity offender. Physical structure can play a large part in it as well. Particularly long pointy elbows? Guess what, you're at risk.

8) Moonmama, stop leaning on your elbow.

9) You aren't alone. There are RSI support groups, web sites and BBS, mailing lists, and book after book on the shelves that can help you on the way to recovery. If the condition is brought about in the workplace. there are people that will come out to your office, watch you, and point out changes that need to be made.

10) Non-surgical options don't work for everyone. The cause of the RSI is only one problem, and can be combined with several other difficulties.

Non-surgical alternatives wouldn't have helped me, even had I gotten in when it first started. Yes, I had classic behaviours that can cause an RSI. Yes, they were a large part of the problem. But they weren't all of it.

When my surgeon went in, he removed a large knot of tendon in my upper arm that had twisted and coiled around my ulnar nerve, choking it off. In addition, I have very sharp pointy elbows, and just normal movement with my arm caused the nerve to catch and slide over bone.

He cut the tendon section out, then removed the ulnar nerve from my arm. Muscles were then removed, and the nerve replaced, this time on the bottom closer to the cubital tunnel to allow more freedom for it to move. Muscles were then replaced over it.

I wasn't kidding when I said they rebuilt my arm.

By the time the stubborn Pooka went in, the muscle mass was already wasting away and I had almost no feeling in my hand at all. I couldn't turn a doorknob. I couldn't even open diaper tabs for Thing 2. I could run a pin through my pinky and couldn't feel it.

My hand was all but useless by the time my surgery date arrived.

After the anesthesia wore off completely, and the pain pills had lapsed ... I already had some feeling in my hand. I remember the day I reached for something and stretched over a lit candle. I burnt my arm slightly -- and FELT IT. It was amazing. I started crying in the shower once because I suddenly realized I was using both hands to wash my hair, and my left hand could actually feel the soapy spots.

I now have full range of motion back in my arm, and complete use of my hand. Only a small strip along the scar line that is still a little numb, which is normal.

If I seem a little militant on the issue ... well, I am. I've been there, and I screwed around and ignored it. It almost cost me my hand. Just another month of letting it go, and I might have had damage that couldn't be repaired.

Until they perfect cybernetics, you only get one body.

Use it wisely.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Stray Wheeeee

Note to self: Do not take Lortab with Testosterone before bedtime.
Hydrocodone makes Pooka hyper.
Hyper is not conducive to sleep.
Had to leave bed before DG tried to smother me with a pillow.

I'm talking to the big purple Cheshire Cat on my monitor ... and I think it's answering me.

Can't sleep, clowns will eat me.

Hair has finally gotten longer again. Makes trying to brush or wash it with my shoulder all hose a real bitch. Had the temptation to hack it off again, but after some of the reactions I got last time ... I may just shave it all off, hah!

Harley has assassinated Batgirl again. Out of all the action figures and toys on the shelf above my desk, Harley has singled Batgirl out for termination.

Giger is doing ... things in his cage. I think it's the rodent version of Tai Chi from what I can see of it. Man, he's tall when he stretches up on his hind legs.


Black hole.

Dammit, out of all the injuries from the fall, my knee is the only one that looks cool. Still haven't seen a bruise come up on my arm (apparently they're hiding deep inside the muscles so they can taunt me), and only mild bruising on my face. I mean, what the hell? Here I go and do this great fall, only to not get anything usuable out of the damage pics.

Mark ... finally got your email about the project. As I am a doofus, I'd been forgetting to check that one. Yes, I'm interested. Sounds fun. I like fun. Let's talk.

My new client for the second album cover is a riot. I swear, if this guy perks and bounces anymore, I'm going to be very very scared. I mean, with "Antipathy" as the band name, he's entirely too excited. :) They're wanting t-shirts out of whatever designs I come up with for them. Must get to work there.

Though can you see my fat wounded ass in their mosh pit? Don't think so.

Why is it 4:30 in the morning?

I'd like to go to sleep now. Can someone please page the Sandman? He missed part of this house.

Still no word from Compaq. Tommorow I call and the blood-feast will begin.

Monday, January 27, 2003


Superjuiced on what can only be called Lortab with Extra Testosterone, the day is a smoodge brighter.

Finally saw someone about the fall. Woman took one peek at my shoulder. "Ew. Ow. I am NOT touching this until we get xrays."

My kind of doc.

For those of you familiar with injury proceedings and the joy of xrays (which inevitably mean you have to move whatever is hurt into the most uncomfortable positions imaginable, ie, hurt enough to make Mother Teresa say Very Bad Things), you know that their main usage is in determining broken bones.

The muscle tears (by which I mean Many) were easily visible on the film. Joint was back in place by this point, but yowsa. If it's in my shoulder, it's either torn, inflamed, or both.

I have orders for small range of motion exercises -- ONLY, and I mean ONLY with Lortab with Testosterone in my system -- and a follow-up in a week to make sure the RSD isn't dinking with the healing and causing the muscles to start cratering on me.

Whoa. Spaced out there. That's it, I'm puttin the Pooka to bed.

Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Fall down, go boom

My bad leg stopped working in mid-step. Just quit. Threw me sideways into the corner of the Things' doorway. Side of head and my right arm took the full impact.

Last thing I remember is thinking "Fuck, that HURT!"

I don't know how long I was knocked out. But my right arm was caught under my head, and all of the blood on my hand was dry. I figure I was out cold for a good five minutes.

Woke up to Thing 1 crying and tapping me in the head. "Mama, do I need to call 911? Mommy, please wake up." Somehow she found my cellphone and the charger to call DG. I have no idea what woke her up. Instinct, maybe. Happened too fast for me to scream.

Haven't been this nauseous from an injury since I got thrown off a horse. Really dizzy. Shaky. Felt frozen for hours. Took every blanket on the bed and then some to stop the shivering.

Top to bottom.

Line from right temple to jaw. Top cartilege hole now big enough for 3 earrings. The one in it had to be cut off. Back to it is still missing. Stone fell out because the prongs were too busy cutting into my ear. Nurse Voodoo assisted the removal procedure. Ear is really swollen. Lobe enlarged and a small cut there.

He also held my hand while DG cleaned it. Ow.

Thank you, Will.

Right arm. This is the bad one. I'm pretty sure it hit the wall first. Shoulder joint throbs and normal motion is not only painful, but nauseating. Swollen. Line of knife-edge pain down outside of arm along tricep. Possible cracked bone. Trying to wait it out in hopes of being able to move better. It is COLD here, and I can't move my arm to get dressed. Can't type with it either.

Right knee. Actually the best of the lot. I'm not sure what I hit with it. Skin is missing, like a rug burn. Hurts more than the impact bruise under it. Maybe it just kept folding and I landed on it. Puffy, but I can at least hobble with the cane.

Don't worry, Heidi. I'll get you pictures when the bruises finish blooming.

Ow. Ow.

Saturday, January 18, 2003


She earned her Nemesis nickname an hour after I took her out of the box.

Two weeks of blue screens, fatal errors, massive crashes, programs spontaneously deleting and uninstalling on boot. 16 hours on the phone with tech support. 4 complete fdisk reformats. No resolution.

I got pissed. I started digging. I solved the problem, not them. They shipped the damn machine out of the warehouse with a bad RAM chip. They replace, things improve.

Christmas Eve. Won't start. Dead. Nothing. Will not boot. Go through the hard boot, removing cords, battery, etc. Power gets TO the unit, but the unit won't use it to boot. Great. More phone time.

Send a box. Send the laptop in. Get it back, with a note that says it worked for them, oh well. They did .... NOTHING to it. Nothing.

Three hours later, it died again. Same problem, power to it, nothing happens. More phone time. Get a new box. Send it back in new box. This time, told that the heat spreader was dusty and they switched it out. Uh huh. They send it back.

Three days later, it's dead as a frickin doornail, RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of a paid contract piece. Yes, it's ON at the time, and I lose everything because it died in the middle of CTRL-S.

Why, yes, it's phone call time again. I'm on hold 14 minutes while they try to get me a supervisior. By this time .... So I go through the whole sordid story, throwing names and dates and error messages and case numbers at the woman.

"Faces of Death" had nothing on this conversation. PookaMouse ROARED.

The solution?

Hurry up and wait. I SHOULD "get a phonecall" from a Quality Manager in 7-10 DAYS. Apparently only someone with a spiffy title is allowed to make any real decisions.

This is my second Compaq. It will be the last.

The first one I fell in love with. All of the problems I had with her resulted from physical damage (note to self: you still need to make that cat fur bikini for the kids). Despite bad things I'd heard about them, I had a wonderful experience.

So I bought another one to replace it when she finally died.

I'm waiting once again to hear Frisco tell me, "Shoulda bought a Mac."