Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Faking It

Oh, dear lord, family drama is once again rearing its ugly head.

I am about to go on an epic rant, here.  You've been warned.  Feel free to skip this one if you have a low tolerance for soap-opera-type family dynamics.

On Friday, I got an email from my sister Ditzy.  The subject line was "illness".

Do you ever get an email that you really, REALLY don't want to open?  Yeah.  I knew, I knew, that I was about to get involved in some next-level bullsh*t.

A little background here.  Ditzy is eight years older than me, making her 60.  And for as long as I can remember, she has been "sick".

Oh, there's never really been any official diagnosis, although chronic mononucleosis, Gillian-Barre syndrome, and others have been bandied about and then dropped when the next disease-of-the-moment comes along.

Her symptoms?  Well, when there's something FUN to do, like traveling, or going out dancing, or hanging out at the lake, there ARE no symptoms.  She feels great!  It's only when there's something NOT FUN to do, like, oh, I don't know, WORKING, or doing dishes, or cleaning the house, that her symptoms appear.

She's tired.  She doesn't feel well.  She needs to lie down for a while.

She's faking it.

After YEARS of trying and failing to get on disability (because she's NOT SICK), she finally hired a lawyer (and paid him a bunch of money which she borrowed from family members, natch), who convinced a doctor to diagnose her with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and then convinced the government that she was, indeed, deserving of disability payments.

She isn't.  But is she getting those payments?  Oh yes she is.

And now, she's convinced that she's "sicker", although how you can be "sicker" when you weren't "sick" to begin with is a good question.

When she emailed me on Friday, saying that she's got some mysterious new illness that tests can't diagnose (because she's not sick), I tried to be supportive.  I did.  I went up to her house and visited with her on Saturday.  She asked me to help her find out which Medigap insurance plan would be right for her and her fake illness, and I am doing so.  I offered to help her out with cleaning, cooking, running errands, etc., when I was able.

And then the phone calls started.  Yesterday she asked me to pick up some eyedrops for her and bring them to her house.  I did.  When I got there, she said she didn't have the money to pay me back for them.

She's not broke. I KNOW she's not broke.  She just didn't want to pay for the eyedrops.  Somebody ELSE, like ME, should pay for her eyedrops, just like somebody else, like ME and everyother TAXPAYER, should pay her disability payments.

Am I bitter? Oh, nooooooooo.

This morning, she called me again.  She had a bad night, she said.  She might need to go to the emergency room.  Could I give her a ride if she didn't feel better?

Here's the thing:  She keeps GOING to the emergency room.  She's been there FIVE TIMES in the last couple of months.  They run some tests, which show no problems (because she's NOT SICK), and they send her home.  She has been BEGGING her doctor to admit her to the hospital, which her doctor will not do (because she's NOT SICK), and so she just keeps going back to the emergency room, in the wan hope that THEY will admit her to the hospital, which they will not do, because she's NOT SICK.

So when she called this morning, I asked her why her long-term boyfriend, who works from home, could not take her.  ("Well, he might be able to, but he might not," she said.)  I asked her why her adult daughter could not take her. ("She works too far away," she said.  "She'd have to leave work, drive all the way here, take me to the emergency room, drive me home, and then go back to work."  (a) Her daughter works twenty minutes away. (b) It's not okay to ask your DAUGHTER to do that, but it's okay to ask ME to do that?)  I asked why her adult son, who works right here in this town, could not take her.  No answer.

In the end, I told her that if she could not find anyone else to take her, I would give her a ride, but I would have to leave her there at the emergency room.  I would not be able to wait with her.

But honestly?  If she calls back?  I am going to tell her to call either a cab or an ambulance.

Because I am NOT going to get sucked in to her fake "illness".  I don't even know why she's suddenly contacted me out of the blue; we haven't much contact since Mom passed away back in 2013.  Maybe she's run out of suckers, er, sympathetic ears?

Look, if she was REALLY ill, if she had cancer or was in a wheelchair or had some REAL ILLNESS, I would help her.  Of COURSE I would.  Just like I helped my Mom when she got sick. 

But Ditzy is not really ill.  She's faking it.  And I'll be damned if I'll be a party to it.

There.  Rant over.  I feel better now, just for getting this all down in writing.

Thanks for listening.  I owe you one.

Pics from the weekend

Did you know that skunk cabbages had  alien seed pods inside them?  ME NEITHER:

Mayapple getting ready to unfurl:

Trout lilies are blooming:

Stuff is poppin' up all over!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Regarding Baltimore

Yesterday, the mayor of Baltimore referred to the rioters as "thugs".

From The Baltimore Sun, in an article regarding the Baltimore Police Department  (If you want to read the whole article, it's here. ):

"Over the past four years, more than 100 people have won court judgments or settlements related to allegations of brutality and civil rights violations. Victims include a 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson.

"Those cases detail a frightful human toll. Officers have battered dozens of residents who suffered broken bones — jaws, noses, arms, legs, ankles — head trauma, organ failure, and even death, coming during questionable arrests. Some residents were beaten while handcuffed; others were thrown to the pavement.
And in almost every case, prosecutors or judges dismissed the charges against the victims — if charges were filed at all. In an incident that drew headlines recently, charges against a South Baltimore man were dropped after a video showed an officer repeatedly punching him — a beating that led the police commissioner to say he was “shocked.”

"Such beatings, in which the victims are most often African-Americans, carry a hefty cost. They can poison relationships between police and the community, limiting cooperation in the fight against crime, the mayor and police officials say. They also divert money in the city budget — the $5.7 million in taxpayer funds paid out since January 2011 would cover the price of a state-of-the-art rec center or renovations at more than 30 playgrounds. And that doesn’t count the $5.8 million spent by the city on legal fees to defend these claims brought against police."

Looks like the rioters aren't the only "thugs" in Baltimore.

Monday, April 27, 2015


... A loaded six-string on my back, I play for keeps, because I might not make it back ... I've been everywhere (oooohh-ooooooh) and I'm standin' tall ... I've seen a million faces, and I've ROCKED THEM ALL."

Courtesy Bon Jovi, "Dead or Alive".

I got a phone call from the local police department on Friday night.  A very nice officer asked me if I was aware that there was an active subpoena out for me.


Guys.  GUYS.  I live a ... boring life.  I do nothing even REMOTELY illegal.  I could not, for the life of me, figure out why I was being subpoena'd. 

The officer must have sense my confusion, because I could hear him start shuffling papers.  "Hmmm," he said.  "Says here it's for a grand jury appearance.  In the case of ... Mathew J. Murphy."

Ohhhhhh.  NOW I understood.  It was for that car accident back in November.  Evidently that wasn't the FIRST time the guy who ran into me had been caught driving drunk, and now the District Attorney's office is going after him for felony DWI, among other things.

I am supposed to call the district attorney's office this week, to ... discuss the accident?  I don't really know.  I'm just going by what the subpoena tells me.  And then, on Friday, I am to go testify before a grand jury.

Oh lord.  I hope they throw the book at this jerk.  And for the life of me, I canNOT get "Dead or Alive" out of my mind.  Ha.

Friday, April 24, 2015

To pill a cat

So!  In preparation for his upcoming dental surgery, the vet put Tinks on antibiotics. 

Antibiotic capsules.

As I have probably said here before, Tinks is not a very ... handle-able cat.  While I love him dearly, the combination of his Siamese quirkiness, his Maine Coon strength, and his feral beginnings make for a cat that does exactly what he wants to, and nothing more.  Getting him into a carrier for a trip to the vet's is an experience.  I actually had to cancel one appointment this week and reschedule because Tinks would not cooperate and I didn't feel like losing an arm.  Pilling him?  Well ...

While I am very good at pilling cats thanks to years of unfortunate experience, and have a patented (not really) method for getting pills down the throats of uncooperative cats, I knew that Tinks was going to be a problem.  For one thing, I knew that once the first couple of pillings went down, he would just start avoiding me. That has been a recurrent problem with all of my cats.

Nothing says rejection like having a cat flee from a room in terror when you enter it.

"They're capsules!" the vet said.  "Just break them apart and sprinkle the insides on his food!"


The problem with THAT is, the medicine is nasty-flavored.  Making anything it is mixed into similarly nasty-flavored.  Take a cat who is not really food-motivated to begin with, like Tinks, and mixing the meds into food is not gonna work.  The ONLY food that Tinks will beg for, in fact, besides deli ham and chicken (which the medicine sprinkles will not stick to), is

wait a minute.

Tuna.  Tinks LOVES tuna juice.  That stuff that comes out of the can when you drain it to make a sandwich.  And tuna is nothing if not strong-flavored.  Maybe ... if I mixed the meds with some tuna juice ...


Now when it's dinner time, I just get everybody's food bowls ready, mix up a separate wee bowl of tuna and meds, and give that to Tinks first, before his regular food.  He BEGS for it.  He BEGS for his meds.

All these years, and I've finally discovered an absolute, sure-fire, easy-peasy way to give a cat his meds.

Thank you, tuna!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A little misunderstanding

I have a confession to make:  A couple of times, over the past few months, when I heard something about Loretta Lynch's nomination for Attorney General, I thought,

"Wait a minute ... Loretta Lynn is going to be Attorney General?  Really?!"

hahahaha yeah I'm obviously not the sharpest tool in the shed.  At least I own up to it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


- Why is it that every single time I get my car back from the shop, everything, included the seat, the mirrors, and the steering wheel angle, has been CHANGED?  Dude had to drive it thirty feet from the parking lot to the garage, not thirty miles.  Jeez.

- So as you may or may not know, I am a HUGE fan of the Duggar show, i.e., Nineteen Kids and Totally Insane.  Yes, I know they belong to a weird religious cult (Quiverfull Movement), and blah blah blah, but that show is so damn RELAXING.  Nothing much ever happens, and nobody yells at anybody, and nobody learns anything, and it's just about PERFECT.  Except last night, there was an episode where one of the daughters who just got married (I can't tell them apart) and her new husband went on a European honeymoon, and it became painfully obvious as the episode wore on that they're pretty ... dumb.  Oh, they're both amiable enough, but really ... to freak out over escargot?  In this day and age?  Errrr ... I don't think homeschooling has served them right, frankly.  (UPDATED TO ADD:  I just read online that the happy couple is 22 and 19.  That explains a lot:  I, too, was dumb as a box of rocks at that age.  I forgot that Duggars marry young.)

- But!  I did not get to watch the entire episode, because there was more Rescue! Drama! happening on Facebook, so I was busy getting my snark on from the sidelines, which is the best way to enjoy Rescue! Drama!.  In my opinion.

- and Oh!  In other tacky reality TV news, is anybody else watching Married at First Sight on A&E?  Oh my GOD I love that show.  I really need to get a Tivo, because last night a new episode of that went up against a new episode of the Duggars, and I was TORN.  TORN.  Of course, in the end, I didn't get to watch much of either thanks to Rescue!  Drama!, so it's a good thing that both A&E and TLC will rerun the episodes approximately nine billion times.  Whew.

- Today is Administrative Professionals' Day.  I am an administrative professional.  The chances of anyone in my office acknowledging this in any way are zero.  Screw it, I'm taking MYSELF out to lunch.
- The daffodils are up!  And the hyacinths!  The lilacs are leafing out!  And it's supposed to snow tonight.  *sob*

And of course, there continues to be plenty of THIS going on:

 They'll be four weeks old tomorrow.  Where DOES the time go?!

Monday, April 20, 2015

I go out walkin'

So!  I got bit by a tick this weekend, and when I went to pull him off he put up a fight and took some of my skin with him, which, OUCH!  Stupid ticks.

But!  I got lots of walking in, both days.  I love this time of year - not too hot, not too cold, and no annoying BUGS - well, other than the ticks.  Damn ticks.

Frozen waterfall.  GIVE UP, WINTER.  YOU'RE DRUNK.

This hill was STEEP!:

File that in the "why yes, yes, I *am* a wimp" department.

Turkey feathers shine iridescent in the sunlight:

Skunk cabbage and trout lilies poking up out of the ground:

This tree broke off way up high and then got stuck on the way down:

Penny rock!

Yesterday, I was out in the middle of nowhere, hiking, hiking, hiking, when all of a sudden:

Hello, chair!  Somebody hauled that sucker a LONG way out into the woods.

Upended tree:

Frog eggs:

Coltsfoot (feet?) always look cheery.

Two days, two great hikes.  Other than the tick, that is.  Lousy ticks.

Friday, April 17, 2015


Yep, it's pretty much all kittens, all the time around here right now.  They are three weeks old, and the more time I can spend with them, the better - the process is called "socialization", and it's critical to their development - a friendly kitten is much more likely to be adopted than one who is spitting and hissing, and is more likely to be happy to spend its life in the company of people.  And since their mama, Honey, IS prone to both hissing AND biting (oh yay), I need to make sure that the kittens are very, VERY used to being handled by people.

This crew is doing great - they will lurch toward me out of the nest box when they see me in the room, and scrabble up onto my lap. 

They have also started to play with each other, quintupling the Cute Factor.

Kitten Central, right here. :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Good news and bad news

Tinks and Sodapop had to go to the vet for their yearly checkups yesterday.  The good news is that I was able to crate both of them; Sodapop is always easy but Tinks can be a challenge.  He is big and strong and not afraid to use any means necessary to avoid being put in a carrier, but by using a bathtowel and an element of surprise I was able to get him in the carrier.  Score!

They were going to a new vet.  I never really cared for the vet I had been taking them to.  She just didn't seem all that ... invested in the animals under her care.  Plus, she had a history of complaining about her job (and her clients!) on Facebook, which, NOT COOL, and combine that with the fact that I just found out she is not averse to declawing for trivial and non-medical reasons, and, well, see ya.  Taking the cats to her was HUGELY convenient because she worked the walk-in on weekends, but the last couple of times the wait was well over an hour, and, yeah, no.

So!  I took Tinks and Sodapop to the vet I had previously used for The Runt and Little Girl.  She doesn't have the convenient office hours of the old vet, but she is thorough as SH*T and is willing to talk over options at length.

Sodapop was a charmer, as always,  Just laid on his back on the exam table waiting for belly rubs.  All is well.  Good news!

Tinks?  Tinks has bad teeth.  He has had bad teeth ever since he was a kitten - evidently it's a genetic thing with some cats.  The teeth are getting worse, and now, at the tender age of three, Tinks is going to need some dental surgery coming up in May.  Bad news, but the good news is that he will feel much better afterward.  He will be on antibiotics for the next couple of weeks, which, pilling Tinks?  BAD NEWS. 

I had to take the car to the dealership this morning, because the instrument cluster has failed AGAIN.  This is the third instrument cluster to go bad in three years; I'm thinking Hyundai has a little problem, here.  BUT, the car is under warranty, so, good news!  Plus, it's still got two more years under warranty, so all is well.  But I do hope that eventually they will install an instrument cluster that actually works for more than a year.

Oh, and today is April 15, which, bad, BAD news.  My boss always, ALWAYS waits until the last day to even START preparing his taxes.  I ran all of the business-related numbers he needs back in FEBRUARY, but do you think he's even LOOKED at those spreadsheets yet?  NOOOooooOOOOO.  Which means that all day today he will be barking at me for numbers (because no matter how clearly I set up the spreadsheets, he seems incapable of pulling numbers from them) and bitching about taxes.  *sigh*  Bad news.

Let's see ... I need to end with some good news ... here!

Wee little kittens.  Good news!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

And a lesser Beatle, at that

A company for which our firm provides consulting services has an employee named Ringo.


I just ... who would think it's a good idea to name your kid Ringo?

It's one of those names that is just ... taken.  Like, REALLY taken. 

I mean, not in a bad connotation, really; it's not like they named him Adolph.  But Ringo wasn't (isn't?) even that good of a musician, for Pete's sake.  And this guy is in his thirties, tops, so it's not like it was coincidental.  And no, it's not a nickname - it's his given name.

Why would you name your kid Ringo?

Enquiring minds want to know.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Time to get out!

So!  Busy weekend.  Both my home PC and the TV in the foster room expired in the past week, so Saturday was spent buying electronics for which I had not budgeted and doing some installs.  The PC has Windows 8.1, which, NOT A FAN, so I predict a steep learning curve in my near future.

I got some brush hauled out to the curb, and did a pre-emptive rug pulling in the foster room.  As you may recall, I pulled up the wall-to-wall in that room last fall, and then put down an area rug.  But!  With the kittens about to go mobile any day now, and then start peeing and pooping all over the place, I pulled out the rug ahead of time.  For ONCE in my damn life, I managed to think ahead a little bit.

 And yesterday, the temps hit the SIXTIES.  Hallelujah!  I headed for the trails.

There was STILL ice on some of the trails.  Dear Winter:  GET OUT.

Ice on the lake:

But!  The creeks were full of runoff:

There was plenty of kid-built to be seen:

The geese are nesting:

The skies were blue through the trees:

And the pines, at least, are green green green.

Spring is here.  And just in time.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Rocky Raccoon

I swear, everything in the free world ends up in my garage sooner or later.

At least this time, he only made it as far as the garage.  We all know what happened last time.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Thanks, Neighbor

Turns out that the woman who (allegedly) drunk-drove into a couple of utility poles (after attempting to pass someone in a no-passing zone), thus cutting power to a good chunk of my town on Sunday night, lives right up the street from me.

I think pitchforks and torches are in order.  Ha.

The scary thing is, according to news reports she was heading AWAY from her house when she crashed.  Late-night Easter Sunday beer run, perhaps?  Sheesh.  She's got a couple of young kids, too - the big-screen TV in their living room, which is clearly visible from the street, is set to a cartoon channel every morning when I drive by her house on my way to work.  Way to set a good example for your kids, lady.

Am I being judgmental?  OH YES I AM.  Because of her, a lot of people, including the elderly, had to go without heat on a night when the temps went down into the twenties.

Screw you, neighbor.  Screw you very much.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Well, THAT was a hell of a lot of fun

First off, before I forget, and because this is going to be a long damn post and I can't blame any of you who don't make it to the end, I haz a question:  How long is food in the fridge good for after the power goes out?

I woke up at one-thirty this morning and the power was out.  Looked out the window to confirm that yes, the entire neighborhood was dark, not just my house; figured that a squirrel had probably made it into a transformer someplace; and went back to sleep, thinking the power would be back on soon.  The power's never been off for more than an hour or so since I moved in five years ago.

Woke up at four-thirty with three cats plastered to me.  Power was still out.  Temp in the house was 61.  Temp outside was 29.  Went in and checked in on mama foster and the babies; mama was calm and the babies were nice and warm.  Threw a couple of blankets on top of the nest box, threw an extra blanket on my bed, and attempted to go back to sleep, wondering how widespread this outage might be and why it was taking so long to get power restored.

Six a.m.  Power STILL out.  Shit.  Temp in the house down to 54.  Grabbed the battery radio out of the garage, turned it to a news station, and discovered that a drunk had taken out a couple of utility poles not far from my house.  Sixteen hundred people were without juice.  NYSEG was estimating an eight a.m. restoration.

Backed the car out of the garage and fired it up.  Cranked the heat.  Grabbed mama and the kittens, popped them into a carrier (mama can be a handful to crate but she followed her kittens right in), and loaded them in the car where they, at least, would be warm.  Went inside and fed the permacats, who seemed to be weathering the cold just fine.  Temp in the house now down to 51.

Went back out to the warm running car and watched robins in the lawn.  My neighbor T. who lives across the street came over; she couldn't fire up her car because it was in her garage and she has an electric garage-door opener.  "Hop in, T!," I said.  "Get warm!"

We sat and chatted for a while, about lawns and grandkids and travel plans and the stuff you talk about with neighbors.  T. is in her eighties and still going strong.  After a while she decided to go home and have some coffee.

 The eight a.m. restoration time came and went.  Now NYSEG was saying ten a.m.  F*ck.  Decided that today was Take Your Foster Cats To Work Day, loaded a large cage and supplies into the car with the mama and babies,  and headed in to the office. Oh, and I also decided that it was going to be Jeans and a Sweatshirt and Unkempt Hair Day, because there was no way in HELL I was going to take a cold-water shower. 

Set up the family in a back office, leaving them in the carrier until I could find out what time power might *actually* be restored.  Again, mama can be a handful, and I really didn't want to have to transfer the family into a cage unless it became apparent that the situation wasn't going to resolve any time soon.  Thought about the possibility that I might have to bring the permacats into the office as well.

Twenty minutes later, I logged into the NYSEG website for the nine billionth time to discover that ...

DING DING DING we have a winner!  My power had just been restored.

Loaded the family BACK in the car and headed back home, where, mercifully, the heat was on and things were warming up.  Put the family back in the foster room, where mama wolfed down two bowls of food, used the litterbox mightily, and hopped into the nest box with her babies.  Took a nice hot shower, apologized to the permacats for the chilly night, waited until the house was well and truly warm, and headed back to work.

It's a hell of a way to start a week, I'll tell you that. 

and please, tell ME, if the food in the fridge is still good to eat. Enquiring minds want to know.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Jazz Hands!

Honey's remaining babies continue to do well.  Eyes are showing signs of opening, and they can motor around quite a bit when they want to.  I had to put up a barrier across the open end of the box yesterday - already they're ready to start exploring their world.  Whoa, hold on there, babies - you've gotta get your sea legs first!  They're still at the "zombie belly-lurch" stage.

From left:  Little Red, Raffles, and Ruffian:

Hey!  Hey!  Get OFF me *ooof*!:

Ruffian sez, "Look!  Jazz hands!"

Mama says, "Look how pretty my baybeez are!"

Yep, Mama, those are some pretty baybeez.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Terrible, awful news

One of the kittens didn't make it.

The one I was calling Big Red passed away last night.

So sad.