Read Any Good Books Lately?

Why yes, I have! I don’t generally write about what I’m reading. Seriously, half of it is so un-memorable, I forget the plot in 48 hours. Two books actually hit me this week:

The Book of Longings, by Sue Monk Kidd. This was just…wow. It’s a deeply researched, but of course fictional, imagining of Jesus’ life before his ministry began, one in which he marries a strong, intelligent, literate young woman named Ana. The story is Ana’s, and Jesus is away for much of it, but it is somehow warm and real and tragic and believable. It’s just…amazing.

The other is one I’m currently soaking up at high speed via Audible. Audiobooks are the only thing that get me to clean my damn house. I deep cleaned my nasty old bathroom today, while listening to Project Hail Mary. I’m a little more than halfway through, and I’ve had to force myself to put it aside to do other things, because this is going to be a movie, count on it, and I can’t wait to see how they deal with the character of Rocky.

I’m not a huge consumer of science fiction, though I do like it, I’m just a casual, dabbler level of reader. Andy Weir wrote The Martian, which was turned into a fantastic movie but was an even more amazing book. I put off reading it for a long time, because the topic just seemed so bleak: Mars exploration cut short by storm, astronaut left behind, has to survive on his own on incredibly not human friendly planet. Yeah, I was not up for that. That sounded SO depressing. I finally tried the audiobook, and holy crap! It was exciting and fast paced and often really LOL funny! I am now a total Andy Weir fan. The movie is also great, but the book is, as always, better than the movie.

There’s a ton of science in Project Hail Mary, but it’s handled in such a chatty, informal way, it’s accessible to the non-science, liberal arts majors. It is a warm and very human story, and one of the smartest, sweetest characters is a sort of spidery-turtle-ish alien that breathes ammonia. Just trust me on this one.

Sophie Update.

I took her to the vet this afternoon and saw a different doctor. (Why are vets all now younger than my kids?)

Fresh eyes did have a new idea, she suggested trying a different antibiotic. She has an elderly Yorkie with similar IBS issues and it works for him. I was happy to be talking to a vet who understands this frustration: her dog’s issues don’t have a clear diagnosis either. She totally got it when I said I’d spent thousands on diagnostic testing and just couldn’t drop another couple grand only to be told Sophie has “colitis.” Trust me, I KNOW THAT. It’s extremely frustrating that a diagnosis is so hard, and even with more expensive testing, we still might not get an answer, or a treatment that works. So, we will tinker around with meds, and try to wean her off the high dose of steroids.

We also did a B-12 shot and subcutaneous fluids, which the tech reported were sucked right in, which means she IS dehydrated after days of basically pooping her brains out. She goes back in two weeks. I may have to start a Go Fund Me for her, because exam, relatively inexpensive meds, fluids and B-12 injection came out to around $260. That’s not counting the prescription foods, giant potty pads, etc. it takes to manage living with her. So let’s hope this new med works.

She’s still a sweet, good girl, and she’s adjusting to being blind, or at least getting used to walking into things outdoors. I watched her on the leash this morning and it came to me: Sophie is now a Roomba! She walks in a direction, bounces off something, pauses to evaluate, changes direction. I have to be alert to keep her from walking face first into a downed tree branch or stumbling over a storm drain, but otherwise, she just bops around at the end of her leash like a Roomba, and when she’s feeling good, she doesn’t mind. She’ll adjust to being blind if her guts aren’t giving her misery. The combination is just utterly miserable. Fingers crossed for the new med.

OMG This Masks Thing.

So, the head of the CDC, who knows what she’s talking about, said basically, “Fully vaccinated people are free to go about their normal lives without masks. The data shows a really high level of protection from the vaccines, even from the variants, and shows that vaccinated people don’t get transmittable asymptomatic cases of COVID, so they’re not going to spread it either.”

People who are not vaccinated are still at risk, and should either keep wearing masks and social distancing, or get their dumb plague rat asses vaccinated. (Okay, I didn’t put that in quotes, but that’s what she said in polite CDC-speak.)

Social Media: “OMG!! Un-vaccinated people are going to be able to pretend they are vaccinated? HOW WILL WE KNOW??”

Me: Yes, yes, some of those people will do exactly that. And you know what? If you’re vaccinated, they can’t hurt you, only themselves, so whatever. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. With enough of the population getting vaccinated, even if we never hit the herd immunity number on paper, we will get to the point where the plague rats will be giving it to each other. That may be as good as we’ll get, because we are a stupid, stupid country.

I do wish they’d held off on this until there was a vaccine for elementary school kids as well, because it’s still recommended that younger kids keep wearing masks. I don’t think they thought that part through enough.

As for me, I will continue to wear a mask when asked, because it’s a mask, not an instrument of torture. I’ve worn them all day at Disney in the heat, I know it’s uncomfortable, but that’s all it is.

I took Sophie to the vet this afternoon and everybody wore masks. I stopped in Publix later and everybody was still wearing masks. We did not, despite those assholes on social media, all fling off our masks and scream, “FREEDOM!” because we live in society, and we will just do what makes sense until we are all, collectively, comfortable.

So of course…

after facing the issue of Sophie’s condition, she woke up much better. I’m still going to make a vet appointment, but not THE appointment. I do want to ask what else we can do for her, to make her more stable. She has some extreme good and bad days, and I still don’t know why.

Oh, Sophie.

I need to call the vet about Sophie tomorrow. I realized this evening that the only thing that is keeping her behavior even semi-normal is the whopping daily dose of steroids. The steroids aren’t working on the diarrhea anymore. Tonight she ate dinner and sprayed my master bath dressing area with pure liquid diarrhea. The area is about 5×5, and she covered more than half of it – she tried to put it on the pads, but it comes out with such force, it’s like a fire hose.

I’ve been resisting this moment for months, but I have to concede defeat. I’ve spent thousands on tests and meds and prescription foods and more tests and a vet hospital’s worth of potty pads. I’ve gotten up in the night with her for months. I’ve cleaned up more disgusting bodily fluids than I’d ever describe.

The vet said she’d run out of treatments, unless I wanted to spend thousands on a Hail Mary pass on testing at the vet hospital at UF, still with no guarantee we’d get a treatment that would work. I’ve done plenty of those HM passes already, and I really can’t afford to keep this up. I’m exhausted, she’s just existing, and there is no cure. I should have called today, but talked myself out of it.

This evening she reminded me that I’m being an idiot. I have to remind myself that when she’s on her feet at all, I’m seeing Steroid Zombie Sophie, animated by the drugs, and she’s not getting better.

It’s time to get real, and give up.

Damn Facebook randomly shares her former self on my timeline, and while it hurts, it’s also a vivid reminder that she’s not that dog anymore. “But she’s only 12!” is not relevant. She has out of control colitis that has stopped responding to treatment. She’s blind, she’s disinterested in life, she doesn’t even enjoy outside walks anymore. I’m sad, but I’m not going to prolong this any more.


How can it only be Wednesday?

This already has been a week. I can’t go into detail about my job, but the pace is escalating and the workload is more complicated and I’m sorting out more problems (oh wait, that’s not a corporate approved word – I am dealing with “challenges”).

I have someone who is supposed to be helping me. I did not ask for this person to help me, but that’s a long story. She’s determined to “help” me, but I swear to God, it’s become like cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 30 with the “help” of an earnest non-cook with ADD.

I said a year ago that she needed training I didn’t have time to provide, and was told she could just sit in on meetings and learn that way. A year later, I discovered this week that she…um…hasn’t learned anything. Again, I can’t give examples because too work specific, but, yeah. This is not working out. But by GOD, she’s determined to “help” me. Every time she “helps,” I discover another basic thing she doesn’t understand, despite sitting in on project calls for a year. A YEAR.

And so now I am in the position of having to speak to my boss (who isn’t quite her boss, it’s complicated) about how yes, I could use a hand sometimes, but these aren’t the right hands. I have to stop what I’m doing to show her how to “help” me when she asks, and every time I do I find another thing she didn’t actually understand, but pretended she did. The situation is coming to a head.

Meanwhile, Sophie. I am not sure what to do next about her either. She was really bad on Monday. She threw up basically her entire stomach contents and had bad diarrhea multiple times, but by late Monday afternoon she had rallied, ate dinner, slept well.

Last night she had middle of the night liquid diarrhea. Bless her, she did try to put most of it on the potty pads, but it was bad. It’s a measure of how I’ve become numb to this that I saw it this morning and waited until I’d had a couple of big mugs of coffee before tackling cleanup. I needed to caffeinate and meditate first.

Today she ate well, drank a lot of water, had more liquid diarrhea OUTSIDE, but I just stepped into a puddle of pee on my office carpet. That’s a depressing new thing.

My office carpet is very utilitarian, not something I really care about, it’s more of a mat than an actual carpet. It takes abuse and was quite cheap, but to my knowledge, this was the first time it was peed on. Sophie has always been really good about trying to hit the potty pad, even when her aim was off.

But she’s still eating, still rallies if I say the word “Treat.” Which makes me think her deafness and confusion is at least partly selective – some words still penetrate. I just don’t know how to judge whether she’s done with this battle, and whether I’m forcing her to go on after she has stopped caring. I’m getting the sense that she only cares 20 minutes a day at this point, and I’m the one keeping her going, and then she’s on her feet and literally springing up and down like a puppy for treats. I just don’t know. She’s mostly checked out, if I’m being coldly objective. She doesn’t seek attention or affection, she’s not jealous of the other animals anymore, she’s just…existing. I just don’t want to declare this over, even though, objectively, I am getting the feeling it probably is.

Gearing Up for May.

First, EPCOT was lovely while it lasted. I didn’t find the Orange Bird vase, CMs said they’re out everywhere. Oh well.

The flowers were freaking fantastic!

This is the butterfly tent. My phone wasn’t up to capturing the hundreds (thousands?) of butterflies fluttering among those spectacular flowers.
This was a playground for previous festivals. This year’s festival is “A Taste of…” and is scaled back, except for the flowers and lovely “relaxation areas” like this. Comfy chairs, umbrellas, and all those flowers. I knew if I sat down I’d never stand up.

It was a short visit. My ankle held up okay, but I decided not to push it. I’ve been to Flower and Garden several times, the scaled back is still a lot of fun, but I didn’t feel a need to limp for the rest of the week. I left mid-afternoon, feeling like I’d had a nice time in the fresh air. One of the benefits of living nearby and having a pass is you can use the Disney parks as PARKS – walk around, eat a bite, and know the restrooms will be clean.

So, tomorrow is May, and I have shit to do. My workplace (not my employer) is apparently going to pilot some half-assed part-time in the office program. I’m not going to say that management is flailing, trying to find a way to use the millions of dollars of real estate they’ve purchased, but….

So I’m on record as being sick of my home office and I’m fully vaccinated (two weeks out as of today, whee!) so yeah, I’ll go sit there for two days a week this summer.

It’s exceptionally stupid. We’ve been working 100% from home for over a year without any impact on getting the work done. Our manager agrees it’s pointless, but was basically begging for volunteers because corporate wants this, so I was like, what the hell, it’ll be good for Gidget to spend some time alone two days a week. She needs to get readjusted to normal life eventually.

Meanwhile, I seriously have to address my COVID pounds because I’ll have to fit into the clothes I already own this summer. I have to get my shit together. And speaking of shit…

Sophie had an explosive day today. She had diarrhea half a dozen times. Bless her little heart, she put it all on the giant potty pads in my master bath area. It took skill. But by the THIRD time before my work day was done, I was seriously wondering where we go from here. Then I took her out and she unloaded some more.

She’s still alert, she still eats, she doesn’t seem to be in pain, but seriously, Holy Shit. She’s a 12-ish pound dog on her heaviest day, and the medication isn’t doing, well, jack shit. She pooped more than she ate today.

I’m just letting her lead for now. I’m not going to do any more expensive testing/fishing expeditions; we’ve been at this for years and I could have bought all new furniture for what I’ve spent without an effective treatment plan. As long as she’s comfortable and still asking for treats I’ll deal, but I don’t feel like I’m doing her any favors at this point. She’s blind, confused, uncomfortable, her only joy is treats. She still can bounce with surprising energy for a treat, but that’s about 15 minutes out of every 24 hours. When that stops, we’ll know.

Tomorrow’s mission: take a load of stuff to charity. Maybe get help to take the 6 ft. cat bed down to the garage so I can offer it up for free to a good home. Then I will actually have room in this room to decide what arrangement will work best for my either 100% or 60% home office. I’m on a minimalist-ish mission: I’ll never be a hardcore minimalist, but damn, I have way too much stuff.

Pick 3 Small Healthy Habits.

And do them for a week, or longer. I’m starting small here, because my damn ankle still hurts, so walking is not happening this week (except for tomorrow). The scale isn’t moving, because I really do need exercise.

So my three for the week: 10 minutes of morning meditation. There are a few apps I use so much I happily pay for them, and Calm is one of them. (I’m not being compensated for this, because I still suck at making money from blogging.) I love the sleep stories, and I have grown to love the 10 minute morning meditations. Just 10 minutes, you can do it too! You can try it for free, but if you want to unlock all the amazing sleep stories that have done wonders for my insomnia, you do have to pay. For me, a lifetime insomniac, it has been so worth it. The train stories alone are just…magical. I had no idea I’d be a total sucker for European train stories.

Also, a morning smoothie. I was called upon at the very last minute to keep Delaney for the day last week. The entire family was complaining of allergies, and Delaney woke up with a sore throat and was just tired, and didn’t want to deal with school. She’s a straight A student and just got another academic award for the All A Honor Roll, so yeah, no real harm in letting her have a sick day. And hey, Grandma works from home! I was getting into the shower at 7 I was asked if her dad could drop her at 7:30 at the latest.

FUCK!! Okay, I scrambled and was showered and ready for my guest by 7:20. I can still do it. Before he left, my son-in-law said she’d asked if Grandma could make her a smoothie. I did a fast mental inventory of frozen fruit choices in the freezer, FUCK! I hadn’t made a smoothie in months! I had almond milk and a smidge of protein powder, and some probably freezer burned frozen strawberries and mango chunks. We’d have to wing it.

Anyway, she curled up on the couch, dozed for a bit, and I made her a smoothie with the sad stuff left in the freezer, but she pronounced it delicious. And I realized that not making smoothies was a major factor in my not getting enough fruit in my diet. So this week I am doing a banana, frozen strawberries, and a handful of mango chunks with vanilla plant based protein powder and maybe a cup of almond milk. Three fruit servings at once, and it’s delicious.

I had a ton of meetings that day, but she really was absolutely perfect in every way all day. Not a peep while I was on a call, and she even grabbed the ChomChom and de-cat-haired the furniture when she got bored. That thing is absolutely amazing, and far superior to wrangling the vacuum or those sticky rollers. Plus, it’s fun to use!

Third habit: Hibiscus tea. I make a quart in the morning to drink all day, along with my usual constant water. It’s good for your blood pressure . I do object to their calling it “sour tea” in that article. It’s a bit of an acquired taste, but not very sour. The closest description I can come up with is like watered down cranberry juice, but then I like my regular iced tea unsweet with lemon, so yeah, you might want sweetener in yours. I like it as-is.

My sprained ankle is healing, and is a bit better every day, so of course I’m going to go stress test it with a day at Epcot tomorrow. I won’t push it, the park doesn’t open until 11 a.m. and I’ll probably be on my way home by 3. I need a few hours away from my desk, and my last planned days were foiled by rain or actual work shit that demanded my attention. I am getting stabby, and I need a Disney fix. There will be interesting things to eat and to see, and if my ankle gets mad, I can sit on a bench with a teeny festival-sized glass of wine.

Tomorrow I have just one meeting and I have nothing to contribute, so my “assistant” (quotation marks deliberate) can sit in, and say, “Nope, we have no updates,” while I stalk office decor and a school bread, and soak up fresh air for a few hours.

I want this vase. But so does everybody else. I can totally see this with a cheery handful of (fake) daisies and maybe a couple of taller cheerful pops of color. But apparently so can everybody else, that vase is wildly popular, so there’s no guarantee the shopping gods will smile upon me tomorrow.

Sophie is hanging in, but yeah, not great. We’ve pretty much run out of our medication options, she’s getting thinner, she’s pooping liquid, it’s not great, but she’s comfortable, and ate all of her dinner, so, whatever. She’ll tell me when it’s time, and as long as she’s still cheerful I’m not going to hurry her. I’m also not going to try any more expensive Hail Mary treatments that work for a week and then, don’t.

Ellie and Gidget are perfectly fine, thankyouverymuch. Gidget went for her annual heartworm check/shots/checkup, and was pronounced adorable and healthy, no issues at all. Thank God, I can only do one high maintenance dog at a time.

More tomorrow, when I limp home from Epcot.

When Disney and Wingnuts Collide

I belong to several Disney groups on Facebook. Mostly they consist of people asking the same damn reservation and restaurant questions over and over, people sharing pictures of their Disney trips, dogs with Disney names, Disney themed rooms in their homes, etc., and it’s hard to tell them apart. Harmless, silly fun.

One seemed different. I won’t use the group name here, because I don’t want to give them attention, but it has a cheerful name.

This group is different. I’m convinced the group name is ironic, because the group has an unusually high quota of miserable assholes who complain about everything. Not everyone, of course – most people joined for the same reason I did, because what the hell, it’s a Disney group, I’ll see what it’s like. You know, normal people.

I was so amused by the contrast between the group’s name and the behavior of many of its members, I stuck around for the show. Yesterday, it did not disappoint.

Recently, Disney announced changes to the Cast Members’ (hereafter CM) grooming requirements and wardrobe options. This is not the first time they’ve done this; it has happened incrementally before, but this announcement for some reason really set this FB group OFF.

Over the top rage ensued:

“The CMs will have tattooed faces, gauges in their earlobes, and look like carnies!” (This person very obviously didn’t read the new policy, but that didn’t stop him from raging like this through the entire thread, and getting belligerent with anyone who tried to talk him down.)

“How will I ever explain their tattoos to my grandchildren? I don’t want them to see that!” (Speaking as a grandma, it never occurred to me that my granddaughters should be sheltered from tattoos. Many of the responsible adults in their lives have them.)

“Disney has gone downhill since ABC bought them!” (Um, Disney bought ABC, but let’s not confuse them with facts.)

“What do you expect? Democrat owners.” (I have no idea of the political affiliation of the major shareholders, but it’s a publicly traded company.) I was also surprised this comment was allowed, because on nearly all Disney boards, anything remotely political gets shut down fast by the moderators. But it’s cool on this board.

Many threats to never return, lest their innocent, wholesome eyes encounter a CM with double pierced ears.

It was truly hilarious and over the top, full of wild claims about what this change in appearance standards will mean, followed by an echo chamber of agreement: Yes, yes, it totally means that the CM helping your family onto the teacups will have facial tattoos! Isn’t that AWFUL!! (No, it does not mean that at all, but do go on, you’re hilarious!)

The normal people pointed out that they obviously hadn’t read about what is actually changing, but that fell on deaf ears.

Again, it’s far from everybody on the board, most of the members are normies. But where was this insanity coming from?

There’s a little message on the group’s About page that shed some light: We were all invited to join them on another social media platform, one I’d never heard of before. (Not the one you’re thinking of, but like that.) A few minutes of research and AHA! It’s a fringe social media platform that prides itself on “freedom” and is a home for conspiracy mongers, anti-vaxxers, and fringe types of all persuasions. Clearly the crazy has cross-pollinated this FB group.

Like Facebook can’t grow its own crazy?

Fortunately, the majority of people on this board are quite normal, or as normal as Disnerds get, and let them spin on their backs like toddlers having tantrums in the Walmart parking lot.

I still want to work for Disney as my “retirement” gig. I’m getting practice at smiling and changing the subject in my day job now.

2nd Moderna Done. Come On, Antibodies!

I got my second vaccine on Friday at lunchtime. By Friday night I felt extra tired, so I went to bed early. Yesterday I felt blah all day, I woke up with a headache and had random joint pain and felt tired all day, but still managed to pick up Sophie’s prescription and do laundry, etc., nothing strenuous. I just felt like I had a hangover without the party.

I ordered kung pao shrimp from my favorite family run takeout joint for dinner, and felt fine by 7 p.m. Never underestimate the healing power of Chinese food.

I should rub some sauce on my ankle, because that is still annoying. The swelling and bruising are fading, and my left foot is taking on a weird pale yellow tinge as the bruising fades, like it has jaundice. I need to take ibuprofen and hobble to Publix later.

Now that I’m going to be working from home permanently, or at least as long as the job lasts, I’ve been evaluating what I want to change in my home office. That, of course, led to an evaluation of ALL OF MY SHIT, because that’s how my mind works.

I feel a serious urge to purge, update, and in a small, cheap way, redecorate.

I’ve been holding onto clothing I haven’t needed or worn in a decade or more, because, 1) I spent good money on that! and 2) But what if I need it later?

Will I ever need it later? Really? What are the odds? For more than half of my closet, it’s slim to none.

This week’s mission will be to tackle just one kitchen cabinet. My kitchen is small, and I own WAY too many cups and mugs and odd glassware that never gets used. I never drink from tiny juice glasses, I never use those lovely little china cups with their own tea strainers for loose tea. (I do have tea strainers for loose tea, but I use them in my regular mugs.) I saved a box from a Chewy delivery and some packing paper, and this week I will take an hour to pack up all the things I never use and donate them.

I have old glassware and stuff that belonged to my mother, it’s not really heirloom, it never gets used, my kids don’t want that shit, none of us have room to store things “just because” – why am I keeping it? A sense of duty? Toward martini glasses nobody ever used? I think my parents drank martinis now and then on special occasions, 50 years ago. Do I feel sentimental toward them? Not a bit. I’ll put them on eBay just because they are legit “vintage”, and if nobody wants them, they, too, will get donated.

An interesting thing about these vintage glasses is how petite they are, compared to modern glassware. The fattening of the American public can at least partly be attributed to how portion sizes have changed. Those dainty glasses were for sipping elegantly at a cocktail party. Now martini glasses, wine glasses, etc. are like freaking Big Gulps.

So after sitting with my ankle elevated for a week, I had plenty of time to ruminate on my clutter. Time for A Purge. Swedish Death Cleaning Time. Note: I didn’t read this book. I’ve read articles about the concept. It’s pretty simple: You probably have a bunch of shit your kids will not want to deal with. I know I do, because I am still dealing with MY mother’s shit and she died over a decade ago. It’s ridiculous when you think about it.

This week, I will do the kitchen glassware, and the old china cabinet full of my mother’s old shit. Yes, I called it shit. She never used it, she “saved it for me,” she’s been gone for years and I’ve never used it. I’m not sentimental about it. I swear I packed and moved it out of her house, into mine, hauled it halfway up and down the east coast and into this condo out of a vague sense of duty, and that’s just stupid. I will not inflict this shit and the guilt that goes with it on another generation.

Time for a fresh start, and kitchen cabinets that aren’t a fucking Tetris game. I’ve realized that I’m living with 25+ year old crap instead of things that would suit me better, because why? I don’t know why.

It’s going to rain this afternoon. I think I’ll start on my closet today.