Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I'm BACK!!!

Yup, the CHARMEDMOOSE.COM website is active again. Go there for all things Moosey.

VISIT THE www.CHARMEDMOOSE.com !!!

Peace, Love, and Bunnies,

S.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Breaking up

I have had it.

Blogger is not letting me post pictures anymore (although I spend pleanty of time uploading), and I have written 3 (three!) posts in the past week that disappear as soon as I hit publish. Nonrecoverable. Gone.

I am breaking up with Blogger.

CharmedMoose.com will be active again very soon.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Waterlogged

I am in my first week of NutriSystem. I am not a fan of structured diets - or, rather, of following them for a long period of time. I'm always a fan when I start.

I got sick of Weight Watchers because I got tired of having to calculate points in my head constantly. Seriously, I know science geeks that would have had a hard time with some of the calorie/fat/point conversion equations.

I ditched South Beach after a few weeks of cooking CONSTANTLY. Really. Sometimes three friggin times a day! I am a single woman; if I wanted to stay in the kitchen I would have stayed married.

So now NutriSystem. Sunday I unpacked the box-o-food that arrived last week. Breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. I sat there and stared at it all and thought, "Oh my God I'm gonna starve to death." There was a lot of packaging, a lot of stuff, but I just couldn't for the life of me see how that was a month of food.

Reading directions is usually a strength of mine, but apparently not when I start diets. Turns out you have snacks of "fruit servings" and "dairy/protein servings". You have a huge salad for lunch each day in addition to the NS food product. You eat two servings of vegetables and one of fruit every night. You get dessert and a snack every day.

I'm eating more than I usually do - but all the right stuff. I've lost 3.8 pounds in three days. This is crazy fast and I know it won't keep up. Still very surprising though.

Best part? All that packaged food is REALLY good. I'm not wondering what I'll have for lunch to stay on the diet - it's easy to throw in a bag in the morning. Dinner is canned veggies, an apple or plum, and a packaged meal like parmesian chicken and rice. Snacks are yogurt and every day. Desserts are pudding, or chips, or shakes. And all I do is reach into the cabinet and pull one out. Awesome.

This is a diet I could stick with. And should be, for the amount of mony I paid for all that damn food.

Worst part? I figured out why very few of us actually drink our 8 glasses of water a day. One, it tastes bad. Really, it does. Two, we LIVE IN THE DAMN BATHROOM.

I had to go, like, 10 times yesterday. Who has time for this?

I hope my bladder stretches.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Devo 1992 - 2006

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

After 13+ years of following me around, playing with his Buddy Glow Ball, drooling on windows on the way to vets, taking up WAY too much space on the bed, barking when anything moved in the front yard, and just generally being the neediest dog on the face of the earth, Devo is gone.

On last Thursday, 9/14, Rachel, Ben, Eric and I went to the vets to have him put to sleep. He had an aggressive form of cancer, already had twenty something stitches in his side, and had been following me closely for over a day since I'd brought him home from surgery. I knew he wasn't well, knew he wasn't going to get better, and couldn't stand the thought of losing him. But it was the right thing to do. Devo couldn't be Devo anymore.

He ate every damn pair of heels I owned when he was a puppy. He was the cutest puppy I have ever known - all stomach, paws and ears. His first night with us he howled pitiously in the kitchen, until I finally lay on the floor with him. On his second night in our room in a crate he cried pitiously until I put him on a pillow. He slept in the bed - quietly - the rest of his life.

He was afraid of stuffed animals. He was afraid of heights, water, new furniture, and most other animals. He loved popcorn. He loved treats. Devo made us laugh every day because his face was so expressive. Ears up, or back, eyebrows high or depressed. He would cock his head and stare at a doorknob when he knew someone was on the other side of the door. He was afraid of stairs, and after he fell once, I had to carpet the stairs to the basement just to get him to go down them again.

Devo did not like change. Moving his food bowl 12 inches to the left was cause for great concern for him. He would eat in great gulps, spilling food everywhere, and only when someone was there to watch him. He never ate alone - unless it was pilfered people food from the counter, back of stove, or even the trash.

He loved me. Unconditionally, completely, and with such devotion that it broke my heart. He watched out the window for me, with a horribly betrayed expression when I was leaving, or hopping happily greeting me with much stamping, tail wagging and affection when I came home - whether I'd been gone five minutes or five hours. He slept on the landing at the top of the stairs while I was on the computer, slept on the far end of the couch when I watched TV, slept at my feet when I had dinner, slept on the bed while I slept.

He loved walks and smelled all the pee-mail he could, leaving as much as he could, as well. In his older years he stopped minding the boys on bikes, and the geese and the other dogs. He simply walked, enjoying the sunshine, or mist, or even snow as only he could. He was terrible at fetch, and never did understand that the dog is supposed to give the ball back. "I'm gonna get that ball!" started off many playtime activities.

He was my moose of a dog, and his presence is a gaping hole in my life. I cry every day. I dream about him at night. My bunnies are cute and cuddly, but can't take the place of my big, stupid, pain in the butt Devie. Puddin head. Buddy Boy. Poopy dawg. Furry brown AT-AT. Honey bun.

I miss him terribly.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Let Go

The late summer day is awash in sunshine, late blooming plants putting on a show for passersby. Scattered clouds float lazily across the blue sky, the car in front of me meanders through the right turn and accelerates slowly. No one is in a hurry today.

The hospital is cheerful in design, parking decks and walkways covered and home to plants, flowers and a couple bees. Entering the main lobby, brightly lit with skylights, one notices the music first - a man sits at a grand piano playing classic tunes in a corner of the huge foyer. "When I Fall in Love" echoes around me as I walk toward the elevator on plush carpets.

A young man and two children get off at the fourth floor - labor and delivery. Through the closing elevator doors I see the expectant looks on a sea of happy faces in the expansive waiting area.

Fifth floor. Quiet, the waiting area much smaller. One older man sits in a wingback chair, head back, mouth open, grabbing the sleep of the exhausted. Through some swinging doors is the hospital hall. It's the same as many other halls - glossy polished floors, antiseptic smells wafting, so quiet you feel as though whispering is too loud.

Room 503 is on the left. The windows are huge and look out at the big park across the street. Acres of cross-cut grass surrounded by trees abut the blue sky and lazy clouds. It is beautiful.

He can't see it. His eyes stay closed - whether in pain or because its too hard for him to open them, one can't say. He is frail looking, his long legs and arms accentuating the weight loss. IVs, oxygen, monitors - he has them all. His mouth has sores, his lungs are full of pneumonias - small, bitter, bacterial driven plagues that reside in his weak lungs. He breathes with difficulty, the rattle in his chest audible from the doorway. His "sleep" is fitful - often his head raises, or he tries to sit up.

He can no longer speak clearly, but occasionally tries to form words. By asking questions that he can answer by shaking or nodding his head one can figure out what he needs. It is sometimes hard to tell if he is shaking or nodding. Both are barely perceptible movements.

More than once he has said, "eh oh." We don't know what that means.

He tries to remove tubes. He hates the feeding tube. He has a living will.

The doctor finally tells me that he will not get better. The pneumonias will take him, or the act of creating saliva that fills up his lungs will get too much. He will never regain control of his body's involuntary motions - the oxygen depletion during or post surgery has robbed him of that forever.

I know the answer, but I ask anyway, "What do we do? How long does he have?"

Days, weeks, as much as three months. We need to make him comfortable, I say. We need to have him in as little pain as possible. The doctor agrees. Hospice will call us, and we can make arrangements. He orders morphine to be delivered every two hours.

Outside, the bees still hum, the birds still flit, the flowers still bloom, the clouds still float, the day still shines. We are quiet and subdued as we leave - there is much to be discussed.

As I go to sleep I realize what he's saying.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Where to go? What to do?

Quandry.

I have X amount of vacation time. So far this year I haven't used that much of it - I still have over three weeks left. I save some for Yule (Christmas), save some for Thanksgiving, but I really should have taken my second full week by now.

I should take it next week.

But I don't feel like going anywhere.

Really. Nowhere.

I've looked at the plans for Devils Tower and decided it's too far. I thought about UP Michigan and just can't muster the motivation. South is too hot. East is to.....east, I guess.

So, I think I'm taking a week off next week to do nothing.

Could be good.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Gorgeous



'Nuff said.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

8 Guys, a Girl, and a Test Examiner

Not a DNA test for paternity....come on, people, get your heads out of the gutter. A totally different kind of test examiner. This one looked suspiciously like a police officer and had a very stern look on his face. Here's how it went:

I left my house at the mind-bending hour of 7:30 AM with the hopes of getting my permanent motorcycle certification on my license. Since Montgomery county only does motorcycle road tests on Wednesdays, I was one of many hopefuls making my way to the Huber Heights Drivers Licencing Exam station today. Although my appointment said 8:00 AM, I found out while signing in that it was nothing more than an estimate - there were already eight guys ahead of me on the sign-in sheet. I handed over my temps to the officer behind the counter and got an ominous looking test paper in return. She then directed me to go out to the parking lot about 500 yards to the side of the building where I met the eight individuals ahead of me.

Let me describe the scene. Eight bikes are lined up on the black stretch of old, cracked asphalt. All the men are loosely gathered around a very nice bike - a black and chrome Harley of truly unusual beauty. I pull up on my bright yellow Honda Helix scooter, thoroughly intimidated by the scene, the test, and the group of guys. No one is actually sitting on their bike - but I don't have too much trouble mentally matching up men to metal. Two younger guys in Abercrombie wear are hanging back a bit, I pair them with the two new Ninjas to the left. Big, traditional, mustachioed biker looking guy and two others with the same stance I match to the three Harleys prominently parked in the middle of the starting line. A medium build plaid shirted man looks at me and smiles and I place him with the friendly looking older Honda on the right. Practically perched on the Harley everyone is admiring is a very tall black guy in a matching helmet, and I notice his plates read "BYUTY". Takes me a minute, but I finally get it. Lastly is a smoker off to the side, a true chopper next to him. It's a gorgeous late summer day, morning sun making long shadows of the group, blue skies overhead with the barest hint of fall in the air.

When I pull up, all heads turn toward me. One of the big mustached guys walks over, smiling.

"You are gonna do great on that thing," he says confidently.

Another walks over, eyeing the Helix.

"You could charge all of us to take our test on that - you'd make a killing by noon!"

They are all friendly and curious about the scooter. Slowly, we all migrate back to the starting line and once everyone knows this is my first attempt at the test, heads start shaking. Plaid shirt explains the test to me as others listen and chime in occasioanlly.

"You see all those lines on the road, there?" I nod. "Well, when he comes out, you have to weave around the dots, then get up to 20 miles per hour and stop dead center in that box. See that one?" I nod again. "Then he'll make you do a u-turn..."

"Hey, how many cc's is that thing?" Very Tall Black BYUTY asks me.

"Two fifty," I answer, and a couple heads shake sympathetically.

"That means you gotta u-turn in the small box," Abercrombie One says.

"The small one?"

"Yeah, the dotted lines inside the bigger box on the far end."

We talk a bit more, waiting on Mr. Test Examiner, and I learn that all but one of my new comrades have taken this test before and failed. The only one who hasn't is Abercrombie Two - it's his first time taking the test, but he' ridden dirt bikes since he was eight years old. He's confident.

Mr. Test Examiner arrives, and we all gravitate back to our rides, encouraging comments exchanged in the process.

Abercrombie One is first, and eliminated immediately due to a malfunctioning right rear turn signal. He didn't even get to the road test.

Abercrmobie Two misses one of the cones and is just a tiny bit too far on the first box, but he makes it, holding his test score high in the air in triumph as he rides back to the station for his license.

The first Harley guy - who has taken the test three times already and failed - manages to finish with a passing score despite putting his foot down once.

Very Tall Black BYUTY fails for putting his foot down twice and not making the left turn sharp enough. I feel for him, his head visibly hanging as he rides off.

Plaid shirt guy makes it - no mistakes I could see. It was his third attempt.

Friendly Harley dude actually loses it and drops his bike when he goes too slowly around the last cone. Immediately disqualified.

Smoker Chopper Guy misses three of the five cones - 15 points and he's out. He rides over and gives me a bit of advice about the weaving, says he's going to get a different bike to take the test on next time.

Last Harley guy nods at me and goes up for his test. Foot down twice and misses a cone - he's also sent away without a passing grade, but yells "You can do it!" to me as he rides off.

I miss a cone and put my foot down, but that's only 10 points. I can still get my license with that if I can just make the u-turn. I concentrate, lean, increase my speed just a tiny bit to gain a little more control, and finally roll about five inches outside the dotted lines.

Mr. Test Examiner is almost apologetic as he tells me I've hit the eleven points that means my game is over. He looks at my Helix, and comments that my wheel base is pretty much the same as a full motorcycle. He suggests I either take the test again on a different scooter ("a smaller one," he says laughingly, knowing I was the smallest bike there this morning) or take the Motorcycle Ohio course. If I pass that course, apparently, I don't have to take the road test - I go straight to getting my license.

Dejected, but not surprised, I ride back over to the station. I hand over my failing test paper for the return of my learner's permit, and the woman behind the counter says not to worry - I'll get it next time. Her phrase seems rehearsed, but I appreciate the sentiment just the same.

Plaid Shirt and BYUTY are outside waiting for me.

"Well?"

"Not this time," I say, my disappointment visible.

"Don't worry - you'll get it next time," says Plaid Shirt.

"That left turn is a bitch, though, right?" BYUTY says to me.

"A true bitch," I agree.

"I'm gonna practice here tonight and this weekend - maybe I'll see you?"

"I think I'm going to take the course, " I say, testing this idea out on the posse.

"Yeah," BYUTY says, eyeing my bike, "your wheel base is massive. You should change that bike out or take the course. Twenty-five bucks, though." Plaid shirt says nothing, but I can see that taking the course is considered an even greater failure than failing the exam multiple times.

"I dunno," I say, "maybe I will you see you here. I think I just need some more practice."

"Damn right. That's all you need." They both agree and we exchange more pleasantltries before we ride off in different directions.

9 tests. 3 successes. Endless encouragement.

I have to go practice now.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

BUNNIES!!!

As promised, here are the newest additions to the household.

Buffy



Ella




For years I have often dropped in the local pet store just to "pet the bunnies" even when I didn't need dog related items. Couldn't actually have a bunny due to a certain black and white dog that would have hunted them.....no, really....hunted. So I satisfied myself with petting at the store.

Buffy was found at that same pet store I go to all the time for dog food. She was sort of the store "mascot" and "pocket pet" for the employees and they were very sad to see her go. She is a fearless little creature that checks out every single thing and walks right up to Devo. Ella was found at a different pet store, and she was surrounded by bigger rabbits so she's got some trust issues to work out. She's basically afraid of hands - but she'll hop right up to my legs if I'm sitting on the floor.

They get out of their "cage" about 1-2 hours a day, and for now they only run free in the game room, but they love it anyway. When really happpy, bunnies will suddenly jump in the air for NO FUCKING REASON, tossing their back legs high and darting across the floor. It looks hysterical in person, and here's the best I've been able to manage with the camera:



Obviously I need to do something differently.

More bunny pics are at my Photobucket account ...click here.

Enjoy!

Changes

Four months ago, Roy - the irascible and goofy husband of my mom - started feeling unwell. Slowly, inexorably, he started losing weight, couldn't keep food down, and eventually didn't even have enough energy to cross a room without collapsing in a chair. He continued to smoke despite doctor warnings, and really, I understood why. Despite a BILLION tests and doctor visits, no one knew what was wrong with him. At 75, he was literally wasting away. Finally he was hospitalized, and within a couple days, they found that two of his four heart arteries were more than 90% blocked. While that didn't explain the nausea it did explain his lack of energy and the small stroke that impacted his speech. They scheduled him for a heart by-pass surgery in a couple days.

Two weeks ago today I went to Kettering Hospital to see him. He was slurring words a little, but no more than he has in the past few months. He was mentally sharp, and relieved that - finally - the doctors had figured out what was wrong with him. While the surgery made him nervous, he was actually looking forward to feeling better. I took him a small stuffed aniimal sheep. He laughed at the gift, and I was happy to see him smile - something he hasn't done much of lately.

On July 27, he went in for surgery at 7am. It ended up being a quadruple by-pass, and the surgeoun said everything went well. He was transferred to ICU, and they expected he would make a normal recovery.

It is August 8th and he has yet to open his eyes on his own or even speak. He is still in ICU. It is obvious that he is not comfortable, but he's not conscious, either. Here's what we've been told:

* The bypass surgery went well
* His kidneys are taking a hit, probably from the surgery, also, but they expect that to resolve itself
* He has not regained consiousness since the surgery
* When not sedated, he thrashes about as if in pain. He pulled all IVs, etc. out during one episode, after which they kept him sedated.
* An EEG was performed about a week ago and it showed that there was some "oxygen deprivation" in the brain. No doctor has elaborated on this.
* The EEG also showed that his brain waves are somewhere between sleep and coma
* They cannot do an MRI due to the metal in his body, so clarification of the EEG results is not possible right now
* He was able to move all arms and legs right after the surgery. Sometime in the last four days, he lost control of his right side.
* This past weekend they removed the ventilator and sedation. For the first time since the surgery, he responded to my mother's instructions to squeeze her hand. Still not consious, but reacting a little bit.

Why? How did this happen? My mother has not been able to get all the doctors together to figure that out. Does he have brain damage? If so, why? How? Why has he recently become partially paralyzed? What can we do to help?

All the doctors seem to be saying right now is that its time for Roy to leave ICU, and that means a long term care facility - a nursing home. Mom hates the idea, I hate the idea. His daughter is not too involved, and his son is nowhere to be found.

So Mom is out looking at nursing homes today.

I wish I could just understand what the hell happened.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Gatlinburg - at last

Despite face-melting heat, a main drag that had the WORST traffic ever in a 10 traffic light town, and a drive home that found most of us sick, we had a GREAT TIME!!

Good pictures are posted here on my new photobucket account (because I really needed yet ANOTHER photo hosting service). But here's a few to tide you over: