Friday, December 30, 2005

Space-Time Continuum

What part of quantum theory do you not understand? That's on a T-Shirt Grace, the artist, gave me for Christmas. Then Judith (Eternity II) sent me that link to the Astronomy Picture of the Day. Then I stumbled across Pete Townshend's blog (The Boy Who Heard Music) where he's serializing a sci-fi novella. Obviously, the Universe is speaking to me. :) I'm putting that little smiley there just in case someone, having read my previous posts about my psychiatric hospitalizations, thought I was serious. :) I'm not that far gone yet. :) (Hey, can you guys tell I'm the daughter of a paranoid?) :) :)

But seriously, folks, I just love that whole space-time continuum thingy, don't you? Tomcat says it just keeps everything, you know, kind of, together. My Dad took my brother and I out into the yard at night to talk about space and its vast distances and the immense age of the starlight we were seeing. As I posted before, my brother was inspired to become a scientist. I suppose that's where I got my interest in astrology. And in some sci-fi. Many science fiction fans are just that -fanatics. They collect metric buttloads of the stuff, reading just about anything that comes out. I prefer to think of myself as a connoisseur. :) The Dune books, Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow and Children of God, Arthur C. Clarke.

This isn't exactly the Nicene Creed, but here's what I believe, based on the (shaky) assumption that the human race doesn't destroy itself first: We will discover how to travel faster than light. I believe we already do this with our minds. :) We will discover how to travel in time. I believe we already do this with our minds. :) We may not be consciously aware of this, but I believe some adepts do this routinely. I believe we have been discovered by other civilizations.

Uh-oh. Not another UFO nut. :)

Think about it. Probably most people have a reasonable grasp by now, in the early stages of our Space Age, of the immensity of space. It's big. But have you ever thought of how old the Universe is? It's old. Lookit, someone calculated that if you filled an Olympic-sized swimming pool with salt, each grain of salt could represent a galaxy in the Universe. That's galaxy, not stars. Each galaxy contains (approximately) a buhzillion stars. That takes up a lot of space. Those stars (about a fafillion or so) are orbited by planets and their moons. Of those planets and moons, approximately a popillian can sustain life. (Don't get me started on whether it's intelligent life, because we're still working on that right here.) All of this is true today.

All of this was also true a million years ago, and a billion years ago before that, and a gazillion years ago before that. Just think of how many solar systems containing life have come and gone, long gone, in those spans of time. A whole bunch. Probably some of them advanced to their own Space Age (their scientists would have had Dads who took them out in the yard at night to look at the stars).

Over the eons there could have been kaboodles of space-faring civilizations per epoch. Heck, there could have been whole scads of them. Maybe gobs of them thought it would be fun to see if there were any other planets like theirs (they would have had salt-filled Olympic-sized swimming pools, too, probably.) So now we've narrowed it down to gobs of advanced space-faring, waterworld-seeking civilizations per epoch times a buhzillion galaxies over the span of piles of epochs.

Whew. That could mean that tons of space-faring cartographers or uninhabited probes could have been sent out to map solar systems, galaxies, and nearby galaxies over the last gundazillion years. I believe our own little planet could have been catalogued by long-ago civilizations oh, at least a dozen times by now. Perhaps even explored.

So yeah, another UFO nut. :)

Assuming we don't destroy ourselves first, I believe we will eventually send out our own explorers to find other life-sustaining planets and moons. Hopefully we won't then start destroying them.

Those of you my age will remember the bright promises of the new Space Age. We were gonna have all kinds of neat stuff. Hey, where's my jet pack? My car that rides through the air? My paperless office? Well, all the money that could have been spent on the neat stuff was used for other things, like the Cold War and the wars that followed. Where's your jet pack? In Vietnam. And so it went, and so it goes today. Damn it. We're gonna screw up this space-time continuum thingy for sure.

Have a nice day. :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

What Kind of Message Does This Give Our Children?

I know I mentioned this on my old blog around this time last year, but it bears repeating. People: when your inflatable Santa deflates, REMOVE IT from your front yard! Otherwise, it looks like Santa's dead drunk on the lawn again. For the love of God, the wellbeing of our children is at stake here!

My Brother, The Samurai Star Warrior

My new friend Judith, who is Grace, the artist's, sister-in-law, and who has the blog entitled "Eternity II" on my blogroll, sent me a link to the Astronomy Picture of the Day (see my Links). Every day, you get to see a new picture of some awesome space vista. How cool is that?

The site got me thinking about my late brother, David. He was inspired to be a scientist by my father, not because Dad was a scientist, but because Dad would take us kids out to the yard at night to look at the stars. Dad would tell us about the vast distances between planets and the sun, and the immense age of the starlights we were seeing (he had to explain "lightyears" first.)

David was a genius who built a laser in the physics department of his undergraduate school back when almost no one had even heard the word "laser." He had his pick of graduate schools and chose one that had a rep for hot chicks (I did mention he was smart, right?). He found the one hot chick on the planet who could live with him. She was as strong-willed as he was and very close to his intellectual equal.

My brother went on to become a physicist specializing in laser optics. He was a weapons consultant to the government, in other words, a Star Warrior. That was his day job. He also excelled in martial arts and had his own school where he taught bushido, Japanese sword fighting.

In his later years he was thinking about going back to school to get his Ph.D. -- not because he needed one for his job, but because he had never gotten around to doing that due to the demand for people of his expertise during the Cold War. His wife said he had finally decided to get his Ph.D. in astronomy because that was the "easiest." But, it was not to be. He had a quadruple heart bypass at age 40 and died at 49. Whenever I see pictures like the ones on Astronomy Picture of the Day, I think of him and I am grateful to have known him. The main thing people said at his memorial service was that his star shone brightly.

Thank you, Judy, for sending me this link; I'll enjoy it every day.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Part 2: Excellent Care

(See 12/24 entry for Part 1)

As mentioned before, there were two surveys in the final day's paperwork. The first was brief and it was about my mood and thoughts in general. It was one of those fill-in-the-circle-with-a-No. 2-pencil thingies. I hate those, don't you? Anyway, this was a duplicate of the one they gave me to fill out on the first day. This way, they could compare the answers in the admission-day survey to the answers in the discharge-day survey. Unfortunately, I was too depressed to fill out the one on admission day.

The second was a satisfaction survey. How happy was I with the staff? Answer: Very! So much so that I had trouble answering one question: If I had to choose just one person that I thought was best overall, who would that be? So many people came to mind that I realized there was no way to choose one over another, and that's how I finally answered the question.

I don't recall ever having such a positive overall experience in a psychiatric hospital. I wish I could tell you the name of the hospital and the names of the staff! The care was excellent! The nurses, counselors, and aides were all, each and every one, caring, kind, loving, and competent.

You could tell they went out of their way to treat you with respect. This isn't true in some hospitals, where the treatment philosophy resembles One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. No, there were no Nurse Ratchets here. Nor were there lines -- remember the movie's depiction of medication times? They had the patients all line up to take their meds while some insipid elevator music, meant to be soothing, played in the background. Here, the nurses brought the meds to you. Not only that, they made sure to read your wristband every single time, and they went over each medication with you, comparing each capsule or tablet with a printout they carried with them. This gives both you and the nurse peace of mind. There were likewise no lines to stand in to get your vital signs taken. Once again, they wheeled the little blood-pressure and pulse-taker thingy to you each morning, along with a thermometer and a smile.

Each day started out with your nurse coming in to your room with a cheerful "Good morning!" whereupon she would open the drapes and ask you how you slept. Now, some people might have been irritated by that, but I wasn't because I've seen the opposite extreme: a brusque "Time to get up!" as someone rushed past the doorway.

Another lovely touch was being able to have a leisurely meal. No lining up to go to a cafeteria and rushing through the meal so another group could come in and eat. Here, the meals were brought to us in a dining room and we had lots of time to eat and visit. This is great for the digestion and morale. They even handed us our individual trays. The meals were selected from a menu the day before, just like in a regular hospital.

And you know what? Shouldn't all of this be "just like in a regular hospital?" This is an important point. Why? Because mental illness is just like a regular illness. And mental patients should be treated with the same respect and lovingkindness regular patients demand and get.

Oh, and above-average, excellent care, goes a long way toward healing, too.

To be continued...

Saturday, December 24, 2005

What Kind of Reindeer Are You?

You Are Rudolph

Sweet and shy, you tend to be happiest when you're making someone else happy.

Why You're Naughty: You sometimes stick that nose where it doesn't belong

Why You're Nice: Christmas would be a sad affair without you!

Part 1: Psychiatry Is Not An Exact Science

Last Sunday I checked myself into the hospital for severe depression. I did the same thing at the beginning of November (I posted about that when I began this blog.) Both times I was feeling suicidal, so I asked for help in dealing with my feelings. Back in my early 20's I thought that killing myself was the only option I had for relieving the mental, emotional, and spiritual pain I was in. I now know that suicide is not a solution, but a symptom. I learned that from a very competent therapist and also from training years ago when I worked the phone lines at a suicide and crisis center.

I was discharged last night. I tell you, the Internet withdrawal was almost as bad as the caffeine withdrawal. Because the hospital I went to treats people with alcohol and substance abuse problems, caffeine was banned as an undesirable substance. Tomcat surprised me with a thermos of coffee in the car on the way home (that's my Schmoopie!), and when I got home, I made another pot of coffee. Yes, I was bouncing off the walls last night, but I didn't care. It was the principle of the thing, damn it.

While in the hospital, it occurred to me several times that I really should make some notes or something so that later I could blog about the whole experience. Some of you may remember the slogan from my old blog, "I only write true things." Well, like most bloggers, I held back some truths about myself, like the facts that I had an abusive childhood and have been in and out of hospitals and therapy, and on medications for most of my adult life. I want this blog to include these truths, because after all, they are essential to who I am. You know, blogging is some form of self-therapy, anyway, isn't it? At least for me it is... So I want this blog to be about the real stuff. But did I keep any notes? Nooooooooo, I was too effing depressed for that. So now, I'm going to try to remember many of the things that happened and blog about them here. You might find some of it interesting, and maybe even entertaining or humorous (you know, gallows humor, as it were.)

I may end up doing this in more chronological order, but let me start with what happened late yesterday afternoon as I was about to be discharged. As you might imagine, lots of people were going home yesterday because of the holidays. In fact, early yesterday morning I overheard some of the nursing staff talking about that. It was at morning shift change, and the night shift was telling the morning shift that six people were being discharged that day.

There was a cry of dismay, "Six!?"

"But I thought it was four," another one said.

Someone else said, "Four's bad enough, but six?" At this point I thought, "Bad? What's bad about it? Won't your workload be decreased?"

But then I heard another person say, "How will we get all the paperwork done?"

Ah. The paperwork. Late yesterday afternoon, I was handed some paperwork. First were two surveys about my stay there. I had nothing but glowing things to say about this hospital. It's a different one from where I was in November. The November one wasn't bad by any means, but this second one had a much more comprehensive program and a different philosophy on how to treat patients (more about that in later posts.) Then there was a consent form allowing the hospital to give out my medical information to ... someone. The blank for the someone was ... blank. I asked the nurse whose name was supposed to go in the blank. She said it would be the name of the new psychiatrist I would be seeing as an outpatient, a doctor they had already set me up with three weeks from now. I asked her to fill in the blank with this guy's name because I didn't want to sign a blank(et) consent. Lastly, there was a form that listed all my meds and instructions for taking them. At the top of this form was my name, patient number, dates of admission and discharge, and my diagnoses. I could not believe what the hospital doctor had put for the secondary (called "Axis II") diagnosis. It was "Borderline Personality Disorder" (called "BPD"). The first Axis was what it has always been: "Major Depression, Recurrent, Severe."

BPD? How strange. All my previous records listed my secondary diagnosis as "Dissociative Disorder, NOS" ("NOS" stands for "Not Otherwise Specified"). This doctor, who had never seen me before, changed my diagnosis when I first came into the hospital. I asked him about that as soon as I found out about it, which I believe was about Day Three. Now, here it was Day Six, and what he had previously told me was only his preliminary diagnosis still stood. I completely understood that a preliminary diagnosis had to be made upon admission to the hospital, but I was surprised to see that it was still on my record at discharge. (This record would go to the new psychiatrist I'd be seeing as an outpatient). Well, it could be that he had forgotten to change it, or that he had not forgotten and just decided to change it even though other doctors over the years had made a different diagnosis. You see, psychiatry is not an exact science at all, but is subjective, that is, based on a doctor's individual perceptions. Hopefully these perceptions are compliant with the recognized diagnostic criteria used by everyone in the profession. That's of course why the criteria exist, so that everyone is on the same page, so to speak, when making diagnoses. But what if they're not in line with these criteria? Maybe that would be not so much a case of psychiatry is not an exact science, but one of not all psychiatrists are created equal.

To be continued...

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Help, Please

Will some kind soul please email me and give me the html code or whatever it is I need to get one of those "Impeach Bush" banners on my blog? THANK YOU!

I'M AN IDIOT UPDATE: Thanks to Muligan for giving me the link to get the code! (BTW, my email can be accessed from my Profile page). ANYWAY, I copied the code and I tried putting it in on the Blogger Template. I didn't know where exactly to put it, but I tried at least a dozen places. The banner never showed up. I don't know what I did wrong. This is embarrassing, but I won't give up yet. Can someone please tell me where the code goes in the template?


Scruffybutt Gets An Estimate

I'm sinking further into depression because the effects of the ECTs have worn off. The agoraphobia is returning and I'm having a hard time doing. anything. but sitting in front of the screens -- computer and TV. So yesterday when Scruffbutt was wanting to play but I didn't feel like it, I remembered that there was something I've often thought of doing but never did: take Scruffles to the groomers for an estimate! (A little humor there -- whenever I go to the hair salon, I call it "going to the beauty shop for an estimate"). Scruffybutt has never been groomed, and I have never taken any of my dogs to the groomers, simply because she's the only one we've ever had with long hair. I am not diligent about brushing her, although Tomcat and I both try to keep up with cutting the mats out so she won't be uncomfortable.

I called PetsMart. The store is a familiar place, so I won't have to battle the agoraphobia so much. They have an appointment at 3:30. Heh. This is going to be so much fun. We get there and see all the little fru-fru doggies being groomed: the poodles, a Yorkie, a miniature Schnauzer. And here I am with ... Scruffybutt, a terrier mix (oh gawd! this is North Dallas!) They put her information in the computer -- her name, age, etc., but when they get to "breed" I say "terrier mix." The gal hesitates, frowning at the screen. She calls her boss over and asks, "If you had to guess which terrier breed she's closest to, what would you say?" The boss looks Scruffybutt over, then says "Cairn." The gal clicks it in. (They don't even have a category in the computer program for a mixed-breed dog! I check to be sure I don't have a toothpick hanging out of my mouth.)

What do we want to have done today, she asks. Uh, well, everything? (I have no idea what to ask for. This is my first groomer experience, too.) She shows me a list and points out the basic grooming, plus the upgrade, which includes teeth brushing, an oatmeal shampoo, a scented creme rinse, a holiday neckerchief, and nail polish. Oh! The works, I say, definitely the works. What color nail polish? Red, definitely red. (Is it not the season for red?)

Then she asks the groomer when Scruffybutt will be ready for pick-up. He says 6:30. (Three hours? Hell, even I don't have to spend three hours at the salon!) Hmmm. Okay, I hand my little darling over and she gives me her go-to-hell look. I plunk down my credit card and sign for an obscene amount of money. I don't care. This is self-therapy. I am cheering myself up.

Three hours later I return to the groomers, and they are finishing up. I say "they" because it is taking one to hold Scruffybutt while the other one files her nails with some kind of electric-powered nail-filing thingy. They tell me there's no way they can do the nail polish because she squirms so much, even with someone holding her, that the polish wouldn't look good. She'll have to go au naturel this season. When they're finished grinding her nails, they put the holiday neckerchief on her and let her down on the floor. She's so wound up she starts scampering around, wiggle-butting and barking and telling everybody what she thinks about the whole thing. She is what Tomcat and I call "et up with herself." And she looks adorable. Everyone is saying, "awww" and the groomer tells me, "He's really got lots of personality." "She," I say. (Remember, as I've said before, Scruffybutt is so alpha that she pees with her leg up. The groomer must have assumed she was a he, and I guess he didn't look very closely, probably because my little darling was wriggling so much.)

She looks so adorable and somehow they have transformed this nine-year-old dog into a one-year-old. She looks like a puppy! Damn, I wish they could take that many years off me when I go to the salon! (I wonder how much PetsMart would charge to groom a middle-aged woman of mixed English/Irish/Whatever heritage?)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Online or On Line?

The first time I did all my Christmas shopping online, a friend's husband looked horrified at the very idea. Shopping online, he said, deprived me of the total holiday experience. It removed the human contact and depersonalized the whole season.

Yes, it deprived me of the joy of human contact ...

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and let's not forget the magic of the lines ...

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The guy is a doctor, and I doubt very seriously that he has ever had to do the Christmas shopping for the entire family, or even for his office staff. No, I believe his wife does all that, and has done for years, plus the party planning (that's where this conversation took place), the card-sending, the cooking, the wrapping, the decorating and everything else. His office assistant almost certainly found the gifts that he would give his wife. Why do I suspect this? Because I worked for lawyers for 25 years and I remember all those wives' gifts I had to find. And I know that that their wives did all the shopping. I figure doctors are the same. This may all sound terribly sexist now, but remember, I'm in my mid-fifties and started working in the early 1970's. It was the norm that men were in the professions, and it was expected that their (female) support staff would do the Christmas shopping for the wives' gifts. And it was expected that the wives would do all the shopping. This particular doctor and his wife are old enough to be my parents, btw, so things were even more sexist in their day.

But all of this is not the reason that I prefer to shop online. Tomcat is not anything like the lawyers I used to work for. So that's not it. And I do love to shop. Love it. So that's not it, either. No, my problem is that I can't stand the feeling of having a deadline when I shop. Maybe it's all those years of working under deadlines. It's just not fun that way. So, I'd much rather do the Christmas shopping leisurely and in my PJs late at night while I'm watching Letterman or something.

This is the magic for me:

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Click, click, click. The presents are selected, the giftwrap option is checked, and the package is shipped directly to the recipient so that I don't even have to go to the post office. This may not be for everyone, but it suits me.

I'm finished with the shopping for this year. I don't feel deprived. I feel relaxed. I'm done, and there's lots of time left over to see all the lights, watch the Christmas movies, listen to the music, and of course, blog.

Merry Christmas, ya'll.


Dear People of the Blogosphere:

If you're passing thru here today, do yourself a favor and go to Oldhorsetailsnake's blog (on my blogroll) and see the picture of the dog and read all about pissing and moaning.

That is all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

O Tannenbaum

This morning my friend Grace, the artist, emails: "I'm irritated by the flap over the "Christmas" Tree. A decorated tree predates Jesus' birth. It is a pagan custom adapted by Christian missionaries so that new converts wouldn't have to abandon their traditions. That is also the reason that Jesus' birthday was made to coincide w/ the Winter Solstice." And what a flap it is! You can Google "pagan" + "Christmas tree" and find oodles of sites offering completely opposing views about this subject.

From my studies about the Victorian Age, during which I fell in love with Albert, I remembered that Albert is generally thought to have been the one to introduce the Tannenbaum, or Christmas Tree, to England. It was until then a "foreign" custom. The Victorians went wild with the whole concept and they produced those wonderfully sappy (get it?), over-done sentimental ornaments that we so love today.

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So, I then Googled "Victorian" + "Christmas tree" and found this wonderful site put up by the University of Illinois Extension. There's lots of things to explore and learn from this site, like ...

"The first record of Christmas trees in America was for children in the German Moravian Church's settlement in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Christmas 1747. Actual trees were not decorated, but wooden pyramids covered with evergreen branches were decorated with candles."


"Since 1971, the Province of Nova Scotia has presented the Boston Christmas Tree to the people of Boston in gratitude for the relief supplies received from the citizens of Boston after a ship exploded in 1917 following a collision in the Halifax, Nova Scotia Harbor. Part of the city was leveled killing and injuring thousands."

and even a link to another site detailing the best way to photograph your Christmas tree.

Are you planning to have a tree this year? What kind? Real or artificial, green or flocked? Multi-colored lights or all white, or all one color? What size? Or maybe this just isn't for you? My ex-husband just put a single white bulb on a sign in the yard that said "Bah, Humbug."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


How can I be depressed when Scruffybutt's around? Just look at her picture over there with me. This dog, lemme tell ya about this little dog. She runs the whole house. She's so alpha that she pees with her leg up. She scares hell out of the big dogs at the vet's office. They look at her so warily, and you can almost see the thoughts running through their furry little brains when they look at this insane little dog growling and barking at them, straining against her leash to get at them and bite their asses! They're thinking, "Now, I know what I'm seeing is a SMALL dog, and I know that I could take that little bitch down with three paws tied behind me, but ... but ... that little dog seems so SURE of itself ... hmmm ... wait, now, there might be a trick here. Yes, that's it, it's a trick of some kind. Think. Think hard. Ouch, my brain hurts. I dunno... How could that little bitch possibly harm me -- is it gonna 'splode, maybe??? Okay, I'm gonna back down, just in case, but not in a way that LOOKS like I'm backing down. I'll just scratch my left ear and yawn and pretend to find something else to do -- oh! what an interesting floor ..."

(You are saying to yourself at this point, ya know, that Candace just needs to get out more... Hey -- I'm out at this very moment! I'm at the Barnes & Noble looking cool with my laptop, scone, and caf. But now I really miss Scruffybutt.)

P.S. Just overheard a mom ask her four-yr-old what he wants for Christmas: a calculator and a puppy! Isn't that cute? I just hope if he gets a puppy that he doesn't do what my brother did and put it in the 'fridge one hot summer day to cool off. (Yes, the puppy survived.) :)

Monday, December 12, 2005

Oh Goody - A Book Meme!

Steve : Numen tagged me for a book meme. The meme asks for a personal list of 15 things about … books.

1. My parents delighted in telling us to "look it up" whenever we had questions like, what are clouds made of, how far is it to the Moon, or why do bugs have brown blood instead of red? This was way before computers were invented. We had a set of enclyclopedia and a set of Wonder Books. I loved, loved, loved browsing through those things! My folks did a lot of things wrong, but this instilling a love of books and knowledge was way right!

2. Our cars can drive us to Half Price Books without our assistance. In fact, for ages our big Saturday night hot date has been to have dinner at our favorite pizza place, then go to Half Price, then Sonic for chocolate shakes. Ah, married life!

3. When Tomcat and I got married and moved into our house, we culled through our combined book collection and boxed up the duplicates. Twenty-six boxes of duplicates. Which we took to Half Price. That was almost twenty years ago.

4. Twenty years of continued collecting later, there is no longer any room for books in our house. Seriously. But that didn't stop me from sending my Amazon Wishlist to friends this season.

5. We cannot possibly pay to move all of these books to North Carolina with us when we go. That would be insane. Wouldn't it?

6. I collect old, old recipe and housekeeping books, the kind where the section on poultry begins, "Do not feed the birds the day before slaughter." Recipies were called "receipts." I love that. And just reading about everything they had to do to clean the house is exhausting, which explains the state of my own house. When I get home with one of these books, I will read it cover to cover as if it were the lastest Harry Potter. I do not know what is up with that.

7. My favorite love story of all time is Jane Eyre. Sigh. Oh hell no -- swoon is more like it!

8. Tom Robbins' Skinny Legs and All is both the funniest and most spiritually profound book I've ever read.

9. Two more favorites: Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow, and its sequel, The Children of God. Wow. I've blogged about these before on my old blog. I even wrote to the author (I've never done that before.) IMHO, the sequel IS the story, and The Sparrow is just the prequel to it. But that's not what I wrote the author about. The Sparrow is going to be made into a movie, but not for several more years because of various contractual commitments of the parties involved. But I'm not too disappointed with having to wait until 2010 for the movie. That's because I am dreading the movie. You see, they picked Brad Pitt to play the lead role of Emilio Sandoz. This is deeply wrong. I wanted Johnny Depp. The author said, "Oh dear God yes, Johnny Depp." But, it is not to be. My mother-in-law says Al Pacino. I say yes, yes, Al Pacino, but a YOUNG Al Pacino. But, it is not to be. They picked Brad Pitt to play this wonderfully complex human being, Emilio Sandoz. Apparently, they are even thinking of changing the character's ethnicity. I cannot stand it.

10. Although The Sparrow and The Children of God are technically science fiction, I don't classify them as such in the Dewey decimal system of my mental library. So, my all-time favorite sci-fi is Dune -- Dune and all of its sequels, its posthumous prequels and coming sequels. What a universe! What a stupendous mind that created it! I've lost count of how many times I've read these. There are many levels to this work, as Frank Herbert Himself said. No matter how many times I go back, I'm never bored. This is odd, because I must have started the first book, Dune, two or three times and just couldn't get into it. But, once I got past the first, oh, 50 pages or so, I was hooked for life. My favorite of Herbert's in the series is God Emperor of Dune. My favorite of the prequels written by Herbert's son and a co-author, is The Machine Crusade.

l1. Another thing I collect is books on British Royalty. But not the current Royals. Quel bore! No, I started out with the Tudors (now that was a dysfunctional family!), then studied the Regency period, then the Victorian. That's when I fell in love with Albert. Albert was the best king the British never had. Or something like that. Maybe I'll do the Plantagenets next.

12. I used to read a lot of John Grisham, until I realized I was reading the same story over and over. Ditto Dean Koontz.

13. I have tons of books on crafting. I also have detailed indices of projects that looked like fun in craft magazines. It is impossible to live long enough to try even a tenth of these projects.

14. I have an extensive collection of astrology books. I even have ephemerides from the days before astrology software programs.

15, Oh no! I'm already at number 15? Obviously, I could go ON and ON about books! Okay, here's something I'd like to add about books: I've written one, and started another. The first one, The Earthquake Doll, is an historical novel for Young Adults set in post-war Japan. It is in its third rewrite. After the first of the year I'll be sending out query letters to literary agents. Wish me luck! And the second one? Well, I'm still kinda waiting for the plot to get here.

Okay, now I'll tag ... Duke of Earle at Romantic Ramblings, and because she loves books SO MUCH, Michele.

At Last!

!!! It must be your lucky day!  At last - answers to my previous post, "True Lies?" !!!

"I was a professional astrologer for two years."

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TRUE!  And I worked my kiester off because that was way back before they had computer programs that would calculate charts and spit out transits and progressions in nanoseconds.


"I was once the only passenger on a commercial airline flight."

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TRUE!  Hah!  Most everyone thought this one was the lie.  Back in, oh ... 1971-ish, I took a Continental Airlines flight from Dallas to Sante Fe, New Mexico.  At the airport in Midland, Texas, every passenger but me got off the plane, so there I was, the only passenger when we continued on to Santa Fe.  When the stewardess found out this was the first time I had ever flown, she told the pilot and co-pilot, and they invited me up into the cockpit.  Way cool.  When we landed, I stepped out onto the tarmac to behold the Santa Fe International Airport in all of its ADOBE glory!


"I was once hit in the face by a Frisbee at a Stones' concert."

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TRUE!  Alas.  The concert was in Dallas at the Cottonbowl.  It was ... 1981? maybe.  Why do people throw Frisbees at concerts?  Good thing I was stoned at the time, because that might have hurt really bad!


"I once met Robert Blake."

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FALSE!   Thank God!  Way back before I ever met Tomcat, I really, really had a huge crush on Robert Blake.  I mean, I wanted to MARRY Robert Blake!  Oh, people -- be careful what you wish for -- just ask Bonnie Lee Bakley.  Oh, wait, you can't.  Nevermind. 

And kudus to Pooks at GuiltyofBeing for guessing this one!


Saturday, December 10, 2005

True Lies?

I saw this over at OldOldLadyoftheHills, who borrowed it from Colleen, so I'm shamelessly borrowing it, too. (Actually, I think I've seen this a long time ago, but ... the way my memory is ... maybe not). Please do check out these ladies' blogs! I guarantee you will be entertained. I "discovered" them through Michele, our lovely "topless blogger." Well, she USED to be topless, back when she had the picture of just the lower half of a woman on her blog. That was months ago when I had my old blog. Now that I'm back, the pic is gone and there are ALL KINDS OF NEW bloggers posting there! So, lots of folks to meet and greet.

Anyway, here goes (and feel free to use this bit on your own blog).

I list four things about myself. Three are true. One is a lie. You try to guess which is the lie. Results revealed in my next post. (No, there is absolutely no point to this.)

1. I was a professional astrologer for two years.

2. I was once the only passenger on a commercial airlines flight.

3. I was hit in the face by a frisbee at a Stones' concert.

4. I once met Robert Blake.

Back to Normal

The sun is shining and the high today will be at least 20 degrees above freezing. The city is back to normal. I wish I was. I think. I'm not sure anymore. See, after having those ECTs (electro-convulsive therapy, aka "riding the lightning"), my memory is shot. For days, I was thinking that I really needed to call a friend and neighbor of mine to let her know that I wasn't neglecting her; I had just been in the hospital for a month. But every time I thought of calling her, it was too late in the evening. Finally, yesterday, I remembered to call her at a decent hour. So, I did and told her that I was sorry I hadn't checked on her in a while, but I'd been in the hospital, and ... she said, "I know." Then I found out that I had already called her, like about a week ago.

I ran across an empty bottle of an antibiotic that had been prescribed by my shrink during the time I was in the hospital. I asked Tomcat why they were giving me an antibiotic and he said it was because they thought I was coming down with the flu. Really? I had no memory of that. Yes, he said, I was complaining of aches all over and soreness in my arms and legs and not feeling well, so they thought I had the flu.

I found a packet of forms to fill out and take with me for an appointment with my vascular surgeon. Did I have an appointment with my vascular surgeon? Yes, Tomcat explained, when both of my legs swelled up, the hospital doctors wanted clearance from my vascular doc before they could start the ECTs. So, we had scheduled an appointment, but then we cancelled it when the results of a Stroke Scan I had taken prior to going to the loony bin came in the mail. The Stroke Scan part I remembered, but not the rest. They also sent me to a cardiologist for a stress test (the chemical kind that speeds up your heart so you don't have to do the treadmill). I kind of remember that, at least bits of it, but I couldn't tell you what the cardiologist looked like, or even what his office looked like. Or anything, really, except being taken there in a wheelchair by an aide that I really liked named Audrey. And all of these things took place before the ECTs!

There are many other things I've discovered that I've forgotten, like my PIN. What worries me are the things I haven't discovered yet. Several times Tomcat and I have had variations of this conversation:

Me: What's wrong with this stupid light switch?
Tomcat: I don't know; it just stopped working.
Me: Oh. Did I already know that before?
Tomcat: Yes.

Some discoveries are quite pleasant, almost like finding hidden presents. Yesterday I discovered that I have two pairs of khaki slacks!

I'm going to start excavating "my resource room" today -- the room where I keep my computer, crafting supplies, and you know, stuff and things. Mostly stuff. But a few things, too. Hey, this could be fun. I hope.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


It's our Annual Ice Day here in Dallas, except it's just over a month early. No matter. All has gone according to Tradition. That is, everyone has gone nutso. The city is Shut. Down. Actually, the madness started yesterday with regular Network programming being completely suspended in favor of live, ALL DAY reports:

The sleet is coming! Let's adjust the radar to its most sensitive setting so you can SEE it! Look closely -- see those faint green areas out west of the Metroplex? That's sleet! It's coming this way! Whoa! The phones are ringin' off the hook, people wanting to know: what is the difference between sleet and and frozen rain? Here, look at this chart: As you can see, sleet is rain that freezes on the way down from the sky, and freezing rain is rain that freezes only after it hits the ground!

The sleet is almost here! Take a look at this footage from our affiliates in the western part of the State. See that? That's sleet! It may look like snow, but it's not! It's sleet! And remember, unlike frozen rain, sleet is rain that is already frozen by the time it hits the ground!

And when the sleet got here ...

Footage of freezing reporters (who did they piss off, anyway?) standing by the roadsides pointing out the sleet! Be VERY CAREFUL! You may think this is snow, but it isn't! Whoa! Lookit that 18-wheeler! You see that? Let's run that back for a replay. See that, that right there? That's what happens when you hit sleet! That truck almost jack-knifed on that sleet right there!

And so on. Ad nauseum.

When regular programming finally resumed in prime time last night, the bottom of the TV screen had crawlers showing all the closings for today. All the schools closed. All the schools. This is normal. Most of the businesses closed. This is normal. Tradition, you might say.

And this morning? Cancelled. Well, it might as well have been. ALL the media issuing dire warnings:

If you don't have to get out on the roads today, STAY INSIDE! The roads are treacherous! The sanding crews have been out since early this morning sanding the bridges and underpasses, but please! Don't get out and drive today if you can possibly avoid it! The crews can't sand the roadways! Only the bridges and underpasses! This is all normal. Tradition.

And so, when I headed out to my appointment with the doctor this morning, I remembered back about oh, 25 years ago, I think, when I had an appointment with this same doctor on an ice day. The city was shut down then, too (tradition, remember). But this doctor kept his office open that day, as today. And I kept my appointment that day, as today (tradition?) Driving there was not a problem, because you know why? All the schools were closed. And most of the businesses (tradition). When I got to his office, his was the only one open in the building. I was only the second patient who had signed in on the clipboard so far this morning (my appointment was at 10:15). His regular staff wasn't there. I told him what I remembered from 25 years ago. He was in another building then, and I remembered that his staff hadn't come in, but his wife did. She came in to help him (she was a nurse). He got the biggest kick out of that and said he was gonna have to call her and say, hey, you should have come in to help me today! We had a good long visit. What a treat! This doctor is famous around town because he's the "TV doctor" on one of the local network affiliates. But I knew him when. Way, way back when he first started his practice.

He ordered some tests, so I went down to the lab in the basement to have my blood drawn. The door was closed. Oh, no, don't tell me the lab is closed! I'm fasting! But, the door wasn't locked so I went on in. No one was in there. I called and called. Hell-looooooooo? Finally, a lady came out from somewhere way in the back. I handed her the lab slip with the doctor's orders on it. She told me that she could draw the blood. She was the only one there, and she was obviously a supervisor, not a blood-drawer-outer. Oh great. An amateur. This is gonna hurt for sure. I say this because I'm what those in the biz call "a hard stick." (Why yes, I have been called worse; thanks for asking). After the usual fruitless search for a viable vein in my arms (tradition), I tell her that she'll probably need to use a butterfly syringe in my hand (tradition), thinking to myself, oh shit, now this is REALLY gonna hurt! But surprise -- this gal knows what she's doing, and it doesn't hurt a bit -- wondermous!

Here's the part that I hope does not become tradition: I was complaining to the doctor today about my left knee, and he diagnosed ... arthritis. So, is it, like, going to be the right knee next time? And then my elbows? Ankles? I ask you: How the hell am I supposed to get there in all that sleet when I have arthritis?!!?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Hoss Tagged Me

Hoss tagged me - Yay!

He says: "Candy: Here's a double meme:

What were you doing 10 years ago?
What were you doing one year ago?
What are 5 things you enjoy doing?
What are your 5 bad habits?
What 5 things do you find yourself saying a lot?

That should keep you busy for awhile."

1. Ten years ago: I really don't remember. I'll ask Tomcat to look back in his journals and maybe something will jog my memory. This is yet another instance where I'll have to say, "Yes, honey, you're right; I should keep a journal. You never know when Hoss will tag you." The keyword here is "keep." I'm very good at starting journals. I just don't keep up with them.

2. One year ago: Enjoying the Midnight CANDLELIT Christmas service at our new church, The Fig. Candlelight at Midnight was (one) issue at our old church.

3. Five things I enjoy doing: (1) reading Hoss's blog (oops, sorry Hoss -- Hoss's b**g); (2) moving to North Carolina (well, I'm sure I will if I ever get Maxwell House sold...); (3) surfing the "internets" :) (4) making fun of Dubya (well hell, it's not like it's difficult or anything...); (5) browsing book stores. Hey, life in the fast lane, huh?

4. Five bad habits: (1) Sloth. Definitely sloth. (2) Procrastination. (3) and (4) Repeating myself; (5) Cursing.

5. Five things I say a lot: (1) "Shit" tops the list, unfortunately. (2) "That's my Schmoopie" to Tomcat (I know, gak.... but that's what we say); (3) "I'm cold!" (4) "I'm hot!" (5) "I wanna move to North Caroliiiiiinaaaaaa...!"

Hoss didn't say how many people I'm supposed to tag with the meme. I'll pick five, since five seems to be the theme of this one. Let's see, I tag ...

Creta at Sew Crazy
Dan at PuppetShow
Margalit at What Was I Thinking?
Pooks at Guilty of Being

(Please forgive if any of you got this meme before -- I've been away for a while).

I look forward to your answers!!!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Oh wow, today was fun! Have ya'll heard about SuperSuppers? I heard about it on the news. It's the country's fastest-growing franchise. I don't own one or any part of one, by the way. Anyway, I checked out their website for a Dallas franchise. Then I emailed the Geez (my friends "Grace" and "Gabrielle") and the three of us booked time today to put together a freezer full of meals. It was amazing! You decide in advance how many meals you want to prepare. I decided to do all 12 entrees, but halved each recipe. That means I came home with 24 entrees. Each recipe feeds six people, so each halved recipe feeds three. Guess how long it takes to do this. Can you guess? Wrong! It only takes about two hours! Can you believe it? The reason is because they do ALL the prep work for you in advance. That way, when you get there, all you have to do is assemble the ingredients according to a detailed list. We had a blast, and will definitely be back again and again.

For an extra fee, they will assemble the entrees FOR you, and all you have to do is pick them up! That would be SUCH a godsend for working mothers!

Their menus change each month. They also have special walk-in days where you can just come in when you can and assemble as many or as few dishes as you have time for.

They are reasonably priced and the ingredients are good and fresh. It would cost a LOT and take FOREVER to go buy all the spices and everything else and chop and dice and slice everything yourself.

Check them out and see if there's a franchise where you live! SuperSuppers.

It's Been So Long



Monday, December 05, 2005

Hope for the Future

I received an email this morning from my friend "Grace" (the artist), whose hubster is the "Steve:Numen" on my blogroll. Their 12-year-old daughter, "M," is a genius. We knew that. M won first place in District mathematics this year, second place last year, third place the year before that. And NOW there's this email from her mom:

"We received M's 6th grade ITBS (Iowa Tests of Basic Skills) scores. She ranked in the 99th percentile in Reading, Language and Mathematics. Her National Grade Equivalent was 13+ (college freshman). We are so proud of her!We were recently contacted by Duke University's Talent Identification Program. M will be taking the SAT in Jan. and a good score will make her eligible for some very impressive summer classes.We have been blessed with a child who can do anything she wants and do it well. What parent could ask for more?"

Wow! They're ID-ing gifted kids to take the SATs -- and she's 12!

My late brother was a genius. He earned scholarships to everywhere, and chose to go to graduate school in Boulder. He was a physicist.

I wonder what M will choose.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Miserable Winter, Part Duh

First, read or reread the previous post about Miserable Winter.
I'll wait.

Okay, now: Most of you, like Strieber and his co-author, Art Bell, would choose to tell everyone what you knew (or believed you knew). I read The Coming Global Superstorm when it first came out in 1999. Its premise and arguments seemed plausible to me. I have since watched, and continue to observe, the events depicted in the book unfold as predicted. It scares the bejesus outta me. My first reaction was to tell everyone I knew about what I'd read. But then I thought more about that. A lot more. What good would that do? Even if you believe that the superstorm is coming, there is nothing you can do to prevent it, so what's the point? So I've said very little about it to anyone over the past six years. It's not that I was worried about being labelled a nut. Hell, that's documented, at least to those who confuse being hospitalized for clinical depression with psychosis. And it's not that I was afraid I couldn't convince people of what I believed was the truth, because all I could do, realistically, was get them to read the book, follow the news reports, and form their own conclusions. No, what stopped me was this: that could really freaking ruin someone's day. And for what? If there was some solution, that's one thing, but ... there isn't. We're in deep doo-doo. Make that frozen doo-doo.

The way I feel about it now is this: whatever we do today, let's make it a nice one for ourselves and others. Let's make every single day we have left a nice one. Starting now. That, we can do.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Miserable Winter

Miserable winter we're having ... high of 81 F. today ... lots of sunshine ... a REALLY FAT and sassy squirrel just scampered along the fencetop outside my window ... last night, I was bitten twice by a REALLY FAT and sassy mosquito - gotta watch those December mosquitos! ... just like those December hurricanes with names like "Episilon" - they'll sneak up on ya ... wait a sec ...

December WHATS???

The grass in my yard is still green. Joggers jog by in shorts.

Did we cause global warming, or is this part of a natural cycle that would have occurred with or without our influence on the planet? According to Whitley Strieber, co-author of The Coming Global Superstorm, we are in the midst of a natural cycle that will end our civilization. His novel about this coming Ice Age event, The Day After Tomorrow, was made into a TV movie.

Let's assume for a moment that Strieber didn't actually need to sell more books or make another movie deal. Question: If you truly believed you knew of some coming terrible event that would end Civilization As We Know It, would you tell everybody, like Strieber, or would you keep it to yourself?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Trying This Again

I'm trying this again, posting this pic of Maxwell House. Last time, it was so large that it moved my blogger profile to the bottom of the page.

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This is how Maxwell House looked after the Xtreme Party Girls were evicted, and the Hoodies had pawed through all the stuff. And then it rained.

We have GREAT tenants there, now!


I was in the (mental) hospital for almost a month, and I was depressed for months prior to that, so can you IMAGINE what my house looks like now??? Boo-hoo. This is depressing! Which brings me to today's guilt trip. Actually, it started last night while watching Letterman...

Didja see Oprah finally appeared on his show, after 16 years? Okay, wait -- the guilt trip started even earlier, when I watched OPRAH's show in the afternoon...

Oprah showed footage from one of her trips to Africa to show what her Angel Network Foundation is doing. Seems the lovely people of South Africa sell their 9 and 10-year-old daughters in marriage. The girl then gets pregnant, and because her body is not fully developed, she will spend DAYS in labor delivering a still-born child. In the process, she will develop a fistula which causes her to leak urine for the rest of her life. The husband will then shun the girl (because she smells bad) and she spends most of her life in isolation. So, Oprah's Foundation pays for the corrective surgery on these girls and sends them to school. Where is my guilt trip in this? It's in the face of one of these girls who suffered through four still-births. Twelve years old, the same age as my best friend's daughter, and she has experienced agony on so many different levels that it's heartbreaking to contemplate. You want to talk depressed? DEPRESSED??? Oh, my Sweet Jesus God, forgive me. This child didn't get a month in a fancy-schmancy hospital to work on her "issues" while taking medication to "elevate her mood." Never have I seen such sorrow in a child's face. She looked a thousand years old.

And I'm "depressed" about my house. Yeah, right.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

It's Good To Be Back

I took a long break from blogging, had a nervous breakdown (could the two possibly be related?), and now I'm baaack. You may remember seeing my old blog, OkeyDokey Let's Get Started. This one's just going to be called Chapterhouse.

About that nervous breakdown. Well, killing off my old blog should have been a clue. I mean, wasn't that suicidal? Drinking wine every night was another clue. I come from a long line of alcoholics. I've spent close to a month in the loony bin and have now had five ECTs (electro-convulsive therapy treatments), also known as "riding the lightning." This morning I forgot the PIN to my bank card! That's it. No more ECTs. That's not the kind of memory loss I'm willing to sacrifice. There's this woman who takes the treatments with me and every single time she tells me and the others waiting that this is her second set of ECTs this YEAR, and that the first time around, she forgot how to drive and also something else that I cannot REMEMBER NOW that she forgot.

Can you imagine listening to this every time you are going to have a treatment? Can you even imagine having the treatment itself? Here's what happens. You lay down on the table and the anesthetist puts in a line in your right hand. The nurse hands you this plastic mouthpiece and tells you, "Bite this," while the doc swabs two areas on your head with alcohol. Then someone puts a clear plastic thingy over your nose and mouth and you don't remember anything until later when you are sitting up and groggily asking, "Have I had the procedure yet?" and everyone is saying, "Yes."

Not the best way to start a morning! But it's better than the alternative. Yes, it's good to be back.