Category Archives: life

Life, and other things

Over on Facebook, I posted a link to a Roger Ebert essay on life, death, and things learned in between. I think it a courageous piece by someone who was staring mortality in the face. Lovely, in places. One line in particular stood out for me, a quote by van Gogh. “Just as we take a train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star.”

I’m not ready for the stars. I hope to put off that journey for a long time. But it’s a promise to ponder. Something to take out of my back pocket and examine, every so often.

That said, there has been altogether too much bad health news lately, touching people I know and people I’ve only heard of and read about. April has been living up to its reputation as the cruelest month, and it can stop it anytime now.

Gaby seems to be okay. Still not eating at pre-King levels. I had to take her to the vet’s on Monday for an inflamed foot; she was weighed, and looks to have lost a couple of pounds. 43.1, as opposed to the 45.0 she weighed back in August. Vet is not too concerned yet. Gaby could still afford to lose a little more weight–40 lbs would be a good weight for her. She’s playful, acting normally. I take her back in a month for a teeth-cleaning, and if she’s still off her feed and/or has lost too much weight, there will be blood tests, etc. Trying not to think about anything being wrong. She has been through a lot of change lately, and I honestly believe that she ate more when King was around because she knew that if she didn’t eat it, he would. She’s not a food-driven dog–she will eat when she’s hungry and not before, and if the food isn’t to her liking, she will pick. It could be that she’s tiring of the duck & sweet potato, and I will need to find her something else. Not looking forward to the possibility, but if I have to, I guess I will have to.

It’s still chilly, but the Time of Freeze seems to have passed, she said hopefully. Crocuses have bloomed, a little cluster of purple amid the brown. Lawn is greening here and there. Indoors, the sprouts are coming along. Tomatoes are an inch or so high. Basil, a bit shorter. No signs of life yet from the mesclun in the raised bed, but it has only been a week since I planted the seeds.

Looking forward to a long weekend in Chicago at month’s end. I will be spending a day at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo. Not on any panels–attendee only. It will be my first comics convention. No idea what to expect, but I will wear comfy shoes and bring my camera.

Friday, and many little things make one big post

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is playing in the background. The story is meh, but I get a bit of a kick from seeing an actor like Bill Nighy in costumed over-the-top. Yes, I liked seeing Sir Derek Jacobi in Underworld: Evolution, too. I’m guessing it’s fun, and a decent paycheck besides.

A mildly irritating week, during which I needed to keep reminding myself that compared to some, I have no problems, only options that require some work on my part to turn into reality. Could be some very interesting changes this year. Challenging. A little scary. We’ll see how things go.

Still getting hit with spam. I changed settings so that comments close after 7 days–that keeps spam comments from attaching to posts, but not to the photos that I sometimes insert and which show up on separate pages. Can I remove the comments option from those pages? If anyone knows, please let me know. Akismet snags 99% of the crap, but I would like to prevent it from attaching in the first place.

Salad for dinner, with tuna, roasted red pepper, grapefruit, greens. Lovely dressing of walnut dijon mustard with olive oil, cabernet vinegar, a clove of garlic, salt, pepper, capers. Since I started making my own vinaigrettes, I stopped buying bottled dressings. They can’t compare.

After a couple of days of thaw, the chill has returned. Parts of the backyard are covered in ice. Gonna be fun when it melts and muddies up. Until then, I walk very, very carefully. That Midwestern ice toddle.

King continues okay.

I am sitting on the couch. Gaby is lying next to me, the top of her head pressed against my side. She has the hottest little head. It’s like sitting next to a lightbulb.

Saturday morning, with snow

Looks like we got a couple of inches. Still falling lightly. Could get occasional fallage over the next few days, which means that we will have something that approximates snowpack.

Oh well. This is the Midwest in February. I knew the snowfree state couldn’t last.

I am at the garage, getting Kuro’s ::check engine:: situation sorted out and getting a new side mirror installed (to replace the one that got clipped/broken by a passing jerk last week). The drive wasn’t near as bad as I feared–main roads were just wet, with a little mushy churn at the intersections. After I get out of here, to the grocery store I will hie. Then to home.

King had his monthly check-up on Thursday. Still maintaining.

Pasta of some sort for dinner, I think. It’s a red sauce and meatballs kinda day.


Other things I forgot to take out of Kuro before I left him at the repair shop? My day job ID card, which lets me into my building. The keys to my desk.

Temporary ID was supposed to be coded to let me into my building, but it apparently wasn’t, so it didn’t. I had to wait until someone came by to let me in.

Kuro is supposed to be ready tomorrow. Please, please, please….

Saturday afternoon, with wine

A bit early, but the hell with it.

So. I had been hearing Kuro’s brakes emit the odd squeal for the last few weeks. Nothing persistent, just an occasional *eek*. I hadn’t noticed any drips from the undercarriage, but older Subarus are known to have head gasket issues–I talked to the service manager last year, and he said it’s about a 1 in 3 chance that an older model will have a problem.

Guess the odds weren’t ever in my favor.

What I’m trying to say is, shock, maybe, but not a surprise. It’s been a few years since Kuro’s brakes were looked at, so they were due. As for the head gasket, let’s just say I had a feeling.

None of this was URGENT–REPAIR IMMEDIATELY. But winter is coming, and brakes help ya get through it. That, and the fact that as the service manager was telling me that I could nurse things along if I wished, I had visions of breaking down during a blizzard. The thing is, I have developed an aversion to nursing things along with house and car repairs. I grew up driving used beaters that would behave for a year or so, then begin their passage through the many stages of junkdom on the way to that Big Scrapyard in the Sky. Every month or so, something else would break and the repairs would become more and more expensive, until I reached the point where I would scrap the old car and get a new used one. Lather, rinse, repeat.

After decades of this, I finally dug deep, first buying Harrison the Ford in 1997, then Kuroshinju The Forester in 2002. I have found that I like new vehicles. All the buttons and switches work, I don’t need to break out the rosaries and holy water on cold mornings, and I keep them long enough that I smooth out the NEW CAR financial hit.

But, when I know something is wrong, I get very edgy. Flashes from the past, bright as strobes. I can’t nurse. I have to fix.

I did catch a bit of a break. I suspected that I might need brake repair, so I arranged for a loaner vehicle ahead of time. Lucky thing, as they usually don’t give loaners on weekends.

Plus, I had a 15% off coupon for repair work. Not a big deal when I thought I was only looking at a bill of a couple of hundred bucks for PM and winterizing. Now? It’s huge.

So. The day goes on. Even though things worked out, I was still a little rattled. The loaner is a perfectly decent car, a silver Suzuki Kizashi 4-door sedan with push-button start and satellite radio. But after years of driving a 2002 Forester, one of the last “greenhouse” models, I feel very closed-in in a regular car. I have to take extra care because the visibility isn’t as good–so many blind spots. And of course, thanks to flusterment I managed to leave a few little things behind in Kuro–the second garage door opener, both pairs of sunglasses. All the reusable grocery bags.

Home now. Grocery shopping is done. I was happy to find some favorite whole grain rolls that I hadn’t seen in months. After I unpacked the groceries and fed the pups, I treated myself to one of the rolls with some herbed goat cheese. Sliced apple. Glass of white–a sauvignon blanc-semillon blend. Bright. Fresh-tasting.

Rained last night. Today is cloudy and chilly. The sun peeks out every so often, but not for long. Gaby is outside, barking at Life. King is inside, dozing. As is usual in situations of disquiet, I cleaned a bit. Washed down the kitchen counters, and cleaned out the foil/plastic wrap drawer of enough old twist ties to fill a gallon plastic bag. Cleared some cups and glasses out of the cupboard. Tossed old corn starch, baking powder and soda, and replaced with fresh. If I had the spare time, I’d do more, but I don’t. There’s writing to do.

Fresh cup of coffee. I do have time for that.

They know when you have money, Part 2

Head gasket.


They know when you have money

I had just started replenishing the emergency savings, which were wiped out by King’s surgery etc.

Early this week, the thermostat conked out. Had it replaced today.

Kuro’s brakes have started squealing intermittently. I made the appointment with the garage for a week from Saturday.


Nasty little dreamlet this morning. It was nighttime. Not sure how old I was–I felt like an adult, but I still had Tiger, the long-haired chihuahua we had when I was little. I opened the front door, and saw a pack of dogs? coyotes? walking down the street in front of my house, shadowy figures in the dark. Next thing I knew, Tiger dashed outside and took off after them. I ran after him, tried to get him before the other dogs did–I assumed they would see him as a snack instead of another dog. I was still hunting for him when I woke up.

Happy Tuesday.


Spam of the week:

Woof, HerdYeah, let everyone think that you’re wlveos. That would be pawsome.Or better yet, werewolves. Yeah, that’s what you should do. A pack of six werewolvesout walking during a full moon. You could have some fun with that. Anyway, hopeto see you at Toby’s birthday bash. It could last awhileDesert Pups

Yo, Toby! Consider yourself warned.

It’s a chilly, rainy Friday, the lead-in to a chilly weekend. Sucky, actually. I’ve been keeping an eye on the tomatoes, and so far have seen no sign of late blight. But the damp and chill will give it a boost if the spores are there to be boosted. Temps are supposed to bump back up into the 70s next week. I hope the greenies are still around to enjoy it.

The last two days were Volunteer Days at the day job. Yesterday afternoon was a cross-departmental session cleaning up a local state park. Today, a few hours unpacking flats of BBQ sauce at a local food depository. The only drawback in all of this is that I aggravated the tendonitis in my right thumb. I’d been battling it for the last few weeks, and had finally gotten it under control. Now, it’s back to square one.

I think there’s an ice pack in my future.

Saturday morning, with a hint of autumn

The last few mornings have been cool enough that I’ve worried whether the low temp would trigger late blight and wipe out the fairly substantial amount of tomatodom currently ripening on the vine. Only a few Black Cherry are ready to be picked–everything else is green. I need a few more warmish weeks for this second wave to ripen, and given that it’s mid-blasted-September, I’m not sure I’ll get them. Trees have already taken on that dull green cast, and sugar maples are showing hints of vermilion. It’s autumn, dammit. Halloween decorations are going to begin appearing on lawns Any Day Now. Then the Christmas decorations are going to start showing up in the stores.

I’m not ready!

Last week was my 25th anniversary at the day job, and yesterday was me celebratory lunch. A bunch of people from my department came, as well as a few folks I’d worked with in departments past. We went to a local Italian restaurant, and the room was pleasantly noisy as folks ate and talked. Dessert for me was a slice of tiramisu with a candle for blowing out. It was really nice.

In other news, my Chicon art caught up with me. One of the show staffers will be meeting me this afternoon at an Undisclosed Location. Money will change hands, and a drawing of a squirrel and a photo of a sleeping cat will come home with me. No clue where I will hang them–my stack of Art That Needs Framing and a Place to Hang grows a little longer with every passing Worldcon, and I doubt I will ever catch up unless I get a bigger house.