Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Pretty Damned Cool

I gave blood last week on the spur of the moment because a donation bus happened to be parked outside the dojo when I went to taekwondo class on Tuesday morning.  Amazingly, my blood iron was high enough on the fingerprick test for them to let me donate--usually it is borderline to too low since I don't eat much red meat, so I take iron pills for a week or so in advance if I have a donation scheduled.  Since I am a universal donor (type O negative) I at least try to donate every chance I get, and this time it all worked out.

Anyway, I gave the blood without incident, walked away, and didn't think any more of it till just now.

Five minutes ago, I got a text from the blood bank, telling me that my unit of blood had just been used and at which hospital!  That's a new thing...I've never seen it before.  Hope it made a difference for whomever received it.

Monday, December 26, 2016

By Request of NOLA...

...some recent pictures of The Hound.  :)

My sweet girl.  How I love her.  :)

Friday, December 23, 2016

*Thing One Update*

No more brace!!!  The visit with the orthopedic surgeon today went great.  Apparently he took a quick look at the new X-rays, watched Thing One raise his arm over his head painlessly and then said, "Whoa, that thing is healing like gangbusters!"  It's always good when the rate at which your son's fractured collarbone is reconstituting itself startles even a seasoned orthopedic surgeon who consults for several high school football teams.  :)

Skiing over break is definitely out for him, unfortunately.  But the no-brace thing is great news, and he's been cleared to run and to return to both basketball and soccer practices after winter break.  He can't play in games for a few more weeks, including scrimmages in practice...the idea is that opportunities for him to collide with someone and fall should be kept to a minimum through mid-January while the bone continues to solidify.  Makes sense and is actually perfect timing, as one of his soccer coaches pointed out in reply to my update email to him...travel soccer ramps up again at the end of January.  Somebody told me on Thanksgiving that eventually this injury would just be a good story for him to tell, and (knocking on wood) so far, so good!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Taking This As A Good Sign

I walked through the kitchen just now, and this is still in the middle of the table, right where its owner chucked it when he walked in the door from school today.  It's been there for almost two and a half hours.

Thing One's brace for his broken collarbone 

For the record, this is perfectly kosher.  It actually makes me very happy to see it since it means he is increasingly confident without the brace on.  The doctor says he has to wear it at school, mostly as a visual reminder to the other boys that his broken collarbone is still healing and to please.for.the.love.of.god NOT run into him, wrestle with him, etc.  He is allowed to take it off at home for light activity, except when he is within 15 feet of his brother (my rule, not the doctor's) since something about the two boys being together takes away whatever puny and pathetic amount of common sense either one of them ever had to begin with.

Thing One says he has no pain in his shoulder and he certainly seems to have a pretty good range of motion back.  Next visit with the orthopedic surgeon is tomorrow afternoon, so we'll get the professional opinion then.  I'm pretty sure that skiing over Christmas will be out, but maybe he'll be allowed to start some limited physical activity soon?  Here's hoping since the poor kid is absolutely climbing the walls after having to sit still for a solid month.  Cross your fingers!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Best Dog Ever

Had to take The Hound to the vet the other day for her annual checkup.  Taking a dog to the vet is a lot like taking a toddler to the pediatrician...generally they don't understand (or like) what's happening to them there and it's not possible to explain to them why all of it is actually for their own good.

This particular vet visit turned out to be worse than usual, too.  She needed three shots, plus the vet wanted to do the every-other-year blood test to make sure she doesn't have heartworm.  I am religious about giving her the heartworm tablet every month, but having read about what NOLA is going through with Ziggy (even medicated dogs can still have it, and the treatment is intense) there was no way I was blowing off the test.

The Hound weighs a little over 50lbs.  Not trivial to hold down on an exam table, but as it turned out, there was no need at all.  I held her collar and petted her head while the vet did his thing and she didn't even move.  Her facial expression was much the same as the one I get when I give her a bath: resignation is probably the best word for it.  "OK Mom, I'm not enthusiastic about this, but I'll humor you because I love you."  Talk about trust.  It's humbling.

And the test was negative.  Whew!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

It's Not Just Me!

I'm not a huge fan of Christmas music.  Yeah yeah yeah, call me the Grinch.  I can only take so much of it because most of it is either the same ten or fifteen songs remade over and over by different artists or holiday abominations like Dominick The Donkey and Meli Kalikimaka that make me want to gouge out my ears.  Anyhow, we were listing to one of the aforementioned remakes in the car the other day, this one of "Baby, It's Cold Outside," and it struck me exactly how creepy and date-rapey the male half of the lyrics in that duet are.  Ugh.  That dude just does NOT take "no" for an answer.

I really can't stay (but baby, it's cold outside)
I've got to go away (but baby, it's cold outside)
This evening has been (been hoping that you'd drop in)
So very nice (I'll hold your hands, they're just like ice)
My mother will start to worry (beautiful what's your hurry?)
My father will be pacing the floor (listen to the fireplace roar)
So really I'd better scurry (beautiful please don't hurry)
But maybe just a half a drink more (put some records on while I pour)
The neighbors might think (baby, it's bad out there)
Say what's in this drink? (no cabs to be had out there)
I wish I knew how (your eyes are like starlight now)
To break this spell (i'll take your hat, your hair looks swell)
I ought to say, no, no, no sir (mind if I move in closer?)
At least I'm gonna say that I tried (what's the sense in hurtin' my pride?)
I really can't stay (oh baby don't hold out)
But baby, it's cold outside
I simply must go (but baby, it's cold outside)
The answer is no (but baby, it's cold outside)
Your welcome has been (how lucky that you dropped in)
So nice and warm (look out the window at this dawn)
My sister will be suspicious (gosh your lips look delicious)
My brother will be there at the door (waves upon the tropical shore)
My maiden aunts mind is vicious (gosh your lips are delicious)
But maybe just a cigarette more (never such a blizzard before)
I've gotta get home(but baby, you'd freeze out there)
Say lend me a coat(it's up to your knees out there)
You've really been grand (I thrill when you touch my hand)
But don't you see? (how can you do this thing to me?)
There's bound to be talk tomorrow (think of my lifelong sorrow)
At least there will be plenty implied (if you got pnuemonia and died)
I really can't stay (get over that old out)
Baby, it's cold
Baby, it's cold outside

So it made me feel vindicated when I saw this article yesterday!  Apparently I am not the only one who is totally skeeved out by the original version of the song.  There's a new version now, one that I'd much rather my daughter be singing (and internalizing) than the original.  Even the Grinch here will sing to that.  

Sunday, December 11, 2016

*This* Is Why It's Hard To Find Volunteer Coaches

All three of my kids play Rec basketball in the winter.  I like for there to be at least one season in which their primary sport is not soccer just from a muscle development standpoint, and this way they get to play a sport with their friends from school as well.  Their travel soccer club is based in a town about 30 minutes from home, so they don't go to school with any of those kids.

Anyway, both Thing Two and Petunia had their first basketball games of the season yesterday.  Thing One is on hiatus from his team until the orthopedic surgeon gives him the all-clear to go back, so I volunteered him to run the clock/scoreboard for Thing Two's game, something he's done many times before.  The scorer's table is located between the two benches, so the coaches of the two teams are effectively sitting only a few feet to his left and to his right respectively when he does this.  

I had to drop Thing Two off half an hour early for warmups, so I just sat and watched the two teams getting ready for the game rather than trying to go home and come back.  Now, I played basketball in junior high and high school.  I was never all that great at it, but I'm a decent judge of what I'm seeing on a basketball court and I was pretty sure from just watching the warmups that Thing Two's team was going to come out ahead in the game. They had ten players compared to the opponents' seven, their team was physically bigger on average, and a couple of the boys Thing Two plays with have some serious skills.  From talking to the parents on the other team that were sitting near me in the bleachers, it also turns out that their team had had a couple fewer practices under their belts going into the first game as well, so most rational people would predict a loss for them, and that did in fact turn out to be what happened.  I think the final score was something like 33-12.  

What was *not* rational, however, was the reaction to the loss by one of the dads on the other team.  In case you were wondering, this is where Thing One's location on the court becomes relevant.  Please also bear in mind that Thing One is 13 and the boys who were actually playing in this game are fifth and sixth graders, so most of them are only ten or eleven.

As reported to me by a wide-eyed Thing One after the fact, this total flaming jackass of a dad (my words, not his) storms up to the other coach after the game and starts ripping him a new one right in front of the ref, Thing One, AND the boys on his own son's team.  (At least our team was in a huddle on the other end of the court and missed it.)  "These boys played like fucking shit today!  You actually have to fucking *coach* them!"

This dad is not being paid to coach; this is a recreational league and he's a volunteer who signed up to help out.  He's only got seven boys, and they actually played pretty well, too--there's no shame in losing to a bigger, better team and they did their best.

One of the many things I like about travel soccer is that the ref has the power to immediately eject an obnoxious parent from the sideline.  If he or she is not gone within two minutes, the ref can call the game in favor of the other team.  I have no idea what power a rec basketball official has (especially after a game is over) but I would have loved to see that asshole tossed out into the street.  What a horrible example for his son and every other boy there, and (speaking as a rec basketball coach, which I was for five years straight) that would be more than enough to get me to say "Fuck this," and quit.  

Friday, December 9, 2016

Oh, To Be 13 Again

Apparently, if you *have* to break a bone, it is a good thing if you can also manage to be a healthy, athletic teenaged boy at the time. 

I took Thing One in for his two-week checkup with the orthopedic surgeon today and the X-ray and physical exam showed that his broken collarbone is healing beautifully.  It's back to behaving like one bone instead of two. (As a reminder, he did a real number on it; it broke completely through in the middle and the fractured ends displaced a little.)  He'll still be in the brace at school for a couple of weeks, but at home he can take it off for light activity, which absolutely boggles my mind.  Two weeks ago that bone was in two pieces (plus a tiny extra fragment or two) and it's already knitting back together!  The doctor commented that you just don't see that kind of healing in anyone other than kids.  

Now, to keep him still for another two weeks until the new bone has a chance to solidify.  I may have to sit on him to get that to happen!  He was trying to dribble a basketball the other day...guess that arm is feeling pretty good.  

Monday, December 5, 2016


Yeah, it's been a long and eventful week...I still haven't gotten around to posting about last Saturday's exercise in insanity!  Time to fix that.

I've been working on a particular geocaching challenge sporadically for about three years now.  There are 81 caches in this particular series, one each of all the difficulty and terrain combinations.  I only have a few of them left to do, and the ones I haven't done yet are all evil beasts for one reason or another.  Hence the not-done-yet part.

The night before Thanksgiving, I was texting a friend about his plans to meet up with some other cachers who are experienced climbers--he was hoping to finally be able to get a cache on his bucket list that is about 50 feet up a tree.  I jokingly asked him if his friends were willing to travel one state over, since two of the caches in the series I'm working on are totally unreachable without climbing gear.  (One is high in a tree, the other is at the top of a sheer cliff face.)  To my surprise, I got a note back within hours saying "Absolutely; what about Saturday??"  Gulp.  Troops were assembled, logistical arrangements made, and five of us met up Saturday morning near the cliff cache.

Up by the cache container

The experts had decided in advance that we were starting at the top of the cliff and rappelling down rather than trying to climb up from the bottom.  Now, I haven't rappelled since a summer camp in high school, so I was basically starting at square one.  "This is the harness, this is a carabiner, this mechanism is how you lower yourself," etc.  The experts were lovely people, had top-notch equipment, and were as patient and thorough as you could possibly want people who are the only thing standing between you and death to be.  It was still quite nerve-wracking to climb down over the top edge of the cliff though...the best advice I got at that point was, "Don't look down!"

Rappelling down

Three of the five of us rappelled down, and the female half of the climber pair actually made the find while doing so.  The other newbie and I were just happy to get down safely...hanging in midair while searching was not in the cards for us and that hide was really evil anyway.  One down, one to go!  On to the tree.

Catapult in action

The second hide was about 35 feet up a tree.  Not too bad except that there are no branches below the level of the cache container...if you have no ropes, forget it.  The guy half of the expert team broke out a giant slingshot and easily catapulted a weight at the end of a long line over a fork high in the tree.  Then they attached a heavier rope to the end of the lightweight line, used the line to pull the rope over the fork in the tree, anchored the rope to the harness, and all of a sudden everyone was looking at me.  Double gulp.  I get to be the guinea pig on this one.  Attach the harness, put my foot in the stirrup, get a quick lesson in how to climb ropes (much more complicated than rappelling down, probably why we did the other one first!) and up the tree I go.  Very slowly, but surely.

Almost there!

All the way up!

Luckily, the coming-down process is a lot like rappelling and took way less time.

Two for two and such an awesome day.  Talk about an adrenaline rush.  (Technically two of them.)  And no injuries at all.  The most amazing part??  The guy climber is so phobic of heights that he can't look down while he climbs, but he does it anyway...talk about a serious badass!  Two caches I never thought we'd get, two new friends and so much fun...that was a day for the plus column in a big way.  YEAH!!!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

...But On The Bright Side For The Walking Wounded

Because of the broken collarbone, Thing One can't get shirts without buttons over his head, which knocks out his usual wardrobe of athletic performance t-shirts.  To keep the kid in clothing for the next month or so, we went out Sunday and bought him a bunch of soft flannel button-down shirts.  Which don't go at all with his usual soccer sweatpants, so we also picked him up a few pairs of comfortable khaki pants, since he has categorically refused to wear jeans since second grade or so. Instead of his usual rumpled-jock-who-just-got-out-of-bed look, he is now rocking this total-prep look.  Purely by circumstance, of course, but apparently the girls approve.

Yesterday, one of the "cool" girls told him that she's sorry he's hurt, but that his injury has done wonders for his fashion sense!  I laughed out loud when he passed that along to me.


I had a lengthy conversation with a man from Zambia this evening.  From his accent when we exchanged greetings, I could tell that he was Afr...