pWdumaNjA-6CEEBhRoD5euxNETs When All This Actual Life Played Out: 2016

31 December 2016

Long black road: An end that's an end in itself - 2016


Newport Beach, California (with bonus Catalina Island in the distance)
31 December 2016

You gotta get up in the morning
Take your heavy load
And you gotta keep going down that long black road.

I'm not sure that I've ever been happier for a year to end or more apprehensive about the one that is about to begin.

Perhaps it's just best to leave it at that.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6. We went to the beach despite the storm. Go listen to some good music: "Long Black Road" from the album Zoom by ELO.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

27 December 2016

Get out of my house


Around the neighborhood
10 December 2016

Everyone was tweeting The Oatmeal yesterday, wherein 2016 was being told "Please get the fuck out of my house."

I couldn't agree more.

The year started with my kitchen sink backing up New Year's morning. It has never looked back, and boy, backed up plumbing. What a metaphor for the year.

***********

Sometimes, I hate being right. Honestly, it's not often that I like to be right and I tend not to be someone who uses "I told you so." But Milton's latest round of tumors are indeed a recurrence of the original cancer. When the vet called last night to check on him, he told me the pathology was back, faster than either of us expected. And I could tell by his tone the news was bad. We are both at a loss as to how to proceed. Milton recovered so well from the first surgery, but we can't allow him to be cut open every 2-1/2 months. Chemo isn't effective against this cancer and I wouldn't do that to a cat anyway. Radiation can be effective, but anesthetizing an old cat 4 times a week is just as likely to kill him. And I suspect that it would be cost prohibitive. So I'm leaning toward enjoying the time we have left.

The last two nights, Milton has crawled under the bedcovers to sleep with me, something Doodle always did, but Milton has never done. The first he snuggled into my chest, with his head under my chin, front paws on my upper arm, and he purred until we both fell asleep. It was almost the same position he took up when I first held him as a 5-month-old kitten and decided to take him home with me.

***********

I was a newly minted teenager when Star Wars (the actual, original film) came out. And of course, at 13, I thought Harrison Ford was about the most awesome thing on the silver screen, so forget what turned out to be the awkwardness of that whole Luke/Leia thing. I wanted to see Han and Leia end up together. Tonight, reading appreciations and obits for the late Carrie Fisher (gods, it kills me to write that), everyone is going on about how she was such a tough princess, and what a surprise that was, blah, blah, blah.

To whom was this a surprise? Not me.

At 13, I watched a tiny, beautiful woman with a crazy hairstyle and a seriously scary polyester dress lay waste to bad guys, spar with the good guys and generally take care of herself. I didn't look at her and see possibility; I looked at her and saw "of course."

So, thank you, Carrie Fisher, for being reinforcement of my own prevailing notion as a girl that women do what they need to do to get through the day, whether with a blaster or with a smack on the lips for luck. You were gorgeous, talented and thoroughly no nonsense.

Of course.

***********

And really, 2016 needs to go. Now.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

25 December 2016

Another Christmas in the books

 
25 December 2016

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

24 December 2016

Conehead under the Christmas tree

 
Just a little gift
24 December 2016
 
I couldn't leave it on a sad note.
 
Happy Whatever.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

A place in the sun

 
Sore and sleepy
24 December 2016
 
Not one tumor, but three. Encapsulated rather than encroaching. Possibly benign, possibly a different cancer provoked by an immune system run amok.
 
He and I had the "Cat Camping Adventure" in the family room last night. I slept on the floor; he slept under the table, until it was time for a 3 am snack.
 
He is running and jumping. The new incision is about a third of the last one, but stapled up nonetheless. The vet called a bit ago to inquire after his welfare and laughed when I told him that a hopped up on morphine Milton ran out of his carrier when I got him home. So no worries about hitting any nerves. Still barely a hitch in his giddy up.
 
Waiting on biopsy results.
 
Merry effing Christmas.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6. I dislike Christmas for a lot reasons, not least of which is that it always tends to be freighted with emotional baggage that has nothing to do with the holiday itself, but is exacerbated by its proximity to the season.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

20 December 2016

I am Naughty Cat



Milton, misbehaving
2 December 2016

So 18 days ago, he was leaping into the spouse's cubby. There is often "field food" there--meat sticks, beef jerky, the stuff that guys who work outdoors keep around when they don't want to worry about getting lunch. The goodies get hidden these days because the cat will go after it, but he remembers it used to be there and always hopes we'll slip up and leave something tasty.

Milton has been just nuts since he recuperated from surgery. Kittening, running around, playing with toys, just a cat filled with joie de vivre. I dared to hope.

Hope ended Saturday night when I found a lump in his hip near the surgery site. Injection-site sarcoma is very aggressive, and even though the post-surgical margins were clear, we knew there was still a chance of recurrence.

I dragged him into the vet this morning. Dr. K wants to save this guy as badly as I do because the first thing he said was, "It's mobile and flexible and I say we take it out right now."

("Right now" means Friday morning. He was so adamant that I sort of thought he meant he was going to open up the cat then and there.)

There is a chance, just a chance, that it's scar tissue. I think the vet and I both know that it's not--I'm not even willing to entertain the idea, frankly--though Milton's behaviour has remained happy. The vet made the point that the cat responded so well to the first surgery that it's worth it to pop out whatever is in there. I even said the word "radiation."

This is the terrible, terrible place that medicine takes us. I watched in horror three years ago as my father-in-law died by inches after an incredibly invasive and probably worthless surgery. When my dog had brain cancer, we managed her tumor successfully and palliatively for six months and let her go with love when it was no longer manageable. By the same token, my cousin was just "cured" of the cancer she's battled for 13 years with one of the new immunotherapy regimens. So it all remains something of a crapshoot and the line where one abandons hope and let's nature take its course becomes more and more vague.

And it's back to calculus. I am so attached to this little stinker, but I know he's almost 16 freaking years old. He's been incredibly healthy for the majority of his life and he recovered so well 3 months ago. I don't want to overtreat him and increase his misery while decreasing his quality of life, but I have to do enough.

My standard has always sort of been "would I do this to myself?" With Mitzi the answer was clearly no. If I were 80+ years old and diagnosed with a brain tumor, I'd book myself on a long cruise and have them throw me overboard when I croaked. That is the truth. But if I had a single tumor in my hip and had to have another removed periodically? I'd probably do that until it didn't make sense to.

The vet promises me that this incision should be small, just a couple of inches. It may buy him another couple of good months. For now, I think we can all live with that.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

19 December 2016

Last chance final hours don't miss out


From a freeway bridge
Orange County, California
21 November 2016

The holiday emails are sounding desperate this year. Stores are sending me messages 3 or 4 times a day...Last chance! Final hours! Don't miss out!

Somewhere, somehow, I am going to find something funny in this damn year.

Time is running out!

************************

Early last month, D. texted me to tell me she'd gone to the screening of Time Stand Still, a little documentary about that band we followed around a quarter of the globe. I had some perfectly good reason for not going to the screening that I don't actually remember, but it probably revolved around one of the multiple productions filming here or the spouse being out of town for two weeks or something.

Anyway, the daughter and I didn't see it until today, and it brought back all the happy and a good deal of the sad, but the part that had us shrieking was the footage they showed from the Rock Hall of Fame Induction. Because we were there, part of the screaming throng that answered Jann Wenner's "...and from Toronto..." It was very cool to hear it after having been a part of it. So cool, in fact, that we had to rewind and replay it several times.

(...laughing...)

Anyway, I've done a pretty good job of not going to the shows that are being filmed (to the bewilderment of many, but reasons), so it was sort of odd seeing the bits of the Forum show, knowing that D. and the daughter and I were in the audience. And the daughter recalled the sobbing men who high-fived us and hugged us after "Xanadu." I remembered discovering how hard I was crying during "Losing It" without ever realizing until it was over. And watching the fastest 3 hours fly before my eyes.

For years, I've dreamed about waiting in front of an empty stage, waiting and anticipating, but always waking before the show begins. And now the dream is so poignant, and I wake with a real sense of loss.

I said it elsewhere here, but it was true: in 2002, a lot of us realized we'd been given a gift. I intended not to squander it, and I don't believe I did. This year, as never before, I've seen the signs everywhere. Life is short. Don't waste it. Enjoy every sandwich.

Last chance. Final hours.

Don't miss out.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

10 December 2016

Hazy California winter

 
Orange, California
10 December 2016

22 November 2016

I promised the daughter an adventure

 
No, really
Los Angeles, California
22 November 2016
 
I promised the daughter an adventure. I did not promise her the Dancing With the Stars finale.
 
Short version: I wanted to see the Guillermo del Toro exhibition at LACMA, which closes next week. The daughter has the week off because Thanksgiving. So we made some travel magic (e.g., trains and buses) and popped over there today.
 
After the monsters, the daughter was hungry. We wandered up to The Grove for lunch.
 
And ran into this.
 
I love L.A.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6. I've never even seen this show, but we switched it on when it started tonight, had a good laugh, and switched it back off again.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

15 November 2016

Super moon in tiny aspect

 
Downtown Disney
Anaheim, California
13 November 2016
 
We were already committed to dinner out with some friends so I wasn't going to be lugging a camera around. But that is the moon by the building's upper corner, not some random light.
 
It's been a long, exhausting few weeks. I had film crews in and out in rapid rotation, and constant requests from other crews to use the house as a location. One last minute group came in four hours late, and I had to literally sit on the set, chivvying them along because I had another crew loading in at 7:30 the next morning.
 
It was ridiculous. It will not be happening again.
 
(I kind of wonder if anyone will notice at the screenings that the house shows up over and over. Of course, given the massive set dressing--my living room became an office at the absolute last minute--probably not.)
 
***********
 
I haven't slept well since the election. I know this isn't particularly uncommon, but it's certainly aggravating. I wrote an absolute diatribe the day of (something of the Letter Never Sent variety. I needed to write it, but I'm not sure there is any need to share it.) because like everyone, I have opinions.
 
But rather than continue to air my grievances--and I have been pretty public about where I cast the blame--I'm trying to focus on positive action. Like others, I am donating money to causes that matter, and though I always do, it's taking on a particular gravitas, and I'm just trying not to explode. In some ways, that might be the most positive action I can take.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

07 November 2016

Dead of night


Noche de Altares
Santa Ana, California
1 November 2014

This week has been fraught (what week isn't around here?), in part because it's production season and all the college kids are filming their 2nd and 3rd year projects. Since I've gotten a reputation for being production friendly, and I worked in the industry, AND I know the ins and outs of permitting, I get requests for location shoots. While I'd like to say no to all of them, unfortunately, I also get it. These are kids with dreams (and in some cases, real talent), whose budgets are whatever change they find in their pockets. So I mostly say yes.

(Fortunately for me, the biggest shoot got a permit at their first choice location. But then, I got an emergency request for the vacated weekend that I had to deny. I'd just gotten out of the hospital, and I'm not supposed to get stressed! I'll wait while you finish laughing.)

Anyway.

The daughter's production was filming this weekend, and she was also working on two other shoots, which naturally, turned into complete chaos. Because they are all adults now, I try to stay on the sidelines and just watch and roll my eyes a lot while the fail-tasm occurs. And while I say that, even act on it, when the already exhausted crew rolled in Saturday morning, I made sure they had lots of coffee and really good food.

(This is how I get a reputation.)

The production that was shooting Friday night wrapped in the early morning hours of Saturday. I'd made arrangements to pick up the daughter when she finished, because I know my kid and I knew she'd be unsafe at any speed. Like the spouse, she needs her sleep. Unlike me, the Energizer bunny (who, yes, ended up in the ER. As the spouse has reminded me all weekend. Look, I always said that I can sleep when I'm dead. I just didn't plan on acting on that one quite so soon.)

Anyway.

It was quite late when I headed out to the production location, and fortunately, it's a fairly quiet route traffic-wise late at night. Quiet to the point where I need to use high-beams (that's saying something in So Cal) to ensure that I don't run over the occasional errant raccoon, opossum or wandering person. It's also quiet because I pass not one but three cemeteries.

Given the time of year--All Saints, All Souls, Dia de los Muertos--the cemeteries are pretty busy. On any given day, you see picnics and balloons and all sorts of activities that are generally frowned upon, but at the beginning of November, it becomes another thing altogether. And early Saturday morning, in the dead of night, I saw a completely different dimension. There were lights--everywhere. Candles, flashing strings suspended in the air, lanterns. It was eerie and beautiful. Friendly but otherworldly. Touching.

Amazing.

Since I was the only one on the road, I slowed a bit to take in what I was seeing, and gently rounded the corner, taking quick glances through the locked iron gates. I wanted to stop to look, but it was late and the daughter was waiting on me, so I proceeded to the location. We loaded gear into the back of my car--heavy light cases, C-stands, sandbags, cameras--and then I pulled out and we headed toward home.

As we approached the first of the cemeteries, I urged the daughter to take a look. She quieted for a moment, and then said, "It's beautiful."

And it was, one of the strange but lovely perqs of being out in the middle of the night on a quiet road, proceeding into another long day of work and life.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

01 November 2016

This perfect day

 
New Point Loma Lighthouse
Point Loma, San Diego, California
25 August 2016
 
As it happened, we wandered into Cabrillo National Monument on the National Park Service's 100th birthday--and got in free. We were pleased and surprised that we'd managed to show up on the actual day. We're never that organized.
 
(We didn't stick around for cake. Too many people milling around.)
 
I took photos. As I do.
 
It's November. I'll leave you to contemplate that.
 
Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

31 October 2016

When we became the haunted house

 
Halloween
31 October 2016
 
A filter to hide the overall dereliction of the front. Have I got my work cut out for me this winter.
 
Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

29 October 2016

Good-bye, Irvine Meadows



Cheap Trick from the cheap seats
Irvine Meadows Amphitheater
Irvine, California
29 July 2010

This makes me genuinely sad. The Irvine Company is closing Irvine Meadows Amphitheater. The last shows are this weekend.

(See also: completely enraged, but I'm always mad at the Irvine Company.)

 They're building more houses, which is exactly what bloated, constipated Irvine needs. Cue "Subdivisions." And how they can bring more people in while we're in the midst of the sixth year of drought. But I digress.

I've been trying to remember how many shows I've seen at Irvine Meadows. Rush, many times; REM, at least once; X, back in their heyday in the 1980s; Pacific Symphony, at least a dozen times since we've lived in Orange County. Aerosmith and Cheap Trick. Coldplay. And so on.

(This isn't the first popular concert venue to bite the dust. Universal Amphitheater was demolished to make room for Harry Potter. I saw Linda Ronstadt there. REM, multiple times. Rush. Moody Blues. CSN. And so on. The Sports Arena, where I saw U2 on the Joshua Tree tour, is also half down.)



 The kids' first rock concert
14 July 2004

But back to Irvine Meadows (always Irvine Meadows, even when it was Verizon Wireless. You could tell a noob or out of towner...they didn't know to call it Irvine Meadows).

The first show I saw there--a very, very long time ago--was Jackson Browne. Some friends dragged me along for the ride. We were on the lawn. (The lawn. Oh. My. God. The race for the best spots on said lawn. The steepness of said lawn. The dampness of said lawn. The climb to said lawn. What other people were doing on said lawn. When Coldplay played part of their set on said lawn. Oh, the lawn. I didn't sit there often. Just often enough.)

Honestly, I was pretty bored that first show. Except there were lions. Yes, lions. An attraction called Lion Country Safari was just behind the venue, and you could hear the lions roaring throughout the show. It was epic. Of course, it was also epic when Jackson was singing "Running on Empty," stopped, announced, "I forgot the fucking words," and then after a pause, resumed.

I dragged as many of my friends and fellow concert aficionados to Irvine Meadows as I could. "It's the best venue," I would tell them. The people playing there always seemed to enjoy it, too. With the exception of the pit, which was a pit, and maybe the lawn, because lawn, there really wasn't a bad seat. And when we went to the summer symphony series, you could bring in a picnic. The kids still remember listening to the symphony doing Loony Tunes music while eating homemade chocolate cake, as the spouse and I sipped our coffee in the cooling evening air.

I watched the moon rise many times over that stage. Later, much later, when a mall went up nearby, the brightly lit Ferris wheel illuminated the night too.

My kids learned to drive in Irvine Meadows' parking lot. We picnicked in Irvine Meadows' parking lot. Ran into people we knew in Irvine Meadows' parking lot. Stood around and talked in Irvine Meadows' parking lot until security chased us out.

And the smell of swamp. The swamp. Oh. My. God. I guess it's part of San Diego Creek that runs through the venue, but whatever it is, it is wet. And filled with plants And smelly. I will never forget that smell, which was bad, sort of, but memorable, vegetal and a harbinger of good things yet to come. So, I smell that smell, and I gag, but also think "concert!" And the damp rising up, cool on warm summer nights. I get goose bumps thinking about it. Because there were times, after a hot day, that I had real ones. And I always wanted to dance down that silly, swampy path. Sometimes I did.

I got filmed entering the gates. I got filmed exiting the gates. I was handed samples of soft drinks. I was given CDs. My daughter once got patted down by security in case I'd tried to conceal contraband on her small person. (SERIOUSLY?)

The concrete bunkers that served as restrooms. The old red seats (that I rarely actually sat in, unless it was Pacific Symphony). Remembering to be patient with the nice staff trying to tell me where my seat was because I knew where my seat was, thank you, been there a million times. The weird concessions. The spouse would always stop for a beer, but I eschewed it all. Of course. Especially the symphony box dinners after a really disastrous and inedible set of meals (thank you, Bristol Farms).

The sound. It's a natural amphitheater. The sound was brilliant.


 
Pacific Symphony performing the score to Pirates of the Caribbean
1 September 2012

"Ode to Joy" rising through the air. Pyrotechnics, cannon and fireworks and "The 1812 Overture" played by both the symphony and a rock band. Laughing at the irony of "Subdivisions" and "Los Angeles."

Lions.

I had to leave Los Angeles the day after I saw X, off to pursue my master's degree elsewhere with no plan to return. But return I did. And the only paltry comfort in being exiled behind The Orange Curtain in the late 1990s was that Irvine Meadows was closer. Because I loved going there. And at the start of every season, I would peruse the list of shows, hoping there would be a reason to go there. But not anymore.

For a couple of years, my office was down the street, and I would bicycle past Irvine Meadows on my way home. Before they closed the tree lot next door to the venue, we'd pick out our Christmas tree there every year, and while the kids would dodge in and out of the trees, I'd look up at the banks of empty red seats, letting my eyes sweep across the different sections I'd sat in over the years (and the lawn), a wholly different perspective, thinking about the shows and the people who'd been with me through all those years.

Damn you, Irvine Company, and your greed. Pave paradise...

But I have memories. Oh, do I have memories. And they won't be building any apartments there.

Tech stuff: Taken with a variety of phone cameras.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

27 October 2016

And then there was all that

 
Milton, yawning
25 October 2016
 
Not dead...yet.
 
(Yeah, there was that trip to the ER, but I'm better now.)
 
Cat? He's fine. Great, even.
 
The world, not so much.
 
(Whistles cheerily to distract you.)
 
And all that.
 
Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

10 October 2016

Bad as he wants to be


Because I'm bad, I'm bad
10 October 2016

He is standing in my kitchen window. You can see his shaved hind end. You can sort of see his scar (I have real pictures, sutures and all, but it's sad. And not pretty). But the real story is that less than two weeks after having a large chunk of muscle removed, he is jumping onto 3-ft. high counters and clambering around on my bed (he slept on me last night), eating everything he can get into his mouth, playing with his catnip pillows and generally behaving like anything but a 15-1/2 year old cat recovering from cancer surgery.

This is Milton.

Maybe it will last. I am resistant to hope, but I am enjoying my furry little boy for the time we have now. It's what I did with Mitzi, enjoyed the moment, spoiled her rotten and just made the most of her last 6 months.

It's weird to think about: the spouse and I have been together for nearly 30 years, married for almost 28, and for 26 of those years, we've had animals around. A continuous round of cats, dog and many different fish. Really, there has been a continuous round of animals in my life since I was in kindergarten. I think about taking on another animal after Milton goes, and I wonder if I will. I love animals, but a healthy animal has a life expectancy of about 15 years, and I'm not even sure that I have 15 years at this point.

So, I'm taking it a moment at a time.

Nothing else for it.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

02 October 2016

Whachu lookin' at?

 
Conehead
2 October 2016
 
Milton was recipient of the Cone of Shame yesterday because he wouldn't stop licking his sutures. I have to give him a break every couple of hours to eat, drink and use the box because he is doing a terrible job of navigating with it on. I will suddenly hear a crash and there he is, stuck in the doorway, staring at me like "MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"
 
Tonight, I was cooking dinner and there was a horrific noise behind me. Milton had tried to jump on the kitchen counter with the cone, and collided head on with the coffeemaker that he couldn't see. He ended up leaping sideways back to the floor, and was apparently no worse for the wear.
 
He is driving me berserk.
 
The vet seems to think that his highly energetic behaviour is a good indication that the cancer is gone, baby, gone.
 
Frankly, I'm afraid to believe it, but I'm cautiously hopeful.
 
I just hope the wound on his back end actually closes before he manages to rip all the staples out.
 
Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

30 September 2016

Calculus


Milton as a flounder
11 October 2003

He came to wake me Tuesday, a little song, complaining that no one had given him breakfast. I stroked him and he rubbed his head along my arm, insistent. Where was his breakfast?

I have frequently posited that in a previous life, Milton was a New York lawyer. He may speak feline but he has perfected the art of negotiation, he drives a tough bargain and when riled, he resorts to a particularly unattractive meow. I can say "no" and explain my position, but he will rebut, repeatedly, my arguments against what he wants.

This particular morning, however, I was using a sweet voice and telling him that I was powerless to assist him. Finally he gave up and sacked out on the living room couch, which is where I nabbed him and put him in his carrier.

The carrier means the worst.

I apologized as I drove. It was going to hurt, but we'd get that crap out of his hip. I was so sorry that he was frightened and that he wasn't really going to understand what was happening. I was so, so sorry.

The vet called me almost as soon as I got home, and my heart hit the floor. But the news was cautiously good. His bloodwork was good, his lungs were clear. So we decided to proceed.

But the second phone call wasn't good. Milton was awake and on pain meds, but the tumor was larger than last week, aggressive, widespread. The vet had gone in muscle layers, but wasn't sure he'd gotten it all. The incision went knee to spine. He's probably have a limp. Biopsy should be back in 3-5 days, and the vet tried to console me as I sat silent, told me hopeful stories of cats who didn't see recurrence for a year and a half. Maybe...

My gut knows better, though. My gut has known through this whole thing. My gut says location, location, location! And in this case, location is probably an injection site tumor, fibrosarcoma. It's almost impossible to remove and even with radiation and chemotherapy, recurrence is likely in 18-24 months.

******************

He came home Wednesday morning, groggy, angry. He ran, with an 8-inch incision filled with 25 staples down his left leg, to his scratching post to relieve his rage. Then he wanted to hide under my bed, but I wouldn't let him. He finally settled under the coffee table in the living room, glowering at me.

So it began.

******************

The vet had come in on his day off to discharge my cat. He is particularly fond of  Milton. He told me what they'd done for him, and how to care for his wound.  He warned me that he'd been aggressive in removing the tumor and the more the cat walked, the better his muscles would knit and heal. The cytology came back as sarcoma, but the biopsy would provide more information.

"Injection site?" I asked. He knows I'm well versed in things medical and he never minces words with me.

"No," he said, "No! That's fibrosarcoma. That's...deadly. I don't think that's what we're dealing with here."

"I can't tell you why," I said gently, "but I'm expecting the worst."

He heaved a sigh. "I know what you mean."

******************

I spent Wednesday and Thursday nights on the couch so that if there were problems, I could deal with them without waking the whole family. Milton began to talk to me again, rubbed his cheeks on my hands, let me brush his chin and neck. He ate with glee, refused his pain medication with vigor and was generally cranky. I think that if someone removed a third of my leg, I'd be cranky too.

(Oh wait! I know how that works.)

I passed the living room on my one of frequent checks and he was sleeping under my red leather chair. The next time I passed, he was sleeping on the chair. Eight-inch incision, 25 staples and jumping on the furniture. That is Milton.

The vet just laughed when I told him.

********************

The phone rang early this morning.

"I got the biopsy results," he told me. "I wanted to tell you right away."

But I knew. I always know.

"It is injection site sarcoma, but the margins are clear. I got it all."

"So good news and bad news," I said.

"I think it's good news," he told. "They said the margins were totally clean, no cancer cells. I think he'll be alright. But I have to tell you...I've been in this practice for almost 20 years. This is the first case we have ever seen. I've removed more masses from animals than I can count, but we've never had one of these."

"Milton," I said.

"Milton," he agreed.

He is, after all, the man who saved my cat from a bowel obstruction that became a campaign for self-starvation and resulted in a feeding tube, simultaneous fatty liver disease and pancreatitis, ending with a case of cat MRSA. Then 5-1/2 years of routine care.

*******************

This morning, as I reeled from two nights of little sleep, FrankenButt tried to climb into my lap, purring deeply, kneading at my arm. I stroked his head and face and murmured love to him, while his chest rumbled. His x-rays were clear and his blood work was good, but the vet showed me the thickening in his heart wall. Even if the cancer is gone for good, his stout and wild little heart is beginning to fail. Indoor cats have an average life expectancy of 12-16 years and he will be 16 in March. While to me, he will always be the skinny, clinging 5-month-old kitten I brought home from Arizona, he is in reality an 80-year-old man. And no one lives forever. Not even New York lawyers in cat guise with a facility for wearing one down with non-stop negotiation.

Milton.

Tech stuff: Taken with a Canon PowerShot S110. I know many people who feel that animals are expendable companions. Truth is, I've always liked my animals better than I like most people.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

25 September 2016

A rough week

 
Sunny Jim Cave
La Jolla, California
25 August 2016
 
We were really too busy this summer to do much traveling, but we did take a quick trip down to La Jolla and San Diego. I promised the daughter we'd visit the cave and so we did.
 
*************
 
So heartbreaking to learn of the death of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez when I woke this morning. Another promising young light extinguished too soon.
 
*************
 
On a brighter note, the first episode of Fox's new baseball series Pitch was really well done. And I need something to fill the void now that Mr. Robot is finished for the year.
 
************
 
And finally, Milton does in fact have a cancerous tumor in his hip. The doctor says it's in the skin, so it may be that removing it will be the cure. But of course, there must be bloodwork and x-rays first. I already put the kibosh on chemo. Milton is nearing 16, and any treatment needs to be useful without diminishing what time he has left. And yes, my rational tone is not indicative of just how much this hurts. It doesn't matter that he's at the far end of average life expectancy. He is still my youngest baby.
 
Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

21 September 2016

Sweet dreams

 
Milton
21 September 2016
 
I make him pillows filled with catnip. They are little, hand sewn from fat quarters of fabric I picked up at a now defunct quilting store. He dances under my feet while I fill them, still able to smell the fragrance that is so irresistible. When it's finished, he grabs it from my hands, rolls on the floor with it, holding it between his paws, rubbing his face with it, and finally, exhausted, goes to sleep with it under his head or a paw.
 
******************
 
It happened so fast. Sunday night, I felt a lump near his left hip. Took him in to the vet. We're waiting on labs, but the vet is a pragmatist, and I guess I am, too. We saved him 5 and a half years ago. I don't think we'll be so lucky this time.
 
Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

20 September 2016

I look at you all...

 
Orange County, California
20 September 2016

11 September 2016

Double negative (and a positive)


Fifteen years have passed and there are truths that are self-evident:

I will never not see that second plane going into the tower.

I will never not see the towers falling behind the man who was being interviewed on camera.

I will never not read the reports about how the towers fell, making my edit marks and trying not to comprehend what I was reading.

I will never not trace my finger around the photos of the blast radius, understanding the facts but not the rationale for what happened.

I will never not think "blast radius."

I will never not scream the words I screamed that morning, a scream of primal rage and fear and anguish. I will never not know what I knew at that instant. I will never not be right about it.

I will always believe that we as a world can be better than we are and I will face every morning as that better person. I won't always succeed in being her, but I will never not work at it.

31 August 2016

It's a trap!

 
Admiral Ackbar
29 August 2016

These things are always complicated.

When the son was nine, he went to a birthday party where the parent gave each child a live goldfish as a party favor. Naturally, the son's poor fish died before he even got to the house, and the son was heartbroken. So I told the son we'd replace the goldfish, and when the spouse went to fulfill this commission, the pet store guy talked him into getting a betta instead.

Which is how the adventure in betta ownership began. Despite the cat's best efforts, Spyro lived a long and apparently happy life, racking up over five years in the large aquarium that the cat could not knock over or get into.

And that would have been the end of it except that somewhere along the line, I told the daughter that she could have a betta when she turned nine and she unfortunately remembered this promise.

I have been hearing about it on and off for the last 10 years because I have cheerfully failed to get her a fish.

For whatever reason, she got a bug in her ear last weekend about having a second desk in her room, and I was given the commission of getting this desk (because we allowed the son to have two desks in his room), and then the betta came up--accusatorily--again.

So Monday morning, while I was grocery shopping, I marched into the pet store and bought a betta. I texted her the above photo, and got back

"Is that..."
"A fishy?"

And naturally, it has been true love. She has named him Admiral Ackbar. I have already had to buy him a larger and more elaborate aquarium (no, I did not leave him in the cup for crying out loud but the 1 gallon aquarium was judged too diminutive for a fish of such outsize personality. Also, cat. Same cat, even.) The fish has responded by making a large and happy bubble nest, and I pass the daughter's room to find her cooing at him. He swims around approvingly.

All's well, and the daughter has no more blackmail material.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6. Please let me make it abundantly clear that I in no way endorse gifting live animals to small children, and truth be told, I was livid a parent thought it was okay to a) use goldfish as party favors and b) foist a fish on me. We take animal care extremely seriously and never enter into it lightly. Just ask my vet.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

30 August 2016

Scatter crows and feel the gold light

 
Orange County, California
30 August 2016
 
Back in June, I decided that I was tired of the genteel (and useless and boring) doctor-and-p.t. approved exercise regimen (that I didn't do half the time). I was tired of being mostly out of shape, frequently ill and always in pain. So, I went back to my own patented guerrilla methods of exercise. I am up to an hour (okay a gentle hour, not like my previous near spinning class) on the recumbent bike and many days I can walk between 2.5 and 5 miles (and I managed a 15-minute mile today--not my previous 11-minute mile but better than I've managed in 5 years). And then weight stuff (hahaha, given the clavicle dislocation or whatever but I'm doing it anyway). So I'm more in shape, sometimes ill and always in pain. But I feel better overall.
 
IRL darlings: I have two choices. Piddle around like the doctors want and eventually end up in surgery. Or be me and eventually end up in surgery. I'll take the latter. Because it's that or take the long walk into the deep ocean and I'm not kidding.
 
I've traveled this road--this actual road--so many times in all the years that I've had to learn to walk again. And again. And again. Fifteen years later, I still stagger sometimes (perfect balance is gone for good now), and this morning, my damned right leg DID.NOT.WANT. But I pushed forward and finally at the end of 2 miles, I could feel enough of it not to be terrified of falling over.
 
Not dead yet.
 
Go listen to some good music:"Come My Sunshine" from the album Spells by The Comas. Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

24 August 2016

Ripper

 
He is, in fact, yawning
20 August 2016

Yup, I'm a terrible blogger.

I am resorting to posting photos of the cat yawning. What's next? A selfie?

(Short answer: no).

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

10 August 2016

You're mocking me

 
No Internet!
10 August 2016
 
You know how it is. You sit down to get some work done and no Internet! Your ISP says "Uh-oh, no one in your area has a signal. It's going to be 6 or 7 hours..."
 
So much for work.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6. Yeah, probably the electric utility who is still messing around in the area.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

09 August 2016

Luminous


Milton
4 April 2008

He is one of my favorite subjects and being photographed is one of his least favorite activities.

But he's so cute.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40. And yes, I spent yesterday making 4 gallons of broth. .
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

07 August 2016

August ritual

 
There's the beef
7 August 2016
 
For the last five years, I've been buying my beef exclusively from Star Brand Beef. Shreve raises her cows humanely and respectfully. They are grass fed and organic. You can read all about it on her site. Having the opportunity to purchase a year's worth of beef from her has made my life so much easier; when the spouse wants a steak, I don't have to worry about sourcing organic beef. I just go to the freezer.
 
So it happens that every August, we drive out to meet her truck and pick up our boxes. It's always a kind of festive day because many of the same people show up every year. We are devoted. There are hugs and a few moments to chat. Then it's away with the boxes and off to restock the freezer.
 
There is something slightly magical about subverting the system. A woman with a blog and a dream started raising beef and she sells it to other women (mostly) who have a similar dream--healthy food from happy animals to feed their families.
 
Tomorrow, I will take about 20 lbs worth of soup bones and make gallons of broth that will also be stored away for future use. Yeah, it's work. Yeah, it takes some effort. But to me, this is the definition of clean eating.
 
(And yeah, that includes all the salad I eat, which is not insignificant.)
 
Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

04 August 2016

Beale Street


Beale Street
Memphis, Tennessee
30 June 2014

I was sure I'd posted this photo, but apparently I said almost nothing about the Memphis trip.

(Probably because I was chaperoning a high school group and it was a rather stressful week. Less said...)

Beale Street is pretty lively at night, and we did hear a lot of good music.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

03 August 2016

Wonderland

 
San Antonio, Texas
31 July 2016
 
I can't even imagine calling a mall "Wonderland."
 
I read somewhere, sometime ago that the era of the mall was basically over, and this is a good example. Like so many strange, largely empty spaces you see these days, this was an amalgam of low-end department stores and entertainment venues like Inflatable Wonderland (we had to go check it out because...wow) with a food court. The reason we were here was to visit the movie theater, which was actually pretty nice with few chairs, wide rows and wait staff. And it's an art house theater!
 
As an aside: Captain Fantastic for the win. What a great movie. I'm so amused that people are calling it anti-Christian given the anti-Christian sentiments are illustrative of the main character's rigidity and personal failings. It's a movie about finding balance while seeking your higher good.
 
And while I'm at it, if you haven't seen Stranger Things, it's well worth watching. We binge watched it at D.'s, which was a blast.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

02 August 2016

Artsy!

San Antonio, Texas
30 July 2016
 
Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

30 July 2016

It's been a ride

 
San Antonio, Texas
30 July 2016
 
This was the last festival appearance for "Starlight." Deb was there for the first festival (Austin) and this one, which made the screening even more special. But the daughter and I are ready to retire this one. It's time for new things.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6. Our sincere thanks and appreciation to the festival programming directors who screened this short and to those who attended all these screenings and talked to us afterward about the film.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

28 July 2016

True confession: It did make me smile

 
Orange, California
28 July 2016
 
They're everywhere!
 
(Take that as you will.)

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

27 July 2016

In their infinite wisdom


Cranes
27 July 2016

So, the people who run our electric utility are not the brightest bulbs (yeah, yeah) and I could talk about their dishonesty too but that's another topic.

Anyway. Some speshul snowflake decided that replacing power poles would be a good idea. Fine. Given the number of transformer and vault explosions we've had, some maintenance isn't a bad idea. I've lived here for nearly 20 years, and this is a first.

So! says the utility. We'll do this...in July! And turn off your power for the day.

Brilliant.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

23 July 2016

Fire on the mountain


75 miles away, a fire burns
22 July 2016

I have a headache. I can smell smoke inside my house.

I am fed up.

[political diatribe redacted]

Anything else? No?

Have a good weekend.

Tech stuff: Taken with my NikonD7000. I am spending FAR too much time being enraged. This may finally be the election where I vote with my feet, because I cannot in good conscience vote for either of the leading candidates.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

21 July 2016

Tough times demand tough squirrels

 
Thirsty squirrel in the shadows
21 July 2016
 
There was a wild rabbit in the front garden this morning. There isn't anything there for it to eat--all the grass is dead. It's the first time in the nearly 20 years I've lived here that I've seen one.
 
Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

19 July 2016

Under a white hot sky

 
The trail
Orange County, California
19 July 2016
 
Most Tuesday mornings at the (literal) crack of dawn, a friend and I go for a walk. She needs coffee first, so we walk to the coffee shop and then we take our coffees and start walking.
 
I tend not to like sharing my walking time with other people because I use it as me time and thinking time and music time. But I enjoy walking with this friend, and I've become more generous (I use the word advisedly because I'm quite aware that I am very ungenerous with time I perceive as mine) with taking others (including the daughter and the spouse) with me. It's partly enlightened self-interest (broken) and partly fun and partly good for them too.
 
My friend wasn't available this morning, but I am schedule-oriented and also I need this exercise. There is so little that I can do any more (and I'm not supposed to walk...or bike...sigh. But do the doctors tell me "don't go grocery shopping??" Hell, no.) that I do what I can.
 
(No, seriously, grocery shopping causes more damage than just about anything else. It isn't just that I dislike it. I have to tell people not to over pack bags. They seem to miss the fact that I can't use my right arm to lift things. If you missed all that...go back a few months. And yeah, inquiring minds, I AM supposed to go to another ortho...with whom I've yet to communicate.)
 
So, I overslept a bit this morning and the daughter, who needed to go to work, overslept a lot, and as a result, I got out the door about 2 hours later than KG and I take off. And it was freaking hot, even though it was still only 9 am.
 
I push harder when there aren't other people with me (another reason that having people with me is a good idea, because alone I'm all "let's do a marathon!" Yeah, that.), and it amuses me that my mile time is 4 minutes faster alone (even broken! and people are always telling me I walk too fast when I'm with them) and that I walk at least a mile further when I'm alone.
 
Of course, as I have to remind myself, it's great to walk as far as you can, but then you have to get home. One day, I'd pushed myself so hard, I started to think about calling the daughter to hop in the car and come get me. I did get home under my own steam, but it was scary that it had occurred to me as a possibility.
 
Anyway, it was hot today.
 
Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For additional information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

18 July 2016

Stuck in my car

 
Newport Beach Lite, California
18 July 2016
 
Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

17 July 2016

Boundaries and lines


A long time ago when we were in Europe, we were approached after a meal by a gentleman who apparently had overheard our conversation and was approving, intrigued and amused. He also thought our children were amazingly well-behaved. Somehow that event came up in conversation today while we were having dinner.

The son: "...but what were we even talking about? What was so interesting?"

Me: "We are the people who talk about prion diseases at dinner. Astronomy. The K-T boundary. The Visigoths. Not exactly normal conversation for a lot of people. And you guys were holding your own."

The son: "Prion diseases and the K-T boundary."

Me: "Prion diseases OF the K-T boundary."

The daughter: "What is the K-T boundary?"

There was a momentary silence.

Me, looking at the spouse: "Probably not the question the daughter of a geologist should be asking."

The daughter: "Well, K-T boundary, Maginot Line, you guys are always talking about something weird. How am I supposed to remember what boundary this is or line that is?"

Me, dissolving into laughter: "K-T boundary...Maginot Line..."

The daughter is sitting there incensed.

The spouse: "Dinosaurs...?"

The daughter: "Oh."

Me: "I think your family membership card just got revoked."

The son: "They're hanging out the washing on the Maginot Line."

The spouse and I in unison: "That was a popular song..."

Much later, of course, the conversation turned to Goethe and whether or not German is a poetic language.

11 July 2016

Hey, Sunshine!

Train station
Santa Ana, California
18 October 2014

I was snickering quietly to myself when the daughter walked into the room.

"What did you do now?" she asked, resigned.

I feigned offense. "What makes you think I did anything? Because I was laughing?"

"It was the way you were laughing."

I showed her what I'd done. She nodded sagely.

"Alright, I finished our badge photos. Come look," she said, pulling me away from my keyboard by the arm.

Worth mentioning, I suppose, that 10 minutes earlier she had to tell me there was someone at the door because I had the music turned up so loud I couldn't hear the doorbell.

And I was singing at the top of my lungs.

It's so awesome to turn the tables.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4. Yeah, probably time to get back into circulation...no pun and all that.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For information on this site's cookie usage, go here.

07 July 2016

If it's the 7th, it must be Norway


Vigeland Sculpture Park
Oslo, Norway
7 July 2006

Yes, oddly, we were in Oslo 10 years ago today.

And today, I was deconstructing an old computer, and inside found a sticker that noted the component was built in July 2006.

And last night, dreamed things that fit into my life 10 years ago.

I'm in the process of tearing down multiple old computers. We are terrible about getting rid of things. I have a turntable (yeah, the thing that plays records and yes, it works) that is 30 years old. I remember buying it and feeling so adult as I hauled it home (from Adray's, I think) on the bus.

I found an old game the kids liked on one of the computers and the daughter is cheerfully playing it at the moment, effectively stopping me from doing any more work for tonight.

Which is good because I'm so tired, my eyes are slipping closed even as I write.

Tech stuff: Taken with a Canon PowerShot S110. I tried a high key effect on this--it was such a horribly hazy day--but I'm not sure I'm pleased with the results.
For the feed reader folk (because you don't see this on the blog sidebar): Talk to me: OutOfTh3Kitchen at gmail dot com. For information on this site's cookie usage, go here.