"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Del Martin: May 5, 1921- August 27, 2008

Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon fell in love and got married as soon as possible, 55 years later.

I think that's a marriage worth saving, don't you? The State can't do anything to hold back time, nor can it promise anything beyond time, but I believe Del and Phyllis will be seeing each other. They didn't need no piece of paper from the city hall keepin' them tied and true, but they devoted most of their lives to the right to have it, and they won!

See Del's obituary at Equality California here

The needle and the damage done

There is an I.V. bag hanging in the kitchen from the pots & pans rack. Next to the knives. Something is wrong with this picture, or at least it's got a certain chamber-of-horrors quality that I don't prefer as decor most days of the year. Medical equipment and cooking utensils are just not supposed to mix. I've probably seen Silence of the Lambs a few too many times but I think I'd feel the same way even if I hadn't.

The attempt to administer Kato's subcutaneous fluids by myself this morning was not successful (at least if one measures success by whether he actually received any fluids subcutaneously). It seemed much easier at the vet's office yesterday with the tech holding him down and telling me what to do. This morning I did actually get the needle into him, but he immediately jumped down from, the, er, butcher block table, which I had covered with a towel, knocking over a glass of iced coffee on the counter (it broke) in the process. I'd put the dog in her playpen just before this and she was barking like crazy and trying to escape, perhaps worried that she'd be on the block next, but actually she just really needed to poop. As she demonstrated on the carpet as soon as I let her out.

But I was able to get Kato to take a good long drink from his water bowl afterwards, and I had another glass and enough iced coffee still in the carafe to fill it, and I picked up the poop, and here we are. It happens.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Some say love it is a river that drowns the tender reed

Kato is back in the hospital. On his second night but sounds like he'll be ready to come home tomorrow. Monday morning I saw that he had another blockage and was pretty uncomfortable so back to the vet we go for the same damn thing over again. "Do you have a buy one / get one half off deal?" I said. Ha haha, said the vet, thinking I'd made a joke.

He needed some meds from the compounding pharmacy so for convenience (lest they add some delivery fee to my bill) I picked them up when they were ready and took them to the vet's office. They thought it would be good for me to visit Kato, or good for Kato, rather, and hoped I'd be able to get him to eat something. He's not real keen on the prescription food he'll now have to eat for months and months. He looked awful...his face seemed too thin and he had an IV in his front leg, and his fur gets all flaky and dull when he goes to the vet. Stress shedding. We had some good petting, holding and cuddling though. He was purring and growling at the same time. Not feeling his best. He ate a few bites of the yucky prescription food for me, but not much. Then I left and cried in my car for a minute.

Later the vet called to say that since my visit, he'd chowed down on the dry food and he'd been peeing on his own, quite enthusiastically and voluminously, all over one of the vet techs and on various other animate and inanimate surfaces. I don't know if she said this because it sounded like such a nice story to tell a worried and sad kitty owner, or because it was exactly truly what happened. Who am I to question the power of a loving touch and familiar voice and smell when you've been in a scary place for awhile. Some say love, it is a Big Gulp, or a waterfall, or a running faucet...

Monday, August 25, 2008

I'm lovin' it

Can't help myself. These comments raise another concern I have for the well-being of children of the right-wing zealots: their parents' and grandparents' spelling and grammar tends to be atrocious to the point of comedy.

Not only that, but some of these 'Christian' soldiers couldn't resist the opportunity to complain that not only is McDonald's morally bankrupt, but too many McDonald's employees speak Spanish. The AFA has a bigotry package deal you get when you sign up, I think.
  • "McDonald I am a regular customer in your store but I will not be eating in your store any more because of your open support of gay. I am a christianand God says they are an Abolition and God will deal with them. joyce"
  • "I will definitely boycott. Me and my family, including kids, grandkids, cousins, and parents have received message and agree on boycotting. If I figure right based on just my family alone, will keep about $1300 a year from these idiots. Others that follow should equate to less business."
  • "Yesturday,I purposedly avoided going to McDonalds for dinner. They can count me out as a customer from now on."
  • "I have no problem with you hiring, serving, etc of gays...I have a problem with your prejudice against those of us who are not gay. You should be equal. Do you put funds into the promotion of "normal" sexual relationships????"
  • "I and my family will be buyers at burger king.. You need to change your gay position.."
  • "I will no longer take any of my grand children nor my self to any Mc Donald's restaurant--I also intend to tell others about this decision of mine--I know you also sponser Planned Parent hood--which most of the finincial support they get are uded for abortions"
  • "I won't support you with your gay agenda or hiring illegals."
  • "No more cold limp fries, not so clean resturant and Spanish speaking non- English employees for us. So dad to see our America down the toilet. Married 38 years to a man and have a wonderful MARRIAGE and yes we are BREEDERS, isn't that what the queers call us traditionals that are a family. Funny how they want to adopt a breeders child. Poor choice McDonalds."
[Ed. note: Please please do not confuse this woman with that awesome alt-rock band The Breeders, fronted by the incomparable iron-throated bass-playing crusty rock goddess Kim Deal, whose child (if she were to put one up for grabs) I'd gladly adopt provided it was an open adoption. Don't really see how that's funny, though.]

I'm hungry.

We deserve a break today

Apparently part of the dread homosexual agenda now includes reduction / prevention of childhood obesity among the innocent offspring of right-wing zealots. The American Family Association has called for a boycott of McDonald's because of the corporation's sponsorship of San Francisco Pride and its efforts to stop workplace discrimination against LGBT people.

I confess to a lifelong weakness for McDonald's breakfast when I'm on the road, a weakness that has persisted even after watching "Supersize Me." And when I lived in France for a summer, some 17 years ago, I do declare there were times when I was so lonesome I sought some comfort "chez McDo." If only the Arches were the worst symbol of American power and influence throughout the world...I guess I'm just a little confused about how to feel about the right-wing boycott. It won't cause the Almighty Arches an ounce of grief. They have bigger fish to fry in transfat-free oil. Based on some of the comments I read on the AFA's website, it sounds like the Faithful are marching their children straight to Wendy's anyway, lest they miss this opportunity to develop better eating habits.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dog is in her heaven and all is right

Or, "Chilly Dog."

The A/C registers are Ripley's favorite places. She likes to cram herself into this spot in my office, or just lie down on top of the registers in the floor downstairs. As if there were a sign over each one that said Dog Parking.

Almost Heaven...for Pharmacists

When a tag for this article came up in my Gmail, I couldn't resist clicking to see if Utah was in the top ten. It is not. With the odd exception of Iowa, the top 10 is completely dominated by the Southeast. The article links high rates of medication with high rates of obesity, diabetes, and / or tobacco usage. Not mentioned in the article, as I recall, was the fact that obesity and its accompanying health problems are linked to poverty, and poverty correlates with race. So no surprise that most of the poorest states in the country, with the highest percentages of African-Americans, are among the most medicated. Which comes back to the fact that it is very expensive both to be poor and to blithely allow poverty to persist. But maybe it's a price we're willing to pay in order to carry on with our biases.

California is in the bottom ten. You don't need a prescription for the Napa Valley (though technically you might need one for other medications grown in Northern CA).

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I want to be 41.

41 like Dara Torres. Though by the Summer Olympics XXX in London I'll be just a few weeks shy of 39. Practically a baby. Then after I'm 41, I want to be 63 like Helen Mirren. (In a general sense. My proportions are more like a tree trunk, and I'm not really the bikini-wearing type.)

Then, I'd like to be 70+ like Margaret Bomberg, who you've probably never heard of because she's an attorney / triathlete here in town who, though I'm pretty sure I can outrun her (or can when my running is up to speed), swims circles around me and actually shows up for that 5:30 a.m. spinning class I haven't attended in four or five months. (I haven't been there to check but I just know she's there, on the mornings that she's not swimming or traveling to the world triathlon championships and so forth.) I wish I had a photo. She looks a bit like a 70+ year old version of Dara Torres (which means that she looks more like she's 60-something) except that Margaret's hair is shorter (as is Margaret herself) and she wears business attire to work.

It's a good time for strong grown-up women, recognizing that most of the many ways one can be strong and healthy do not involve having six-pack abs. But it's nice that some people can dedicate enough time to the project to remind us that we have all those muscles, somewhere.

Saturday, August 09, 2008


I wish this could be caught on video. I think Ripley has an inherent agility course-running proclivity. At least once a day, sometime in the morning, she does laps as if she's competing in the 400m. But she is not content to run around and around in a plain old boring oval. At work she does top-speed loops of the enclosed back yard that include detours under the picnic table and through the porch posts and around the trees. In my office (a much smaller area) she goes just as fast around my desk chair, behind the desk, and around the room. This morning at home (while I was watching footage of the opening ceremonies, no less) she invented a course that went around the coffee table, behind the futon, through the kitchen, and back into the living room. She repeats the same course for almost every lap. Tomorrow morning I'll try to count how many laps she does and report back.

Now that she's worn herself out maybe I should go for a run myself.

Friday, August 08, 2008

"It [is still] a pleasure to burn."

I am rediscovering an old favorite. I first read Fahrenheit 451 when I was 10 or 11 and again several times throughout my teens. I had a crush on Ray Bradbury when I was 15, give or take, (he was only 65 or so at the time) and wrote him a lovely warm letter to which he personally responded, saying "Dear Emily: Thank you for your lovely warm letter..."

Irony notwithstanding, I got the unabridged audio version of Fahrenheit at the library recently. Read by the author. I imagine it was produced several years ago and though his diction isn't always completely crisp (I just finished listening to The Picture of Dorian Gray which, as you might imagine, was especially crispy) his rather jolly-sounding voice somehow fits the bleak, chilling (but hopeful) story. I also wonder what it was about the book, and about me, that made me take to it as I did. A penchant for the bleak and chilling? In high school I read Camus' L'├ętranger several times, too. I snuck home from church when I was a mere tot to watch "Alien" and could probably recite most of Bela Lugosi's lines from "Dracula," in a Transylvanian accent, around that time. Religiously entered a place without time or dimension in nightly reruns of the original Twilight Zone and / or The Outer Limits on the little tv I had in my room from the time I was 8 until I was almost 17. In more recent years (and last Monday, in fact), of course there's "X-Files," though I admit that the casting of the show had as much to do with my appreciation of it as did the storylines.

I don't think it's just that penchant, though. Fahrenheit seems scarier and closer to social reality than ever. Flat screen TVs filling up the whole wall, ear bud communicators, random shootings, shutting down all the meaningful parts of public education, shutting down critical thought, social alienation...it's all there as if it came to him in a vision, which it probably did.

Somehow by 10 or 11 the I felt that the status quo was already highly suspect, and I knew it without really grasping what it meant to have Ronald Reagan in office. Fahrenheit stirred up my sense of righteous dissent and made me think that at least a little bit of the world could be saved by committing to memory passages of great literature and scripture (which I have often felt are essentially the same, but that's a subject for another post sometime). My English teachers and professors were subsequently warriors raging against the dying of the light of independent thinking and metaphor and all forms of linguistic art. I knew they would all be locked up when the thought police took over and I hoped I'd get to go with them.

Mr. Bradbury, thanks, for Fahrenheit and Something Wicked This Way Comes and Dandelion Wine and The Martian Chronicles and so many other wonderfully weird and human stories. I will always, always love you. Even if I am taken away for having too many books, or for any other reason. And happy 86th birthday on the 22nd.

Dentist's advice

My tooth still hurts (though not like it did on Wednesday), and it seems very loose. I tracked down the emergency dentist-on-call number for my dentist's office, and lo and behold, my dentist was the emergency dentist-on-call:

Me: My molar with the crown on it has been really sore, and it's loose! I can wiggle it!

Dr. Yu: Stop wiggling it! Take (ibuprofen) and don't chew on that side. I'll be back next Wednesday.

Me: I have an appointment for Thursday. Actually I've been taking vicodin and ibuprofen and I can't bite down on it. But I'll stop wiggling.

So at least there was some therapeutic benefit to the call. She took x-rays only a month ago and nothing was wrong then, so she thinks the tooth has just been pushed around too much by the night guard (which I've ceased wearing). But if I keep up the wiggling I'm sure I'll have the darn thing out in another day or so. It's a gold crown...hmmm...the dentists don't work on Saturday but I'll bet the pawnshops are open.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Since we're on the topic

of health and run-ins with vets and doctors and dodgy dentists, I can announce that my blood pressure is 102 / 70. Not too bad. I wonder what it was when I was training for the NCAC ride. I need a new Event. Or something.

Kato update

I just talked to the vet and she says K is doing fine, though not especially happy about his urethral catheter and Elizabethan collar. He had a pretty big blockage but she said it looked like I'd caught it almost immediately after it happened...his kidney levels and so forth were still normal. Phew. I'm glad Kato waited until I got back from my vacation to have a health emergency. While my roommate is a CNA, I wouldn't expect him to monitor the kitty quite that attentively unless I let him know ahead of time that he needed to watch for something.

What's next?

(Kato, relaxed and making air biscuits, a few months ago)
I don't know if I want to know what's next, actually. My tooth is much better today after a night of no mouthgard...amazing that it could be so painful and then almost fine (I can almost chew on it again!). Whatever I would have spent on the extra dental visit will now go toward Kato's vet bill though. Last night he was sitting forever in his litter box without 'results' of any kind, and he kept getting back in again, still without success. He's never had this problem before but I know cats (especially boys) are prone to this trouble, what with their little ductworks being so little, and that it is very serious. So this morning everyone was packed in his / her respective carrier and taken to the vet. Ripley had her 14-week checkup and next round of booster shots and was pronounced healthy; Kato's bladder was the size of an orange, the vet said, and he'll be staying at the vet overnight for maybe two nights (though I'm hoping he doesn't have to stay two...it's not exactly a cheap motel). He has to be anesthetized for the, er, procedure that will unblock him. Vet said I caught it early. He wasn't showing any other symptoms of illness--no fever, no vomiting--just obviously uncomfortable.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Owwww charlie

I wish Rite Aid carried these. I think they'd work a bit better than what I'm using and the ad suggests that even little children like them. I'm having some kind of dental adventure mystery that won't begin to be solved until tomorrow at 1:45. I haven't experienced this level of pain since the morning after my knee surgery. Though I seem to be still able to blog about it and think of things to which it compares (Dustin Hoffman vs. Laurence Olivier in "Marathon Man" comes to mind) so it can't be all that bad. The toothache drops must be kickin' in.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

More than the sum of our chromosomes

My first thought as I read this NY Times op-ed, "The XY Games" was resentment for the sexism behind the requirement that female athletes have to prove they are sufficiently female. As the author of the article points out, merely testing for the presence of a Y chromosome is inconclusive. It seems like the difficulty and scandal in screening out all the performance enhancing drugs and blood doping makes trying to figure out for sure who's genetically male or female not so relevant. The Greeks had an Olympic gender test too lest any girls try to sneak in. Change is a long time coming. If an athlete who knows inside he's male wants the gold so bad that he's willing to sacrifice his male privilege on the altar, goddess bless him.