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House of Pain

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Hot, sultry breezes stir across my brow as the clouds billows and gather into thunderheads. In the distance, I can hear the drone of a mower, undoing what Summer rains do to grass and the other green things growing there.

The air is faintly sweetened by the confederate jasmine vine in bloom next to me, gentle on my senses. Small beads of sweat gather on my face, all the better to feel the breeze touching me.

Soon, will be the bustle of cooking, eating, and cleaning up after supper.

For now, though, there is the breeze, and the cicadas emerging from their shells, and the knowledge that I am alive, sitting in the shade of an oak tree, next to a jasmine vine on a summer afternoon.

Friday, June 20, 2014

10:07PM - neveah

It is midsummer.

The night air is sultry. Warm and humid, the darkness is filled with the calls of cicadas, crickets, frogs, and other creatures hidden in the night.

The delightful scent of jasmine and fresh cut grass and distant rain mingle with summer sweat and cold sweet tea. This is the smell of paradise.


There is a stray kitten curled up on my chest, quietly vibrating his appreciation of his new family. He's scarcely old enough to be away from his mother, but knows the ins-and-outs of using the litterbox. He hates kibbles, and will stand with all four paws in his wet food as he eats until his little belly looks like he ate a baseball in one bite. He puts both front paws in his water dish as he drinks and comes away with a wet chin.

He will cry outside our bedroom door until we let him in. He immediately curls up between Carl's shoulder and his pillow, eventually ending up tucked under the covers with just his little nose poking out. When either of us gets up to potty, he'll join us and make polite use of the litterbox in our bathroom.

His name is Spider. I mean, he's still so young his eyes are infant grey. He is a spotted grey tabby with white paws (when they're clean) and white "mascara". His coloring is good (dark pink gums and ears) and he is very energetic when he's awake. It's like he has three modes: sleep, devour, and blur.

The rest of The Horde accepted him immediately, each taking their turn washing and grooming him from nose to tail tip. The queens have argued over who gets to "adopt" him, but he's having none of their nonsense. The toms tolerate him chasing their tails and sleeping next to them, snorgled into their sides. He's already figured out (after three days) that his name is Spider and will appear at the mention of his name. He likes to groom my eyelashes and eyebrows.

Monday, June 9, 2014

1:55PM - First Anniversary

A year ago today, Carl and I became legally man and wife.

There has been so much water under the bridge, and over the dam in this past year.

I'll tell ya, the way our relationship is, it seems at once that we have been a couple for a million years, and just since last week. We have always felt like we've known each other forever, and like we just met this exciting new person.

We have been a couple since August of 2008. We were best friends since 2003 or 04. Maybe earlier. My memories of dates gets really fuzzy during that time due to my workaholism.

He is my center of calm. Of all of the billions of people on this planet, I know I can give myself over to him in complete trust.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

4:24PM - Playing Possum

As I had no legitimate reasons to burn over a quarter tank of gas, Carl kept the car today.

It's been kinda nice staying home, puttering here and there. I haven't had to worry about how I look. I haven't had to deal with traffic. I haven't had to listen to Jessica constantly asking for stuff we don't need nor can we afford.

I did, however, have to deal with a young possum.

I had gone outside with the intention of scouting a good place to put a flower bed. As I walked past a five gallon bucket by the front steps, movement caught my eyes and I saw a small, pissed off possum. The poor thing couldn't have been away from its mamma more than a couple of days.

I searched for a local rescuer, but came up empty. Idropped a scant handful of cat food kibbles into the bucket, and as soon as I was out of sight, the little joey started crunching away.

It calmed down a little, and with leather clad hands I gently removed it from the bucket. After seeing no discernable injuries, I put it on the ground. It took off like a shot until confronted by a cat, at which time it bowed itself up as big as it could, gave a loud hiss, then kicked up sand until it got to a place too small for the cat to follow.

I hope the little guy makes it. It was beyond cute when it wasn't displaying all 2000 of its needle sharp teeth.

This episode has me considering getting educated and licensed as a domestic wildlife rehabber. If I had been either of those things, I would most likely have kept it around until it was close to fully grown to ensure its survival.

Now that I know there are possums present, I will be even more diligent about not leaving trash in the yard. I've seen the aftermath of cat vs possum. The cat rarely wins, if it even survives.

Current mood: good

Sunday, June 1, 2014

4:56AM - What's Missing

Carl and I just realized we haven't seen any possums, racoons, or armadillos around here. Also, very few squirrels.

My guess is the neighborhood is just too full of dogs (ours is about the only yard without 2-3 dogs).

Oh, and the cobbler was divine. Wild berries just plain taste better than store bought berries.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

11:44PM - Bounty of Summer

We are settling in nicely into our new home and lifestyle.

Carl got his first paycheck from his lateral transfer. It was less than half of what we are used to, which was already less than enough. It's only temporary, though. Soon, he will be making about 20% more than he was before the transfer. Meanwhile, it is going to be leaner than lean.

That is not what this post is about, though.

This post is about filling in the gaps with the bounty of what grows wild.

When I was a kid, my Daddy took my sister and me out into the wild. He taught us to fish and forage for edible fruits and plants. He showed us what to avoid touching and what plants would help keep insects at bay.

It has been 20 or more years since I have had the opportunity to use this knowledge. The property we live on backs up to JEA high tension power lines. To keep the lines clear, they've created a prairie boardering the oak hammock to also act as a fire brake.

This has allowed an explosion of wild, native edibles to flourish, as well as created a haven for gopher tortoises, mule deer, foxes, rabbits, and an aviary of raptors to turn any well-appointed zoological garden green with envy.

For the next few months, wild blackberries, blueberries, huckleberries, pawpaws (primitive papayas), turtle apples, sumac, indigo (inedible but useful), and saw palmetto shoots will be seeing us through this struggle.

Tonight, we will feast on wild blackberry cobbler topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Current mood: grateful

Thursday, May 29, 2014


Seeker: Do you know the secrets of the universe?

Master: Some of them, yes. All of them? No. Anything useful? Depends.

Seeker: Then tell me, Master, what have you learned?

Master: I will for a price.

Seeker: Name it.

Master: Bring me that star, over to the left, back behind the moon.

Seeker: That's impossible!

Master: It's right there. Go get it, bring it to me, and I will tell you all I know.


Years pass as the Seeker strives to bring the Master the specified price for knowledge, until one day:

Seeker: I have brought the price you required for your knowledge.

Master, incredulous: Have you now?

Seeker: It's right there, to the left, back behind the moon.

Master: Damn you're a slow learner, but alright.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

10:11AM - Strength through Adversity

This past weekend was nice. Amazingly wonderful weather, mostly low to no pain, and very little drama.

Friday it was stormy, and apparently my stove got struck while I wasn't home. At first, it just appeared the oven was damaged, with both heating elements blown out, and the heat box getting slightly damaged.

I put everything to right in the oven and tried to use it. For 15 minutes, it held together. Then blue sparks arced out of the oven, tripped the breaker, and that was that. The stove top still functioned, so we were sorta OK.

Later that night, though, without the stove being used, a small electrical fire started. That was definitely THAT for my poor stove.

Landlord to the rescue! I texted him about what happened Saturday morning and by Sunday afternoon, I had a new(ish) stove.

Saturday, we got So Much Done. The entire laundry washed and hung to dry, the yard cleaned up, and a sapling fence erected over the entrances to the paths the ATV riders Ihave carved through our property.

It has been suggested that we do things that would damage these people's toys. I will not be that person. I don't want to take anyone's fun away, and if they had been respectful of the private property they were driving through, I wouldn't have minded them going through my yard. When they carved out donuts and mud wallers and tore up the entrance of my driveway is when I took offense.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

10:14PM - Feels.

I am having all of the feels today.

All of them.

It's as though my soul is too big for my body to hold. I feel everything. There is no filter.

This is the warning shot over the bow of an impending manic episode. It's been lurking, just over the horizon, running my thoughts in multiple streams.

My impulse control dangles by a damaged thread, beaten, battered, bleeding.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

8:06PM - bad pain day

I woke up this morning in a little bit more pain than I usually do, but it wasn't a surprise really. Yesterday after supper, I went outside to start correcting some of the neglect allowed to pile up by raking and removing several years worth of leaf litter and the trash that was buried in it.

After a while, the pain in my neck and shoulders receded from a six down to a two. I went ahead and did the light housekeeping for Dad. Afterwards, the pain level started creeping back up, but ended up staying a low four. After supper this afternoon, it receded all the way to a one.

And then I got stupid. I somehow got it into my hard head that I needed (like it was imperative) to free what was left of my potted confederate jasmine vine from my wrought iron planter, then dig a hole and plant it in the ground. The job wouldn't be complete until I also tied it to the two iron shepherd's hooks so it wouldn't just be laying on the ground.

Those iron hooks were stuck very firmly into the ground, but not where I needed them to be for the jasmine. I swear to the sweet baby Jesus I heard and felt something snap in my shoulder when I pulled them out of the ground. It didn't hurt at first, it just felt peculiar.

So I kept at it until not only was the jasmine where I wanted it, but other large container gardens were moved and arranged just so to compliment my newly transplanted vine. I got all the way to the part of the task where I'm neatly coiling the waterhose.

As I wound the last coil into place, though, all of the pain hit me at once. When I looked at my now useless arm, I fully expected to see it dangling by a gory thread from my ravaged shoulder.

No such luck.

So now, I am sitting here, waiting for the aleve to do its thing as I pretend my arm isn't on invisible fire.

The really sweet thing is Carl just called me from work, somehow feeling that I might need one of the narcotic pills I had him hide so I would need to ask for a pill instead of having unfettered access to them. I hadn't complained about any of today's pain, nor told him my plans for more yard work. He just knew I was hurting and needed help.

I feel safe about knowing where the pills are, considering I haven't asked for a norco for three days. I'm also still amazed he sensed, 20 miles away, that I was hurting.

Current mood: loved

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

7:18PM - Dammit.

So, I went to the orthopedic surgeon about my shoulder. After looking over my X-rays and testing my range of motion, he determined there ain't a got-damned thing wrong with my shoulder. He thinks the source of my pain and weakness is in my very arthritic neck.

So, fucksticks.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

3:40PM - Giving in...

Giving in isn't giving up, is it? For the second time in less than a month, I am being tested by pain.

I am not a stranger to pain, and I steadily rebuff its charges on my resolve to remain narcotic free.

And then, the pain got the better of me. Full on yelling and crying, wishing for the release only death can bring.

Last Sunday, I wrenched my shoulder getting out of the moving truck. Today's diagnosis is a likely rotator cuff tear/detachment in my right shoulder.

Carl took me to the emergency room just as dawn lightened the sky. I was seen immediately, examined, and my neck and shoulder were exhaustively xrayed.

My bones look good, with no obvious defects.

However, and it chilled me and comforted me, but staring back from the cervical aspect views was my Mother's face. Not obvious like a living portrait, but there in my bones. I hear Mamma in my laugh, which haunts me. I do see a resemblance to her in my reflection, but seeing her skull peering at me through the shadows cast by my flesh was almost too much.

I have aspired, all of my life, to be at least as good as my Mamma's best parts while not only forgiving her worst parts, but accepting them. It is through these efforts to be as capable and strong as she was that I keep getting physically hurt.

I feel like a failure because of that.

I feel like a failure, also, because I gave in to the pain. I couldn't stand in the face of it any longer. I am only taking a tiny dose (5mg) of oxycodone, and it's not enough to completely banish the pain, but enough to make me not want to die just to escape the pain. I fear the fallout once all treatments have ceased and the pain is once again manageable. Am I just crawling back into the pill bottle I suffered for so long to be free of?

I want my Mamma to tell me it's going to be ok, that she approves of my home, and that she loves me in spite of my inability to just forge through the pain. I miss her so much, I would even welcome her harsh judgements.

Current mood: crushed

Thursday, April 24, 2014

10:36AM - pain update

We left our intrepid heroine in the throes of intractable pain in her right shoulder. Nothing would relieve the pain: ice, heat, rest, OTC pain relievers all failed.

This morning, as I got dressed (which involved reaching behind my back), a sickening pop came from my shoulder. As I recovered from the jolt which left me dizzy, the pain began to fade and I can now use my arm, which previously hung uselessly at my side. It's still weak, but I can move my arm in almost every direction again.

In conclusion, I think it may have been dislocated. I need to have it seen to (eventually) because randomly dislocating a joint is not healthy.

Current mood: relieved

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

1:57PM - ow

Several years ago, I fucked my right shoulder good and thoroughly.

I never got it fixed, but I adapted to diminished use and occasional pain.

Right now, it hurts so bad I am nauseous from the pain.

I would give everything I own for my arm to just fall off.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

11:18AM - The Inconvenient Tree

This weekend was moving day. Holy fuck me running, Batman. I haven't slept since Thursday. We were too wound up and nervous to sleep Friday, so gave up trying and went to Denny's. Then we were at it on Saturday, packing and loading the largest U-Haul available. We crammed that shit slap to the rafters and still needed to make another trip.

The really fun part came in trying to park the truck at the new place. I tried it one way, and then another. We tried to park that thing literally until 8am. It just wasn't happening thanks to The Inconvenient Tree.

The Inconvenient Tree was juuuuust low enough on it's secondary bough that to try to squeeze past it to line up with the front door threatened catastrophe. Eventually, I couldn't move another inch, so gave up and just dragged the mattress and bedding inside to try to sleep.

The next morning, Easter, the fellas showed up to put the master bathtub in. It's half done, but for now, it's ok. They helped get the appliances in, only slightly damaging them and the house.

Then we went to dinner at Dad's. I mentioned the Inconvenient Tree, and Dad went and retrieved the electric chainsaw. It was almost dark by the time we got back to the new place, but the truck needed emptied, time was eunning short, and we had more shit to get.

I hopped out of the car, grabbed the chainsaw, plugged it in, and just whaled on that tree. Well, maybe not whaled. I examined it, studied it, and determined that some restraint was called for. I found the perfect place to trim off, and in the dark, cut the offending limb off.

I got the truck perfectly lined up and docked in one pass with that Inconvenient Limb off of the now No Longer Inconvenient Tree.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

7:38PM - Crap!

There's a couple things in today's post.

First thing, we're moving this weekend. It's going to be wet and miserable, but dammit. It's time to peel this bandaid off and just get it over with.

The second thing is about pain. Like, I got a cortisone shot in my left knee. It was not hurting, but the knee stopped crunching and popping, so I could half walk quietly.

Until yesterday. Holy Crow. It's still quiet, but fuck if it doesn't hurt like a bitch with every step. It's a sharp, stabby pain that lasts for a second, but makes that knee buckle. I've wrapped it in ace bandages until I can get a brace tomorrow, but it doesn't help all that much. If this is going to be the reaction my knee has to a shot, I'm done with the shot. If it's just coincidental, then OK. Meanwhile, insert disappointed pouty face here, ya know?

So, to sum up: we're moving this weekend, but it's gonna be extra sucky with a bum knee and cold, wet weather.

Current mood: disappointed

Sunday, April 13, 2014

10:47AM - *sigh*

Carl has gotten hired on at the main paper mill. He starts May 14. He was one of two hired from a pool of about 60 qualified applicants. I am very proud of him.

However. It's gonna suck, bigtime. The first 30 days over there will be a pay cut by half of what he is making now. He will be working "shift work" which will be a shifting schedule that will be difficult to adjust to.

The good news is that he will retain his seniority and benefits, and there will be much more room for advancement. He had reached the highest pinnacle at the box plant without becoming management (which is lower pay, fewer benefits, and no job security with such a high turn over rate, none of the guys ever bother to learn their names).

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

1:41PM - And So It Is

I kept the appointment with the orthopedic surgeon. He was unconcerned with my calf since whatever happened didn't happen while running. My knees, on the other hand, are quite arthritic. So, he sent me for an MRI of the left knee to see what can be done.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover I have already met my deductible for the year, so the MRI was zero out of pocket. I have a follow up next Tuesday to find out where I go from here.

Monday, April 7, 2014

6:22PM - owie and a miracle

A miracle occurred in Yulee yesterday: my landlord called me to meet him at the hardware store with a list of what's left to purchase to finish the trailer.

He couldn't get everything this week, but did get quite a bit. He said he was humbled by how hard we've worked to get this thing done, and the creative ways we've turned expensive things into affordable things.

With that boost to our desire to finish, we spent the day Sunday working our butts off. I only managed to get a gallon of primer up, but that covered the master bedroom and most of the kitchen. There was much prepping done, and then painting. It would have gone faster if I hadn't murdered my Really Nice paintbrush with oil paint. The El Cheapo paintbrush required frequent cleanings to settle the bristles, and it didn't like holding onto the paint, nor spreading it once it accepted the paint. Then there was the hell step ladder, seemingly designed to cause as much foot and leg pain ad possible.

When I finally called it quits, I was so hurting I could barely move without wishing my legs and shoulders would just fall off and get it over with already. I was feeling marginally better this morning, but held off doing any more work.

Tomorrow, I get to see an orthopedic surgeon. I don't know what to expect, other than getting told I'm fat and out of shape and to just expect aches and pains as I age, even ones that make me scream in agony.

Current mood: anxious

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

10:21PM - Ain't no rest for the wicked

I had a moment to spare this afternoon, so I went and checked on the new floor paint.

Miraculously, the paint dried where there was still glue on the floor. I think the warm, dry weather helped, plus an additional month of weathering the surface.

Unfortunately, I won't have time until this weekend to put more paint down, but at least I know it'll dry.

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