Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Dog Crack

We had no idea, when purchasing a bag of natural, organic-type cheesy poofs, what we were doing. They were good, though, and when I made out my online order for Capitol Center Foods, I added a bag of baked Cheetos.

I am to blame.

Dr. B and I happily munched as we watched BBC's Robin Hood, and unbeknownst to me, I created an addict.

Lucy was looking at us, with that "I'd really not mind at all if you'd let me have some of that" look she's so good at, combined with the "but no worries, I know it's not for me--no pressure or anything" head tuck which makes her so very endearing. I tossed her a cheeto.

CRUNCH! CRUNCH! Slurp! Slurp!

She had a slightly crazed look in her eye.

"No more!" I said, pulling the bag closer to me. "Now go lie down." She obliged, but kept an eye on that bag from her bed under the window, her ears perking up with every crinkle. About an hour later, she was ordered to leave the room when she let fly one of her trademark Green Cloud© farts. Seriously. These things are so potent, they could melt the contact lenses right to your eyeballs.

The next afternoon, while watching some mindless movie, I ate a few more cheetos. I must have brushed my fingers off on the blanket I had on my lap. Lucy came over to see me, and licked my fingers to get the cheez dust off them.

Then, she started to lose it.

She licked my fingers. She licked my hand. She licked the blanket. And licked it. And kept licking it. Until it was soaking wet.

"Go!" I yelled. "Get away! No more cheetos for you!"

The other night, I was upstairs, bed bound with a bum shoulder and knee. I heard her running around, crazily, from room to room, barking and letting out little yips (which she never does--she is a very quiet dog.)

"What did you do to her?" I yelled down, expecting that Dr. B would just say the usual--that she had to poop and he was going to take her for a walk.

"Nothing," he answered. "She just ate her food! All of it! She just gulped it down. Well, I did put two cheetos in her bowl..."


*Photo from Wikipedia.


I wasn't faking it...

The physical therapist thinks I may have torn my rotater cuff in my shoulder. She was much more concerned about it than about my knee, which I kind of can't do much of anything about at this point. I must say that I liked her a lot--her bedside manner made up for the surgeon's. (Yes, I know he's good. He is still kind of a jerk, though.)

So, here I sit, again.


But, I have grades to work on, and Grandmas to call, so I better hop to it. (Ha)


Tuesday, October 24, 2006


My dear friend Vivi led me to Frog with a Blog, who had this brilliant video, showing what it's like to make the morning commute in Paris.

And right now, I'm missing two things desperately.


And Walking.



Monday, October 23, 2006

Doctors' Orders

Well, I guess I overdid it.

My shoulder started hurting. Thinking I just laid on it wrong, I went to bed. Woke up, it was worse. Laid there until the pain was so bad I was crying--then Dr. B said, "let's get you in the tub (I really needed a bath) and go to the doctor." So we headed into the bathroom, and called a nurse for advice. While talking to her, I got really dizzy, started dry heaving and almost fainted.

So, we called 911, and the paramedics came, and took me to the ER.

No bath for me.

They put me in a sling for my arm, which they thought was just strained, and gave me pain meds, and put me in a leg immobiliser for my knee. The doc was very concerned that it wasn't straightening, ordered me not to go to work for 3 days, to stay on the main floor of the house, and to see the Orthopaedist TODAY.


Still no bath.

So, I've spent the last I don't know how long flat on my back, bored out of my gourd. Last night, Dr. B rigged up a MacGuyver wheelchair (a moving dolly with a crate and a pillow), rolled me into the kitchen, and washed my hair for me. It wore me out, and the pain was horrible. As soon as he rolled me back to the couch, I fell asleep, exhausted. We woke up early, called for an appointment, and did the best we could to clean me up without moving me much. Which means? Washcloth, tupperware, soap and water. Not the most sanitary or comfortable of bathing experiences.

I did get to see the ortho guy today, on sort of an emergency basis. He is, from what I hear, a great surgeon. Arrogant, know-it-all, and kind of a prick? Exactly. He told me he was a trumpet player. Somehow, this did not surprise me at all. Waggled my arm and leg around like a marionette, but knew exactly what was going on, and quizzed his med student with a big grin on his face, while I moaned in pain.

"She just told you what happened, she told you the exact diagnosis! What is it?" he said, as I grit my teeth to keep from screaming.

The meek little med student stammered, and tried to hide behind the examining table.

"Move! Move!" he ordered her, and came around to bend my leg this way and that.

"Torn ACL. That was the 'POP' you heard back in 2005 when you did your original injury. Did you see? I could pull your leg right apart! There's nothing holding it together! You've been getting by on a wing and a prayer. Plus, the meniscus is most likely torn. And the reason you can't straighten your leg is that either a piece of the meniscus or else the end of the ACL tendon is flipped up and jammed between the bones of your knee. That's what's causing all the pain when you try to straighten it."


Physical therapy, for the knee and for the shoulder (which he said is strained and has tendonitis from the crutches and lifting myself up stairs), then an MRI to be sure, then a few weeks after that? Surgery.

Well, at least it will be over.

But, for some odd reason, all the flapping about of my arm he made me do actually helped, and it doesn't hurt nearly as much now. He told me I have to move it, or it will hurt more, and it appears he knows what he's talking about. I am on only Tylenol now, and the pain isn't bad at all. I even made it upstairs for a bath and (ahem) other things I'm not comfortable doing in the living room. (Thank heaven for the loan of a small porta potty when I needed it, but there are certain things you just don't want to do sitting next to the couch.) I'm staying up here tonight, on a real bed. And I'm clean!!! I can't tell you what a real relief it is to wash yourself, all over, with real water, and lots of it! REAL WATER! No damp washcloth and pail for me, no sirree! Ahhhhhh...

So regardless, I am still stuck here, and on doctors' orders to not work for the next two days. I have PT on Wednesday, and Thursday and Friday are teachers convention (which I am skipping due mainly to the knee, but also partially to the fact that this year's lineup of presentations really stinks, frankly, and I don't know why I should spend 90 bucks to go and not get paid for those days teaching anyway, being a sub.)

And I've put out the call for reading material care packages--my step-mom and mother-in-law have promised me books.

There's only so much 'Clean House' a girl can watch, after all.

*Illustration from


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Butt-Scootin' Boogie!*

Well, I am still here, though not up on my feet yet. Dr. B is running around like a chicken with his head cut off doing everything for me and still working more than full time as a post doc. He's in training time, with 8 new students to get up to speed, and his research depends on their work, so he's a bit stressed. Combine that with the cooking, cleaning, laundry doing, dog walking, dog feeding, dog vet-taking-to (she has a rash), dog cream putting-on, carrying me food, water, juice, ice packs, my crutches, my school bag, my purse, my sweater, my pants, shirt, underwear, socks, helping me to get up stairs, into the bath, into the car, into school, driving me to school and from school, picking up things at the store, and all the other things on the agenda--well, let's just put it this way. He has a right to be crabby.

But, as usual, he's a darling, and still tells me he loves me and I'm beautiful and he wouldn't have it any other way. (There must be something in the water--I swear, I am NOT feeding him any drugs!)

The knee is getting a little stronger, though, and I am able to touch the foot down when brushing my teeth. I still can't straighten it, or put much weight on it, but I am feeling a little bit better and things are getting easier. Kids and staff at school are super helpful, and even brought me a wheelchair to use at one school (this has been awesome). Another friend sent a Cryo-Cuff, which allows me to change my own ice pack without getting up--wonderful!

And I have perfected the BSB*. This was a technique taught to me by Dr. Isabel, another researcher at Jeff's lab and his boss's wife, who also went through this (as did his boss. Seems to be very common.)

As we left the ER, we were met by Marc and Isabel, who came to check on me after the party, worried that I was really hurt. Isabel, in her adorable (yet sometimes difficult to discern) Spanish accent, told me, "I have something very important. You need to know this. It is the only way!"

"For the stairs! You sit. Then you use your arms and your other leg, and you push and go up one by one. On your butt. Lift your other leg up!!! It is hard, and it takes time, but it is the only way."

She's right. And I'm getting better at it. I can make it up the stairs without stopping for a rest now (first night I stopped for 3). The only hiccup is our front porch when it rains.

I guess that's why God invented junk mail.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Sad News: Updated

A few days ago, as I was driving to work in the morning, I heard the news of a random shooting in Milwaukee, about 90 minutes to the east of Madison. It seems a sandwich delivery man had been shot four times when attempting to return to his truck after making a drop off, in a "not bad" neighborhood of the city. His death made the 87th murder this year in Milwaukee. The story was replayed time and time again, and as I listened each time, I just couldn't understand why it happened. It just didn't make sense--it was just a random act of violence.

Then, his name was released. Joseph Munz, 21, of Lodi.

Joe used to play trumpet in my band at St. Michael's School in Dane, back in 1999-2000, when we first came to Wisconsin. I taught at St. Michael's for one year, and in that time got to know and care about the 29 students who made up the K-8 school.

They say the good die young, that God sometimes takes the good ones to heaven early. With this one, it is so very unfortunately true. Joe was one of those kids you always remember--quiet, well-behaved, prepared, honest, kind, trustworthy--someone you would describe as "salt of the earth". He was one of the kids I would have trusted to babysit my own kids, had I had any at the time. (This is saying a lot--we middle school teachers see kids at their best and worst!) I knew he was a special soul, even then. He was one of the rare ones that just never seemed to have a nasty bone is his body. His family was the kindest, most patient and loving that I had met, and I considered him to be a very special and lucky young man. He was from a large family, and had many brothers and sisters who also lived in the area. He was looking forward to playing football at Lodi High School when he left St. Mike's, but he always remained grounded and faithful to his life where he was. I remember him as a sort of leader at the tiny school, carrying the statue of the Virgin during May Crowning, followed by all the younger students, who looked up to him, as someone they wanted to be like, an example of what it meant to live your life the right way.

One day, as I left my other school for my lunch-time drive to Dane (through curvy back roads, hills, highways, farms and tiny towns), I was a bit behind. I knew I would be late, but couldn't get cell phone reception, so I just plowed ahead as best I could.

When I arrived, Joe was waiting, with a teasing look in his eye. He smiled, and said, "You're late!"

"I know. There was an accident, on the Beltline Highway. It really slowed things down. Looked bad; the car was on fire. I don't know if the driver was OK or not."

"Oh," he answered, and his face fell. "I'm really sorry," he whispered.

I knew that Joe would pray for those people that day. He was just that kind of kid.

Joe's funeral is today. I had planned to attend, to drive those curvy back roads again. I just wanted to let his family know, and the nuns at the school, that Joe had touched many lives, and that he would always be remembered.

Unfortunately, something stepped in and prevented it--last night, the "popping" of my knee happened again, as I jumped from the car to run to the guy in front of us at the stop sign, to let him know he had lost a hub cap. This time, though, it didn't go back in. We went to the ER, and the doctor thought I had probably torn my meniscus repeatedly,though he wasn't exactly sure, but the damage was worse than before. The previous times, he said it had probably been able to sort of reset itself on the tear, but that this time the cartiledge just couldn't reset. My knee is very, very sore, I am on crutches again, and here I sit, a prisoner in my own home. Thankfully, Dr. B is an angel, and is taking care of everything for me. I am thankful that he has the flexibility in his work to set his hours and be available when I need him. He'll likely be driving me to work for a while, because the clutch is not something I can handle right now. I'll see an orthopedic doctor this week, and surgery may be in my future.

But, I do consider myself very lucky, as friends of mine are going through something so very much worse that just my knee.

So if you're so inclined, I would thank you to add Joe's family and friends, and my dear friend, Vivi, to your growing list of prayers/positive healing energy/holding in the light. This world can use all the positive energy it can get right now. Thank you.

(* Photo from The Milwaukee Channel,


They got him, and he confessed.

I hope now Joe and his family have found a small measure of peace.

What an incredible waste of two young men's lives.


Sunday, October 08, 2006


I can't believe it. France is banning smoking in public places.

WOWEE!!! And what a shock! Maybe the French aren't twenty years behind the US, as so many say.

Vive le droit de respirer!!!


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

"Your Shipment...

Has been pulled aside by the US Government to be X-rayed.

We have no idea when you'll get it. We wish we could help you, but we can't. This is the US Government we're talking about. Don't even think about arguing.

And it will cost you more, payable to the good old US of A. Anywhere from 25 dollars to SEVEN HUNDRED."


They're going to charge us for used clothing, garage sale finds, and boxes of books that were too heavy to carry on the plane.

And let me guess, the container that has the refugees or the drugs or the guns or the counterfeit items? That one will sail right through...

Well, at least they're checking some of them.

Too bad the same doesn't happen for our elected representatives.

(But honestly, I don't want to know any more about that. Please, just lock him up forever and get those victims some serious therapy. And DON'T let it happen again. Ever. [shudder] )


Sunday, October 01, 2006

Handy Andy

Until now, Dr. B and I have both been so busy getting our working life in order, we haven't had a lot of time for around the house kind of fix-it things. Friday I spent mostly sitting on the couch fervently trying to get healthy again after the first cold of the season threatened, and I found that after some OJ, extra sleep, DayQuil, Theraflu, vitamins and lots of yucky-tasting Zinc lozenges, I actually felt quite a bit better.

Finally, a weekend dawned with no plans, no pressing assignments, and several "to do" items on our list. After some intense errand running, we returned home on Saturday afternoon with several new shelving units to assemble (thanks to a 50% off sale at Shopko) and a few pairs of inexpensive Venetian blinds to cover the three windows upstairs that didn't already have them. After a delicious homemade brunch on Sunday morning (Dr. B's own creation of chèvre, shallot, green pepper and ham omlettes, with toast and jam and yogurt and coffee), we decided to tackle some of the things on the list. I followed Dr. B upstairs, returned down to fetch the tape measure, then another trip for the screwdriver, then yet another trip for a chair to stand on, and as he began to drill holes for the blinds, I went into the other room, searching through boxes to find something I just knew was there.

"Would you get back in here?!?!?!" he shouted. "I need you!"

I went back into the room.

"Hand me the drill."

"Oh, you need me for that? Get it yourself," I said, the wheels turning in my head of just where said very important item could be.

"You're supposed to be helping me. This is helping. Now stay here!" he said, grumpy and irritated.

I myself was equally grumpy and irritated at the thought of being forced to sit at his side and hand him a pencil or a screw or a level when he could just as well get it himself. I flopped down on the bed and sighed audibly.

He worked away at putting up the blinds, every few minutes punctuated with some rather colorful language. As he dropped a handful of screws, he let out a howl that would have woken the dead, followed by some other words that would have made most of them blush.

"Boy, you can tell that your brother (the professional carpenter) got the majority of the fixit skills," I said with a grin, as I handed him the screwdriver.

He glowered down at me, and began muttering under his breath. He worked feverishly, determined that he alone could hang the blinds, and that I, ingrateful person that I am, had no right whatsoever to complain.

At last, the brackets were ready. I handed him the blinds, and turned back to my side project of assembling a shelving unit, jumping up every time he barked to hand him the clip, screw, pencil, or whathaveyou that he couldn't bear to bend to retrieve.

"Finally!" he trumpeted. "At last. Now, take a look at this," he said, as he loaded the blinds, slid in the covers, and pulled on the cord.


The blinds came flying out of the brackets, scaring the dog out of the room and launching me into a fit of giggles as Dr. B let out another string of words that would've made my Grandma smack him and threaten to wash his mouth out with Lava.

"Handy Andy, you're not," I said, as I bent to retrieve the blinds and hand him the center bracket, which obviously would need to be attached.

"DON'T CALL ME THAT!!!" he shreiked, angry at my reference to my Mom's nickname for my Dad, used most often when something had blown up in his face and singed his eyebrows and eyelashes. "Knock it off! I don't call you 'Grace' when you do something klutzy," he pouted.

"Yes, you do. And then when I get mad, you tell me to 'Simmer down, White Fang.' So 'Handy Andy' you are," I said, and giggled again. "Do you want a beer?"

"Yes. But we don't have any," he said as he drilled the holes for the center bracket, and screwed it in place.

"Oh, how about a glass of wine? I'd go around the corner and get some, but I can't buy any beer. It's Sunday; it's illegal in Wisconsin to sell beer on Sunday."


"Calm down, it's always been that way. How about a glass of wine?"

"No wine glass. A tumbler. I don't want to break that, too!"

Another string of nasty syllables came rushing out, as he realized he had put the bracket up upside down. Another followed a few minutes later, when he realized the bracket, fully screwed in and ready, was a full inch too far to the right.

I made my way downstairs, and opened the cupboard, searching for a cup he couldn't break. The only wine open was a Côtes du Rhône, and I was a little worried that though it would be in a definitely unbreakable cup, he would still manage to spill it everywhere, staining everything a purply red.

I handed the 'glass' to him, with a warning to be careful anyway.

"This isn't funny! NOT FUNNY!!!" he yelled as he took the Rubbermaid kids cup I handed him.

"Yes, it is. It's very funny. Now drink your wine. We've got two more windows and three more bookshelves to go."

**Note: after one little sippy-cup of wine, Dr. B put up the other two sets of blinds and assembled the three shelving units, with my help of course, with nary a complaint. He even smiled. From now on, wine first, power tools second. This may not work for everyone, but for us? A necessity.