Saturday, December 29, 2007


Still reeling from all that's happened in a very short time.  It doesn't help that the post-Christmas rush at the store isn't.  Today I probably checked through about a dozen people during my eight hour shift.  I spent the balance of my time facing the drug department, bringing in carts from the rain and hail and returning go back items to their places.  Anyone who came into the store today got great customer service, at least from me, because I was begging for things to do.  

I'm not sure where to go from here.  I have this feeling like I've been pushed off a cliff.  I'm fairly certain I can fly, but I'm not sure how well I can or where I should try to land.  It's all clouds and wind and storm when I look through one eye and a strange room with firelight and shadows watching me in another.

No, I'm not becoming schizophrenic so don't make an appointment for me and then drive me to it.  I think I'm just experiencing the equivalent of an emotional concussion.  Like a concussion, right now it doesn't feel bad.  I just feel fuzzy and disconnected and I have this strange sense of safety within chaos, and a sense that if I put a toe out it'll get lopped off.

Which means, of course, I have to put a toe out, or better, my whole foot, and start that first step toward walking.  Don't want to get stuck here.

Once upon a time I made a high altitude flight as part of my paragliding certification.  When I hit a strong updraft the universe showed me what it's really like to have a god lift you up.  It's like jumping off the high dive in reverse.  I had no control.  Wind, rather than gravity, had taken over and Its force overwhelmed me.

Sometimes all you can do is yell "Weeeee!"  Or in this case, all I can do is say none of this is about me.  It's about beings I care about and forces beyond all our control.  I doubt any of us will be inspired to yell "Weeee!" and put our hands in the air, but we can hold each other as long as we can and hope the wind sets us down gently.  But if holding on is what I should do, why do I feel like I should fly?  And where should I go?  So I'm going round and round.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

What I Didn't Do for the Holidays

I didn't send out cards (yet! I still might!) and I didn't run around town delivering presents.  One by one I hope to tick things off my list, if not all then some of them.  This holiday has been one of the most intense since my father passed away on Christmas day in 1990.  Loss and shocking news, warmth and joy, and perfectly timed snow.  It's a lot for one person all at once.

So here's one thing off my list, a tag from Kevin, better late than never.  

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Can't I have both?  If I have to choose, then egg nog, but only if it's the real stuff and has rum in it.  And where's the mulled wine and spiced cider?  They always get left out.  Well, I guess they don't at our house.
2. Does Santa wrap the presents or just sit them under the tree? He wraps them in real cloth with gorgeous ribbon.  That's how you can tell the gifts apart from the kind you get from family and friends.
3. Colored or white lights? White and the smaller the better, because they look like stars.  I like colors but white will always be my favorite, especially the bluish white.
4. Do you hang mistletoe? Usually.  Not every year.  Unfortunately it doesn't grow this far north or I'd send Rory up an oak to gather it.  Sounds mean but he likes that sort of thing.
5. When do you put your decorations up? Changes year to year.  Usually shortly before Yule (December 21) because we bring in a living tree and it can only be in the house so long before it breaks dormancy.  Breaking dormancy during winter is a bad thing, btw.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish? Oh man, you're going to make me choose?  Roast duck.  Prime rib.  My grandmother's potato salad.  Spiral-sliced ham.  Homemade fruit compote (haven't had that in years!)  
7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? My Uncle Frank (I miss you!) took my sister and I out for a walk in the snow while the family piled the presents they'd hidden around the house under the tree.  When we got back my mom rang a bell and announced Santa had arrived while we were gone.  It was a magical moment, with the quiet, peaceful time followed by the burst of sound and color.
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? When I took up the torch and began giving.  I love playing my part.
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yes.  When I was a child we used to open all our gifts on the eve, and then stockings were for the morning.  These days we usually open a gift on Yule, a gift on Christmas eve and everything else on Christmas morning.  This schedule is the kids' choice--we'd be okay with opening them all on Yule but they want to delay gratification as long as possible.  We've also done the twelve days before but that became too much for us.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? With gifted and inherited decorations.  I don't think I've ever bought a decoration for myself, except tinsel.  Some years I did popcorn and cranberry strands but most years I do tinsel or ribbon and the ornaments and lights.
11. Snow: Love it or hate it? I love the snow.  I don't even try to drive in it most of the time, which is a treat.  I like being cooped up in the house on accidental purpose.
12. Can you ice skate? Yes.  I'm not very good but I learned from my father at a young age.  My father played ice hockey and he was very good.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? As a child, it was my very first 'grown up' stereo.  I love music and that was the best thing for a long time.  As an adult--I'm typing on it right now.  But these things change year to year. 
14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Romance!  Actually, that was just to rib Kevin.  I love doing things with and for the kids and Rory.  It seems like we connect on a much deeper level during the holidays, whether it's holding vigil, keeping the flame, playing board games or running around town finding gifts and keeping secrets so that we can enjoy the moment of surprise when a gift is opened.  I love the sense of peace and calm in the morning, and being all together for more than an hour or two.  I love the break from the routine of work, eat and rest cycles and declaring this is family time, and it's wonderful that just about everyone else agrees and doesn't interfere.
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Shortbread, truffles, cream puffs, rum balls, apple pie.
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Vigil and the keeping of the flame.
17. What is on top of your tree? A crimson bird, of course.
18. Which do you like best giving or receiving? I love giving the perfect gift.
19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? The Holly and the Ivy.  I wish the original pagan version was still around.  Some folks have attempted to 'restore' it with mixed success.  I find it interesting that so much of the pagan lyrics survived, especially in the first verse and chorus.
20. Do you like candy canes? I like the small ones.  The big ones are just too much.  And they have to be real mint.  Flavors--yech.  I guess the cinnamon ones are okay.


Looks like my brother-in-law is in for a big fight, but one that he can outlast the enemy.  We're all thinking our best thoughts for him.

My grandmother suffered a blood clot injury that has permanently blinded her in one eye.  I'm just glad she didn't have a stroke.  More tests ensuing.  I thought from her description that something went wrong with a scar from her cataract surgery.  Now I'm so very sorry that I didn't worry more and insist that she go to the emergency room on Christmas Eve.  I guess no one expects these things to happen.  Secretly I hope that the doctors are wrong and that some sort of regeneration is possible so my beloved grandma can have sight restored to what had been her good eye.

In more lighthearted news, apparently we're in for a big snow storm.  I'm going to see if I can't get Rory to call in to work.  He probably won't, but it's worth a try.  The stuff they're having him do right now he's whipping through much more quickly than they've budgeted time for, so it won't hurt any projects, but on the other hand I don't think he wants to lose the work hours.  Plus, he prefers to be as dependable as is humanly possible.

I worked some more on my website.  It's really addicting.  I have to put some time into writing and marketing now, so that'll be it for the site for now.  It was fun doing something different.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Day Later

We're still having fun.  More snow, more inventive things to do with hot chocolate, more relaxation and playing with new toys.  Especially the kitties.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Merry One

We got an entertaining amount of snow today.  At one point I was thinking sheesh, whoever set us up for a white Christmas really outdid themselves.  Big, fluffy (meaning the air was really warm) flakes quickly gathered up on the ground.  We played Jimmy Buffett (not the Christmas album) and danced to our favorite songs, watched Terminator (the boy got the DVD as a gift) and played Chinese checkers, which I haven't been able to do forever because we didn't have a board.  

I wish I wasn't such a poopyhead yesterday.  I wanted to run around and deliver presents.  Instead I moped until we had to leave in the early afternoon for my mom's for Christmas Eve stuff.  We ate good food and talked and shared gifts and did family stuff in the house I grew up in.  Which is all for the good, but now I have lots of gifts under the shrub that need to be with their families and aren't yet.  It's the forest of undelivered toys.  I've been a very naughty Santa this year.

Still, we had a very good family day.  The house is warm, and it's still white outside.  I have lots of good memories.  Big dogs playing in the snow.  Mint hot chocolate.  Duck dinner.  Rory and Orion chasing each other around the house.  Birds darting around the feeders.  The quiet as traffic slows down to nearly non-existent.  Festive fire in the upstairs fireplace, and a vanilla candle burning on the altar.  Cats chasing a laser pointer.  Eating breakfast at the table, all of us together at once.  We have it very good here, and I'm very thankful for that.

Snow on the deck.   

Juncos, chickadees, towhees and nuthatches
 are our primary visitors.  Nuthatches don't like chickadees and visa versa.  They avoid each other when possible, but sometimes they can't avoid a squabble.  I was surprised that I didn't see any scrub jays today.  

Something about the snow makes our birds particularly voracious.  We've had much colder days without this many birds showing up at the feeder.  When snow comes it must be much harder for them to find food on the ground, and that would make anyone frantic, even if the snow is very thin like it was today.

Monday, December 24, 2007


This is the first morning in a long time that I've woken up depressed.  Bad things happen in life pretty often and most days I can flow with that, not take it personally, feel it without being crushed.  I'm not sure what made this morning different.  
We got a call a few days ago that my brother-in-law has cancer.  Test results come back today.  Doug is one of my favorite people, and he makes my sister (in law, full in heart) Kristi so happy.  Please think good thoughts for both of them.
When I first woke up I heard someone nibbling in the dog bowl and for whatever reason I assumed it was Mojo.  I about bolted out of bed, worried that Dakota would take exception and snap at him, but then I remembered.
"Free Falling" came on the radio this morning.  They played that song at Andy's funeral.  I guess it hit me especially hard because we usually see him at Christmastime.  Not long ago we got him a copy of The Richest Man in Babylon.  I don't know where I'm going with this--it's just in my head.

Now that you're all sad for me, I'll be a bad person and wish you all a Merry Christmas.  I hope you had a wonderful Yule.  The longest night of the year has passed.  It only gets lighter and warmer from here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Shameless Plugs and a Dog Note

I wanted to mention that my website and Rory's website are both at a point that we'd love to have the word go out about them.  Tell your friends.  Tell your family.  We'll keep updating them and adding stuff, but what we have there now (I think) is nice enough that we'd be happy for visitors.  And please feel free to sign our guestbooks.  It's nice to see friendly names there.  I have a feeling that eventually the spam bots will find us, and at that point we'll have to shut them down.  Before that happens, we'd love to hear from everyone that stops by.

Second, a probably needless reminder that Rory's book is available on preorder from  He has a link to it from his website.

In other news, Finn has a yeast infection in his ears.  For those of you who have dogs with floppy ears in particular, but pretty much any dog, the ears should look really clean even if the rest of the dog isn't.  Dirty ears are often a sign of yeast or bacterial infections or mites.  Another sign is the head shaking.  Dogs shouldn't shake their heads very much.  This apparently is prime season for yeast infections in dogs, so keep a look out.  Finn is doing well and he'll be done with his meds in about ten days.  The vets were very happy to see him.  The last time he visited, he was about twenty pounds.  Now he's 88 and thriving.  Mojo's loss was hard on them too, and we all needed the pick-me-up of a healthy animal coming in for a minor problem.  

You're such a good dog, Finn.  Thank you for being a love.

IKEA of Doom

I'm going to take a stab at writing about something else besides Mojo.  My heart is full and my arms are empty and it's hard not to constantly express myself in an effort to dull the ache.

We went to IKEA yesterday, before we saw the vet.  The boy had gone with his grandma once before but it was my first time.  I went in determined to window shop and not buy a thing.

Ha ha ha.  Foolish mortal.  None can withstand the IKEA, none!

I started out great.  All that furniture, and I could just look and admire and daydream.  Fabulous pillows, you do not tempt me.  Inexpensive sleeper beds in just the right color, get thee behind me!  Gorgeous wardrobe that would fit beautifully in our closet and is a perfect Asian-influence style that I know Rory would love--whatever.  We don't need it right now.  Our house has all that we need in it.  So there!

And then, after lunch, we hit the downstairs.  I'm sure it always starts with a little thing.  There's a hamper for the boy, so cheap, cheaper than what I can get with my employee discount, and since he's getting the big furniture from grandma, maybe I can pitch in with this small, inexpensive item.  Done and done.

But then there was a lamp, a perfect present for someone who really needed it.  And the mixing/salad bowls with covers, so cheap (under $2 for a set of three!) and yet so high quality, and on and on.  Everything was so much less expensive than I could get it for anywhere else.  

Finally we got the furniture and headed for check out.  But first, a peek at the As Is.  I couldn't even get out of there without taking a stool for the boy with me.  And at checkout, I dash to get our favorite ginger cookies and some coffee for Rory.

I guess it could have been worse.  Note to self--work on developing immunity to IKEA.

Goodbye, Mojo

We were all wrong.

Mojo had FIP.  We had to put him to sleep.  That's pretty much all I have to say about that right now.  It's just too painful.  We loved him a lot, and we miss him desperately. 

Goodbye, Mojo.  We love you.  We'll love you forever.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Better or Worse

Yet another post about the Mojonator.

The level of Mojonocity appears to have taken a small upturn.  He's slightly more active, and to me he looks like he's gained more weight.  He's starting to wash himself, mostly just his face but still.  He hardly cries anymore.  One thing that concerns me is that occasionally his tongue gets stuck.  This is something that cats, after they've washed themselves, do, or I've seen it in very young kittens during sleep, usually with nursing noises.  With him I suspect possible brain damage, a not-surprising possibility.  Nonetheless, if I had to score this, Monday afternoon would have been a 2 on a scale of 1-10 in what his chances looked like, and this evening I feel much more like an optimistic 6.  

The thing I'm really dreading now is that eventually he'll have to come off the antibiotics and we'll have to reduce his steroids.  What will happen then?  The last time we mucked with his medication he almost died.  Now he's doing better.  I hope it's just because he's healing, but giving him meds twice a day is awfully reassuring.  It gives me something to do.  It seems to help.  It may not have anything at all to do with him getting better, but that's my feeling.

Tomorrow afternoon we're taking him to the Feline Medical Center for some attention from a specialist.  I didn't think he'd make it to Wednesday when I made the appointment.  Now, I think we'll definitely have him in for an examination and hopefully some insight, though I'm not counting on it.

Possibilities we've developed--

He's cleaned up after Nikita almost every time.  What if she didn't eat her pill one day and he got it?
What if the shelter, which feeds the animals donated food, got a batch of recalled food?  If he had hemobartenella, he would fall into the category of at-risk animals that would be most likely to die from exposure to the chemicals.
His dicey history might also play into this.  As a recent addition to the shelter, he may have gotten into rat poison.

It's all speculation for now.  In case he did get Nikita's pill, he's no longer allowed to clean up after her.  In fact, no one is except a person with a broom and paper towels.  Other than that, we'll just hope, and pray, and give him lots of love.  I had a really good moment with him when I got home.  The whole family gathered around him and Dakota.  While Dakota got belly rubs (she made a total fool of herself to keep getting belly rubs, snorting and rolling around and making faces) I got to tickle his chin and rub his cheeks, and I was rewarded with the most amazing purr and look of contentment.  Better or worse, I can sleep easy knowing that it was a good idea to hold off asking about whether we should put him to sleep.  I think he's happy, certainly not all the time and he's certainly in pain, but he's happy to be here.  Hopefully he'll continue to be happy, for better or worse.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Hang in there, Mojo

I hate writing this.

Mojo has taken a turn for the worse.

His red blood cell count continues to drop, and he's displaying more signs of liver failure, namely, neurological impairment.  He's confused, acting drunk, one foot is folding over, and he appears to be going blind (although that may be temporary.)  The vet is stumped.  He's the topic of not so much debate but flustered helplessness amid the entire clinic.  His emergency consult this morning was not encouraging.  Doc John's compassionate language all had the same tone--brace yourself, we may lose this one.  He became very, very technical about the processes, and I was able to follow it all.  He wanted input on treatment simply because there is no good treatment for liver failure.  You just have to hope that the liver regenerates and minimize the damage that a low-functioning liver imposes on the system in the meantime.  That means more antibiotics to help reduce gut fermentation because much of what comes out of the gut must be processed by the liver (including a lot of alcohols) in order to not become toxic to the brain.  The only real good news is that his weight is holding, may have even increased, and his kidney function is fine.

It's really heartbreaking around here.  When he's awake he's staggering around, crying inconsolably.  He bumps into things and isn't sure what he wants or needs or even where he is.  Cuddling works for short periods of time.  The only time we get relief (him and us) is when he sleeps.  We have the basket Carole gave us set up by the wood stove.  He's sleeping there now.  It's his favorite place in the world right now, that and being held although he can only tolerate that for short stretches.

So we're all very sad here.

Meanwhile, at the CWAH, there's a beautiful adult white female cat up for adoption.  It was a stab in the heart to see her, and at the same time a kind of promise from the universe.  I just don't know what that promise is trying to tell me, except to keep hope that he'll either make it, or that there are an endless number of ways to express our love even when tragedy is cutting us apart.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Maybe He Needed Coffee First

People come up with the dumbest excuses to return things.  Either that, or they are just too stupid to own certain things.  Or both.

So yesterday I got a return for a coffee press, aka French press.  I always ask if there's anything wrong with the return.

"I brought this back before," he tells me.  "The inner part was defective, so they opened another one and gave the inside of that one to me.  It didn't work either.  It's dangerous."

"Dangerous?"  Now I'm intrigued.

"When I plunge it, it squirts hot coffee out."

I stare at the return slip as I write it, trying not to change my expression.  I have to fight not to continue the conversation, because I desperately want to ask.  Did you plunge it very, very slowly?  Because there is no coffee press in the world where you can get good filtration and also have the capability to plunge with any amount of speed.  A coffee press requires patience.  So don't bother getting another one if you don't understand how this works.  While you're at it, try not to purchase any other multi-part tools that require some forethought, say, for example, a pitcher with a locking lid.

Okay, that was particularly snarky, but dang!  Can't he just admit that he brought it back because he doesn't want it anymore?  Or did he really not know how to use it?

Maybe he filled it up too high, but I'm not even going to get into this, because even an especially simple person should be able to figure out if they've filled something too much to operate it.

Or, hey, most likely scenario--in order to figure out how to properly use a coffee press, he needed a cup of coffee first.  Darn those catch-22s.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Staying Warm

He's incontinent, exhausted and dehydrated but he's still with us.  I think he might even be a little better.  Hang in there, little Mojo.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mojo update

Mojo is still feeling really terrible.  He tells me about it all the time.  Instead of spending the day on housework and writing, I spent it cuddling the sad little white thing.  It whined and pawed my face and whined some more and demanded to be picked up and made to feel better.  I can hardly deny him.  He's very seriously ill.

So I called the vet and there was actual good news with the bad.
His liver enzymes are bad.  We're not going to dig him a grave yet but it's serious.
His platelet count is very low.  That explains why he bled from the blood draw so long.
He's severely anemic, but not quite bad enough to justify a blood transfusion.
He does not have feline leukemia or AIDS.  Yay!
We haven't gotten his toxo and some other tests back yet, but if he's negative for those, we're looking at a good chance for recovery with the current antibiotic.  

Determining whether he has haemobart (what the vet calls it for short) or not isn't easy.  It's more of a process of elimination paired with liver enzymes, anemia and low platelet count that diagnose haemobart.  If we've caught it in time, which it seems we have since he's eating and walking around, he should make a full recovery.  Now we just wait to see if there's anything else wrong with him.  If not, we may actually be out of the woods since he's on the right antibiotic now.

Keeping my fingers crossed ...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Think Good Thoughts for Mojo

Turns out Mojo is more sick than we thought.  He's not in horrible shape, but he's not good.  Already a thin kitty, he's lost a few ounces since he first went to the vet.  

The culprit may be a blood parasite (more info here.)  He's being treated for it while his blood work is being done.  His eye color change is probably from jaundice, so they'll be blue again when he's well.  For now he's in a somewhat precarious position, so think good thoughts.  The things he has going for him include that he's still pretty strong, he's eating well, and as far as we know he's not immune compromised.  This is a little suspicious so even though he passed his tests at the cat shelter, he's being retested for feline leukemia, AIDS and all that.  So keep your fingers crossed.
The Mojonator has felt better.  Yes, that's blood at his throat from his blood draw.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Masks and Amazon

The Masks polish is coming along.  Yes, I'm done with the rewrite (yay!) and now I'm fiddling on a detailed level--line editing, theme stuff, scene choreography, and juicing up or drying out description and narration.  Because this is me and my favorite color is purple, I do more drying than juicing, especially with narration.

The news on Amazon is that Rory's book, Meditations on Violence, is now available for pre-order on  Talk about scary moment, especially since we haven't held a copy in our hands yet.  For $18.95 you can have a piece of Rory's brain.  As far as I'm concerned, that's a serious bargain.  

Friday, December 07, 2007

All my favorite animals

Haven't done an animal post in a while.
Top of the list is Mojo.  Being a kitten, he has a clear advantage in getting attention over the others.  The cuteness factor is almost sickening.  The boy carries him around saying things like "We need a Mojometer to measure the Mojonator's mojoness."  Mojo is also getting over an ear infection--he won't be able to exploit pity points too much longer though because his ear isn't crusty anymore.  We're also involved in an age debate.  He's about the size of a five month old, but his eyes are changing color from the palest blue to a kind of yellow, almost green, not gold kind of yellow.  I did a little google and kitten eyes change color around 8 weeks to 12 weeks (or so they say, online sources being so reliable and all.)  Our little white kitty couldn't be that young, could he?  Seems unlikely, but ...  What do you think?  Can the Mojonity be a mere 3 months old?  If so, he's going to be a big, big kitty.

The other kitties are doing well.  And speaking of big kitties, the Wiz has grown a bit, some in weight but mostly in stature.  He just gets more handsome every day.  Lucky, on the other hand, is looking a bit tired.  He may have a cold.  The Huntress is sleek and shiny and still the baddest cat in the house, although she's exercising her snippiness a bit less lately.  We actually had all four of them sitting within three feet of each other outside my office.  Not sure what that was about.  Maybe they were having an executive kitty meeting and couldn't find kitten daycare for the Mojonation.  I'm sure if it was a meeting, it was about the Kota.

Dakota is doing really well.  She's wanting to play, is excited when we get up in the morning or when someone gets home and it's not just because she has to go potty, either.  The puppies keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger.  Beast is mellowing a bit, and Nikita is hanging in there.  Nikita I always worry about.  She's on two cans of wet food a day now and medication every day without fail to keep the cold weather from bothering her joints as much and to keep her warm and her weight up.

The goats are very, very fluffy right now, and the white ones are very white.  That's one of many things completely different from them and the dogs.  When the weather gets wet out the goats may be sloppy from the knees down but the rest of them is pristine because they won't play or lay in the mud.  They'll go in the barn to chew their cud.  The dogs, the puppies especially, get filthy in this weather and we'll have to have a bath day soon.  

Ugh.  Bath day.  Just like the dogs, I dread it, and just like the dogs, I like the part where they're all clean and racing around the house like fools, playing.  That's the best fun ever, that and seeing beautiful Brian sitting with Rory watching tv.  I don't know if watching all that fake, glorified violence is good for him, but Brian seems to really like it.  :-)

Oh, and surprisingly, we still have a chicken, the smartest chicken in the world.  I hope she does okay this winter.

And to my favorite animal, happy day that will live forever in infamy, my love.  Seventeen years, over half my life, nearly half of yours.  Good times.  Very good times.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Barbie Crazy Lady

I'm at the lobby, minding everyone's business because that's my job, when in comes a lady with two large bags of returns.  This happens from time to time.  In fact, it happened twice, once with an employee's spouse, of all things, with Christmas lights.  When I thought about it the second time someone brought back bags and  bags of lights it started to make sense.  You buy 10,000 Christmas lights or, in one case, twenty, and you only need eight to do the roof, so you bring back the other twelve.  
Anyway, by now you've guessed that the lady was bringing back Barbies, not lights.  Three Barbies with horses, and four smaller boxes.  I started having bad thoughts, and they immediately became worse thoughts when she declared, "I have just been all over town, Walmart, Target and Fred Meyer, and nobody would take these back.  I'm never shopping there again.  They have the most ridiculous return policies.  They require a receipt!" 
Imagine that, I think sarcastically.  That they would require proof that you purchased something before they allow you to return it.  The nerve!  "Well," I say soothingly, "It's probably because of all the fraud."
"The fraud?"
"People returning things they've stolen and stuff like that."
"Well I can't imagine anyone stealing stuff like this.  It's too big."
"Oh, you'd be surprised," I told her.  "People are shameless.  They hide it in their baby carriages or strap it to their legs under skirts.  It makes it hard for everyone."  I look at her.  "So I guess you don't have a receipt."
No, she doesn't.  So I call my boss over and start scanning things.  Imagine my surprise when it's actually ours!  When I look more closely, some of them even still have the store price stickers on them.  My internal sarcasm withers in shame and hides.  They still might be stolen, but I never believed that.  I had been pretty sure they simply were purchased somewhere else on extreme sale and were being returned for regular price here, but those thoughts retreated and I started filling out the refund slip.  "Looks like these are $15.99 and these are $11.99."  
She was absolutely sure that she'd paid about $40 for the big dolls, so away she goes to the toy aisle to check.  Meanwhile, my boss takes one of the boxes to go look for a receipt on the system.  
What he finds, and what unfolds, surprises us all.
"That's the lady," a coworker who works the floor tells me excitedly in passing.
"What lady?" I say.
"That lady who bought $900 in Barbies.  I remember her!"
And then the boss emerges.  "I found her receipt.  Look at this!"  It's three pages of receipt, totalling to $900 of Barbie stuff.  The floor worker remembered right.
Suddenly we're all over helping her.  After dealing with so much return fraud and ridiculous things like returning a bar of candy, it's such a pleasure to handle even a big return for an actual customer who brings our store business.  I'll be nice to just about anyone, even people I know for a fact are stealing from us, but I'll be actually happy to help someone who shops our store because they like us and they appreciate us being around, even if they never buy another thing.  It's the reaction a retail employee has to good customers.  We can't help it.  We love good customers because they're such a contrast to the bad customers who normally (and unfairly) get all the attention because of the chaos they create.  Good customers normally fend for themselves very nicely so we don't always get a chance to go out of our way to help them.
So now the barbie crazy lady has an entourage.  The boss hand delivers her return at the register.  She decided to buy something, another barbie, of course, apparently one that she didn't have.  The boss makes her a copy of her receipt so that now she has one, and everyone's happy.
Wherever you are, Barbie crazy lady, thanks!  You made my day.  I hope you enjoy your Barbie.  I know I'll enjoy fantasizing about your house, and your Barbie displays, and your fabulous ebay Barbie business, and fabulous you.  
Signed, Kami, the crazy writer lady

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

So Far So Good

 We're still dry here in the office.  In other so far, so good news, and are officially live and hopefully well.  I think I got rid of all the place holder text, web links and email links with real ones or deleted the ones we didn't want, took care of some awkward writing, replaced Rory's home page intro with a modified one that sounds more like him, and took care of some ugly spots by replacing them with prettier things.  We still don't have the ability to load our own pics onto the website.  That will be coming soon, I hope.

I've got a big house cleaning and organizing goal, and so far I've made a few dents.  They're not as big of dents as I'd like, but in a lot of ways a household overhaul is a lot like moving (except that you don't go anywhere) in that what looks like a few days work just keeps going on and on until you want to start working with an axe and a flamethrower.  Normally a house overhaul is something I do halfway at best and I don't start until spring, when the good weather inspires me to go out and do crazy things like wash the windows, sweep off the porch, and burn piles of accumulated paperwork I don't need anymore.  I see no reason to put it off, which is a good enough sign to me to just go for it right here in December.

In the meantime I've got to keep writing, especially the query letters, which means putting together a final draft of my Masks synopsis and then modifying it according to the guidelines for each place I'm submitting to.  Ugh.  As much as I feel like I'm pulling teeth when I edit, when I'm forced to market I feel like I'm inside an iron maiden and they're tightening the thing incrementally every minute or so.  

I really need an agent, which will involve marketing but hopefully just in the short term, because I can take this iron maiden thing for only so long.

That's enough of all that.  Next entry, more crazy ladies, I promise.  I've got a good one this time.  Barbie crazy lady.  Wherever you are Barbie crazy lady, enjoy your $95 or so plus tax return!  

Monday, December 03, 2007

Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down

So after working hard on setting up drafts of and on the web, I had to take chirontraining temporarily down due to technical problems with editing that were not going away.  I can't fix any typos, add stuff to or tweak awkward phrases because the same problems that plague chiron plague kzmiller, but kzmiller doesn't have as many issues as chiron so I didn't think I'd be as embarrassed to leave it out there flapping in the web wind.  Not that anyone except my closest friends will ever look at the darned thing, but there you have it.  My husband's coworkers do occasionally search around for him and he has quite a following on his blog, so chiron really needed to be lots, lots better than it is.  And it will be, provided iPower can fix this.

I'm really enchanted with iPower's low prices.  I'm not enchanted by their extremely long wait times for tech support, usually an hour or more on hold.  I'm sure they're not happy either.  They're flying on a new platform and it's making life difficult for everyone.  They're doing their best for me--I've been passed along to a level 2 tech.  I have to admit I don't know what that is, but it sounds like they've taken the next step to solve the problem.  So wish me luck, wish iPower luck, wish the poor souls who need help with their websites luck as they brave the hold music with a crick in their elbows and sore necks.  And may patience rule the day.

In other news not related to Kami's obsession with getting business-related webpages online, we've had a local flood warning issued by the weather service.  I get to see if our french drain will help deter the yearly flood 'o the office.  I hope so, because I have paper stuff on my floor.  Again.  As usual.
Maybe I'll work on cleaning some of this stuff up today.  Ugh.  On my list of projects during Kami's Marketing Month will be to finish tiling in here and organize my office.  Wish me luck with that too.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Nano Win and Website Building

I crossed the Nanowrimo finish line a day early, and proceeded to get myself entangled (after a long, late shift at work) in website building for the very first time.  But before I get into that:

I have to celebrate!  WEEEEEEEE!  I won I won I won I won I won!

There.  That's quite enough for the likes of me.

I started setting up Rory's new website at first because he's got a book coming out and also because the sooner I set it up, the sooner he can start putting in more than just the placeholders I cut and pasted and wrote in.  Looking at it this morning, there are some things that don't make any sense.  I blame the late hour.  I called it quits about 1:30am today.  Normally I wouldn't have worried about having placeholders, but being a complete novice at this, I didn't want to leave blank spaces that we might not later catch or see.

That fear turned out to be unwarranted, as one thing that I left blank was still available to edit.  Doh!

I'm definitely annoyed at my own incompetence.  I have some neat stuff available to play with on Microsoft (evil!hiss!) Office, which is a format I'm comfortable manipulating, but I don't know how to do an ftp download to get stuff from Office onto the web.  So I'm using their pre-existing pages, and found some really nice ones, but I don't know how to add or subtract segments yet.  Add onto this that apparently the poopyhead interface is screwed up for Macs  and you have the sense of frustration that began to build yesterday.  Text editing fields turn black, and since the font is black I can't see what I'm typing and I don't see a way to change the text color while I'm typing.  Gah!  This seems like a basic problem that should not exist on the interface because I'm sure I'm not the only Mac user out there.  And I was unable to successfully download any pics from Jasmine onto the web for whatever weird, poopyhead reason.  I can do it here on Jestablog, but apparently not with iPower at this time.

It's a learning experience, and not a horrible one.  Even when I'm at my most annoyed, I'm still having fun.  It's all shiney and new goodness.

It's especially fun to look forward.  Coming to a web near you: