Friday, July 31, 2009


In case you're the last person on earth who a) cares and b) hasn't already heard this in person, via e-mail, or read it on Facebook or one of the message boards we post on:

We signed the contract and transferred the down payment yesterday, met the Mayor and got our official handshake and welcome to town, and there you go ... we bought the house!

We get the keys on August 12th and then we've got five days to get our stuff moved, our ducks and turkeys redistributed to their various new homes, the empty lots cleared of grass and weeds to make room for Ev's shed and have a refrigerator delivered and installed.

Except for the self-inflicted anxiety and fretting and waiting for something to go wrong, this has been a practically painless transaction. Woooooo-hooooo!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

In Which Ev and Kwach Go to Town

We've been keeping a secret.

It's not that we didn't want to share it with the world, it's that we didn't want to jinx it by publishing it and then having to rub salt in the wound by retracting it, as has happened in the past.

Those of you who've been reading us for awhile may remember that we've been looking for a house to buy in Cairo, Illinois for a long time, and that we came very close a year or so ago. When that didn't pan out we dithered about building on our land vs continuing to look for houses in Cairo vs buying a house we didn't really want as a temporary step on the road to one we really did want, just to get out from under our not-entirely-honest-as-the-day-is-long landlord. (We dither almost as well as we process, which is really saying something.)

Ev spends a goodly amount of her online time perusing Craigslist and realty sites, keeping her eyes peeled for the perfect house, and once in awhile she shows one of them to me if she thinks it's a good possibility. A couple of weeks ago she showed me one she's been watching on Craigslist for a long time. It gets listed repeatedly, but apparently without any takers. I took one look at it and said, "oh HELL, yes!" After a few e-mail exchanges with the seller and a trip down to Cairo to look at the house, we're there! The seller has the earnest money, we're signing the contract next week, and we're getting the keys on August 12th.

Folks, patience and perseverence have paid off and we found our house! It needs exactly nothing in terms of rehab, and its only miniscule fault was that it sits on only two town lots. But the six (yes, I said six) adjoining 25' x 100+' lots are all available and we're in the process of buying the first two from the city.

The best part of this transaction is that it's been conducted between the seller and ourselves in a very friendly and non-adversarial way. She had us write the contract, she's paying the costs for filing it, and she's selling us the house on a zero interest contract for deed, so it will be completely ours and paid for in three years. Why is she doing this? Because she's going to California to study for the ministry and she doesn't believe in usury and she does believe that we're a gift from God. (We could have told her that!) It sounds flakey when we try to explain it, but you'd have to meet her to understand it. She's got that big open friendly honest people vibe, and this has all happened so effortlessly that you just know in your gut that it's right.

So, about the house ...

It was built in 1897, it's got all the original woodwork and chandeliers, the plumbing and electricity have been upgraded, it has a working furnace and dual upstairs and downstairs central air, a full concrete-floored walk-out basement, three full baths (one with a clawfoot tub), three big living spaces downstairs that are joined by enormous oak pocket doors, a fireplace, original wood floors ... and an ENORMOUS eat-in country kitchen and walk-in pantry. Did I mention it doesn't need any work and it's move-in ready???? Hallelujah!

I fretted about finding new homes for the ducks, but that's working out better than I imagined. Our friend, Fritz, is taking some of them to his small farm in Iowa, where they'll live on his pond and share the land with his chickens and pheasants. His daughter plans to name one of them Ferdinand. The turkeys are going to one of Ev's co-workers who already has turkeys. Our neighbor (who has turned out to be a secret Duck Whisperer, and has even begun to tame the skittish new ducks who sit at his feet and eat corn out of his hands) has asked for the duck dome and four babies, and the other six babies will be moving to town with us to become ornamental yard ducks. The seller checked, and there's no ordinance against ducks in town, so she's leaving us her chicken coop, and there's already a small fenced yard to contain them. Six ducks is a good number for town. There, I think that's as many times as you can include the word "ducks" in a single paragraph without incurring some kind of literary fine.

Happily, we won't even need to change the name of the blog, because Cairo is still pretty much Nowhere, Illinois, which is exactly why it's our kind of town! The history and demographics of Cairo are endlessly fascinating. It's 60% black, 40% white and 0.2% lesbian. Now it will be 0.35% lesbian. You gotta start somewhere!

Friday, July 24, 2009

TLE and Me

I took yesterday off work as a mental health day, and I think it worked. I spent the day sitting around reading, cruising Facebook, and generally slacking off. Today is also my day off, but I'll have to actually spend it productively.

I changed seizure med about 6 weeks ago, since my insurance provider will no longer cover Lamictal. I've been taking a generic version, Lamotrigene, which works like Lamictal but not as well. And because I'm a temporal lobe seizure person and not a generalized seizure person, "not as well" for me doesn't cause me to roll around on the floor and pee on myself, it causes me to think and behave oddly. Just to recap, temporal lobe epilepsy, or TLE, looks like this on me:

(from Wikipedia)

The symptoms felt by the patient with TLE and the signs observable by others during seizures depend upon the specific areas of the temporal lobes and neighboring brain areas affected by the seizure. The Classification of Epileptic Seizures published in 1981 by the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) recognizes three types of seizures which persons with TLE may experience.
Simple Partial Seizures (SPS) involve small areas of the temporal lobe and do not affect consciousness. These are seizures which primarily cause sensations. These sensations may be mnestic such as déjà vu (a feeling of familiarity), jamais vu (a feeling of unfamiliarity), a specific single or set of memories, or amnesia. The sensations may be auditory such as a sound or tune, or gustatory such as a taste, or olfactory such as a smell that is not truly present. Sensations can also be visual or involve feelings on the skin or in the internal organs. The latter feelings may seem to move over the body. Dysphoric or euphoric feelings, fear, anger, and other sensations can also occur during SPS. Often, it is hard for persons with SPS of TLE to describe the feeling. SPS are often called "auras," and are sometimes thought to be preludes to more severe seizures.

So my ability to function is for the most part left unimpaired, except that I can feel the hallucinations lurking around the corner (or more precisely, behind my right shoulder) and under stress I feel emotionally more volatile than I normally do. The idea of beating my head to pulp on the pavement starts to seem like it might be a good thing to do.

Since I've been on this ride before, I know how it works: I try harder to avoid stress by hiding out from my life, which works well for a while, until it begins to cause more stress than it cures. In the end I turn into a fearful, self-destructive hermit...and that's attractive, doncha think?

So my mental health day was to get a little more level and beat back the demons. I think it has mostly worked. Now it's time to plug back in and re-engage with my life.

Monday, July 20, 2009


We went out in the world and visited old friends for the weekend. It was wonderful to see them again and talk about the old stuff and catch up on the new stuff, but it reminded me that it's been almost 30 years since we've lived in the same town.

How does that happen?? How does 30 years pass when you're not paying attention? It makes me worry a little about the next 30. I think maybe I should be taking notes.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Near Miss

I almost had a sighting of my children today. I passed them pulling into the driveway as I was pulling out for work. Nice almost seeing you, kids!

So Robbie? If you're out there? I need a haircut. Bring the clippers with your laundry next time. I'll lay in a supply of beer.

Love, Mom

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

For Val

I promised Val I would e-mail her a picture of the red truck, but I apparently don't have her e-mail address (which must mean that she has only given it to me 6 or 7 times, and not the actual 12 times required to make me stumble across it at exactly the right moment and put it in my address book). I know she reads here,even though she's too shiftless to actually comment. If you need something scrubbed with a Hype-Wipe, Val's your girl. If you need a pithy comment on your blog...not so much.
So Peeps...the red truck.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Pressure! Do I Need More Pressure?

Our little Joshie is going off to the Army to make America safe for pharmaceuticals. Or something like that. I'm not exactly sure, but he assures me that no guns will be involved and that any combat he's likely to be in will more likely involve the throwing of pill bottles than the shooting of guns, so I'm thinking this most likely won't turn into a "Johnny Got His Gun" situation. However, I'll be brushing up on my Morse code, just in case.

I'm expected to be the Official Recorder of Absurdity in his absence. That task requires treading a fine line; one man's absurdity is another man's tragic unrequited love for a pregnant stripper. The important thing is to put my own biases aside and create an unvarnished record that will let Josh feel the same stomach-churning frustration the rest of us feel every time we slip on the lab coat and step into the swirling miasma of melodrama and angst that characterize our professional lives.

To that end, I ask those of you who happen to work with me to please refrain from ratting me out to the boss., and if you have any fun dirt to pass along to Josh, please forward it to me in a typed double-spaced 500 word essay, or on the back of a torn unreceived specimen list with a suspicious fluid smeared on the corner. It's the least we can do for our boy on the front lines.

Josh, you're the Cool Hand Luke of the laboratory. Please send pictures of yourself with hot chicks you picked up in the mess hall or the commissary, even if you have to pay them to stand next to you. In return, I promise to send you Photoshopped pictures of Boss in stiletto heels and a Hitler mustache holding an Employee Opinion Survey in one hand and a 10 mL pipetter in the other, and remind you why being shot at by terrorists is preferable to another day with your laboratory family.

Carpe the Carp, Josh! And remember our motto:

"I wonder if I can have some organ removed that will get me 12 weeks of FMLA? Do people actually use their spleen for anything?"

Friday, July 03, 2009

Blog Neglect

It's not like there's nothing to blog about, because we've been busy and stuff ...


We had a great one! The first day, we drove through Kentucky and Tennessee on the way to Cherokee, NC and got a chance to stop in Whitwell, TN. "What's in Whitwell?" I hear you asking. Whitwell is the home of the Children's Holocaust Memorial, made famous in the documentary "Paper Clips," which you should see if you haven't. We'd been planning to get there and see it and it was right on the way to Chattanooga, so that was a bonus we hadn't counted on. We weren't able to go inside the tiny German rail transport car that houses the 11 million paper clips, but we did get pictures of it. Standing in front of it, it's still impossible to truly imagine hundreds of human beings inside it.

Less inspiring was the Grand Ol' Opry in Nashville. Who knew it was now a shopping mall attraction attached to Opryland? Ye Gods, we hope to never pass through that wasteland again. Whoever the Gaylords are, they should be ashamed of themselves.

Chattanooga, however, is a beautiful city, and the gorgeous countryside and pristine whitewater rivers of eastern Tennessee scrubbed the nastiness of Nashville from our brains. Then it was a long, slow, winding drive up the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in a blinding rainstorm to get to our "free" room at Harrah's Cherokee, for which we gladly traded a hundred bucks of penny slot play. I tried to make use of all the amenities the room had to offer, but the jacuzzi tub shot me in the head and made a lake out of the bathroom, so I just stole WiFi from some other hotel that doesn't charge for it instead.

Day two we were on to Charleston and a great room at the historic Mills House Hotel downtown. We walked miles looking at the gorgeosity that is Charleston, walked the Battery, peeked in all the gardens, took lots of pictures and found a brew pub to sample the cuisine and the local beer. I picked up a copy of the New Testament in Gullah and we bought a coffee table book with before and after pictures of the places we'd just been looking at in Charleston, then returned to our hotel to sit in the courtyard and enjoy the fountain. The next morning we visited the Old Slave Market museum before heading for the beaches of North Carolina.

Day three and four were spent enjoying Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington, NC. We romped in the surf, visited the North Carolina Aquarium, took the car ferry across the Cape Fear River and toured the USS North Carolina, which is very huge and very hot and very impressive in an "oh. my. god. I can't believe they lived like this" kind of way.

We ate at another brew pub and I had the best dinner I can recall having in a long time ... shrimp and grits, Charleston style. Indescribably tasty and just spicy enough! Ev proclaimed the pale ale "excellent!" The beach was relaxing and wonderful and we got sore calf muscles from all the beach walking and shell collecting. Ev almost caught a crab (the kind you eat) and lost her favorite banjo pick out of her pocket ... so, some good and some not-so-good, but the sum total was that we've decided we have to retire to the beach. We'll be needing donations, so get those in the mail right away, won't you?

Day five we were back on the road to Cherokee for the return trip and our second free hotel night. This time we had a lot of fun spending hours taking back our original hundred dollars, thankyouverymuch, and didn't spend it at the god-awful racist tourist traps all over town.

Day six we went up and over the Smokies on the way home, and I experienced something close to religious ecstasy. It brought tears to my eyes. Maybe it's the prettiest place I've ever seen, but probably it's just the prettiest place I've seen recently. At any rate, it's damned pretty. Coming out of the mountains into Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Dollywood will snap you right out of it, though. We had considered Gatlinburg as a vacation destination at one time. We're very much over it.

Please feel free to enjoy the rest of our vacation snapshots here, if you're so inclined.


We arrived home and found that Katie had done a great job taking care of the compound and all the critters alive and well, except that Pickle had acquired a brown recluse bite on her little head which had swelled to magnificent proportions, requiring a trip to the vet for antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. Once her head finished draining she went back for her hysterectomy, from which she's recovering nicely. I don't think she'll require the ten weeks off work that Ev's co-worker required for the same surgery, which is a shame, because I would totally have taken FMLA to help her convalesce if necessary. I'm that kind of good dog mother! We also discovered that we have a new flat tuxedo porch kitten who had been living (just barely) in the woods. We're fattening her up and hoping to keep her an outside cat. We shall see when the weather turns cold. She loves us, loves the dogs and loves the poultry ... and tries mightily to come inside when we open the door. Not very feral for a feral cat.

The turkeys are still friendly and have learned how to fly the coop, so they spend a good part of their day wandering the yard eating bugs and weeds, but the ducks are insane and hate us now. A week with only minimal human interaction has made them feral. They run and hide in the dome if we even step out on the deck, and they go completely insane and trample each other when we attend to their feed, water and straw needs. Ungrateful little fluffy-headed bitchez!

In sad news, we lost another Rouen. We're down to the last two now, and I can't bear the idea of losing them all, so we've confined them to the pen with the other ducks. They aren't happy about it, but I'm hoping they'll bond with the others and get attached to the new flock. The upside is that they aren't hiding their eggs in Al's burn pile anymore, so we can eat them again. (Al has been intently watching and waiting for them to hatch, even after we explained that there's no male duck. He says, "I'm going to give them another week." Good luck with that ...)

Okay, that's all the news from Nowhere. Over and under.