Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Pastafarian Pride

Pastafarian Pride
Originally uploaded by suzipaw.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Introverts Have More Brain Activity


Yahoo News is reporting that introverted individuals tend to have more brain activity in general, specifically in the frontal lobe. From the article: "The attitude that there's something wrong with introverted people is widely shared in society, where fast talk and snap decisions are often valued over listening, deliberation and careful planning. Extroverts seem to rule the world or, at least, the USA, which hasn't elected an introverted president for three decades, since Jimmy Carter."
Via Slashdot.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Thanksgiving, Darkness

It was a good, restful few days up on the Mendocino coast with family over Thanksgiving. Though I must confess: I was actively avoiding thinking too deeply about life in general. And even though I was very glad to see everyone--mom and stepdad, brother and his family, stepbrother and his squeeze--I wasn't as grateful as I usually am for the time to connect with loved ones. I suspect I'm just a little too thanked-out lately, still numbed and recovering from that Hebdomas Horribilis, as my cousin called it, earlier this month. (We came home to the final hospital bills last night, and between those and the car, the first week of November was a $35,000 week. OK, I am still humbled and grovelingly grateful for insurance.)

I did post a few photos.

However, it's unlike me and difficult *not* to be in my own head this time of year. I wake up in the dark. Drive to work in the dark. Drive home in the dark. It's like living in a dream, or nightmare, gazing out at the real, light-filled world only from my work cubicle window. Thanksgiving has already come and gone, Christmas and New Year's and the winter solstice are bearing down with frightening speed. Tis the season of Retrospection for me. I've got to make some time to sit back with a beer or two and mope about all of the things I *didn't* do:

- YA novel--check
- Essay writing--uh-huh. I'm sensing a theme here...
- Finish the bathroom remodel--yep, still no showerhead (God, we've got to finish that after M's midterms--that's all that's left, for FSM's sake!)
- Entertained more--surely you're joking, the wedding just knackered me for human interaction
- Knit nearly enough

One good thing I didn't do this year? Put away the Christmas lights from last year. I was in the garage thinking what a hassle it would be to get the house decorations out again when I noticed the dusty but gleaming ropes of icicle lights piled up on the hood of the hotrod (it's so sad how we've humiliated that beautiful machine, treating it like an enormous closet shelf). So maybe we'll get around to decorating the house after all. We may even put up a tree this year, since Tomcat is no longer around (sniff) to wreak havoc with my pretty delicate ornaments. He woulda, too, the little bastard.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

What Kind of Princess Am I?

Josh's memes are consistently entertaining and/or useful, and this quiz is particularly hilarious. What kind of princess are you?

I am:

The Fairy Princess

You are youthful, cheery, and exuberant with a sunny disposition and a mischievous sense of humor. You are very lively and are always up for a good bit of fun. You have a deep love of nature and animals.

Role Model: Titania

You are most likely to: Convert a pumpkin into a useful mode of transportation.
Like a giant golden Cadillac, f'rinstance!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


I made ice cream cone cupcakes for a friend's b-day celebration at work today, frosted with cream cheese icing. Had a little batter left over, so tried out the silicone muffin cups and they work fabulously! I made red velvet cake batter. They've safened red food coloring, right?

OK, so yes, *now* you can roll your eyes! If you've been wondering, I did indeed purchase the Cadillac. I don't feel quite good enough to drive it. M wants to bring the smoker up to mom's when we go there for Thanksgiving tomorrow so he can slow-cook a pork loin--doesn't that just seem wrong, transporting a nasty, charred smoker in a Caddy? Oh well. You know he'll get his way, I can never say "no" to him.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Looky Here, You Tree-huggers

OK, for everyone who's expressed varying degrees of horror at the eco-enmity of the proposed 1996 Cadillac Sedan deVille, allow me to point out a few salient, ah, points:

1) I have not yet purchased it.

2) M, a car expert of note, has assured me that its well-built, 275 horsepower, 300 pound-feet of torque, V8 Northstar engine tucked inside 17.5 feet of airbag-lined steel (yeah, baby!) will get low 20s MPG around town, high 20s highway. That's about what the Wonder Wagon got.

3) I don't have a long commute to work, and I only drive there four days a week, not five.

4) I spent 12 years in NYC sans auto. That's right--12 fossil-fuel-free years of my adult life where my frugal ways forced me to walk almost everywhere. The rare times I took a cab was usually shared with others.

5) Finally and most importantly: I have whelped no disposable-culture humans into this product-hungry First World company/country. No spawn of mine will ever taint the garbage dumps of this earth with their soiled nappies. No little Johnny will ever suck up tank loads of former dinosaurs going to soccer practice or a salmon-slaying-lake-full of hydroelectric power to juice up a useless XBox. No little Susie will ever cram a lifetime's worth of take-out food containers, toxic dead cell phones, and short-circuited small kitchen appliances into landfills. (Sorry, Mom.)

But I'm not resting on my laurels. Despite this enormous contribution to our planet's health, I still try to recycle, reuse, and conserve as much as possible. You should see the pile of worn-out grocery bags that come with me to Trader Joes. So if I want to bust out and get in touch with my inner 85-year-old Leisure World denizen by driving a big ol' Caddy, hey, I think I've earned it.

...Though if I could turn the Cadillac into a biodiesel machine and cruise around smelling like a giant French fry (I could name it "Steak Frite"!), I would probably do it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Too much working lately. I have more to do after I post this blog, even though it's my day off. A new gal will be starting in our department next month, like a human Christmas gift, so I'm just hanging on til then. Barely.

It's been a good last few days:
- M can begin to reintroduce fiber into his diet.
- While still leery of merging, I actually drove on the freeway in M's truck yesterday--yeah, it was at 5:30 in the morning, but hey, I did it. The Wonder Wagon was officially totaled on Monday, and I hope to have insurance check in hand on Friday when I go to test drive an enormous golden Cadillac Sedan deVille.
- I returned to the gym this week and don't feel any physical traces of the accident. I am sore today, however--yesterday's muscle conditioning teacher cackled when she saw me come into class and asked if I had my Advil handy. But it feels good to be gymming again.
- M and I went to a friend's potluck in Berkeley on Sunday afternoon. The antibiotics made him very tired so we couldn't stay long, but it was so good to spend time with friends and their families. And it was extra special attending a social event with my husband on a weekend--that's rarely happened in the last six years.
On the more creative side, I finished reading Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (pretty good, not spectacular) and listening to HMS Surprise (wonderful!). Getting ready to embark into The Kiterunner thanks to Mom and The Mauritius Command thanks to Marsee. I also started knitting this scarf in the company meeting (I'm such a rebel!) yesterday:and finished it this morning. M's comment: "That is for your niece, right?" Accompanied by a sort of snort. Apparently he didn't think it was right for me. I think it's pretty darn nice, don't you? However, if you'd like it, let me know and I'll send it to you. (It's a keyhole style, so one end goes through a hole in the other end.) Spouse, you are *not* eligible to take part in this offer.


On related creative note, overall I have been feeling craft bereft lately. When we bought our house five years ago, I was so excited about having my own craft room. A whole room just for me and my hands and imagination! And I've crammed it full of all kinds of potential--yarn for felting and knitting, beads, paper crafts, hole punches, patterned scissors, buttons, plastic and brass shapes, task lighting, a big window, two big tables, art on the walls, photo transfer equipment, a sewing machine. After all, I've always been a big crafter. I've embroidered, fabric painted, and collaged things since forever.

But except for knitting (well, and um, blogging), I haven't really created much lately. And I don't even knit in the craft room. It doubled as a cat haven from Rex when the stork first brought him, and Veronica's never left, her copious black fur now impregnates every nook in that room. The tables are unusable, piled with papers and craft to-dos and photos and cat hair. I don't go in there much, except to start another pile of crap.

But really, what's preventing me from stringing a necklace or starting in on handmade holiday cards? Inspiration has felt in short supply. And maybe it's partly what's been happening to Julia--'dulthood responsibilities are simply weighting/wearing me down.

I've resolved to clean out the craft room during the Christmas vacation (that's twice I've written "Christmas" now--no war on Christmas 'round here). Maybe my craft Muse has just been waiting for a catfurfree place to rest her tired dogs.


Oak and dog
Another beautiful day for a dog walk.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"You Should Blog More"

This one's for you, babe. Received via email from a friend at work, hence the lovely caps.


1. First, pick the number of times a week that you would like to have chocolate (more than once but less than 10).

2. Multiply this number by 2 (just to be bold)

3. Add 5

4. Multiply it by 50

5. If you have already had your birthday this year add 1755. If you haven't, add 1754.

6. Now subtract the four digit year that you were born.

You should have a three digit number. The first digit of this was your original number (i.e., how many times you want to have chocolate each week).

The next two numbers are YOUR AGE! (Oh YES, it is!!!!!)


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Shh, Shh, Shh, Shh

'Member that sound? From the '70s? The sound of elephant bellbottoms whispering together as you crunched in your cute but cloaked open-toed platforms across the gravel between buildings from biology to French? I've been recalling that rubbing sound today since I'm wearing new jeans with the largest flair I've had on in years thanks to a little retail therapy at Ross with my mom yesterday. The wideness at the bottom is supposed to balance out the thigh wideness according to the fashionistas I watched on Oprah while in Amsterdam. Uh huh.


So, yes, the new normal is being acquired here at chez Axcock. I'm going to do my level best to blog about life other than That Week From Hell. However. While I'm trying to be gracious in my celebrity at work ("How *are* you?" over and over again), I'm still dreading the slog through my auto insurance paperwork, the new car search and purchase and getting-used-to-it-ness, the meeting next week with M's surgeon, the unwelcome and unanticipated notices that surely will find their way into my mailbox.

Bye Bye BuiHog
Originally uploaded by suzipaw.

M drove me to work today, and I had a horrible feeling as we merged onto the highway. A kind colleague gave me a lift home, and I had another gut-wrench as we passed the site of my collision a whole week ago. Cars were once again at a full stop on the highway exit, struggling to merge on and off safely. That's going to be hard to approach again as a driver.


I Am a Marketing Victim. I confess.

1) While in Trader Joes with Mom, I was slayed by the the utter adorableness of the "Sofia" carbonated white wine in cans by Francis Coppola. O my god! Four petite red cans housed in a shiny octagonal box perforated with bubbly openings! Each can with its own straw! Perfect for the beach! apparently. Each delivers a nice little slice of euphoria.

2) While in Sur la Table (with Mom! Again!), I twitched and blinked, but the silicone muffin cups in brights found its way into my shopping bag without much effort. FYI, if you're thinking of jettisoning your muffin tin, as I am, and purchasing a set for yourself, be aware that they do not release jello with the ease that the packaging promises for cupcakes.


Oh, Camera, Where Were Thou? Walking Rex yesterday late in the afternoon, I was unable to visually record our journey, much to my regret. Though if I had had my camera, perhaps we wouldn't have had the same journey. We walked into the former field behind our little development, now sprouting walls for new homes. As we made our way along a formerly rural street, I noticed at the last remaining stable that the two horses and mule were staring meaningfully at the hillside, where two humans walked a pack of eight dogs. Not realizing how many there were, and that they were off collar as well as off leash, I encouraged Rex to greet them--until they surrounded him with so much dogflesh that we both became a bit nervous. But we went on our merry way unharmed. Rex sniffed his way up the hillsides, declining to chase after Buck, who posed still as he could then trotted away alert into the trees. I watched two hawks hunting, floating lighter than air among the luminous, ragged, red-edged clouds, sweeping away then returning, hovering, hovering so patiently then falling, lost to sight against the background of eucalyptus. Walking along the top of the hill, I noticed splayed deer hooves deeply etched into the mud of a rough trail, alternating with a much different track--carnivorous paws, longer of toe than a dog, with claws. Coyote? Mountain lion? I called Rex over to sniff them, which he did thoroughly, but declined to specify. Finally, crossing the fall-nascent creek at the place that will soon be a four-lane super street and walking up the last hill, Rex leapt off under the oak trees a la Pepe Le Pew. Two beats later, handsome Jack rushed across my path, followed by a lagging Rex.


In the gym last Thursday morning we were talking about our first jobs. Ah memories. What were yours? I'll start: High school: counter girl at the local bowling alley. Chambermaid at a fancy B&B. College: Stained-glass shop intern (still one of my favorite jobs ever). Life model. Gas station/car wash attendant. Snack and playdoh prepper at a pre-school. Box office attendant.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Casa de Axcock Update

The calvary arrived last night in the form of Mom, who came down a day early for her errands to lend moral support. We did some shopping today, and it was such a relief not to be the one driving.

M came home from the hospital this morning. Rex is ecstatic. He's going to get healthy, and then they'll resect his bowel. (M, not Rex.) Nice, huh? But I guess if one gets diverticulitis early, one gets it often, so why not nip it in the bud? reasons the surgeon. He's on a low fiber diet for a while and then will be bumped up to a high fiber diet. One more line to check on the nutritional information chart.

Tomorrow the Wonder Wagon gets hauled away, most likely never to return. Not sure how the transportational elements will all fit together next week when I want to get to the gym at 6:00 a.m. and M needs to be at school by 6:00 p.m., but I'm sure FSM will provide. I don't expect that my next chariot will be as roomy inside or out, and I'm a little bummed about that. But I think this is the point where I express gratitude that last week didn't bankrupt me and that I'm in a position to successfully finance another vehicle in the first place. Yes.

I helped Mom sign up for a Flickr account a few moments ago. Now if I can just convince other friends and family members (you know who you are!) to start posting pix on Flickr. Or the online photo sharing site of your choice. You don't have to blog or send me email or real letters to stay in touch. And no calls, please! Photos will do just fine, thank you very much.

One of the errands we ran today was to Trader Joe's for groceries, and I was so excited to purchase tiramisu gelato, one of the gastronomic highlights of my seems-like-forever-ago trip to Florence. But verily, it was not the same. Icy, not creamy. Well, guess I'll just have to go back to Italy one o' these days. Soon. Or maybe it's just an overwhelming feeling that I need to escape my life for a while, that this return has been a nightmare and I'll wake up to find myself in that narrow, short cot at the Residenza le Rondini and come home to my real life, the one that doesn't include hospitals and California Highway Patrolmen and unemployment forms. It could happen...

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Freaky Week Continues

"Just how bad can it get?" I asked. Let's recap, shall we?

Monday: M gets laid off. Yes, this is a good thing overall, but it's still a bit disconcerting.

Tuesday: Uneventful. Thank god.

Wednesday: Five hours spent in the emergency room, trying to find the cause of M's abdominal pain. Original kidney stone diagnosis gives way to diverticulitis. Discharged with antibiotics and Vicodin.

Thursday: Driving home in darkness and rain, I am rear-ended by an uninsured, unlicensed driver merging off the worst stretch of our local highway and am pushed into the car in front of me. No one seems to be injured. There was apparently a fourth car involved. I fear the Wonder Wagon is totaled, however. "Fortunately," M was still feeling so horrible that he was not in class, and able to meet me at the scene of the accident and we are eventually able to drive both cars home. Perversely, I am somewhat relieved that I've finally had an accident. Perhaps I'm safe now for another 30 years.
Crunched trunk

Friday: Groggy and aching day for both of us. Interview with insurance company re accident. Co-worker graciously drops off my laptop so I can do a little work. Walking the dog in the afternoon sets me back, however. M's Vicodin has him sleeping long hours, though he's plagued by pain and intestinal, ah, difficulties. He does research some car opportunities for me. Fruitless waiting for a call from the insurance company's damage inspector--now nothing will be done to determine if the BuiHog can be repaired or not til Monday.

Saturday, that's today: M's pain is not much better, and he only has two doses of Vicodin left. I contact the emergency room, and they recommend he call the GE doc with whom he has an appointment in just under two weeks, who recommends that he go back to the emergency room. I call to cancel my friend's visit and this time shower first, though no time for a second latte, and off we go. Four hours later, a new, barium-enabled CT scan reveals that he actually has an intestinal abscess which had worsened since Wednesday. Three hours later, he's admitted to the hospital for IV antibiotics. I return home, driving M's truck--a stick, ack!, though it wasn't so bad--walk the frantic mutt, back to the hospital with M's school bag, then home again to a little beer and blogging.

He'll be there for a couple of days, at best. There's an 80% chance that the antibiotics will clear everything up. Or, he may have to have minor surgery to have it drained. Eew. Or, even more eewier, he may have to have major surgery to have the abscess-y section removed entirely.

OK. A little deep breathing.

We're alive and insured. M is getting taken care of now, not ten days from now when his original doctor's appointment was scheduled for. My back and neck feel much better today. And hey, M has his own TV in his room, so we can watch football tomorrow.
Hospital portrait

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Halloween Fun

With Mace on Halloween
Originally uploaded by suzipaw.
So I didn't dress up, but many of my co-workers did. Mace works a few cubes away from me.


M's feeling a bit better, but he's not going to class tonight...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Rolling with the Gut Punches

It was going to be a day of cleaning house in anticipation of guests in the next few days. But as M and I were preparing to take the excited dog out for a spin around the field before the chores, he started feeling terrible (husband, not canine). Terrible groin pain. Inability to pee. Kidney stone?

We called our health care provider who provided us with a list of nephrologists, but the first one he called for an appointment recommended he go right to an emergency room, so we hied ourselves there immediately. (Seeing M in such pain, my guilt over TomCat was freshly redoubled.) I wasn't ready for this today. I needed a shower. But at least I had had one latte.

Many nurses, one doctor, two attempts at drawing blood, three fruitless trips to the toilet, one cat scan, one urine dip, four wish-I-didn't-hear-that-about-the-patient-next-door conversations, three prescriptions, some regret over not bringing the camera along, and five hours later, it was determined that diverticulitis was probably the culprit. We won't know for sure until he visits a G-I specialist in two weeks, however--apparently antibiotics and Vicodin will have to hold him until they have an opening.

Luckily, though he had just been unceremoniously dismissed from the thrilling world of automobile sales two days earlier, after we married, I added him to my health care coverage. So I was able to sit serenely with my husband and reassure him rather than feel the furrow on my brow creating a permanent indentation on my brain as I added up the costs.

I realized I had been in this very hospital almost exactly one year earlier, watching the Code Blue team revive my mom after she fainted after using the bathroom after hip surgery that didn't include quite enough blood to keep adequate oxygen flowing to her brain. That was not a good memory.

I also realized, knock wood, that my body is pretty whole. I've never had surgery other than the odd nip of a skin tag, which doesn't count as surgery, I know. No a broken bones, anesthesia, children, and I've been to hospitals only to visit others. Well, I vaguely remember tipping a hot pan of oil on myself when I was very young, but I can't recall any doctor memories from that incident. Like my narrow avoidance of serious vehicular impact last month, I felt relieved that I wasn't the one begowned on a gurney. I also wondered again just when the hell it's going to be my turn, and how bad it's going to be.