Working for Hel

abbiThis is Abbi.  Or was.  We got her for my youngest son many years ago after his pet rabbit died.  He said he didn’t want another rabbit because they die too easily.  So we went to a rescue place and she won our hearts.  Her full name was Abigarrada, which in Spanish means ‘varigated’ and as a calico she certainly was that!

Her other name was usually “Pissy Girl” which should give a clue as to her personality…we often joked that she was Liz Taylor reincarnated (though Liz lives still).  Attitude was present in elephant size for this little body!

She was very very smart, too.  We used to have our extra dining room chairs next to the front door and the master bedroom door.  Well we had to move them because she figured out how to stand on the chairs and use both paws to open them.  Since this was before we had a screen door, she would get out – and if we didn’t know it, we would (of course) close the door and she would be stuck out there til we let her back in.  She, of course, would be quite miffed that the door didn’t magically open for her at her desire to come back in and would cop QUITE the attitude when she did get back in.

She learned English, which probably isn’t so surprising; I suspect most pets do if they’re at all bonded with their owners.  What was surprising was that she ALSO learned to spell.  For nearly 17 years we would give her a little half and half every morning when we got it out to put it in our coffee.  Naturally she came to expect it, and to ask for it by name:  milk.  (she actually said mawk, or maak)  She became such a pest about milk that we had to start spelling it when we were talking about it for any reason.  THEN she put two and two together and realized that M-I-L-K was the same thing!  So we had to start spelling it backwards.  For some reason she never did figure that one out, though it’s most likely because once we realized she knew when we were spelling it we got a lot more circumspect about discussing her “drug of choice” when she was around.  She knew other words too and could say them with varying degrees of clarity:  out, mom or mama (she literally called me this), up, treat (every treat was maak), and night-night (some weird ngy ngy sort of word).

She was heartbroken when youngest son moved away and would stand in front of his door yowling for him for hours.  It was very sad and we learned not to say his name so as not to provoke another outburst.  She eventually seemed to get over it and I became her number one human.

About 8 months ago Mr. TF said to me that she is getting to be quite geriatric.  I hadn’t noticed, to be honest.  She was just my little pest, my little minion, always nearby or behind my shoulders if I’m on the couch, behind my head if I’m in the easy chair, next to my head or on my chest if I’m in bed.  So I watched.  And he was right.  Some time after that she quit jumping to the top of the refrigerator, and a few months after that she started having trouble jumping on the kitchen island directly – she could jump to the chair then to the table then to the island, but straight there seemed to be out of her capability.

Last month she started vomiting every time she ate, and she was losing a lot of weight – and she was never a heavy cat to begin with.  Mr. TF did some research and began treating her for a hairball.  She puked up two huge ones and then she really seemed to rebound to her old self.  She even became as sociable as she had been when she was young and came out to greet visitors.

We went camping over Halloween weekend and when we came home she was alert, happy to see us, and gave her usual coo of affection when I scratched her ears.  She really seemed happy and healthy, like we had underestimated her.

Then, Monday at 1130pm, she woke me out of a sound sleep.  “MAMAMAMAMAMAAAAA!”  Over and over again.  I knew there was something wrong, I could hear it in her voice.  I finally found her, on the floor practically under my dresser.  She quit crying out as soon as I touched her but I could tell there was something wrong.  I picked her up and I knew she was dying as soon as I did.  She was struggling for air, she had dried poop on her bottom, and she was wheezing and limp.  I turned on the light and called for Mr. TF to wake up.  We had a tense discussion over what to do and he stayed with her while I spent FAR too much time trying to find a vet office we could take her to at this late hour in our rural area.

It was the longest ride to the vet’s office I think I’ve ever had.  Mr. TF drove, I had Abbi in the cat carrier in my lap with it open so I could stroke her head and try to reassure her.  A sheriff’s deputy made a U turn and followed us for a couple of miles – I prayed to who ever might be listening for him not to pull us over.  We weren’t speeding but a car out that late on a weeknight is definitely grounds for investigation, I can see his point, but not now, please not now.  Thankfully he didn’t.

She began seizing right after we got to the vet’s office, I had already called them to alert them and told them we just want to euthanize her, she’s old and we know it’s beyond hope, we just can’t bear to see her suffering.  They scooped and ran with her, and gave her oxygen to stop the seizures while they started an IV.  I know she was beyond hurting at that point but I am so glad they did that.  When they gave her the medicine I was there, stroking her head and scratching her ears the whole time.  It was a true relief to see her take her last breath and relax at last.  And so very sad.  I honestly had not realized how very much I cared for her.  I’ve never been much on pets as family members.  Now I wish I had paid more attention to her in her final months.

They were also kind enough to keep her in their cooler until we could dig her grave.  Mr. TF and I may disagree on many things but this was definitely not one of them.  She was coming home, she was not being cremated, and we were going to make a place for her.

I dug her grave Tuesday night after I got off work, in the front yard in view of the window she used to sit in and watch for birds, under our mulberry tree.  It seemed fitting that it was raining; I was grateful for it since the ground was softer and easier to dig – we have clay and calechi (look it up) so it wasn’t as hard as it might have been though I did have to use the pick and mattock.

Wednesday we buried her; the next door neighbor was kind enough to take her out of the plastic they had her wrapped in and wrapped her in a towel.  We buried her with a toy and a bowl of milk.  We didn’t say anything.  It’s too new, too raw.

abbigraveWe plan to paint her name on the center stone later this year or after it warms up again next.  I’m glad she’s home.  And I’m glad she’s not suffering any more.  The vet said her kidneys were probably failing and that’s why the loss of weight, the vomiting, and, in the end, the fluid filling her lungs.

So what does the title of this post have to do with working for Hel?  Well, I have spent most of the last quarter century dealing with people’s last days in some fashion or another; my husband is a hospice nurse and also spent most of the last quarter century dealing with the same.  We have spent a lot of time in the company of death.  So this blog post by Darksarkasm really hit home for me. I hadn’t thought of my intense desire to end Abbi’s suffering as work for Hel, but I suppose in its way it was. As was digging her grave.

Goodbye Abbi. Welcome home. You will nourish the tree and live in our hearts.

How much longer will you live if you take a statin?


Reblogging this, posting it to my FB account, and printing out a copy for the doctor I work with who is convinced that statins are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Originally posted on Dr. Malcolm Kendrick:

How much longer will you live if you take a statin?

About a year ago I submitted a paper to the BMJ entitled ‘Statins in secondary prevention, lives saved or lives extended.’ To be more accurate, I was the lead author of the paper. So I should say ‘we’ submitted a paper. I have to report that the paper was rejected, re-written and rejected again. In the end I couldn’t get it published.

The main aim of the paper was to point out that the most important reason why someone would take a ‘preventative medicine’ of any sort, was to increase their life expectancy. The question ‘how much longer will I live if I take this tablet for, say, five years?’ Seems a reasonable question to ask and, in turn, have answered. Interestingly no patient has ever asked me this question, so I have never…

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What I have been doing with my extra brain bandwidth. Or, Reindeer Games.


This is a hat. I spun and dyed the yarn and while the overall design is my own, the chart for the reindeer and trees I got from Ravelry. This one is for sale, it is $35 plus shipping if you might be interested. I am making another with opposite colors but that one is already spoken for.  The colors are a bubblegum pink  and grapey purple.  I can’t remember the name of the dye I used for the pink, but the purple was called ‘amethyst.’

I have not been knitting much the past month or so, no time thanks to OfficeAlly, our EHR program. Which SHOULD be named OfficeEnemy. Or OfficeOpponent. I lose work every single day and find myself having to waste large spans of time on tasks which should be easy but aren’t. Every time I click on a medicine to enter it I have to wait for the page to reload which take 30-45 seconds. And it is not very user friendly because of this. The autosave has been responsible for me losing more work than any other single feature of the program. Plus it bumps us off several times a day and you have to waste precious time logging back in, going back into where you were, and redoing everything you just lost.  Honestly paper is so much faster.

Some people make beautiful jewelry, I make silly crap like this.  The doctor I work with said after seeing this hat that I’m twisted in all the right ways and that’s why he likes me.    I figure I’m doing my part with sympathetic magic to ensure that we have future populations of deer and reindeer to enjoy ;)

And yes, I realize this is a pretty awful photo.  Sorry, my photography skills seem to actually getting worse rather than better.  The brim does not roll, and if I can get a photo on an actual model tomorrow I will try to post that.


I truly believe in the rites of hospitality.  It’s not something that is new or as a result of my spiritual leanings.  It’s something I grew up with.

I need some help here though.

We have a neighbor who has a mouth like a sailor.  I don’t think I exaggerate when I say that she cannot speak a single sentence without using the F bomb at least once.  Usually more than once.  Now, I used to be a firefighter and I can assure you my potty mouth occasionally asserts itself, so it’s not as though I’m too sensitive for foul language.  But this is far and away more than I’ve ever heard out of one person’s mouth in a sitting.

And it isn’t even just that she uses so much foul language.  It’s that she TALKS. NON. STOP.  Like if there’s a natural break in the conversation she has to fill the perceived void.  With anything.  It’s exhausting.  I’m a quiet person by nature and while I can talk up a storm and be as irrelevant as the next person, this is more than I’m used to dealing with.

She keeps hinting that she wants to move in.  She is room mates with the person next door and doesn’t get along with her room mate.  Yes, we have a guest room but I’m not willing to let her move in.  Not for any price.  No, I don’t want you to do my laundry.  No, I don’t want you to weed my yard.  No, I don’t want you to do *fillintheblank* you can’t move in.  It’s a guest room.  For guests.  And family.  Not a spare room we’re dying to rent out.

She comes over when we’re eating and asks if she can have some.  Not just sometimes, but pretty regularly.  Now, I’m happy to share but having people show up unannounced and ask to share our food just seems kind of pushing the bounds to me, especially since we’re financially strapped right now.

She doesn’t seem to understand the concept of boundaries.  She just marches into the bathroom when I’m in there doing my makeup.  She came into our house once when we were in the shower (we have a big master bathroom and we usually shower together on days we have the same schedule) and CAME INTO THE BATHROOM TO ASK WHAT WE WERE DOING.  Seriously.

We are having company this weekend and I really don’t want her over.  I want to be able to enjoy our time with our other friends without having to deal with this.

I like her, I do, really.  But I”m kind of at my wits end and I’m starting to get a little rude because I feel so stressed.  Any ideas on how to handle this?????


So I started working in my new field.  Well really, an extension of what I was doing before, only now I’m accountable to myself and the board of nursing and my malpractice insurance issuer and my boss.

I’m an independent contractor and I get a straight percentage of the collections on patients I see.  Not a bad gig, I don’t get benefits, insurance, or retirement – but I set my own hours, and my income is limited by how many patients I see and how much income my billing brings in.  The worst part is I only get paid once a month.  And our old biller, who hopefully will fall into a great chasm and never been seen or heard from again, hadn’t even begun to bill for July 29th as of Sept 1.  Jerk.  I’m so glad we have a new biller!

Well the other office got broken into last month, the safe was stolen,and the checks for the business account were in the safe.  My already meager check bounced because the office manager apparently forgot to include my name on the list of checks that were supposed to be allowed to go through on this account, which had been frozen due to the checks being stolen (and four forged checks have already been presented and refused).  So I did not get paid at all this month after all.

I haven’t had a paycheck since July but I’ve been working my @$$ off! The July paycheck is from the old job…the new one hasn’t paid my a penny that I’ve actually gotten to keep.

Sometimes…I think I must be wearing a “kick me” sign on my back, spiritually speaking….

Apparently my cat’s been living a double life

We have a cat named Bari (pronounced Barry) which means ‘innocent.”  How we got him is a slightly complicated story.  We have a lot of strays in our neighborhood.  Some have been abandoned, and some are feral, but they are relatively friendly so we feed them.  We don’t generally adopt the strays, we just give them food and water, and love when they’re willing, and nature does what it will.  It’s made for sad moments, but also many happy ones too.  We have indoor cats, rescues, so we are generally careful about the mix we bring into the home.  Some cats will just never get along.  And we can’t adopt every homeless cat.  We just offer kindness and food for those who are willing.

So we had been feeding this feral cat, a tiny tiny black and white female we named “Miss Kitty” because she was so tiny, and so prim, and everything had to be ‘just so’ before she felt comfortable enough to let us pet her.  On Christmas Eve 2008 we found out she was a mama, because she brought her kitten with her to introduce him to us.   He was weaned already, but he was so tiny, and so young, and it was so cold outside that we kidnapped him.  There’s no other way to put it.  We stole him from her, because we knew he wouldn’t survive the winter if we didn’t.  In fact, Miss Kitty didn’t survive, we didn’t see her after the end of January and we assume she got eaten by a coyote or something. if you scroll down you will see photos of him when he had grown quite a bit – mom’s love and milk might be good, but if there’s not enough babies just can’t grow.  We got him neutered when he was old enough, because the last thing we want are more kittens in the neighborhood.

So anyway, he peed all over everything for months and months.  I was ready to take him to the local cat rescue because it was so out of control.  In desperation, my husband started letting him out.  Well, that’s what he wanted because he quit.  So every since, he’s been an indoor outdoor cat (our only one), and when he’s ready to come back in he’s learned to knock on the window (really!) and meow until we let him in.  We call it ‘going on patrol’ and sometimes, in summer, he’s gone for a day and a half before he comes back.  We just assume it’s because it’s nice out and he’s got things to do; he comes when I whistle, usually, he’s never far.

Last week, though, he was gone for 3 days.  We were a little worried, but he always comes back, he’s a big strong cat and he can take care of himself.  Well, when he came back it looked like his belly had been shaved.  He wouldn’t let me pick him up to look and Mr. TF told me I was crazy.  The night before last though, he came to bed with us and I pointed it out again.  Sure enough, his belly had been shaved!

Apparently our cat has been leading a double life, because *someone* took him in to have him spayed….we are now wondering what his other name is and who the family is that has also adopted him :)

I am having serious issues with WordPress!

Is it just me, or is wordpress being truly weird?

Every time I try to post a comment on a blog, even though I am logged in, WordPress tells me I must log in using one of their icons (WordPress, FB, Disqus) to comment.  So I RE log in using the WordPress icon, only to be told I cannot comment because I am not logged in when I make my comment and hit “post comment”


I can ‘like’ posts but not comment.  Any ideas what might be going on?

ETA:  and when I go to my own blog, I’m not logged in and it’s asking me if I want to ‘follow’ my own blog…