Monday, July 30, 2007

Investing in the Future

A long, long time ago, as part of my Public Health Nursing class, I had to make a home visit with a teen age mother. I first met this young lady and her adorable baby while they were still in the hospital and asked her permission to be a part of my education. She was very sweet and agreed.

My friend (we had to take a partner on all home visits) and I arrived at the tiny, sparsely furnished public housing apartment that she lived in with her baby and the baby's father. The father was at school. She planned to go back to school to get her GED once he was finished and the baby could go to daycare.

We talked about the normal things like lack of sleep, feeding and diapering issues while I did an assessment of the baby and weighed him. He looked great and had gained back over his birth weight. Getting stripped down naked and placed on a scale had the usual effect on the baby, he woke up and was hungry.

Mom went to get a bottle out of the fridge and I noticed that she didn't warm it. I asked her if she didn't want to warm it and she said no, it wasn't formula. With a gut sinking feeling, I asked her what it was.

Orange soda.

Why? Because she thought the baby would be bored eating the same thing for every bottle.

We then had a long conversation about nutrition and essential nutrients and brain development and calories and anything else I could scrape out of my student mind combined with my own mothering experience (which was somewhat lacking as my son was over two years of age when I became a mother).

Here is the thing though. This girl was sincerely trying to do the best for a baby that she loved more than anything in the world. She was determined to be the best possible mother that she could. She admitted and fully understood the challenges facing her as a teen mother.

But she didn't know anything about babies. And as a teen, she was at the height of the adolescent "task" of development which a great part of is separation from and questioning the teachings of her mother in order to develop her unique sense of who she was. So she wasn't on good terms with her mother. She had no good role models and little family or peer support.

She was just doing the best she could.

If only I could have gone to see her once a week or so for the next two years. What if she had an emotionally neutral person who she could count on for advice and guidance. Who could teach her about the changing nutritional needs of her baby, who could guide her through the developmental stages of infancy, who could show her how to teach her baby, who could be a lookout for possible abuse against her or her baby.

What a good start that baby would have! What a confidence booster it would be to the mother to have the skills she needs to do what she wants to do: provide for her baby.

And long term home visits by nurses have been proven to reduce the needs for social services in the future.

Another reason why I like Barack Obama. He gets this. From his website:

Support Parents with Young Children
Barack Obama would expand the highly-successful Nurse-Family Partnership to all low-income, first-time mothers. The Nurse-Family Partnership provides home visits by trained registered nurses to low-income expectant mothers and their families. The trained nurses use proven methods to help improve the mental and physical health of the family by providing counseling on substance abuse, creating and achieving personal goals, and effective methods of nurturing children. Proven benefits of these types of programs include improved women's prenatal health, a reduction in childhood injuries, fewer unintended subsequent pregnancies, increased father involvement and women's employment, reduced use of welfare and food stamps, and increased children's school readiness. Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis concluded that these programs produced an average of five dollars in savings for every dollar invested and produced more than $28,000 in net savings for every high-risk family enrolled in the program. The Obama plan would assist approximately 570,000 first-time mothers each year.

Loki sez: This isn't done? But, I thought America loved its children!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Have Myself a Seizure

I'm going to kvetch here for a moment. Why on earth anyone ever thought that putting strobe lights on things was a good idea, I'll never know.

First it was the mad scramble for diapers and tape (don't tell anyone) whenever the hospital's can-see-them-from-freaking-ass-out-of-space fire alarm strobes start flashing.

I am currently awake enjoying the massive migraine brought on last night because someone just had to have a cigarette somewhere and set off an alarm.

Seriously, I'm amazed no-one has had a seizure yet.

Now there are strobes on every that moves. Garbage trucks, school buses, moving vans, construction trucks. Twice I've had to pull off the road into a parking lot and wait until the vehicle gets far enough away from me that it doesn't trigger a migraine.

Flashing lights and hormone swings are the only triggers I have. The hormones are pretty much under control.

But what in the hell can I do about every other vehicle on the road flashing at me?

Loki sez: Why that is completely unacceptable! I'm going to write a letter of complaint! Oh wait, I can't write. I shall give a stern disapproving look instead.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Poor Oscar!

I mean really, poor little guy!

Just trying to do what he thinks is his job. Just trying to provide a little comfort. And look what it gets him called:

Grim Reaper

Harbinger of Death

For Pete's sake. I'm surprised they haven't said he sucks the souls out of the bodies!

One idiot even said Oscar's behavior might be for "selfish reasons" such as "the warmth provided by heating blankets" placed on the dying patients.

Hello? Can you check your facts before shooting off your mouth? Heating pads/blankets are FORBIDDEN for bed ridden, unresponsive patients. Can you say third degree burns? I thought you could.

If this was a dog, the news would be all about man's best friend and the super capabilities of dogs to serve mankind.

But no, it's a freaking cat, so it must be evil, bringing death and celebrating the demise of humans.

Cats are way more intelligent and loving and attuned to their owners emotional and physical states than dogs are. So there! I said it! Cats are better! Nanny nanny boo boo.

Not like I'm biased or anything.

Thor sez: Dogs wish they were cats.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Can We Talk?

About Harry Potter yet? Has everyone on the planet who is going to read it, read it by now?

Loki sez: I am infinitely more interesting than that boy, but scroll down if you must.

Thor sez: BEWARE! Spoilers below!

Stop reading here if you don't want to know anything.

When Jason was finished and handed the book to me, all he would say was that he was satisfied with the ending. I was also. I thought it was very well done, excellent pacing and I felt, like many have said before me, as if I'd been on a run away roller coaster ride.

I think JK Rowling finished off the series perfectly.

Going into it, I had a couple of theories. One was correct, a few were close.

First, I always had faith that Snape was a good guy. I wasn't really sure why, as he lay dieing, he told Harry to look at him. Later we learned Snape had been in love with Lily since they were children and as we all know, Harry had Lily's eyes. That gave me a wee lump in my throat.

Second, I thought Draco was going to step up and do something heroic for the good guy's side. There is a vast difference between being a school yard bully and actually embracing evil and watching people be murdered. I thought he'd defy his father and reject the dark side.

I didn't like, however, his family's whimpering do-nothing collapse. Although you gotta give Momma Malfoy credit for saving Harry near the end.

Third, I knew Neville was going to step up and do something great. I wasn't sure what, perhaps give his life for Harry's. But I was very proud of him, he did step up and made it possible for Harry to do what he had to do.

I was very upset about Dobby though. More than any of the humans that died. I don't know why, his character irritated me most of the time.

That's it.

If you didn't mean to read this and I've ruined your Deathly Hallows experience, well tough toe nails, I warned you like three times!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

There's Something in the Air

Could it be? Can there actually be a small spark of hope in my much abused and maligned blue soul? I think there is.

Here is something I have not been able to say in a very long time: I like so many of the candidates that I'm having a hard time choosing who I like the best.

Wow. Pardon me, I feel dizzy.

So, obviously I watched the CNN/You-Tube debates last night. And here is what I liked the very best: Real questions designed to get real answers. Y'all political experts can expound on whether those questions got answers.

I am happy because in the past, debate questions have been phrased in ways to stimulate discord and division and rancor. I liked this approach that allowed candidates to simply give their answers. I liked that there were virtually no attacks, that each candidate stuck to what they would do or what they thought on an issue.

That is what I, and I believe most Americans, Blue or Red or Purple, want to hear now. We've been listening to the kids bicker in the back seat for way too long now and have reached the point of "if I have to pull over...".

I am actually looking forward the the Republican debate in this forum to see how they handle honest questions from the common folk.

Thor sez: I'm voting for whoever makes the World Wrestling Championships a national holiday.

Monday, July 23, 2007

And the Oscar Goes To....

Loki for best lead actor in this morning's production of "Oh My God, She's Driving Me to My Most Horrible Death!"

The weak, fade away meows, punctuated only by the panting loud enough to be heard over the sweet tones of Carole King, the paw, reaching through the bars in supplication for mercy were a performance to behold.

Twenty freaking miles of it. One way.

Thor settled down around Middleton Gardens and actually took a nap on the way home.

But Loki, what a drama queen he is. Still under the bed. And the vet didn't even say he was too fat.

I'm going back to Harry Potter land now. Jason got first dibs on it and finished up yesterday afternoon. I'm diligently working my way through but a lifetime of reading in bed for a few minutes before turning out the lights has conditioned me to get very sleepy when reading. It didn't help that Jason would check my progress every once in a while, nodding and "mm-hmming" and telling me he couldn't wait until I finished so he had someone to talk to about it.

Loki sez: It was HORRIBLE! There were DOGS everywhere and they are SO loud and rude and then that man gave me SHOTS! I barely escaped with my lives!

Saturday, July 21, 2007


The almost finished product. Still a little brown at the ends and will need one more cut to take it off, but other than that, I'm digging it.

It's been funny to hear people's reactions. Most have been supportive, one person I know is beginning to consider doing the same. But oh, boy, some people have no couth!

"You're going to look 20 years older you know."

"Gray ain't the way."

And my favorite, in response to my answer that Jason loves me, not my hair: "So he says."

I think it looks great. Like the bleached blond who finally gives up the peroxide, the natural color is more flattering to natural skin tones.

Silver Streak Update

Today is the day. In less than an hour, I shall deliver myself into the talented hands of my stylist. I shall be silver streaked no more, but merely silver. And nearly bald. Ah well, that's what is great about hair, it grows right back.

Thor sez: See ya later silva-gator!

Friday, July 20, 2007

What Happened to Content Warnings?

Twice since yesterday evening, I have been subjected to violent, gruesome video shown on MSNBC News Channel.

Both the videos, one of a policeman shooting a suspect and the other of a dog fight, were shown with no warning that the story may contain violent or graphic images. Both stories opened with the video playing so I had no chance to change the channel or even look away before being assaulted with these images.

When did it become acceptable to show things like this on television without warnings? I'm not a Pollyanna, I know horrible things happen in the world. I know that the constant barrage of fictitious violence in movies and television programming is desensitizing us to real violence, but isn't just casually showing real violence even worse?

I don't want to see it. And I don't like not being given the option.

Loki sez: No, I don't want to see!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Harper Lee Can Kiss My Grits

A bird pooped on my car while I was in the grocery store this morning. Big honking nasty blob right on my brand new freaking car.

And I know it was a mockingbird. Because they are snotty things, they think they are soooooo much better than other birds. Just because of Harper Lee.

Well, let me tell you, if I catch one of them pooping on my car again and I don't care if she sends Atticus or even Boo after me, that birdie is going to be a Thor toy before it can chirp.

And I was having such a good time on the drive home, before the poop incident, listening to the same song over and over and over. I may listen to it for several more trips. A hundred times if I want to because I can cos I'm a grown up.

What song? Ah, here is a hint: Dijon ketchup!

Loki sez: I know! I know the answer!

And I know I am babbling on in a sleep deprived state, so I shall shut up.

Thor sez: You are capable of shutting up? Interesting.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I am My Grandparents

Remember when VCR's first came out? (If you don't, then hush up you fetus, I don't want to hear about it.) Remember your parents or grandparents bitterly complaining about how they couldn't make the danged thing work?

That is me now. I don't know how to freaking work anything. Jason had to show me how to make a phone call on his cell phone. I can start the DVD player, but that is it. I sort of know that you can put music on an I-Pod, but wouldn't be able to do it if you held a gun to my head.

And now we have this photo-shop thing. I figured out how to make funny captions on pictures. I even figured out how to put together a slide show. With music. But it's gone now because I don't know where in the hell the computer put it. Even file search is against me, saying it has no files by that name, when I know I saved it by that name because I freaking wrote it down.

And I know I wrote it down because I write everything down. I wander room to room with a post-it note pad in one hand and a pen tucked away in a pocket. Because I can't go from Room A to Room B without forgetting what I went to Room B for.

This is why my house looks like a teenage boy's room anymore (at least it doesn't SMELL like one though). I start to clean up Mess A, I take something from Mess A to return it to it's proper place in Place B. Then I begin to clean up Place B, which means I need something from Place C, where I find something that belongs in Place D.

Nothing ever gets done and I end up too exhausted to do anything anyway so I end up taking and arranging pictures of my cats. If I had grandkids, it'd be pictures of them.

Excuse me. I'm going to go jump in the creek now.

Thor sez: Wheeee! Jump like this!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

One More

Last one (today), I promise!

I Will Try to Remain Within the Limits of Sanity

Thanks to a recent Time magazine article, I spent a "Q" night (nurses don't say that word) reacquainting myself with I Can Has Cheezburger.

Then the gods of don't-do-the-laundry aligned and I arrived home to find a photo-shop type program installed on the back from the spa, newly energized computer.

So, you, dear reader, must now endure.....

Kittenz on UR 'puter

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bonus Post II

Because I think Thor is the most unusually marked cat I've ever owned:

Editors note: it appears the computer must go to the doctor tomorrow. And I begin my week "on" tonight. In other words: Good bye until Monday or Tuesday.

People Are Strange

I read a letter in a magazine that I like to read. The writer had loved this magazine and enjoyed it for a while. But then one month the magazine had a blurb that took one side of an issue. The letter writer then proceeded to blast the magazine for having an opinion and not only was she never going to read this magazine again, she was going to tell everyone she knew not to read it and call every advertiser in the magazine and tell them that she wasn't going to shop with them. Over one difference of opinion.

Some person who I barely know is a big law and order kind of person. He loves to pontificate about how personal responsibility is the most important issue in the world. If people would just take 100% responsibility for everything they do and everything that happens to them, the world would be a much better place. But when he was breaking a traffic law and got into an accident, he blamed the other person, even though had he been following the traffic laws and being responsible, the accident probably wouldn't have happened.

A casual acquaintance is a user of an illegal plant like substance. He thinks it should be legal. He also thinks that Tommy Ravenel is being punished unfairly for having over a pound of cocaine to distribute amongst his friends.

I'd call it hypocritical, but I don't really think that is it. I think people don't know how to separate themselves, their personal selves and how an issue might impact them, from the issue at hand. We can no longer think in terms of 'good for the most', but only in 'good for me'.

Thor sez: Let me know when you start talking about catnip.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Baby You Can Drive My Car

And the winner of the first ever JanetLee new car contest is:

The PT Cruiser. A change of heart about the color, I'd had in mind a red car, but loved this blue when I saw it. I was really torn between the HHR and the Cruiser, until I drove them. The Cruiser handles much better and feels heavier on the road. Besides, they are cute. Plus, I got more positives on the Cruiser in my research than I did on the HHR.

Now I just have to figure out how everything works!

Loki sez: Oh mother dear, may I drive the new car? Pretty please with sugar on top?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bonus Post

Because I think Loki is the prettiest cat I've ever owned.

Tomorrow, Tomorrow

It's Harry Potter tomorrow.

Need I say more? I didn't think so.

Today, however, will be devoted to plot lines for the barely in-progress sort-of-new novel. Which, for me, means a lot of sitting and staring off in space. It just looks like I'm slack jawed and glassy eyed, but there is plenty going on in the old noggin, trust me.

Yesterday, I finally began to see the backbone of the story, the central event around which all will swirl. Last night, I couldn't sleep until a scene finished playing out in my mind's eye. I'm telling you, it is close to a mental illness, the way these people just show up in my head and act out their stories for me.

Thor sez: A hole in your curtains? I have no idea how that could have happened.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Just Another Manic Monday

I awoke at 4:30 am, my brain telling me that there was some foreign object in the bed, attacking my feet. It was a pair of socks that had been removed at some point during the night and placed on my side of the bed.

I awoke at ten minutes until six to the extra-super-loud meow of the Thor. I let him in, he hopped on the bed, meowed in my face, then left to continue his hallway serenade. I think he likes the acoustics.

I awoke at ten minutes after six to an ever so polite Loki gently pulling my hand out from under the pillow so that he might lick my thumb.

That's about where I gave up on sleep.

I have about ten million errands to run today, which is probably why the heat index will be equal to that of the sun. You know how it is. You are in the store long enough for the car to get hot out in the parking lot, but too close to your next stop for the air conditioning to catch up and not in the store long enough to cool down in their a/c.

Cartoon me.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

To Boldly Go

Live long and prosper.


Friday, July 06, 2007

Shopping at the Car Lot

Tomorrow I will go to compare and contrast the Chevrolet HHR and Chrysler PT Cruiser. I've heard good and bad about each.

I will go to the Chevrolet dealership that actually answered my email about a quote, the one that only asked when I thought I might be coming by for a look and test drive so they could have a car ready and waiting for me.

I will not go to the Chrysler dealership that did not send me the quote I requested, the one that sent me a slightly snotty reply to my second request for a price quote. The one that only seemed interested in getting me to the lot with no information.

There are other Chrysler dealerships in town, don't they know.

But alas, today I am without a vehicle, stuck at home with a marauding raccoon, a discontented (and very loud) Thor, a mountain of laundry and a blank screen on my computer, waiting for me to fill it with words of brilliance.

Great Leaping Thorby, Batman!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Killing the Muse

Stephen King once said, in response to people who asked him why he wrote horror stories, (paraphrasing here) "What makes you think I have a choice?"

I sort of understood that at the time.

Now I really understand it.

After a year of trying to turn a short story into a novel, trying to turn parts of a novel into short stories, and trying to write non-fiction essays that don't suck donkey sweat, I so deeply and truly understand it.

I was killing my muse.

I can't force myself to write something. I can only write what the Muse wants me to write. And if that means I will be an anonymous dilettante scribbling away in solitude, annoying agents with my query letters, then so be it.

As the great Popeye once said, "I yam what I yam."

So, I abandon the non-fiction. I abandon the short story. I abandon (for now) the novel in progress.

Because the Muse took an offhand remark made to me ("Maybe you should consider a romantic comedy.") and ran away with it. She has been feverishly polishing this idea and finally let me in on her plan:

Take my disaster of a first novel attempt, a suspense/mystery genre, and turn it into a romantic comedy. An idea at which first I scoffed. But now it is beginning to take a hold of my imagination. I've always liked the characters from that novel, if not the contrived story I goose-stepped them through. I always had a vague idea to use at least a few of them in another story.

But to take the whole thing, location, primary and secondary characters and turn it all into something else, that is firing my imagination.

So excuse me now, while I go reacquaint myself with the citizens of a small town in the North Carolina mountains.

Loki sez: Just don't forget our lunch.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day!

Hope everyone is having a good time at the birthday bash heard 'round the world.

Thor sez: I'm just gonna hang out and celebrate the land of the free (bellies)!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Taking Cat Pictures is Like a Box of Chocolates... never know what you are going to get. I know it looks like I spend hours and hours photographing the furbags, but I really don't. When they get rambunctious, I grab the camera and just snap away, one after another after another until they stop doing whatever it was they were doing. Then I look through the results.

And sometimes I laugh like a loon until Jason begins to wonder about my sanity and begins to talk to me in his 'therapy voice' and offer me things like chocolate and wine and beef jerky.

But how can you not laugh when suddenly this pops up on your camera screen:

Loki sez: I'm Loki the Vampire Cat! Fear my fangs!

Or this:

Loki sez: I am! I am too a vampire cat! rrrrhaaarrrhhh!

Mom says: Cats yawning is the funniest.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Late Night TV

Did you know that by 0300, three a.m. for you civvies, there is nothing on but infomercials, repeating news broadcasts and cartoons? See what you learn when spending the night camped out on the couch awaiting a phone call to come back to work, we need you now?

There was a bright spot in all the drivel. I caught the tail end of a speech that Barack Obama gave somewhere in Ohio. I am really, really favoring this guy for 2008. Why?

Well, he is smart. He is articulate. He speaks like a real person, there are very few canned news-bite worthy phrases. But mostly because he was talking about ethics in the White House and its responsibility to the people of America. And he didn't bash the current residents (much). He didn't say how his competition wasn't capable of being ethical. He didn't hand out platitudes.

He had a list of specific things that he would require of himself and of the people who would work in his administration, if elected. A very specific list of things that were plausible and practical.

I like that. I like a man who is interviewing for a job who tells me why he is right for the job and how he would improve the job and how he would approach the challenges of the job.

I do not like people interviewing for a job who can do nothing but tell me why the other interviewees shouldn't be considered and what horrible terrible people they are.

That's what I think today.

Loki sez: Doh! And I just ordered a dozen Hillary signs for the yard!