Monday, November 22, 2010

Favourite Assignment

We started a new “Professional Practices” class last week.  I was not looking forward to it after the first one we had, most of which I sat through thinking, “Do people really need to be told not to talk to their friends about patient cases?  Do people really need to be told that speaking louder to a deaf person isn’t helpful?  Isn’t most of this class common sense?”  Most of it was, but common sense does not seem to be very common among people.

The first assignment in PP2 was a grammar assignment.  The instructor was trying to explain to us how grammar and decent writing skills are still very important in professional careers, despite technology like spell check.  She gave us a piece of very poor writing and asked us to find and correct 13 errors that had been intentionally placed for us to find (be still my beating heart).  I started finding your/you’re, then/than and there/their/they’re mistakes.  Of course, definately [sic] was in there, as well as a few to/two/too errors; there was improper use of colons, starting sentences with ‘but’ and use of the phrase “you could of...”.  I found some sentence fragments and other such things, but I stopped correcting at 17 errors.  I have the feeling that going over and above in this particular case may just end up offending the instructor.  Much of the class struggled to find 6 or 7 and started making things up to get to 13.  It was an in-class assignment worth 5% of our final mark, and afterward, people were livid.  “What the hell was that?  I didn’t get taught grammar in high school!”  Doesn’t mean you can be 20 years old and not know it.

Anyway, without going on too much of a rant about grammar and how it relates to ‘kids these days', I’ll say this: I’m excited to compete against some of these people for jobs.  So excited.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Too Easy

This past week I received a flyer from my favourite educational institution which made me LOL.  Let me share it:

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In case you’re not following, here’s the funny part:

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If you’re still not following, read here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Physics class!

I’m having difficulty deciding if I like my Physics instructor.
Those of you who know me well are most likely confused by this statement, thinking, “Jacquie, if you don’t know, do what you always do and default to dislike.  That’s how you roll.”
I know!  I do!  And believe me, I’ve considered that, but this guy is making it hard to do, so I’m going to reason this out:

  • He constantly undermines SIAST policy by letting us out early and doesn’t care if he catches shit over it.
  • He makes hilarious “Are you seriously asking that?” faces when people ask stupid questions.
  • He doesn’t take attendance.
  • He is hilariously nerdy.
  • He finds a way to mention Justin Bieber at least once per week.  For example:
     
    Jeff: “Who’s this guy?”
    Me: “Roentgen, the guy who invented x-rays.”
    Jeff: “He didn’t INVENT x-rays, he DISCOVERED them.  Kind of like Justin Bieber… he wasn’t invented, he was discovered.  Is anyone going to that concert?  Going to see the Bieb?” 

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  • One class he asked if anyone knew who played Nicola Tesla in The Prestige.  Of course I knew: David Bowie!  (This movie was a most excellent crossing over of two of my most beloved past-times: loving David Bowie, and loving Nicola Tesla and everything he stood for)  Knowing this information got me puzzled looks from many of my classmates.  I assume one or more of the following thoughts entered their pretty heads: “Why does she know that?  Why is she so excited about it?  Who is David Bowie?  What is a Tesla?”

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* Swoon Swoon *

So far so awesome, right?  So here come the events that are causing my internal struggle:

  • He’s an engineer.
  • He fails to control the class.  Most of the students giggle and chat the entire time.
  • First day, while discussing radioactivity: “We have a good understanding of WHAT happens during radioactive decay, but we don’t know WHY it happens.  Maybe that’s just God’s plan.”

Really?  God in a Physics class?  Please, don’t pretend like you believe God is sitting around willing a uranium nucleus to spontaneously decay.

 Pew! Pew! Have some cancer-causing ionizing radiation, humans.  It’s my PLAN.

So yeah, I’m reserving final judgement on this guy until I get a little less Jesus-talk.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Meez needs your help!

We entered a contest with Global Pet Foods.  They are looking for names for their mascots, and we have entered Meez’s name and story.  I need everyone to vote for him so we can win some awesome prizes, like free pet food for a year or a new car!  Click here to vote! Here’s a recent photo of beauty Meez enjoying our beautiful fall weather:

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Epiphany!

It’s no secret that I took advantage of my anonymity during my time at the university.  No attendance policy meant I rarely attended, with the intention of “teaching myself” the material I missed.  Often that just meant I was trying to learn an entire semester of material in a few days before my final exam in December (or April).  Naturally, finals were extremely stressful for me.

I was out for curry with Kristin this week and I was telling her about how I had an Anatomy and Physiology final the following morning, and how surprising it was that I wasn’t at home studying and pulling my hair out.  I proceeded to reminisce about such exams in my university days and said, “Maybe if I’d gone to more classes, I wouldn’t have to teach myself a whole semester’s worth of material over night.  I probably wouldn’t have been so stressed and would have taken an hour or two to REVIEW the material, rather than learning it for the first time."

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Bing!  That’s EXACTLY what has been going on with SIAST forcing me to attend.  I have gone to all my classes, and so instead of stressing over the final, I was out enjoying supper with a friend and would study for 90 minutes before bed.  Wow, too bad I didn’t figure that out five years ago.

Anyway, you’ll all be pleased to know that I finished my A & P class this week with flying colours.  Hurray!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Every day is exam day

Whenever possible, our “exams” are multiple choice.  I know, everyone is probably thinking how awesome that is, multiple choice exams are so easy, right?  Definitely, I like the concept of those exams because it means the answer is on the paper in front of you, just find it.  Too bad nothing in my life is that straight forward.  I have a problem with the fact that these exams don’t care that I can explain the formation of CSF or the structure of a bone, or the function of the central nervous system in how it relates to reflex.  I spend evenings explaining to Matt how TB affects your lungs, or how Hep B runs its course, but that’s not what SIAST wants to make sure I know.  Instead, I get a bunch bullshit questions in this format:

”Which of the following is NOT a characteristic of <insert word>?”

What is that?  How is that an accurate way to test people?  I fail to see how answering questions like that is an accurate representation of what I know on the subject.  It’s not.  Sure, I’m acing these tests, but other people are too.  Based on the questions they ask and their open mouth resting face, I don’t think they know much; I think they’re good at memorizing definitions.

Anyway, we have had ELEVEN tests thus far in our courses, every one of which has been using the infamous Opscan sheets (“bubble” sheets at SIAST). 

On the first exam, there was some confusion about how to fill out the sheet.  But there are only a few rules: use pencil only, fill in your name, and make sure to include your student number (fill it out using the bubbles).  And, after the 10th time using these papers, we still get a lecture about how to properly fill them out.  Not because of SIAST’s uncanny ability to hold our hands, but because every time, somebody fucks it up. 

Last week, before a midterm (having been told 10 times how to use the sheets correctly), a hand went up.  Bandanna Girl had a question about the bubble sheets:
”So where do I put my student number?  Is it in the greyish part?”

Where the fuck is the greyish part?  The whole damn sheet is blue and white.  And how about putting your student number where it says STUDENT IDENTIFICATION NUMBER?  Seriously, Bandanna Girl?  Ten times we’ve been through this.  All you’re doing is filling in little circles with a pencil.  And I’m supposed to let these people come at me with a needle to practice venipunctures?  Unlikely! 

Bandanna Girl: “So how do I get rid of the air in my syringe once I’m already in the vein?”
No thanks, idiots.  Back away from the Jacquie-vein.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hello, High School

So my first week in the new program has elapsed quickly, and in many ways, I feel like I’m back in high school---and not in a good way.

(Prudential Disclaimer: the following is my opinion only. I am in no way speaking on behalf of the school, and any resemblance of individuals in my blog posts to actual people or things is purely coincidental. Engrish Comics is life filtered through my eyes, and let’s face it: that is in no way to be considered reality.)

The first day of classes, the first bit of evidence: ZIPPER BINDERS EVERYWHERE!!


That same day consisted of countless lectures on not texting in class, not skipping class, and scare tactic after scare tactic. “This is going to be VERY difficult work for you and you will have never-ending piles of homework. If you skip class you will be kicked out of the program. If you fail Anatomy, you will be kicked out of the program. If an armed intruder enters the building, lock the doors and crouch under your desks at the back of the room—failure to do so will get you kicked out of the program.” After thoroughly explaining how “easy” it would be for us to fail, they commence in holding our hand and walking us through every aspect of schooling, regurgitating the information out of our course manuals and failing to answer any questions that go beyond the printed material. In reality, I’m finding that 20-30 minutes of homework every evening is keeping me comfortable and caught-up.

After 30 minutes of class, the anatomy instructor stops mid-sentence and asks, “How are we all doing? Do we need to take a break to stand up and stretch?” Bitch, please.

Another instructor told us how much she “hates chasing people down to get their assignments.” Poor you. You hate it? So don’t do it. We have paid a lot of money to be there, if we choose not to participate and take an incomplete in your class, it’s not your problem. Maybe those people will learn a valuable lesson about getting shit done. Maybe they’ll become ADULTS.

Another instructor couldn’t answer the questions of a couple of students. The next day, she came back with this beauty, “So I did a bit of research last night, and Wikipedia says…” Wow.

Instructors aside, my fellow students aren’t exactly people I am going to be inviting to my wedding. The girls in the programs have already started to “clique-up” and are obviously confused by me, since I clearly don’t care to join their groups. Perhaps it is my contentedness to sit quietly and listen in class that is most confusing. In fact, I find myself choosing the opposite side of the room, because the girls sit in a group and whisper and giggle through most classes. I barely want to listen to the instructors, so obviously I’m less than enthused about all the Chatty Kathies behind me.

This afternoon, in our ethics class, a few students came in late, and asked the girl in front of me if they missed anything. Girl: “Just some retarded stuff about patient confidentiality.”

Yeah, just some retarded stuff about how to treat patient information so you don’t suffer IMMEDIATE TERMINATION from your job after you run your mouth about some patient details to your BFF in the hospital cafeteria. I’m SO GLAD she didn’t let this information distract her from the very important task of doodling her name on her binder, with a big #23 surrounded by basketballs and hearts. Maybe after you breach patient confidentiality and get kicked out of the program part-way through clinical, you can fall back on a career in basketball, #23.

There are a few lights in my day, though. A girl from Matt’s work is in one of the other programs, so for the first few weeks she will be in my core classes. And a few of the other MRT girls seems like they have their heads on straight. I hope they turn out to be decent. I could use an ally or two.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Fond Farewell

This was my last week manning the infamous fruit stand in Confederation. To round out this memorable summer job, I thought I’d take some time to recognize a few of my best customers. I’m going to share with you a few snapshots in time from my summer, brought to you by people that truly exemplify Confed at its finest:

A Monday, 10 AM, 30-something grease ball, possibly female, weather: 21 and sunny
”If I buy 6 corn right now, can you guarantee that it will still be good to eat tonight after I leave it in my car all day?”
No.
A Tuesday, 6 PM, 60-something male
”Throw some more cherries in there. I’m paying $14; I want more than this. Put more in the bag. Give me extras.”
No.
Wednesday, mid-day, early 20’s male
”Is this fruit freshly picked? Is it locally grown? Like within 100km?”
NO. WHERE in SK are we going to grow Satsuma oranges??
Monday, 7 PM, 50-something male, after completing fruit purchase
”So now can I squeeze you?”
FUCK no.
Monday, 11 AM, 30-something male
”Don’t you think $5 is a bit expensive for this?”
No, I don’t. Nor would it matter if I did—I don’t make the prices. Don’t want to pay $5? Don’t buy it.
Sunday, late afternoon, 40 something male, buys a peach, commences eating it right in front of the stand
”Oh I could just eat peaches all day long. These baby potatoes look good. If I buy them, will you come home with me and cook them in your panties?”

And finally, a few photos I’ve taken over the summer that really illustrate Confederites’ fucked-up sense of entitlement (“I’ll park wherever I damn well please!”), and their ignorance, poor driving skills, and absolute obliviousness to manners, etiquette and their surroundings in general. All of them are titled “So NOT a parking spot”.

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Don’t forget the fat van, they too were parked like assholes!

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Good riddance, Confed. See you on the x-ray table.

It’s worth noting, though, that I did have a few very friendly, very nice regular customers. Headset lady, corn guy, yellow-cherries convert, handlebar-moustache racist, Can-do delivery creep, weed-smoking kidney dude, fast-talking crazy lady with husband, nectarine-eating taxi driver, baby potato guy with red truck, diabetic dude in white car and German guy in pinstripe suits. You were rays of sunshine in my day.

Fear not, readers. Where my Confed fruit monging adventure ends, my SIAST attending one begins. Many of my classmates will be fresh out of high school. I am confident that life for th enext year will continue to provide me with excellent Engrish Comics material.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Good People

I thought for sure that over last week, when my Facebook and blog were full of me mourning over Bearface’s death, that people would be heartless, and call me a crazy cat lady.  Or worse yet, that they would utter that dreaded sentence: it’s just a cat, get over it.  But this week, I was pleasantly surprised with humanity. 

Much to my surprise and delight, such cruel words, proof of misunderstanding my grief, were never said.  In fact, many people expressed heartfelt sympathies and were extremely supportive and understanding.

I have had countless phone calls, emails, Facebook messages, texts and a few in-person hugs, all from people telling me how sorry they were, and many saying a few nice words or telling their own memory of Bearface.  I am so thankful.

This week we received not only kind words, but totally unexpected acts of kindness.  My awesome boss from the store brought me a cool hanging plant, and her daughters drew me pictures of Bearface and brought them to my fruit stand; I cried.  They are now on our fridge.

IMGP3983Funny story about this one from Drew, I put it in my clipboard to take home, and one of my Doraemon stickers happened to come off the sheet right there on the picture.  No word of a lie, he stuck right in that spot: that cat-robot is always involved in crazy shenanigans. 

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These were addressed to Matt, Jacquie, Meezy and Minnie.  This one’s from Parker.  How sweet.

Some of the pet-lovers at Matt’s workplace bought and signed a card for him. Inside, they wrote some wonderful messages of caring, sympathy and understanding.  Their thoughtfulness brought tears to my eyes. 

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We are both so grateful for everyone’s kind words, and I am seeing these great qualities in all the people I surround myself with.  Matt and I were both wondering this week, how we got to be so lucky and where all these truly good people came from.  And I realized something: we’ve done this to ourselves.  We have chosen to have these people in our lives, and for good reason.  I so often feel like the world in general is full of assholes, and times like this one, that remind me that MY world is full of people I love, are important.

I know that I am cynical and a tad sarcastic, and I come across as generally full of hate for all people and all things, but I do have a heart, and this week, it just so happened to be broken.  I like to think that I really help my friends when I have the opportunity, and even when I’m saying something that might seem harsh, it’s honest, and my honesty comes from a good place.

On Wednesday, I felt that I had to go to work after the vet visit, and for almost the entire day, friends visited and successfully distracted me, which really helped me keep my shit together.  Others simply listened to my thoughts at length over the phone, and all of these acts of kindness do not go unappreciated.

Thank you so much everyone, you have all made a really hard situation a little bit easier.  Bearface will rain angel blessings down upon you from Kitty Heaven.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bearface Tribute

The following story is true, and tragic. As a warning, you are also about to be inundated with cat photos/videos. It’s been a rough few weeks for us, and for Bearface. And given recent events, I thought a memoriam/tribute to Bearface was in order.

I know a lot of people (haters) will say she was “just a cat” but the fact is, she wasn’t. She was part of our little family. She greeted us at the door after work, spent every evening with us watching TV on the couch, or hanging out on the deck in the afternoon. She was the last thing we saw before falling asleep and she was there, without fail, every morning when we woke up. She was more than “just a cat” to us, and it’s been really hard losing her.

As many of you know, our cat Minnie, teenage impregnated by our Thai Meez, had a batch of 5 kittens on March 1. The first one that was born, Bearface, seemed special immediately. I knew right away that I wanted to keep her.

The other kittens seemed to shun her at times, and poor Bearface spent much of her time alone, and I think this is the reason she grew so close to us. Since I have more compassion and sympathy for animals than I do for people, I insisted that we keep this kitten. She clearly needed us, even when she had her whole family around, she would choose to sit with us and play with the string on my sweater instead of with her sisters. In fact, both videos I have of her playing, she is playing alone. Somewhere deep down, I felt that no one else would ever bother to give this kitten the care that I knew I could.

About 2 months into her life, it appeared that Bearface really was special, and seemed to be having some health problems. The first issue that crept up was chronic diarrhea. Bearface seemed to have some serious intestinal issues. I bought a de-worming medication on the advice of a friend and we treated all the kitties in the house. That seemed to help out, and things cleared up. But about 10 days later, around the same time she should be receiving her second dose of de-worming meds, her diarrhea came back. The second treatment didn’t help, in fact, I think it made her worse. So I collect a stool sample and haul her into the vet nearest to our home.

Instantly I get a bad vibe from the doctor. She seemed confused and extremely indecisive, forgetting her stethoscope several times and leaving the room constantly to get things she should’ve been carrying with her. And even though she’s got a fecal sample, she can’t diagnose anything. She sends us home with 5 day worth of antibiotics and some different food.

These shots in the dark seem to work, because her stomach clears up and she seems better. I am ecstatic, and hope to see her running around the house like this again:

Then, the day after her antbiotics are finished, Bearface gets slammed with an Upper Respiratory Infection (URI). She starts sneezing, sniffling and can’t breathe through her nose. At this point, we find a better vet at Erindale Animal Hospital. It’s likely that she was exposed to the infection on her last visit to the vet, but it’s nothing she can’t get through. We take Bearface in to see her, and she tells us simply to steam her in the bathroom every night, and slowly but surely, Bearface comes out the other side of the infection.

But she still seemed to be very lethargic, rarely trying to move around. When she did walk, it seemed like her back legs were strange acting funny, like they were weak or misaligned. We attribute this symptom to having been sick for more than a month, and give her a week or two to “get her legs back”.

She doesn’t get them back; Bearface’s legs seem to be failing entirely after less than a week, and then a new symptom develops: incontinence. She tries hard, but she seems to have lost control over her urination. I do a bit of research and find that hind leg weakness and incontinence are both symptoms of feline diabetes, so I book her in for a vet appointment.

IMGP3931Our vet visit that morning revealed that the problem was not diabetes, but rather the dry form of Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), an untreatable disease, for which there is no vaccine, causing neuropathy, paralysis and eventually death. The vet laid out our options very clearly: blood and urine tests to confirm a terminal diagnosis, or if they were inconclusive, the only other way to determine definitely what the problem was, would be to do a kidney biopsy. Unfortunately (expense of that aside), Bearface was already quite sick, and had been for a while, she may not survive a kidney biopsy anyway. The doctor seemed quite confident in her diagnosis without those tests, and if I stood back and looked at the situation from outside, it was clear to me that this was a very sick kitten. Dr. Jones also seemed fairly sure that Bearface’s kidneys were already failing, and so the disease had progressed quite far already. She even said it was possible that she had been born this way, which did not surprise me. Perhaps she was born sick, and that’s why Minnie and the kittens seemed to stay away from her. And maybe, Meez with his FIV/AIDS felt an extra kinship with her, because they would spend hours laying together, cleaning each other’s faces.

Anyway, after a solid hour of deliberation and tears, we chose that morning, to have Bearface put down, since the disease would just continue progressing. She was already so weak and suffering from such a poor quality of life, I couldn’t watch her get worse. I remembered how when she’d been unable to breath properly because of her respiratory infection, how scared she had looked, and I didn’t want the paralysis to move up to her diaphragm and suffocate her, it would be too scary and cruel. God I wish it would’ve been diabetes.

We stayed with her right until she took her last breath, and I told her that I love her, and was so sorry and I told her how hard I tried to help her, way harder than most would have. I am so glad that Matt was there with me, so that I didn’t have to go through it alone, and so that she had both Matt and I there with her until she was gone. And I am thankful that we got to say our goodbyes, that she was comfortable, and is no longer struggling to walk. Watching her drag herself around the house and fall down all the time broke my heart.

I am going to miss that cat forever. Bearface was one of a kind, and the end of the couch looks empty without her. I feel awful about the whole thing, but I'm also relieved.

This is one of the hardest decisions we've ever had to make, and needless to say we are devastated. We tried so hard with her, but it was just one thing after another. The vet was really good, though, and she made it clear that no matter how soon or how late we'd acted, FIP is not treatable, once symptoms show, it is too late. Since we couldn’t vaccinate her for it, none of this could be considered our fault, or a failure on our part at all. There is really nothing we could have done differently. We always knew there was something special about Bearface, from the moment she was born. Part of me wishes we would've given her away, only so that I wouldn’t be going through this, but most of me is happy to have even had 6 months with her. She lived here happy, comfortable and well cared for, with both her parents around, as well as Matt and I home every night for her.p_00232

Bearface was an especially loving cat. She was very cuddly, and always insisted on sitting on your lap, or if you weren’t sitting down, she would often plant herself at your feet and put one paw on top of your foot, like if you were standing doing dishes.

Many of my Bearface memories are simply about looking into her little bear face, and sensing from the moment she was born that she was special, and I loved her. She had the most unique and kindest honey-amber eyes. And no matter how sick she got, she was always happy to see us and excited when we would come through the door. Sometimes she would flip onto her back and want a belly rub, and as you scratched her belly, she would gently hug your hand with her paws and close her eyes in ecstasy.

IMGP3920There were three places in the house she loved to sleep if not on our laps: the end of the couch, in my drawer by the side of the bed, or across my neck at night while I slept. Many nights I woke up to a baby bear scarf across my neck. And many mornings I woke up to find her laying between Matt and I, not sleeping, just laying there, almost guarding us while we slept. She would sleep all day so that she could stay up and watch over us at night. Upon opening my eyes in the morning, she would be looking at me, sensing that I was stirring, and squinting her eyes lovingly. When Matt would get up an hour before me for work, she would get up and hang with him until he left, then come back to bed and doze with me until I got up an hour later. She learned the sound of my alarm, and when it would go off, she would wake up, roll over for a belly rub and then stand up and stretch, ready for the day. Most mornings she would follow me into the bathroom and sit on the bathmat while I showered, and then on a little blue towel on the vanity while I did hair and makeup for the day.

Even in the vet’s office, she wanted to be close to us. Sure, she was a good patient and would comply with no problem while the vet poked her and examined her thoroughly. But when that was over, she would walk across the table and crawl into my arms or Matt’s. And then she would sit quietly as we held her, often looking up at our faces, trusting us fully.

She spent time with me outside while I weeded the garden, and liked to hang out on the deck with us while we enjoyed a beer in the summer sunshine. Since she was only allowed outside with supervision, when she wasn’t outside, she liked to sit in the sunniest kitchen window and watch the backyard, particularly if we were in the kitchen too.

She loved to have the top of her head kissed, and she loved to have you pet her face. Often, if you just held your hand out, she’d grab your finger with her paws and use it to rub her face and nose. Then she’d tuck in to your chest, roll her head in and nap, listening to your heart, and sleeping so soundly.

She was a fixture of the house, and much less independent than the other two kitties. So she was always around, never far from our reach. Sometimes she’d be at your feet, and if you looked down at her or said her name, she’d chirp and mew in response. She learned her name more quickly than any cat I’ve ever known, and she’d often answered to it.

She was even popular outside of our house. Most people who know me had heard about Bearface at least once, and I’m so glad for her unique name, because this way many people will remember her.

The day that we had her put down, I was at the fruit stand that afternoon. One of my regular customers came by, and could tell I was upset. He asked what was wrong, and I told him about the morning’s events. He extended his sympathies, but told me that while today I lost a pet, he had gained one. He went back to his car to get his puppy and showed her to me. I asked him to name her Bearface, after my lost kitten, and he said he’d think about it.

This whole experience has been really awful. It honestly feels like I’ve lost a member of my family. The last few mornings, I wake up and the first thing I think of is “where’s Bearface?” because I spent so many mornings, waking up, instantly worried about my sick kitten. So in a way, this will be good for me too. I won’t have to feel guilty about leaving her home alone, and I won’t have to live my life worried that I’ll come home to find a dead kitten in the house. I don’t think I could’ve handled that. At least this way, I know that we have done all that we possibly could for that kitten, and our final choice for her was the right one. Despite knowing that, though, I feel a huge loss and it hurts. My grief is compounded by the loss of 2 of the other kittens from our litter, and the fact that Meez is now fixed, there will be no more baby Bearfaces, or any kittens similar to her in our lives ever again. The permanency of the situation is hard to swallow.

Even today, I couldn’t sleep in happily, because I kept thinking how happy Bearface would be if she were here to doze with me all morning in the rainy weather. She loved just hanging out while I slept. I think it made her feel like MY guardian for once, returning the favour. I picked up and cleaned Bearface’s food dish yesterday, but I am not yet ready to move her litter box or the small blue towel on the vanity. It’s too final. I’m not ready to put her out of my mind just yet. And that’s why I need to write about her, and flood my blog with pictures and memories. They need to be somewhere so that as they fade in my mind, I have somewhere to remember her as vividly as possible.

We just loved that kitty. 26795_392949086879_508046879_3885571_7718324_n

Here’s a link to the slideshow of all the pictures of Bearface, from her first few days of life, to her last few.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Life Evaluation

As my start date draws closer for my new schooling, I have been thinking a lot about the future.  Matt’s recent promotion and job success has really made me think about where I’m headed, and where I expected to be already.

There are two different versions of my life: the one that I have now, unfolding in front of me, and the one that my teenage mind planned/expected me to have by now.

Sometimes I’m disappointed in myself.  Whether that’s because I wasted so much time and money on university and have nothing to show for it, I don’t know.  I’m not proud of that aspect of my life, and so I’m sure that’s a big part of it.  Once my program at the U of S was cancelled, and my dreams were dashed by budget cuts, I realized that I pissed away the years between 18 and 22.  All I have is debt, a plan that failed, and some university credits that will expire in 2014.

Eighteen year old Jacquie would be disappointed with the way things have gone.  I’m rounding the corner to the big two-four and I have no degree, no husband and no immediate plans for a family, white picket fence or home purchase.  Actually, we have a white picket fence… AND a Volvo… so maybe I’m close to that close-minded dream.

IMGP3889But 23 year old Jacquie isn’t disappointed.  The cancellation of the Linguistics program is beyond my control, and while I hold a lot of bitterness for the university, I already have more for SIAST.  And I need to remind myself that a Bachelor’s degree isn’t the only thing that deserves to be called an accomplishment.

I’ve experienced a lot of things already, more than many people my age or even older.  And just because those experiences don’t translate into a degree on the wall, doesn’t mean they didn’t educate me.  I’m proud that I’ve already lived in another country, filled the pages of my passport with stamps and visas, and eaten local Italian, German, Thai, Vietnamese, Laotian, Malaysian and Cambodian food, had my heart broken and repaired it. 

Although I have no children, and am not expecting any for a few years, I do have my beloved fur babies: Minnie, Meez and Bearface.  And even though we rent a shithole house, we have no one living right above or beside us, and the space is ours alone.  I have a great relationship with my parents and brothers.  I have an entertaining, excellent and supportive group of close friends.  And even though we can’t afford to indulge our every whim, our rent gets paid and we eat well.

And even though I’m not as married as I expected to be, I HAVE found a truly great person to share my life with, someone that can only be described as my partner.  I feel like where I faulter, Matt succeeds, and where he stumbles, I stride.  Life is a team effort, and I like it that way.  His recent professional success made me a tad envious at first, as I compared myself working in a fruit stand.  But instead of dwelling on my failures, I am using it to spur me forward.  I worry that if I fuck around and waste more time on stupid jobs and screwed up plans, I’ll end up a tag-along on Matt’s life.  I prefer to be the navigator of our life-flight.  And also, I like to be in charge of the guns.

  High fives for my Top Gun metaphor

Years ago, looking ahead to 24, I expected myself to be a teacher, have a house, husband and concrete plans for a family.  But I just wouldn’t be Jacquie if I did things the way everyone expected, my former self included.  I have already been a teacher and quit.  I often refer to Matt as my husband, for simplicity purposes.  We have the aforementioned fur babies, and housing in Saskatoon is over-priced anyway.  So even though I’m not where I thought I’d be, where I’ve ended up is pretty good… probably better.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Mommy Bloggers

A couple of weeks ago, I followed in Lojo’s footsteps and joined a 31-day Blogger Challenge with an online community.  I didn’t make it very far, I don’t think I’ve read or participated in any of the “challenges” in about 8 days.  Oh well.

The purpose of the challenge was for them to sell some guy’s book about bettering your blog, boost traffic and evaluate and learn from other blogs in your “niche”.

First thing I noticed: there are few other blogs in my niche.  This is because I couldn’t identify what exactly mine is.  The original purpose of Engrish Comics was to relay funny stories about my time living in Southeast Asia.  Since moving home, it has become a place to vent about the issues in my everyday life, a sort of public journal.  I cover many different subjects, from cats, to health care, traveling, feminism, finances, Internet commenters, transit system, etc.  So what is my niche?

I tried visiting a few blogs of ladies that are participating in the challenge, and while I still don’t know my niche, I did find something:

Mommy blogs.
Hundreds of them.

Now before I go any further explaining my anti-mommy-blogging stance, a few things should be said so that I don’t look like a total bitch:p_00227

  • I don’t have any children, just my three fur babies.   So perhaps the problem is that I don’t understand wanting to write and report NON-STOP on one subject only.
  • I don’t hate stay-at-home moms, or moms in general.  My own mother stayed home with us for years, and I’m glad she did.  I, too, hope to spend a couple of years at home with my own kids.  It’s a good thing to do, kudos to those of you who do so.
  • I don’t mind if people who have kids need a place to report to far-away family and friends about their kids, I get it.  But a public blog?  Logging every second of their life and hundreds of photos posted on the internet?  That has trouble written all over it.

I take issue with the extremist moms that seem to dominate the blogging scene.  Sure, you have kids, and I have no problems with occasional updates, just as I do with the fur babies.  They’re a part of your life, a big one, if you’re a stay-at-home mom.  But is it possible that your lack of outside interests and experiences is just a tad unhealthy?  I think so.

Many women define themselves as being a mom and wife.  But what happens when the kids leave home?  Or if she should ever suffer a divorce?  Defining yourself in terms of these roles is dangerous, because extreme mommies get extreme empty nest syndrome.  And then you become a terrifying mother-in-law.

I’m not saying every woman needs a professional career.  I know that everyone does not aspire to be doctors, lawyers and executives.  But read a book (that isn’t about motherhood), or take a class (that isn’t about parenting), or join a club (alone!) and expand your mind.  Learn something, do stuff, go somewhere.  ANYTHING so that you can write about something other than your kids and the recipes you feed them.  Oh and the cleaning tips—enough with the cleaning tips!

A close friend who wishes to remain anonymous recently agreed with my stance on mommy-blogs, and she pointed out how ass-backwards this whole thing is:

I could cry right now I am so relieved that I am not the only one who is enraged by new age motherhood and it's throw back to a time predating the women's movement.

Gonna be a harsh reality check for some of these mommys when their kids turn thirteen and won't have anything to do with them besides tell them to fuck off when they nag them to clean their rooms.

I think what pisses me off the most about stay at home blogger mommys is how they refer to themselves as "busy". What the FUCK are you busy doing? According to their blogs, they spend most of their days writing stupid shit for their blogs and discussing mommy awesome-ness in forums and buying shit online with their husband's money. It's like they graduated from college, spread their legs, and were like, THANK GOD, I can stop thinking and just be a mommy now.


Exactly.  IF they finished college.  Chances are they got themselves knocked-up halfway through so they could lock down the husband they wanted.

These women make me terrified of having children.  I know having kids changes people, and I was prepared to mellow out a bit.  I was even prepared to become a little less self-centered, I know these things are inevitable.  But I’m scared it will turn me into something I do not want to be.  Like one of those moms at a dance recital, laughing their faces off at stupid jokes that aren’t funny.  Or one of those women you can tell used to be pretty, until she gave up on losing the baby weight and taking care in her appearance.  Or one of those women run ragged due to stress, because her kids turned out to be assholes.  Or one of those annoying idiots that gushes about her husband and happy marriage to the point that you wonder who she’s trying to convince: herself or you?

Worst yet, what if I just mellow totally and fade into the oblivion of mediocrity, posting 200+ baby pictures every month and lose all other interests and ambitions?  What if I just get boring?  Oh well, even boring would be better than being SUPER annoying… like extreme mommy bloggers.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Poopface

I have a serious question, and be honest:
Is there something about my face that screams, “Share information about your bowel movements (BM’s) with me, Strangers!”?

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There must be, because all summer I have had customers committing the horrific crime of over-sharing.  Most often, it’s people telling me about the effects of cherries and corn on their intestinal tract.  But sometimes people volunteer information like, “I have gout” or “I’m diabetic” as they purchase their fruit.  Today’s gem was, “I’m going to go home and get my system moving by eating a bunch of corn and cherries”.  Thanks for sharing.

What do they expect me to say to things like this?  And why do people think it’s appropriate to share that info with a TOTAL STRANGER?
a) Gout is disgusting.
b) I don’t like to think about my own BM’s, let alone those of an overweight, sweaty Confederite.

One particularly depressing overshare was my own fault.  I asked a guy if he could smell weed, and he opened his hand to show me a smoking joint.  Naturally, I wanted to know why he could just walk around smoking weed in public, and it eventually came out that he has kidney disease and a medical marijuana license.  But he’s a regular customer—AND I ASKED.

I barely like to give out my postal code in stores, so why are people so comfortable telling me how long cherries will take to get through their digestive system?  I sell the fruit.  I’m not a doctor; there is no situation in which telling the fruit stand girl about your shit is reasonable.  Anyway people, it’s called FIBRE, and if you ate healthier all year, instead of binging on corn and cherries for two months, it wouldn’t affect you like that.

Another one of my favourite things about Confed, is watching for this van, riding low all over town.  It carries no less than 1400 lbs of flesh, and no more than 4 people.

EXIF_JPEG_T422 They see me rollin’ – they hatin’

On this particular day, they were having tire issues, probably because I was doing this from inside the fruit stand:

p_00266Since none of them are able-bodied enough to pump up the tire at a gas station, they drove to Canadian Tire and made the (super NICE) Service Advisor come out and pump up the straining tire IN THE RAIN.  I held my breath and watched, certain that if the van wasn’t so overloaded, the tires would be fine.  And I was also sure I was about to witness Nik, the CT service advisor get an exploding tire in the face.

Luckily, he didn’t, and the morbidly obese van continues to cruise through the city, depressing and disgusting those that see it.

Only 21 days left until I’m back in school, and the Confed adventure is over…

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Corn-tinued

So on Wednesday, AS I was writing the last post (Signs are ineffective if your customers can’t read), recalling all my asshole customers, I was thanking Raptor Jesus for my available corn that day.  Today was going to be a fine day, everyone could have corn, everyone would be so happy. 

loves_corn_2  
Then, an older man walks up, “Show me some of that corn you got on for $5/dozen.”  At this point, I think everyone already knows that this interaction isn’t going to go well.  Perhaps because I’m already on edge from recounting the previous day’s corn-horrors, and now this ornery old fuck with poor sentence structure walks up and starts ordering me around without so much as a ‘please’.  (Which we all know I cannot stand.)

archie bunker So I begrudgingly hand him a cob of my corn (freshly received the night before), wondering several things as I watch him with the cob.  How picky can someone be when the price is so low?  Is he some sort of corn expert that knows quality by inspecting the exterior of the corn?  I watched my boss eat the better part of a RAW cob on Tuesday evening (Yeah, raw).  It can’t be  substandard.  But Archie Bunker would have none of this corn, it was not good enough for him.

Archie Bunker: “This corn is OLD.  And MOULDY!”
Me: “Old?  No, we got it last night.”
Archie: “That’s a lie, this corn is old.  Smell how mouldy it is.  Look at the silk on the end, it’s rotten.  It’s supposed to be green.”
Me: “It smells like corn.” (Why am I participating in this conversation?)
Archie: “That’s mould you smell.  I don’t want any of your old, mouldy corn.”
I couldn’t help myself, after all the garbage these people have put me through over corn, I can’t take it anymore.  Not to mention it’s Wednesday, and I’m on hour 30-something of my work week already.
Me: “Well no one’s holding a gun to your head, walk away, don’t buy the corn!”
At this point, I promptly grabbed the corn, put it back in the basket and storm out of the stand and around the corner to avoid a physical outburst as well.

This is the second time this summer that I’ve been accused of being a liar by a customer, and such accusations sting.  I am nothing if not honest, perhaps even to a fault.  Not to mention, why would I lie?  What could I possibly gain?  The customer is going to go home, eat what they bought and find out the truth anyway, and then probably never return.  Besides, I don’t give two shits if he buys the corn.  I know by now if he doesn’t, somebody else will.  And calling me a liar is even worse than calling me “princess”.  No, not me, never.

Fuck that guy.

I think the worst part about all these terrible people of the corn is that I don’t understand it.  I would understand completely if people were flipping their lids because I was out of cherries.  Cherries are good for you and they’re only tasty and available about 6 weeks out of the year.  But corn?  Eating corn off any cob that wasn’t picked within the last hour is no better than eating a bunch of frozen niblets.  Buying up all the corn we have shipped in from Georgia is probably worse than if you just bought a bag of niblets, and it’s a lot less work.  And from what I understand, it’s not even very good for you, all vegies considered.  I’m so over corn.

On the plus side, my shack has a cherry-loving gopher that visits me every day:

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p_00276 Aww….

Kudos to Dwayne for the Raptor Jesus Photoshop.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Signs are ineffective if your customers can’t read

In addition to being bitchy and just plain weird, it’s becoming increasingly likely that many corn-buyers in the Confed area may also be illiterate.

The corn-on-the-cob wars rage on between my fruit stand and the “Cherries” shack across the parking lot.  We are totally winning with our $5/dozen corn, but when I run out of it, bad things happen.  When Confederites come looking for their cheap corn and I am sold out, they lose their fucking minds.  To try to limit interaction with these belligerent asshats, I’ve been experimenting with my signage.  If these people can somehow KNOW that I have no corn, they can stop coming by my stand.p_00294

Originally, I was instructed to just leave the sign as is, since our corn, according to Glen, would “be $5/dozen until the end of time.”  But when I do that, people walk up and  announce, “I will take 3 dozen corn”.  What people do with 36 cobs of corn, I have no idea.  Then I have to break the bad news and suffer through numerous scowls, glares, huffs, profanities, stalk-offs and a surprising number of “Take down your damn sign” comments, and other similarly helpful suggestions. And they’re right, I should just take the sign down, but it’s a huge pain in the ass to do, so I tried simply taking down the “5” from its magnet:

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After doing so, I truly felt that the altered sign illustrated my point.  The black rectangle accurately represented the empty void in my cooler where cheap corn ought to be. 
This action made a bad situation worse.  Now, people are running up excitedly asking me, “Is your corn $1 per dozen?!?!?!”

No!
a) In what world is that big rectangle the number one?  Even from a distance?
2) How could anyone running a business possibly sell corn for $1/dozen?
c) What is with Confederites and their corn?  It’s not even that good for you!


So clearly this had to change, the simple removing of a 5 was not the winning move that would grant me relief from these people.  Something must be possible to make this no-corn concept less abstract and more easily understood.  So I make this little sign:

p_00295 
Nice, right?  I liked where this was going, so I slap it up on the magnet:

p_00290

There shall be no more confusion now, there could not possibly be.  I am so proud of myself for having this idea, that I buy and eat two Kit Kats.

Again, I was wrong.  Time after time this summer, I have underestimated both the sheer stupidity of humans and the love that Confederites have for their ridiculously cheap corn.  The rest of that day, I still had more than half a dozen people come that day with some kind of request for either the price of my corn or a bag of the corn itself.  Really?

Hhhhhh.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 2 Challenge

I know I’m a few days behind on the Blogger Challenge that I’ve joined, but I’m taking the “list post” idea, doing it late and thinking outside the box.  I’m also taking this opportunity to give a shout out to my mom, who I am certain doesn’t read this, but want to recognize publicly anyway.

I love making lists.  A few weeks ago, I posted a fun list about Douchebags.  But I’m not going to make this entry a traditional list-post like that.  I just want to talk about how much I love to make lists.  I was talking to Matt today, half-conscious, half-napping after work, and I realized that the purpose of my blog is not to get discovered as a writer (I have no interest in being a writer), nor is it really to keep people apprised of my life anymore.  Sure, the blog started out when I moved to Thailand, as a way to put my shenanigans all in one location for the reading pleasure of a few close friends.  But now it’s more of an emotional release for me, similar to how I had a Livejournal quite a few years ago.  I feel like getting all my thoughts and problems out of my head and into print somehow makes them less threatening.  Without the venting outlet of a blog or a firey text message to a friend, my problems would bounce around in my mind forever with seemingly no solution.  And even though I don’t care too much if anyone reads it, because the only thing I’m trying to achieve is to get out of my own head, it secondarily offers a forum for advice or helpful insights from people who have been there before, or just want to offer their supportive words.  (I do kind of care if people read it, it’s nice.)

But lists made on the back of envelopes and scraps of paper rule my life.  I have my mother to thank for this trait of mine.  I will make list upon list upon list: groceries, chores, life, bills, 5-year plans, errands to run, etc etc.  In a similar way with my blog and my emotions, a list gets my duties out from bouncing around in my head and onto paper, where I no longer need to worry about forgetting to get them done.  I can’t forget to get them done, they’ve been immortalized on the back of a SaskEnergy envelope until they get crossed off one by one.  I just find them immensely helpful and they keep me organized and sane.  Without them, bills would not get paid, the fridge would be empty and I would have no idea how many years it would be until we can afford to start having babies and weddings (not necessarily in that order).

DSC02162  Thanks, Mom!

Handlebar Moustaches

Not as cool as people think they are.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I did it again…

I have a problem.  I have a tendency to start reading comments on web articles and YouTube videos, and then get upset and reply to them.  An article that came up on my FB News Feed (The Top 10 TV Characters of the Decade, by Sam McPherson) started out entertaining, and then some how got me thinking about feminism, and what I think it should be, but more importantly: what I do NOT think it should be.

The offending commenter was one “webdiva”, pictured here:

(Not really)

She was fairly irate that no female characters were included in the list, and wrote a particularly condescending comment: 

For example, per your top 10 list, you’d have us believe that there were absolutely no female characters during the entire decade that could qualify for that list. Even on your secondary list (spots 11-20), there’s only one female character, and that’s Carmela Soprano. You’re kidding, right? There were a lot of impressive female leads this decade, including some pretty kick-ass ones that could run circles around Carmela…
And start paying more attention to female characters, for heaven’s sake, especially those outside the Buffyverse. Sheesh, your list is so guy-biased it’s not funny. Get over it, already.

I wasn’t the only one who noticed, someone called her out for chastizing the author’s “guy-bias” (which is 2010 talk for sexism, I believe) and called her bitter (which made me chuckle).  But no, she wasn’t done with the topic: 

Nope, you don't have to be bitter to notice there's only one woman here, and she's not the best choice. Can you honestly tell me that doesn't bother you even a bit? Or in reading through the list the first time, with so many great female characters out there, did you really not notice?? Says far more about you than about me.

I know, I’m opinionated, and often, I am pretty sure that my opinion is right, but I’ve proven I can admit to being wrong.  And nothing annoys me more than to see a girl crying sexism and then calling other ladies to rally, especially if it’s over bullshit like some cyber-geeks super fave TV characters.  But even with my strong opinions, I know the difference between a news article and an opinion piece.  There’s no reason to attack someone personally over their opinion (unless it’s overly religious or based outside of fact).  For one, I think Carmela Soprano was a phenomenal character, far and away more interesting than Sydney Bristow (Alias), and Nikita, who were nothing but 1D ass-kicking females: the Lara Crofts of TV.  This doesn’t make them interesting or memorable characters, they are just female.  (And look at this list of women: WEAK)  So really, how many female characters really stand out from TV shows over the last 10 years?  I wouldn’t put any of these women on the list and can’t think of many that I would include in the ranks of House, Ari Gold, Tobias Funke or even Stephen Colbert.  Deb from Dexter, maybe?  And I want to say Tina Fey’s character from 30 Rock, but I don’t watch the show, so I can’t.  I didn’t even notice the lack of female characters, and it doesn’t bother me one bit.  This guy obviously feels that these 10 characters are awesome, and two of them are from LOST, so how seriously can I take him?  Besides, maybe the problem isn’t that this list didn’t include female characters: maybe the problem is that the female characters that DO exist in this decade are a big yawn.

Now, it’s important to note that I’ve never eagerly identified myself as a feminist, because I feel like, in the eyes of the under-informed, it would paint me as a man-hater.  I think the word carries connotations to it now that I don’t want applied to me.  I guess, like any paradigm it has radicals and moderates, it shifts and changes, and it can be totally oppressive or totally reasonable.  It’s no longer about wearing Gloria-Steinem-aviators, letting our hair down and burning our bras while asking for basic rights and equal pay.   But many of the more vocal “radical feminist” women (feminazis?) lead me to believe that to them, it’s not about equality anymore.  Rather, these self-proclaimed feminists are the ones trying to make men less-than, and crying out every time women aren’t “represented”.  They annoy me and set back the cause by crying wolf. 

I have heard Sarah Palin called a feminist.  So what does it even MEAN anymore?  As I mentioned in a Girl Power post a while back, can you oppose something like abortion rights and be a feminist?  I feel there’s no goal or target to the movement anymore, and women are just spraying it all over the place.  With this post, I intend to initiate discussion on what feminism has become, where we want it to go, and I’d like to know who’s driving.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Progress is being made, but slowly

In May, I had started the project of renewing a yard that had been much neglected, I posted the “before” photos, which were taken after a lot of clean up had been done.  But, since then we have killed the dandelions (which, unfortunately, made the lawn look worse) and trimmed a bunch of the trees back.  The caragana bushes are going to be a ridiculous undertaking to trim, so we’re not going to take that on, and they actually provide a nice privacy from our stupid neighbours with shitty, annoying, yappy litle dogs.  Anyway, if Blogger will let me format it nicely, I’m going to try to do some before/after to show the progress we’ve made.  Sorry if this turns out shitty, but please know I tried.  On the left will be the photos taken in May.  On the right, which are larger, are those taken July 11.  I was hoping the progress would be clear enough, but it might not be.IMGP3909IMGP3834

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So from the deck, the backyard is looking better, the garden has come up, and also the dandelions made up 60% of the lawn, even it isn’t looking too bad.  I spread some seed on it last week, so hopefully hat helps a bit.  I’ve also decided I’m not going to paint that back fence, since it’s never been painted and it looks like much of the wood is actually on the verge of rotting.

IMGP3835 IMGP3922

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The garden is finally coming up and doing something.  With all the rain and cold we had, I was worried everything I’d planted would die.  It’s not as clear, but I did plant some flowers in the small bed around the garden shed, and they are getting ready to bloom.  And, with these two side by side, it would appear that my hanging basket actually HAS grown some.

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IMGP3923

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking pretty good.  The trees have filled in nicely since we trimmed all the small, half-dead low-hanging branches.  The lawn seems to be recovering and our potted herbs are going crazy! We’ve already harvested off of them several times and used them for cooking.

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MUCH nicer.  Now that things are greening up, the lawn is being mowed regularly and somebody cares, the place actually doesn’t look half bad…  And remember how I was worried about what to do with all those dead vines on the front of the house?  Turns out they’re not dead, just late starters.  I think they give the house (and the fence on the right) awesome character.  I love them and am so pleased they came back to life.  Also, after digging a bunch of rocks out of the front flower bed, a veritable jungle of ferns showed up, so that’s cool too.

IMGP3848 IMGP3889

 

 

 

 

 




As you can see, the door still needs painting, but that is my project for later in the month, after the living room is painted.

In other news, Bearface is recovering and is, of course, still adorable as she watches me weed and work in the yard.  Meez, too, enjoys time spent in the yard with me.

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