Still less expensive than kids


Our youngest cat, Macy Gray, has been getting her vaccinations, which means that we have to drive her forty miles round-trip every couple of weeks, where we then shell out somewhere around $40. She was due for her last three injections today.

Our oldest cat, Blu, recently started throwing her food all around the food bowl while chewing, so I decided to check her teeth and gums yesterday and discovered that they looked red and irritated. Honey says I’m constantly looking for trouble, but I say better safe than sorry.

So, today, we packed both cats into the single pet carrier that we own and headed for the veterinarian’s office. They were stuffed in there like a couple of sardines, but we felt that it was necessary to avoid another trip later in the week. Turns out we have to drive back down on Friday anyway.

Blu’s teeth have to be cleaned, which means that they have to put her to sleep. The estimated cost is around $100, which I expected. What I didn’t expect was the $78 bill that I got at the end of today’s exam. Blu’s exam, which lasted all of five minutes, cost $30. Macy’s identical examination and three injections cost $48.

One the way home, Honey was figuring up how much money we’ve spent on Macy over the last three months, which is several hundred dollars. After a few moments, he added, “Well, I guess they’re still cheaper than kids.”

Maybe so, but I’ll be glad when this country gets a universal healthcare plan for pets.


Annie Lennox concert in Nashville


Karen and I drove to Nashville yesterday to see Annie Lennox perform at the Ryman. The drive down went by quickly as we talked and enjoyed the beautiful fall colors in the trees lining the highway.

Upon arriving on Music Row, we parked and grabbed some great BBQ at Jack’s before heading to the venue. After checking out our seat locations, we went back into the lobby and stood on the top balcony to do some “people-watching”. The people coming into the venue were an interesting mix of mostly middle-aged people and included several gay couples.

We were particularly intrigued by a tall, pale man with dark features who was wearing a long, black overcoat and several rings with large, fake stones. He was shepherding a young man around who appeared be of South American descent and we quickly decided that he was a vampire and the young man his unwitting victim. This, of course, sent us into gales of laughter as we pondered whether we should alert the young man to his inevitable fate.

The concert was opened by Carina Round, a cutesy singer who wore a frilly black and white dress with hot pink high heels. She later explained that she’d bought them for $9 at a local thrift store and they were a size too big. Her voice and singing style was unique and took a few songs to get accustomed to, but her vocal prowess and humor soon reeled us in.

The crowd went crazy as the opening chords of “No More I Love You’s” filled the venue and Ms. Lennox took the stage. I was familiar with every song, save one, and her voice was flawless. She held nothing back, ad-libbing and prancing around the stage like someone twenty years her junior.

Toward the end of the show, she left the stage to thunderous applause and a video began playing about a trip she made recently to South Africa. After returning to the stage and performing “Sing”, she spoke of how the trip had changed her life beyond description and how morally reprehensible it is for the world to stand by as millions of people die from AIDS.

Her final song was “Why”, my favorite Annie Lennox song and the one that I was most looking forward to. It was divine. I had to close my eyes a few times just to revel in the knowledge that she was singing it for me.

This is the set list, as closely as I can remember it.

No More I Love You’s
Little Bird
Walking on Broken Glass
Pavement Cracks
Dark Road
Here Comes the Rain Again
A Thousand Beautiful Things
Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves
Waiting In Vain
There Must Be an Angel
Ghosts in My Machine
Thorn In My Side
Sweet Dreams

We considered hanging around outside the tour buses, because we had heard that Annie usually meets those fans that wait for her. It felt a little intrusive though, and knowing we had a long drive ahead of us, we decided to head for home.

All in all, we had a fantastic evening. I didn’t take any pictures at the concert, but I don’t think I’ll forget it any time soon.

Stormy weather

Hi. My name is Brian and I have lilapsophobia. That means I have an irrational fear of tornadoes. In fact, just looking at a picture of a tornado makes me feel a little apprehensive. And, yes, I am self-diagnosing.

I’ve been terrified of storms for as long as I can remember. It started when I was a very young child. I have vivid memories of my mother looking out the large windows at the front of my parent’s bedroom, praying loudly as she watched vicious-looking storm clouds approach. I sensed her intense fear and somehow internalized that these impressive acts of nature were something to be afraid of.

A few years later, after we’d sold our house and moved into a trailer, my mother’s fear became even worse. As threatening clouds would fill the sky, she’d put me and my sister in the car and drive several miles to my aunt’s house or our concrete-block church. I’m sure she was in no condition to be driving and we’d probably have been much safer staying put.

As a young adult, I was so afraid of being caught out in a storm that I’d frequently check the weather before making a trip to the supermarket. I still worry about inclement weather on road trips to this very day.

The advent of the internet has quelled some of my fear. I can loop the radar image for my area and I’ve learned enough to figure out what is really bad and what just looks threatening. My heart-rate still quickens when I see dark clouds, though.

I love rain, thunder, wind, and even lighting, but I despise even the thought of tornadoes. Since we are constantly told that they can develop at any time without a warning, I can even feel threatened by the smallest thunderstorm.

One afternoon, after I’d just gotten home from work and was alone, scary-looking clouds began to move into our area. We were already under a tornado watch and it wasn’t long before a tornado warning was issued for our county. I called my neighbor who told me to come over. Upon arriving, she said she wanted to show me where we’d get to protect ourselves.

After taking me back to a bedroom and opening a closet door, she said, “Well, get in.” I laughed and said, “Mrs. J, I don’t think we need to get in there right now.” She replied, “We have to see if we fit!”

My partner is currently out of town visiting his sister, and since he has been staying with our neighbor at night for her first couple of weeks back at home, I fulfilled those duties last night. I figured I probably wouldn’t rest well since I wouldn’t be sleeping in my own bed and she keeps her house so warm, but I had no idea how miserable the night would turn out to be.

Yesterday evening, after we had watched the local news and realized that there was a threat of tornadoes, I ran back over to my house to get my trusty weather radio. I figured that we could sleep peacefully, knowing that we’d be alerted to anything serious. Yeah, right.

That thing went off so many times I lost count, always with watches or warnings for other counties. Even though I can set the radio to only sound warnings for my county, I have it set to pick up warnings for the entire region. My reasoning is that if there is a tornado heading my way from the next county, I’ll have more of a warning. Unfortunately, this means that my radio often alerts me to weather events in the surrounding states.

No sooner than I’d fallen back asleep, it would blare again. When my alarm clock sounded this morning, it took me a while to figure out that it wasn’t the weather radio. Considering that I was still alive when I woke up, I’m sure I would have been better off to have just left it at home.

Today’s forecast calls for more severe storms, but I’m predicting sleepiness and irritability. Argh.

Life goes on

Honey is leaving me for a woman. A much, much older woman. And they’re moving in together right next door! Oh, the drama!!

Okay… he’s just going to be staying with our elderly neighbor lady at night for the next two weeks as she transitions from the nursing home to being on her own. Her niece insisted that she have someone with her at night for a while and once Mrs. J realized that a complete stranger might be staying in her house, she begged and pleaded for Honey to do it. Of course, he relented, because he just can’t resist those older ladies.

Anyway, today is her 89th birthday and she’s officially coming home! We’re all really excited about it and will be having a few of her friends over for a small homecoming/birthday celebration this evening. Nothing too raucous, because you know how wild and crazy the elderly can get after a few rounds of cake and punch.

Last night, we had our (hopefully) final visit with her at the nursing home. She’s been full of anticipation over the last few days and it’s really just hitting her that she actually gets to come home. To say she’s excited would be a gross understatement.

As we got in to the car after the visit, I told Honey I would actually miss the place. Considering how dreadful I found it all to be a few months ago, that’s a pretty big statement. It’s just that there are several faces that I’ll miss seeing regularly. The obnoxious little lady across the hall that can be so ornery one minute and smiling so sweetly the next. Some of the nurses, especially my cousins that work there, but also the one from New Jersey with the fabulous accent who told Mrs. J she should let her frozen-solid ice cream “defrowst”. Maybe I’ll pop back in to say hi from time to time.

So, it’ll just be me and my three babies for the next several nights. I’ll have plenty of opportunity to catch up on my reading of Infidel, since I’ve fallen behind most of the class. Our notebook computer can still surf wirelessly from next door, so at least Snookums will have internet access.

Life goes on. Some things change, some stay the same, but it’s all good.

A few childhood memories

Lots of Church

We attended church services four times a week – on Wednesday night, Saturday night, and twice on Sundays. If we had a revival, it wasn’t uncommon for them to last up to four weeks or longer, which meant that we went to church every night and twice on Sundays.

At our annual Thanksgiving meeting, we would attend church twice a day for four days straight. Many of those services stretched on for three to four hours, resulting in grumbling bellies and sleepiness.

No Television or Movies

I saw very little television before the age of 16. My dad did have a television once or twice, but it was always against my mother’s wishes and hidden in a back room. I was in high school when my dad purchased a set and put it in our spare bedroom. I’ve been a tv junkie ever since.

I had never been to a movie theater until I was in my late teens, and I loved the thrill of the big screen. I would sometimes see the same movie several times if I really liked it.

Dress Codes

Our strict Pentecostal doctrine dictated that I had to wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants – even in summer. My sister and mother never wore pants or cut their hair, and neither of my parents wore wedding bands or watches.

Sports & Games

While a game of softball or football was okay around the house, playing on the school team or attending ballgames was out of the question. My mother didn’t even allow us to play checkers or chess. No explanation was given beyond, “That’s how I was raised.”

After I had moved out on my own around the age of twenty, I finally purchased a set of checkers. I distinctly remember the look on my mother’s face when she found out about it.

No Devil Music

Anything not labeled “gospel” or “Christian” music by my mother was strictly forbidden. Well, “Happy Birthday” and secular Christmas songs were acceptable, which was something I never could figure out. Mom would constantly listen to southern gospel radio, something that I despise to this very day.

As I became a teenager and my friends started taking a real interest in pop music, my dad would sometimes let me listen to the radio while my mother was out of the house. I thoroughly enjoyed Prince’s “Kiss” and Robert Palmer’s “Addicted To Love” and danced around like my panties were on fire (my mother always called underwear by that name, no matter which sex they were intended for).

Baby Dolls

My maternal grandmother, whom I love dearly, always used to remark that I should have been a girl and my sister should have been a boy. This was based on my interest in most things girly and my sister’s love of climbing trees and making mud pies. I, of course, participated in the traditionally masculine pastimes, too, but I suppose the non-traditional behavior was more noticeable.

One Christmas, my granny presented me, my sister, and my female cousin with matching baby dolls in strollers. I was delighted as she explained that she knew I would have been jealous if she hadn’t gotten one for me.

Chocolate Milk & Baby Cows

This same grandmother used to tell me that white women had white breast milk and black women had chocolate milk. I can remember longing for a black nanny who could quench my unending thirst for delicious chocolate milk.

She also once told me that if I would circle our house three times that there would be two calves following me. Being a die-hard animal lover, I ran around and around the house, stopping frequently to look behind me for the two baby cows that never appeared. When I brought this fact to her attention, she laughed until she almost cried and explained that there were two calves behind me… on my legs.


Home Improvement – We spent most of the weekend working around the house. I mowed the lawn, did some work on the landscaping, and cleaned the garage. Honey installed a new faucet in the kitchen. Well, actually two new faucets.

The first one was a Price Pfister and was beautiful, but thumped every time we turned the water off or used the attached sprayer. I found other people complaining online about the same problem, so he took it out and replaced it with a Delta. It was more expensive, but works the right way.

Contacts – I had an eye exam on Friday and they gave me a trial pair of contacts. I hate wearing glasses, but I think contacts might even be worse. My eyes are constantly dry and irritated, even though this brand is supposed to be one of the best.

Neighbor – We sprung her from the nursing home for a few hours on Friday. We went to eat fish and then spent a little while at her house figuring out how to rearrange some of the furniture that her physical therapist said needs to be moved out of the way.

She will be getting out of the nursing home on her 89th birthday, October 9. We plan on having some type of homecoming/birthday celebration at her house that evening.

Christmas in September – Lowe’s Home Improvement Store already had Christmas trees displayed and decorations on sale when we went on Saturday. Can we at least celebrate Halloween before we have to see Santa Claus and snowmen? Bah-humbug!