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Friday, July 1, 2022

Make Him An Offer He CAN Refuse

 So today I got an unsolicited snail-mail letter from a realtor that went like this...

I understand you are the Personal Representative for the property at (my address). I specialize in the area of probate and helping administrators and executors like yourself with the sale of any real estate properties that the estate has to liquidate. I would like to meet with you, if possible, to look at the property and explain how I can help you in this process. Selling your property does not have to be a difficult process. I have been helping many people like yourself sell and get TOP DOLLAR. 

It would, of course, be rude if I didn't respond. So here's what I sent back...

stilton’s place, stilton, political, humor, conservative, cartoons, jokes, hope n’ change, realtor, Kathy, death, ghoul, vulture, piece of shit, real estate, truck, deaths, Mexicans

By the way, on her letterhead, she mentions being a graduate of Southern Methodist University. I'm no theological expert, but if Methodists are being taught to pick the bones of their neighbors then that frigging university needs an exorcism or something.

ALSO IN THE NEWS...


The piece above isn't to mock or laugh at the poor bastards who didn't know they were climbing into an air fryer at Joe Biden's invitation. Rather, it's just a comment on the deaths and suffering that will inevitably happen when this administration throws open the border and promises valuable gifts and prizes to anyone willing to risk their lives (as well as risking rape and violence) on a dangerous and illegal journey.

This blood is on the Biden administration's hands.

--------

Editorial Note: I still think it's okay to ship realtors across Texas in trucks.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Hey, Good Lookin'

stilton’s place, stilton, political, humor, conservative, cartoons, jokes, hope n’ change, earwigs, o caption

When I was young and the Earth was still a cooling ball of gas, the height of practical joking (or just being a pain in the rear end) was to put a burning bag of dog poop on someone's doorstep, ring the doorbell, then run like Hell. They open the door, see the flame, stomp it out, and get dog doo on their shoe. Classic!

Anyway, that's more or less what today's post is. I don't really have anything interesting to share so I've dropped this cartoon on your doorstep, rung your doorbell, and - because I'm too old and fat to run like Hell - I'm hiding in your bushes.

See you in the comments section as soon as I get this dog doo off my shoe...

Monday, June 20, 2022

White House Strokesperson

stilton’s place, stilton, political, humor, conservative, cartoons, jokes, hope n’ change, monkeypox, masturbation, white house spokesperson, doocy, Biden, bike
Another safety tip: don't dress like a banana

The CDC (one of whose "C's" must stand for "Comedy") has issued guidelines to cut down the spread of monkeypox. Specifically, they're telling Americans to keep their clothes on during sex and to masturbate while staying six feet apart. Which, frankly, is going to work wonders for social distancing in the grocery store checkout line even if causes an uptick in "wet cleanup on aisle 9" calls.

The CDC also recommends that potential monkeypox spreaders wash their "sex toys and fetish gear" because God has fallen way behind in turning people into pillars of salt and destroying their cities with sulfur, fire, and (just to be sure) a squirt of Purell.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

If It Stays Up Longer Than Four Hours...

stilton’s place, stilton, political, humor, conservative, cartoons, jokes, hope n’ change, garage door, bees
I'm putting my money where that mouth is.

It’s 10:15 pm on Tuesday night and I’m only just now starting to calm down from an extended battle with my garage door. And in the big scheme of things, a garage door shouldn’t be crazy-making but my reserves of internal strength ain't what they used to be.

The garage door worked fine earlier when I’d been out running some errands. And it worked fine in the late afternoon when I rolled our trash to the alley. Then I saw someone’s Facebook post about putting out saucers with stones and water for thirsty bees fighting the Texas heat (they won't lap up water from a bowl, but they like to collect moisture from a solid surface) and that struck me as a nice thing to do for our hard-working pollinators. 

So I got a plastic saucer (the kind that goes under clay gardening pots outside) then opened the garage door to go fetch some small rocks. Upon returning to the house with my delicious plate of stones, the garage door would only go down a foot or so before stalling then creeping back upward. 

Repeat repeat repeat. 

When that didn’t work, I detached the chain drive and tried to lower the door by hand. No success. I tried multiple times, but it was useless - and increasingly killing in the 100 degree heat. Great - my garage door would be open all night for the thieves to enjoy pillaging.

SOooo I started calling emergency garage door repair places and no one could/would help me until tomorrow (I don't think they understand that whole "emergency" thing) causing my panic level to continue rising. Finally, someone said they’d come out in an hour. 

So rather than sit in my blistering hot garage guarding my stuff, I decided to put a security camera in there. Only I couldn’t find the damn cam and worked myself up further looking for it. Finally, I found it exactly where it shouldn't have been and plugged it in...but it wouldn’t connect to the Internet from the garage. So I moved a repeater/router to different locations around my house until a tenuous connection was made. 

I then decided I should move the cars to give the repairman room to work. There was no problem with my car, but the battery in Kathy’s car was stone dead after not being driven in six months. So in the hot garage, I popped the hood and attached a trickle charger to the battery which, by tomorrow, will either have charged the battery or set the car and house on fire.

The repair guy finally arrived and he was a very nice fellow with a thick Jamaican accent making communication nearly impossible. He showed me places where the metal of the door had crumpled and cracked and said that he could do a temporary fix, but I’d need to replace the door soon. 

But it turned out he COULDN’T fix the door. So he at least helped me close it and, remarkably, only charged me $29 for his services. He’s also sending me an estimate on a replacement door. Although mine was a low-end garage door, replacing it these days would be about $2600 although I can get a crappier one for about $1800. So much for the $1200 I'm saving by cutting my cable TV.

Hoping to find a better deal, I checked out the “Nextdoor Neighbor” website to see who people recommend. One vendor, in particular, seemed popular, so I went to their website and requested a free estimate on a new garage door. The models they offer come with a limited lifetime warranty, which seems ideal for a guy with an increasingly limited lifetime.

But there was something in the back of my mind…the company’s name sounded familiar. Was it possible that they’d installed the broken door some eons ago? 

I knew what I had to do, though it wasn’t easy; one of Kathy’s many virtues was wonderful organization. So I went to her file drawers and started leafing through folders all neatly labeled in her precise handwriting. Nothing under “Outdoor Warranties” or “Misc Warranties" but “Home Improvement” was a winner! There was an aging receipt from the company, dated September 11, 1998, for the installation of the garage door, and it was stapled to a sales sheet showing that the garage door came with a limited lifetime warranty!

Of course, I assume that they’ll balk at honoring the warranty, but that will be a fight for another day. Specifically, Wednesday.

And if the company gives me a hard time, I hope their installers get stung by the bees who are gathered around their nice, new, surprisingly-expensive watering hole.

WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE

My garage door drama is in the process of wrapping up exactly the way you would expect: with me bleeding money.

My "limited lifetime" warranty isn't compensating me diddly-squat because it states that it's voided if any other company works on the door. Which the Jamaican guy did last night. D'oh!!! But what the heck. I mean, how much can it cost to replace a garage door? 

$3300, it turns out. Oh, the door itself isn't quite that high, but it requires new rails and a new spring. And although my garage door opener works fine, it's 30 years old and might NOT work with the new door since the techs have no idea how to adjust such a dinosaur and, oh yeah, if my old opener damages the new garage door or spring then it voids the warranty.

The new opener adds over $800 to the whole shebang, but it comes with alleged bells and whistles like photoelectric sensors to prevent cutting toddlers in half ("It's the law"), and a built-in security camera that will connect with my cell phone so I can easily see if my garage has mysteriously become infested with toddlers.

By the way, the tech was a nice young fellow with no sense of humor whatsoever. A case in point:

TECH: If you're in Chicago, you can use your smartphone to see if the door is closed.

ME: Wow, Chicago seems like a long way to go just to check on my garage door.

TECH: You don't have to go to Chicago, sir, that was just an example.

Before anyone busts a gusset (and don't even start me on the poor quality of modern gussets), I know that I'm overpaying and I could probably save considerable money if I shopped around, haggled, threatened legal action, or rolled the dice on mixing old and new parts.

But I just want this done. My ability to cope with this kind of aggravating crap is at an all-time low and sometimes money is cheaper than spending life essence. Moreover, there's a real value to just getting problems solved quickly so I can get back to the important business of day-drinking. (Kidding, mostly)

Monday, June 13, 2022

Green and Bear It

stilton’s place, stilton, political, humor, conservative, cartoons, jokes, hope n’ change, Kathy, garden, backyard, flowers, Pride Month, LGBTQ+, cord-cutting, TV, TIVO, grieving, Trixie Mattel
Click on the picture to see a larger version!

Although the honor was not sought, three months ago I received a field promotion (literally) to Head Gardener at the Jarlsberg Estate. This is a task for which I was entirely unprepared, although I'd done grunt work in the gardens for years under expert supervision.

I've been doing my best to tend to everything and I've been surprised and delighted at the number of bushes, grasses, and flowers that have bloomed and blossomed because Kathy knew to plant things that rather magically come back year after year even if an idiot is left in charge. 

Mind you, I don't know the names of almost any of these colorful visitors but bit by bit I'm learning about them. And while I've never been an enthusiastic gardener, I've always appreciated Kathy's landscaping...and darned if I'm not getting a bit of satisfaction (and sunlight and exercise) by trying to keep everything from going to hell.

So far, so good - and it cheers me every time I look out on all of these colors.

----------

Speaking of colors, we've all been seeing a lot of rainbows in popular media lately in honor of Pride Month. And hopefully to no one's surprise here, I'm fully supportive of the occasion and the folks this month is all about. As the cliche goes, some of my best friends (and best readers) are members of the LGBTQ+ community, and almost all of them have walked a hard road to get to where we are today.

To be clear, I'm not celebrating drag queens in kids' classrooms (although I'm a fan of drag queen / country music artist Trixie Mattel, who says his/her performances are only for the over-18 crowd) nor do I support making a public spectacle of private sexual behavior no matter what team you're playing for. 

But I'm pushing 70 and just lost the love of my life. And I think true commitment to another person, body and soul, is a rare and beautiful thing. So I just want everybody to be who they are, to love who they want, and to treat others with caring and respect. That's something anyone can be proud of during Pride Month.

---------

This week (Wednesday to be exact) sees another big change coming to the Jarlsberg household: I'm cutting the cable. Despite having NO premium channels, my most recent bill came in at $192 (and adding insult to injury, the provider is adding another $2.99/month charge to send your bill on paper).

I'm done watching network or cable news from anyone (I get my news from the Wall Street Journal and the Scott Adams podcast) and I haven't watched a network entertainment show in years. Kathy and I greatly enjoyed "Jeopardy!" because we turned it into a drinking game and exercise in improv comedy, but it would be sad just to watch by myself.

Mind you, I'm not going cold turkey on television - I've got subscriptions to Amazon Prime and Netflix, I've discovered that I get the various networks (and more) live and in high-def using a small indoor TV antenna, and while playing around with my "smart" LG television last night I discovered something called "LG channels" which supplies 179 streaming channels for free (albeit with commercials, like broadcast TV).

My new service package will keep my landline phone (yes, I'm the last holdout), increase my Internet speed by a factor of five, and save me about $120 a month. And if I'm unable to TIVO Democrat kangaroo court proceedings, well, I'll just have to live with it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Word of the Daze

stilton’s place, stilton, political, humor, conservative, cartoons, jokes, hope n’ change, Kathy, grief, hollow, clipart

The cartoon above is funny because it's true, although there's just as great a likelihood that it's not funny because it's true.

All my days are difficult lately, but today was particularly hard. So while I wanted to do a post just to show that I'm still around, I couldn't come up with anything except gloom to share. So I went to a favorite clipart site to find a suitably depressing image and entered the word "hollow," expecting to find images of sad people with no more innards than a milk chocolate Easter bunny.

Instead, I got the image you see on the computer screen which would be more appropriate for a children's book called "A Funny, Sunny Day in Happy Hollow."

And it made me laugh at myself for being self-indulgent and self-pitying. So I decided that sharing the whole silly affair with you would be the most honest and accurate snapshot I can give you of how I'm doing.

And speaking of truth in cartooning...

This was Monday's "Johnny Optimism" cartoon and it was vaguely based on reality. Daughter J is now staying at her nearby apartment more frequently while moving in, and upon arriving with More Stuff on Sunday she discovered an abandoned parakeet in a feces-flecked birdcage sitting under an outdoor staircase.

This being Texas, that's a pretty effective way of making broiled parakeet - so she rescued the bird and took it to her apartment (after checking a variety of nearby doors to make sure no one belonged to the bird). 

Our guess was that a family was moving and had forgotten the bird ("Well I thought he was in your car!") and would be getting in touch with the apartment management. Only the office was closed and wouldn't be open again until Tuesday. So I had to gallop off to Walmart and buy parakeet food, while Daughter J placed an emergency order to Amazon to get a variety of birdy treats and toys ("It will help us build trust," she explained). 

That night, she discovered that her entire apartment was filling with the smell of moldy bird poo and asked if it could be kept in my house instead. I did not find the argument compelling and said "no." But first thing Monday morning, I headed out to a pet store to buy a replacement cage just so Daughter J wouldn't have to deal with stink while doing a good deed.

But before the bird could rent a little U-Haul and make the move, the owners (who had found a note left on their door) turned up full of apologies and promising to take better care of the bird. They were indeed in the process of moving and had put the bird outside while moving things around. And no, that didn't make sense to us either, but the people seemed decent enough so we gave them the bird, so to speak. And there were kids involved who were glad to see their chirpy little charge again.

So when it was time to put together a Johnny cartoon, I had birds on the brain. And while this particular parakeet didn't know the words and choreography of "YMCA," had it stayed in our family long enough we would have taught it.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Rhesus Pieces

stilton’s place, stilton, political, humor, conservative, cartoons, jokes, hope n’ change, monkeypox, fauci, masks

REPORTER: Why is this outbreak happening now?

FAUCI: It's as close to November as we were able to time it.

REPORTER: Will we be seeing a lot more feces-flinging?

FAUCI: No, just the usual amount for an election year.

REPORTER: Can Monkeypox be transmitted by air?

FAUCI: We don't know yet, but if you hear a fart and smell bananas you should run.

REPORTER: What are the early signs of Monkeypox?

FAUCI: You get "Last Train to Clarksville" stuck in your head.

REPORTER: Why is a third-world disease breaking out in America?

FAUCI: Putin.

REPORTER: Putin?

FAUCI: Yeah, Putin your d*ck where it doesn't belong. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!!!

REPORTER: It's good to see you still have your puckish sense of humor, Doctor.

FAUCI: Well, the shots help.

REPORTER: There's a vaccine?!

FAUCI: There's tequila.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Your Rant Is Due

stilton’s place, stilton, political, humor, conservative, cartoons, jokes, hope n’ change, stilton's luck, Kathy, mourning, grief, bitching, moaning, whiner

Happy Friday the 13th! I won't even try to pretend that today's post is about anything other than me whining, bitching, and moaning. For nearly the past half-century, Kathy was the one to listen to my woes and pat my hand, saying "there, there." Which weren't words of comfort so much as her indicating where her wine glass was, so I could fetch it for her (filled to the top) before I started kvetching.

But she's not here, so you've been drafted. I'll pause if you'd like to get a refreshing beverage first.
(taps foot, examines fingernails, hums "The Girl From Ipanema," wonders whatever happened to fidget-spinners...)
Okay, time's up! Here comes my litany of complaints...

• Today marks exactly two months since we lost Kathy. And it just sucks. The days aren't getting better, they just stack up on my shoulders getting incrementally heavier. I wish I could say that it was otherwise, but it ain't.

• Yesterday was also the anniversary of my mother's death. Which followed Mother's Day, which sucked around here. And both of which followed the Cinco de Mayo, which is the anniversary of my father's death. Yeesh.

• Some of you may have seen in the comments that last Saturday, I very briefly (20 minutes or less) lost sight in a portion of my right eye. Knowing this could be serious, I immediately went to Sam's Club to have their possibly-trained optometrist look in my eye with a surgical-grade flashlight. He said that things looked okay to him, but that I might have had an "ocular migraine" caused by restricted blood flow to the eyeball.

Since that time, I've had a CT scan which didn't show any bleeding, aneurysms, or hemorrhaging that would cause anything, but it did show that my brain has an embedded "arachnoid cyst" which my doctor said that I shouldn't worry about. Which would have been a good place to stop, but he couldn't resist adding "...for now." But seriously, it's probably not a problematic thing. Just a brain cyst that apparently looks like a frigging spider.

The doctor also had me go in for an ultrasound of the arteries in my neck (they're fine), and tomorrow I go in for an EKG. After which I'm having a monitor glued to my chest to record any mischief my heart gets up to for the next two weeks.

• For the reasons cited above, every day this week I've ended up going to the same medical facility that I took Kathy to for five years. As you can imagine, that's not an emotionally neutral thing for me to do.

• Meanwhile in the world of finance, I see that my retirement account has declined over $300k since the start of the year. Granted, I've recently had a very strong reminder that money isn't the most precious thing in our lives...but even so, a loss that big is still kind of a white-hot serrated rectum-reamer (as Milton Friedman used to say after a couple of stiff drinks). 

BUT WAIT, THERE'S GOOD NEWS TOO! (If I can think of any...)

• Kathy liked sweet potato vines in our backyard but I couldn't find any at the garden store so I've been trying to grow my own. And as of this week, we've finally got leaves! I laugh in the face of supply chain issues!


• Thanks to the new Omicron Subvariant BA.2.12.1, it's now official that the government has given up trying to find catchy names for each new iteration of Fauci's China Plague.

• And finally, experts (I use the term both loosely and ironically) are now telling us that smiling is racist. Which is good news because, for a while at least, I can pretty easily manage to keep my smiling under control.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Blank Check-In

stilton’s place, stilton, political, humor, conservative, cartoons, jokes, hope n’ change, Kathy, checking in, Scotch

Another week has passed, so it seems like a good idea to poke my head up and give a small status report so you don't think I'm on a bender and living under a bridge somewhere. Mind you, I've got nothing against bridges, but I don't want to share my Nutty Buddy Bars (my drug of choice) with any other derelicts.

The cartoon above really sums things up pretty well, so let me throw some random thoughts down just to pad things out...

• I opened that 30-year-old Scotch and gave it a try. Truthfully, it's okay but didn't send waves of pleasure coursing through my body. It was smoother than Clan MacGregor or my current dreadful plastic jug of "Inver House," but not enough smoother to impress me much. I prefer my "good stuff for cheapskates" Scotch, which is a 12-year old Grangestone aged in a Sherry Cask and sells for about $30 a bottle. Now that stuff is tasty. 

• My decision to avoid the (ahem) "news" was reinforced today when I flipped on the radio on my way to a long-overdue dental appointment. Galloping inflation, stock market nosedive, Roe v. Wade hysteria, Putin threatening to deploy nukes and chemical weapons, mystery liver failures in young kids, and yet another comedian attacked onstage. Hey, world, thanks a lot for the big effort to cheer me up!

• I've finally started working on my taxes (after filing for an extension some weeks ago). So I'm only days away from finding out how much I'm going to have to pay for some liberal nimrod's neglected college loan and useless degree.

• Although I already mentioned it in the comments section, last Friday I was successfully able to give blood and it was the best I'd felt any anything in quite a while. I now have to wait another seven weeks until I can give again, but in the meanwhile, I can encourage others to donate blood. So please, do it! There were times when Kathy was told she could bleed out if she sneezed or clenched her butt. The only remedy was a bag of platelets. The problem was that sometimes there wasn't one available. Donating blood isn't just a good deed, it's a great deed and easy to do. 

• As always, thank you for the continuing support you share with Daughter J and me!

Monday, April 25, 2022

Spelunky Charms

stilton’s place, stilton, political, humor, conservative, cartoons, jokes, hope n’ change, Kathy, grief, Scotch, Ukraine, Daughter J

Okay, I'm kidding about that particular book, but I'm still hiding out in a cave rather than interacting with the world yet. Not that it's all bad - Osama bin Laden left a lot of porn in here.

Days continue to pass and I'm hoping that the (too) slow process of healing is happening on some subliminal level even though it doesn't feel like it. And I really am building up a little library of books that purport to help with the process of reinventing your life now that everything, and I mean everything, has changed. Dammit.

One thing the books seem to agree on is that it's important to maintain some sort of contact with other humans. And look - YOU'RE a human and here we are together! It's Kismet! 

And now let me prove that there's nothing much exciting happening around here...

• I continue doing gardening chores for Kathy, even though I don't really enjoy the process yet. I think that maybe I'll learn to, though, once I start getting an idea of what I'm doing. Mind you, I was no stranger to yard work before, but I always operated under expert (and occasionally exasperated) supervision. Still, I've managed to plant four ferns, some ornamental grass, and several pots of petunias. Additionally, I've been watching and watering the new plants and so far they look healthy.

• I still haven't tapped that bottle of 30-year-old Scotch, but intend to one of these days.  Perhaps to toast Daughter J, who is having a birthday in a couple of days. We don't really plan to do anything celebratory because it's going to be a very weird day this year. Still, we'll probably enjoy tasty food from the outside world and probably watch a good horror movie. In times of emotional turmoil, it can be very soothing to watch attractive young people running from maniacs with power tools.

• Speaking of running from maniacs, I've been concerned about a business acquaintance who lives in Ukraine so was greatly relieved to have this message forwarded to me: "Glad to hear from you! You remember that I am from Ukraine! Yes, we have a war that no one expected. Imagine that you live in a developed civilized world, go to cafes, theaters, use Apple, Netflix so on and think that now humanity will begin to explore Mars and suddenly, you are attacked by savages from the last century and they begin to destroy everything with missiles and tanks. So far, it seems to us that we got into the movie "The Man from the High Castle." And you just need to find a portal to return to the usual reality ... Somewhere such feelings. My family and I left Kyiv under bombardment and went to Western Ukraine. The "Russian world" has not reached here yet. I hope it never comes."

• I forget if I mentioned it, but I finally did write up a very negative review of our hospice service and posted it everywhere I could think of. The hospice service replied online that they were sorry I felt dissatisfied and said that they really appreciate feedback to help them provide excellent service and blah, blah, blah. In other words, they blew me off. But that's fine - I had a duty to warn others and now I have.

• My doctor has chosen a "wait and watch" approach to my "in-flight moving" condition, which is fine with me. He also wants to consult with my former neurologist about the highly kinetic Psychoneurological Non-Epileptic Seizures I was having four years ago. Since then, the condition has become much less pronounced but hasn't disappeared completely. Of course, it's not the size of your PNES that matters...

And with that sophomoric attempt at humor, I'm pretty much out of things to say. With the all-important exception that I'm very grateful for the love, laughter, and support you continue to share in the comments section. It means a lot to Daughter J and me!

The Irises Kathy planted are coming up. Purty, ain't they?

Friday, April 15, 2022

In-Flight Moving

stilton’s place, stilton, political, humor, conservative, cartoons, jokes, hope n’ change, mal de disembarquement, Kathy, E15, Biden, Scotch
"This is your captain speaking. We're not actually moving yet."

It's been a while since I've mentioned my "wobbly floors" problem, but it's never gone away. Nor has it changed much; some days it's very minor and other days (like today) it's more annoying. I'll finally be able to consult my doctor about it next week, but I think I've identified my malady by searching the Internet (doctors love it when you do that!).

Unfortunately, the condition has a French name that makes it sound sort of candy-assed: "Mal de Disembarquement Syndrome." According to Google, it's "a rare and poorly understood disorder of the vestibular system that results in a phantom perception of self-motion typically described as rocking, bobbing, or swaying. The symptoms tend to be exacerbated when a patient is not moving, for example when seated or standing still."

As you can guess from the name, this is an affliction usually associated with disembarking from a ship or jet and then still feeling like your body is in motion. It can also happen spontaneously. And it tends to just go away in a couple of hours for most people...except when it doesn't. It's also most common in women, so perhaps I've been a little too confident in my gender self-assessment up until now.

One of the treatments for the condition is to actually put the patient on a jet or ship, after which in some cases the symptoms disappear upon disembarkment. Or, if you land in gay Paree, disembarquement. So maybe Medicare should just put my happy ass in a first-class jet seat to some tropical resort for awhile. Although the way the government spends money, I'll probably end up getting an open-air ride with a crop duster.

In other news...

• It's now been a full month since we lost Kathy. Daughter J and I are doing reasonably well all considered, although the whole surreal situation still sucks and hurts like bejeezus. I've barely made a dent in all the things that need to be done, but I've made a serious dent in our grocery store's junk food aisle. I've fallen into an unfortunate habit of binge-eating and have put on almost 20 pounds. Fortunately, if inflation continues to be a factor I soon won't be able to afford the vast quantity of barbecue chips and Nutty Buddy bars that my psyche is prompting me to gorge on.

• For those of you who haven't read the comments section from my last post, The Mysterious Interview went well last week and it looks like I'll be in the upcoming documentary at least a wee bit. And while it's fun to be vague about the details of the documentary, there are also a couple of pragmatic reasons that I'm not saying much yet. The first is that I signed a non-disclosure agreement. The second is that I don't want the "cancel culture" cultists to associate this blog (and other politically incorrect aspects of my life) with what I was doing 30 years ago. But all can be revealed when the documentary airs in August.

And by the way, the 30-year-old bottle of Scotch didn't even get opened. The documentary crew decided they wanted to do a little more shooting at another location and it didn't seem like a good idea, liability-wise, to be pouring alcohol into them before they hit the road. SOooo, that pricey bottle of Scotch is now a family heirloom or an investment or something. If I ever tap it, I'll certainly give a review here.

• I'm still avoiding the news in general because, and please correct me if I'm wrong, it still sounds incredibly stupid and depressing. I did see that Joe Biden is going to help out America's working class by authorizing the sale of E15 gasoline that will be a dime a gallon cheaper because it's 15% ethanol made from preposterously expensive corn subsidized by our tax dollars. Granted, "gasoline" with that much ethanol will damage most internal combustion engines and cause gaskets and other parts to fail, but there's absolutely no other alternative to bring down gas prices. Well, other than to repeal the Biden policies that have ruined America's energy independence. Or maybe just knock a dime off the damn federal taxes on gasoline. But hey, destroying engines is good too.

• And finally, because we desperately need something colorful to break up all this text, I was recently browsing video projectors on Amazon and had a genuine WTF moment when looking at this ad promising "greater enjoyment" of what's on the screen...


And this, my friends, is why I drink cheap Scotch.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

A Fool and His Money Are Soon Partied

Today has the makings of being an interesting day. Because today is when the Jarlsberg home will be visited by filmmaking strangers (wearing masks, thank you) to shoot me for that semi-mysterious documentary I've mentioned here a few times. 

By pure chance, today is ALSO the 30th anniversary of an event that is the core of the documentary - an event in which I played a major role. So I told the documentary folks that we could share a toast to the occasion (an old friend once told me "caring means sharing"), and I'll be damned if I'm pouring Inver House, "The Scotch The Clan MacGregor Scrapes Off Its Shoe," for people who've flown hundreds of miles for my convenience (and charming personality and propensity for making libelous remarks).

No, it seemed like a 30-year old Scotch was called for. And let me tell you, friends, Scotch that old gets expensive really fast.  You can pick up a nice bottle of Glenfiddich for $900, a tasty Balvenie for $2000, or a lip-smacking Macallan Fine Oak 30 for a trifling $7,600.

Obviously, I didn't buy any of those things. Rather, I found the cheapest 30-year old Scotch within driving distance and, after watching an assessment on the Youtube "Half-Assed Scotch Review" channel that declared it really tasty, I bought a bottle to share with the documentarians.

At about $200, I guess it's a steal - though it's a bit painful to think about the fact that the same money could have kept me in Clan MacGregor for a year or more. Still, 30th anniversaries only come around so often, and if the cameras happen to be rolling I can look like a big spender.

Which would technically be a big media lie, but hardly the first one.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

It's Random Wednesday!



Okay, there's really no such thing as "Random Wednesday" but I felt like visiting with you and have only random things to talk about. For instance...

• Will Smith is in the news, which allows me to tell my only Will Smith story. Years ago here in the Dallas area, I was just wrapping up a recording session for the Chuck E. Cheese singing/joking robots and hauling my stuff out of the studio control room when Will Smith and his entourage came in to record some damn thing. And I don't want to say he found me physically intimidating but he sure as hell didn't try to bitch slap me. (Hey, I didn't say it was a great Will Smith story.)

• Several weeks ago, Kathy tasked me with planting some flowers and bulbs in a little garden area we'd recently put in, but I was clueless about where to start (although she was quite specific about what she wanted to be done). I kept asking a neighbor questions and, perhaps because she got sick of my blithering ignorance, a little group of neighbors is coming over on Friday to do all the planting (and provide the necessary plants and supplies) to make a nice little memorial garden that everyone can enjoy seeing when they pass by our house...

Granted, it's a pretty narrow bed (just the area between the windows, which was perhaps more suitable for burying a python) so the neighbors probably won't be adding any life-sized statues of angels blowing trumpets or Wizard of Oz-style columns of fire. I'll have to add those later.

• On an unrelated note, some time ago I mentioned that I might be appearing in an upcoming documentary scheduled for national broadcast later this year. When things turned crazy here, it didn't seem like I'd be able to participate, but now the documentary makers are planning on making a special trip here to interview me in a week or so. 

If I say so myself, I'm one of the world's foremost authorities on the cultural phenomenon the documentary is about. And no, I'm not saying what that is just yet, but I hope you'll eventually be surprised if not flat out flabbergasted. I'm looking forward to finally getting a chance to share my perspective and memories. And also glad that I'll have a strict deadline for cleaning my house and office so I don't look like a complete mental case with a hoarding disorder on national TV.

• I still don't know what the heck I'm going to be blogging about here in the future (it has to be FUNNY, dammit, and suggestions are welcome) but I think I'll officially start posting to Johnny Optimism again starting Monday. Which should come as great news to the 25 people who actually read it.

Friday, March 25, 2022

The Trudge Report

stilton’s place, stilton, political, humor, conservative, cartoons, jokes, hope n’ change, earwigs, o caption, my caption

As you can tell from the cartoon above, I don't really have anything new and worthwhile to share and my wobbling sense of humor seems like it's going to require training wheels for a while. Mostly I cobbled the cartoon together as an excuse to post and say that Daughter J and I are doing okay all considered and taking things one day at a time. 

Little nothing-sized chores are surprisingly tiring; a trip to the grocery store before noon leaves me drained for the rest of the day. Of course, my mood wasn't helped when I then stopped at the liquor store and found that they were out of Clan MacGregor.  I had to buy Inver House, which is even cheaper and nastier scotch than Clan MacG.

Oh sure, there were good and expensive brands of scotch sitting right there on the shelves, but I'm pretty sure that coughing up more money for the same quantity of scotch just adds to inflation - and I love this country too much to be a party to that. 

I'm still not paying attention to the news, though unavoidably see bits and pieces. Like a Supreme Court nominee who can't say what a "woman" is, even though it was part of the criteria that Biden insisted on for his nomination. And of course, I hear hyperbolic stories about a potential nuclear war breaking out at any moment because Putin has gone nuts, but I'm dealing with that by remembering the wise words of the Serenity Prayer:  "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know if a first strike on Moscow would settle Putin's f*cking hash once and for all. Amen."

Yesterday I went to the hearing aid store/audiologist for the first time since Covid hit and it seems that my already poor hearing has further eroded. Even more troubling was the news that, after taking a test using an odd device that would strain the credulity of a freshly-minted Scientologist, I have significant cognitive decline and memory issues caused by my brain trying to compensate for hearing aids that aren't expensive enough.

However, my brain still worked well enough to tell them that I'd stick with my existing hearing aids for now, but the moment I want new ones I'll definitely want to speak to them and the horse they rode in on.

And From The Vault...

Friday, March 18, 2022

TGI-Effing Around


Johnny Optimism and I are going to be spending a lot of quality time with each other for a while. Now that I live in his world, I'm hoping he can show me the ropes. Tickles the Clown offered to show me the ropes, but he seemed a little too Pulp Fiction-ish about it.

I don't know what kind of an update this will be, but I thought you good folks deserve one - and it will probably do me good to write one.

For anyone who only reads these posts but doesn't then follow the ongoing narrative in the comments section (just click on the title of any post to get there), my wife Kathy died of leukemia on Saturday. We had been together for 48 years.

Daughter J and I are doing pretty well all considered. Not that we're actually interacting with human beings face-to-face yet. There's no need to get crazy in year one. We spend most of the day in close proximity to one another and in reasonably good moods, drifting from one task to another. There's a lot to be done here and Kathy was always the mastermind behind where things should go and how things should be properly done. I'm hoping that the sheer elegance of her systems will allow me to function just by keeping the momentum going.

I spoke to an oncologist friend today who had reviewed Kathy's records and she confirmed that Kathy's leukemia was a monster. A wildfire. Everything possible was thrown at it but it was literally unstoppable. Far stronger and more aggressive than the norm. Which is pretty much what it would have to be in order to bring her down - she was made of sterner stuff than most.

The absolutely horrible hospice agency that pretty much left us high and dry throughout the final wretched days continues to annoy. Despite their earnest saleswoman's pitch that their Total Super-Duper Family Care Delightful Death package would give us immediate access to an expert bereavement team who could leaven our pain, the sumbitches haven't been in touch at all. No phone calls, emails, or texts. No cookie bouquet or 99¢ bottom-shelf condolence card. Which is fine - I don't want anything more to do with the company other than eventually giving them YELP and Google reviews online which actually WILL leaven my pain while hopefully creating plenty on their end. Of course, I have to keep my mouth shut until Kathy's remains have been safely returned to us. She's gone from hospice to hostage but should be home soon.

Daughter J and I decided to broaden our diets a bit and so yesterday tried something exotic called "vegetables" which are theoretically better for you than Little Debbie Nutty Buddy bars. We may try experimenting with things like protein next. It's a brave new world.

And I've contacted the folks at the local blood bank to find out what it will take for me to become a regular donor now that I've seen how important that is. It seems easy enough: I just need to show up for an appointment, have my blood typed, ask them not to mention my blood alcohol level to the cops, and then have them pump me like a well handle. Easy peasy.

That's about it other than to thank all of you again for your ongoing support. It's both needed and deeply appreciated, as you can clearly see by the smile on this pretty lady's face...

Monday, March 7, 2022

Roomatism

It's Monday afternoon as I write this and Kathy and I have had a decent if low-key morning following a decent if low-key weekend. Kathy mostly naps, although she alternately makes a compelling argument that she's never actually sleeping. All I know is that we're not making enough noise in this room for the neighbors to complain.

Daughter J visited multiple times over the past several days, Kathy is in no particular distress (though is visibly weakening day by day), and I have discovered that the Karmic price of stealing Kathy's uneaten "mehanical-soft" institutional food is a constantly roiling gut and copious, sonorous flatulence.

Speaking of which, that concert I co-wrote that played in Fort Worth last weekend was a big hit, and it actually contains an ode to flatulence called "The Toot Suite."  Why a world class symphony was playing such a proposterous thing is a story for another day. Because eventually there WILL be another day and what I hope are pretty good and unexpected stories from my scarlet past. (I swear I just imagined M. Mitchell Marmel saying "Frankly, Stilton, we don't give a damn" and posting a laughing emoji).

Kathy asked today if I'd been posting to Johnny Optimism and I told her that Johnny had been on hiatus since the new year came in, but that he'd be coming back in the future because that little guy and his friends help me drain a lot of bile from my soul. Plus rueful laughter is halfway to laughter of the kind that doesn't scare people and make them move away from you. Kathy understands Johnny and what he means to me, and approves of the mission continuing. Plus, it turns out that there are a lot of nurses who like sick jokes.

I titled this post "Roomatism" because I'm unsure whether I'm going to eventually leave this facility with a horrible fear of being closed in a room, or a horrible fear of emerging from a room. Currently, I really REALLY want to spend time outside. Although it sounds like this coming weekend that might be a good way to freeze to death in North Dallas. 

And speaking of being indoors and outdoors, I no longer have any idea (did anyone, ever?) what to think about Covid protocols. I guess I'll keep avoiding social occasions where people are unmasked, "social occasions" being defined as being with anyone other than my daughter. Mind you, I'd LIKE some human interaction and support, but I just can't get that from masked people. Maybe I'll learn how to make zoom calls. Whee.

I think I recently saw an article in which the CDC was saying the best way to keep from getting Omicron is to avoid groups of unvaccinated people. But last time I gave a rat's ass, I seem to recall that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people could catch, carry, and transmit the virus. Which would sort of make tht CDC advice unscientific bullshit, right? I don't know...and medical science and I are going to have a pretty chilly relationship for awhile anyway.

Not that medical science would want to cuddle up to me anyway; I think today marks officially two weeks since I've had a shower. I changed my shirt once, though, so I'm pretty sure I'm good. And here's a time-saving lifehack I've developed: just sleep in your damn clothes - in the morning you're ready to go!

Well, I'm not fooling anyone that this is anything other than rambling just as an excuse to spend time with you good people, and raise the virtual population inside this room. I share your comments with Kathy and they all mean a lot to us. Keep 'em coming, keep us in your thoughts and prayers and, if you encounter me in the hall here, keep your distance - seriously, two weeks without a shower. Yeesh.

PS: A special shout-out to Mary the moonlight power walker (Kathy says "hi!")

Monday, February 28, 2022

Hospissed

 For those of you who have taken enough of a beating, let me give you absolute permission to just skip reading this blog for awhile (if you promise to come back!) because for now, this space is just going to be about venting to keep me from going mad (I was already crazy, but in a lovable way).

In much the same way a robin heralds the return of Spring, we can tell it's Monday here in Hospice Acres because we saw a white staff member. Like the swallows to Capistrano, management returns on Mondays. The boss dropped in to see how we were doing, we mentioned still being in a total state of ignorance, the half-hour waits when the call button is pushed, the lack of supplies and, because I ran out of tact a long time ago, I asked why the whole frigging staff is Jamaican.

This was laughed off and I was assured they aren't ALL Jamaican, although he conceded that it's "quite an international group." I explained that between their accents and my hearing aids, there was no real communication. "I have bad hearing too," said the manager. "Yes, it's hard."

He then explained that we're lucky that there are employees at all in this job environment, when so many have found it profitable just to stay home and wait for the money to roll in.

We also saw the perky white social worker today who popped in just long enough to ask if we'd be "free" (uh, yeah) at 2 o'clock tomorrow to discuss our "care plan" and get basic orientation. This will be on day 5 of our stay. Anyone besides me see the inherent flaw in that timing?

But theoretically, several representatives of our hospice team (a different agency) will drop in today to offer us support, counseling, and guidance. I'd say there's maybe a 50% chance anyone shows, and no more than a 10% chance that we'll be any more supported, counseled, or guided when they leave.

The space we're in is essentially a dorm room with two remarkably cheap, noisy, and uncomfortable hospital beds. There are no trappings which would suggest that this is in any way a medical facility. I will occasionally leave the room and slalom my way through the dementia patients in wheelchairs (and God bless the poor souls) to get a tepid cup of coffee. Or visit the trunk of my car in search of a missing mouthful of Clan MacDesperation.

Kathy still can't speak because of her mouth sores and a universe which apparently really, really hates us. She's not sleeping well, and it doesn't help that she/we know the supposed end game but don't know what to look for now, what to expect in the future, or know how the blow(s) will be cushioned. But yeah, orientation on day 5 will be fine, thanks.

All of this being said, I doubt that other such facilities are better and I believe that many would be even worse. I don't think the home hospice we considered is likely an option at this point.

We're together, which is what's crucially important, and hopefully Daughter J can visit again today or tomorrow (after yesterday's emotional visit, she didn't sleep much last night). The bond between the three of us is about the only tangible thing we have left, so it's a good thing it's such a strong one.

Sorry for the doom and gloom, but please know that your comments, support, and prayers continue to lift us up. And to end on what will need to be considered a positive note, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra will be dedicating this weekend's concert to Kathy, in part because I co-wrote it, and in larger part that I could never have survived as a creative writer if Kathy hadn't been the breadwinner (in shitty jobs) until I got my professional legs under me.

Updates and trips to the trunk of my car as necessary.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Hard Times

I really don’t want to write this update, but I owe it to all of you. Kathy’s bone marrow biopsy results came back and this fourth brutal round of chemo essentially did nothing. Well, nothing to the leukemia - it pretty much destroyed all of Kathy’s good blood products.

I could make a long narrative of this, but won’t. There is no longer a medical possibility of a cure for Kathy. All she could do is sign up for an unending cycle of chemo after chemo with no discernible point - so that’s not what we’re doing. Kathy will be moving to hospice where AML patients tend not to last very long.

Over the course of the day we’ve gotten the crushingly bad news from the doctor, met with a hospital caseworker, then met with a hospice representative, and more or less finalized a location where Kathy will be going soon. Maybe even Thursday, except the roads in Dallas will be covered with dangerous ice, and we’re not feeling wildly lucky when it comes to taking risks at the moment.

The hospice facility is said to be excellent, and we’re getting a so-called “semi-private room” which will actually be fully private, with me occupying the second bed. It will be close to home, so Daughter J and her Mom can finally be together for awhile.

And because Life just can’t get enough of kicking us in the balls, Kathy’s mouth is still full of sores that keep her from being able to talk more than a few words at a time. We have everything to talk about, very little time to do it...and mouth ulcers.

Kathy has made her peace with leaving. I am in no way at peace with losing her.

Prayers for our family will be greatly appreciated, as always. And thank you for being here for us.

-Stilton

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Waits and Measures



They say that “time flies when you’re having fun” and I can assure you with great confidence that the obverse is also true: “time drags like a drugged snail pulling an anvil uphill when you’re having no fun whatsoever and help help help get us the hell out of here.” And what that phrase lacks in style, it makes up for in veritas.

Kathy is doing "well" in the sense that she can and has felt even worse, but that's about as high as the bar goes. It's been two weeks since she completed (most of) this round of chemo, but the "good" blood numbers aren't coming back yet. White Blood Cells: 0. ANC (a healing factor in the blood): 0. Her platelets are very low and all borrowed - she gets a bag or two of them every day. After her previous chemo session, her platelets didn’t come back at ALL, which is what landed us in the hospital nearly two months ago.

She's very weak, though did a little moving around out of bed for several days now. A couple of jaunts from the bed to the door and back, and then a walk around the bed to sit in a chair for an hour (and yes, sitting in a chair is hard and exhausting).

Her doctor came by Wednesday morning and answered a few questions more directly than usual. He said her odds of actual recovery are "very low. Not zero but very low." Additionally, when we ask if she's still a possible candidate for a stem cell treatment, we get a real "it's not impossible, but it's not likely" vibe.

Everything rides on the blood numbers at this point. When Kathy's good blood cells start reproducing again, the goal will be to get her healthy and strong enough to go home for a couple of weeks (perhaps after a short stay in a rehab facility here in the same hospital), after which she'd come in for another 5 day hospital stay and chemo in hopes of finally getting into remission. After that? Who knows. Remission is an unpredictable thing which could last a year or more or just a couple of weeks. On the other hand, if it's the bad blood cells (called "blasts") that start coming back in earnest over the next few days, then it's likely that we'll be looking at palliative care.

Which, it turns out, simply means managing and slowing symptoms rather than trying to cure the disease. I'd always assumed that palliative care simply meant giving a dying person opiates to ease their passing. And that can be a thing too, of course, but it's not what we're talking about at this time. We hope.

A vaguely positive development is that I’ve established somewhat better lines of communication with the doctors and hospital staff to try to get some freaking questions answered. And I also took the opportunity to wage a few complaints about issues you’ve already seen documented here. Good idea? Bad idea? I genuinely can’t tell the difference anymore.

Everything now rests on seeing what Kathy's bone marrow does when it starts to recover (which gets harder and harder to do after each round of chemo - and she's had four major ones now - which is why this current wait is so agonizingly slow). As always, your hopes and prayers for those blood numbers, Kathy, and our little family mean the world to us.

FRIDAY MORNING UPDATE

The doctor just made his mini-visit to the room. He said another bone marrow test will be done on Monday, the results of which will determine whether continuing on this treatment path has any point. So yeah, our weekend is off to a flying start.

HITTING MY CRAZY BONE

It only seems fair that I try to find and share a little humor with you, though the pickings around here are slim and mostly weird. Still...

• When talking to our doctor’s second-in-command about communication issues, I realized that whenever I told her something the doctor had said to us, I was doing it with his Indian accent. I apologized when I realized I was doing it; she kindly said I did it very well. Which is true. Maybe I should grab a stethoscope and start giving second opinions around here.

• A funny thing I’ve noticed is that if you walk to your car carrying a cardboard Starbucks cup and shortly thereafter walk back from the car carrying the same cup, nobody wonders if it was only empty on the way to the car.

• It turns out there are no movies or TV shows that you really want to watch when Life gets this scary and crappy. So in the evening, Kathy and I turn on Youtube videos (mirrored to the television) with beautiful nature scenes and relaxing music. Which is pretty soothing until you remember Edward G. Robinson’s final scene in “Soylent Green.”

• The difference between a Duck Call and a Nurse Call is that sometimes ducks come.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Close, But...


 As has so often been the case lately, whatever results we expected to get from Kathy's bone marrow biopsy turned out to be something else. We think. Sort of.

As you may recall, the point of the agonizingly slow test was to see if all the cancer cells were gone from Kathy's marrow ("You may be a winner!") or whether they were still there in significant number ("We've got lovely parting gifts for you.")

After days of being told "today's the day" to get results, it actually happened today (Friday). "If we look at your sample through the microscope," said the doctor, "we can find no visible cancer." Hooray, right?! "But..."

Damn!

"But when we use sensitive genetic tests we can tell there's still a little bit in there. For now we will let your blood cells begin to grow again. If the good white cells come back strongly, then we will continue treatment. If the bad cells come back then we will need to have A Discussion."

Additionally, to be considered for a stem cell transplant Kathy will have to achieve remission (ZERO cancer) and stay in remission for at least two months. So all in all, the long-awaited test results only told us that there's a lot more waiting and uncertainty that has to happen here at the hospital before we know anything at all.

The news hit us pretty hard; we were already exhausted AND keyed-up. "More of this" wasn't what we most hoped for but it clearly beats at least one other alternative. So we're taking deep breaths and continuing the fight.

Despite being weak, Kathy outdid herself with physical exercise today (what she accomplished wouldn't sound impressive unless you knew what she's coming back from). Solid food? Oh yeah - take THAT cottage cheese and tropical fruit cup! The woman is a superhero.

Still, motivation can be hard to come by and a little unequivocally good news would go a long way for us about now. Personally, tonight I'll be praying that a conversation tomorrow begins: "Good news! We totally misread those finicky genetic tests!"

DEMOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER


When Kathy was struggling with her physical therapy exercises today, she grew frustrated about how little she felt she was accomplishing. Her nurse decided to cheer her up by saying: "It's like my professor in Nursing School said: How does an elephant eat an apple? One bite at a time!"

"One bite at a time," agreed Kathy.

"Uh, pardon me," said the least necessary man in the room (me). "But that's not how an elephant eats an apple! An elephant eats the whole thing at once! He pops it in, takes one crunch and it's done. An elephant couldn't take a bite out of an apple if he wanted to!"

"I never thought about that," admitted the nurse. "I've been using that saying for years! When my stepdaughter became a nurse, I taught HER that elephants eat apples one bite at a time."

"Well they don't."

And such is the manner in which I spread enlightenment and joy to others. Whether they want it or not.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Mental Hellth

Stilton, Kathy, cancer, leukemia, scalded dog, hospital, Haldol, psychosis, Kathy

For those who want to read no farther (and I can't blame you), let me give you the Cliff's Notes version of today's post: Kathy and I are going through new levels of Hell I'd never dreamed of, but hope still exists. Keep praying.

I begin with an email I sent to family and friends on Saturday night...

-----------------

SATURDAY

I left everyone at a scary cliffhanger with my previous update so I’m following up with this one that says, essentially, we’re still hanging on to that cliff.

My brain is mush now, so pardon me if I refer to things I’ve never mentioned or whatever. In recent updates, I think I mentioned that something had gone wrong in Kathy’s brain causing her to become non-verbal, disconnected from the world, and reacting dramatically to the unexpected touch. The next day (and especially night - I genuinely don’t know if she sleeps now) that upgraded to her saying “Uh-huh, yes” hundreds of times as if listening to a phone call. The next day and all night, she still couldn’t react to anyone but was singing nonsense songs. An improvement.

A CT scan didn’t show anything amiss. An MRI scan showed some likely swelling on the left side of the brain - cause unknown, but suspected to be a medication issue. The most likely culprit wasn’t even chemo but rather a powerful antiviral Kathy was being given intravenously because that’s standard procedure when chemo has destroyed (by design) someone's immune system. The next day (I think) which was yesterday, she had improved even more. A lot. She knew her name, knew where she was and was able to carry on actual (albeit limited) conversations with the people who came to the room to give her an EEG (brainwave) test. Her doctor was quite impressed with her progress and shared that Kathy’s blood numbers are currently looking good.  However, she was becoming aware enough to also realize how confused she still was, and couldn’t understand that there had been missing days for her. She was also seeing things, though nothing too major for a brain hard at work repairing itself. Still, she started becoming agitated (not badly, but a bit) and it seemed a good time to call for some medication to help her rest (she hadn’t slept the previous night, having sung constantly all night). 

A quick aside: we’ve now met nurses who are strong in every conceivable sense, smart, and angels of mercy. We’ve also met some who are dit-brains. On this particular occasion, we got the latter. She said that the usual tranquilizer of choice - Ativan - was forbidden by the doctor but he had authorized morphine or "Haladol." Morphine certainly seemed like overkill, so we thought that "Haladol" would be an okay tranquilizer. I can not begin to tell you how wrong we were.

When Kathy had Haldol (the nurse didn't even have the name right) injected into her line, she immediately had a panic reaction and labored breathing - not from allergic shock, but because of what the drug was doing to her. It was like she was plunging from a mental cliff.

 “Oh yeah,” says the nurse. “It relaxes most people but it makes some people a lot worse.” Well THAT would have been a handy warning 5 minutes earlier. And it turns out that Haldol isn’t a tranquilizer at all - it’s a powerful anti-psychotic given to people having a psychotic episode. But for other people, it puts them into a psychotic state. And that’s what happened here. 

I’m not going to go into details but it was bad. Horrible. Kathy developed off-the-charts paranoia and thought that I was at the center of a plot to murder her, everyone was in on it, and she was angry and physical about showing it. And more that I just won't ever talk about. By the way, at this point I still had NO idea what Haldol really was or what was really going on. “How long does it last?!” I asked. “About 12 hours” I was told. But that was wrong - because she should have been coming down about midnight, and didn’t. Not even barely.

By 3 a.m. I just couldn’t take it anymore and had to leave the room, having not really slept in about 48 hours. The "shaky floor" I've been standing on had become a swaying rope bridge. Nurses gave me permission to sleep on a leatherette couch under a cold window in a noisy public (but not busy) space. I’ve honestly never been more miserable in my life, but I slept. Or passed out.

When I got up the next morning and returned to the room, accompanied by one of the GREAT nurses, Kathy had calmed down a lot but was still in a very bad state. She was much more lethargic and had flattened affect, her voice had changed (sounding like another person), movement was hard (waxy flexibility - a symptom of schizophrenic catatonia), her breathing was labored, she believed that she was having constant epileptic seizures, and still held the idea that I was the villain in the piece although she allowed me to hold her hand and feed her spoonfuls of water. 

And after a few hours, I ran like a scalded dog.

Seriously, I came home and am currently so guilt-ridden that I want to puke. But it wasn’t a totally irrational or (hopefully) cruel decision. The doctor still believed that the induced psychosis was medication-related and could clear her system in a couple of days - hopefully to find her recovering brain still recovering (the EEG test had come out good). During the time the drug would be clearing her system, there was very little I could do for Kathy and I was at absolute wit’s end - having lived in the hospital for the last 3 weeks and going through a rollercoaster of emotional events. Additionally, I wanted to see and comfort Daughter J, who has had to deal with all of this on her own. So I struck a deal with the doctor to get a two-day pass from the Covid lockdown as long as I didn’t interact with anyone who could be carrying Covid. Which currently is everyone in the world except Daughter J. Having that permission, I quickly packed some things and told Kathy that I was going to visit our daughter but would be back and that I loved her very much. The reaction I got wasn’t reciprocal, but that was the Haldol and not Kathy.

So I drove home (that’s a good choice when sleep-deprived, right?) and had a happy and emotional reunion with Daughter J, and then went into a spate of housecleaning. Just to put order to some things, or have some control over my environment. Just to interact with the familiar, and in spaces defined by Kathy. Just because I've been running on fumes and momentum and you can't just turn off momentum. And that brings us up to right now.

One of the kickers in all of this is that Kathy’s current blood numbers are looking good; it’s not impossible that she’s in remission. The bone marrow biopsy scheduled for Friday was moved to Monday, and that’s when I’m back with Kathy. If the results are good, then we’ll again have the job of getting Kathy healthy enough to have more effing chemo again to receive a stem cell transplant. If the marrow test is bad, then our options aren’t happy ones.

But the point is that there’s still some hope. And I couldn’t crash and take a long sleep tonight without first sharing that with you.

SUNDAY (Real-time as I write this at about noon Sunday)

I slept 10 hours and would still be asleep if my bladder was cooperating. It took me only a few groggy seconds to determine that I wasn't waking up refreshed and revitalized but dazed and with myriad pains as if I'd been hit by a bus. 

I'm moving around slowly and doing more chores (even with Daughter J keeping up the house, lots of loose ends develop as the weeks pass). There is laundry to do. Checks to write. Personal pill cases to fill. Spoiled food to toss out.

I called into the hospital around 9 a.m. to see how Kathy was doing. She was sleeping and had apparently slept all night, which is encouraging news. Sleeping is hopefully healing. And tomorrow (Monday) I'll return to Kathy's side as they punch a hole in her pelvic bone and draw out the marrow to tell us if any of this had a point.

I'm really trying not to think beyond immediate and welcomely familiar tasks (like talking to you, right here, right now). Everything else is mentally off-limits; in a building fire, you're told to touch a door before opening it to determine if there are flames roaring on the other side. All of my mental doors are closed but searing to the touch. And I still have guilt, but I no longer feel like the worst person in the entire world. I just feel like a bad and weak person, so that's healing - right?

But I will continue to move sloth-like through this day and take pleasure in the company of my daughter and her dog. And I will hopefully join Kathy tomorrow, stronger, and find that she's coming back to reality. And for the love of God, let it finally be a better reality than this one.