Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Tuttles with AJ Lee

The Tuttles with AJ Lee at the California Bluegrass Association 34th Father's Day Festival in Grass Valley, CA on June 19, 2009.

Molly Tuttle - vocal, guitar & banjo, Sullivan Tuttle - guitar, Michael Tuttle - mandolin, Jack Tuttle - vocal, bass, & fiddle, and AJ Lee - vocal & mandolin.

We lease twenty acres and one Ginny mule
From the Alabama trust
For half of the cotton and a third of the corn
We get a handful of dust

We cannot have all things to please us
No matter how we try
Until we've all gone to Jesus
We can only wonder why

I had a daughter called her Annabelle
She's the apple of my eye
Tried to give her something like I never had
Didn't want to ever hear her cry

We cannot have all things to please us
No matter how we try
Until we've all gone to Jesus
We can only wonder why

We cannot have all things to please us
No matter how we try
Until we've all gone to Jesus
We can only wonder why

When I'm dead and buried I'll take a hard life of tears
From every day I've ever known
Anna's in the churchyard she got no life at all
She's only got these words on a stone

We cannot have all things to please us
No matter how we try
Until we've all gone to Jesus
We can only wonder why

{thank you, brother tumbleweed}

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Retired Educator Does Australian Folk Songs and Is Sad

"Curses, foiled again!"

Snidely Whiplash just won't be deterred, even though Dudley Do-Right almost always emerges triumphant in the more cartoonish arenas of my life.
Why, yes, I am Nell Finwick!

Yes, this is The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show!

I am pretty sure that I did not blog about The Smell.
You'd likely not even miss a beat, as often as I bemoan the fartings and stinky poops of our caterie here at Marlinspike Hall, deep, deep in the Tête de Hergé.

Perhaps it is worth taking a moment to assure you that I keep a clean and pleasant Manor. Honest!

No, The Smell to which I refer now came from my suture line -- the incision from last Monday, July 6.

It would have made an entertaining video clip: I kept smelling something cloyingly sweet. Not bad, exactly, just not familiar. Funny thing was that I never smelled it when I went investigating to my *right* -- and when I took off after it by going left, well, I ended up going in circles.

Yes, I am an idiot.

When I realized the source of the odor, this Brainiac also realized that the site had been itching, as well. In terms of pain? I was guarding the shoulder but trying to cut back on post op pain meds. To be frank (echos of "Mr. Pus? Mr. Frank Pus? White courtesy telephone!"), I don't trust my own pain evaluations anymore. Sometime in the past year or so, I became a wimp.

Finally, I decided to remove the dressing, clean the area, and rebandage it. My surgeon prefers that I leave undisturbed the bandage he puts on the morning of discharge from the hospital until I come in for my first post op appointment. (Tuesday, July 21)

Okie-dokie, then!

Imagine the speed with which I threw body and soul into Denial when I saw what amounted to fresh yellowish and bloody drainage... Fresh, having absorbed into the ABD bandage as a shape slightly larger than a dollar bill.

I carefully tended to it, and used good technique in getting it redressed.

I whistled while I worked.

In a bid for sympathy, I showed The Fredster the painterly evidence, and recounted my tale of stinky woe. Perhaps I failed to mention the continuing fever and sweats, the inability to sleep due to pain. Whatever I said, he encouraged me to call the surgeon first thing in the morning.

Well... the next morning, the drainage was only the size of a quarter (What *is* this compulsion to size the Rorschach blots on bandages by comparing them with monetary currency?).

To me, that clearly indicated that -- in lieu of a phone call -- the situation merited a downgrade to email communication. I may have mentioned my aversion to telephones in times of stress? No?

So I shot off this email to my ortho's main squeeze:

Hi Suzie Q --

I have a small problem.

Surgery was 7.6.2009 and I've been doing well -- the post op pain has been a problem only when I use the arm too much, and even though I still am having low grade fevers and sweats, I am also on Zyvox which ought to kill anything.

No problems with the dressing until yesterday, when the wound started to smell a bit (kind of a sweet smell), and itch. I decided to change the dressing and clean the area. Most everything on the bandage was dry and old, except for an area at the bottom of the incision that was draining serosanguinous (pink, some yellow?) stuff.

There was a fair amount that had absorbed into the ABD pad -- a little more than the size of a dollar. I just checked it -- after about 12 hours now, the bandage has about a silver-dollar size circle of the... stuff. There is no pus or anything like that and the incision looks perfectly normal to me except for the area at the bottom where the seepage is being produced -- and, still, that slight smell.

If you think I should come in to be seen at the clinic before my scheduled appt with Bob next week, then I'll certainly come. However, I have an appointment Thursday afternoon with one of Dr. Infectious DiseaseDood's PAs. I am comfortable waiting until then, unless this gets worse, in the hopes that they'll culture it and give me an informed opinion about what to do.

What do you think?

Thanks very much,
Retired Educator

Four hours later, I sent her this, effectively refusing to take responsibility for myself, and backing out of any further investigation:

Hi again --

After all of that, I think the drainage has stopped!

I put a new ABD pad on at about 7 am this morning and now, at 11:30, it is completely clean and dry.

Sorry to have bothered you --

I am perturbed with myself, since the issue was hardly resolved just because I went four hours without a dime or 1913 buffalo nickel's worth of serosanguinous drainage.

There should have been no drainage at all, and certainly not with onset a week after the surgery! Then, of course, there's the issue of nearly two years spent chasing pathogens and other deleterious tiny things. Fever, sweats, pain, drainage. There's no need to page Gregory House.

Today, I went 12 hours without drainage. So I took the damn thing off -- it's hot and sticky, and I just couldn't be bothered, HARRUMPH.

A few minutes ago, I went in to take my sponge bath, a task that feels so good once completed, but seems like it just might kill you while you're in the middle of it -- and what did I see but evidence that there had been another attempted breakout from Axilla Prison.

Whether from the sudden whammy of depression or from the fever I was spiking, I don't know, but I began to shake. I was all a-wobbolly.

Never needing much of an excuse, a break from sanity seemed in order (La Bonne et Belle Bianca was out, having resumed rehearsals with her opera company; Fred was at a Church Supper, hopefully to quash and tear assunder the slutty overtures of The Church Lady ) -- and I paused for a rousing rendition of Waltzing Mathilda. Follow the bouncing ball and sing along with Mitch!

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"
And he sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

Down came a jumbuck to drink at that billabong,
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee,
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

Up rode the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred,
Down came the troopers, one, two, three,
"Where's that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag?"
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"
"Where's that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag?",
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

Up jumped the swagman and sprang into the billabong,
"You'll never catch me alive", said he,
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me."
"Oh, You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me."

And so, tomorrow at the InfectiousDiseaseDood's Place, I will come clean, do a show-and-tell with a little shoulder, a little leg, a little shoulder, a little leg...

Because, dear friends, the game is [again] afoot with these doggone titanium implants: My new prosthesis is infected, Zyvox be damned.

And I am so sad.

Therefore, brethren, let us bring this Pity Party to a timely close with a rousing rendition of Along the Road to Gundagai.

There's a track winding back
to an old-fashioned shack,
Along the road to Gundagai.
Where the gum trees are growin'
and the Murrumbidgee's flowin'
beneath the starry sky.
Oh my mother and daddy are waitin' for me
And the pals of my childhood once more I will see
And no more will I roam 'cos I'm headin' right for home
Along the road to Gundagai.*

*"Along The Road To Gundagai is a song written by Jack O'Hagan in 1922. It is well-known among Australians, and one of a small number of pieces which could be considered an Australian folk tune. The town of Gundagai is a rural town of New South Wales, Australia. In May 2001 the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA), as part of its 75th Anniversary celebrations, named "Along the Road to Gundagai" as one of the Top 30 Australian songs of all time." -- Wikiwikiwikiwikipeeeeeedeeeeeeyahhhh!
UPDATE -- Thursday, 16 July 2009
Jesus H. Christ, do I hate the InfectiousDiseaseDood's office. Ah, but that is neither here nor there, and certainly is not news.
ID-Dood made the bacteriologist -- who identified a gram positive bacteria in the stain (but not culture) from the "deep tissue" sample taken during last week's surgery -- take another look.
I can hear him saying, in his very precise way: "Check your work! Please and Thank You!"
The guy changed his freaking little, tiny mind and now says he sees no pesky pathogens after all. For most people, that'd be great news, cause for a celebration, even. For me and my medicos? It's yet another sucker punch.
ID-Dood's PA talked over me, and over me, and over me. She's ask a question, I'd start to answer, she'd start talking, I'd stop. Again and again, until I finally stopped even trying. She cultured the fluid still drip-drip-dripping out of the suture line. She ordered blood cultures and the usual labs. (I was febrile and tachy -- yawn.)
Their phlebotomist is a sweetheart of a man. He had to stick me four times and was upset with himself -- but really he did well, given what he had to work with. He even managed to get an extra tube, "just in case." Mostly, he's a pleasure because he's... normal. Nice to talk with, very professional but with a great sense of humor. Talks to the blood vessels, encourages the blood to flow. (Maybe he needs to break out of the lab for some fresh air.)
So... here I am, left hanging. Fred is oh-so-frustrated. The PA kept making blithe comments like: "Well, you should be used to this by now!" and "You should write a book, telling people how to deal with stuff like this." Good thing she cannot read minds.
I reiterated, just to have something of note to say, that I will NOT give up this implant. I told her that I needed them to get "creative." She took umbrage. [Was saying that rude? I didn't mean to insult anyone, just wanted it clear: I WILL NOT GIVE UP THIS IMPLANT, I don't care how infected is the bone.]
Fred thought of something that has me laughing out loud. I got the hospital bill today -- $40,800, with the prosthesis constituting $13,000 of that charge for a 3-day stay. He pointed out that they've removed two -- in August and then December 2008 -- and suggested that I should ask for them back! To my incredulous, "but what do I want with titanium shoulder implants that aren't... implanted?" -- he answers, "You bought 'em, they're yours!"
Cracked me up!
So. We wait. On cultures and labs. On next weeks' assessment by the surgical crowd. Once again, no one wants to be in charge.
For your inner crooner's pleasure, today we turn to the Music Outback Foundation and some fresh young Bush Bards:

Bush Bus
Written by: Students & teachers from Apungalindum & Aniltji HLC
with Matt Hill, Music Outback Education
(C)(P) 2006 Music Outback Foundation

Verse 1
The bus goes through sand and water,
The bus is old and slow.
The bus goes through hot and cold,
It's full of kids we know.

Verse 2
Josilyn sitting in the front,
Randall's happy anywhere,
Riding along the bus is old,
Laughing along without a care

Bush bus, bush bus
Take us to school
Bush bus, bush bus
You're so cool.

Verse 3
Little kids, big kids say thank you,
We will miss you goodbye bus,
Bouncing like a Kangaroo,
Thank you for being so good to us.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Joie de vivre!

It's Sunday morning and the fur is flying, as feline jealousies are in high gear. I am a "dog person," and so, of course, we have four cats.

Sam-I-Am considers himself mistreated and abandoned since we took in Uncle Kitty Big Balls back in May. Sammy is an impressive-looking cat, having cultivated a James-Deanesque sort of bemused glower. If there is such a glower.

He has been with us the longest, joining us after Dear Prudence passed away... when? Wow. It's been ten years. He came along to pester Monaghan -- Monaghan deserves a post all his own -- such a gentle giant. He was our Nurse Cat. He loved music. The Fredster brought him home as a "surprise" one Thanksgiving morning -- he appeared to be nothing but long, black, matted hair and proved his quality by enduring his first brushing with dignity. His death was very hard on Fred -- it came at a time when he was dealing with his diagnosis of adult ADHD, the loss of a job, my usual dramas, a new house -- beaucoup de stuff. Monaghan sort of marked the trajectory of his personal journey. Fred could not accept that the sweet thing was very, very ill and I had the awful task of forcing him to the vet, knowing that Monaghan would not come home again.

Among many other Monaghan Mysteries, we could never figure out how he managed to have such cold, minty breath.

Dear Prudence was a great influence on this oh-so-serious animal, as she was just a lovely ditzer. Sadly, she wasn't with us long. She apparently had a stroke that sunny summer day... and the forensic-inclined vet who examined her just minutes after her death opined that she may have had an undiagnosed seizure disorder. I miss the little thing. She was so naturally tiny that the shelter from which we adopted her was unsure of her actual age. Turns out they were a little off, the vet, too -- or Prudy set a record for Youngest Estrus. We were holding off on having her spayed because the vet refused to operate on such a young kitten. Ar ar ar!

The poor thing clawed her way out of a window screen in the middle of the night and when we managed to corral her the next day, she had obviously experienced a great deal of sexual trauma. As in gang rape.

Dear Prudence loved pretending she needed saving -- from trees, rooves, car tops, boulders. Typical girly-girl.

Sam-I-Am was born in a Walmart store. His mother was hit by a car after being chased outside, and her kittens were promptly delivered to the local shelter. Sammy was pitiful -- covered in fleas to an extent I'd not thought possible, really too young and tiny for adoption (but we're so glad they fudged the numbers for us!).

[beep:beep:beep: John McCain is on Meet the Press. His response to the implications of the burgeoning Cheney scandal and the possibility of an investigation: "What's the positive that could come from dragging this out in public when we already know bad things were done?"

Damn straight! Why examine our conscience -- I mean, we *get* it, already: Big goofs, they happen!

As for Sarah Palin and her baling out of the discomforts of governance? "I wasn't shocked. A bit surprised... I am confident she will be a major factor on the national scene..." And, explaining her reasons for resigning, as laid out by Palin in a breathy private phone call: "How can she best serve?" It is all about finding the best place, the most effective position, from which to wield her intricate policies. Warming to his mental notecards, McCain then goes on to blame the media, the ethics charges, and "sustained personal attacks." He does a fine jig when asked why he won't back her candidacy for future office.

Dance, John, dance!

David Gregory: "Knowing everything you know now, would you nominate her again?" Pirouetting, doing a great job of spotting as he whips around, McCain says: "Absolutely, absolutely." Said with the stiffest smile I've ever seen.

She really *owes* this man for his kindness, for his reticence to say what we all already know.

Looking more closely, though, I think he is either suffering eye strain or communicating in dotty dashes of blinking -- yes, Morse code blinking!

Calling on my somewhat rusty code skills, here is McCain's Morse text, translated:

.--. .- .-.. .. -. / - --- .-. .--. . -.. --- . -.. / -- -.-- / -.-. .- -. -.. .. -.. .- -.-. -.-- .-.-.- / ... .... . / .. ... / .- -. .- - .... . -- .- .-.-.- / .-. ..- -. --..-- / .-. ..- -. --..-- / .. / ... .- -.-- --..-- / .. -. / - .... . / --- .--. .--. --- ... .. - . / -.. .. .-. . -.-. - .. --- -. .-.-.- / .. -. / - .... . / .-- --- .-. -.. ... / --- ..-. / ... .- --. .- -.-. .. --- ..- ... / --. .- -. -.. .- .-.. ..-. ---... / ..-. .-.. -.-- --..-- / -.-- --- ..- / ..-. --- --- .-.. ... .-.-.-

On the need for additional troops in Afghanistan: "Let's not go back to a Rumsfeld war..." Hmm. When was the last Rumsfeld sighting? And... John, how are we to avoid the repetition of such errors if we don't give them a good airing, a close and public look? It's not that there is a subset of the citizenry jonesing for some bitchslapping of the Bush administration for its more criminal endeavors... Oh, wait. Yes, there is such a group of reprobates! That's precisely what I want, for instance.

Despite his tendency for duplicity, I still like McCain and will never understand why he shot himself, again, in the foot last time out, reviving doubts about his judgment and temperament.

John, remember to spot as you turn, else all that spinning will make you dizzy. Whip, whip, whip! beep:beep:beep]

Um, anyway. Choo choo?

After Monaghan died, the entire household here at Marlinspike Hall, deep deep in the Tête de Hergé, seemed to age and become somewhat musty. There was a lot of sneezing and blowing-of-the-noses. Sam-I-Am began to put on weight and undertook a deep study of cat-napping.

It was at this point that a rather ragtag pair of siblings began to haunt the moat area of The Manor: now known as Uncle Kitty Big Balls and his sister, the mercurial Marmy. In a creative stretch, they are also known as Little Boy and Little Girl. Okay, and occasionally: Pickle Head and Fluffy Butt. Then there is the ubiquitous unisexual appellation of Stinky Boy/Girl. Trust me, this family line has produced some bodacious foul odor producers.

This served to drive Sammy nuts -- his nose gone into overdrive, haunted by the markings exterior to Marlinspike Hall that easily invaded his space through the as-yet-to-be-repaired late Renaissance chinking, especially pervasive in our wing. (Spring cleaning usually keeps us busy twelve months out of twelve...) We plan to spend the $70 per 3 1/2 gallon bucket next "spring" and use PeneTreat: Log Home Preservative: "PeneTreat by Sashco is a borate-based wood preservative that forms a shell of protection to defend against rot, most wood-destroying insects and fungi." Yes, we are borrowing a page from those intrepid North American pioneers.

C. h. o. o.

And so it went that Miss Marmy turned up preggers. Huge, sway-backed -- a real test of her tiny body and mind. We couldn't let her remain out in the open, struggling to feed herself and escape outdoor dangers. Enter Miss Marmy!

She defies description. I'll not even try.

At eight months old, she delivered a litter of five kittens: Speckle-Belly-White-Foot, Fuzz Bucket, Little Girl, Mascara, and the one, the only Dobby. All were adopted out, eventually, except for Dobby. We kept him -- The Runt, and Our Little Idiot. That'd be him on the far right.

Sammy's head was likely spinning. He went from a staid life with Monaghan, and virtually free reign over a whole section of The Manor, to cohabitating with a Hormone Freak of Nature, to the truly terrifying period of dealing with Marmy -- and her pronounced lack of maternal instincts --
and the cinq chatons.

Once we adopted out the four -- life settled down for our Walmart hero, and life became good. Marmy remained aloof but still was young at heart and soon was racing like an addled nutjob down spiral staircases and leaping among the Caravaggio collection. Dobby proved to be a stellar little guy and definitely came to love Sammy -- seeking him out for play and nuggling.

Um, it was also a time of sexual experimentation for our now completely sterile brood. Sammy and Dobby continue to have periods of confusion about their orientation. Progressive and open-minded as we, of course, are? We don't judge and only intervene when Sammy's weirder efforts begin to elicit cries of fear and pain on the part of his little boy-toy.

Then... Uncle Kitty Big Balls began to come around again. I had thought him dead. And he looked pretty close to dead, closer with every subsequent visit.

In late April, as I lay in the ICU, hooked up to a ventilator, Fred came to my bedside looking all emotional and distraught. "Awww," thought I, "he is really worried about me, poor guy..."

"I need to talk to you about something important," he began. Calling it a "talk" was certainly a stretch, given that I had a tube down my throat...

"Little Boy came by The Manor today, begging for food. He could barely walk. I think one of his back legs is broken. He looks bad, real bad... I want to rescue him. I know you are, really, a dog person (Ha! And here you thought I had totally lost my train of thought -- choo to you!) and that we already have three cats, but I hope you will say it is okay."

After one of the nurses increased my oxygen and suctioned the hell out of my bronchs, gave me a little something for pain, re-positioned me, and fluffed a pillow or two... I held out my thumb, in the "up" position... and so it went. Had I a clue what I was approving? Not really. Some Dilaudid delusion...

Several thousand dollars and a few surgeries later (which NO, we could not afford but *did*, anyway, out of love for this strange little guy fighting for his life), Uncle Kitty Big Balls rounded out the feline contingent. He's almost alien in the depth of his affection for us; He seems to understand that he was at death's door and that The Fredster saved him. Me? I am some sort of side dish that he cannot quite comprehend. He thinks the wheelchair is a demonic vehicle out to run him down. Sometimes he is right.

It warms our hearts to see him playing, to have him curl up as tightly and as close as possible. He has begun to gain weight and his fur is coming back in.

So he is a little over the top in his rough-housing. So he will eat everyone's food so that he won't be hungry ever again. So he didn't seem to understand the point of the litter boxes, at first.

The others need a little toughening up -- and so long as it is done without malice, we let Pickle Head swat at them to his heart's content. It's an invitation to chase, to begin a round of hide-and-seek.

Still, when I wake, as I did this morning, to piles of cat hair all over Captain Haddock's antique Karabagh rug and a whole bunch of waling going on? Especially now, when I can barely move without cursing because the "good" shoulder is even dillydallying with the Pain Scale?

I smile at the intricacies of their relationships, at their liveliness. Sammy looks like a kitten, Dobby is trying out a little assertiveness and is thrilled with himself. Marmy so admires her fluffy butt. And Uncle Kitty Big Balls is simply pure joie-de-vivre!