Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Orange Curse . . .

I dunno how it happened . . . one minute I was at Sam's exchanging a pair of bluejeans for Steve (my hubby has done a fantastic job of losing about 70# and 10" off his waist, hence the MUCH smaller jeans needed) . .  . and the next thing you know there I was . . . unloading a BARREL of cheese balls onto the kitchen counter.

I mean, I got the fruit, low fat (i.e. plastic) crackers, skim milk, boneless/skinless chicken breasts . . . and cheese balls . . .I think I had a little blackout or something . . . can't have possibly been that I picked them up ON PURPOSE. 

The orange curse has made it's way from the barrel, and onto my fingers . . . another blackout . . . I couldn't possibly have (CURSES!) eaten them on purpose . . . damn stuff just doesn't wash off easily either.

I guess the good news is that I did consciously resist the tray of baklava.

And well, since I'm too embarrassed to take a picture of the cheese ball barrel (and my orange cursey little fingers wouldn't be good for the camera), here's a picture of Carey instead . . . he's about the same color . . . and consistency i.e. trouble.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sometimes, there's a sign . . .

 . . . .Like "BEWARE, THERE WILL BE CHILDREN PRESENT", for instance.

I have literally been looking forward to today for WEEKS!  The 'Gem and Mineral' show is in town this weekend, so as a confirmed bead-a-holic, I bounced promptly out of bed when my alarm went off this morning (NOT my strong suit), did my AM chores with the kitties, and bustled out to visit the show.  I figured getting there right as it opened would be the least crowed time, right?  Errr, WRONG, as it turns out . . .

Now for a little background . . . I freely admit, I'm a grumpy old biddy.  I love my son, who's 29, but will admit to not 'liking' him much many times during his adolescence, even while I still loved him.  I really have minimal affinity for other people's kids.  (I firmly believe the disintegration of American society can be traced to when we quit thinking it was OK to beat a little respect and good sense into our kids, lol.)  So, anyway, kids - not my favorite thing, especially en masse.

I pulled into the parking lot at the Community Center at the dot of 9am, credit card in hand.  WooHoo . . . bead shopping here I come!

I trundled across the parking lot to the entrance . . . only to be brought up short by the sight of 3, yes, THREE school buses pulling into the porte-cochere and disgorging what appeared to be HUNDREDS of middle schoolers.  I'll give you three guesses what I said . . . here's a hint . . . it started with an "f" and ended with "me running".

While those masochists known as 'teachers', (there're some people who are candidates for sainthood, in my book!) were getting their little charges organized, I slipped to the front of the line, navigating through all the milling squatty-bodies.

"I'm here for the show" to the attendant at the gate.  "Well, you'll have to pay to get in if you're not with the kids", she says.  Oh you have NO idea  what I'd pay to be here without the kids;  however, since they're not going to send them all back to school, I paid only the $4 admission fee and scurried into the exhibit hall, making a beeline for my favorite vendor, Magpie Gemstones.
( - the BEST weborder bead merchant, bar none!)

I introduced myself to Kateri, the young lady in charge of the booth, and started in on bead heaven.  I got in about 8.5 minutes of uninterrupted bead bliss, before the horde arrived.  Kateri was immediately swamped with questions, comments (and since she is a very attractive young lady, LOTS of 'hey look at this' from smitten young middle schoolers).

I finished perusing the pretties at the Turquoise Magpie booth, and paid for my stuff . . . (I counted 11 interruptions from Kateri's adoring public while I checked out, lol.)

I made my way around the exhibit hall, gingerly avoiding the little rats, oops sorry,  kids thronging the space.  I found one other booth that was mainly beads, which are apparently less attractive to school kids than loose 'rocks' are, and found some nice pearls.  By this time the noise level was rising exponentially.  I made one more circuit of the hall, unable to get close to the vendors, for the passels of kids stacked everywhere.

The heck with it, I can always try again tomorrow, I guess.

The good news is that I spent far less than I planned, and still came home with some really pretty beads.    Maybe that was the 'sign' . . . that I needed to save my bead budget for next weekend's retreat in College Station . . . which I have on good authority will be adult only, thank God!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Boobs and Blood . . .

I was an ER/Flight/ICU/L&D nurse for YEARS . . . I think we can safely say the sight of blood doesn't bother me overmuch, right?  (If you've been in L&D or had a baby, you should be able to relate to this on SOME level anyway, lol!)  While working the MICU/SICU I cleaned/suctioned/wiped up stuff you can't imagine, include blood spurting out of a blown graft,  dripping from the ceiling, and rolling off the end of the bed.  In the ER, I used to work my traumas and then wade right though the puddles on the floor to my lunch break.   I pumped bags and bags and bags (and more bags) of the stuff into people.  As a flight nurse, I placed chest tubes, central lines, ET tubes and just about every other kind of 'tube' you can imagine (and most you don't want to, lol), cut throats for crichs,  and more than once used a water hose to sluice out the helicopter after a particularly messy flight . . . nary a worry.

BUT . . . one little smear on top of one of my kitties heads and I'm toast . . . Sunny (my 6 month old lilac point girl) jumped up onto my desk a little while ago, with a tiny smear of blood on her head.  One frantic trip down the hall to the kitchen sink, and a head scrubbing, I discovered it wasn't HER blood.  So, OMG is someone else hurt?!?!?!?

I just spent 30 minutes finding every cat in the house to find out where the blood came from.  (Max was NOT best pleased to be drug out from under the bed so I could examine him in minute detail . . .)  I checked everyone . . . not a nick, prick, drip, or spot to be found . . . what the heck.  Oh, well, just glad everyone's OK.  Wonder where the hell that blood came from . . .???

I sat back down at the computer to finish my IM chat with my friend Susan, before we were so rudely interrupted by my little panic, only to look down . . .

. . . and remember that Maggie left quite the 'tracks' across my chest when she was startled by a tower of beads falling over on the desk earlier today, and scratched the crap outta my right boob . . . and the scabs appear a mite smeared.  OK, so I know where the blood came from . . . not to worry, it was just ME bleeding, so no cause for alarm!  Apparently, we had a little transfer going to Sunny's head when we were cuddling earlier.  Sigh, I'm a twit.   Apparently I'm only immune to the sight of HUMAN blood . . . kitty blood trips my panic switch, lol.

Below, Sunny - sans blood . . .  me, out of frame, with my reason intact . . .

 Photo by Helmi Flick.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Hotel from Hell . . .

I love going to cat shows.  I love staying in nice hotels.  I'm OK with staying in hotels that are merely clean and functional, as opposed to 'nice', if it means I can afford to go to cat shows.  But, I do have SOME standards . . .

Last weekend I was SO excited to be going the the Austin Cat Fanciers show in Austin, since I hadn't been to a show since the SC Regional back in August.  So Friday afternoon, I loaded up my furkids and headed to Austin, about 2 hours north of me.  My best friend Charlotte and I were planning to share a room to cut costs for both of us.  Fine with me, since it would give us time to visit, which happens all too rarely, now that we live a couple of hours apart.  We planned to meet at the show hotel, the La Quinta Inn Oltorf, and go from there to do some of our second most favorite activity, bead shopping. 

Char was a little late leaving from San Antonio, so I beat her to the hotel, arriving about 1:45pm.  I went ahead and checked us in.  "Do you want to leave your charges on the card you used to reserve the room?" the desk clerk asked.  "No, please switch it to this card", and I handed her my PayPal card, since my kitten money is also my 'go to shows' money.  OK, check in all taken care of, I left a key card up front for Char, and headed to the room to unload. 

I opened the door.  Hmmmm, smells a bit musty in here.  And it's quite warm, too.  OK, let's get that A/C turned on and maybe that'll take care of both problems.  I push the kid's stroller into the room, and head over to the A/C unit, glancing up as I do so.  Um, yeah . . that molding looking stain on the ceiling might account for the musty smell.  I switch the A/C on . . . it blows room temp air.  Well, crap.  OK, well, it's supposed to be in the 50's in Austin tonight, we'll be OK.  Frankly, I just didn't want to pack all my crap back out and switch rooms.  It'll do.  I head out on my bead shopping quest, figuring I can hit 'Bead It' by myself, and then Char and I will head to the other shops in north Austin when she gets here.

An hour later, I pull back into the parking lot, just as Charlotte arrives.  We pick up her key, and cart in her kids and stuff from the car, and then plop down to cool off, before heading out again.  Char, who's gone to sit in the recliner over in the corner, glances down towards the window and says "Is that a MINI-PAD on the floor?!?!?!?!"  and yes, surely enough it was.  Clean, with the strip still on the sticky part, but a mini-pad, nonetheless. 

"Hi, this is Leslie Hurley in 161, we found a mini-pad on the floor.  Yes, apparently the room was not thoroughly cleaned.  Can someone please come remove it?"

Twenty minutes later, the minipad is still on the floor, and I have come to a slow rolling boil.  So I got my broom out of the closet and rode down to the front desk, toilet paper sheathed mini-pad in had.  I deposited it front and center on the desk.  The guy who was waiting to check in said, "So how do you like the hotel?"

"Well, I guess if I were in need of someone else's feminine hygiene products I'd like it well enough.  Or if I wanted a musty smelling, moldy ceiling, non-A/C working room, I'd think it was just swell."  He looked a little green.  Suddenly, the desk clerk (you know, the one who was supposed to send someone down to remove said mini-pad 30 minutes ago) can't get off the phone and over to take care of me fast enough. 

"We're SO sorry, Mrs. Hurley.  We'll be happy to move you to another room."  I just bet they would - anything to shut me up . . . have I mentioned I'm fairly articulate and quite verbose, when pissed off?  I'm thinking the clerk had made this observation  first hand by the time I finished my rant. 

So we packed up all our stuff, kitty crap, and cats and moved down the hall.  Hallelujah!  The A/C works.  We cranked it down and headed out for an evening of bead revelry.  (Only those with the beading bug will understand how riveting this is, lol!)

After much bead fun and acquiring far more than I needed, and a fabulous dinner at Houston's (the steaks are to DIE for!) we arrived back at the hotel, tired but happy.  Even the minor embarrassment of my credit card not clearing at the last stop didn't dim my good mood.  (I would have SWORN I moved more money into that account . . . oh, well.)

By 10:30 I was pooped and ready for bed.  I climbed in and rolled over to put my glasses in the drawer of the nightstand.  Huh . . .

"Hey Char, did you leave this trash . . .?"  about that time I spotted the condom, along with the trash in the drawer.  No, pretty sure Char didn't leave that there.  Fortunately, it was an un-used condom, but the principle is the same - they hadn't bothered to check the drawers when they 'cleaned' (and I use the term loosely) the room.

I bounced (at least as much as a fat woman with a bad back can) out of bed, pulled my clothes back on over my jammies, and marched down to the front desk, with a fire in my eye and a cussing on my tongue.  Poor little desk clerk (who I'm sure thought of me as the 'mini-pad witch woman') paled at my approach.  I ranted for a while.  He slunk to the back room for gloves and headed down to the room to retrieve the offending item.

Well, I was wide awake then.  So I decided to check my bank balance to see what happened with that card that didn't clear earlier.  Fuck me running, they not only charged the new card I presented at check in, they didn't remove the charge from the card I'd used to hold the room.  So I'm paying for my shitty room twice.  Guess where I went . . . yes, clothes back on, and back to the front desk.  

New clerk on duty by this time.  "You'll have to speak to the manager in the morning."  Oh, I think you can safely count on that, bucko.

So the next morning, I go to have my snit with the manager, and they are kind enough to tell me they'll comp all but $60 of the $195.50 they have charged to each card.  Yep, that's right, a total of $391 for a two-night stay in this hotel hell.  I do some deep breathing.  OK, if they can refund me, all well and good. 

Today is Thursday, so I figured enough time has elapsed for them to have completed the credit.  And lo and behold, yes they have . . . for HALF the amount they said they would.  You can bet your sweet bippy, I'll be calling on that as soon as I get home from the shelter. 

Take it from me:  DO NOT STAY AT THIS PLACE - It is the PITS!

Now, if someone had told me this story, I'd tell them they were full of crap.  NO WAY all that happened . . . except it did.  What a crap hotel.  NEVER again.  I plan to blog, FaceBook, Twitter and tell every living breathing person I can find to never stay at the La Quinta Inn Oltorf in Austin, TX.   I can't WAIT to get my little 'satisfaction' survey from them . . . the email may catch on fire on it's way to LQ headquarters . . .

Off to put my broom back in the closet now, lol!

In Defense of Poor Fiscal Decision Making

Ask any of my friends . . . I'm TERRIBLE with managing money.  Suck at it, in fact.  So, I worry that one of these days, as my 'older age' creeps up on me, these poor decisions will come back to haunt me.  Or, not . . .

Last week, I was doing one of my volunteer days out at the shelter (Dorothy O'Connor Pet Adoption Center ), where my duties are to play receptionist, answer the phone, and generally direct traffic at the front door, when this young woman came in carrying a beautiful little seal lynx point kitten in  a carrier.  

"Can you take her?  She has diarrhea and her butt stays raw and I don't want my 8 month old getting something from her?" 

Sally, our director, was out, so I punted to Sarah, the assistant director, instead.  Both of us suggested a trip to the vet to determine the underlying problem.  Nope, they'd taken her once, that hadn't fixed it, and they were getting rid of her. 

"See how sweet she is?"  The girl proceeded to take her out of the carrier and snuggle her, and little "Pearl" made bisquits and purred the whole time.  No way could I have given her up, but, hey, that's why I'm a crazy cat lady, I guess.

Sarah and I again suggested treating her.  Uh-Uh.  She's outta there. 

Sarah couldn't accept her for intake, since we were basically full, with a fresh load of kitties just rescued from Animal Control.  What a heartbreaker.  Off the girl went to turn her over to Animal Control.  I know they do their best, with what they have to work with, but an ill kitten in that environment isn't going to last long, and they don't have the resources to treat the sick ones.  It broke my heart.

As soon as she left, I went into Sarah's office, "I'll give you $50 towards her treatment, if we can get her."  Sarah wanted to keep her as badly as I did, I think, but she couldn't make the decision to take in a cat that obviously needed treatment, without Sally's approval.  That would pretty well clean out my account, but what the hell, payday was only 8 days away, right?

So we settled in to wait for Sally.

I putzed around on the computer for a while, and logged in to check my PayPal balance for the heck of it.
WOW, where'd that money come from????    One of the nice folks who purchased one of my kittens decided to prepay their balance, even though the kitten won't go home until January.  Hallelujah!  I ran in to see Sarah.  "Tell Sally I can give $100 if we can go get that little cat from AC."  Maybe that'll sweeten the pot enough. 

In the meantime, Alicia mentioned that she thought she had a friend who might be able to foster the kitten. (She obviously couldn't go into the main cat population with a health issue.)

So we waited.  Sally arrived back from lunch.  We swooped in on her, like a bunch of six year olds, wanting to bring a puppy home from our travels.  "Can we go get her, pleeeaaaassseeeeeee?????" 

Sally wavered, caught between the 'smart' fiscal decision for the shelter, and our pleading.  Then she caved to our sad little puppy dog eyes, and begging looks.  "OK, I'll go get her; we'll figure it out."  Sally Kuecker was officially my very most favorite person in the world last Thursday.  What a big heart!

So, with my account $100 lighter, I went home to explain to Steve why we'd be a little poorer than what we planned.  My hubby, who has a big heart, too, just said "Well, it's only money". 

So, I came to work today, and found that little "Pearl" is now "Shadow" since she's been following her foster mom around like one.  She's doing great after treatment, and her foster mom has fallen so in love with her, she's going to adopt her. 

That's what I call a happy ending.   You can't buy that, no matter how much money you have.  Worth it every minute of every day of every year.