the RATS of moose

The Random Access ThoughtS of a mid-west, approaching-middle-age, nurse starting the next phase of life.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Ride

This is an old, old post that was done 4th of July weekend, 1995. I am resurrecting it for my mother, who thinks it is hysterical....

The harsh, raspy breathing echoed off the dimly lit privacy fences between the drab two story apartment buildings. A curious fine clicking and the sound of something being dragged, accompanied the now gasping respirations.


The breathing became faster, as if sensing the end was near. It was a horrible sound, like the screech of metal against metal. A tumbling and jumbling of sounds filled the still evening air as the clicking and dragging and breathing entity rolled down the two remaining steps to apartment #2. Sprawled on the patio, the clicking mercifully silent, the need for dragging ended, the tortured, agonal respirations slowed.



As the darkness of evening stole the little remaining light that seeped into the patio, a warm red glow filled the air. Steady, soft light. Bright enough to read by. Bright enough to illuminate the bicycle laying on its side on the patio. Bright enough to illuminate the body of the cyclist, chest heaving in silent agony. Bright enough to show the whole world ......


I am now the proud (?) owner of the sunburn from hell. And *whatever* possessed me to ride for SIXTY MILES I will **never** know. It was just supposed to be a nice gentle ride to Huntington Beach, about 10-13 miles or so. Lay on the beach, soak up the atmosphere and head home in the afternoon before the wind along the coast became too bad. *But NOOOOOOOO* Dummy here *had* to keep going cuz it was *only* noon and I felt *great*, not tired at
all, and why not keep going for *just a little further*, and, well, since you've gotten *this* far, Laguna Beach is *just* another six miles. Yeah, just another 6 miles. All uphill. Well, let me tell you what happens when you don't have *quite enough* fuel on board your body and the whole thing shifts from aerobic (oxygen using) to anerobic (non-oxygen using) metabolism.
It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "too pooped to pop." You can physically feel the change and the foreboding that goes with it. I was still 3 miles north of Laguna when it happened. Out in the country with no 7-11's near by and not enough sense to stop and eat my apple and orange. I entered Laguna pushing my bike up the last two hills. But I puttered around town a bit and ate lunch and felt better. So I headed for home. And *that's* when
I saw the sign that said "Long Beach 28 miles". I nearly passed out!!! But I made it. I walked about half of the hills between Laguna and Newport, and made frequent rest stops, but I made it. The nut that holds my seat level came undone about 6 miles from home and I suddenly found myself perched on the cargo carrier over the rear wheel. (It was *quite* a thrill.) Fortunately I found a garage-type guy with the wrench I needed who was willing to help me. (And *I* learned an important lesson in never traveling without tools!) And I stopped at the drug store just down the street from my place for *lots* of ibuprofen pills to soothe my aching muscles. BUT I MADE
IT. And in the end, that's all that matters. It was a physical challenge unlike anything I've ever done, and I'm so proud of having survived and actually *enjoyed* the trip (well, except for the last 10 miles or so that was head-on into a very cool evening breeze...) that the sunburn from hell on my nose and thighs seems a small price to pay for the satisfaction of completion. Monday, just before I left for work, the nose decided to shed it's skin and it leaked that yucky burn fluid all night long. You should have heard the hoots from my co-workers and the Rudolph jokes.... ;) ) As a reward for bringing me home, I am treating the bike to an overhaul at the local bike shop. (Besides, that way I don't have to make excuses *not* to ride this week heeheehee.)

I have decided that I was possessed by the spirit of Forrest Gump on this ride. Ya know the part where he starts running? To the end of the lane, then the end of the town and the county line and and and... that's kinda the mentality I had. Just a little further, little further...

And that story at the beginning? That was me crawling the last few inches home and dragging that wonderful bike behind me. Except I managed to pass out *inside* the house!! LOL

Hope you had a Happy 4th and thought about me slaving away at work. Thank heavens the city fathers outlawed fireworks of all kinds in this city. Sure cuts down on the workload. We were busy with all the other holiday stuff tho. Gunshot wound to the head (fatal), gunshot wound to the belly x 3 (no heartbeat on arrival, cracked the chest, fatal) and the assorted stupid riffraff.

Time to rub more lotion into the sunburn,


Monday, June 27, 2005

CRAFT... CRS.... Whatever...

(with music...) Driving along in my auto-mobile... (etc.)

While I was driving along in my automobile (contributing to the air pollution action day... yep, I even pumped gas), I had this great idea for today's blog. Did I verbalize it? Nope. Did I write it down? Nope. Think I can remember it? Nope. Story of my recent life. Each day that dawn another memory gets flushed out of the brain cells. One of these days I'm going to wake up and wonder what I'm supposed to be doing that day..... oh, wait.... I already do that. LOL

Remember the blurb I did on lightning safety? Just yesterday, about 15 miles from here a 15 year-old and and adult were struck by lightning. The kid died before the paramedics got there. Today on the radio, one of the relatives of the two said, "It was dark on one side and sunshine on the other. We just heard thunder and didn't think anything of it." Remember.....


Welcome to the unscripted vacation. I took this week off (thru the 5th of July). I don't teach in June and we don't have very many meetings so this is always a good time to leave. Last summer I did the same thing. Didn't go anywhere, just stayed home and worked on some projects. This summer I have even less of an agenda. Except for the job interview. YIPPEE!!! I am thinking seriously of getting off my duff and working on my kitchen cabinet in the basement where it is cool. Only 94 outside today and 37% humidity... but you wouldn't know that to walk into the local Menards... It was soooo hot in there I had sweat running down my spine.... YUCK!!! It wasn't that bad outside for heaven's sake!! Of course, outside there is a nice breeze.... ooooohhhhh..... maybe I'll go work in the backyard instead..... at least for a couple of hours...

Then again... there is always the possibility of a nap..... heh heh heh....

Friday, June 24, 2005

Another mystery solved.....

Isn't it amazing?

It suddenly came to me this evening while being subjected to another of Jesse's self-righteous rants on how certain people are being profiled.

He sounds stupid because.....

HE CAN'T HELP IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He's a Neanderthal!! The sloping forehead, the weak chin... he can't form sentences that convey intelligence because...

HE DOESN'T HAVE ANY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I am soooo glad I got that one out of the way.

On to intelligent stuff now.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Random patterns in life

Mommy & meMom and I went to a quilt thingie last Saturday... thingie.... I'm not sure what to call it... a show... a trunk show... Why is it called that? Because the presenter dragged all kinds of things out of a couple of *trunks* (cleaverly camo-ed as suitcases) and showed us all kinds of things to do with quilt blocks and designs and stuff. It was veddy interesting.

The speaker was a tiny little woman from California, Mary Ellen Hopkins. What a pistol!! The glasses tell you all you need to know about her personality!Glasses She was a RIOT!! Rapid fire talk, and show and tell, and jokes and jokes and jokes!!! But, man oh man, the things she could do with a quilt square.... and all simple manipulations of squares and strips and triangles. I couldn't even begin to explain, but I'll show you what she's done.....FlyingGeese-KansasDugout Mary Ellen is totally amazing! I have several of the quilts here: There was one block design that I can remember (because it's reallyreallyreally simple) called Kansas Dugout that I really liked....KansasDugout It's just a square with colored corners. Simple, but you can make some cool patterns with it.... So for the last few days I have been thinking about quilts and patterns and such.... And today, it happened.... I was walking down the hall at work and looked down at the tile floor.... and what did I see???? KANSAS DUGOUT in dark and light blue!!!!!!! I was cracking up!!! As it's going to be about 900 degrees outside for the next week while I am on vacation, I may just sit in my sewing room and experiment!

That is, I will sit and experiment in between the JOB INTERVIEW (have I mentioned that I am scared shitless yet??), and the I-have-to-work-for-one-day-in-the-middle-of-vacation meeting and the haircut and the horsing around and the lolly-gagging and you get the picture!! But, I am ready for a break... the subject of the meeting will be something I really enjoy, so going isn't a chore and I have no plans (no MUST DO projects, no travel, no nothing, except a JOB INTERVIEW), I am just going to go with the flow. (i.e.-I will be sleeping all week) I go back on July 5th... maybe with a resignation in hand???

(mumbling to self.....)don't count the chickens just yet, the eggs are all in one basket and the cookie hasn't crumbled yet so I should mind my p's and q's and and and..... Have I mentioned that I'm scared? ;-)

I am probably breaking all kinds of copyright showing the quilts, but..... they are sooooo beautiful!! And Mary Ellen has given me ideas for what to do with some of the fabric I have 'stashed' away! THANKS MARY ELLEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Deep breath.... one more day of work to get thru.... then 10 days of vacation..... YIPPEE!!!!


Long time, no write... it's that time thing again.... pics to share, adventures to narrate, sunburn to show off.... but for now.. the MOST important thing.....

I HAVE AN INTERVIEW ON TUESDAY, THE 28TH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


More later....

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Coasting vs. Stretching

Comfortable vs. Challenging

Small vs. Huge

100 vs. 1000

Older vs. Brand New

Level II vs. Level I

Suburbs vs. Downtown

Drive vs. Train

Sleepwalking vs. Scared Shitless

Minor vs. Major

Known vs. Unknown

Comfortable vs. Challenging

I was encouraged to apply for a new job today. The lady on the phone was doing her darnedist to get me to apply. I turned her down flat because of the commute. So she talked the job up some. And I asked some questions. And she talked the job up some more. And I asked a couple more questions. And she said that maybe it was time for me to stretch instead of coasting. And now, several hours and one conversation with the BB later, I am thinking I should pull my resume together and at least go for an interview.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Downtown Chicago
It's a Level I Trauma Center that sees a whole lot more patients a year than my suburban hospital (100 vs 1000+). And a whole lot more major trauma than my place. And the building is brand new.

The idea of changing jobs is titillating. I've been at my current job for 8 years and for the first time I have come up with no goals for the upcoming year. Not the best thing to say in your annual review. I can do my current job half asleep. And as much as I would like it to, I know the institution won't change it's ways and try something new. It's the same old/same old every month/every year. But I like it. I'm really comfortable. I'm well paid. I still enjoy what I do. I'm vested in a pension plan for the first time.

I may be just the tiniest bit bored.

Changing jobs would be interesting, but would bring it's own set of problems. I would have to commute (yuck). Current commute by car is 30 minutes. to downtown I'm looking at 1-1.5 hours each way. From BBs house it would be easy. He lives just across the street from the train station. But it would suck in the winter. The hospital is 2 miles from the train station. But the woman I talked to today commutes from here. She could show me the ropes. Commuting from my house would be horrible. It's 2 miles to the train station and 2 more to the hospital. (sigh) So much to think about.

Like finding a retirement plan that isn't tied to a job.

I think I'll call her tomorrow and see if I can hang out with her one day next week.

It might be time to move it on up to downtown.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Happy Anniversary C!

Dateline: Colona, Illinois, July 4th Weekend, 1972. Opening weekend for Melodie Meadows Campground, owned by Ron & Charlene Heeren. My mom gets nosy when she hears what she thinks is a sewing machine humming in the trailer near ours. We think she's nuts. When the neighbors leave, Mom peeps in the window and, sure enough, it's a sewing machine!

And thus began friendships that continue to this day.....

We wound up spending many Thanksgivings, Christmas's and Easters together. We camped together, square danced together, hung out together. My parents remain friends of T (the dad) to this day. And we were all there when his wife, J, died a couple of years ago.

Us kids were not quite so close. The younger son married his college sweetheart and moved away from the hometown. The older sister (my age), C, married, had a daughter, got divorced, got on with life, and stayed close to home. My sister also settled close to home and saw C a whole lot more than I did. I went out to conquer the world.

At best, communication between C and I has been spotty over the years, but I always knew she was there. Mom actually worked for C the winter Mom and Dad didn't go south. So we have stayed in loose touch.

This last winter, C and husband and her daughter and her husband all moved to the Las Vegas area when C transferred to a new office. I haven't corresponded with her since she moved (although I have had ample opportunity), but I am assuming things had been going well.

Until last Wednesday night.

C and her husband were riding a motorcycle home from dinner when a car pulled out in front of them. He swerved to avoid the car, hit a curb instead and C went flying. THANK GOODNESS Nevada is a mandatory helmet state or C would most likely not be with us today.

But everything has changed. She is in a coma at University Medical Center. The brain injury is bad. Physically, she seems to be doing okay... cuts are healing, body chemicals are in balance. We are just waiting for her to wake up. It could be days. I could be weeks or months.

I have a zillion questions I want to ask her nurse.... what is C's ICP? What is her PCO2? What is the AC for the vent set on? What is her lactate level? And on and on and on.... Nosy questions to be sure... but things my nurse brain wants to know to get a better idea of where we are at/what to expect. Not that the answers will make C wake up faster or better. It's just the nurse thing.

Yesterday, when I was thinking of her, I realized that we had known each other for 31 years.

33 years. 78% of our lifetimes. My very first partner in crime. My canasta foe (4 decks, not 2. Two decks are for sissys). So I didn't send a get well card. I sent an anniversary card. For me, 33 years is a long time to stay in touch with someone, no matter how infrequent the conversations.

33 years. Here's to you, C!Carol &  Chris C & Chris, circa 1974? '75?

Thursday, June 09, 2005

A Hot Days Dressing

Nev-ah, and I mean NEV-AH wear a one-size-too-small dress in denim on a 90+ degree day.

What an idiot.

It wasn't painful. Just constantly uncomfortable. I have put on 2-too-many pounds for this dress. Which is a shame, because I love the dress.... It's a sleeveless A-line in lightweight blue denim that ends with a flare at the just-below-knee-lenght hem. It's topped by a tiny bolero short sleeved, collared jacket with a lattice of pintucks and tiny embroydered flowers. I love this dress. And at 10 pounds lighter, I look good in this dress. That was not today, however.

Today the jacket's sleeve seams gnawed on my armpits. And the A-line that starts to flare out just below the nipped-in waist-didn't flare *quite* enough. Without a CONSCIOUS effort to suck-it-in, the skirt rode up over my hips. And the arm holes were cut a tad too generous forcing me to wear a 20-year-old bra that I sort of outgrew a few years ago (18 years maybe?) because it's the only one I own that doesn't show.

But other than that, it fits fine.

Sigh. 10 pounds between and a dress that hangs without hanging up.

Guess I'll finish my ice cream.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Today's lesson

I went to the most informative lecture yesterday... all about lightning. As I sat and listened to the good doctor, I realized how much I DIDN'T know about lightning and in the interest of safety and injury prevention, I thought I'd share... Hang on tight and prepare to become


  • Did you know that there is NO safe place outside during a thunderstorm? Nope, none. The best you can do is sit inside a metal top vehicle (sorry, no convertables!) and wait it out.
  • Do you practice the 30-30 rule? If it's 30 seconds or less from FLASH to BANG, go inside immediately and stay there until 30 minutes have passed from the last thunder.
  • Blue sky is no protection - lightning can travel 10 miles from the cloud before it finds you. (In which case, you are out of luck. Sorry.)
  • Lightning is not a burn injury. Burns are actually the LEAST of a lightning strike victims problems. Most burns are caused by the sweat on your body that gets turned to steam when you are struck. Other burns come from any metal that is touching your body, like jewelery or tools or golf clubs.
  • The most troublesome damage comes from the zap your body's electrical system gets.... specifically your nervous system and heart. When you add electricity to something that already has an electric current in it, bad things happen. Like your heart stops. Or you suffer brain damage. Most people who suffer lightning strikes have some degree of mental disablilty afterwards. The damage can be mild or severe (think regressing to the mentality of a 2 year old).
  • Only 2-3% of all lightning injuries happen on the golf course.
  • Direct lightning strikes are rare... only 1-2% of all injuries.
  • Most injuries occur from one of 3 ways.... Side splash-also known as standing under a tree (or too close to the tree or fence or other object that takes the strike)..... Ground current- lightning that hits the ground and travels.... if it travels through the ground you will get a smaller amount of energy delivered to your feet. If the lightning bounces along the ground (typically seen when it hits the top of the mountain and sort of rains down the mountain side), you will get a BIG shock... many tent campers that sleep through a thunderstorms have shown up in the ER or the doctors office with eye injuries related to lightning..... Streamers- this is deadly... it's when your hair stands on end and you become part of the electrical charge that is rising from the ground to meet the bolt coming from the sky.
  • One in 10 people die after a lightning strike.
  • Lightning doesn't always strike the tallest object-remember the neighbor's fire from lightning a couple of weeks ago? Further investigation reveals that the 1st story townhouse was struck first, with the 2 story house and my house getting side splashed. Click on the photo below to see just how lightning can bypass the obvious....
Lightning strikes the shuttle
  • Lightning in the 1800's killed more people indoors than out... so why do we recommend you go INDOORS now? Plumbing and wiring, my dear! Prior to the 1900's most homes were not equiped with indoor plumbing (yuck!) or electrical wiring. These provide natural conduits for a lightning charge to travel (and they are grounded) and should spare you. However... these things also lead to.....
  • Indoor swimming pools... which should be evacuated during an electrical storm.
  • Not related to your plumbing is the telephone. If it's hardwired, HANG UP! The insulators on your phone wire don't work fast enough to prevent you from getting zapped.
  • Never lay flat during a storm. Instead assume the LIGHTNING DESPERATION POSITION
squat The object of the game is to make as small a footprint as possible. If you cannot crouch like this (like my 44 year old body can't), you can sit on the ground curled into a very small ball (although this will increase the size of your footprint -hee hee hee). Be sure to cover your ears. It will get very loud. While you are in this position, if it's been a while since you "relieved" yourself, THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO DO IT!!!!! Water conducts electricity very nicely.

Lightning Awareness Week is June 19-25. Share this with your kids and grandkids and stay safe... remember....



Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Things are...

never as bad as they seem.... the kids took the news of my existence in stride.

never quite as easy as they appear on TV.... WOW... Smallville sure has turned up the heat. High school seniors making out in the boys locker room shower.... they made it look so effortless... all I manage to do is get my elbow where it shouldn't be... maybe I need a bigger shower?

all quiet on the work front.... for the first time since I took this job (8 years ago) I am not nervous about my annual review. (Maybe I have finally made the job 'mine'?) I also have no goals for the coming year. That could be a problem. :-) Couldn't I just cruise for a year?

never quite as urgent as they first seem.... I spend some time working in my basement this weekend. I am quite sure I was the only one inside.. the weather was beautiful. But I had two days to myself and the half-done kitchen cabinet was calling to me... I didn't get much accomplished... there was a lot of measure-7-times and then think seriously about cutting before measuring some more going on. But I had fun... revved up the table saw a number of times and ripped my way to a big pile of sawdust. And as I'm watching all this sawdust flying, I am noticing that the back of the TV is sucking up a large amount of dust... oops.... sudden visions of grain elevator explosions dance in front of my eyes. The saw is not hooked up to a dust collection system (haven't build one yet) so it pretty much goes everywhere, including the laundry room next door. Oops. So then I got to thinking about ways to contain the dust. So far the easiest/cheapest option is extra-long shower curtains (in clear) to block off the workroom, hung from quarter inch steel rods strung thru eyes screwed into the ceiling joists. Two six foot rods, two shower curtains, four eyes and I should be ready to go. Back to the urgency.... went shopping with BB on Monday to get rods and shower curtains and wound up getting nothing... BB was worried about the rods bending so we decided to go with rope to string the curtains up, but Wally World was out of shower curtains so I scrapped the whole thing. I was planning on stopping at the store tonight to pick up the supplies and fretting about the time and all the things I needed to do (there is that time thing again!) and I thought.....

Whoa, Nelly!!

Am I going to do any work tonight? No.
Tomorrow? No. Have another, less polluting, project to do Thursday.
Friday? No. Am thinking dinner and a movie with BB sounds much more fun.
Saturday? No. Going to Mom's for the day.
Sunday? No. Am working the mercenary job.
Monday? Probably not.
And so on and so forth.

There is plenty of time to pick up the rods and the shower curtains and eyes next week. And I can put the stuff up on Friday night and saw to my hearts content on Saturday next. Although I should really get some kind of dust collector to put under the saw. I have a plastic bag (really BIG bag) taped under there now and BB is concerned about dust explosions with the motor. Time to hit the Sears Hardware or parts store.

I love shopping. :-)

So, the urgency has been mitigated. At least, mitigated until 3 am when the results of my plate of watermelon make themselves known.