Thursday, December 31, 2009

On the cusp of a new decade

I really wanted to have something profound to write tonight but nothing comes to mind.

It may be a mark of how far into the polyamory lifestyle I am -- my lover is spending tonight at our vacation house with his other lover while his wife is going to sleep over at my house tonight.

Happy New Year, and Goddess bless us, every one.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

He

He brings out the best in me; because of him I reach higher.
He believes I am strong; because of him I am.
He calls me intrepid and I become fearless.

He believes I am beautiful and I walk in grace.
He is kind, caring and compassionate, so I strive to be.
His soul holds no pettiness, so it leaches out of mine.

Because of him I am a better person; I become the woman he believes me to be.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Culmination

The journey started in March 2006. Newly divorced, looking around for a way to support myself, I stumbled on Veterinary Nursing, shadowed Mika for a day at Santa Clara Pet Hospital and fell in love with a whole profession. Highlights of the journey --

April 10, 2006 -- Intro to Vet Tech course began. Also began the collection of transcripts and documentation necessary for applying to Foothill College's Vet Tech program.

August 13, 2006 -- First "Peninsula Fix Our Ferals" (PFOF) clinic. I drew up medications into syringes and learned how to give sub-cutaneous injections into real, living, cats! OK, so they were anesthetized at the time, but ... still ... !

Fall Quarter 2006, began my "remedial" Anatomy & Physiology and Chemistry classes because it had been too long since I had taken them in college. I also got to take my first "real" VT class -- Medical Terminology. Whee!

Winter Quarter 2006, more A&P and a VT Medical Maths class. I can do this!

Spring Quarter 2007, last A&P class along with a VT Large Animal Medicine class and ... quelle horreur ... Microbiology four nights a week! June 2006 arrived and survival with it. In July, the precious acceptance letter.

Fall Quarter 2007 and REAL VT courses. September 27, 2007 was my first (of hundreds!) Animal Care shift.

April 2008, internship began at Banfield Pet Hospital

June 2008, right after final exams, my first convention: Pacific Veterinary Conference, exposure to best practices and latest ideas and vendors galore.

September 26, 2008, along with co-Lab Mom Melinda, oriented a new class of Firsties.

February 2009, second big convention, Western Veterinary Conference, in Las Vegas, baby!

June 2009, VTNE(Veterinary Technician National Exam) and then graduation with my whole family at hand.

October 27, 2009, CARVT (California Registered Veterinary Technician) exam.

Today in the mail, the official certificate that my hospital has to post, right next to the doctors' licenses!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Witch's New Year

Samhain is a time for celebrating life and remembering the dead; it is also a time for reflecting on the old year and planning for the new.

Reflection

I have -- children who are, for the most part, healthy and happy.

I have -- a lover who loves me, who treats me wonderfully.

I have -- a small group of friends I love, who love me; and we all rely on each other for mutual support.

I have -- after studying hard for a few years, achieved recognition and certification in a profession where I can make a difference and where I am proud to work with a group of amazing colleagues.

I have -- a comfortable house in a safe and friendly neighborhood; the house belongs 1/3 to the bank but 2/3 is mine outright.

The secret to happiness is not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got. And that is why I am so blue today. There are some things lacking, things I want and haven't got and I can't seem get past that.

I want -- a job where I can respect my supervisor; where I can work for someone who values my knowledge, competence and contributions; where I am compensated at least at the profession's minimum rather than close to minimum wage; where I am treated as a fellow professional rather than as a servant.

I want -- a partner who looks to me first for affection, companionship, love; someone I can turn to on dark nights and rainy days; someone to play with in the sunshine; someone to make plans for the future with; someone to grow old with.

Planning

Already, I have taken steps to resolve the professional issue. My resume is winging its way around the county and a bit beyond, accompanied by the best cover letters I can compose. My hope is that it will bring me more professional satisfaction, contentment, fulfillment and financial security.

Tomorrow night, my Full Moon ritual will attempt to do the same for the relationship issue. My petition to Goddess will wing its way into the universe, and perhaps a bit beyond, accompanied by the best prayers I can compose. My hope is that it will bring me a companion to soothe my fears of growing old alone.

Perhaps, by this time next year, I will no longer want what I don't have; either because I have obtained it or because I have become more enlightened. Stay tuned ... news at 11/1/10

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

musings on the desert

I grew up in a soft, green, wet, humid, cool (and sometimes cold), world of old mountains. I thought I had traveled as far from there as possible to my present home in a (still) green, drier land of newer mountains and hills, flat lands and ocean.

The other day I visited yet another world: of high desert, Joshua Trees, cacti, drought loving (not merely tolerant) plants with alien shapes. Driving by at 70 mph you see merely a blur of what is not -- not green, not wet, not "pretty", certainly not soft.

Stop to wander, carefully, look closely; beauty in a new and strange form. Not soft, oh no. Edgy; dangerous even, for the unwary. Hot, unmerciful sun; relentless wind; no place for the careless, casual tourist.

Carry water; remember to drink it. The very air will suck your body dry and leave the husk behind, a curiosity for the next tourist to wonder over.

Home again, in the soft land, I count the days until I can return. Part of my soul was left behind and it wanders the box canyon, waiting for me.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Conflict

My friend telephoned me yesterday with an interesting conflict.

Scene 1 -- his house, one evening a few weeks ago. The cast included myself and another couple (the principal actors) and 4 other people who don't figure into the story. He served salmon fresh from the grill, with a marvelous sauce. My friend loves to cook; loves to invent new foods; loves to entertain friends. I commented on the sauce, something like, "what is in this? it is sooooo good." He smiled and mumbled something about, "old family recipe." Both of the other couple also commented, something like, "I must have this recipe, it is marvelous." Again, the smile, and a conversational deflection into politics.

Scene 2 -- he came home yesterday to find a message on his voice mail: "I am having a birthday party for [husband] and he has asked me to make grilled salmon with your sauce. Please call or email me the recipe. Thanks."

Scene 3 -- my friend calls me, wondering what to do. In his mind, the dilemma is that they are having a party and want his sauce but don't think enough of him to invite him to the party. He asks me how to get out of telling her how to make "his" sauce.

I ask, first, does he indeed have a recipe? I've seen him cook and have *never* seen him refer to a book or even a scrap of paper with notes. He tastes and adjusts and finally pronounces it "done" and then serves it. NO ONE else ever gets to taste during the process; only the final product.

My solution for him -- call and tell her there is no recipe. If she insists, and if he feels so inclined, explain his method of creating wonderful tasting stuff; tell her he can't remember all the ingredients he used that night, let alone the quantities and proportions. Tell her he cooks by taste and smell, rather than written recipes.

And, because his feelings are still hurt because of not being invited, say, "And please wish [husband] a Happy Birthday for me."

What is your solution?

Monday, August 24, 2009

blogging

There's a problem here. I write better when I am not happy; lately I've been pretty much content; my writing suffers.

The yard reno is about done -- a small tidy up and it will be anyway. Work is going pretty well. Social life: new girlfriend, new potential boy friend, summer co-worker gone back to school now but had a nice dinner date. See? no angst, no worries, no writing.

Sigh.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Lammas Loaf

This loaf combines flour (from grain harvested *this* year) with beer (made from grain harvested *last* year) The recipe came to me from a special friend, a brewer of some renown in Alexandria, VA

Preheat oven to 350o F and grease a loaf pan (or spray with cooking spray).

Stir 3 cups of *self-rising flour* [NOT regular cake or bread flour, it must be the self-rising sort!] and 3 tablespoons of sugar [I have also made this with Splenda; it does not change the taste but it also doesn't lower the calorie count by much.]

Pour into this 12 ounces of beer (one regular bottle) and mix thoroughly. The batter will be ugly and lumpy but that's OK. Put it in the prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top a little if you like, not necessary though.

Bake 50-60 minutes. Turn out of pan onto a cooling rack and enjoy -- hot, warm, room temperature -- with or without butter or jam -- excellent with chili or a hearty stew.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

blatently plagiarized ... but funny

Near Death Experiences and Astrology
(from http://www.astrologyweekly.com/)

(Colin, Leland)ARIES: "Who's in charge here? I'd like to see God right now, please. Am I dead? Gee, I never thought that could happen to me! Where can I get a crystal palace backlit with white light like that one?"

(GypsyJack, Patti) TAURUS: Leaving the body, Taurus realizes that he or she no longer has a stomach and immediately returns to the body (thud!), without seeing tunnels, light, God, etc., making Taurus skeptical for the rest of his or her life.

(me, Mark, Marge, Tim) GEMINI: The key thing to the zodiacal twins isn't the experience itself, but how they can embellish it when telling the story (or writing about it). Since Geminis are comfortable in all worlds, except those without telephones, they usually bounce back to the body fairly rapidly-- and the mouth tends to work before the rest of the body comes back to life.

(Evan, Hannah, Julian, Lala, Kathy) CANCER: Cancerians can live to be 125 years old, and they don't usually have near death experiences, but they can come awfully close to having a near life experience when they get brave and venture out of their house for "supplies."

(Alix, Amy,Papa) LEO: "Nooooooo, I am NOT dead. I am not, I am not, I am not . . . Who are those guys in the white robes? What's that they're singing . . . ? They're off key. I can sing better than that! Where's the choir director? I need a microphone immediately. Unless it's Rolling Stone or Spin, hold my calls."

(Libby, Rachel, Savvas) VIRGO: Working a marathon 60 hours straight, Virgo collapses and leaves the body. She moves through that delightfully clean and sparkling tunnel of light, occasionally reflecting upon possible improvements . . . but soon becomes so worried by the thought of her loved ones "managing" without her that she snaps back into the body like white lightning, sits up, and calmly pronounces herself alive, glancing at her watch.

(Michael, Sharon) LIBRA: Floating out of the body, then in, then out, then in, and finally out again . . . Libra sees a tunnel and a vibrant being of light at the other end. "Wow, is that Jesus? Wait a minute, maybe it's Kwan Yin. That looks like something she'd wear." Never deciding whether to go through the tunnel (after all, what's death without someone to share it with?) Libra ends up back in the body by default, hounded by a mysterious compulsion to start a dating service for discarnate souls.

(Justin, Ben, Bear sort of) SCORPIO: Since most Scorpio's have nine lives, they tend to brainstorm different ways to trigger the near death experience. Once nearly dead, most can barely get to the end of the tunnel without meeting some being with whom they have astral sex. When asked whom they prefer to greet them on the other side, 75% name a favorite vampire, and Medusa is a strong contender.

(Jenna, Garrett, Bear sort of) SAGITTARIUS: Sag floats out of her body and has to laugh at the stupid way she bought the farm. After somehow BREAKING the tunnel of light, she absolutely refuses to return to the body, since she's been trying to get out of it for all these years (via clumsy accidents). Because Sag is immensely curious about whether the so-called organized religious have any validity at all, this stroke of luck leads to some amaaaaaazing lessons, until, alas, the astral folks tire of her and trick her into returning to Earth for the duration.

(Dee, Johnny) CAPRICORN: It might take Capricorn a little while to realize he's dead because there are special rooms set up to look like executive offices for newly-dead Goats. A sharp-looking, older gentleman-ghost comes in and gives Cap an instruction manual titled HOW TO PROFIT IN THE ASTRAL MARKETPLACE, plus a "job evaluation" type assessment of Cap's achievements and mistakes over the lifetime, followed by a pink slip (meaning the body revived). Caps tend to return to their bodies quickly, unable to tolerate non-physical existence for long.

(Sandy, Julie, Steve, Drew, Kenzie) AQUARIUS: Aquarius gets to the pearly gates, sees that heaven isn't run by consensus, and opts for hell, where at least there is an appealing anarchy and rules are made to be broken. Ironically, Aquarian near-death experiences tend to be extremely traditional, i.e., God the Father, St. Peter, the celestial choir and so on (another reason to rebel and opt for hell). Once in the underworld, they bedevil the hell out of Satan and his cronies with their loud and vigorous campaigns for progressive reforms, and are quickly expelled back to the body.

(Brett, Chris F) PISCES: For some reason, our Piscean friends barely notice their near death experiences. Instead, during a typical day at the office, many Pisceans report seeing beings with long-suffering expressions on their faces and who patiently tell the Piscean to go back to his or her body.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Watcher

Between 30 and 40 people attended yesterday's event. Most dove in willingly, eagerly, getting their hands (and everything else) messy. Circling, meeting, coupling or not, Brownian motion at a macroscopic level, particles of humanity in the sunshine.

He and I hovered more on the periphery. He, insulated by his camera, participating lightly, quickly, more done to than doing. I, insulated by my hesitancy, shyness, approached occasionally, not drawn into the full fray, but not for lack of opportunity.

To be observer more than participant, spectator more than player, is that a bad thing? Is it a character flaw, personality deficit, or just what I am? Was I missing out on the "full experience" or attempting some sort of understanding?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Loving More

I went to an interesting meeting last night, a Loving More Poly Group has a pot luck on the second Thursday of every month. There are a few people who show up regularly and a large rotating cast of occasional members. This was only my second time there but it is such a nice, safe, caring place that I went last night even though my boyfriend couldn't go and I hitched a ride over with another couple.

After the pot luck part [I took a ravishingly tasty Mexican Bean and Corn Salad that was very well received, thenkyewverramuch ;-) ], we gathered into a circle, introduced all around, and the evening's moderator pulled a topic from the introductions for discussion.

Jealousy -- how do you deal with your own, and what do you owe to a partner who is experiencing jealousy? There was a lot of discussion about jealousy vs envy (your partner and his/her lover are having a good time without you and you are ... envious or jealous?) How does jealousy make you feel about yourself and your relationship? What sorts of mechanisms do you use to avoid or recover from jealousy/envy?

Dealing with a partner who is jealous seemed to be a harder thing to do than dealing with one's own. We all seem to want to *fix* it -- make them feel better, avoid activities that make them feel jealous. The consensus eventually was that we need to acknowledge our partner's feelings but that ultimately everyone is responsible for their own feelings. By *fixing* or by tiptoeing around so they can avoid feeling jealous, we are not treating them like equals and adults. By trying to take ownership of their jealousy, we are instead patronizing as well as stifling their growth.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

graduation day

Tomorrow is graduation day. Really. Tomorrow I will get an A.S. degree and be a graduated Veterinary Technician. Of course that doesn't mean much since the certification exam is what counts. But still, it an accomplishment. At least that's what all my friends and family keep telling me :-).

Raise a glass to me!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

sounds sadder than I feel, actually

Lyrics from a song by Gaelic Storm --

Walk Through My Door

Sitting on my hotel bed
Pay per view running through my head
Foreign film called “missing you”
Based on a story that’s true

Trade my soul at the mini bar
Ten dollar scotch and a cheap cigar
I can’t go forward, I can’t rewind
You’re on every channel on my mind

Chorus:
Why don’t you walk through my door
Walk through my door
Why don’t you walk through my door
Walk through my door

Outside a storm pours down
Inside my head begins to drown
One more should see me through
One more or maybe two

Now you’re just an after glow
A fading breath on a cold window
My face pressed against the pane
Tell me are those tears or are they rain

Chorus

Slide the lock and close my eyes
Hide behind this thin disguise
Turn to kiss myself goodnight
Turn out the light

The don’t disturb sign from my door
Is hanging on my heart once more
I set the clock to half past ten
And my head to never again

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Any ideas why I am telling my life through other people's lyrics these days? Has the well dried up? Must try to write again, for real.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

choices

In one of her recent songs, Melissa Etheridge has the lines --
"I made every choice along the way,
Each day I stayed in hell, I chose to stay."

At first that made me sad-angry-confused when I applied it to my recent sojourn in hell. How could I say I had chosen to stay in an abusive, loveless marriage? What? No way! But only when I actually owned up to myself that, yes, I had made that choice, every day, was I able to move beyond the paralysis and into my new life.

I chose to stay because: it was easier than arguing; it was safer than trying to support myself and my children without him; the material things he provided made my life very comfortable. When I eventually chose to step away from all that, it was because: my self had become a stranger to me; a diamond tennis bracelet or a trip abroad was not enough to erase the bruised arm or the bruised ego; because I was giving my children the wrong role model.

I made every choice along the way, including the last one. If I want to take credit for and be proud of the choice to make a new life for myself, I have to also take credit for and acknowledge the choices before that.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

comments on friends and lovers

I agree, Naturist, that we have to let our friends take their own paths. I only hope that this diversion is necessary and not just some imagined difficulty he is having. So ... must trust friends and lovers that they know their own minds. Perfect Love and Perfect Trust is a witch's mantra that I find very difficult to practice sometimes. The Love part is easy.

And thank you dear Annie Mouse [ ;-) ] for your comment. It must be even more difficult for you to have contact without contact. Your phrase "passing through" is a help though -- we are all passing through stuff and this is just more "stuff" but there is another side to reach.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

friends and lovers

A couple of weeks ago I lost a friend and a lover. I miss him terribly; I start to talk to him ten times a day and then remember he isn't there, he isn't listening. Still I talk to him, inside my head, but there is no answer, no wise crack, no measured thought, no quip, no flirt, nothing and I miss him so very much. There isn't even the hope that he'll come back someday because I don't know what time scale he works on any more. "I don't know what else to do, my love. So I'm going to step outside of your life for a short while."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Close to Fine

I'm trying to tell you something about my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
The best thing you've ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously, it's only life after all
Well darkness has a hunger that's insatiable
And lightness has a call that's hard to hear
I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it,
I'm crawling on your shore.

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain
There's more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in crooked line
The less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine.

I went to see the doctor of philosophy
With a poster of Rasputin and a beard down to his knee
He never did marry or see a B-grade movie
He graded my performance, he said he could see through me
I spent four years prostrate to the higher mind, got my paper
And I was free.

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain
There's more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in crooked line
The less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine.

I stopped by the bar at 3 a.m.
To seek solace in a bottle or possibly a friend
I woke up with a headache like my head against a board
Twice as cloudy as I'd been the night before
I went in seeking clarity.

We go to the bible, we go through the workout
We read up on revival and we stand up for the lookout
There's more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in a crooked line
The less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine

~Indigo Girls

Sunday, April 5, 2009

new stuff about the landscaping project

Perhaps the most important thing to have (besides patience. lots and lots and lots of patience) is a bunch of friends. Julia and Mike put together the perfect plan -- a balance of structure and color and year 'round interest. They also helped procure the first loads of plants. Jenna and Garrett helped me spread the first load of dirt around; Ruta helped me spread the second (much bigger!) one. Kate taught me how to coddle transplants and make sure they have the best start possible. Sandy, Colin and Evan helped dig holes, place plants, water and clean up.

The project is nowhere near done of course, but most of the "backbone" plants are in now. Next step is to find a friend with a big, manly truck who can go to the nursery with me to pick out, purchase and fetch home the plants that will provide color and contrast. And then, of course, there will be the friend who knows all about irrigation systems (or is willing to learn) and I'll probably need the same big, manly truck to fetch mulch ...

The timetable is all shot to hell. Tonight is the last night of Spring Break and the project is *not* finished. But such a start!

Stay tuned ...

Monday, March 30, 2009

old stuff about the landscaping project


This was on my other blog site. I am copying it here for my own and continuity's sake.

Entry for January 18, 2009 Landscaping, part 1


[Prologue – I recently bought a house in Mountain View that was part of a tract development in the mid 1950’s. The house itself has been remodeled and updated several times since then and is really my dream home. The yard, however, was stuck in 1950’s suburbia – one large “street” tree, rectangle of flat lawn surrounded by “pruned to within an inch of its life” boxwood and oleander. It was tired, boring and oh, so very thirsty! Three separate valves controlled numerous pop-up sprinklers on an automatic irrigation system. The “street” tree had pushed roots to the surface, damaging the irrigation pipes and making the lawn an obstacle course for any mower.

Shooting the breeze at school one afternoon last autumn, “I love my new house, but I really don’t love the front yard. Any ideas? Anyone?” Mike (Diefenbach of Diefenbach Landscape) offered to drive by one day and then give me some ideas. And so started the transformation.

Mike came by, took some measurements, and drafted up a plan of the current yard. He and I discussed various ideas he had and talked about what I disliked about the yard and what I wanted to keep. Next, he brought his plant specialist, Julia (Pollex of JP Fine Gardening), and we all walked around inside and outside the house, including the back yard (which will not be included in this project). Julia asked me a lot of questions about my favorite colors, favorite color combinations, favorite styles, trying to get a sense of “me”. She and I are students, and Mike is a recent graduate, so they appreciate that I am on a limited budget – both financial and time. Before they left, Mike suggest contacting the Santa Clara Valley Water District for guidelines and information about their rebate program.

On December 23, 2008, an agent from the SCVWD came for the preliminary inspection and said that my project would qualify for their program. He left me a list of approved plants, an application form, lists of vendors and a great CD. Now that the Water District had blessed the project, stage one could begin. We had all agreed that the hedges and foundation plantings had to go – no matter what. In fact, only three plants (besides the “street” tree) would remain – a wisteria on the side of the garage, a lovely old camellia and one over pruned azalea that Julia and Mike thought could be resurrected.

January 5, 2009 came and so did Rocky (Contreras Gardening Service). In less than a day, there was a pile of branches where hedges had been. Already the yard looked better, more open, and less formal. We have turned off the irrigation and are letting the lawn start to die to make removal easier.]

Today, Julia came over and we spent 1.5 hours poring over my wish list of colors and shapes and passing it though her filter of ease of maintenance and the water district “approved” list. We doodled all over the blank plan Mike had provided and thrashed out sight lines. The strip on the north side of the driveway is settled: Mexican Feather Grass interspersed with Incana Cranesbill. There will be a berm but the exact location and dimensions will be decided with Mike’s help.

My “homework” now is to find a source of dirt – free would be good; free with free delivery would be super; free, free delivery and actual top soil would be brilliant. I will also be checking Freecycle (www.freecycle.org) regularly for people who are dividing their garden plants and want to re-home the extra bits.

Julia’s next job will be to get together with Mike and the measurements and build a shopping list of exactly how many plants of each variety and what sizes as well as how much “dirt”. They will also price out the new drip irrigation materials. I am investigating a product from Netafim (http://www.netafim-usa-landscape.com/).

Monday, March 16, 2009

a weekend full of music

I just had the best weekend ever. Saturday night we went to see the TheatreWorks production of "Ain't Nothin' But the Blues". The norm is to have a really good actor try to sing or a really good singer try to act; this show had seven really good singers who were also superb actors [or were they really good actors who were also superb singers?] Let the good times roll, sweet home Chicago, I could have listened all night long. Nothing could top that.

Then, on Sunday afternoon, we went to hear Gypsy Jack at a small bar in San Jose. The Substitute Preachers were really rocking as we walked in. Poor, poor pitiful me. Uh huh! They did some covers but mostly a lot of original stuff. Can you OD on music? I am still high.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Mock surgery, part trois

Yesterday I was the "surgeon" for Chester's mock procedure.

To don sterile clothing, start with a bonnet covering all of your hair; no cute bangs hanging out please. Then a mask to completely cover nose and mouth. Those of us who wear glasses have a special issue with getting the top of the mask snug so we don't fog up the glasses.

A surgical scrub consists of washing every part of your hands and forearms. You start with the little pick thing and clean under your fingernails. Next, wet hands and use the soap impregnated sponge as follows: consider that your fingers, hands and arms have 4 sides -- front, back, edges. You can scrub by time or by count; I find counting easier. Ten strokes up and down the back of pinkie finger, ten strokes up and down outside edge of pinkie finger, ten strokes up and down palm side of pinkie finger, ten strokes up and down edge between pinkie and ring finger. Repeat for other 4 fingers, then repeat on palm,then distal 1/2 of forearm, then proximal 1/2 of forearm (should take about 5 minutes). Then start all over again with the other hand. Rinse with elbows bent and fingers higher than elbows at all times (so any drips go toward the elbow). Open sterile towel and dry one hand and arm with one side of the towel, other hand and arm with other side of towel, never going back over a clean spot with dirty towel. Try that sometime; it is even harder than it sounds.

Open a sterile gown without letting it touch your clothes, the table, the floor, anything at all, and handle it only from the inside while putting it on. Keep your hands inside the cuffs, no fingers peeking out. You really need a dresser at this point, to stand behind and tie the neck ties without touching the front of the gown, then the waist ties, then a little "tug" at the hem to make it feel straight.

To get the feel for closed gloving, put on an extra large sweatshirt with arms long enough to cover your hands and try putting on rubber dish washing gloves while keeping your fingers covered by sweatshirt sleeve until they are inside the gloves. It is something like that.

Once gowned, hatted, masked and gloved, the surgeon has to stand with hands clasped together in front of the body to remind her not to touch anything that is not sterile. And so I stood until B let me know her patient was deep enough for me to start.

Skin does not feel like any of the materials we practiced on. Sticking a needle through skin is much harder than you would think.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mock surgery, part deux

Today's procedure went so much better than anyone (teachers included) had expected. Actually, we didn't really know what to expect. Thumbelina was the kitty that exploded off the table last time students tried to anesthetize her. We decided to try "kitty magic" for her pre-anesthetic meds. This is a cocktail of Ketamine-Buprenorphine-Domitor that I gave IM. Although I had Propofol ready to administer if necessary, "Thumbs" was intubatable within about 20 minutes with no additional meds. After having her on isoflurane for about 5 minutes, I reversed the Domitor with Antisedan and did have Narcan available to reverse the Buprenex if necessary. It was pretty easy to keep her at a surgical plane of anesthesia with 1% isoflurane. I had Atropine drawn up and ready but she maintained a heart rate of 120 and respiration rate of 35-40 throughout the procedure so didn't use it.

B put in a 24G IV catheter like she'd done it all her life, completely bloodless and on the first stick! R was our surgeon this time and almost finished putting in her stitches when I (and one of the teachers) started to get a little worried that our cat might be a little too deep. Lesson to be learned here -- a little too deep at 1% iso can become totally awake at 0.5% in no time flat! The team that does her actual spay next week should probably read our notes. Although, during an actual surgical procedure they will probably want her to be that deep. K was our floater this time and did a great job keeping us all supplied with the stuff we'd forgotten to set up in advance. Its a good thing we had her.

Tomorrow it is Chester's turn. And I will be the surgeon this time. I'm nervous about 1) putting sutures in real live skin instead of our training "legs" and 2) having to use Dr Mac's favorite suture material which is a mono-filament. Better practice a little tonight.

More tomorrow ...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mock Surgery, part une

Our team had their first Mock Surgery today and it went amazingly well. R was the Lead Anesthetist and is very meticulous, which helped a LOT. My task was to calculate a fluid rate for the pump as well as a manual drip count; insert the IV catheter and hook up the fluid drip set; shave and prep the surgical site and generally support the anesthetist; K was our Mock Surgeon and had to scrub in, gown and glove and suture along a sharpie pen line (hence the Mock -- no incision); B was our floater and did a little of everything to help all of us. While Lex was under anesthesia we took the opportunity to shave some of the fur mats on his belly and butt and to express his [quite impacted] anal glands. Neither of these would have been easy to do while he was awake -- rather protective of his nether parts is our little Lex.

Next week our Mock patient will be one of the cats, Thumbelina. And I will be the Lead Anesthetist. And I am scared shirtless about it. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Reflections on Independence Day

The first Independence Day occurred on February 17, 2007. My divorce had “cooked” for six months and was now final. How to commemorate the day? the fact? Emotions were labile. Grief for the death of a 30 year old relationship. Elation at being alive. Fear of the future. Joy of recreating self. Big emotions and big segues among them.

The first Independence Day I spent, alone, in Half Moon Bay. I ate at a restaurant alone, with no partner, no companion, just a woman all alone all by herself, enjoying wine and salad and pasta and her own company. Next, I went to a day spa for a completely and totally indulgent massage and then a facial. My minions catered to me, soft music, incense, warm oils, soothing hands, all focused on my pleasure, my contentment, my relaxation. Rejuvenated, and feeling pretty sassy to boot, I shopped from one end of Main Street to the other, buying a lovely ring set with abalone here, a wind chime fashioned from colored glass there. The next step was a walk on the beach, alone, watching kite-flyers and children playing and picking up seashells and sea glass as I wandered. Driving out of town, on the way home, I stopped at one of the hundreds of flower vendors and bought a dozen roses. Just for me. Just from me.

It was very important that the day be spent outside of the company of my friends. Several had offered, requested, to come with me. But it was essential that I be able to establish true independence and be comfortable with myself, alone. For 30 years I had been the junior partner of a collaboration that steamed backwards and forwards across the continent with no thought of my needs wants desires. For 30 years I had believed when told “you don’t want that”, “you need this”, “you don’t feel that”, “this is best for you.” Damn. I had believed instead of thinking for myself. I needed to get back to the woman who knew what she wanted and went for it. And I did.

The second Independence Day (the first anniversary) was shared, verbally, with friends. I didn’t feel such a strong need to assert my independence this time around. I could feel it. I had internalized it. No need to crow and shout and make political statements. I am Independent. I am Strong. I have my Self back.

The third Independence Day didn’t even get celebrated on the day. My personal, private, celebration happened on the 14th when I spent a night in Las Vegas by myself: dinner, strolling through the casino, all without an escort. Whoa! That’s Independent! There was another celebration though, attended by three of the most important men in my life. It involved cards and good wishes and celebratory thoughts and physical intimacies and all sorts of wonderfulness that is just between me and my sweet lovers.

I wonder what next year will bring? Stay tuned.