Lucy appears to be much better, delicate little snowflake, so we decided to take her up north to freeze the rest of the sickness out of her. It's about 37 degrees right now and raining. I'm wearing all the warmest things I own and I'm not taking them off until Monday. Including my shoes. So if you're in Phoenix later in the week and you see a gray hoodie and a pair of jeans aimlessly shuffling down the sidewalk, that's probably just my three-day-warm outfit taking a walk.

I made a quilt to go on one of the double beds up here. It's supposed to be reminiscent of a sunrise, with the green growing into yellows and finally bright oranges and pinks. I'm really happy with how it turned out-- plus since it's 90"ish x 90"ish it's actually big enough to properly fit a double bed. I'm working on a sunset quilt for the other bed. Lots of blues, greens, and purples.

Jesus God I'm cold right now

Transient
Transient

My poor precious little BooBoo. She woke up this morning throwing up and with truly frightening diarrhea. I immediately made a vet appointment for early afternoon, and she spent the hours before trying to make herself into a smaller and smaller ball on top of my feet. 

She has apparently eaten something that doesn't agree with her. I have no idea what that might BE, since we already DID this once so now I pretty much follow this animal around policing the shit that goes in its mouth like it's my job. It's not a blockage, so whatever it is should just work it's way out via one of two disgusting modes of transport. Meanwhile I'm feeding her chicken and rice by the tablespoon and canceling plans. I was supposed to be watching Catching Fire in a glorious Hot Topic tee-shirt with my step-daughter right now. Instead I'm doing the fucking opposite of that. In a sweatshirt that DOESN'T have a fucking FIERY MOCKINGJAY on it and that smells like liquid kibble. 

The vet said Lucy might be one of those lucky dogs with an incredibly sensitive stomach. She might've found a rogue cashew on the floor or curiously licked a splash of vinegar.  I am unfamiliar with that species of animal. Jake threw up exactly one time in almost ten years and it was seriously like a grown man vomited in my family room. No joke, I looked down and thought some random dude had stumbled into my house and unloaded after Thanksgiving dinner. Jake was equally confused since he didn't even remember eating corn. But that was ONE TIME. Lucy's only six months old and she's already barfing circles around him. 

Okay, gotta run, time to follow my puppy around the yard with a flashlight in the rain so I can examine the consistency of her stool. 

GODDAMN, DUDE, so much for THAT. 

Days just keep whipping past and I keep getting these awesome comment notifications from you guys and every time I'm like OH I LOVE HER THAT WAS SO SWEET and then the guilt wave knocks me over on my side and I flop around for a while on the carpet. 

Lucy's totally back to her incorrigible self, sans mysterious plastic parts. She did find and eat part of a dead bird today but hey, it's Monday, who didn't. 

This is an old picture, she's doubled in size.

Tomorrow is Taco Night. We make a bunch of taco bowls, taco shells, grill carnitas and chicken and veggies and then the kids all come over and everyone scream laughs and eats and eats and screams until there isn't any food left and then everyone leaves, presumably still screaming and laughing but my ears start bleeding around eight so I can only guess. I invited some people who aren't related to us and now I'm nervous. "Can I bring an appetizer?" she texts. "Yes, please! Noise reduction headphones would be perfect!" Anyway, Randy's outside building a giant Jenga game out of a table stand and cut 2" x 4"s because the only thing louder than this family communicating is seventy-two solid wooden planks crashing onto the patio. I want everybody good and deaf by 7:30. 

I don't know, "garfing" just made me laugh.

How many posts can I begin by apologizing? LET'S FIND OUT!

My Lucy girl made it through the night without garfing all over her kennel, and I know that because one of my ears has been reassigned as my official garfing detection ear.

It's my left ear. 

It now refuses to hear birds chirping or the sounds of children laughing. Payback.

 This morning I freed her from her kennel and as per normal she strutted around not needing to go outside and relieve herself because she's intent on proving she's hardcore. When she finally deigned to wander outside I obediently followed in more than one bathrobe and a cup of hot tea. Scream-cooing, "LET'S GO POTTY, LUCY." 

God, what a terrible picture. Cute, though, right? 

And you know what? One of those times it worked. Against all odds. And she pooped. And I and my four bathrobes swished our plushy selves over to said poop and we scooped it up in a baggie and PALPATED IT, YES, WE SQUISHED IT AROUND IN A PLASTIC BAGGIE until we found a piece of flat jagged plastic, maybe an inch and a half long. Not big. But pointy. 

I clutched the baggie and grabbed my nine terrycloth hems to stumble back to the house where I fist pumped my way into the Gross Out Hall of Fame. 

Right now Lucy's lying on my right foot chewing on her stuffed octopus. She ate a good dinner and seems 100% back to her normal feral self. If she wakes up in the middle of the night again, though, Robe #28 has threatened to take matters into her own fluffy and slightly pilly hands.

This may turn out to be the worst idea ever, my 2013 season of NaBloPoMo. So far it's like watching paint dry, only instead of paint it's my puppy, and instead of drying we're all watching the paint vomit. Say what you will about the banality of drying paint, but at least it doesn't necessitate you get out of a warm bed every two hours in the middle of the night to clean out a kennel. 

It wasn't the cactus, turns out. Our Lucy is a bit of a thief. And a bit of a ninja. Which is a wordy way of saying she steals a lot of shit and she steals it quickly and quietly. She nabbed a lip gloss from a house guest and, long story short, she's got some small pieces of plastic in her lower intestine that are slowly working their way out. The bad news is that her lower intestine is partially blocked; the good news is that I get to follow her around the yard all night with a flashlight hoping she shits so I can sift through it for plastic. 

That sounds really blasé. The truth is that the vet (and the radiologist who backed up the x-rays) think(s) that everything's fine; she clearly ate something foreign but it's small and moving through her little system on its own. They're not particularly worried. I'm making light of it now because all day I've been a basket case wondering if she was going to need some in-depth "remove five feet of intestine" surgery because seriously, she just went through a spay six days ago. The thought of having to put her through another (completely avoidable) surgery makes me sick. I think I've just met my traumatic canine surgery threshold for 2013. 

Hey, thanks for stopping by! Sorry for the complete lack of interesting narrative and/or storytelling and/or hard core porn (I don't know what you Googled to get here). 

I'm so out of blogging practice. This little girl was sick all night last night-- like every two hours sick, thanks to a weird cactus in our yard that we dug up and disposed of today-- so here's a picture taken earlier of her meeting the goats who live on the farm behind us. 

I'm THIS CLOSE to getting the secret handshake down.

The rabid quilting continues, and if I'm actually going to post every day in November there are going to be quilts involved. 

I'm a little obsessed with the kids' quilts. I'll be working on one but thinking about the next four I want to make. 

Mustachioed Babies Quilted Throw

Mustachioed Babies Quilted Throw

Doctor Who Quilted Throw

Doctor Who Quilted Throw

Firefly Crib Quilt

Firefly Crib Quilt

I've always got a larger project moving slowly along in the background, too. 

Mirror Ball Dot Log Cabin Quilt

Mirror Ball Dot Log Cabin Quilt

The entire house has been taken over by quilting equipment. At one time I had everything (fairly) neatly contained to a would-be back bedroom, but then Lucy came along and had no business in a carpeted room full of expensive fabric. So I moved the whole operation into the dining room. And the kitchen. And the front room. And most of a hallway. 

Meanwhile Lucy's appropriated the back room for day trading. At least I think she's day trading, I don't know for sure, there's a secret knock and a password I haven't figured out yet. 

Here's the thing about Lucy: Holy shit.  

We never expected another dog to come in and replace The Jake.  

And good fucking thing.  

We've always loved Australian Shepherds so it's been a lot of fun for us noticing the similarities between The Jake and Lucy.   

They're both dogs.  

See? Wasn't that fun?  

When we brought Jake home, he curled up on top of my feet and waited for free petting. When we brought Lucy home, she made herself a cup of strong coffee and asked for the wi-fi password. 

Sensing I was outmatched, I immediately sought out ways to hold this dog's attention so she'd stop trying to steal my identity. Here's a short video of Lucy "solving" her food puzzle toy. 

Needless to say, Lucy now eats whenever she wants and the puzzle remembers nothing, has nothing to say, and invokes the fifth amendment. 

 

Miss Mess.

I don't even remember making the conscious decision to get a new puppy, it just sort of happened. A friend knew a guy whose working Aussies had just had a litter and felt bad for us. Randy and I went to look at the puppies and it was pretty much game over. We were cuddling and cooing over each puppy, and then this little girl plonked her tiny fuzzy body in the community water bowl and goddamn it. 

We named her Lucy. Turns out Lucy was born on May 8th. And we lost Jake on May 7th. This makes perfect sense-- not because I think Lucy is Jake reincarnated, but because I think Jake probably took one look at Lucy and went, "Oh yes, absolutely, this will be hilarious."

Both of Lucy's parents are working dogs-- they're both currently wrangling cattle on an eighty thousand acre ranch in northern Arizona. Like their dog parents and their dog parents before them. Captain The Jake came from a long line of part-time surfers. The difference is staggering. For the first four months of her life, Lucy's overwhelming instinct to herd took over her tiny brain and turned her into a ferocious ankle attacking monster. My legs were so peppered with puppy teeth-sized bruises I looked like I'd been in a bizarre ball bearing accident. 

I couldn't figure out why shaking a can of pennies or yelping like a puppy when she attacked wasn't making her stop-- if anything, it incited her to come back at me harder. Our dog trainer put it in perspective; Lucy was bred to back up a 2,000 pound animal. Even if that animal is holding a Diet Coke can full of pennies. Even if it fake yelps. It's in her DNA. The only instinct rooted in my baby Jake's DNA was the instinct to go prone. 

Our trainer also mentioned Lucy would make a great SWAT dog. Maybe border patrol. I believe it. She's crazy smart. Confidence for days. Loves all people, loves all dogs, self-reliant to the extreme (she remembers to take her own Heartguard and reminds me to put gas in the car).  It took approximately two hours to train her to the Invisible Fence system and now she patrols the yard with a professional diligence the neighbors all pretend to admire. 

We got her this plastic ball for her to herd around the yard. It's hard plastic with no grooves or indents so she can't ever "own" it. Lucy's life is now ruled by The Ball. I have to take it away from her so she'll eat and sleep. If you have a puppy who needs a job, and you're not financially equipped to send him to SWAT school, I heartily recommend it. 

More on Lucy later. I've got what, twenty-nine more days to fill. 

Also I don't think my RSS feed is working and I have no idea how to fix that. So my apologies to the seven people who aren't reading this right now. 

NaBloWriMo

Whoa! Thank you, Helen Jane! If I hadn't seen you in my reader I would've completely forgotten about NaBloWriMo!  (And thank YOU, Mrs. Kennedy, for, you know. Inventing the whole deal.)

I've been wanting to get back here but it's been so hard to start. This blog basically started when we brought Captain The Jake into our lives so it was difficult for me to see it surviving him. I think a push to post every day in November is the perfect catalyst to get this ship moving again. I miss being here. So I'll start being here again. Starting tomorrow. 

In the meantime, please allow me to introduce Lucy. 

So for the most part, May passed in a bleary fog. I woke up every morning to the click-clack! of a phantom dog door, or I'd imagine the usual roll-over sighs from the cushioned bed on the floor next to me only to roll over myself and squint at it, empty. For a while I'd get up and stubbornly go through Jake's favorite morning routine, The Opening Of The Patio Doors-- something about a full bowl of food in conjunction with a wide open door used to hit The Captain in the sweet spot. I love food, should I eat? But I love outside, too, should I run?  He'd do both at once, generally, mouthfuls of hastily snagged dry food garfed out on the floor between weird stunted darts onto the patio. 

I'd open the doors and go outside to sit and cry, and Randy would come out and widen his eyes, pointing at a rogue chicken just moseying through the pasture, all the confidence in the world, and we'd both just shake our heads. Laugh it up, chicken. 

At some point during the month, Randy started closing the doors after I opened them because we live in Phoenix and this is May I'm talking about. I'd open the doors and the air conditioner would start to whine and some coils would get hot to the touch and other parts would freeze; Randy would close the doors, the air conditioner would stop panting, the alarm bells would silence, red hot coils would dim to burnt orange like usual. 

I stopped going to the gym four times a week and starting going none. I stopped eating vegetables and chicken and lived off endless oily napkins of microwaved cheddar cheese Triscuits. On the days I didn't wear my big purple robe all day (Robey), I wore my standard uniform: one of four thick cotton skorts I bought at Sam's Club in 2010 and a pilled-out vintage Old Navy tee from roughly the same time period. I'd pull my hair into a Utility Bun, which is as ugly as it sounds. It involves wrangling all the hair into a giant ball (or "blob" if you're Randy) and securing it to the very top of my head-- the very top, mind-- so it wouldn't pull to the back and give me a headache. The very top. Right on top. When I washed it-- and you can count that shit on one hand because I don't know exactly what they're putting in dry shampoo these days but I'm using it to dehydrate apricots-- it went straight back up, only the bun (blob) sagged wetly to the side for a while. 

I started recording and watching Dateline reruns exclusively. Did you know Dateline is on probably six channels? Did you know you can watch it probably twenty times a day if you have enough space on your DVR and enough emptiness in your heart? I've watched so much Dateline I'm convinced every marriage ends in murder. I've watched so much Dateline I've practiced getting myself out of the trunk of my car. I've watched so much Dateline I'm using Dateline as a verb: as in, "That guy in the Safeway parking lot better not try to Dateline me," or "Driving into that abandoned warehouse district is probably a great way to get Datelined, take the freeway instead." I somehow feel safer yet scared beyond comprehension at the same time. 

I missed Jake every second. I was so used to being around him every second, see, that every second I wasn't around him there was a void. Randy missed him terribly, too, of course, but Randy mostly missed him in the mornings and the evenings, the times he'd typically been home with him. Randy didn't have the all-day interaction like I did, the constant running verbal and physical commentary. If I wasn't actually stepping over Jake, or if I wasn't brushing my fingertips over the top of his body walking down the hall,  I was poignantly missing him. 

 

And that was all the time.

Randy and I have a new gorgeous, healthy granddaughter; she was born on May 10th and we were both lucky enough to have been at the hospital when she came into the world. The joy and adrenaline from her birth and presence was an enormous buoy. And I had some amazing friends come out for Comicon-- friends who have been through this same scenario several times over-- and so that was also huge. 

But it just fucking sucks. I had gotten to where I wasn't missing him to the point of tears every day when we decided to go up to the cabin. And lo and behold, Jake wasn't up there, either. His water bowl was, though, and his sheepskin doggie bed, his Big Pillow. The cow hide rug he used to "hide" in. ("Has anyone seen Jake?" Jake looks up from his camouflaged spot on the cow hide rug. Never got old, that joke.) It was like starting over. 

So yeah. It's been one month today and distractions aside I have to say it's not much easier. Randy and I are talking vaguely about getting another dog; we're dog people and we'd like the companionship, but at the same time we don't want to make a move too soon out of grief and end up resenting some poor sweet dog simply because it's not the dog we're grieving. We'll probably do something sooner rather than later, though; at the cabin I spent about fifteen minutes trying to convince a squirrel to let me hug it. A friend of a friend just had a litter of Aussie pups and has offered us one, and we're stalking the rescue sites, too. We're thinking one of each, it's just a matter of timing. 

I opened an Etsy shop for all the quilts and throws I had leftover from Comicon and I'm enjoying working on other quilt projects. And I went back to the gym this week, too, so that's progress. I also threw out the goddamned Triscuits. I have to keep the skorts because I don't have any other shorts (skirts?). But my hair is down.  

It isn't down. I lied about that. Baby steps. I have stopped watching Dateline, meaning I can once again accept a drink from my husband without sniffing it suspiciously, and that's refreshing.

Thank you for all the sweet comments and emails. I'm a month-late getting back to some of you and I apologize for that, but in fairness I spent a lot of that time locked in the trunk of my own car. 

 

We lost Jake on Tuesday.

We were up at the cabin over the weekend and Jake was in fine form; sniffing the breeze and trying hard to figure out squirrels and napping in the sunshine. Sunday night we were back home and he wasn't hungry. By Monday we knew, but it took until Tuesday to accept it. 

Jake and I rested on the patio on Tuesday, his favorite place to be, listening to the birds and the wind. I told him every single thing we love about him and it took all day. I started with the story of finding him, how Randy picked him out of a pile of puppies because he had the best face, one black eye and one white eye, perpetually confused. And how when we brought him home he squeaked around the patio like a little wind up toy, and how he never stopped squeaking, he never stopped talking to us. I reminded him for the thousandth time that he jumped out a four-story window and almost gave me a heart attack. I thanked him for protecting us from ocean waves and sea birds, from garbage trucks and goats and our own doorbell and that damn MGM lion on TV. I rubbed his back and told him over and over again that he was our baby, our protector, our very best one. Our family. 

It was peaceful and painless. We held him while our vet checked him one last time and then we said goodbye.

Randy and I are so thankful we had this last month with him, but it doesn't make it easier. I think I thought it might. But no amount of time would've made it easier, ultimately, and when it's the hardest, we remind each other that he had a good life, the best life, and we did the right thing.

Goodbye, my tiny Captain The Jake. There will never ever ever be another one like you. 

Thank you so much for all the sweet comments and emails. Jake's doing really well-- his incision is healing up nicely, and he's happy and wiggly and generally back to his old self. He's also eating more than I thought possible. Like, enormous amounts of food. I think when they took out his spleen, his stomach must've immediately spread out and claimed all the leftover space because I am shoveling food into this dog. Ground beef, sweet potatoes, green beans, chicken thighs, broccoli, oatmeal, scrambled eggs... If he'll eat it, I'm making it. Meanwhile Randy's eating cold cuts out of a bag over the sink. The surgeon called last week with the biopsy results, and it's definitively hemangiosarcoma. No surprise there. Based on the size of the spots on Jake's liver, he said he'd estimate we've got three to six months. And that's a hell of a lot better than two, so I'll take it. We see him on Wednesday for the staple removal and I'm going to try to nail him down to an exact day, which seems reasonable. 

I've been spending a lot of time sewing lately; my auction job essentially dried up after the first of the year so I'm using my time making quilts to sell at Comicon. I've been selling Sock Zombies at Comicon for years, and it's always been a fabulous experience, but this year I just can't bring myself to do nothing but sit and make endless zombies out of socks between now and May 23rd, I just can't. I've made thousands of those guys. THOUSANDS. I NEED A BREAK. 

But I still want to do Comicon. So I decided I'd make geeky baby quilts and (try to) sell those instead. I'm making a handful of crib-sized quilts (48"ish x 54"ish) but my gut tells me the price point for a handmade quilt that size is going to be higher than the average Comicon impulse buy. So I'm also making smaller quilts (30"ish x 30"ish) and even smaller baby "snuggles"; 20" x 20" pieced cotton tops with Minky or satin backs with no batting. That way I'll have a range of price points so I'm not struggling to sell expensive quilts all weekend. 

I love this one. The fabrics are "Petting Zoo Baby Book", "Icons of the Silver Screen", and "SW Kids".  Backed and bound in lime green satin. 

It's perfectly suited to Comicon but again, I don't know how many people are going to come ready to throw down cash for a quilt. 

I love this one, too: The Ghastlies from Alexander Henry. Backed and bound in pink Minky. 

I don't know, what do you guys think? Would you buy a quilt at a comic convention? And if so, what would you pay? I've researched and compiled my labor and materials so I have a pretty good idea of where I am, retail-wise, but I'm curious. 

O Captain, My Sweet Wiggly Captain.

Last Thursday I took Captain The Jake to the vet for severe lethargy and no appetite. I'd made at least three appointments for him earlier in the week but always ended up canceling them; it seemed like the second I'd hang up the phone, Jake would spring into action and either furiously chase down a goat or eat four cups of food. He rallies like a motherfucker. 

Late afternoon Thursday I was sitting at the sewing machine and Jake was next to me on the floor, as usual, my sewing buddy, but he looked me in the face and made this noise at me, like, please? Please? And I got up, grabbed his leash, and put him in the backseat of my car. 

I thought maybe it was allergies. Or, God forbid, Valley Fever. Maybe a sudden side effect of his arthritis medication?

It wasn't any of those things. Jake had fluid in his abdomen. I waited while his doctor gave him an ultrasound, trying to figure out what kind of fluid could possibly be in my dog's abdomen. Mysterious seltzer, maybe, or guava juice? 

I was legitimately shocked it was blood.

Jake was bleeding internally, and the ultrasound didn't show why. The doctor explained that it was common in older large-breed dogs to develop masses on the spleen that eventually rupture and fill the belly with blood. He needed a splenectomy, and it wouldn't wait until Monday. If he made it through that night, he'd need emergency surgery first thing Friday.

If Jake hadn't told me to take him to the doctor Thursday afternoon, I would've given him his arthritis medication and taken him in on Friday.

Except I wouldn't have, because Friday's Jake was a completely different Jake. He woke up hungry and energetic-- although admittedly that might have had something to do with the fact that I slept half inside his bed with him all night, generally dispensing panicky comfort and making sure he was still alive. Friday's Jake wouldn't have needed to go to the vet, and Saturday's Jake would have died. 

Jake needed a splenectomy to remove his spleen and a 5cm mass that had ruptured and was filling his belly with not-seltzer. The doctors at the emergency hospital pulled exactly no punches: Given the blood results, they were willing to bet he had developed hemangiosarcoma, an aggressive and unstoppable cancer of the blood vessels. Nine out of ten dogs presenting with Jake's symptoms and issues had the cancer, and it wasn't really nine out of ten, it was ten out of ten with an occasional miracle randomly thrown in to fuck with you.

Removal of his spleen would buy Jake two to four more months.

Months. Two. Two months.

It goes without saying that Randy and I were beyond devastated. They suggested a chest x-ray; if his heart and lungs were wracked with tumors, our decision would be made for us. The x-ray came back clear. Good, clear lungs, non-enlarged heart, no tumors. 

Randy and I celebrated. It was a weak celebration, sure, because we were crying and trying to eat chicken sandwiches at the same time, which is really hard to do, cry and eat, and honestly it's pretty gross, I don't recommend it.  But we celebrated. Next we got a second, more sophisticated ultrasound to determine if there were more tumors and where; again, if he had a bellyful of tumors or if his liver also showed tumors, we wouldn't put our Jake through surgery. The ultrasound came back relatively clear; isolated tumors in the spleen, nothing in the belly, nothing in the liver. 

We celebrated. i.e., had trouble sobbing and swallowing chicken salad at the same time. 

The same doctors who were so (necessarily and kindly) blunt about the situation also let us know that, though it's definitely a major surgery, dogs traditionally recover from it extremely quickly. Moreover, they typically regain all of their lost energy, appetite, and joie de vivre in a week or two. Quality of life returns. For a time. 

We decided to have Jake's spleen removed. What could we do? It was too much to handle, way too sudden, we felt blindsided. Randy felt it as hard or harder than I did. He's our baby Captain, he's been our Best One for almost ten years... I mean, we couldn't... we just couldn't. We needed time. And if he wasn't suffering with fluid in his lungs or an enlarged heart or a myriad of tumors in his belly, well, let's take the spleen out and bring our wiggle home. 

The surgeon called Friday evening after the surgery. Everything went as expected, and Jake pulled through like a champ. His voice fell an octave as he relayed to me the fact that during the operation he'd noted several pinprick lesions present on Jake's liver, meaning no random occasional miracle for us.  

But The Captain is home. We brought him home Saturday night and it was rough; I held him all night while he cried and thrashed, waiting for the oral pain medication to catch up to the waning general anesthesia. Sunday morning he woke up clear-eyed and hungry, though, hungrier than he's been in a good long while. And since then he's only gotten better, they weren't lying about a quick recovery. I'm cooking all of his food from here on out and he's making an absolute pig out of himself, which I find incredibly flattering. 

I can't really talk about this with any amount of gravity, and if you've read my blog over the years this won't surprise you-- you already know I can't talk about anything with any amount of gravity. I've been dreading writing this post (there are several short, emergency "real time" iPhone posts about it on tumblr) because Jake's entire life is chronicled here and that's so poignant to me right now. 

We're so incredibly heartbroken. But at the same time we recognize what an honor it is to have this extra time to love our Captain. He gets his staples (ow) out next Wednesday and we're going to take him to Mexico on Friday so he can walk on the beach and pee on dead fish to his little non-enlarged heart's content.

I don't know what I'll do when he's gone, I really truly don't. I can't think about it.

So in the meantime, here's a short video taken today documenting Captain The Jake's ability to Still Get The Goats, even though he's down one spleen and plus one stupid inflatable blue donut. 

Suddenly I feel like I know where I could find my missing Rudolph pot holder.

A couple of years ago we had my parents and my brother's family over for a "casual" Christmas Day dinner; the idea being that everyone would bring over all of their respective holiday leftovers and we'd provide... shelter. Shelter and a deep-fried turkey, actually, because deep-frying a turkey is something Randy has some experience with and it requires almost zero work on my part. So Randy sets up the deep frying contraption out in the yard, and my parents arrive and start unloading a veritable boxcar of gourmet leftovers-- honeybaked ham, grilled flank steak, a wheel of gouda cheese baked inside a pastry shell, potato casserole, marinated chicken tempura with a selection of four homemade sauces, a wheel of brie buried beneath an avalanche of caramelized brown sugar, two pork tenderloins... they just keep going out to the car and bringing in more food like their Kia Sorrento is an all-wheel-drive cornucopia, right, and here I am, providing a room, shoving an entire pork loin into my mouth and realizing we're out of ice. 

Suddenly self-conscious about my one hundred percent lack of hosting followthrough, and also second-guessing wearing my bathrobe to Christmas dinner, I did the only thing I could do: I focused on Randy's deep-fried turkey project and began a comprehensive paranoid nagging campaign to ensure its eventual failure. 

In my defense, the only other time I've seen Randy deep fry a turkey I was instructed to "eat around" the raw parts. So insisting he leave it inside the stainless steel volcano for an additional thirty minutes seemed like the responsible thing to do. 

Long story short, after dealing with the ramifications of having to extinguish a flaming twenty-four pound bird with a garden hose, we decided to stash the turkey cooker on the side of the house and out of sight because it seemed to be the best way to get the littlest kids to stop crying on Christmas. And it's just stayed there. Every fall we have a load of firewood delivered and stacked right about here, meaning from roughly October to February we can pretend it never happened, that we never burned a turkey so hot and for so long that its black melted carcass cracked a glass-topped table, and that the crime scene isn't still perfectly preserved inside a silver vault hidden behind mesquite and juniper logs.

But then invariably we run out of wood. 

I was outside dumping eggshells into the composter earlier and I almost talked myself into opening the lid on the cooker. How bad could it be, really? Can knowing possibly be any worse than not knowing? 

And then you get closer than you've ever been and your eyes focus for the first time on the two-- TWO-- hastily discarded meat thermometers that were sacrificed to the turkey cooking horror show despite being in perfect working order. "FUCK IT, JUST LEAVE THEM!" someone once screamed through clouds of acrid smoke and a veil of hot tears. 

So yeah, you know what? Knowing might be worse, I think.

Hopefully she likes every single color imaginable.

Three years ago, I promised Chelsea I'd make her a full-size quilt from the pattern and colors of her choice.

She originally picked none of this. None of it. But she happily took the quilt because being pretty agreeable by nature she appears to genuinely like it, and also she knows me well enough to rightfully suspect that if she wants something different she'll be quiltless and shivering till roughly 2017. At which time I'll present her with a blanket made entirely of fuchsia fake satin and denim gingham.  

I'm just going to put that turkey cooker on craigslist, see what happens.

It's that time again!

Obviously we're 100% ready to go. Once we claw whatever that one thing is that continues to cling to thorny life out of the plant bed. And once we convince the mystery clown to come back and ride away on his tiny motorcycle. And to maybe drag the wheel-less wheelbarrow behind him for ten bucks. 

I've made certain strides. I've opened the composter, for one. It may not sound like a big deal, but that composter has been sitting there with its lid sealed shut for like two years-- some people lie awake at night creating grocery lists or diagnosing themselves with dread diseases, I sweat it out wondering what the hell's going to come flying out of this composter. I finally gathered the courage this afternoon after convincing myself that nothing could have possibly survived two Phoenix summers incased in a sealed black box, and I'm happy to report I didn't have any Ark of the Covenant skin melting issues. Just some dust. I think it might have coughed at me. 

We also have a turkey deep fryer we never cleaned out after the Christmas Day Turkey Flame-A-Thon Incident of '09, but I'm willing to bet any fears in that particular instance are valid. I'm not opening it, fuck that, it's a Mrs. Lippman situation at this point, someone else can handle it. Or not handle it, for that matter, as I have no doubt it will continue to handle itself, left as it's been in the sunny side yard for three years to its own quietly bubbling devices.

We're sowing our own seeds again, too, since it worked out so well the last time. I've upped the ante with larger individual (accurately labeled) pots and a germination-inducing heating mat, so now all I have left to do is scowl at the surface dirt and wait. 

Tomatoes, basil, melons, cucumbers, tomatillos, and seven different varieties of peppers for my husband who eats raw habanero peppers on everything but ice cream and who's looking for a challenge. I'm trying to grow a pepper called the Carolina Reaper. It honestly looks like one of Satan's toenails. It's something like a million and a half Scoville Heat Points; it doesn't so much ripen as smolder. I'm also trying scorpion peppers and ghost peppers. I'm hoping they cross-pollinate with the melons and create little volcanic honeydew geodes.