Archive for August, 2008




1:52 pm · category: Aunt Doodie, Dog Days

Sometimes I help out at Aunt Doodie’s grooming shop. Since I’m not a groomer, the only thing I can do is bathe dogs.

But bathing dogs entails far more than you might think. For instance, every single dog has to have its anal gland expressed. You do this by grasping the tail and pulling slightly upward with one hand, then squeezing the gland behind the anus with the thumb and forefinger of the other hand.

It is exactly as disgusting as it sounds. Anal gland fluid is just like poop: it comes in all colors and degrees of viscosity and amounts. And the smell. Oh God, the smell.

After they’re bathed, most dogs are put under industrial dryers and/or fans to speed along the drying process. But some dogs — especially those with curly hair like poodles and Bichons — have to be hand dried. This is called fluffing. It’s tedious and time consuming, and the dogs usually hate it because they have what amounts to a giant blow dryer with a special nozzle aimed right at their faces.

So when I tell you I spent my day as a fluffer and digitally stimulated multiple anuses, I don’t want there to be any ambiguity.



Random Bits

8:14 pm · category: Body of Mine, Yogi Me at Yoga You
  • Congratulations to Angela, aka. Podgy, who won the healing bracelet contest!  There will be a new contest at some point next month.
  • I am both disappointed and thrilled that the Olympics will be over in a few hours.  I’m disappointed because the Games gave me something entertaining to watch during the usual barren TV landscape that is late summer.  But I’m also thrilled because I’m tired of crying three to four times a night.  It’s never those athlete spotlights with a come-from-behind story designed to make me choke up that do it, either.  It’s always something silly like the roar of the crowd as the first marathoner enters the stadium.
  • I think I might have had my first migraine ever yesterday.  Wow, that really sucked.  I hope it never happens again.
  • One of my friends had both an upper and lower GI this week, which he shared in great detail in an hilarious email.  This was my favorite part: “…I don’t remember him [the doctor] saying anything except ‘Laura, we need to remove that for biopsy.’  I could see what it was on screen.  It looked like a balloon ready for takeoff, all someone had to due was remove the ropes and drop some ballast.  Hell, that may be where Stephen Fawcett disappeared to.”  Man, that made me laugh really hard.
  • I am the only person in my yoga class who can stand on her head.  What my classmates don’t know is that I can always stand on my head.  I have a bad habit of showing how drunk I’m not by standing on my head.  The problem is that I might not be able to walk or stand on my feet, but I can still stand on my head.  If I’m ever imbibing in your presence and offer to stand on my head, take the bottle away from me and put me to bed.

Okay, that’s all.  I hope the drummer guys come back for the Closing Ceremonies.  They were freakin’ awesome!



My Cousin Rachel

My Cousin Rachel is the title of a really famous book by Daphne De Maurier.  This novel was on one of the many bookshelves in my parents’ house when I was growing up.  I never read it, but it always stuck out because I have a cousin named Rachel.  And like the novel, my cousin Rachel’s story is about Italy and love and death and tragedy.  (But not murder, so keep your pants on.)

My Cousin Rachel grew up in Bald Knob, Arkansas, just like me and the rest of my kith and kin.  She is the second of four children, and if anyone in my family could be considered normal, it’s this girl.  But then again, she has a certain flair and is very headstrong.  She home schooled her senior year of high school at a time when not many people were doing that in Arkansas, because she’s a little bit of a rebel — whether she’ll admit it or not.

My Cousin Rachel fell in love with and married a hometown boy named Brandon, who was (by then) in the Army, when she was 18.  They produced a beautiful daughter named Sydney.  This new family from a podunk Arkansas town soon found itself living in Italy, where Brandon was stationed.

My Cousin Rachel was a young wife and mother when her husband had a terrible car accident in Italy that left him virtually incapacitated.  Some of Brandon’s injuries were so horrific that the nurses couldn’t stomach tending to him.  So this stranger in a strange land changed the dressings on her husband’s wounds when medical professionals wretched behind closed doors.

My Cousin Rachel moved back to the States after Brandon’s medical discharge.  I guess that’s how it goes: one day she was living in a cosmopolitan European city among the ruins of an ancient civilization, and the next she was back in Bald Knob, America, meth capital of these United States.  But she isn’t one to complain, and she made a life for her disabled husband and young daughter.  Soon she was pregnant with her second child.

My Cousin Rachel held it together when the police officer showed up at her door late one night to tell her Brandon had been involved in another terrible car accident.  This time, however, he had not survived.

My Cousin Rachel was a widow barely in her second decade of life with a toddler and another one on the way when her husband ceased to be.

My Cousin Rachel birthed her second daughter, Taylor, five months after she buried her husband.  She worked her ass off.  She ate and slept and went to church and reared her children and laughed and smiled and made hilarious comments and never ever ever one single time expressed anything resembling self pity.

My Cousin Rachel kept her shit together, and I will never understand how.

My Cousin Rachel met a man at a church gathering, and they married a few years ago.  Jeremy is a strong, handsome, hard working man who adores her and her daughters.  She has since birthed another child, a son named Jacob.  They live outside of a small town, surrounded by flora and fauna and a million pets and other assorted wildlife.  Her children are polite and well mannered and intelligent, just like their mama.

My Cousin Rachel skims this blog on occasion, so I know she’ll eventually read this.  And then I’ll know that she knows that I think she’s amazing.

My Cousin Rachel doesn’t know this, but I admire her more than any other person I know in real life.  I could never say that to her in person.  It would be awkward for us both, because we were reared in a family predicated on pretense and denial.  We’d probably end up avoiding eye contact and making weak jokes, and then we’d spend the next four years pretending like we didn’t know each other at family functions.

My Cousin Rachel is an incredible woman.  I hope she knows that, even if I never have the courage to say it to her aloud.



I Don’t Study the Homework. The Homework Studies Me.

9:57 pm · category: Body of Mine

Some of you may have figured out that I’m taking a medical transcription course.  (Because what I really need is another degree.  [insert eye roll here])   But I gave this a lot of thought and did more than a month of research — which is more consideration than I gave seminary for damn sure.)  I figured this would allow me to work from home and  — more or less –  be my own boss, since I keep getting burned big time in the outside professional world.  And it’s comforting to know I can always go back to teaching or hotel management if I need to, but I really don’t want to.

Thus far the MT course work has been almost ridiculously easy.  I just finished the module on medical roots, prefixes and suffixes, and I sort of kicked ass.  I had a great high school biology teacher, so I already knew about 90% of the terms.

But some of the roots/prefixes/suffixes were completely foreign to me.  For instance, now I know that “algia” means “pain,” which explains the condition “fibromyalgia.”  And “infra” means “below or beneath,” so I will finally remember that infrared light is below red — that is, the longest wavelength of color of visible light.  And then there’s “brady,” which means “slow or retarded.”  So you can imagine how it went when I was quizzing myself aloud over the new terms:

“‘Malacia’ is ‘softening.’”

“‘Penia’ is ‘deficiency.’”

“‘Brady’ is ‘retarded.’”

“‘Rrhexis’ is — Wait.  WTF?  Retarded?”

So suck on that, Tropic Thunder controversy.  My homework called me a retard.



Family Jewels

Aunt Doodie tells me that her dogs burrow under the covers each night and sleep nestled in her nether region.

“They do that because your crotch is the warmest part of your body,” I explain.  “If you’re ever in an avalanche or at risk for hypothermia, you’re supposed to buddy up and bury your head in each other’s crotches, sixty-nine style, because you lose the most heat through your head.”

“How do you know that?” she asks, the edge of suspicion clear in her voice.

“I learned it in the Army.”

“You weren’t in the Army,” Aunt Doodie notes.

“Okay, so I learned it in an Army movie.  Or maybe in Girl Scouts.  Anyway, that’s what you’re supposed to do.”

Aunt Doodie considers this.  “If I’m ever in an avalanche, I’m going to buddy up with Gene Simmons,” she declares.

“This conversation is over,” I reply, horrified.

The best part was when Aunt Doodie retold the story the following day and accidentally said she was going to buddy up with Richard Simmons.



Top 100

  • Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
  • Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
  • Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
  • Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (muscadine, strawberry)
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

via Violet



Healing: Body, Mind, and Spirit

3:05 am · category: Body of Mine, Contest

If you’re following it at all, I’ve posted my 5K Ass Project results for Week 3 in the August 2000 archives.  Things are a little womlu this week, and I got a bit long-winded in the most recent post.  But I noted a couple of important discoveries that I felt compelled to share on the very off-chance that someone else had struggled with the same issues.  (Anyone else out there who is 4’11″ and thought she should weigh 100 pounds?  If the answer is yes, you should probably go to the Archives.)

Although I didn’t mention it there, part of my increasing acceptance of the way my body should be is thanks to my almost-constant viewing of the Olympics.  I know that sounds crazy and might lead you to think that I’m aiming for something ridiculous like a 2% BMI, but that’s not the case.  In point of fact, I’ve come to accept that I have significant muscle mass and that is not a bad thing.  I’m never going to look like any of the athletes you see in the Games, and I don’t really want to.  But watching the Games has reminded me that terms like “athletic” and “fit” do not necessarily mean “rail thin.”

I’ve found myself especially admiring the female athletes’ physiques and marveling at their sculpted muscles far more than I do their male counterparts.  (Except for the male swimmers.  Is there anything more scrumptious than a swimmer’s body?)  This is ironic because my yoga instructor has mentioned several times over the past few weeks that many women who do yoga intentionally don’t focus on the poses that require upper-body strength in particular because they think that muscle definition in their arms is “unfeminine.”  This seems like crazy talk to me, because upper-body strength means that you’re, well, strong.  I’ve always been strong relative to my height, thanks to some incredible genetics from my maternal grandmother.  My lower- and upper-body strength, in particular, are very good.  I need to focus more on my abdominal strength, which sucks.  And although I love my yoga classes, I also need to concentrate on doing more cardio — despite the fact that I hate it.  But Aunt Doodie has committed to walking with me every day, so I hope that I’ll make some progress in those areas soon.


As promised, there’s a new contest for August.  This month I’m giving away one of mouse‘s (Laurie’s) healing stone bracelets.  The winner can choose one item from mouse’s selection of said bracelets at her Etsy store, which features her LollyBeads creations.  (I purchased a set of her hairsticks for one of my sisters as a birthday gift, and said sibling loves them; her melodramatic, all-about-the-pretending three-year-old daughter loves them even more.)

To qualify for the contest you don’t have to do anything except comment below. The contest closes at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, August 23. The winner, which will be selected using a random number generator, will receive the aforementioned healing stone bracelet of his/her choice from the linked page at mouse’s LollyBeads Etsy site. Everyone who comments is eligible to win, including people I know in real life.



You’re Worth A Lot To Me…

8:06 pm · category: Embracing My Inner Geek

… so I’m sharing this. In an effort to atone for my admission that I prefer Star Trek to Star Wars, I offer this:




New Rules

  • If you’re a tweeker and have meth mouth, you are not allowed to sport a tongue ring.  There is no defensible reason to draw further attention to your terrible teeth.
  • If you write a medical transcription training program and insist that the two most important elements for success are speedy typing and strong grammar skills, make sure that your materials are grammatically correct.  This is especially important to those of us who actually know proper capitalization and punctuation, because we “auto edit” as we read/type and have to go back to type text as (incorrectly) shown on screen, thus dramatically lowering our WPM average.  (FYI:  You can’t put a comma just anywhere.  There’s a whole separate set of rules for that.  See The Elements of Style for further details.)
  • If you drop off your dog at Aunt Doodie’s shop for grooming and we ask what time you will pick up your pet, do not respond with, “I’m a school teacher.”  Mr. Whiteaker does not say, “I’m a judge.”  Paula Jones does not say, “I was once a celebrity boxer.”*  “I’m a school teacher” does not register on any clock we have in the shop.  “The last bell rings at 3:15, so I’ll be here right after that” will do just fine.  Besides, when you say, “I’m a school teacher,” I will smile sweetly and respond with, “I’m a dog bather.”  I will not mention that I have more degrees than a pot of boiling water and likely blew your smug ass out of the Milky Way on the NTE.  Aunt Doodie will not mention that she nets twice more than you do annually and works five hours a day.  Our parents (Who were school teachers!) reared us right.
  • If you are Nathan Fillion, David Foster Wallace, or Scarlett Johannson, make plans to ravish me immediately.  Advance notice is preferred but not required.  (I’d like to shave and put some sheets not covered in pet hair on the bed first.)
  • If you are responsible for the Burger King website, be ashamed.  That place is completely unnavigable.
  • If you are responsible for the Burger King commercials featuring the freaky, mute mascot with the ginormous head, email me and plan for a trip to the bank.  I will send you my home address, and you can send me a check for the therapy I’ve needed because of those horrifying ads.

*Paula Jones is tiny and sweet and has the most adorable accent on the planet.  And if you mess with her, I will kick your ass.  Since, um, she proved in her boxing match that she couldn’t kick your ass herself.



An Apology

2:07 pm · category: Dog Days

My black friends have often told me that white people smell like wet dogs when they come out of the rain.*

After four months of bathing dogs, I feel I have to say this:

Black people, I am SO sorry.

*I am not making this up.  There’s even a book that touches on it.