Roughing it

I am not a fan of camping. I do not see living outdoors without modern conveniences to be a fun thing. My idea of roughing it is staying in a hotel without room service. 

So I am not taking well to having plumbing problems. My bathtub didn’t drain well for awhile, I would be in standing water after a shower. My dad noticed it too. We lived with it, complained about it to each other and muttered under our breaths. 

He got fed up and called a plumber from the phone book. Plumber came out, and according to my dad, stuck a crowbar down the drain and called it good. He took his $80 and left. When my dad went to check it out there was some evil looking sludge in the tub. 

Phone calls were made, the plumber came back, looked at the evil sludge and gave my dad an estimate for $1650.00. When I got home my dad was not happy. Neither was I, since I was looking forward to taking a shower. 

The sludge changed to a tub full of murky water. It looked evil and it smelled evil. I described it to my sister as “smelling like a nursing home.” I’m sure there are wonderful, sweet smelling nursing homes with honest, well-trained staff and well cared for patients but I’ve not run into them, that’s another issue for another time. 

I drained the tub using a bucket and plastic cup. It took me several stinky trips to dump these loads way in the back of the yard. All was well, for awhile. Unfortunately we still had to answer Nature’s Call and the tub backed up again. So I got the bucket and cup and started the process. I tried not to think about cholera and other diseases that ran rampant because of bad sanitation. 

 I wiped down the entire bathroom with bleach, which helped.  Then I wondered how people dealt with the smell, especially in summer. As much as I am fascinated by history I am glad, overall, that I live in the 21st century. 

I’ve left the house to go to the bathroom, including going outside at the river. I’ve taken “cat baths.” I just washed my hair in the kitchen sink. But I still have air conditioning and a microwave. It’s the closest I hope to come to camping. 


Thrift score and dead mouse

I had 2 surprises today, one good and one smelly. First the good one then the other one.

This morning I took my car in for a winter checkup and when I got there found 2 sales guys, no techs. They apologized and promised to reschedule me for next Friday. So while on my way home I somehow found myself at a thrift store.

My favorite thrift, they have discounts on tags, and today yellow tags were half off. I’ve been looking for another hoodie for work, a pullover with pockets. I haven’t really found any I like or that are cheap enough. I found cheap but cheap is lightweight and feels rough.

So I  wandered around the store, looking for gloves but nope. Then while looking at sweaters this bright green catches my eye. The name sounds familiar and after a quick Wikipedia search I am convinced this was put here for me. The half off yellow tag confirmed it.

According to Wikipedia,  the Minnesota North Stars hockey team relocated to Dallas in 1993. So this hoodie has probably been in somebody’s closet a long time. I am a fickle Stars fan, I watched them play back in the days we had cable. Mostly I liked the hoodie,  it’s warm, just big enough and it was 2.50. It looks almost new too.


Surprise #2 was a peculiar and familiar smell in the living room. Dead rodent, I recognized it from the years I had hamsters and when they met tragic ends behind the refrigerator. Stuff was scattered on the floor and Porkchop looked smug.

I ignored it as long as I could but finally psyched myself up to move the couch. The smell was the strongest there. I moved furniture, took off the pillows and had a trash can standing nearby. I managed to flip the couch over and looked. Nothing. An old kleenex but no dead animal.  The smell was strong and I poked the bottom of the couch with my foot.  There was a small hole in the fabric but nothing fell out. Apparently the darn mouse used the last of his strength to crawl into my couch and die.

I was partly relieved I didn’t have to deal with the tiny corpse but the smell was getting worse. I had the option of tearing the bottom lining of my couch to look for the dead mouse, and discover who knew what else or flip the couch back and spray a lot of air freshener. I chose option 2 and preserved the couch. That’s my solution, for now.Since there was nothing to see but some old kleenex there’s no picture. 


I’m starting to walk before work. It’s only been a week so I can’t be too smug.

I think I can call myself a runner now, even though I’m only walking. The reason why is I had to drop my pants and pee outside today. Supposedly this is a mark of a “real” or true runner. One of the quirks of the sport is there aren’t always convenient pit stops and you have to improvise. Like today, there were no port-a-potties and I could not hold it til I found a bathroom.  I only hoped nobody saw me.

I saw a cluster of trees, looked around and didn’t see anyone so I very carefully backed into one tree, squatted and did my business. The only possible witnesses were the geese and any people driving over the bridge who happened to look down to see woman bent down in an awkward position.

It wasn’t as gross as I feared; my real fear was being discovered. I got over the gross factor surprisingly quick because, well if you have to go you have to go. It was over in less than a minute and I felt incredible relief after pulling up my pants. Glad I didn’t get arrested and glad my bladder was empty.

I also took a couple of pictures, the geese are very blase about photos. I think they are used to humans and their peculiar behaviors. They probably expect it.


Bedbugs, the ongoing saga

I never thought these little monsters would consume so much of my time, money and blood. However I think I’m near the end of this rotten little experience but afraid to say it because I don’t want to jinx it.

I’ve sprayed the crap out of my couch, the baseboards around the couch, most of the carpet and I’ve put my bedding and jammies in the dryer every morning. I’ve not seen any bedbugs in three days and slept in peace. So far. I sprayed the couch again tonight, because I still don’t want to take any chances.

Then I saw this on TV and felt, I don’t know, empathy. Empathy, vindication, and less shame, and thinking I’m not staying there, if it is ever an option.



This is going to be a fun one. For those who have never had a colonoscopy, be grateful. For those who have, I salute you, but not with a clear liquid.

The process takes 2 days. The day before “the procedure ” I drank 2 liters of Moviprep powder mixed with water. It’s not that bad, tastes like mutated 7Up, with a lemony smell and taste. It doesn’t taste that bad, at first. But after awhile you have to force the crap down, I gagged a little when I tried to chug it at one point. Do not do this.

Since I could not eat, I was on “clear liquids” meaning chicken broth, 7Up, apple juice and popsicles without red or purple food coloring. This was okay, at first but then my body woke up and angrily demanded food, real chewy food. I stayed strong and drank 7Up and low sodium chicken broth between sips of Moviprep. It took nearly 6 hours to finish the first liter of Moviprep.

At the time I made a couple of short jaunts to the bathroom thinking “this isn’t so bad.” Not the urgent runs the nurse warned me about, I figured they said that because maybe some people reacted to it that way. Then after I finished the first liter something happened. Moviprep kicked in hard and I understood the meaning of urgent. I spent most of that night in and out of the bathroom. I managed to drink more Moviprep in between trips.

I made the journey to the hospital this morning, wearing loose fitting clothes. I checked in, my sister talked to the clerk and we waited til they called me back.

I was weighed, not a good way to start out. I produced a urine sample and was led to a room with a paper gown, shower cap and some cute socks. After I changed clothes a nurse started an IV and handed me the TV remote. I learned there’s nothing good on TV during the day, even with cable. She told me the hardest part, drinking the Moviprep, was over.

I was wheeled down the hall to an operating room where they put an oxygen mask on my face and I was knocked out. They told me I went back to the same room and the colonoscopy happened there. I believe them, I was thankfully unaware of any of it. I woke up in recovery.


My Ace bracelet

I was fuzzy headed, my balance was wonky and I was hungry. I remember getting dressed and being loaded into a wheelchair but the memory has a blurry border. My sister told me they said everything was fine and I probably didn’t need to come back for 10 years. I felt okay but was glad she was there to drive. We stopped at Sonic and even though it is Friday, I had a little doggie hotdog, figuring I needed the protein.


I kept the socks.

Bedbugs part 2

I talked to a friend who battled bedbugs and won. She told me the magic formula and the next day I started on my own attack. It was a little costly but not as costly as hiring an exterminator.

I bought a carpet shampooer, shampoo and this. I put the pets outside, explaining this was not about them. Then I sprayed down my couch, nearly soaking it as I chanted “die, die, you little mother$%^&*@.” I figured out the workings of my new shampooer and loaded the water tank with hot water, shampoo and killer bug spray. Killer bug spray is a milky white substance, odorless and fortunately for me, stainless.

I sprayed the baseboards and crevices. I put my bedding and pillows in the dryer on high heat. I shampooed all the carpets, starting in the living room and then the hallways and bedrooms. I moved all the furniture, with the exception of the piano. I wasn’t as concerned about cleaning as I was about sucking out any bugs and soaking death into the carpets. The carpet looked better in some places and I just lightened the stains in others. The whole thing took me 7 hours, not counting a 30 minute lunch break.

The aftermath was satisfying; I slept the whole night. Although I did some damage I hadn’t got them all, this is from the following morning.


The next day and night were the same, I found a couple of survivors but they didn’t last long. I sprayed the next day, mostly under the cushions and inside the couch, still saying “die, die” under my breath. That following morning I was rewarded by two bedbugs frantically crawling on the wall,. the white wall. One thing I can say for them, they are not very bright and I got them too.

It’s been four days and I’ve sprayed 3 times. I’ve put my bedding through the dryer each morning and I feel I’m winning. My friend said to repeat the shampoo treatment in a week, then every week for a month, and to keep spraying. She suggested I give the pets baths too. She warned me I will have to keep treating the house every month and it will be awhile before they are really truly gone. I looked up bedbug remedies online and they range from sales pitches to diatomaceous earth. I admit I put my faith in pesticides rather than stuff like steam.

The only troubling thing is my sister said she saw 2 bedbugs in her room. I sprayed in there but because she was on the bed didn’t do her mattress. She’s doing it now and washed her sheets. I hope that does it. My dad hasn’t seen any he says and I hope it stays that way.


My dad bought a used recliner and installed it in the living room. About two weeks later he tossed it outside. It was infested with bedbugs. Some of those bedbugs decided to move and chose to settle in the couch. My bed.

I can say that anyone whoever says “goodnight, don’t let the bedbugs bite” to me will hear plain Anglo-Saxon words. Until now I didn’t believe bedbugs were a real thing, but I know better now.

My sister gave me a spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol, which I’ve used to fight back every night since.

She took a long drug induced nap on our dad’s bed one night, having taken the meds she was prescribed in the doses prescribed. The pets and I took over her room and TV while she slept and our dad got the couch. The next day he complained the bugs ate him alive. At the time I felt sorry for him, since I hadn’t experienced full onset bedbug. Now not so much.

I spray the couch, my pillows and bedding with liberal doses of alcohol, the fumes are enough to stun almost anybody. Olive does not like it; she growls when she sees me hosing down her couch. She even sleeps on the floor most of the night because of it. I learned they are nocturnal; I rarely see any of the disgusting things during the day. But when I turn off the lamp at night they come out and it is on. They pester me until about dawn, then they go to rest up for another onslaught the following night. I take out as many of them as I can, when I find them. See last night’s bedbug carnage below.   My apologies to anyone with a sensitive nature or queasy stomach.

I tell myself there’s no reason people in the 21st century in the (still) First World should have this problem. I hate them, I hate that I can’t just fall asleep at night. Yet it reminds me that for all our technology, advanced standards of living and basic human arrogance we can be laid low by these little suckers. And I mean suckers, look at the kleenex. When we start thinking we’re above the problems of the past, not stuff like hunger or racism, but sanitation and climate Mother Nature smacks us upside the head, hard. The toxic water in Flint, the snowstorms on the East Coast, and my stinking bedbugs (a crushed one smells like nuts, why I can’t eat nuts now) are examples of how we can still be brought low by the natural world. It’s humbling, frustrating and makes us itch.