Video Wig Review: Colette by Jon Renau in Colors 4-33 and 130-131

I wonder if anyone’s at all interested in older wigs with all the new fall styles that have come out recently…if not, oh well, since I’ve not bought anything since school started.

Collette is a very cute wig even if it isn’t new; it has a strange, zip-zag part which I guess was a “thing” back when this style came out, but you can’t really tell since the hair fiber is a little thick and the zig-zagginess really doesn’t show. But the part is a monofilament one and looks realistic, and overall I think this style is quite convincing as one’s real hair. Colette has been discontinued but it can still be found online; most of the places I found it had it on clearance for about $150. I had her in two colors, obviously, so I’m showing both of them together here.


Ugh, terrible title, sorry. I’ve written so many posts with hair-pun titles, it’s either start to repeat them or just go for awful. I think you can see which route I chose.


And now you can also see that I finally got my hair cut and colored into some sort of STYLE. With the exception of the roughly 4-6 months I enjoyed having a perm, I’ve not had hair I actually liked for almost 5 years now. My initial goal was to keep growing until it was at least mid-way down my back; but as it grew I began to realize that my baby-fine hair was never going to look on me like one of my Angelicas or Brandis, and that going beyond shoulder-length was not the best use of what I’ve got. Then, once I decided to bob it off, I also decided I didn’t need to keep worrying about damaging my hair with a dye job, because it’s short enough that any damaged ends can just get trimmed off without too much trouble. Getting this effect took two tries, though; because the first time the dye didn’t take and the stylist left too much length (not her fault, I originally chose a style that was a bit too long). I went back two days after the initial cut and color and we tried again – and I have been thrilled with the results so far.


Finally I eliminated that awful shoulder-length hair-flip I had going on, and my hair actually looks like a real style. Chopping off a few inches really gave my hair the little bit of bounce it needs (and the dye helps as it makes my hair a little more coarse) and the color, I think, is going to satisfy all my wig-friends who are constantly reminding me that even though my bio hair really is that dark, when I choose wigs that closely match it the effect isn’t the best. In other words, your natural hair color may be dark brown, but natural just doesn’t look that good on you. It was really miss Robin by Noriko that sealed the deal for me – I loved those highlights in the Chocolate Swirl so much that it was the day I got that wig when I decided to color my hair again for certain. Moving on.


I have a few more edited photos to share, but not many – it seems that in the last full week of my summer vacation, I finally decided to get out of the house and venture out into the world, so I’ve spent this week meeting up with friends all over town and even doing a little shopping. This seriously has not happened all summer – for the most part, I’ve stayed up super-late (4 AM at most) and slept in late (getting up around 9:30) then sat around in my pajamas all day catching up on documentaries and editing photos or videos. Seriously. I’ve never done so much nothing for so long in my life, but I guess I really needed that sort of rest, because it hasn’t bothered me at all. Obviously I also filmed a TON of videos and took lots of pictures, but still – both of those things can be done in at least half of my pajamas (I may be wearing a lovely top in my wig vids, but below the waist it’s strictly sweatpants, trust me. And bare feet. With a rock plopped down on the floor between said feet, so I don’t start shifting while I’m talking and turning around to show the wig, which would move me out of focus because my camera has no autofocus. Ah, the glamour of the wig reviewer).


I did film reviews for my new Angelica, Seville, May, and Code Mono, so those will be uploaded soon. And I still have a Stevie by Amore that I got in the mail Monday and have not even taken out of the box – which proves I’ve been busy because usually, I will rip into those boxes as soon as they arrive. I think being happy with my real hair now is part of the reason, too, since I’m less consistently inclined to cover it up right now.

119 E
How short my hair was when I started

My birthday came and went without much fanfare, as usual, except as I pointed out to Lana I’ve been basically buying wigs with abandon all month and claiming “birthday present” with each purchase, as well as putting yet another Fendi Spy bag on layaway. And in case I forgot to mention it, another Stitch Fix came and went without so much as an iPhone photo, because I decided not to keep anything and I didn’t think I’d have enough time to take decent photos before my three-day window to ship them back passed. It was a nice enough fix with only one thing I didn’t like (a mini-dress), but with all the wig-shopping I’ve done this month I decided to just let the whole thing go. I do kind of regret the olive-green lace biker jacket I sent back though; it was really cute.

Modified version of an above photo – not sure why I like this weird edit, but I do

I’ll be honest, I don’t have too much more to add here and am just throwing in words as filler between photos. Thank you for reading.

This was not a leap – just Photoshop levitation trickery

Drag Days of Summer, Part One

My makeup routine for photos has gotten so elaborate that I rarely have time to do a shoot in what I like to call “full drag” (even though I’m not the proper gender to be a drag queen). But I do follow makeup tutorials by drag queens when I have the approximately two hours required to prepare my face, so last Wednesday I saw the opportunity to spend an entire day on photos, as long as I didn’t get distracted by other things and lose time. So, I made myself stick to my commitment, and got up fairly early (by my summer standards, which is about 8 AM – as someone who can easily stay up until 4 AM and sleep until 10, eight o’clock is early for me) Wednesday and set to work.

I’d already picked out the makeup tutorial I wanted to try – there are many queens who’ve made tutorials painting their faces like my RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7 fave, Pearl, but I like this one the best (partly because I love listening to Fendi’s beautiful accent):

Fendi and I also share an inability to cover up our eyebrows all that well; I’d only tried once before to do this and it was a disaster the first time, so this time I made sure to be patient and not rush the process as well as to be more precise. The first time I tried it I was quite sloppy about things, and the end result was a goopy mess. I watched several different tutorials for this, but this is the latest one I watched while i was actually doing it:

As I work on my face, I stop after each big step and go take a picture so I can make sure when I start taking photos that everything looks like I want. I learned the hard way that what looks fine in the mirror does not necessarily look great in front of the camera under the bright lights; the biggest problem is thinking I’ve got enough paint on only to find out after the shoot that my blush didn’t even show, or my eyebrows weren’t on dark enough and disappeared. I’ve gotten MUCH better at using Photoshop to correct makeup mistakes (and it’s true I always end up having to correct at least one thing, usually the nose contouring which I still fail at way more often than I succeed) but it is always better to get things, if not perfect, then at least as right as possible during the shoot so there’s less work to do later.

So, here’s a little collage of the makeup transformation process. These are just goony shots I was taking quickly to test out my makeup steps, and I was also experimenting with lighting while doing this, so you can see that each photo looks quite different lighting and color-wise. But still, it gives you an idea of how much of a big process the makeup is.


In the first, I’ve no makeup on but the eyebrow cover, so yeah. Yay for makeup you guys! So much sun damage, but what can I do – when I was growing up a tan was considered healthy, and I was ALWAYS tan. Moving on.

In the second shot, I think you can see the tape I have stuck to the outside of both my eyes. This is actually another YouTube trick I learned that I use every day; it keep me from extending my shadow too far out and keeps it even on both eyes, as well as making blending a snap because I can just slop that dark color on and I don’t have to worry about blending the edges. I just yank the tape off and bam – a really nice upward slant to the shadow.

The trick with covering the brows for drag is that you’re SUPPOSED to then create a faux crease above your natural crease to make the eyes look unusually large. Turns out this is much easier to do when you have a young face, like Miss Fendi up there in her video. My eyelids have some sag and ‘extra’ skin, so when i drew on my faux crease while holding things up a bit they looked fine, but when I let go, well, they disappeared. I’m OK with it since overall for my first attempt at creating true ‘drag’ eyes I did better than I expected, but I guess next time I’ll have to use some tape or something to yank my eyelids up a little. Maybe one of those instant-facelift bands I’ve seen advertised might work…

I’d never use this IRL but I bet I could really get some freaky effects out of one of those things! I may have to get one.

Overall you can see that my final effect really wasn’t close at all to what Fendi accomplished, and that happens everytime. The tutorial is a guideline for me to transform myself, but I never look much like the queen in the video when I’m done. Ah well, it is what it is. I was pleased with my little attempt to draw on some non-ridiculous looking eyebrows, and the rest of the makeup was fine since I’m used to all the highlighting and contouring by now – although I did overdo it on the highlighting and came out a bit too white in the photos. Also, I’ve gotten much better at applying false lashes, and actually had a full set on here instead of cutting each lash in half as I usually do and just applying it to the outside corner of the eyes, but I found that with all that dark liner on you can hardly even tell they’re there. Now I see why drag queens use 2 full sets of really huge lashes! Not sure I can go there yet myself, though.

I took about 400 shots this day, and have edited a few so far, but I’ll save those for another post. I’ll just leave you with this one, since I almost always find one makeup test shot that I like enough to process:


Mainly I used Photoshop here to better contour my nose, and I enlarged my nostrils for an extra-creepy look. Obviously I also distorted the lens shape so things would look a little off. There are lots of quite lovely photos to come, though, never fear – this is the only freaky-looking one I’ve done so far. You all know I’m generally NOT going to make myself look bad in my photos! But this one needed something kinda spooky, so there it is.

On to the photos soon!

Video Wig Review: Drew by Estetica in Color R6LF29


I am both pleased and pissed about this video. On the plus side, I finally hit upon the right camera settings and white balance to get a fairly clear, accurate representation on camera, and I very much like how this video looks in that regard. The colors could be a little more saturated, but that causes other problems that make the final result a bit too contrasty, so it’s a fair trade. And using a higher ISO helps to eliminate some of the band-y vignetting I was getting at 100. I know, I know, more camera nerd BS, but I guess that’s part of the reason I like doing these videos is working with the visual aspects of it. And I barely know what I’m doing and/or talking about, so I’m also learning new things, which is fun.

Unfortunately, I learned one lesson too late this time: for reasons I don’t yet fully understand, my camera shut off at the twelve minute mark automatically. This has happened once before, but I don’t recall exactly which video it was, which is a bummer because if I could remember when it happened I’d know if this happened as a direct result of the new camera settings I’m using. But I don’t know that, so I’ll have to research it further. Anyway, it’s also possible I rarely film more than 12 minutes at a time so that’s why it hardly ever happens, but I rather doubt that. I mess up a lot, and stop and check an email or two or fix the hair if it’s looking wonky, deal with a dog or cat that’s causing problems, etc. and I never stop filming when I do  that stuff; I just keep the camera rolling and edit all that mess out later.

For whatever reason though, it did switch off again today, which in and of itself isn’t a big deal, except for the fact that I assumed the camera stopped recording when I heard it click, so I walked over to the camera and punched the record button again and went back to filming right where I’d left off. It wasn’t until I was editing the video later that I realized the click I heard was not the recording mechanism stopping; it was the camera going into sleep mode after being non-functional for several minutes – it had actually stopped filming earlier and I didn’t hear it. And where it stopped filming was right as I started showing the sides and back of Drew. Since I didn’t realize at the time of filming that the camera hadn’t caught all of that, when I started recording again I didn’t go back and show the sides and back again, and when I realized I’d missed that I’d already completely dismantled my set and taken my makeup off and well, I just didn’t have time to do all that over. So, long story short – I punted and used some crappy iPhone pics I took of the wig from all angles when I got it in earlier in the week. Sorryboutit.

Anyway, Drew. I think the cap circumference is a little short on me; you can see how Drew wants to slide back on my forehead and you can see a lot of my hairline on the sides – now you know why i don’t like to wear wigs with a hairline that isn’t close in color to my bio hair! I’m always torn about wigs like this. I don’t like it on me, but I don’t think it’s a bad style, so I struggle to straddle that line when I talk about it on camera. In looking at it, it even more so reminds me of Socialite by Gabor; except that I had a bit more freedom with Socialite to cover my forehead than I do with this one. Anyway, here it is – and in spite of the missing footage, please enjoy the improved picture quality I worked so hard to obtain :) .

And by the way, if anyone is interested in this one – I’ve seen it online a few places, and most stores list it at a price of $253. For whatever reason, when I bought it at it was listed at $165. Pretty big difference and I’m not sure how long it will last, so there you go.

Disclaimer: I bought this with my own money and no one asked me to do this review. Opinions are my own. 


Well first, for the not-so-good news:


Wednesday morning my husband took our dog Penny in to the vet for some routine shots and, long story short, as soon as he got her inside the clinic she had a grand mal seizure. She’s never had one before.


Fortunately this happened at the vet’s office, so she was right there to see the whole thing. She’s the one who told Doug it was most likely epilepsy and not something else like a brain tumor, just based on how the seizure affected her. It turns out Penny is within the normal age range for first showing signs of it – between ages 1 and 6 is the norm, and Penny is 5 years old. The vet said that aside from bloodwork nothing else was recommended at this point; we just keep an eye on her to see how often this happens, that is, if it ever happens again. Our vet said there was a possibility she never has one again, or has them so infrequently no medication is needed. Stress is one seizure trigger, and we figure Penny had her first on in the animal clinic is because it always stresses her out to be taken there, or much of anywhere really – she’s always been a high-strung, emotional dog.

Obviously we were both upset about this (especially Doug, since he saw it all), but we have read up on it now and are comforted by the fact that canine epilepsy doesn’t have to ruin a dog’s health or quality of life; if the seizures became that frequent and/or severe we would not want her to suffer, but there are medications dogs can take to help control them. They are just quite serious pills so we don’t want to put her on them if we do not have to. For right now, she is fine and dandy and looking great, as if it never happened. To her mind, I’m sure it never did. It will probably take Doug longer to get over it though. Moving on.


I’m getting bored with editing old photos, but still not ending up with lots of time on weekends for new shoots. So old stuff or no stuff is probably how it will be until school ends in June. The light effects in the shot above came courtesy of Pixlr.


That’s the only other shot I’ve had time to edit this week; everyone is in love with the necklace but I swear that thing was cheap as hell. In fact, I’m pretty sure it both broke and turned my skin green by the time I took it off. But it did photograph well.

In other news, you’ve probably noticed some wig videos popping back onto the site. That’s right, I’m trying out sharing them again. I’ll be uploading from time to time, so if you’re interested in such a thing you can keep an eye on the “wig videos” section.

And now for a RuPaul’s DragRace update: Pearl is still in the competition! And this week she outdid herself, in my opinion. First of all, they had to walk the runway in a he-she outfit, meaning, one side of them was in male drag and the other was in female drag. This sounded super-weird and I thought it would be one of those challenges that fall flat, but in reality everyone looked pretty amazing, or at least interesting. Pearl, though. PEARRRRRRRRL:

Need I say more?

Then Pearl upped her adorable factor by describing herself on the runway as “very fla-say-dah,” which the judges speculated was a combination of blase and la-di-dah.


That’s it for now folks. And in the parting words of RuPaul: If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else? 


Can I get an amen up in here?

Oh, and one last thing, those of you who are on the private blog: I think if you want to receive emails when I upload a post you have to go to the site and click the “follow by email” button. This blog is for friends-only, so if you are someone who can get into it, you know who you are. That’s not to say I wouldn’t ever invite anyone else to it, but I do reserve it for people I feel I know pretty well. Have a fla-say-dah weekend, everyone – I only have three more weekends until summer break!

Changes! Again!

Hello all -moving forward, this will remain my public blog, and I will have another invite-only one for personal posts to share with friends. A lot will still get posted here, but it will focus less on personal stuff and more on photography and reviews of whatever I feel like reviewing. I apologize for all the shifting about, but I think I am going to like this solution. And the other good news is, it was actually quite simple to transfer all the formatting and content of this blog over to maryquantum, so I did not have to do much work on it at all. Everything that is posted here will be there since I’m too lazy to delete the stuff that will be at both places, but moving forward it alone will have the private posts. so, friends who were invited to the private blog before, you’ve been sent an invitation to th


I am on the verge of another 4-day weekend, due to both Monday’s holiday and the Tuesday the students earned off as a result of selling enough raffle tickets (which led to the teachers having Tuesday off, too). For me it’s actually a five-day weekend, since I took Friday off to spend with another friend from work who is in desperate need of a mental health day. We were going to zip out of town but that didn’t work out, so we intend to do some lunch and shopping instead.


I’ve edited a few more plane pics since the  last post, but not many due to time constraints. I seem to be leaning towards a more stylized look to these shots than other plane sets I’ve edited before; not sure why since I usually desire accuracy and detail when working with my airplane photos, but I’m just going with it for now. It could be because with this set I’m seeing the limitations of my cheaper telephoto lens and in an attempt to repair some of the graininess I keep creating this surreal quality anyway so I just keep going with it.


At some point over my long weekend I hope to throw on a bunch of wild makeup and do some portraits, which I haven’t done in awhile. I also haven’t done any leaping or movement shots in forever, but the truth is that I injured my knee back in December (doing nothing, as usual – just stood up one day and it hurt. Yep, I even once injured my tailbone doing nothing and had to have six weeks of treatment to get it re-aligned; a process that is NOT fun, let me tell you) and I still can’t jump or move much at all if it involves bending my right knee (which pretty much everything does). So I’ll have to settle for portraits, if I have time to do anything at all. With work in high gear I’ve seriously slacked off with the photo-taking, but that always happens.

art lock

That’s a close-up of the little lock on one of my Vuitton bags – I love my macro lens! Speaking of Vuittons, my obsession with the bags has slacked off a little, but I’m still acquiring them here or there when a good deal pops up. I have one on the way as I type from Fashionphile, and another one on layaway over there. I also quite accidentally donated one to the school’s silent auction gala – I brought my little refurbished Papillon up to the school just to see if the women organizing the gala thought it might sell for a decent amount, and they immediately whisked it off to take photos and do a write-up for the auction’s program, so yeah, I donated it. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to, but they had taken it and claimed it before I had to a chance to object, and I would have felt like a heel asking for it back after that. It sold for about $300, which isn’t bad considering I paid $180 for it to start with.

Took this one through the car window with my iPhone

In other shopping news, Stitch Fix has really upped their game, and I’ve liked a lot out of the last two fixes they sent me. In fact, the Fix I got for February was so good I kept the entire thing. So I guess even when the shipments get disappointing it’s a good idea to stick with them. The most you’re out is twenty bucks for the styling fee, so why not? I’ve not been doing a lot of clothes shopping lately anyway, so getting a few new things in once a month is a nice way to supplement the wardrobe without leaving the house. And speaking of clothes – I recently had to buy several new pairs of pants because since the last time I bought a bunch of them, which was during the Black Friday online sales, I have dropped another size and none of those fit anymore. I am now a size ZERO – which I haven’t been in probably ten years. I’d been noticing my size 2s being loose on me for a few weeks now, and finally on Monday someone at work said something about my pants being too big, so I knew it was time to bite the bullet and buy some more.

Photo Feb 08, 2 44 33 PM

Sprocket is much better now and seems to have recovered from whatever illness he had about a month ago. And my father-in-law has also managed to stay out of the hospital for almost a month, so that’s good too. And as you can see in the phone pic above, my perm is pretty much done – the curls are still there, but the layers have grown out and new growth has come in flat so the shape is pretty off – and my now-straight hair has finally hit my shoulders. You can see how much the dye has grown out too; I’m surprised by how little gray I’m seeing as my natural color comes in – the gray is there, but not nearly as pronounced as I thought it would be. I still have some layers to grow out,  but they are long enough to at least look decent.

I think that about gets me up to date, so here’s hoping I have more shots to share next time instead of all this rambling.


I have not had much time to edit photos or write blog posts, but I would like to pop in and get some opinions from readers about something that, unfortunately, I am going to be rather vague about here. So, feel free to give me vague opinions if you are so inclined to say anything at all.

Last week I decided to try seeing a counselor about one specific issue that I would like to work on. I’m not going to mention the issue because, well, I don’t want to. So there. Anyway, I made an appointment to speak with a psychologist; this is a new person for me, because my last “real” counselor was quite a distance from where I live and work and I’ve decided I don’t want to make the long drive anymore to work on this. So, this was our first meeting. We met Saturday, she was very nice and even though she was a bit younger than my previous counselors and perhaps has not been in practice as long as they have, she seemed to know what she was doing. So that was all fine.

But. She asked me a load of questions about my past and my childhood and my home life growing up, etc. and made many observations about the dysfunction and even some of the abuse that occurred. It was obvious to me that in moving forward she intends to work on these past issues and integrate them, somehow, into this current situation I want to improve. There were also times when I was talking about things going on in my life currently and she “corrected’ me in a way – or rather, she pointed out ways in which I was behaving or thinking that she clearly felt were not the most productive or even – I don’t know – strong? I was left with the feeling that she sees some real flaws with the way I conduct myself around others, ways in which I have major defenses up and at the same time might be really passive in a manner that, according to her at least, does not serve me well.

I left feeling pretty down and in a fog, as if my life choices had been judged and found wanting. I don’t mean that she was negative or rude, but I did get the impression that she perceived my life as having serious problems, when really I just wanted to focus on one thing. For example, she kept repeating these little mantras to me while we talked, one of which was “we teach people how to treat us,” and I mean, yeah, I know that already, you know? And also, is there some way people are treating me that is so bad I should be concerned? Because I really didn’t think that until I walked out her door after our session. Ever since then I’ve felt out of sorts and bothered, questioning my relationships and interactions with others as if seeing them through this woman’s eyes – wow, am I really being mistreated by others because I haven’t “taught” them how to treat me properly?

I’ve done counseling many times in my life, which I know I’ve mentioned here before, but I can honestly say I’ve never felt flat-out depressed after leaving a session, and certainly not my first one with somebody (I’ve had two others). I’ve always left feeling better about my situation after talking about things. But I left this time feeling like shit, quite honestly. Of course, at the same time, all the literature says things usually get worse before they get better when someone enters counseling, so just because I’ve never experienced this before doesn’t mean I won’t go through that this time. Perhaps my low mood is just that idea put into action? Maybe I’m supposed to feel this way, and question my relationships in this manner?

Also, counseling is expensive, quite honestly, and this woman wants to see me once a week at $115 a pop (she doesn’t take insurance, which is more and more common nowadays than it was when I first started going back in the 90’s). I mean, dang, that’s a lot of scratch each month just to feel crappier than I did before I started. I did make two appointments with two different therapists, with the idea that if I liked the first one I’d cancel the other, and the other one isn’t until this coming Monday – maybe I should hold off on going back to this woman and see how the other one does? Or maybe I should just blow the whole counseling thing off and go buy some books and work through the issue myself. As I’ve said many times in relation to my recent depression, I’ve talked about my childhood and my dysfunctional family in counselors’ offices enough over the years, and part of me does think that if all that talking was going to work it would have done so already, and at this age I am truly not interesting in dredging it all up again.

But here’s where I’m asking you for your opinion (and I realize this may be too difficult to answer without knowing my specific issue, but I’m going to try anyway): is the only way to fix a current problem digging back into the past and opening up old wounds? I know there are counseling philosophies that would say no, and that’s more of what I was hoping to find this time. But what do you think? And also, if you went to a counselor for an initial consultation and left feeling as depressed and “wrong” as I felt when I met with this woman, would you say that’s a sign the person isn’t the right counselor for me, or is she the right one and she just managed to hone in on some real problems I really need to fix?

I realize those are huge questions I’m asking you without much information for you to go on, but please weigh in if you can. I know some of you can’t ever get your comments to post here so feel free to email or message me wherever we keep in touch. Thanks!

Sprocket Drama

Many people have asked about Sprocket, and while he is feeling better and no longer running a fever, we still do not know what is, or was, wrong with him. All of the tests the specialist originally ran have come back negative, so all former conjectures as to the problem are off. He’s had no fever for days, but is still moving about a little tenderly so we are continuing him on pain medication for now.

I am inserting photos of current and former pets into this post, so you’ll have to excuse the picture quality, because most of these were taken before I knew (or cared to know) anything about photography. But first, Sprocket:


At our last trip to the dog neurologist, she pressed on his joints and said he no longer appeared to be in pain anywhere but around his tailbone, so I don’t know what to do with that. Last time she was sure he had this virus that causes all-over inflammation in the joints but the test was negative. She ran more bloodwork (third time  since this started) then told us Sprocket needs to see another specialist at the center, because now they’re thinking it’s a bone marrow infection. Oooookay. We called our regular vet out of frustration over all this, and he encouraged us to go ahead and meet with the next specialist, see what he has to say, then stop looking for answers if whatever that one recommends doesn’t work. Once we reach that point, he says we should just keep an eye on him, monitor his pain level, help him be comfortable, and hope whatever it is passes. The positive thing is that other than some random pain that seems to be moving around, he is behaving as he always has; he is bright-eyed and friendly, and eating a ridiculous amount of food. So, no one is concerned he’s going to die anytime soon- except Doug and I of course. But so far no one is seeing anything to cause alarm in that regard, and he’s certainly had every test known to man by now, including x-rays and ultrasounds. So we’re trying to reassure ourselves and stay calm.

Ramone – after he died we adopted Simon

In fact, the two of us got to talking last night, and we realized that throughout our pet-owning years this very thing has happened more often than going to a vet, taking tests, and getting definitive answers. This is the third mystery illness Sprocket has had alone. We had one cat, Yoshimi, who only lived five years and was constantly sick – every test in the world was administered and no cause ever found. We are coming to accept that we are unusual pet owners in two ways: 1) we take our pets in at the first sign something is amiss, while most people wait longer. While this is probably what saved Sprocket’s life when he had distemper as a pup, for the most part it only costs us money and creates confusion, because it’s simply too early in the game to know what’s going on; and 2) we push things farther than most people, and continue to look for an answer long after others would have stopped. In short, we simply are expecting much more from these veterinarians than they are able to provide; probably because we think of our pets as our children and expect them to be treated as such when they are sick. But the service providers just don’t have the capability – not even the so-called specialists. Moving on.

Pets 001
Penny with Bickley; he got cancer and had to be put down. Sprocket came next.

I must tell you about out latest billing experience though, because it’s another winner. Doug had noticed that in the past the receptionist waited to ring us up until after we had out dog back in our possession, which led to distraction and getting overcharged. So, when the person checking us out this time said we needed to wait until we got our dog to pay, we insisted that they “ring us up” first. What that consists of here is the front desk person looking at the computer, typing in a name, and reading off a total to the customer. What was recited to us was $1482 and some change, then a hand was outstretched to take our debit card. Instead of paying, Doug asked for a printed statement, and when we got it, we saw we’d been charged for the ultrasound they performed on Sprocket twice, so we asked that one of them be removed. At this point the receptionist was very confused, as if she’d never had to do this before, so she called back to the administrative offices for assistance. As soon as she said our last name, there was all sorts of commotion on the other end of that phone – remember, we’ve raised a ruckus over charges here before, to the point of calling the owner of the company (who laughed at us and dared us to call the BBB).

Yoshimi, our sickly kitty.

Long story short? At the end of that frantic phone conversation we received a new bill – for FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS. That’s right – a few simple questions for clarification of our charges resulting in them lopping almost a thousand dollars off our bill. Now, I’m sorry people, but whether or not vets can make a decent living, this is not the way to get around it. To routinely overcharge by that amount is pure scumbaggery, even if it’s not illegal (according to the owner). After we left, we were so pissed we did not keep the original printout with the $1500 total so we could show the comparison to our vet, or to anyone who doesn’t want to believe that this place is as bad as we say it is. But we forgot to get it back from them before we left.

My beloved first pet, Wiley – little rat terrier found in a ditch when he was a pup. He held on to age 17 and I was heartbroken when we finally had to put him down.

We are going to go back to this clinic one more time, to see whatever specialist can determine if there’s a problem with his bone marrow. But then we are good and done – at least with this place. And I seriously doubt they will try to overcharge us this time. If nothing else, it’s clear they know our name and don’t want to even deal with us anymore, so most likely they’ll suck it up and charge one of their customers fairly!

And last but not least, let’s not forget:

simon red


Lots has gone in the past week, and even though I’m in the midst of a four-day weekend, it hasn’t been very relaxing. But, I’ll update you anyway, and throw in a bunch of random pictures I’ve managed to edit over this crazy week. Haven’t had time for any new photos, but I did take a ton over Christmas break (and as you can see I still have a ton to edit from my airshow set back in November) so let’s get to it.


Sprocket started behaving strangely Wednesday afternoon; he was moving about gingerly, especially when going to sit or lie down. Sometimes he leaps about too much and temporarily pops a knee out of joint, but it manages to pop back in quickly (gross I know) so at first that’s all we thought was going on and he’d be back to his usual sprightly self in no time. But by Thursday Doug was growing concerned, and he texted me to say he was taking the dog in to vet that afternoon. Turned out Sprocket’s temperature was quite high (106) and he appeared to be in pain around the spine. The vet recommended we bring the dog back in Friday morning for some tests that he would send to a specialist for analysis, and based on that we would decide what to do next.


I’ll keep the details brief because it all became a blur anyway, but it was late Friday afternoon before the specialist called us back and recommended we take Sprocket in for the night to be monitored and have more tests run. We rushed him up there around 5 PM, and after spending some time with the dog, the specialist (a veterinary neurologist) said she believed he had an infection that had manifested itself in his joints, and that he was basically in pain all over. Poor thing! She thought there was a slight chance of Lyme disease and tested for that too, but we don’t have the results yet and are fairly certain that’s not what he has (he’s never outside long enough to get anything like that). Anyway, the upshot of all this was that whatever he had was treatable, and he was not in any danger of dying, which of course was our concern. Sprocket stayed with the vet overnight and was back in our care by Saturday morning, but he was on a fair amount of pills, some of which made him goofy. By Sunday he was more bright-eyed, and his temperature has stayed down, but he still requires a lot of attention and care, and he’s taken up a lot of our time this weekend.

angel wing

Without getting too much into it, though, I have to discuss this specialists’ clinic where we took the dog Thursday. I’ve dealt with them  before – they are the ones that nursed Sprocket through his distemper, as well as taking one cat there when she fell ill to be put down, and a few other specialty treatments over the years, one for a dog who had cancer, and another for Sprocket when we were concerned about his knee problems and thought he might need surgery (we decided against it because the specialist and our vet could not agree on a diagnosis about why he kept limping). Every time I’ve dealt with this place, I’ve come away from it feeling like I got mistreated and overcharged; they are terrible at communication to an extent that it feels it must be intentional, and I always get the feeling I’m being scammed and/or given a runaround. In fact, every time I do deal with them I end up swearing to never go there again, but there’s a catch: they have a load of specialists in their facility and they are basically the only game in town for specialist treatment for our pets (with the exception of driving over an hour through heavy traffic to another specialist clinic across town). Since they didn’t even bother to call us back until late Friday, we really didn’t have a choice but to use them – something I suspect was intentional. They basically called us at 4:30 and said they could take Sprocket, as long as we got him there by 5 PM. So, what were we going to do? We had to take the chance.


And, they were still shady. We knew enough to demand proper service from the beginning, and at least we got that although we had to sit around for about two hours to make it happen (the people in charge at this place are very good at never being available to sit down and talk to you – they prefer you talk to a lab assistant who takes notes and then delivers those to the vet, whom you only speak to briefly). We finally got to speak directly to the vet, who at least appeared intelligent and confident, but when we starting asking pointed questions about how many times we could expect to get an update on our dog and when exactly she would have an answer regarding a pick-up time for Sprocket the next day, she got visibly nervous. You could tell she wasn’t used to people doing anything other than bringing in a pet and leaving it in the hands of what they believed to be trustworthy veterinarians. But we were very clear that we hadn’t always gotten good service from the place, and wanted to be sure we got it this time. We did get good service, in fact, and our dog got a lot of attention – but that is only because we demanded it.

Now for the really shady part: after talking to us for awhile, the neurologist sent in her assistant to show us the estimate for Sprocket’s stay. We were given a “high” and a “low” estimate, then told we would be paying the “middle” between these two costs that day, before they’d done any work on Sprocket at all, and before we even knew whether or not they’d be able to help him. Out of curiosity, we asked the assistant what the clinic would do if we refused to pay upfront and said we wanted to pay after services were rendered, and of course she didn’t really want to respond with the answer, which was clearly yes. Now to me, demanding payment upfront when your clientele is pet owners who are, in many cases, beside themselves with worry over the health of their pet, is bad enough; to refuse to treat a sick animal because it’s owners won’t (or can’t) allow themselves to be forced into paying in advance is unethical as hell. Our “middle” estimate was three thousand dollars, which after much arguing and grumbling we paid; I get how people do not want to haggle like this when it comes to their pet’s life, but at the same time, this practice seems vile to me, and well, someone has to point it out to them rather than just doing whatever they say.

Also, on our estimate, not one line item was an even dollar amount, yet when we got our “adjustment” on Saturday before paying the bill, we were told that our refund amount was four hundred dollars even. We pointed out that was odd, given that none of the charges on our estimate were an even number, and asked to see exactly what it was that they removed from it. Not surprisingly, no one was able to explain what they’d taken off, and then, as we were still haggling with them over this, another guy came to get his pet out of the clinic, and they adjusted his bill as well – by four hundred dollars. So, I’m guessing they just overcharge everyone who walks through the door, then refund them four hundred bucks and hope no one questions it. Well, question it we did, but we were never able to get anything straight and were given a phone number to the manager of the clinic, who of course was not available on weekends. We are definitely going to be calling that person, and deciding what to do next with what we experienced. It isn’t right to fleece people who are trying to be responsible pet owners and take emergency care of them, and even though the treatment these animals receive is, in the end, successful, that simply doesn’t justify behaving kinda like scumbags when it comes to the cost.

On top of all that, I’ve injured my knee again doing nothing much whatsoever, so I had to go to the doctor for that (also Wednesday) and then had a mix-up over what medication the doc was to call in for me. First he called in the one anti-inflammatory med that makes me sick, so I had to call him again to get him to prescribe a new one, and that took me two days to straighten out; when I went to pick up the second prescription, I had once again received the wrong one (!), so I spent two more days trying to get that changed again. And, this is my second round of anti-inflammatories overall  and so far nothing is making much difference, so I’ll probably end up at an orthopedic specialist getting MRIs or x-rays at the end of all this. Sheesh! What a week.

Monday I go see another doctor, then run errands. Then, it’s back to work for another week. There’s been drama there as well, but at least it’s not directly related to me this time. Perhaps I can talk about it at some point, but for now I’m staying mum. Let’s see how things go this week!