Too Cool for Pool

Well, folks, we’re almost there:


Pardon the canopy swing sitting awkwardly next to the house, and the pool floats piled on a chair. We’re still getting things tidied up a bit, and we have some more work to do on our new covered patio (staining, mostly) but for the most part, things are done. It’s gotten a touch too cool to swim regularly, but I do fire up the spa every evening and sit in it for at about an hour.


All in all, we started this project right around August 1st, and finally got the grass replaced (which is what finally made things feel ‘done’) the first week of November. It took WAY longer than I thought it would to get from start to finish, but I must say it has been worth it.

Photo Aug 18, 7 29 13 PM

A lot of people have seen photos and commented on the relative lack of landscaping we now have in the backyard; we took out all the beds that run along the back fence and just left a single small one in the far right corner, so we could keep out bottlebrush tree that the hummingbirds love so much. I guess it does look a little bare back there now, but we needed to create enough space for our dogs to roam around in and do their business, lest they end up having too small space that was too close to the pool for them to relieve themselves. See, when I put it that way, it doesn’t seem like a bad idea at all to keep things sparse in the backyard.


Besides, I rather like the lack of foliage back there; our yard was a decent size before the pool, but not huge, and it definitely felt a little cramped once the pool was put in and before those overgrown beds were taken out. We had one sago palm that we really liked back there that we did save and move to the flowerbed we kept that’s up against the house, but aside from that and the bottlebrush tree in the corner we yanked the rest of it out. There are plants added to that corner bed that will eventually fill out and eliminate some of the sparse feeling, but overall I like the changes.


This new pergola was built for us last week; it still needs to be stained and will be much darker, and we’re having a gutter company come out to move that drainpipe over to the end of the garage. We’ve also ordered some lovely new furniture that should be in by the end of the week, and believe it or not my husband wants to get an outdoor flat-screen television to hang on the garage wall – but I kinda doubt that will happen. I believe those things are ridiculously expensive.


So, to sum up:


We are finally, basically done! Who’s coming over?



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