It could be worse. Probably.

Hello! I am pleased to report that I am still here, and still cranky. Maybe I am not pleased to be cranky, I guess, but there you have it.

A couple of nights ago, Otto and I had iteration number seven thousand or so of the conversation where he says he misses my writing, and I say that nothing interesting and/or suitable to tell the world about has happened because my life is actually super boring, and he says that’s not true, and I tell him he’s not the boss of me. (Being married to me is a treat, I am sure.) I thought about it and realized I actually have plenty of things to complain about, so maybe Otto was right. But let’s not tell him. We’ve been married for 16 years and have known each other for over twice that long, but I’m trying to keep a little mystery going here. That seems like less work than actually, y’know, being a delightful spouse. (That ship sailed a long time ago. Sorry, Otto!)

And so I present to you, in no particular order, all of the things currently occupying my brain/time and creating varying levels of frustration because life is an incomprehensible slog!

The Trouble With Turnip

As previously reported, there was a bit of confusion surrounding Turnip’s spay status—reminiscent of what we experienced with Goose—and once she was declared spayed, we took that as a sign, and adopted her. Turnip’s hobbies include barking at everything, running up to Goose to play with her and then changing her mind because ACK, SCARY, licking her hindquarters with an uncomfortable amount of enthusiasm, and being extremely pointy. (Someday I’m going to adopt a dog who lets me cut and file their nails without complaint, but it hasn’t happened yet.) She is a strange little critter with a giant personality.

Shortly after the last foster dog departed, Turnip was sitting on me at some point and when I got up, I saw that there was a smear of blood on my jeans. Huh. I inspected Turnip and didn’t find anything. She continued enthusiastically licking herself at every opportunity, and the next time I found a little blood, I concluded that perhaps she’d licked herself a little raw. Her bits did look kind of red and angry. Okay; clearly I just needed to stop her from licking for a couple of days. I broke out the Donut Of Shame (a more humane choice than the Cone Of Shame, I’d argue) and Turnip could no longer be a one-dog porn show.

That should’ve been the end of it, but then I was finding blood on my pants, on our bed, on the floor… and I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from! It was probably only a couple of days before I called the vet in a panic, sure that my dog was dying, and they offered to fit her in that very day if I was okay with dropping her off. I was, and I did. I could not imagine what was wrong with her, but I was very, very worried.

Well, the good news is that she was fine. The bad news was that she was in heat. My spayed dog? Not spayed. (SURPRISE!) Whoops?

I absolutely adore our vet office, and they hastened not only to schedule her for surgery, but also to assure me that they would be doing it at no charge, because it was their error. And thus it came to pass that Turnip spent several days in both a neck donut and diapers, and then one day extremely stoned and confused, and NOW she is really and for true spayed. Phew.

[Sidebar: Turnip had “not just a scar but significant scar tissue” where a spay scar would be, hence the confusion. We’ll never know for sure, but my money is on her having been a backyard breeder dog who ended up with a c-section.]

Save for the surgical day itself, her recovery was swift and unremarkable. On the day I brought her back to have her surgical scar checked, she was declared perfect, and we went home and I removed the wee surgical suit she’d been wearing for 2 weeks (a kinder alternative than the donut).

The next day, I discovered a huge lump on one of her back legs. It was red and angry and—most alarmingly—completely bald. I was certain it hadn’t been there the day before. I poked and prodded it a bit, and she let me, which meant it wasn’t painful, and decided to keep an eye on it. Maybe a bug bite, I reasoned.

I waited a few days—one day it seemed to be going down, but was swollen again the next day—and then I called the vet. Unlike “Hey my dog is bleeding all over my house but I’m not sure from where,” this was not deemed an emergency, and so I had to wait another four days before they could see her. The lump remained unchanged. Back at the vet, they poked and prodded, and gave me a course of prednisone for her. We scheduled a follow-up for two weeks out. She took the prednisone and the swelling went down, some. The redness went away. But there was still definitely a mass of some sort. So back to the vet we went.

Guess who’s having surgery (again) next week! The goal is to make sure it’s not anything Very Bad, and probably it’s not, but also we are not comfortable with an unknown mass just hanging out. Some reading suggests that hair follicle tumors are a thing that happen to dogs sometimes (and they render a spot bald), and they’re almost always benign, but we do need to find out.

Addendum 1: We did go ahead and get insurance on Turnip when we adopted her. Thank goodness. After a lot of research, we opted for Trupanion, largely because they do deductibles per condition rather than per calendar year. (This is my referral link if you’re inclined to check them out. The other reason I picked them is that they essentially allow you to set any payout percentage and deductible to customize your coverage and payments.)

Addendum 2: You may recall that once we decided to adopt Goose, Chickadee bought us an Embark kit and it turned out that our darling dumpster dog is a purebred Shih Tzu. When we decided to adopt Turnip, Mother’s Day was coming up, and Chickie sent us another kit. We apparently have excellent taste, because it turns out that Dumpster Dog Number 2 is ALSO a purebred—Turnip came back as 100% Maltese. I guess I know how to pick ’em. Expensive and obnoxious, but designer!

The Continuing Saga of My Stupid Body

Right at the beginning of the year I had COVID, and as I sloooowwwwwwwly recovered from that and remained exhausted like a malingering Victorian waif, in April I had pancreatitis. Tl;dr: I haven’t really felt healthy/normal since last year, and this is a long time to feel exhausted and gross.

The bonus weirdness to all this fatigue and being generally unwell is that after the pancreatitis, my skin went absolutely berserk. My skin has always been, shall we say, delicate. I am prone to eczema, I bruise easily, I had several periods of rashes/hives as a kid that we never did figure out, etc. In fact, I did an elimination diet however many years ago, now, which led me to conclude I am allergic to wheat (my eczema came roaring back the second I added it back to my diet), and so I have been gluten-free for over a decade in an attempt to control that.

But what happened when I got home from the hospital was… extreme. Now I had eczema, yes, but also dermatographia and hives, OMG SO MANY HIVES ALL THE TIME FOR NO REASON. I was itchy all the time. If I played with the dogs for 5 minutes and any claws came anywhere near me, I looked like I’d been mauled by a bear. I did some research and started taking some histamine-blocking supplements, and found an allergist who knows about mast cell activation disorders, and started what is clearly going to be a looooong journey in getting all of this sorted out.

The good news: Hey, I’m not allergic to wheat, after all! I can’t explain to you why I was clearly reacting to it, before, but I have resumed eating it with no ill effects. I don’t really mind being gluten-free when I’m in charge of my own cooking, but it makes life approximately five billion percent easier to not have a dietary restriction when it comes to dining out, etc. So that’s fabulous, actually.

The less good news: I am now taking (at my doctor’s direction) four different allergy medications at once. I’m not wild about it. And while I am significantly less itchy (good), my skin is still super reactive and I often look like I just got out of a bar fight (bad).

The bad news: At this point (based on allergy testing and bloodwork) we’re proceeding on the assumption that it is indeed MCAS, but there is no one-size-fits-all treatment, and the med the doc says they have the greatest success with for it is something that insurance makes you jump through a lot of hoops to obtain. (See also: “Here, take these four meds at once. When that doesn’t fix it, we can apply for the med that will actually work.”) Also there is the teeniest, tiniest sliver of a chance that it’s something else which is an autoimmune disease, but we’re not thinking about that right now. Lalalala!

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

The happy distraction during all of this is everything that goes into planning a wedding. Because Chickadee and Sunny are evil geniuses, they decided they really want to get married here, in their hometown, while they currently live very far away. That’s no problem because they are sure their mothers would be happy to handle everything for them!

And… we are. Mostly.

My darling daughter gets miffed when I refer to her as Bridezilla, but… if the very specific and nearly impossible to obtain shoe fits, girlfriend… I’m just sayin’. (Ahem.) And to be clear, there is a certain subset of things about which Chickadee cares VERY DEEPLY and has PRECISE OPINIONS on, and then a bunch of things she cares about not at all. So if there is a Thing That Needs Deciding that I bring to her, there is one of two responses: Either 1) whatever I have proposed is Wrong and Bad and How Could I Think That Was a Good Idea, or 2) “I don’t care, ask Sunny.”

I am exaggerating, of course. A little. We are now just about 6 months out from the wedding and have made excellent planning progress. By and large the brides are very appreciative of the legwork being done on their behalf, and things are coming together.

Said wedding will be quite small, and I think I speak for all the parents involved when I say HOLY CRAP weddings are expensive, even when they are small and not terribly fancy. Being the bargain ninja that I am, there are certain places I’ve managed to save big money (I will be riding the high from the deal we got on Chickie’s dress for several years), and other places where saving money is basically not an option (caterers cost what they cost, as do venues, etc.). We have a budget and a spreadsheet, obviously. I’d say the process has been argument-free up to this point.


The girls are having a reception where my kid keeps using the word “rustic.” (When we were looking at venues, she kept asking for wood and exposed brick, and saying this or that place wasn’t rustic enough.) This is confusing, because… we are not rustic. She is not rustic. Neither is Sunny. (I mean, unless “rustic” now means “covered in cat hair,” in which case they’re both very rustic.) Where did this penchant for the rustic vibe come from? NO ONE KNOWS. But… rustic is the goal.

Okay; that’s fine. There will be bare wood farmhouse tables! Mercury glass! Wood flowers! I can make rustic happen.

At some point the girls discovered that a very popular item in rustic celebrations is a tiered cake tower made of raw wood rounds. That is: the platforms are slices of wood with the bark still attached, and the connecting bits between them are branches, and it’s all very—say it with me—rustic! I mean, don’t get me wrong, they’re pretty. They’re also CRAZY EXPENSIVE, as Etsy is full of such creations, and in addition to paying for the item itself (in all its hand-crafted beauty), wood is heavy and the shipping is crazy.

Add to this that there are, of course, some ready-made display pieces on Amazon and such, but SOMEONE (not naming any names) (Bridezilla) has reviewed all of those and rejected them because the tower they get must meet certain very specific criteria and a pre-made option doesn’t appear to exist. Of course.

The brides’ solution to this was “we’ll just spend the money to get what we want.” My solution to this is “are you clinically insane, you will end up spending more on that than we did on your gown.” So I asked them to give me some time to see if I can source what they want at a more reasonable price. I mean, it stands to reason that I could build this thing myself if I can get the appropriate pieces.

First I found a somewhat-local (a couple of towns away) guy selling raw wood rounds super cheap. (Let me pause for a moment here and say: 95% of my aggravation with this process is that the materials for these contraptions are literally scrap wood. But because “raw wood slices” have become a popular wedding decor item, the prices are nuts.) I messaged with him and explained that I needed three rounds of these certain sizes; could he do that? He said sure, and quoted me a very reasonable price, and we arranged for me to drive out and pick up from his place while he was at work the next day. He even messaged me that morning to say he’d left out extras so I could pick the three that would work best. Perfect!

I drove out there (about an hour, round trip) to discover that despite our conversation, this nice man had left me an enormous stack of… wood rounds all exactly the same size. I messaged him, but of course he was at work, and I said I wouldn’t be taking any, please let me know if you can do THESE THREE SPECIFIC SIZES as previously discussed.

He messaged me later, very apologetic, offering to bring the correct rounds to me once they were ready. He understood now, and he would let me know when he had the right ones. A few days later he sent me a picture of a stack of rounds. I had been asking for 10″, 12″ and 14″ at the smallest (larger is fine, but graduated in size like that), and the picture he sent me showed a stack of three where the bottom two were nearly the same size and the top one was significantly smaller. I reiterated for about the fourth time that I am trying to make a cake tower for a wedding, and precision is kind of important; those rounds were not what we’d discussed. He apologized again, said he understood, and that he’d let me know when he had the perfect set.

I never heard from him again. Which: probably a blessing.

Meanwhile, should you wish to purchase these dumb (er, I mean, RUSTIC) raw wood rounds from any retail establishment, you have two choices: You can buy a single round for an exorbitant amount of money, or you can buy a package of 10 all the same size (I guess people use them as chargers and centerpieces?) for a reasonable price per piece, but then you have 10. And because I’m looking for three different sizes, my choices were 1) overpay for three, or 2) buy 30 like a jackass and still overpay. I searched and searched and was beginning to think it was hopeless.

But THEN! The clouds parted, the angels sang, the Google fates smiled upon me! On approximately my fortieth search with a new combination of keywords, I stumbled upon a gorgeous 3-round set for way less than I’d ever seen, and the item description explained that due to the natural nature of these pieces, sizes would vary, but: the dimension ranges MATCHED MY TARGETS.

I ordered a set. A few minutes later, I ordered a second one. Just in case. Free shipping, free returns; surely this would yield what I need.

I was giddy. Then the first set arrived, and the top round is smaller than what the description lists as the smallest possible size for that one. Weird. Well, I had another set coming.

[Sidebar: The sizes aren’t completely arbitrary. The brides will have a small tiered cake plus a bunch of cupcakes. The tiered cake—the visual interest with the cool decoration—will have an 8″ base and sit upon a 10″ cake board. The top round of the tower must be at least 10″ to avoid a cake catastrophe.]

The second set arrived the next day. It, too, had a top round smaller than the smallest possible size according to the description. Soooo… maybe the description is wrong? Or maybe I have very poor luck?

I went back to the item listing to confirm the listed sizes, and noticed that the price had dropped another $5. I am nothing if not persistent, so I ordered two more sets. FINGERS CROSSED. I am going to make this cake tower if it kills me, which it might. But, you know. Rustic or bust, I always say. (I never say that. I am clearly suffering from wood-slice-related delirium.)

Country Living, Woo!

A couple of days ago, Turnip kept running into my office and snuffling around and whining, even though I was at the other end of the house and she’s normally my little shadow. I would retrieve her and go about my business, only to realize a bit later that she was gone again. After about the third round of this, I remembered when Licorice behaved similarly and I realized I needed to do some reconnaissance.

I had recently rearranged in there, placing an additional filing cabinet under part of my desk. Turnip appeared to be trying to get under my desk, but unable to do so because of the furniture arrangement. I heaved a heavy sigh, and went and found a flashlight.

I shined the beam this way and that, under my desk, looking at each nook and cranny. It took me a few minutes, but my persistence paid off: Behind the relocated filing cabinet was a (long forgotten) sticky trap I’d put down the last time we had mice. And… something small was stuck in it.

Being the mature and logical adult I am, I picked up my dog, left the office, closed the door behind us, and started looking for lighter fluid.

I’m kidding! About the lighter fluid. The rest is true. I waited until Monkey returned from work a number of hours later, reasoning that they could ride herd on the dogs while I disposed of our unwelcome guest. I returned to my office with trepidation, and…

… the sticky trap was empty. And no, it didn’t have a limb stuck to it, or anything. I checked.

So on the one hand: Good on you, tiny warrior! Be free!

But on the other: NO THANK YOU.

Monkey spoke to me at great length about humane no-kill traps and how they would even volunteer to be the one to drive any captured mice far from the house, and I listened and nodded and thanked them, and praised their tender heart, and then I ordered a bunch of snap traps because I’m a monster (and mice carry disease and sorry not sorry, I don’t feel bad about killing them). Yesterday I strategically placed those traps throughout my office and the kitchen, and as of this morning, we haven’t caught anything.

Surely it was a single mouse, which ran straight out of the house after its harrowing ordeal, right? Right. That must be it.

(Listen, you can see I have a lot going on. Just let me believe this.)


  1. Debra Cooley

    Wow. Did you ever have some stuff to talk about?! It makes my heart happy to know that Chickadee and Sunny are getting married. ?? I wish them boatloads of happy memories together.

  2. StephLove

    I’m sorry you’ve been feeling unwell so long. It sounds exhausting.

    I had mysterious hives for over six months a couple years ago, around the same time I was diagnosed with diabetes. The allergist never did figure out what I was reacting to– because my tests came back allergic to everything and he didn’t think I really was– and then they just disappeared. I took a prescription antihistamine until I didn’t need it any more.

    Good luck with the wedding plans. It must be nice to have something so joyous on the horizon, despite the aggravations.

  3. Stephanie Ellis

    I love to read your writing, too, even when you think you have nothing to say!

  4. Cloe

    So what was the first glutenous food you ate?

    • Mir

      I make a KILLER focaccia I had never tasted. OMG.

  5. laura

    1. I so miss reading your stories! Finding one on a Friday afternoon after a very long week is such a treat!
    2. I read Trump instead of Turnip and now I cannot unsee (unread) it.
    3. I so hope you catch a break on the health issues. ?

    • Sandy

      Oh my God I read it as “Trump” too!
      Congrats on Chickadee and Sunny’s wedding.
      I hope your health issues are all treatable!

  6. Niki

    I think we talked about it a while back, but I have always been a delicate flower when it comes to skin, having eczema as a kid and then a bit of psoriasis and the associated arthritis. About 5 years ago I started with unexplained hives that popped up every night at about 7:30 like clockwork. Lots of tests, lots of antihistamines and the allergy shots i was already getting, lots of waiting for things to work and maybe a diagnosis. Tests for MCAS and alpha-gal (thank God that was negative – bacon is too important). We ended on chronic idiopathic urticaria and I get a shot for it once a month, and I’m good. We’ve stopped it once to see what happened, and within 2 months they started up again, so every year when I visit, we just keep going.
    Also, you had the chance to use caketastrophe and you didn’t?

    • Mir

      I’m clearly off my game. I apologize.

    • BKC

      Heh, the internet just showed me your set of 3 rustic rounds from Lipper on Amazon. I am not getting married nor do I have any desire for rustic anything, so the ad targeting is wasted, but I only read your post a few hours ago so creepy Amazon was working pretty fast. I hope you get exactly what the happy couple wants!

      • Mir

        !!!! That really IS creepy.

  7. KC

    If (I am not suggesting *that* this will happen, but if) the returnable sets all are not the right size, might I suggest looking on 1. ebay and 2. etsy for sellers of rustic cake stands who are within driving distance? It’d at least knock off the price of shipping…

    Also, yes, it is weird what different people care about with their weddings. And presumably this is the sort of knowledge we assume people will Just Know about us, but quite frankly, no, it isn’t.

    Incidentally, allergies/sensitivities can arrive and then go away again, so odds are good you *had* gluten problems but don’t now. ALSO your body can become more sensitive/inflammation-y/reactionary-to-stimuli-that-should-not-bother-it during or after increased stress, although I Can’t Imagine Why You Might Have Been Stressed, so there is also that. The allergy thing is also often cumulative – some people only get symptoms when they have more than one allergy/sensitivity being annoyed at any given time – so it might be worth trying reducing ambient dust/fragrances and temporarily eliminating foods-you-might-be-sensitive-to and seeing if that makes a decent hivey difference (because if, say, fragrance-free laundry detergent and a lack of Glade plug-ins and going gluten-free again did the trick: probably worth it, esp. if you could eat gluten sometimes and just deal with the later hives).

    Good luck with the mouse and may there be zero problems from that.

    • MandyJ

      Wow! I’m going to spend all day shaking my head that Chickadee is old enough to get married. I started reading this blog when you were a newlywed and your tots were MUCH smaller. The fact that that was 16 years ago makes me feel like a stalker (don’t worry i’m all the way up in Alaska so you are safe!), and also old as hell. I guess since I’m on the back half of forty I should give up the deep-seeded belief that I’m still 30 something. Anyway, congrats to you all!! I’m sure the wedding will be perfect, the brides will be beautiful, and you will all still be speaking to each other afterward. And hey, you will have a lot of really spendy firewood out of the deal.

      I’m with Otto, keep writing! I have kiddos slightly younger than yours, a finicky body, and a houseful of adorable but obnoxious dogs, so I find your posts both relateable and helpful. Well, except for the acting thing a while back… That sounds way too scary for me! Lol

  8. Daisy

    Ah, life continues. My son (remember Amigo?) keeps reminding me that I need to blog more often. Always about him, of course.

    • Mir

      Of course I remember Amigo!!

      One of my kids does ask for blogging about themselves. The other doesn’t read my blog, I’m pretty sure.

  9. Eva

    Appreciate all the updates and glad you are (mostly) okay. And laughed a lot through this post. My lingering question is if you’ve previously posted about what I think may be a pronoun change for Monkey. Very curious about that journey and how they are doing.

    • Mir

      I haven’t really talked about it because it’s not my story to tell, but I did add a modification to the “About” page when they switched. And they have been… so much more themselves/happy since. I am super proud of them for never being afraid to just be exactly who they are.

  10. Liz

    I am all verklempt about the upcoming nuptials.

    So sorry about your ongoing health issues.

    Always super happy to see a post from you.

Things I Might Once Have Said


Quick Retail Therapy

Pin It on Pinterest