my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?


What A Great Valentine's Day Present!

Here at ThinkGeek, we truly understand you have needs. You need to be entertained, you don't want your neurons to prematurely atrophy. You crave stimulation. You crave a Carnivorous Desktop Plant Set. Perfect for the casual office worker who delights in watching insects slowly meet their makers as they are painfully digested by an engaging variety of meat-sucking flora. Nothing quite like it.
Each Complete Kit Includes:
Growing Dome
Planting Mixture
Carnivorous Seed Pack:
Venus Fly Trap
Yellow Trumpet
Hooded Pitcher Plant
Purple Pitcher Plant
Pale Trumpet
Temperate Sundew Plants
Cobra Lillies
3 Photo Decals
3 Bog Buddies
Swamp Rocks
Instructions and Information Manual
Your Carnivorous Plant Set will take several weeks to get started. But have patience friends, the blood-curdling plant-on-insect action will be worth the wait! We guarantee it or pay us double
I am joking. JOKING! I do not really want one of these. But I can seen how someone might. Available at (who provided the scintillating ad copy).


War & Peace

Jim has been reading Tolstoy's War & Peace since he received it as a birthday gift in November from his son's girlfriend.

He has read a chapter or two almost every night since (the book must be four inches thick) and then he comes downstairs and gives me the Cliff Note version of that night's reading, and we discuss it.
So, without all the work, I've been lucky enough to get a grasp of Tolstoy's fatalistic beliefs: we are all caught up in the inevitability of history, there is a God who permits us freewill within that inevitability but, ultimately, we have very little influence over event outcomes in our lives.
He's almost done with it. I'm going to miss Pierre and Natasha.

Rich Hippie Wild Thing

One of the very first unattainable perfumes I fell in love with was Rich Hippie Wild Thing. Its "organic and wildcrafted" nature -- per the marketing hype of the company who created it -- made it obscenely expensive, to the tune of two oz. for $1225.

But they recently came out with the vastly more accessible 1/8 oz rollerball size (plus a discount) and -- since I recently came so near to death -- ok, so I didn't come near death, but I do have a bruise on my wrist from the IV -- I now actually own a few drops of the stuff.

And I'm sniffing it on said bruised wrist right now. *preen*

Rich Hippie Wild Thing: "Intoxicating, romantic and sensual floral with rare Indian Jasmine, Albanian Orris Root and Egyptian Rose."

I'm still sneering at it, but underneath I'm thrilled. Thrilled.



So, for the first time in history, the populace is ostensibly being given a voting choice other than a (usually Old) White Man.

Are we really willing to discard that chance by arguing whether gender or race is more important?

Don't salt the earth on this one, Hillary and Obama. Make it possible for one of you to succeed by not flinging mud.

Leave that to the Old White Men.


When You're On The Lucky End of US Health Care

Way on the other end of the American health care spectrum -- as far from Harborview as is possible -- is Evergreen, the beautiful facility where I had my procedure Thursday.

Nestled in Greater Seattle's eastside, where the affluent suburbs are located, it is a multi-level, nearly new surgical center specializing in outpatient procedures such as the one for which I was scheduled.

A meandering drive leads into an upper level parking lot full of high end vehicles and an easy walk to the spacious hotel-like lobby of the center.

You are not kept waiting. You're warmly welcomed by smiling, non-harried personnel who gently wrest your insurance information from you, repeatedly make certain you are who you say you are (both insurance card and drivers license are photocopied), tell you it will just be a minute and mean it.

Then the real surprises start. You are ushered by one medical assistant into a small but nicely furnished room (that becomes your private waiting room), where she takes your vitals, and says it will be just a minute ... and means it.

It is barely a minute before two more staff members come in, go through a comprehensive intake with you -- no cursory history here -- and tell you they'll be right back to do the IV.

And they are. Perhaps 15 minutes has passed since you walked through the door. You are in a gown with a band on one wrist and an IV catheter in the other one. 15 MINUTES.

Another five minutes and you're ushered into the brightly lit operating room, where three more people are prepping the operating table and the doctor sits at a low table peering into a laptop at the CD of your MRI.

A quiet, personable man, maybe late forties, he takes the time to ask you if you learn visually or aurally, you say, "Um, visually." and he pulls out a model of the mid-spine and proceeds to show you exactly where the needle will be placed.

Another five minutes, the nurses have positioned you, there've been jokes about what soup is for lunch (the doctor says, "Anything but barley. I hate barley.") you're face-down on the operating table and everything goes blank.

The next thing you know, you're sitting up on a gurney being offered juice (cranberry, please) and cookies. You're giddy with the first complete absence of pain in months and REALLY LOVE whoever is responsible for that. LOVE THEM.

Then it's over and you're in the car, and then you're home in bed.

It's only later that you figure out how lucky you are to benefit from all this technology, that this wonderful service, the skills of these very nice people, will be paid for by a combination of pretty good health care insurance and your ability to work.

And you thank God, and feel a little guilty.


Enough is Enough.

You know how you get to a point where you're just ready to be well and forget about how you got there?

I'm there.

For, like, fifteen minutes at a time, between icepacks, I'm PAIN FREE! Woohoo!! I LOVE IT.

Then the other forty-five minutes, I'm irritable and swinging, mood-wise, from the chandelier. If we had a chandelier.

The dog is looking at me strangely. Why is the dog looking at me strangely? What does he mean by that?



The Power of (Your) Thought(s)

I was really touched by all of you.

My herniated disc got bathed in cortisone, I got a blissful couple of hours of oblivion, and I got more material for another post about health care in the U.S.

I'm sitting here against an icepack, being grateful for all the good thoughts all of you threw my way. Thank you.



So what do YOU think about when you're trying not to think about something?

Well, you can purchase things. In my mind, there is nothing better than distracting yourself with online frivolities. Things like Badger Body Butter (specifically in Antique Rose scent, courtesy of a recent NowSmellThis column). Saw it. Smelled it in mind. Had to have it.

You know, things you didn't know you wanted until they presented themselves to you on the small screen in which you have buried your face.

Bucky is also trying to distract me. In order to get a mint Milano cookie, he is willing to trade his severely-chewed-upon piece of rawhide. And he paws me repeatedly to point out what a bargain I would be getting.

I've already made the rounds of my favorite blogs. Daily Coyote. Desire to Inspire. Dooce. Frugal Fashionista. Now Smell This. Slap of the Day. Triticum Turgidum. Waking Ambrose. (Listed alphabetically and there are more. And I need more posts from you guys. Except for NST and WA, who post religiously.)

Then there are stupid TV shows. Watching an episode of Scrubs for the 15th time is good. I can do the dialogue with the actors.
Got any ideas? I could use some more distraction.

* I am not certain the graphic employed in this post is entirely accurate. For instance, I KNOW my Telephone Skills sector is not that big.


Talking Is Good. Doing is Better.

GO PATS! (and take that @#$%^ asterisk off)

Next Thursday at 9 am and, Yes, I Am Scared

The covering over the nerve roots in the spine is called the dura. The sleeve-like space surrounding the dura is called the epidural space. Nerves travel through the epidural space before they travel into your arms, chest or legs. The nerves leave the spine from small nerve holes. These nerves may become inflamed due to irritation from a damaged disc or from contact with a bone spur ... Inflammation of these nerves in the thoracic spine may cause pain in your mid-back, along your ribs, to your chest wall or abdomen...

An epidural injection places anti-inflammatory medicine (cortisone) into the epidural space to reduce nerve inflammation, and hopefully reduce your symptoms. By stopping or limiting nerve inflammation we may promote healing, and speed up “mother nature”, thereby reducing your pain. Although not always helpful, epidural injections reduce pain and improve symptoms in most people within 3-7 days. They may provide permanent relief or provide a period of pain relief that will allow other treatments like physical therapy to be more effective ...

First, an IV is started so that you may be given medicine for relaxation if you so desire. (DARN RIGHT I DESIRE SEDATION) Next, while lying face down on a x-ray table your skin will be well cleansed with an antiseptic. The physician will numb a small area of skin over your spine where the epidural needle will be inserted. Next, the physician will use x-ray guidance to direct a small needle into the epidural space. There will be pressure felt with this part of the procedure. He will then inject contrast dye to confirm that the medicine spreads to the affected nerve(s) in the epidural space. After this, the physician will inject a combination of numbing medicine (anesthetic) and time released anti-inflammatory (cortisone).

You may have some partial numbness in your arms or legs from the anesthetic after the injection. This may last several hours but you will be able to function safely as long as you take precautions. You will report your remaining pain (if any) and also record the relief you experience over the next week in a “pain diary” which we will provide ...

You may notice an increase in your pain lasting for several days. This occurs after the numbing medicine wears off but before the cortisone has a chance to work. Ice will typically be more helpful than heat during this time. You may begin to notice an improvement in your pain 3-5 days after the injection. Improvements will generally occur within 10 days after the injection.

*all material (except for my editorial DARN RIGHT I DESIRE SEDATION) from the physician who will be performing the epidural injection.



I believe in it. I think it's important. And yet, we never discuss it. Why is that? Also, I am approaching my football season saturation point. The SuperBowl needs to hurrry up and get here. My scent today? Creative Scentualization's Perfect Veil.
There. I've changed the subject.
Fernando Sanchez Moire Short Chemise, Nancy Meyer Lingerie, Seattle



I hope I can convey this, still having the remnants of a couple of valium in me ... I have a story about health care in the U.S.

My back pain having persisted for months to the point where a disinterested primary care physician finally referred me to a specialist who was interested, I found myself routed to Seattle's roughest medical turf for an MRI, a kind of x-ray in the round that allows a physician to see the soft disk tissue between the bony vertebrae.

Harborview is the once county, or public, hospital known as well for its superlative trauma care as it is for its mostly indigent population of the sick who cannot obtain care elsewhere.

It is a teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Washington and the Veterans Administration hospitals ... each hosts a number of research projects that rely heavily on those willing to subject themselves both to student physicians and experimental procedures. Thus the poor become useful in the advancement of science.

The specialist who will care for my spine is known for a particular technique and I am grateful he is willing to treat me. But, apparently because of his affiliation with Harborview, it was that facility in which I found myself waiting for an MRI today.

My procedure was no different -- and perhaps more comfortable -- than the one I experienced some fifteen years ago in a more luxe atmosphere.

But waiting for it was a trip.

Despite an obviously hardworking staff, and lavender paint trimming the walls, and ethnic-leaning art that tries too hard and the mandatory Chihuly glasswork behind glass, there is a aura of deep grime about the place. And dejection.

These are waiting rooms peopled with those who cannot speak English -- almost every cluster of patients in the radiology room was accompanied by a translator, whether Hispanic or Somali.

These are people who must rely on the kindness of strangers when asked "Do you have insurance? Do you have any coverage at all?" When the most positive answer is the translator helping the sick one pull Medicaid coupons out of a purse or a pocket.

And these are sick people. Radiology is not the most grim department in the facility -- I'm pretty sure the hyper-busy ER is -- but even there, you could tell that a lot of these people had waited until they could wait no longer to seek care.

Spend some time in a place like this and then talk to me about market forces in health care.


Happy Happy New Year! Rabbit! Rabbit!