And That Brings Us to Today

It’s been a hot second since I’ve posted a new little ditty on here. Lets catch you up to speed on where we are at.

My domain expired. I had a friend helping me with the set up of this pointless endeavor and he had a new adorable wee bebe so we both spaced and some other person, for some god unknown reason, snatched it up and posted it for sale for $1500. I tracked down the new owner and contacted them via email explaining what the site previously was and how it came to expire. I heard nothing back from them. I’m not rich so I threw a tantrum and considered all my options for renaming this bitch. When I finally decided on a replacement, I went to buy the new domain but, bitterly I decided to see what the current asking price was for my old site. Miraculously it was back down to $14.99. Blessed be! I’d like to think my email to the owner had something to do with it. Most likely he realized that I wasn’t Neil Offerman (LOVE LOVE LOVE if only I was so lucky to be a fraction of the awesomeness of that genius of a man) promoting his book Paddle Your Own Canoe but, some whack-a-do that likes to overshare about her stupidity and cancer treatments. So I bought it back. Then tried to restore my old posts to find that I couldn’t but, I had some back ups that I was able to copy and paste into new posts (No, the “My First Brazilian Wax” post is still lost; sorry folks). So here we are.

The Sailor returned from Deployment. He was unscathed and sassy as ever. He even made it home for Christmas 2016 by the hair on his chiny chin chin.

I’m officially cancer free. Put that in your pipe and smoke it Satan.

Once I was declared cancer free I searched for a typical 9-5 job again. I was unsuccessful. Thanks Hampton Roads area. So I took a job with Starbucks to at least not have to work strictly evenings as a waitress.bartender. Not so surprisingly, I love the dang job. I goof off all day with people half my age and drink all the lattes I can handle on my breaks. Though, I’m not kidding about kids half my age. Just the other day I found a partner working at my store from another local store was BORN the fucking year I graduated high school. I literally could be his mom. And I died a little inside. I’m the oldest person at my store. I’ve even got 2 years on my boss. They call my grandma. I’m not even mad about it.

My hair is almost chin length. It grew back darker. Like a light brown. Wasn’t a fan. So I dyed it myself and turned it orange. My lovely friend and hair stylist fixed it and dyed it a pretty platinum blonde. I’m harkening my youth. It’s Christan’s color circa 1999. I’m a fan for now.

The Sailor got sent down to Texas for Hurricane Harvey Relief… Then the US Virgin Islands for Hurricane Irma… Then Puerto Rico for Hurricane Maria. He was gone for over 90 days. It was like a mini deployment. He missed our planned vacation (which is why we RARELY plan anything and just decide one day to hit the road and go on an adventure) and the laundry he returned with was some of the funkiest to date. I was not a fan of the entire situation but, I had basic amenities like clean water and power so I kept my bitching to myself and took my time off to drive up to visit family in Ohio for a week. It wasn’t Disney World like we had planned but, hey, whaddaya gon do right?

The Sailor got new orders. Konnichiwa bitches, we’re moving to Japan. June 2018 we’ll be packing the cats up and headed west. Way west. We had hoped to get back to the Pacific Northwest but, fuck it, the Navy overshot by several thousand miles. But, again, whaddaya gonna do, right? I’m looking forward to copious amounts of Sushi and Ramen going in my gob but dreading shipping the cats and driving on the other side of the road.

When The Sailor got his written new orders he was A.) In The Virgin Islands and B.) noticed my name was spelled wrong. I had 60 days to get my oversees pre-screening completed and I was on my own. Let me tell you, YOU NEED ALL 60 DAMN DAYS. I couldn’t get the Navy to fix the misspelling of my name in 60 days as hard as I tried. I finagled getting the screening done anyway. I did find out though that the Sailor had been TRYING to get it fixed since February of 2016 when he first noticed it. 4 months. It took 4 more months of me losing my shit in various Naval Offices and my husband faxing paper work that he had to sign from the ship off the shore of Puerto Rico and finally when he arrived back home and started to follow up at my constant badgering about it. Then they put me on medical hold be cause, cancer. Always fucking cancer. Apparently the Navy gets nervous sending people with the C word (even if previously with the big C) overseas. So they wouldn’t issues updated written orders until I was medically cleared. Which I got after my Oncologist jumped through a couple paperwork hoops for me and I followed up every other week. It was a whole thing that drove me to the brink of insanity. Had my blog been up and working at the time this paragraph would be several posts and the word fuck in all its forms would occur much more liberally.

We took an extra week off before our Ohio Christmas trip to hit up Disney World since we missed out planned fall trip. It was amazing. But crowded. And the lines were epic compared to when we go during off season times. And they don’t do military discounts from Mid-November to like Mid January so it was hella expensive. And I was actually really overwhelmed a lot of the time because of all the people. And when I finally had to pick a souvenir for myself I fucking wigged out and gave up and said, “I don’t need anything!” before storming out of the billionth place we walked through for the millionth time because I had a fucking panic attack in the over crowded, over stocked gift store. I cried. The Sailor took me to a Sunglass Hut that was on the way out and bought me a pair of fancy, polarized, folding Ray Bans before we left Disney Springs. As we walked out, he patted my arm and said, “Now you have your souvenir babe.” The Sailor likes to fix things for me, quietly and without much fanfare. He’s good like that.

Our friends got orders to Italy. I’m super jealous. Don’t get me wrong, Japan is going to be an awesome 3 year adventure but, FUCKING ITALY! Think of the wine and pasta those bitches are going to have at their fingertips.

I found out my cholesterol has doubled in the last year. I’m assuming it’s the spike in whole milk lattes that I’ve started to ingest multiple times a day at my job at the Bucks. I’ve started using Nonfat milk grudgingly. I tried Almond milk but, I just couldn’t. That stuff is gross yo.

The Sailor has developed a serious obsession with watches. Like really fancy expensive fucking watches. Meanwhile I bought a bodycon black mini skirt for $5 at Charlotte Russe for work and wondered if it would be cheaper to buy fabric and make one (it’s not). We can all tell who the truly frugal one is versus Champagne Dreams and Caviar Wishes.

The battery in the Prius finally died. 11 years old,  and it finally gave in. The replacement was like $300. It’s located in the back buried in a corner under the spare tire space. The Sailor got to wear a head lamp and sit in the squished hatchback in our dark parking garage to finagle the old one out and new one in. I just stood there and watched. Occasionally I handed him things so technically, I helped.

Tonight I made Tatertot Casserole for dinner. Because nothing says low cholesterol like ground beef sautéed in cream of celery then baked under a layer of tatertots and melted cheddar. Yolo bitchados.

And that pretty much brings you up to now give or take give or take a few barefoot-cat-puke episodes, a couple mini nervous break downs over minor occurrences and one major melt down when my Student Loans jacked back up to their pre-cancer-reduced monthly payment amounts. Fucking student loans. They ruin everything, am I right?

I Went Camping (Original Post 08/25/16)

Last week I spent a few hours here and there preparing. I got all the equipment out of storage. I checked everything was in working order. I planned meals and shopped for provisions. I organized and made lists and packed. I took 3 slow days off from work and prepared to spend them camping. 2 days and 2 nights in the rolling mountains of Shenandoah, solo. I wanted to spend some quiet time away from home surrounded by trees and scenic vistas. I wanted to lay in a hammock and read endlessly while listening to the wind in the leaves of the trees around me. I wanted to do it before my next surgery and before the threat of cold nights were peppered with the possibility of snow. Mostly, I wanted to go because it’s something the Sailor and I usually do together and I miss him. You see, he’s deployed right now for 7 long months. We have about 4.5 left to go. He’s somewhere over on the other side of the world camping out on a hot African beach or floating around in some foreign sea and I’m here in Virginia and it sucks. I thought maybe a little short foray into the mountains “like normal” might make it feel more “normal” even with him gone but, it didn’t. Making a fire at night didn’t hold the fun and excitement it should have because his pyro ass wasn’t the one making it. Sitting next to the orange glow didn’t warm my soul like it usually does because there wasn’t another chair next to me staring at it.  So I laid in my hammock read books warmed by the sun and rocked by the breeze. I knit and colored. At dark, I stared at the fire eating sandwiches. And when I laid down in my tent I looked up at the same stars that hopefull he got to look at 8 hours earlier and let myself be sad  knowing that missing his stupid face is OK. And driving 4 hours away to to escape all his things in the little apartment we share together to cope with it is ok too.

Now Eat Your Chemo Like a Good Cancer Patient (Original Post 05/20/16)

Yesterday I had one of many routine follow ups with my Oncologist. I will have these regular appointments for a while; at different intervals for years. Every one feels like I’m playing Russian Roulette. Will this be the time they tell me they need t run more tests? That my blood work shows markers that the cancer is still here or has come back? A sinking feeling always lurks deep in the pit of my stomach every time I sit in the exam room after the nurse leaves from taking my vitals while I wait for the Doctor to come see me. My last few follow ups had been uneventful but yesterday, was different.

My doctor came in and after the usual “How are you feeling?” and “Yes that ache/pain/weirdness is normal,” he began to discuss my tumor that was was evaluated after they took my jubblies off. It still had some live cancer cells; under 1cm but, still there. This meant that not only was my cancer of the aggressive nature but, that it was pretty resilient. The types and doses of chemo that they gave me should have killed the entire tumor based on its size. But it didn’t. Now I had the option to take chemo pills. Pills that are essentially chemo that I’d swallow. A chemical that I would ingest and that then would change its chemical make up to attack any (possibly) remaining cells floating around directly and stop them from growing as well as reducing their size. They would be a precaution. They haven’t found any cancer else where in my body but, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a rouge cell floating out there somewhere that was one of those damn resilient bitches that fended off the chemo secretly.

There was a catch though. Because of the amount of the still living cells found, I was in a grey area. Too small to be a definite yes but, enough that it made my doctor raise an eyebrow. Ultimately, it was my choice. As usual, I didn’t want to make a choice so, I asked my doc “What do you recommend?” and my lovely British Oncologist said, “I think we have one shot to cure this. You’re young. We can lower the percentage of a reoccurrence….”

So Xeloda pills it is. 2 pills, twice a day for 2 weeks on then one week off for 6 months. Six. Fucking. Months. With this precaution comes side effects. Lovely chemo side effects. Well, donkey balls on that. I was officially having a bad day while reading that list in the drug pamphlet. My lovely chemo nurse that I happened upon in the hall on my way out asked how I was. When I told her about the pills she reassured me that they list ALL possible side effects because they have to. Then she proceeded to go over what I could most likely expect; Possible dehydration (so drink a lot of water), maybe a loss of appetite, head aches, joint/muscle/body aches, dry skin, dry scaly hands and feet, red/painful/swollen/numb hands and feet, diarrhea or constipation, dizziness, tiredness, trouble sleeping, mouth and throat sores, upset stomach, stomach aches and possibly vomiting. The usual suspects with most chemo. All that sounds like a long list but, it eliminated quite a bit from the list on the pamphlet. Most importantly, she said I wouldn’t lose the short locks that I have lovingly grown back on my head (it’s very very unlikely because NOTHING is 100% in cancer med land). Bless her heart, she knows that barfing has been my biggest dread throughout all my treatment. So she offered to call me in a new prescription of a quick dissolve version of one of my previous anti-nausea meds. Just in case I was at work when a way of barftasticness swept over me, I could  pop one under my tongue and get the fastest relief.

I’m 24 hours into taking the little buggers and so far, I’ve been fine. A little bit of weirdness, not in my stomach and not quite nausea but… weirdness. At the moment, I’m chalking it up to being nervous about what’s to come. I mean, my joints already hurt like a motherfucker, to the point that if I sit for more than 5 minutes when I stand up and walk like a gimpy robot for a few minutes until the all joint juices get flowing again. How much worse could that get? Complete immobility? I’d welcome a little loss of appetite. I mean, all I do is want to stuff my face. Not having that constant urge to graze would be nice temporarily. My peripheral neuropathy just recently started to wear off so, if that returns, no biggie. Been there, done that. I’ve always had trouble sleeping and subsequently spent most of my waking hours battling tiredness. Check, check. So my biggest concerns lie with the gastrointestinal issues, shitty uncomfortable skin conditions and either shitting my pants or not being able to shit at all.

I was so close to being “done” with treatments. I got confirmation that I didn’t need radiation. SCORE! So all that I still had on my plate was my final surgery which my Plastic Surgeon assured me was way less invasive and painful than the first. Basically, I was getting ready to put this bullshit in my rearview and carry on smartly with life. Getting back to normal. Alas, I have 6 months more of bullshit in the form of oval white pills. Perhaps the coming months won’t bring pain and discomfort like I’m imagining. Here’s to hoping it’s just business as usual just with a new alarmed reminder on my phone every 12 hours reminding to eat my chemo like a good little cancer patient.

Today I Grated Cheese and Cut Off My Toenail (Original Post 04/13/16)

I always buy blocks of cheese and grate it to have fresh shredded cheese when I need it. It just seems to melt better and has a nicer texture. For the last almost 5 weeks I haven’t been able to do that. I just simply didn’t have the strength.

For the Sailor’s birthday, (2 weeks after my surgery) I wanted to make him his favorite homemade macaroni and cheese. I have a food processor with a grating blade that I pulled out to shred a block of cheese but, I couldn’t find one small integral piece. I searched every drawer, cupboard and shelf in the kitchen multiple times with no reward. At some point in the hubbub, the Sailor came in the kitchen to see what the racket was about only to find me crying at the counter staring at the block of cheese. He searched for the part as well promising to find it but, he didn’t have luck on his side either. So I sobbed and blubbered into his shoulder as he hugged me about how I couldn’t grate the fucking block of cheese because I didn’t have the arm strength yet. I couldn’t even make a simple dinner. I felt worthless in that moment. Always wanting to fix my problems, he grabbed the hand grater and offered to “be the muscle” and shred the cheese. The man who’s cooking repertoire consists literally only of a bowl of cereal, instant oatmeal packets and ramen in the as seen on TV microwave ramen cooker, offered to grate cheese for me on his birthday for his birthday dinner. I just had to tell him which side go the grater to use and how to hold the block of cheddar so that he didn’t grate his knuckles or fingers in the process.

I thought of that evening today as I stared at the block of Monterey Jack cheese that I wanted to put a portion of on my baked potato for dinner. I could hack away at it with a knife slicing off slices and cutting them into as small of pieces as I could. Or I could pull out the grater and shred it the way I really wanted so that it would melt nice and gooey and even. So out the grater came. I grated not just enough for my dinner but the rest of the block just because I could. A small victory in my recuperation.

I started off the week with 2 easy shifts at work. I was worried that my chest would start to ache or that I wouldn’t be strong enough to carry the thick heavy diner plates. Turns out, I was fine. Other than my feet hurting like a mofo, I was fine. So I picked up 3 more shifts to help me drudge myself a little out of the financial hole I have felt to perpetually be in and occupy my time while the Sailor is out at sea.

Today was my third of five shifts. My big toenails were sore. If you are not aware, my fantastic last chemo rounds turned parts of my large toe nails black and I have been just waiting for them to fall off. The one has slowly been lifting away over the weeks. It’s gross. I hate it, I hate them.

After dinner and a hot shower, I sat down to try and file them down as low as possible in the hopes that they wouldn’t continue to be irritated by being in actual socks and shoes for 6 hours at work. So I worked on the lesser of the 2 evil zombie toes trimming and filing until as much of the front lifted part was gone. Just a few millimeters really.

I set out to approach the next one to just make it match. It was gross, appearing to be attached only down near the cuticle. I can only image my scrunched, squinty, pinched looking facial expressions as i trimmed and filed and scrapped black old blood out from under the floating putrid nail. I couldn’t stop. This fucking nasty ass black nailed zombie toe had been irritating me and mocking me since December when it first showed signs of turning. Fuck this toe. I hacked and filed and scraped until I felt a ping of recognition of attachment on one side. I stared down at the lopsided nub that was once my toenail. The cuticle bed that the nail had previously been attached to but, for the last 3 to 4 months had just been floating above was soft and pink and a little wrinkly from the shower I had taken earlier. It reminded me of the infant rats we used to have to feed the python in my high school biology class. It felt almost good. The other side was still sore, but resembled a normal nail covered toe. This one looked broken, sad and a little weird but, it felt better.

I knew the last nub that was still hanging on would inevitably get caught on a blanket or sheet or my sweat pants so, I cleaned it one last time and slapped a bandaid on that bitch. I’m sitting here now wiggling that stupid rat baby toe while I smile because, it feels so much better now that I cut my toenail off. At this point, fuck wearing sandals this summer. I’m just happy my damn toe isn’t throbbing anymore.

6 Shitty Questions in 6 Shitty Months (Original Post 04/11/16)

Here are a list of 6 things that people have asked or said to me in the last 6 months that have made me want turn into the Hulk and smash shit recklessly and without abandon.*

  1. “If I were you I would…” Well you’re not me bitch so shut it. You’re not actually in this position dealing with cancer and all the shitty effects of treatment so it’s easy to say what you WOULD do when you don’t actually have to do it. (See my previous post titled That’s What You Would Do? GFYS for detailed clarification on why this one will set me off.)
  2. “How are you feeling?” Like fucking shit. I have fucking cancer. Dumb question but, I know that you’re trying to be nice so, I’ll answer generically. I’ll say something about how I’m OK blah blah while secretly thinking this is the dumbest question to ask someone who has a serious illness that is widely known to make people feel like dog shit. A much better way to be nice is to ask, “How are you doing?” It’s more general and implies you are concerned about my life as a whole and not just wanting to know how shitty I happen to be feeling at that moment.
  3. “My neighbor/friend/sister/mother died from breast cancer.” Wow. Thanks. Didn’t I just tell you that I was diagnosed with breast cancer? Way to really pump me up for the fight ahead! But, I know that you’re just trying to, again, be nice and relate. Let’s face it, who out there doesn’t know someone that has been effected by breast cancer specifically, let alone cancer as a whole. I get it but, what you don’t get is basically you’re reminding me that I have a rough, shitty, horrible battle ahead of me that yep, I could die from. I get it. I COULD DIE! You really don’t need to remind me of that in any way. Want to relate? Sure, tell me how your friend had breast cancer, just leave out the part about her dying. Unless I specifically ask, “How is she?” because then I’m asking for it. But, I won’t because I’m afraid to hear, “She died.”
  4. “Oh, you shouldn’t get XYZ. You need to talk to your doctor about ABC. It’s so much better. XYZ will totally mess you up. Oh and have you thought about that new LMNOP pill?” Thank you. Also, when did you get your PhD in Oncology? My invitation to your graduation from medical school must have gotten lost in the mail. I know, you are trying to help. You have heard about about a new drug, procedure, herb, chant that is so much better than the nasty chemo, radiation and surgeries that the doctors are currently peddling for billions in profit. I get that you are genuinely concerned and want to make sure that I have the best care with every option imaginable. Just don’t think for a hot second that I haven’t researched my illness and all the possible treatments. Your approach to the subject comes off pushy and frankly adds more anxiety than help most of the time. I already question every decision and every step of this exhausting treatment. You telling me that possibly one decision that I have already made is bad or wrong adds more angst to an already shitty situation. Ask about the treatment plan the doctors are recommending. Ask about what options they have offered me. Ask about what decisions I have already made before trampling into my personal health choices and taking your katana like words and slicing them to shreds as if you were playing Fruit Ninja.
  5. “Are you super sad out about losing your hair?” No. I always dreamed of looking like fucking Powder. Of course I’m sad asshat. At least the hair loss is temporary.
  6. “Are you excited to get new boobs?!” Are you fucking kidding me? No. I am not excited about undergoing major invasive surgery that results in a long recovery with possibilities of countless complications to amputate the two parts of me that I have never had a problem with (like my frizzy hair or my flabby gut or my flat ass) and that I considered to be my most feminine feature. I never wanted plastic surgery to enhance them and I sure as shit never wanted to get rid of them. But the fuckers attempted to murder me so, they had to go. This is not a matter to be “excited” about. With that said, the new ones will probably be a little bigger. As the Sailor says, “Go big or go home.”

So there you have it. The 6 things that have been said to me (more times than I can count) in the last 6 months that pushed the red angry button in my brain. Maybe I’m just being sensitive. Maybe I’m just a bitch. Maybe people just need to think a split second before say things on a topic so personal and scary.

*If upon reading this you find that you have been the deliverer of aforementioned statements to me, worry not! I don’t hold a grudge. And I have chemo brain so chances are I don’t exactly remember who said the words that induced the previous rant. We don’t even have to speak of this again. Truthfully, I prefer not to. Let’s move on and find new ways to irritate each other, shall we?

Today Was a Bad Day (Original Post 04/10/16)

Bad days come and go. I try and remind myself that during bad days. Today was a bad day. My bad days come more frequently now, with the cancer shit and all. My hormones have been all jacked up from being put into early menopause and now, being allowed to come out of that medically induced perpetual hot flash. Not to mention the countless chemicals that have been pumped through my body for the last 6 months. Lets top that all off with major surgery and well, I am physically and emotionally a hot fucking mess.

So, today was a bad day. I woke up to my stiff joints not wanting to move, a very regular reminder that chemo and the steroids with it, fucked me. I may have this stiff sore joint shit every time I relax and sit still for more than 5 minutes for ever. Like until I die. Awesome. So, I cried a little because it sucks.

I stubbed my toe later because the house is a class A disaster. Instead of the normal throbbing pain of a stubbed toe, it’s a prickling burning sensation that feels like my toe was actually ripped off. Another delightful reminder that chemo fucked me. Numb, asleep feeling, prickly, burning toes for, oh, the next 6 months to a year +/- a couple months. Great. So, I cried a little more.

From my disheveled seat on my dirty living room floor I looked around at the chaos. Shit piled everywhere. Stuff to sell or donate or trash. Collapsed boxes waiting to be taped together and filled with our shit. See, we’re moving at the end of this month which, I am excited about. Or I was until at last minute the good ol’ Navy decided the Sailor had to go do sailor things for them some place that is no where near here for several weeks. He will be home just in time to chuck some shit in boxes and mass exodus us to the new place. Here I was thinking I was going to help by purging shit and filling a few boxes but I could barely summon the upper body strength to pick myself off the dirty floor where I was sitting. Thanks bilateral mastectomy. Way to make me feel pretty much fucking helpless from the waist up for the last 4 weeks. I love having my chest constantly ache and having sharp nerve pains where my tits used to be. So I ugly cried. I bawled my eyes out because my house is a fucking disaster, because I don’t want to pack, because when I do try and pack it makes me feel like I have the strength of a toddler and because my husband who happens to be my best friend is out in the ocean somewhere on a stupid ship instead of here giving me the hug I so desperately needed today.

After going through kitchen crap and purging things I no longer really need, taking some pictures of the nice things and listing them online for sale, I vegged out on the couch. And I cried. Because I realize it’s Sunday and I didn’t make pancakes for the first time in weeks and at this point, that’s all it took.

Eventually I went up to take a shower. Let the hot water wash away my ridiculous sadness. FALSE. The mirror in the bathroom served as a glaring reminder that I no longer have breasts. Hard bulbous barely inflated implants under angry pink scars covered in the remnants of steri-strip adhesive (that shit is no joke) that refuses to let go of my skin stared back at me. Not to mention my round dome barely covered in velvety new hair sticking up at wonky angles from being slept on mocking me from the mirror. And I cried. Giant elephant tears mix with hot tap water as I sobbed my way though what could have been a relaxing warm wash to rid myself of sadness. Instead, I wallowed. I let the depression and sadness and anger just wash over me as much as the water from the shower head and I let the sobs wrack my body as I hiccuped in air. I cried while I scrubbed the cleansing conditioner into my new velvety hair covered scalp and while delicately scouring at the steri-strip glue (seriously, that shit is not fucking around) off my wonky chest. By the time I am out of the shower and in my room lotioning my dry jacked up body, nothing more than a few silent tears were left.

So here I sit. Feeling sorry for myself and empty of tears. I just don’t have any more at this time. Plus I’ve given myself a head ache from the last good shower cry so, now I’m irritated with myself along with my normal being irritated with every thing irritation. I’m glad I’m alone right now. I’d probably be cussing out anyone with me. That’s how I roll these days. Ugly crying right into go fuck yourself mode. Thanks cancer for bringing out the worst in me.

I Require a Possum in a Top Hat and Monocle (Original Post 03/06/16)

I grew up in a middle class house in the burbs of the north eastern corner of the Midwest in the 80’s. It was pretty normal really. Well, I thought it was. I mean everyone’s dad hunted, did his own taxidermy and lined the walls of your den and living room with said stuffed animals, right? To make things even more interesting, he had a tendency to “find” animals that needed help and saving and regularly brought them home from his hunting trips along with the carcasses of the slain. Oh, and he was also on the sheriff’s call list for when a buck (a male deer for you non-countiefied readers) was hit by a car but not decimated and they wanted someone to come and take the decent body… To butcher, wall mount etc..

More than a few times I came home and opened the barn (think giant garage with room for his Kubota tractor and riding lawn mower and an upstairs) to find a giant lifeless deer strung up skinned and gutted ready for butchering.  Totes normal.

My  earliest memory was in our basement. In a nook tucked back under the stairs where he had rigged up a wood stove to our laundry shoot to help heat our little post war bungalow was his work bench. It was close proximity to the wash tub that our washer drained into. This was important for his taxidermy work. I didn’t remember the exact process and formulas for the chemicals but one of the first steps after the ducks were gutted and skinned the pelts had to be soaked clean and tanned.  I used to stand next to my dad on an overturned bucket watching him at the sink. Sometimes if I wasn’t pestering him too much he’d give me the eyeballs to play with while he cleaned the bodies. My mother was repulsed which I couldn’t understand as I rolled the little jelly balls between my fingers occasionally turning my little hand sideways lining them up between my middle and pointer finger so it looked like my hand had little eyes and my thumb, working up and down resembled a talking mouth. Like a hand puppet. What? You didn’t play with eyeballs when you were a kid?

Anyway, he’d move to his work bench eventually where he shaped foam bodies with clay molded thighs and inserted wire into legs and beaks. I would sit on a tall stool he would pull up for hours watching him hand paint special tiny glass eyes, airbrush preserved legs and feet to be the just so shades as if they still had blood pumping through them. It always amazed me how suddenly some lumpy foam oval would suddenly have a feathered pelt stretched over it and to become the body of a drake mallard or hen canvas back. Sculptures clay molded to get the shape of the head just right. Some were bound to be in perpetual flight, mounted to a post off the carefully selected piece of drift wood to be wall mounted or a wire des retry coming from a selected spot in the back to hang from the ceiling forever coming in for a landing in out little bungalow’s living room.

My favorite were the standing ones. They didn’t just stand on the table. My father created entire vinettes to accompany them. Some perched on preserved and perfectly airbrushed logs with moss, preserved leaves and all. My favorite was a hen and 2 babies. Now don’t freak out. He may have shot the hen in season but the babies he found road side a casualty of a motorist. The momma and rest of the best were beyond saving from a taxidermist perspective but two weren’t so badly damaged that he couldn’t salvage them. So the hen he already has stuffed got a new habitat that was a nest and the addition of 2 offspring.

Yes, roadkil was regularly considered “finds”. One Christmas my grandfather and young uncle were in town for the holidays. On their way to join us at my Aunt’s house then hit a giant pheasant. Smashed their windshield. But they stopped and went back to see if the damn thing needed to be put out of any misery. It in fact was dead from what appeared to be a broken neck. It must have flown directly into the big old Cadillac’s windshield. Knowing my father they scooped up the fresh kill and put it in the trunk as a Christmas gift for my father. To say he was excited by that smelly thing was an understatement. In his defense, it was a big fucking bird. It hangs in mid flight to this day in his man cave.

I think all this leads me to where I’m at today. I have always had a little penchant for strange taxidermied animals over say, glass vases or pretty pottery. I have never had the opportunity to purchase any freaky stuffed squirrels or wall mounted boars heads but, should that opportunity arose, I’d be giddy with glee. That being said, The Sailor has just agreed that I can get a stuffed opossum wearing a little vest, monocle and top hat while carrying a little cup of tea or gentleman’s cane. I know, I married well. He’s a man of good taste and infinite understanding of how to make his lady happy. So, now the search for Sir Oliver Possington begins.