Friday, June 17, 2016

Sylvie's New Best Friend

Almost exactly six months after I brought home my gorgeous little Mazda 3, I was backing out one Monday morning and...crash. GAH! I hit the passenger side mirror on the wall of the garage. I got out to survey the damage and found that I'd cracked the casing pretty good, and drove to work feeling like a moron.

Later that day, I would arrive home to have Mom tearfully tell me, "I have to have Duckie put down."

In other words, it was kind of a shitty day. Add to these things a lingering, frustrating back pain, and that night found me tearfully texting my frustration to the ever-patient Matt. "I can't even squat. And Mom's cat died. And I hurt my car."

So his natural response was, "I'll help you stretch tomorrow. I'm sorry for your Mom. What happened to the car?"

Before he was a trainer, Matt was a mechanic. He is a self-professed "car guy." He was almost as excited for me when I bought Sylvie as I was, and that's saying something.

I sent him a picture, and then he texted the magic words back:

"I can probably fix that."

It's only taken us three weeks or so, but today, he made good on his word.

First, I had to make time to get to the dealership to get an estimate and the part numbers. I walked out of there with a promise of, "We can order the parts and get you out of here for only $421!"

"Oh, I can save you some money," was Matt's reply.

So he got to work, calling in the help of a friend of his who frequents auto junk yards, and looking for a passenger side mirror for a 2016 Mazda 3. He found one with a white casing (Sylvie is...well, she's silver, naturally). Fortunately, the silver casing part of my mirror was intact, and riding in the back seat. Matt took that and spent some time last weekend fitting it to the mirror he'd acquired. On Monday, he proudly showed it off to me, and we agreed to set up a time later in the week for him to dismantle my passenger side door and install the mirror.

Today was the day, and I held my breath at the crunching/ripping noises coming from the door as he pried the panel off, but I was also oddly fascinated. I've never actually seen the inside of a car door, and it's got all kinds of wires and such for the power window, the lock, and, of course, my mirror, which can be adjusted from the driver's side.

Poor Sylvie, she spent three weeks with this eyesore.

Matt: "Yeah, that's the hard part for most people, watching
the panel come off."
Me: "I trust you...I trust you...I...trust...you..."

Some of Sylvie's Innards (that's the old mirror still on, you
might be able to just make out the massive crack on the
top of the black plastic). 

Funny how small the hole is for something as large as a
mirror.

Getting the panel back on proved to be the most difficult
part. "This is usually the EASY part," according to Matt.

New mirror, panel replaced, just need to put the door handle
back correctly.

Hooray!! Good as new.

All told, I ended up spending $100 on parts, and nothing on labor. My offer to pay him for his time was met with a small scoffing sound, and, "That won't be necessary."

"Then I will bring you lunch."

"Lunch would be appreciated!"

So I paid him in tacos (homemade, of course) on Wednesday, because, as I told him, "You fix my car, I fix you tacos."

And Sylvie, of course, is just happy to be back to her stylin' self.

"Zoom-Zoom, baby. Zoom. And. Zoom."
Girl's got sass.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Toothache

If you know me, you know I keep a detailed list of what needs doing in my day-to-day life, and you might even be aware that on my list of daily tasks, waiting to be checked off each night, is "Floss." I haven't always been great about flossing my teeth, but in the last five or six years, I've made an effort to make it mandatory, and now I feel gross if I go to bed without first flossing my teeth (and brushing, too, of course). 

Brushing twice a day and flossing every night has meant that my dental visits every six months are pretty routine, but sadly, I do need fillings from time to time simply because of normal wear on my teeth, and because I have some deep grooves that invite decay no matter how good my personal hygiene is. Whenever I see the dentist, I cross my fingers, and while most of them all is well, sometimes, I need one or two fillings.

C'est la vie, etc.

On Tuesday, I had an appointment with a new dental office. I had left the old one in a fit of pique over scheduling difficulties, and figured a fresh start elsewhere was just the thing. So I found myself at Dental Haven in Roseville, not exactly excited--who likes getting their teeth cleaned?--but figuring it would all go well.

And at the start, it...kind of...did.

I wasn't too concerned through the cleaning, though I noticed I could taste blood in my mouth, which was unusual. See, I've had my gums bleed before when a hygienist is using the pick on me, as I have sensitive, but not diseased, gums. Every so often they bleed when I floss, especially if I have something good and stuck in there (usually meat does it). So the blood didn't raise a red flag right away, and only does now as I realize that I've never been able to actually taste it before. There was a lot more of it than usual.

The dentist, a Dr. Cristina "Grace" Maniego, came to examine my teeth. She was extremely congenial and I immediately felt at ease...until she started poking around my mouth and muttering, "Oh, and that one..." She asked a few pointed questions.

"Do you grind your teeth?"

"No."

"Are you being treated for anything?"

"Well, I'm on blood pressure medication, but that's anxiety-related."

Ding-ding-ding!

"Oh, well then, you might grind your teeth! You have a broken filling...unless you've eaten something like almonds?" 

"That's entirely possible..."

It still didn't hit me right away, but a few minutes later, when the billing guy came back to my exam room, I started to figure things out.

"Well, you need a lot of fillings. I don't like to leave anything to chance and with your teeth-grinding," (I don't actually grind my teeth at night, but they were grinding by now) "you'll need a mouth guard. I'm going to want to do a special deep cleaning, too, and you'll have to take an antibiotic after that to prevent infection."

Wait, what? 

So I smiled at her, because even though I'm often an asshole in situations like this one, sometimes it's best to reserve that and feel a situation out. I was tempted to say, "Just give me the bottom line, here," but I waited as Billing Man brandished a freshly-printed "care plan" and "Dr. Grace" jabbered on about all the work--so much work, haha!--my mouth needs.

And then I saw the bottom line.

My insurance would pay for $951. I would be responsible for $1,092. 

And somehow, by some miracle, I still wasn't mad. I just stared at that number and thought, "That is one-sixth of what I have in savings, and I really want to buy a home this year. Well, shit."

I was dismissed from the exam chair and followed Bill Man out to the reception desk, where we could "go over the Care Plan in better detail." I love that--Care Plan. We care about you! Now give us your credit card!

By now, my initial shock was wearing off and my inner asshole was emerging. I pointed at the list.

"Even with payments...see, I'm looking at this and I'm thinking that I'm going to hate that mouth guard. I don't actually grind my teeth, and I will probably find it uncomfortable. My insurance doesn't cover any of it, and that's $311 of my money for something I won't use, that I don't even believe I need."

"Oh, we can take that off, all of these are just suggestions!" said Bill Man in a slightly-panicked rush.

"And a deep cleaning? I've heard of those, but I've never had anyone try to sell me one."

"Again, just suggestions, but Dr. Grace really wants to make sure you're--"

"I really need to think about all of this before I make any payments. I mean, I have the money, I could pay all of it right now. I just don't think it's all necessary."

"Oh, of course, take the time you need! But let me get Receptionist" (the name escapes me, and by now she was on my shit list, too) "to book you in to get those fillings done..."

"No. No. I'll call you." 

"Oh, great!!" By now, both Receptionist and Bill Man were looking a little bit scared--I'll just interject here that Angry Meg is one thing, and Anxious Meg is another, but Angry Anxious Meg is a sight to behold. Guess which one was starting to shine through?

Bill Man gave me a photocopy of my Care Plan, and I gave a not-so-friendly smile to the room at large before exiting to the lobby and saying, maybe a little too loudly to be considered polite, "Holy. Shit."

When I got home, I immediately called (with tail between legs) my former dental office and set up an appointment with the amazing and awesome Dr. Lee. I never doubted her awesomeness, I just had a hard time with scheduling over there. But I've learned my lesson, and I told her that this morning (she was incredibly gracious and happy to have me back). 

The bottom line? I need two fillings. Not the twelve Dr. Grace listed on my Care Plan. Dr. Lee never once uttered the words "deep cleaning" or "antibiotics" and she even agreed the mouth guard idea was excessive. She pointed out two spots of decay that have developed on a couple of molars and said, "I don't even need to numb you--these are nowhere near the root, I just need to sandblast a tiny bit and put some filler in."

So I've been leaving reviews for Dental Haven (Dental Hell?) on Google, Facebook, and Yelp, and I reported my experience to the Better Business Bureau. Anyone who asks will hear about this experience. I have reason to believe my one-star review on their Facebook page will be deleted, as they only have five-star reviews up. 

I'm not really a vindictive person, but it really twists my knickers when people try to take advantage of me--and to know (via Google and Yelp reviews by other people) that they've done it many times, usually to first-time patients. There are people out there who won't question someone with a PhD., and it makes me sad to think that others have blindly handed over their hard-earned money, maybe even others like me, who are trying to save to buy a home. Or worse, people for whom money is tight. What Dr. Grace and her employees are doing is dishonest and unethical. I believe that others have the right to know what is going on there. 

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Purple Hair, Don't Care

Starting sometime in my teen years, I would regularly get blonde highlights put in my hair, to the point where most people assumed I was a natural dark blonde. 


In 2010, facing unemployment, I went back to my roots, and had my hair dresser die it slightly darker than my natural brown roots. She did that so that as the color faded it wouldn't contrast too much with my natural roots growing out, but I loved the drama of it.


Rediscovering myself as a brunette was fun, and I've never even thought about going blonde again in the years since...though I have experimented with Garnier and done a bit of a red look.

Brunette

Hint of auburn

Almost purple

But recently, I've been eyeing the rainbow hair trend with a tremendous amount of envy. I can't quite get away with full-on mermaid hair in my career, but oh man, I want a fun color. And since one of my colleagues has bits of purple in her hair, I figure, well, why not?

Last week, I bought a temporary color that washes out in 2-3 washes, and on Sunday, I applied it in broad "highlights" on my head.


I bloody love it. Everyone else who has seen it loves it, too.

So I think I'm going to take the plunge, now that the purple has washed out, and get a pro to do something more permanent. Nothing quite so dramatic as what I put in my hair this past weekend--that was done knowing it would wash out if I hated it. But I'm totally willing to have a few well-placed purple face-framing highlights (I wear my hair pulled back from my face at work, so it won't be quite so "out there" in a professional setting). Because it's fun. And it's hair. And because you're only as old as you feel...and I feel very young, thankyouverymuch.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Lady Fuzz, Duchess of Lincoln

2005-2016

Duchess...our Duckie

It's hard to believe, but there you have it. One half of the Kindergatos is gone.

She's been getting sick, and Mom tried a few things, but she just kept losing weight, kept having diarrhea, kept...not getting better. So today, Mom made that hard choice. We're all pretty weepy tonight.

I'll never forget the day we brought "the girls" home--Mom had put off getting a kitten until I returned from England, hoping the distraction of raising a baby would help me get past the inevitable sadness at leaving. "A kitten" became a pair when Dad watched Mom and I cuddling two tiny torties, raised an eyebrow, and said, with a sense of giving in, "We might as well get both."

So Bella and Duchess came home with us. Hilarity--and sweetness--ensued.



It seems so weird to think of them not being a pair, but we're left, tonight, with just Bella--who howled under Mom and Dad's bed after they left for the vet's office with Duchess. It's going to take me a few days to get over that one.

A few years ago, I was idly scratching Duchess' ears one evening when I looked at Mom and said, "You know, this cat has the gentlest soul of any animal I've ever met."

Mom just smiled. "She really does." Even Dad, who normally scoffs at such assessments, had to agree. Duchess was just...sweet. Sometimes a wee bit on the ditzy side but always, always, eager to accept ear scratches and tummy rubs. She loved having her hair brushed. The only time I ever heard her hiss was at Harley when he was a baby--and he deserved it.

While Bella was the feisty, red-collared grouch of the pair, Duchess was our Lady Fuzz (Guess who named her? Yup, same woman who named this ridiculous Little Pink Blog.), amiable and good. So ridiculous in her sweetness that Dad started calling her "Duckie" when she was still a baby.

"She's not a duck!!" Mom protested.

"But she's such a little duckie!!" I replied. It stuck.

For years now, I've done the silly-voice kitty-talk at them, crooning all about our "Bella Blue and Duchess, Too!" It hurts to knock the last part of that off...but such is life, when you let pets into your heart.

Rest in peace, Little Duck. We miss you already. Give my Millie a head-butt for me.

Sisters


Letting it all hang out.

"You're taking us with you, right?!"

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Papparazzi

This morning, I dragged a ladder out into the garden, in the hopes that I would be able to get a look inside Henrietta Hummingbird's nest from a distance. Alas, the ladder is not tall enough. We have a taller ladder, but then arises another complication--the patio cover blocks any view into the nest. It seems Henrietta chose a pretty good location.

Of course, I stayed a decent distance from her and used my zoom lens. She seems remarkably laid-back about having us in the yard, but I don't want to push her, or make her feel threatened.

While I was on the ladder, I realized it gave me a new perspective on Mom's garden, so I snapped a few shots of her flowers, too.

Hummingbird side-eye. But I love this shot because it's straight-on, instead of
from below.

While I was up there, I spotted this bird on Mom's raised bed. 

Looking down, using zoom.

Without zoom.



Looking straight out at these trees.

 Eventually I climbed down and took some close-up shots.

Geraniums

Hydrangea


I moved the ladder to another location and took a few more pictures.



In this one, you can see the wind chimes. Henrietta is on the one to the left,
with the horse on it.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Satisfying

Is there anything quite so satisfying as watching the milk blend into a freshly-brewed cup of tea?

I think not.









Sunday, April 17, 2016

Henrietta Hummingbird

Today marked the first day I've had both the weather and the time to sit on the patio with a book, so out I shuffled in my comfies, dragging a book, lunch, some tea, and a blanket (it's not cold, but I like to wrap up) for some good, hard, relaxin'. I ran this morning, spent a good hour running around the kitchen prepping food for the week, and I was ready to dig into my book and enjoy Mom's gorgeous garden.

I had been out there a little while when a hummingbird started buzzing around the patio area, which isn't unheard of in our yard--there's a feeder hanging from the patio cover, and Mom's flowers are very attractive to all manner of pollen-eating creatures. I was enjoying my book and idly looking up from time to time, when suddenly, the bird in question landed on top of one of the wind chimes and settled in.

Wait, what?

Sure enough, under her feathered bottom was a tiny nest, and she perched on it, perfectly still, gently swaying in the breeze with the wind chime.

I had to investigate.

Of course, I don't want to disturb her or make her feel threatened, so I walked around in a big arc to keep a respectful distance. My eyes were not deceiving me. She is, indeed, a nesting hummingbird, and she has chosen a wind chime in our back yard as her place to hatch her eggs.

Without dragging a ladder out, there's no good way of knowing if she's already laid eggs--it does appear she's still building, as she would sit for a while, then fly away and return with materials in her mouth every once in a while. But mostly she rests up there, sitting very still and not seeming to mind the big, lumbering human on the patio furniture about ten feet away.

I grabbed my camera and took a few pictures using the zoom lens.





I love hummingbirds, and I'm fascinated by this nest. No doubt I'll be poking out there every day or two to see what she's up to--but of course I won't get too close. I really do want to leave her be. In the meantime, I'm referring to her as Henrietta, and I looked up enough information to know that female hummingbirds take on all nesting duties, so, while Dad and I were thinking we might have Henrietta and Humbert, it turns out Humbert is off doing his own thing.

Isn't she marvelous?