Miz Shoes

Darkness Darkness Be My Pillow

Because in the dead of night last night, the oven started beeping. Three a.m. Beep. Beep. Beep. Only, there was nothing in the oven, no reason for it to be making that noise. F1. It’s an F1 error. The manual says to call a repairman. Probably not a three a.m. Reset the stove. Beep. Beep. Beep. The RLA, with lightening-fast reflexes, puts music on in the bedroom, to mask the noise coming from the kitchen. He chooses the soundtrack to Blade Runner. Loudly. I bury myself under a few more blankets and hope that the white noise of the cat purring will mask the sound of the masking music. I proceed to have nightmares about my mother and finding another stash of her needlework magazines, patterns and supplies. I start to cry in my dream. And then, through all of this, I hear the metallic sound that my alarm clock makes that it says are “bird calls”. It is 6:15. Welcome to my day.

The RLA drags himself out of bed and into the dark to attempt to pull the breaker on the still-beeping oven. The cat wants food. The dogs want a walk.

My cough is becoming productive (again), which is the way it always goes when I get one of these chest colds. Tomorrow, I need to take a day off of work and drive north to visit my father’s sister, for what is predicted to be the last time, before we all meet at her grave side. This is getting old. She will be the third aunt to pass away in 6 months.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Miz Shoes

Wrapped Up Like A Dooce

Yeah, like that Dooce.

What a sad day for fans, today. First Patrick McGoohan and then KHAN!!!!!! (I’ll see you in HELL, Kirk!) That’s actually the only thing I was ever able to stomach ole Ricardo M. in. But he was fierce in the movie version, with his manscaped (and I think latex-enhanced) pecs, and his Tina Turner hair.


But the Prisoner was epic. I used to get nightmares from Rover when I was a kid and used to watch it.


The RLA and I own the series on DVD and have promised ourselves to vacation in The Village before we die. An Italianate folly in Wales. How random is that? An Italianate folly cum artist colony no less.


The cold remained a cold, and didn’t settle into bronchitis, which is a major win for me. I swear by the trinity that is Cold-Eeze, Zicam and the netti pot. And also the hot toddy. Lemon juice, honey, a couple of fingers of brandy and water to fill a glass. Heat and drink. And pass out under a pile of heavy blankets. Works like a charm.

Miz Shoes


You people know all the disgusting lyrics that would be applicable. Go sing the damn song yourself.

My boss sent me home early (ha! 4 instead of 5:30) yesterday because the sound of my coughing and sneezing was too disgusting for him. Today I never made it out of bed. It is my annual bout with bronchitis/sinuses/lung disease. I have no idea where I caught it. I have been meticulous about hand washing and avoiding persons with this plague, and as always, took my flu shot. But does it help? No.

Bite me.

On the other hand, I found this.

Miz Shoes

A Day Without Rain

Isn’t going to be today. There’s a tropical storm churning away in the Straits. This is what my day looks like.


Miz Shoes

Teenage Wasteland

You know what? I got nuthin’.

Really. The movies I’ve been watching have neither sucked enough to warrant comment, nor been great enough to warrant review. My work place sucks rotten eggs, and the boss’s wife has been known to read this blog so I really can’t speak to that issue. The sturm und drang of my bother and family business is at stasis, and besides, he has accused me of speaking ill of him to all and sundry. Well, fuck, who knew he read my blog?

The usual riffraff on the train is the same old ill-mannered, appalling cattle that I always see. My studio is in a state of disrepair and I can’t find the floor. My quilting is at a standstill, ditto the tallitsim. My knitting has had to be put on the back burner because the magnificent Lizard Ridge afghan gave me bursitis.

My friends are on the spectrum of odd to totally fucked.

My financial status is firmly in the fucked catagory.

My pets are healthy, and the RLA and I are celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary by going to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. So that’s a plus. As for the rest of my life? Tan’s fading. Mellow vacation head is dissipating. I’m out of Cosmo mixers. Ditto Tangerine Martini mixers.

The pool tether to allow me to swim as though I were in an infinity pool? Not installed. My new, fabulous dress mannequin? Missing parts. All in all? Life could be better.

Comment, you bitches.

Miz Shoes

The Needle and the Damage Done

I used to have veins that made junkies weep in jealousy. Big old things, they stuck up and were fat and healthy. I donated blood regularly, and the hematologists were always happy to have me and my veins on their tables. I could fill a bag and be gone before the person on the next table had even pumped a quarter of a bag. But those were the happy days before Hurricane Andrew. After the storm, there were calls for blood, so I drove through the wreckage up to Mercy Hospital in Coconut Grove and offered up my type B.

Unfortunately, either the hematologists were traumatized, or they weren’t really hematologists because despite the garden hoses in my arms, they couldn’t get a vein. At least two people took the needles to me, and at least two people drove spikes through my veins and left me with hematomas and bruises. And veins that are collapsed. I haven’t been able to donate blood since. In fact, I can barely squeeze enough out to fill a vial for blood work during my physicals.

And I made that clear today to the girl who was about to draw blood. Don’t waste your time going in the elbow, I told her. You need to use a baby needle and do an old-fashioned draw, manually. You can’t use the kind of draw that fills automatically, because they won’t. She smiled at me, and tied me off. She tapped the bulges in my elbow joint. Oh, nice veins, she said and drove in the hollow railroad spike that they call a needle. And dug it around. And around. And around. And finally looked at me and said, huh. I’m in your vein, and nothing is coming out. I guess you were right.

I guess I was. So she found a baby needle, and drove it into my wrist. I promptly filled up two vials for the blood sucking fiend. Why do I even waste my breath?

Miz Shoes

My Time Went So Quickly

Look, I tried. Really I did. I joined Blogging 365, and I wrote entries and I tried to keep up. But then.

I went to Arrowmont*, and despite the promises of wifi, the only place I could get a signal was outside the dining hall or in my studio. The entries slacked off. They were all there in my head, just waiting to be set to pixels and the publish button pushed. Really. Then the long ride home from Tennessee to Miami. Sixteen hours, more or less, during which time, I felt the first tickle. Sure enough, by the time we got home, I had a nascent bronchial infection. A-fucking-gain. Enough. I’m not even a smoker.

Last week saw me back on antibiotics, and nasal sprays and reflux inhibitors and steroid inhalators and who knows what else. Since I’d been out of the office for a week, there was crap piled up to the ceiling waiting for me to sort and answer and deal. The weekend was spent trying to find a cocktail dress for a woman of a certain age (me) who has not had plastic surgery or spent every waking hour in a gym for the past few years. I was offered tacky, mother of the bride wear, or ho-wear or totally, ridiculously over-priced baby doll micro minis. I explained, sometimes patiently, and sometimes not, that I am just a poor but honest working girl who had the good fortune to be named employee of the year, and therefor had to spend money I do not have (and which, unfortunately) is not part of the award, to buy a dress to wear to the event. I foolishly believed that I had shoes in my closet that could work with any dress I was able to buy. Needless to say, despite being Miz Shoes, and despite the better part of my closet being devoted to shoes, there wasn’t a pair in there that worked.

I was subjected to endless advice on the glory that is Spanx. Here’s an idea, people: instead of trying to cram my Rubenesque curves into a skin-tight sheath, why don’t you show me something with a full skirt? Non? OK, fine. I’ll just slip on that spandex sausage casing that goes from knee to under my bra (by design, I may add) and try on the shiny, stretchy things you throw in the dressing room. Here’s another tip: I AM beige. Do not give me a beige dress and tell me it’ll be fabulous. It will not. Nor will the newly popular yellow do my skin any favors. It will, in fact, make me look recently disinterred. Not a good look for anyone, and certainly not for someone being feted by hospice.

Finally, after throwing myself on the mercy of the snappiest dressed gay clerk I could find, I had my dress. Chiffon, print, floaty, snug in the bust, covers the shoulder tat and a multitude of other sins, and does not require Spanx. I then went downstairs to the shoe department. A young man with attitude showed me the shoes he thought would look good with my dress. What was apparent, but unstated, was that he also thought I was older than dirt and unable to hold my brittle bones upright in a pair of stilletos. He showed me a low, chunky heel with narrow little straps in pastel patent leather. I looked at him. He smiled sweetly at me and then at the shoes. They’d be perfect, he said. You’re right. They would be perfect, I said, IF I were playing bingo with Blanche Devereaux and the rest of the Golden Girls at the fellowship hall.

Very clever, he sneered and left me to wait on someone more fabulous and less clever. I found another salesman, one who rolled his eyes at the granny flats and sighed, Oh, puh-leeze gurl. Then he led me over to a pair of purple satin pumps with a pink/multi lizard trim around the instep. Fabu! I exclaimed. And bought them and a pair of magenta ombre patent leather spiked heel fuck me pumps. Just because I can.

Anyway, I’m sorry that I’m not keeping you amused in my usual style. Deal with it.

Miz Shoes

Snorffle, Sniffle, Cough & Hack

I’m home this morning, waiting to see the doctor, and discuss why, after three weeks of the chest cold from hell, I had a one week reprieve, and now it’s back. Walking pneumonia? Toxic work place? TB? I don’t know, and frankly, don’t give a damn. I just want it over.

ETA: “merely bronchitis”. Antibiotics, fluids, rest. Bite me.

Miz Shoes

This is the Story of the Hurricane

So in all the years the RLA and I have owned the Casita des Zappatos, we have never filed an insurance claim. The no-name storm caused our living room to flood? We mopped and squeegeed and toweled and dried and threw out some papers. Katrina and Wilma decimated our trees? We sawed and cut and cleaned up. Lost tow truck forcibly removed about 80 feet of chain link fence? We found a fence guy, repaired and replanted and went on about our lives. Never a claim.

But the insurance industry is in the toilet. And we were lucky not to have our insurance canceled. No, we just had our rates adjusted. To about triple what it was last year, which means the escrow account at the mortgage holders now has a shortfall in the many, many thousands of dollars, which I either have to pay up front, or let my mortgage payment fucking DOUBLE! Double to pretty much exactly my monthly take-home pay. Which means that I couldn’t pay the other bills. Or, I can find about nine thousand dollars in the couch cushions, pay the escrow, and watch my mortgage go up only three hundred dollars a month. Or I can tell the mortgage holder thanks, but I’ll pay the insurance and taxes myself when due and hope that the change in the couch cushions builds up really fast, so that I actually have the money when the time comes to pay the piper.

Or, I can just pay off my mortgage, and only pay the taxes and insurance. That’s assuming I can bring myself to gut my brokerage account to do so. Or. Or what, exactly are my other options? Get a second job? Cut back on my other bills? That would mean turning off the air conditioner for the entire summer. Or selling my car. Or canceling the cable and the land line and only using a cell phone and NetFlix.

Time to tighten the belt another couple of notches.

I try not to blog about my work life anymore, because frankly, life here at hospice is infinitely better than life at the hospital. Whereas at the hospital, the only time anyone gave a thought, much less a rat’s patootie, about the mission/vision was when the regulators were coming and any employee could be asked to recite them, here at the hospice I have found that people tend to live the values. Especially in the field, hospice work is more a calling than a job, and things like “We Take Care of Each Other” are profoundly held beliefs.

But there is always a fly in the honey, is there not? One of my co-workers has drunk our boss’ Kool-Aid and is all offended by the health and wellness program offered by the HR department. Why is a health and wellness program offensive? I don’t know. But it seems to be hinging on the addition/promotion of yoga. This is seen as intrusive and a religious pontification and a promotion of the HR director’s personal beliefs in contradiction to separation of church and state and who the fuck knows… I most emphatically did NOT drink the Kool-Aid on this one. All I know is that yesterday, at the corporate holiday lunch, said HR director gave a short presentation on life/work balance, and said co-worker just writhed in her seat (which was, unfortunately next to mine) and sighed and heaved, and rolled her eyes and carried on until I told her to put a poker face on it already and just shut the fuck up. This did not go over too well with my co-worker who felt she had to explain why she was so mortally offended by the presentation and the yoga and you know what? I have no idea what she was yapping on about because despite the pleasant smile on my face, in my mind, I was going “lalalalalala I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” Which is what you have to do in a corporate setting, and what I was trying to tell her about sitting there seeming to listen to the life balance blahblahblah.

Anyway, tonight I start cooking for Thanksgiving. The Girlcousin hosts it, but since all the women in my family find cooking to be a competitive sport, there is plenty of room on the buffet table for everyone to show off. I make two cranberry sauces (cranberries in port wine—fabulous, and Susan Stamberg’s mother in law’s cranberries with sour cream and horseradish, which is just divine), a pumpkin pie from scratch (because I can) and this year I’m roasting brussels sprouts.  The Girlcousin’s brother and sister-in-law bake, so there will be something chocolate, and lemon squares (for me) and probably a little more chocolate. There will be deep fried turkey and a regular turkey breast roasted in the oven. Potatoes and sweet potatoes. Salads. Kasha. Cocktails. Hilarity. Football. All the junior cousins will be in town, and I’ll finally get to meet my nephew’s wife.

On Friday, the other side of the family will gather for an after-Thanksgiving lunch and there will be more hilarity, more cousins, more food, and more love.

On Saturday and Sunday, I’ll be packing up stuff to bring back to Miami for a garage sale. Is there no end to the fun? And because I have them on hand, here are my two cranberry relish recipes.


12 oz. bag fresh cranberries

1/2 c. sugar

1 c. port wine

Wash cranberries and place in pot with sugar and port. Bring to boil - reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered until berries begin to pop. Remove from heat and chill. May be kept in refrigerator up to one week. If you prefer a smooth gel, press though a cheese cloth.


2 cups whole raw cranberries, washed

1 small onion

3/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons horseradish from a jar (“red is a bit milder than white”)

Grind the raw berries and onion together. (“I use an old-fashioned meat grinder,” says Stamberg. “I’m sure there’s a setting on the food processor that will give you a chunky grind—not a puree.”)

Add everything else and mix.

Put in a plastic container and freeze.

Early Thanksgiving morning, move it from freezer to refrigerator compartment to thaw. (“It should still have some little icy slivers left.”)

The relish will be thick, creamy, and shocking pink. (“OK, Pepto Bismol pink. It has a tangy taste that cuts through and perks up the turkey and gravy. It’s also good on next-day turkey sandwiches, and with roast beef.”)

Makes 1-1/2 pints.

For more on Ms. Stamberg’s cranberry relish, NPR has the back story and other recipes.

Miz Shoes

Go West

A couple of weekends ago, the Number Two Surrogate Daughter came to visit me with her roommate. We went out to dinner and then headed back to the couch and watched “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.” There’s a scene where they stop the bus, climb out and stare into the west, as the road goes to infinity and beyond and the enormity of their journey first hits them. I’ve seen that scene myself, out in New Mexico, and it is a humbling thing to see all that space with no other sign of human existence except for that straight line of tar and gravel.

The image caused the girls to ask how big, exactly, is Australia. So we dug out the old atlas (1974) and looked up Australia’s land mass (comparable to the lower 48) and population distribution (three or four small dots on the South East coast) and traced the line between Sidney and Alice Springs. Then, because I always need to say something, I mentioned that my father had been stationed in the outback during the war. The Roommate took an audible breath and said “cooooooool. did you get to live there?” “Shit. I’m not that old, honey.” And then she said, “I didn’t even know we had men stationed in Australia.” “Uh, yeah. Pacific Theater of Operations? Japan? That whole thing?” And as we looked blankly at each other, the penny dropped for me.

World. War. Two. Not Viet Nam. The Big War. Oooooooh. Cause see? Her pop served in Nam. Yeah, that would be about right, because my FRIENDS went.  Oooooh, cause, like, her Gramps? HE served in WWII. Right? Yes. Your grandpa and my father would be the same age range.

Every now and then I have to get reminded that there is a generation or two behind me. Sigh.

Miz Shoes

We’re Growing Older But Not Up

Last week I had to make an emergency visit to my eye doctor. All of a sudden, I was getting flashes of light in my left eye. While I do have the occasional migraine, this wasn’t a migraine light. It was something new and unsettling. As is my wont these days, I Googled flashes of light in the eye before I called my doctor. It could have been a torn or detatched retina. It wasn’t. It was, like every other damn thing these days, a function of my age. The vitreous fluid in the eye changes consistency as we age, and it can (and usually does) cause these flashes. Great. Now my eyes have flashes to go along with the other freaking flashes I’ve started to get. Well isn’t life a fucking bowl of cherries.

Today, I go to the dermatologist. I have some things growing on me. You know. They used to be freckles, but now they aren’t. They are raised and lumpy and funny looking. I know what they are. They are skin damage caused by sun and (sing it with me sisters) age. One is on my collar bone and spreading, the other is on my right shin where I shave the top of it every time I do my legs. Since I wear a lot of long skirts and am basically a lazy shit, this is not daily, but still.

At least I still have my hearing… for now.

This weekend, to change the subject, I had a wonderful Saturday. I spent the morning with the PDB and her daughter, the PPDB (petit person dressed in black) and we went yarn exploring. Then we had lunch at the dim sum joint. I got home to find Star had taken the RLA out shopping for his birthday, and when she dropped him back at home, she took me and the Number Three Surrogate Daughter off to the mall for extended shopping. We hit up some sales, the Origins shop and then the local Jo-Ann’s for some sewing notions. Damned if Star didn’t manage to score some lovely yarn while we were there, too. So it was an all girlfriend Saturday, and I haven’t had that particular pleasure in a long, long time. But now? I must be going, you know how slow us old geezers drive, and the dermatologist’s office is a good two miles away.

Miz Shoes

Jellical Songs for Jellical Cats

Miz Shoes is sorry to report that last night’s date with the couch, the martinis and the Bitches and Hos was pre-empted by an altercation in the front yard involving the Noble Dog Nails, JoJo of Very Little Brain, a feral black momma cat and her kittens. Before you perish from the thought, no kittens were harmed in this tale.

There is a wonderful expanse of ferns in the southeast corner of my yard. Giant ferns with tunnels and caves of green. A perfect hiding place for fairies, I think, and so I encouraged the ferns to grow around a tree, over a giant slab of coral rock and the mounds of sand and rock that were the result of quarrying my koi pond. It is a perfect hiding place, as proved by the feral (and here’s an interesting thing: nobody at the emergency room understood the word “feral” even though they were possessed of advanced degrees. At least one would like to believe that nurses have advanced degrees.) cat who had her litter in those very nice green caves.

Another reason to believe that this is a most excellent hiding place is the fact that Nails and JoJo hadn’t found the kittens until last night. It was dusk, and the RLA was taking the recyclables out. The dogs went out with him. And then, the noise! The howls! The hisses! I leapt up and ran out of the house to the front yard where Nails and a black cat were going at it (excuse me) tooth and nail. And JoJo was diving into the ferns. And the RLA was yelling at them all to break it up. We got JoJo out of the way, the black cat beat a hasty retreat over the fence, and I pried a small Jellical kitten off of Nails’ face. I couldn’t quite tell if it was clinging to Nails or Nails had hold of it, but I dropped the little thing over the fence and we all adjourned to the kitchen to assay the damages. JoJo was fine. Nails had a lot of blood on his face and a pair of fang holes in his ear. We washed him off and I couldn’t find the source of the blood (could have been his nose) so I went back out to check for damaged kittens.

I found the nest under the coral rock, and heard rustling in the ferns. So someone was still there and doing fine. The kitteh I’d dropped over the fence was now back inside and trying to get to her nest. She was terrified, tiny and adorable. Well, I’m the cat whisperer, so I figured I’d calm her down and check if that clumpy wet spot on her side was dog spit or worse. I had a towel and some kitty kibbles and I was able to touch her little head, ever so gently, so I reached in for the grab.

She appeared to be fine and unharmed, because she immediately sunk her tiny, needle-sharp milk teeth into my thumb, all the way to the bone. When a tiny kitteh is attached like that, you want to not shake it off, because chunks of thumb flesh will go with it. You sort of have to let it unlatch on its own time schedule. Which I did, and then hightailed it back to the kitchen to scrub out the wound, and, this being the 21st century, Google “feral cat bite”. I there discovered what I already knew, but did not want to consider or admit: cats, especially feral cats, have the dirtiest mouths in the animal kingdom, second pretty much only to alligators. Swell.

I also remembered the story of an ex-friend of mine who had been bitten by her own, indoor cat. She’s a nurse, mind you, and she washed her thumb well and went to bed. She woke up the next morning with a thumb the size of a tennis ball, red streaks running up her arm and a fever. She spent the next three days hooked up to an IV of antibiotics in the hospital. So.

I went to the ER, where, when anyone hears the two words cat and bite in the same sentence, they start to shake their head and tell you that infection is inevitable. And bad. And that probably rabies shots are in order. And possibly tetanus. And I sat and sat and sat and sat. I made the security guard change the channel on the waiting room tv. He had to poll the entire room. One old gomer wanted CNN, but after I explained what I wanted to watch (young girls who want to be models) he started chanting “Mo-dels! Mo-dels!” and so I got to see (but not hear) part of ANTM, and then I got called away to fill out paper work, and missed most of the show.

Now I have four tiny little puncture wounds on my right thumb, a scrip for serious antibiotics and another for the certain side effect yeast infection, and a decision to make about calling animal control to remove the cat and her babies. My tetanus shot was up to date… thanks to Frankenpinkie two years ago, and it turns out rabies is only likely if bitten by a possum, a raccoon or a bat(!).

And that is the story of why Miz Shoes can’t tell you anything more about ANTM than the girl from Ocala (Seminole for pissant town on the edge of the swamp) got sent home for being neither pretty nor good teevee.

Miz Shoes

Doctor Doctor Gimme the News

dragged my sorry ass to the doctor yesterday. received two prescriptions, a lecture and orders to go back to bed.

that is all.

well, except that i’m moving this site to a new host because my current host is retiring from the hosting biz. this is the perfect time to break out a couple of new skins. one is coming from the wonderful girls at moxie design studio and the other is the one i’ve been dicking around with for at least 6 months.

i’d hoped to be able to work on that (and a handful of quilts) while on this vacation, but the truth is i’m lucky just to be able to type an entry. too weak to hit the shift key, tho.


Miz Shoes

Down the Shore Everything’s All Right

You and your baby on a Saturday night. And it was. Saturday we arrived at the summer place on the Gulf. Took our traditional first night walk down to the Sandbar for our traditional first night burger at the bar. And walking home I felt the first tickle in my throat.

Fell into bed and slept for 12 hours. Woke up to the cold from hell.

I have spent my entire vacation huddled in a double layer of sweat pants and t-shirts under extra blankets in bed. On one day only did I get in the Gulf to bullshit with the members of the Noodle Brigade. I have ventured out only under the cabana. No walks on the beach. No nights spent drinking martinis until I drool. No smoking. No dinners at restaurants.

No. This vacation has seen me sucking on lemon slices, sipping hot tea and eating very lemony/garlicky tabooli, trying to beat this into submission.

The RLA has gotten brown. Star has gotten brown. Last night another pair of friends arrived from Tennesee to check out the summer place and consider buying in, and I all but talked to them through a screen door, with a hazmat mask on.

Do I know how to party or what?

Still, I managed to drag my sorry ass over to the most fabulous yarn store I’ve ever set foot in, and picked up a pile of wonderful things. Star and I explored the snotty bead store, and found, like so much else in life, that observation alters outcome. In this instance, the owner was in the store that day and the usually thinly veiled hostility of the help was transformed into cheery greetings and warm offers of assistance.

And, the best thing of all? I has a bucket. I found it in the surf as the RLA and I walked home from the Sandbar along the beach. There it was, bobbing and rolling and looking like it would wash ashore, and then not. I waded out in my shorts and snagged it. It is purple. It is mah bucket. Mr. Walrus, eat your heart out.

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