Author: sammythebrown


For those who still have me on their reader list despite my long absence, here is a fast version of major life events since my last real posts in 2010.

1. My “heart cat” Calvin died suddenly in Summer 2011. He developed sudden liver disease and despite a week in the hospital and multiple surgeries, he did not make it. I still miss him tons.

2. We bought a house in august 2011. My dad was super excited to be a part of the process as our “professional expert” and voice of reason. We bought a home with about 8000 sqft of land, so it’s just big enough to make it a small urban farm, and we’ve spent much of the last three years making that dream happen. Still a long ways to go, but I’ll be starting up another blog at for the urban farming stuff if you are interested. A few pictures of the house from early spring as well are below.

3. My little bro got married the day after we closed on the house. That was a happy week in our family. My sister in law is a good balance for my brother, and it’s nice to see him so happy and centered.

4. My dad died December 21, 2011. He stuck around long enough to see his kids settled into their lives and then I think he decided he was done fighting so hard. It’s the most devastating thing I’ve ever been through. I miss him every single day, and I’ll write more about my thoughts and experiences at a later time.

5. My brother and his wife bought a house about two miles from ours in February 2012, and announced they were expecting. They had been trying for a long time, so this was a very big deal. I have no idea if my dad was able to influence that happening in any way from wherever he is now, but I’m sure that if he could have, he would have, because he wanted grand kids more than anything, and would have been an exceptional grandfather.

6. We got conned into another cat. Vinnie Van GoghGo is a one-eared, heart-nosed 25 lb nutjob who was thrown from a car on the freeway and rescued. He has two thumbs on each front paw and can use them opposably. No kidding. He can get into everything and we have child locks on all cabinets or else he will help himself to food and treats and whatever else he can find. He is extremely food-motivated and will do anything for a treat. His former owners taught him to sit up and beg. That was what got us. He say up and begged at us when we were saying we couldn’t take him. Sigh. I’ve taught him to shake paws. He is apparently half dog. He has his own YouTube channel, and is quite the ham.

7. My niece was born 11/27/12 and is the light of my life. Her expressions are so much like my dad’s sometimes, and she has his eyes, which is pretty cool. I love that little girl more than life.

8. I had major spinal surgery in December 2012 due to the disease I have. The disease created new bony growth which interfered with normal function and caused a disc to blow out into the nerve root as well as the spinal cord. The osteophyte (new bone spur) was in danger of severing the nerve root where the nerve exited to my left arm. It was essentially en emergency as I had lost all involuntary reflexes in that arm and had numbness, tingling in my hand and severe pain in my neck and shoulder. Surgery went well, took about 8 weeks to heal, though I went back to work after four weeks (which in hindsight was stupid!) I feel a ton better now but do have a bit of permanent damage as well as donor bone and a titanium plate in my neck.

9. Work is still work for me. A couple of promotions and I’m fairly happy, though I’m aware I’d make 150% or more of my current salary by going elsewhere. It’s hard to give up the five weeks vacation a year and other benefits that come with long-term seniority, though.

10. My husband is no longer with Child Protective Services. After 20+ years, it was time to be done with being on call 24/7 and being in crisis mode 100% of the time. The stress was killing him. He now works for the county, in the court system, supervising those who advocate for kids whose families are struggling with substance abuse. They work hard to make sure the kids’ best interests are represented to the courts.

11. I’m on a new combination of treatments that are really making a huge difference for my autoimmune disease, though I’ve collected a new one since we last spoke – diverticulitis. I’m not the typical at-risk person for diverticulitis, as I eat lots of fresh raw produce and high fiber, low inflammatory foods, and not a McDonalds eater. It’s the opinion of my doctor that one medication we tried may have caused it, as it can be a very rare side effect for some people. It was horrible at first, but has become manageable as long as I eat properly (not an issue) and don’t get over-stressed (working on it.)

12. We are making a big life change. Huge! The biggest! More detail on that coming very soon.

Here are a few pics of the house and yard. The first is when we bought it. The ornamental plum in front had been butchered so we had to remove it. The other pics are from late this spring. I’ll take some updated pictures tomorrow as the garden is in riotous bloom and growth for summer.





Quitting when you’re ahead – a message to those who catcall people on the street.

Last week I had Jury Duty. It was interesting in some ways, great in others, and horrible in yet others. I will tell a few stories here over the next few days to get myself back in the habit of blogging.

This is from an email I wrote to a friend last Wednesday:

A weird thing happened on the way home from jury duty. I was walking to the bus stop and passed a group of older-than-me-but-not-old homeless men. One of them called out, “hey, you with the hair! [I’ve been wearing it long and in my naturally curly state, and gone back to red color. It stands out.] You are SO fine! You’re beautiful!” To which I smiled and said thank you. That may have been a mistake, but I always thank a person for a sincere compliment.

He went on again and said something else about me being this or that (didn’t quite get the words but it was essentially a repeat of the previous sentiment but in slightly less socially-acceptable terms, but not offensive either. Just something about being hot and “damn” and such.) at this point I’m thinking “well. That was nice. Haven’t heard one of those in a few years. Guess I’m having a good appearance day.” I felt pretty good. You just don’t get told you’re hot out in public much once you’re over 35 or so.

And then the kicker… He says “you so fine if you were my woman I’d drown you. Yep. Drown you. (Long pause) With my loooooooove. Next time I see you I’m getting your phone number. You better not be married!”

I didn’t respond to anything after the original “thank you,” and ignored his dumb ass and walked to my bus stop with him yammering about drowning me over and over as he walked past the bus stop with his buddies.

WHAT THE FUCK!?!?? DUDE. Pretty sure that’s the weirdest catcall I’ve ever experienced. Maybe the creepiest, too.

I went from a “hey, cool, I still look good” moment to a “what just happened there?” in less than a second.

I don’t agree with catcalling in general and usually ignore it. However, in this case it started as a well-mannered, sincere compliment that absolutely deserved a thank you in return.

Generally in situations where women explain to (usually) men how demeaning catcalling is, we also tell them that to pay a true compliment in a respectful tone is a different thing than a “hey baby blah blah blah” you know? So you don’t want to discourage the good ones either. It was a little bit sad because at one point he was definitely ahead.

Life lesson: when you compliment a stranger on the street and they smile and thank you, quit while you are ahead and don’t get all creepy on them.

For reference, here’s what I was wearing that day. Harassment doesn’t only happen to skinny girls in short skirts.