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Archive for ‘My Venomous Life’

August 1st, 2014

Brain Cancer Killed This Blog

by Venomous Kate

When I started back in 2003, my son was a toddler and my husband was an active duty soldier in the U.S. Army who was gone a lot. A lot. Then we relocated to a rural area in Hawaii — which isn’t nearly as pleasant as you’d think — and he was gone even more. There were times when two, sometimes three weeks would pass and I hadn’t spoken with anyone over the age of three.

I’ve often said this blog saved my life back then, because it put me in contact with people all over the world and gave me a reason to think. Now, I’m hoping this blog can help save my husband’s life, or at least make what’s left of it a little bit better.

You see, about a month after my last post — on July 12, 2012 to be specific — we learned that my husband has brain cancer. At the time, his tumor was considered slow-growing and following surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, and he was expected to have a very good shot at living a normal lifespan.

Earlier this week, we learned that his tumors (he has two now) have progressed to glioblastoma, which has a median survival rate 14 or so months. Since he’d had an MRI in May which showed the tumors being in check, the growth between then and his July MRI indicates the clock started ticking in the past month or two.

The Venomous Hubby

Frankly, we’re terrified. We’re also in need of your help. Although Mike has been working throughout his various treatments, he is no longer able to do so. His cognitive and speech skills are rapidly declining, and he is physically exhausted from nearly 18 straight months of daily chemotherapy.

Although his boss did everything he could to keep Mike on, his condition is such that he just can’t keep working. As I type this, Mike’s resignation letter is sitting on in his office, awaiting his signature.

But Mike is worried about retiring. It’s not just that he’s a workaholic, though he is (and that fact is responsible for about 70% of this blog’s content, come to think of it). He’s also afraid of what’s going to happen to our family financially once he’s no longer bringing home a paycheck.

See, Social Security Disability will take a few months to kick in, as will his Federal medical retirement pay. Until then, we’re broke. Flat. Broke. (Having a daughter who only just graduated college and a now-teenaged son who’s in braces and band will do that to a family.)

So we’re raising funds to help Mike complete his Bucket List in the time he has remaining, and to hopefully cover some of the gap between his last day of work and his first day of disability payments.

If you can, please contribute. It doesn’t have to be big — even $3 would be great! And, if you can’t contribute, then please know as we do that prayer is the most valuable form of currency there is. We could sure use some.

•To read more of Mike’s story, or to contribute to his fundraiser, please visit his campaign here.

•To follow Mike’s progress, please “Like” his Facebook page: Mike Berry’s Brain Cancer Battle.

Thank you,
Not so “Venomous” anymore Kate


April 24th, 2012

A Poem* For My Husband

by Venomous Kate

I have eaten
the cooked bacon
that was in
the fridge

and which
you were probably
saving for our kid’s

Forgive me
it was delicious
so bacony
and there.

*With apologies to William Carlos Williams.

February 14th, 2012

I Scream, You Scream

by Venomous Kate

A not-so-secret secret: I don’t like children, unless they’re my own, both of whom are better looking, smarter, funnier and all-around more loveable than anyone else’s kids. Just ask me. Or them.

Unfortunately, the kids in our neighborhood (and various small animals) gravitate toward me. I suspect this is because I’m so short they simply cannot believe I’m a full-fledged adult. Or maybe it’s because I’m not above whipping up a batch of cookies and offering them as many as they’d like if they’ll GO HOME and eat them. Hard to say. Also unfortunate: some of the kids in our neighborhood are just downright stupid. No, I mean it. They’ll come over and ask my son to play outside with them, then swarm my yard until the sheer noise of the throng drives me nuts.

Now, when I say “throng”, I mean it. There’s one family in the neighborhood that consists of six siblings and an endless rotation of cousins (at least two on any given weekend), all of whom are required to play outside as a group, despite the vast difference in their ages, and add two other pairs of siblings — who also seem to come as a unit, like “Invite one! Get two!” — plus my son. Now, I suck at math but that’s a coven a shitload of children. All playing in my yard.

(Come to think of it, I bet their parents send them with instructions to play in my yard just so they can get a break from their noisy little brats. Oh man. THAT is going to come up at the next block party, I assure you.)

Anyway, after a while I just can’t take it anymore. By that point, they’ve played ‘Ding Dong Ditch’ a half-dozen times even though I never, ever bother answering when the bell rings. (All of the neighborhood parents, having been similarly victimized by this stupid game, know to knock .) They’ve each had a turn being It in Hide-and-Seek, which means I’ve heard “One…two…three…um, six…twelve…five…” at least a dozen a shitload of times. And, more often than not, I’ve passed out numerous Band-Aids or ice packs, depending on whether they were riding bikes or playing tag that day.

Then I snap.

That’s when I’ll go outside to pass around cookies — “Take one for each hand and GO HOME, kids!” — and they’ll stand there, grasping their cookies, completely oblivious to the GO HOME part, until I say for the fourth or fifth time, “No, really. It’s time to GO HOME!” That’s usually sufficient enough to set them on their way, although I’m not above pointing out to the stragglers that if they continue hanging around they have to give me back their cookies. After all, we had a deal.

But it never fails: some kid always forgets something at my house — gloves, a hat, their Pokemon cards. (Once, I even found a rather nice lacy bra, which is weird since none of the kids are old enough to wear one. I didn’t know which kid to confront, so I put it away for safekeeping. That, too, will come up at our next block party. Count on it.) Fortunately, the kids never realize they’ve forgotten something, so I don’t have to worry about the doorbell ringing again just when I’m finally getting my drunk on to settle my nerves things are calming down around here.

Now, on one recent evening after VH, the Big-Eyed Boy and I had finished our dinner and gone downstairs to watch TV together, I kept hearing things. At first, I thought I heard a bump in the garage but figured it was just our cat, who sometimes likes to go out there to smell what’s new. A few minutes later, though, I was certain I heard someone talking, but by the time I’d nagged VH into tearing his hypnotized gaze from the TV to find the remote and mute the volume, the noise had stopped.

“You’re hearing things,” he told me.

“Well, duh,” I said. “Isn’t that implied when someone asks ‘Did you hear that?‘”

A few more minutes went by, and this time I was certain: someone was knocking on the door. And that, of course, means one of the neighborhood parents was standing on my doorstep. And THAT means some kid did something stupid while they were here, so I glanced at mine to see if he looked particularly guilty, but he was obviously as confused as I was. Which is why I sent him to answer the door. Who (besides me) is going to go off on a kid, right?

He came back to the basement shrugging. “No one was there. Guess someone’s playing Knock, Knock Ditch?” He thought this was particularly funny until we heard yet another knock, this time louder. Only, this time I could tell it wasn’t coming from the front door, but from the garage, instead. As in, the door inside the garage that opens into the kitchen. So I raced up the stairs worried that we’d left the big, outer garage door up and some thief was now trying to get in our house. (I know, I know: like thieves would knock, right?) So I grabbed the baseball bat we keep in the coat closet and flung open the door to confront the intruder.

The instant I flung open the door, I saw that the large, outer door was closed and realized we must’ve trapped a wild animal inside. And just as I was realizing this, that very animal emitted an ear-piercing scream. Naturally, I screamed, too, and it went on like that for several long heartbeats: the beast screaming, me screaming, both of our screams making the other one scream.

That’s when I pulled it together and took a good look at the rabid thing and saw… it was a three-year-old little boy who’d tagged along with an older sibling to play with my son earlier. And, from what I could decipher between his chest-shaking sobs and snot bubbles, he’d crawled into my minivan in the garage and fallen asleep while everyone else was playing, only they’d forgotten all about him when it was time to go home. (Naturally, they’d taken their cookies anyway.)

He was obviously terrified, and who wouldn’t be, waking up in someone else’s dark garage and not remembering how the hell they’d got there. It’s scared the crap out of ME every time it’s happened. Poor little guy. So, holding him at arm length while I wiped the snot off of his face with a wad of disposable tissue, I assured him I’d walk him home and, yes, he could have his two cookies.

Now get this: when his mother finally came to the door, she had the audacity to ask why I didn’t know her son was still at my house, much less that he’d crawled into my van and fallen asleep. It was such an unexpected, blame-shifting question that I just stood there and stared, blinking slowly, my left eyebrow raised in that disdainful, Spock-like way that I’d practiced in front of the mirror for hours when I was a kid.

Eventually, she’d replayed her own words in her head. She has one of those faces that pretty much telegraphs every thought in her head as it happens. One minute, she was scowling at me, her eyebrows lowered into an angry V over her nose and jaw jutting forward beneath puckered lips. The next, her face went blank and slack, like she was listening to some far-off tune. Then — BOOM! — it hit her: why didn’t she know her son was still at my house? And that’s when I turned on my heel and left her standing on her front porch, contemplating her own stupidity and calculating how long it’d take the story to make its rounds of the neighborhood.

The next afternoon, the same neighbor came knocking on my door bearing a plate of homemade cookies and an apology for having gone all unreasonable on me the night before. As she explained — and she was very nice and contrite about it — with so many kids in the house, sometimes it’s easy to lose track of them, which is why they’re supposed to keep an eye on each other, too. I totally get that. Really, I do. I can’t imagine having more than my own two, who keep me at my wit’s end. So we made nice and everything, and we were all smiles and stuff, as I closed my front door.

But just in case, I tossed the cookies into the trash. Who knows what snot-nosed kid of hers had touched them.

December 31st, 2011

My Venomous New Year’s Resolutions

by Venomous Kate

This is the first year in memory that I’m making New Year’s Resolutions. But, as I’ve realized recently: we either grow as people, or we just grow to be old people. So here’s my list; ambitious it is not:

1. I will plan to blog more often.
2. I will try to eat more veg and less processed foods
3. I will do my best to “get” Twitter.
4. I will make time to exercise on weekdays.
5. I will drink less.
6. I will work at resisting change less.
7. I will read more stuff that makes me seem smarter.
8. I will think less negatively.
9. I will remind myself that every asshole has a momma who sees something special in him/her.
10. I will try to be nicer to my husband when he’s not pissing me off.

December 20th, 2011

My Theory On The Candlestick Park Power Outage

by Venomous Kate

If you caught last night’s game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, you know the power went out at Candlestick Park not once, but twice during the game. PG&E, the company providing the stadium’s power, says they still don’t know what caused it. Oddly enough, the outage was entirely limited to the football stadium; no one else in San Francisco experienced the blackout.

Needless to say, this has caused all sorts of speculation about the real cause. Some folks say Steelers LB James Harrison must have run into the power grid with his helmet. Others suspect it was part of a ploy to get more money to rehab the 51-year-old stadium.

My theory? Karma was doing me a solid.

See, we’d just finished dinner and, instead of tackling the dirty dishes piled in the kitchen sink (because I’d handled the cooking), the Venomous Hubby sat down to watch football. This, after pretty much sitting around all day Sunday watching football while I handled all of the holiday preparations by myself. Rather than start an argument over the matter, I shrugged and told him to enjoy the game while I went upstairs to read. After all, the dishes would still be there after the game, right?

Not two minutes later, VH came trudging upstairs to not only do the dishes, but to finally install the tv wall mount in the kitchen. The one that lifts the kitchen TV off of the sideboard, finally frees up a much-needed horizontal surface area to which I can move the pile of papers that has been taking over my kitchen island. The very one that I’d asked him to install LAST Christmas, with little success, because he was too busy watching football then, too.

And the truly funny part? The instant he’d moved the TV to its new mount and turned it on to make sure everything was working, the power went back on at Candlestick Park.

Thanks, Karma, I owe you one!


December 18th, 2011

A Glimpse At My Christmas To Do List

by Venomous Kate

With just one week left until Christmas, my husband and I have been busy all weekend working on our respective To Do lists. Now that I’ve put our lists on the same page, I can understand why!

How I'm spending the weekend before Christmas

So, you know why Santa says “Ho, Ho, Ho!” around this time each year? It’s not that he’s laughing. Oh, no. He’s reminding husbands of the only person who’ll have the energy for sex after their wives have spent the weekend working themselves ragged while they watched football.

November 10th, 2011

A Little Pre-Thanksgiving Unpleasantness

by Venomous Kate

Have I ever told you that Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday of the year? It’s true, I love it even more than Christmas (sorry, baby Jesus) or my own birthday (which really ought to be a national holiday, don’t you think?) despite the lack of gifts associated with Thanksgiving. See, it’s all about the food. Or, rather, the lack of guilt over eating it. What other meal is it not only acceptable, but actually encouraged, to gorge one’s self to the point of pain and then, as soon as a bit of wiggle’s returned to the waistband of your pants, do it again and again? As someone who loves to cook — and to eat — it’s the perfect holiday!

Or, rather, it would be the best holiday of all if there wasn’t pressure to get together with far-away family members, particularly She Who Must Not Be Named, who begins her campaign of terror and manipulation hinting about getting together for the holidays sometime in March.

Last year, I was smart enough to pre-empt her visit by inviting my mother who waited until the last minute (at my request) to let me know she couldn’t make it. By then, it was too late for SWMNBN to make travel plans. Even the discount car rental places were all booked up. Pity.

This year, I really can’t get out of it. After all, I stayed home alone this summer when VH and the Big-Eyed Boy went to pay homage visit. Fortunately, she can only stay three days, and not the marathon week- or two-week visits of years past. Sure, it still means the same amount of vacuuming, scrubbing and dusting, and I’ll be making — and doing the dishes by myself after — three meals a day while she’s here. But it’s only three days and, best yet, she’s flying out ON Thanksgiving morning.

That’s right: I’ll be getting the holiday visit with her over before the actual holiday! If you ask me, that’s a good enough reason to have a second piece of pumpkin pie. Maybe even a third.

November 3rd, 2011

My Kitchen Renovation Is In Progress

by Venomous Kate

The kitchen is really the center of our house, as it probably is in yours, too. Ours has a fireplace and one wall that’s almost entirely windows. You can’t enter the house without traipsing through or past the kitchen, and since I’m an avid home cook, most of our visitors wind up hanging out there. So I guess it’s not surprising that the kitchen is the room for which I have the biggest plans, and yet the room in which we’ve done the least.

Oh, we’ve rid the room of the hideous roosters and apple green paint. We repainted the wood cabinets and replaced their contractor-grade door- and drawer-pulls with tiny silver spoons and forks I bought at an antiques store. When our refrigerator died a couple of years ago we bought one that actually matches the other appliances. I felt like a real grown-up then.

One thing we haven’t fixed? The floor. The white porcelain tile floor that shows every drip, drab and crumb. The white floor that’s still shiny enough in most spots to make it obvious when I skip mopping for the day. The white tile floor that is cracked in at least a half-dozen places where we walk, while by the stove there’s an entire tile missing so I have to keep a mat there to cover the subfloor.

I hate that floor.

So why haven’t we replaced it? Well, like a lot of things in our lives, it still works. That is, we’re not walking on plywood, and spills are still easy enough to mop up. (Daily.) But the main reason is because ripping out a porcelain tile floor is a truly tedious, back-breaking job that involves spending hours on one’s knees wielding a hammer to crack the tile, then a chisel to get down to the subfloor, then a wheelbarrow to cart loads of broken tiles out to the garage where our trash company will not pick them up. That means, getting them out of the house doesn’t mean the work’s done: we still have to load them into the van and drive them to the city dump, one van load at a time. It’s work for young people, I tell you, which is probably why we should have made it our first project in the house since these last six years have been doozies.

Today, though, I decided I could stand it no more. I’d taken the kitchen rugs out to the deck so I could mop the floor (again), and forgot to bring them in before washing the breakfast dishes. One wrong move and — YOWZA — a cracked tile sliced a nice chunk off the bottom of my foot. Naturally, I bled everywhere.

Now, I could’ve cleaned up the carnage. That’s one nice thing about porcelain: blood splatters wipe up real well. But I’d already mopped the dang thing once today; I wasn’t about to do it again. So, after tying a kitchen towel to the bottom of my blood-soaked foot, I hobbled to my husband’s tool bench and found his hammer and chisel. By the time I needed to pick my son up from school, I’d only been able to crack up and haul out six tiles. SIX! And meanwhile I’ve worked so hard that my knees are locked up, my back is aching, and my hand has stiffened into something sore and claw-like.

So I’ve decided I was right: tearing out this tile really IS a young person’s job. As it happens, I know a young person with destructive tendencies and too much time on his hands. A young person whose adolescent hormones have lately led him to mouth off far too much for my liking. A young, smart-mouthed person who, when it comes down to it, is behind 99% of the drips, drabs and crumbs that made me hate this white porcelain tile floor in the first place.

Now, every time he mouths off, talks back, argues, rolls his eyes, calls me names or even breathes funny, he’s required to crack, remove and haul out one tile. At the rate he’s been at it this afternoon, we’ll be down to the subfloor in my 20’x26′ kitchen this weekend.

I love it when a plan comes together.