Friday, December 31, 2010

Start the new year by reading a new (to you) fibromyalgia blog.... 

Got this link from "4 Walls and A View". Some of these are on my Links list, others are ones I'd like to check out when I have the energy:

50 Great Blogs for Fibromyalgia Support

Glad to see But You Don't Look Sick on the list. It's an honor to be a contributor to it.

Have a joyous 2011! 

The lowdown on M.E./CFS from an expert.... 

Got this from a blog called "4 Walls and a View", which I in turn got from Stacy's blog "Microcosm"". Be sure to watch all three videos in order as they contain pieces of the same interview:

M.E./CFS is a REAL disease

I am adding this blog to my Links list as well because it has all sorts of useful information and well-written personal experiences. I personally am of the opinion that one day, M.E. will be classified as an autoimmune disease of the central and autonomic nervous system. That would explain why so many who have it or fibromyalgia also have multiple autoimmune disorders, because they tend to cluster in the same individual.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Rave of the Day for December 30, 2010: 

Guess where this poetic ditty came from? Yep, the archives circa 2003 (apparently, it was a VERY good year)....


My name is Spam.
Spam I Am.
I have some stuff I'd like to sell.
Take a look! It's really swell!

I do not want your worthless spam.
I do not want it, Spam I Am.

$500 software that really rocks!
Just 20 bucks--still in the box!

You are really full of bunk.
I do not want your bootleg junk!
I do not want your worthless Spam.
I do not want it, Spam I Am.

How about some fast cash?
Fifty Thousand in a flash!!!

How stupid do you think I am?
I won't join your shady scam.
You are a sucker, you silly gitch.
If it worked, we'd all be rich!
I do not want your worthless spam.
I do not want it, Spam I Am.

Check out this great idea of mine!
For Web Hosting and Design!

I went to your site; it really sucks!
For this you're charging lots of bucks?
You could at least learn to spell.
Why don't you just go to hell.
I do not want your worthless spam.
I do not want it, Spam I Am.
Don't pretend your ads are new.
You insult us when you do.
I won't buy your worthless stocks.
Our heads are not full of rocks!
Stop it Spam! Enough's enough!!
I do not want your trashy stuff!
I do not want your damn spam!
I do not want it, Spam I Am!

Inspiration for the Day, December 30, 2010: 

"Be ours a religion which, like sunshine, goes everywhere;
Its temple, all space;
Its shrine, the good heart;
Its creed, all truth;
Its ritual, works of love;
Its profession of faith, divine living."

- Theodore Parker

To resolve or not to resolve? 

A good article from But You Don't Look Sick. It explains why for those of us with chronic illness, there are certain promises we might not be able to keep:

New Year's Resolutions: Why They Are So Tricky

I did manage to keep one this year: I consistently did not eat non-nutritional food. I lost only two of the pounds I'd gained in 2009, but I don't feel bad because that really was the best I could do. I totally blew it AGAIN when it came to going to bed earlier and getting to places on time, but I guess that will give me some goals for 2011.


Got this link from Stacy. Apparently, polar bears are too curious for their own good:

Polar bears get the better of spy cameras

I could probably spend all day looking at videos of polar bears. That is, as long as some of the cameras survive, heh heh.

Perception and disability.... 

Checked in on one of the blogs I follow and came across this excellent post. It explains the importance of actually finding out from a disabled person what will work for them when attempting to accommodate them:

Stuck on the Road

I recommend that healthy people borrow a wheelchair or one of those electric carts sometime and try to navigate a store or other crowded place with one. Not as easy as it looks. But it would go a long way toward understanding what assistance might be needed and when.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Whoops, almost forgot again.... 

I don't know how many times I've gone on this blog meaning to mention this, but I keep getting distracted and then logging off before I remember again. As of October (I think), my fibromyalgia website has vanished. When you click on the link, all you get is some generic data that has nothing to do with me. I am soooo bummed about this and apologize to anyone who has attempted to visit the site recently. Having very little web savvy of my own, I do not know how to start a new site, so I will just have to take the old one off my Links list. When I get the chance, I really should take whatever useful info from that site that I have copied and post it here.

My range of web presence has shrunk pitifully in 2010. I've lost two websites and several pages of photos. I guess I should be grateful Blogger hasn't kicked me out and that I still get published on But You Don't Look Sick. Speaking of which, I am overdue for writing an article for them. I plan on addressing the issue of medically necessary diets, a subject upon which I consider myself an expert. Of course, anyone who has to treat five medical conditions with what she eats would be an expert, heh heh. Hope to start on it as soon as this mega-flare dies down.

What is M.E./CFS? 

Video courtesy of Laurel via the blog "4 Walls and a View":

Rave of the Day for December 29, 2010: 

Another from the 2003 archives, probably originally from Ducky. Many of us, myself included, can only get some of our medications outside the U.S., and I thought a humorous take on this would be welcome....

The Top 9 Signs Your Drugs Came From Canada

9. The guarantee reads, "No sled dogs were harmed in the delivery of your product."

8. Canadian Viagra is guaranteed to point you North.

7. You suddenly understand curling.

6. "Indications: For temporary relief of frostbite, SARS and runaway inflation."

5. The pills cost less, but you have to take 1.3489 times as many.

4. Lipitour??

3. The instructions are bilingual./Les instructions sont bilingues.

2. You can't read the label because it's written in Canadian and stuff.

and the Number 1 Sign Your Drugs Came From Canada...

1. Where else would "Hoser" brand enemas come from?

Inspiration for the Day, December 29, 2010: 

"You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you that is why you must sing and dance, and write poems and suffer and understand, for all that is life."

- Jiddu Krishnamurti

More random Hitler humor.... 

The "Harlan Ellison vs. Hitler" video inspired someone to send me a link to this site. Maybe not everyone would find it amusing, but I do:

Cats That Look Like Hitler!

Interestingly, my first English springer spaniel, Freckles, had a Hitler-esque black mustache. I almost named him Chaplin because I thought of the actor before I thought of the dictator. But Charlie Chaplin DID do an excellent parody of Adolph Hitler in his film "The Great Dictator", so I guess it's all related, heh heh.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I may get in trouble for this, but.... 

WARNING: do NOT watch this if you are easily offended or not a fan of Harlan Ellison! It contains profanity and is in poor taste, but I could NOT stop laughing as I was viewing it. I could not embed the video, so here's the link to the YouTube page, courtesy of Robert:

Harlan Ellison vs. Hitler

I was amazed how many Ellison quotes they were able to squeeze into an eight minute video. And that my Swiss-cheese brain remembered most of them.

The latest blog I'm following.... 

Got the link to this on a fibromyalgia Facebook page. The author describes pretty well what the whole chronic experience is like as well as a bit about her family, job, etc.

The Fibromyalgia Girl

As an aside, I'm in my usual post-Christmas flare right now. On Sunday, when I wasn't feeling too horrible, I thought I might avoid it for once, but no, right after I got enrolled in my 2011 Medicare Advantage plan on Monday afternoon, I crashed big time. Have spent so little time on the computer the past few days that I have over 135 un-viewed e-mails, sigh.

Rave of the Day for December 28, 2010: 

Don't know if this is a true story or not, but it's hilarious either way. It was forwarded to me by Pete in 2003....

Embarrassing moment

This was sent to me and I thought you'd get a kick out of it. Supposedly, it won a $5000 prize for most embarrassing moment. Reminds me of an old Joan Rivers set of jokes....

"I was due later in the week for an appointment with the gynecologist. Early one morning I received a call from the doctor's office to tell me that I had been rescheduled for early that morning at 9:30 am. I had only just packed everyone off to work and school, and it was already around 8:45.

"The trip to his office took about 35 minutes, so I didn't have any time to spare. As most women do, I like to take a little extra effort over hygiene when making such visits, but this time I wasn't going to be able to make the full effort. So I rushed upstairs, threw off my nightgown, wet the washcloth that was sitting next to the sink, and gave myself a quick wash in 'that area' to make sure I was at least presentable. I threw the wash cloth into the clothes basket, put on some clothes, hopped in the car and raced to my appointment. I was in the waiting room only a few minutes when I was called in.

"Knowing the procedure, as I'm sure you do, I hopped up on the table, looked over at the other side of the room and pretended that I was in Paris or some other place a million miles away.

"I was a little surprised when the doctor said, 'My, we have made an extra effort this morning, haven't we?' But I didn't respond.

"When the appointment was over, I heaved a sigh of relief and went home. The rest of the day was normal. some shopping, cleaning, cooking, etc.

"After school when my six-year-old daughter was playing, she called out from the bathroom, 'Mom, where's my washcloth?' I told her to get another one from the cupboard. She replied, 'No, I need the one that was here by the sink. It had all my glitter and sparkles in it!'"

Inspiration for the Day, December 28, 2010: 

"What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape it."

- Jiddu Krishnamurti

Monday, December 27, 2010

Rave of the Day for December 27, 2010: 

More fun with cats. Or is it the cats who are having fun with us?

Rules for Cats Who Have to Run a House
Compiled by Harold Reynolds and updated on December 6, 1994

1. Introduction

The following is a manual of guidelines for the busy cat(s) who will have a house to manage after adopting one or more humans. It is, of course, impossible to cover all possible situations, as those humans are always up to some sort of mischief, but the compiler and contributors to this guide have endeavoured to cover as wide a variety of topics as possible. It is important that this document be kept out of the hands of humans, who will undoubtedly find a way to use it to their advantage.

2. Food

In order to get the energy to sleep, play, and hamper, a cat must eat. Eating, however, is only half the fun. The other half is getting the food. Cats have two ways to obtain food: convincing a human you are starving to death and must be fed now; and hunting for it oneself. The following are some guidelines for getting fed.

a) When the humans are eating, make sure you leave the tip of your tail in their dishes when they are not looking.

b) Never eat food from your own bowl if you can steal some from the table.

c) Never drink from your own water bowl if a human's glass is full enough to drink from.

d) The best times to inform humans of your dish's emptiness are when they are unable to ignore you, such as when they are sleeping or on the toilet. If you insist on waking a human at what it considers a "ridiculously early hour" for breakfast, be warned that the human may be as likely to throw you outside or in the basement as to feed you.

e) Should you catch something of your own outside, it is only polite to attempt to get to know it. Be insistent; your food will usually not be so polite and try to leave. If you can't be bothered to eat the food you've just caught, be considerate and don't waste it; it makes a perfect gift for humans! Carefully pick it up and carry it to the human's house and, if the door is closed, leave it on the doorstep. If the door is open, or there is a cat-flap, take it inside and leave it somewhere highly visible. The gift will be even more welcome if it is still alive! Live birds and mice make the best gifts as humans love a good game of chase just as much as you do, although be careful not to help them; it's their gift after all.

f) Table scraps are delicacies with which the humans are unfortunately unwilling to readily part. It is beneath the Dignity of a cat to beg outright for food as lower forms of life such as dogs will, but several techniques exist for ensuring that the humans don't forget you exist. These include, but are not limited to: jumping onto the lap of the "softest" human and purring loudly; lying down in the doorway between the dining room and the kitchen, the Direct Stare, and twining around people's legs as they sit and eat while meowing plaintively.

g) Coffee is known to be rejuvenating for both cats and humans. Whenever a human sets a cup of coffee on the floor within your reach, s/he is showing you great respect and worship. Softly blow the divine liquid until cool (you may even put your paw in it to make sure the temperature is just right) and then daintily drink it.

h) Occasionally there will be disagreements over what you and the humans will deem as edible. The appropriate action, should the stuff in question be too repulsive to ignore, is to bury it. Scratch at the floor and try to drag over objects to cover the offending item. This informs the ignorant human that it really belongs in the litter box.

2.1 Catnip

Most cats think that this strange-looking plant is Food of the Gods and better even than tuna. There are some, however, who are sadly deprived of the ability to enjoy this wonderful treat and will look upon the others with a mixture of confusion and disgust at the utter lack of Dignity of those partaking. If you are one of the latter, please skip to the next section.

Catnip is available in two forms, in the wild as an odd-looking plant that grows in delightfully fragrant, though often rather flattened, patches, and from the humans in a concentrated dried form. Unfortunately, the humans know of our weakness for catnip and will try to hold it out from us, often employing some very ingenious methods to do so. If the humans are careless enough to leave any catnip within reach, it is imperative to get it no matter what you have to tear apart to do so. Otherwise the humans will use it to attempt to coerce us to do things which would otherwise be beneath us. The greatest hazard of catnip is that it causes those cats under its influence to utterly lose their Dignity. They roll around foolishly, purr at maximum volume, tear around the house at top speed, and do other things no sane cat would be caught doing. Do attempt to control yourself, especially if your humans have a "video camera" and are prone to using it.

3. Water

Water (also known as Cat Solvent) would be really great if it wasn't so wet! Dripping taps are the best sources of fresh water in the whole house. Toilets are the next best (but the water inside must be colorless and contain nothing!) Therefore it is imperative that any sound of running water be immediately investigated in case a free drink may be obtained. The bathtub is the best place to lurk in the bathroom when a human is present. A plaintive meow or two and perhaps hopefully licking the faucet usually will get most humans to turn on the tap for you. If the bathroom door is closed, demand entry noisily (see Doors). The water dish is to be used only as a last resort in case the humans leave the toilet lid down and the tub and sink are dry. If a human has a sufficiently wide-mouthed glassful of liquid, immediately stick your face into the glass. If the opening is too narrow, dip your paw into the liquid, swirl it around, and give it the taste test. You may be pleasantly surprised to find beer or even milk! In any case, if the liquid is good, continue to sample, but only while your human is distracted. Some of the best water is ornamented with those cold, hard buoyant cubes that bob up and down in the liquid when pressed lightly. If your human protests, lick the condensation on the outside of the glass.

4. Sleeping

As mentioned above, in order to have enough energy for playing, a cat must get plenty of sleep. It is generally not difficult to find a comfortable place to curl up. Any place a human likes to sit is good, especially if it contrasts with your fur colour. If it's in a sunbeam or near a heating duct or radiator, so much the better. Of course, good places also exist outdoors, but have the disadvantages of being seasonal and dependent on current and previous weather conditions such as rain. Open windows are a good compromise.

A) Snoring is not a talent unique to humans; if the cat is sharing a bed with two humans, the well skilled cat can cause one of the humans to be blamed/swatted/smacked for the deed by the other.

B) If your humans don't let you into the bedroom at night, make them suffer for it. Even if they give you a nice warm room of your own to sleep in at night, with a cat flap to the outside world, that just isn't good enough. There are several ways of registering your disapproval.

a) Trash the room they give you to sleep in. After all, the humans don't sleep in it, so why should you?

b) Fight noisily with other cats in the neighbourhood, just outside their bedroom window. Make sure that you appear in the morning with as many fresh scars as possible. Spend some time perfecting an aggrieved "Well, I wouldn't have all these injuries if you only let me sleep in the bedroom at night" expression.

c) When they finally rise and take a shower or a bath, locate the appropriate drain pipe and yowl up it. That amplified and disembodied "Meow" is sure to surprise them, as is the length of time you can do this without getting hoarse.

d) When they finally come downstairs, and call for you, refuse to use the cat flap to enter the house. There's a perfectly good front door they can open. Of course, if they should anticipate you by opening the front door and calling, ignore them. You should only appear by the front door and yowl once they've closed it again.

5. Play

This is an important part of your life. Get enough sleep in the daytime so you are fresh for your nocturnal games. Below are listed several favourite cat games that you can play. It is important though to maintain one's Dignity at all times. If you should have an accident during play, such as falling off a chair, immediately wash a part of your body as if to say "I MEANT to do that!" It fools those humans every time.

5.1 Games

a) "Catch Mouse". The humans would have you believe that those lumps under the covers are their feet and hands. They are lying. They are actually Bed Mice, rumoured to be the most delicious of all the mice in the world, though no cat has ever been able to catch one. Rumour also has it that only the most ferocious attack can stun them long enough for you to dive under the covers to get them. Maybe YOU can be the first to taste the Bed Mouse!

b) "King of the Hill": This game must be played with at least one other cat. The more, the merrier! One or both of the sleeping humans is Hill 303 which must be defended at all costs from the other cat(s). Anything goes. This game allows for the development of unusual tactics as one must take the unstable playing theatre into account. Warning: Playing games (a) and (b) to excess will result in expulsion from the bed and possibly from the bedroom. Should the humans grow restless, immediately begin purring and cuddle up to them. This should buy you some time until they fall asleep again. If one happens to be on a human when this occurs, this cat wins the round of King of the Hill.

c) "Tag" (Also known by humans as "Charge of the Light Brigade"): Obviously this game also requires two or more cats, and may include a dog as well. One cat is "it". The other(s) chase him around the apartment until they catch up to him. Then follows the "Scrum", after which the cat who caught the other becomes "it" and is chased around. Great fun, but has the greatest potential for loss of Dignity from maneuvers such as the Throw Rug Wipeout and the Non-Carpeted Floor Skid. Whenever such a situation occurs, all feline participants must immediately wash themselves. Dogs are generally too stupid to do this and may continue to play. In this case, the dog automatically becomes "it" and should be subjected to the Pileup.

d) "Tube Mouse": This is a game played in the bathroom. Next to the Big White Drinking Bowl is a roll of soft white paper which is artfully attached to the wall so that it can spin. Inside this roll is the Tube Mouse. When you grab the paper, the Tube Mouse will spin frantically as it tries to escape from you. When the Mouse is exposed, it dies of fright and stops spinning. But that's OK because you now have a great new toy to pounce on, play with, and shred! Part two of the game is to make the angry human believe that the other cat did it. This is related to another fun game, "Snowstorm", in which you try to make it look like a blizzard has occurred in the room. You can track shreds all over the house for greater enjoyment. Be warned that this variant often results in the coming of the Vacuum Monster.

e) "Fetch": Only dogs will run after a ball or stick that humans throw, take it back to them, and continue doing this until they drop. As established earlier, dogs are not bright. A dignified cat MAY fetch a ball for its human, but if the human persists in continually throwing the ball away, assume that the human truly does not want it, and leave it.

f) "Kibble Soccer": Any number of cats can play. The game begins when the referees go to bed. The player runs to the bowl where the dry cat food is kept, and executes a "place-kick." The player does this by attempting to kick one kibble from the bowl with a paw. Using the nose and tongue ("heading") is allowed, but this is considered bad form. Often the bowl must be tipped, rocked or rattled. Once the kibble is out of the bowl and in play, the player proceeds to bat it around the room as quickly as possible. This is accomplished with short alternating swipes with the front paws, running behind it as it moves (this is also known as the "kibble dribble"). If the kibble gets stuck at the intersection of two walls, the player must attempt to put it back into play with a "corner kick." If the kibble is still on the playing field after 30 seconds, the player is awarded a point. She is then allowed to eat the kibble, after which she returns to the bowl to put the next one into play. No points are awarded for kibbles that are kicked out of the playing area (under the stove, behind the refrigerator, etc.). These are left for the cockroaches, and other spectators. The player must put a new kibble into play. For equipment, any dry kibble will work, although Science Diet round kibbles roll particularly well. The referees control the pace of the game by waking up (usually after the first few points have been scored) and imposing obstacles between the player and the kibbles. The referees do this by placing covers on top of the bowl, placing the bowl on a counter top or shelf, or otherwise hiding it. An advanced player is measured by the degree of ingenuity displayed in overcoming the obstacles between herself and the kibbles and resuming the game. The game ends when all the kibbles are eaten or out of the playing field, or when a referee puts the player in the penalty box.

g) "Rumpus Raising"

Step 1: Warm up by tearing through the hallways and over furniture at high speeds. Be sure to drag your claws and make zzzzzrt noises on the rugs. Furniture that is off limits during the daytime makes great springboards. (Even more fun with two or more participants.) Important style points are gained during this step. 2 extra points if you get a yell from a judge.

Step 2: Find objects that make noise and activate them. Door stoppers that go SPROOOOOOOONGONGONGONG when you run by them, wind chimes and blinds that rattle when disturbed, and loose objects that go thud when they hit the carpet are best. Technical points are awarded in this step. The more complex the device the better. 5 points for knocking over the phone so it goes BEEP BEEP BEEP *Please hang up* BEEP BEEP...

Step 3: Make the loudest possible noise. Glassware and remote controls are useful here. It might be beneficial to slightly open the judges' door before this step. Final creativity points are awarded now.

Step 4: Look innocently at the dog and fish when the judges storm into room and turn on the lights. Pretending to be asleep is good form. 5 bonus points if another pet gets blamed, and 7 points for style if the judges stub, trip or completely fall over the objects knocked over!

h) "Skiing" This game is played when your human has the newspaper lying on the floor for reading. Run down a hallway toward the newspapers at full speed, leap onto the paper and see how far you can slide. The slippery advertisements are best for this. This game is even more fun if your human is unaware that you are going to play. It can be followed by a good round of "Catch Mouse" (newspaper variant). It can also be played on throw rugs.

5.2 Toys

Any small item is a potential toy. If a human tries to confiscate it, this means that it is a Good Toy. Run with it under the bed. Look suitably outraged when the human grabs you and takes it away anyway. Watch where it is put so you can steal it later. Two reliable sources of toys are dresser tops and wastebaskets. Below are listed several types of cat toys.

a) Bright shiny things like keys, brooches or coins should be hidden so that the other cat(s) or humans can't play with them. They are generally good for playing hockey with on un-carpeted floors.

b) Dangly and/or string-like things such as shoelaces, cords, gold chains and dental floss also make excellent toys. They are favourites of humans who like to drag them across the floor for us to pounce on. When a string is dragged under a newspaper or throw rug, it magically becomes the Paper/Rug Mouse and should be killed at all costs. Take care, though. Humans are sneaky and will try to make you lose your Dignity. Note that playing with shoelaces when the human is trying to tie them is another form of Hampering.

c) Within paper bags dwell the Bag Mice. They are small and camouflaged to be the same colour as the bag, so they are hard to see, but you can easily hear the crinkling noises they make as they scurry around the bag. Anything, up to and including shredding the bag, can be done to kill them. Note: any other cat you may find in a bag hunting for Bag Mice is fair game for a Sneak Attack, which will usually result in a great Tag match.

d) Ignore anything that appears to be a store-bought cat toy. After all, in the old days, cats had to fashion their own toys. Store-bought toys are an affront to a "real" cat.

6. Supervising (a.k.a. Hampering)

It is well known that humans are incapable of performing even the simplest of tasks without feline supervision and/or assistance. This supervision is absurdly known by the humans as "hampering". If one of your humans is engaged in some close activity and any others are idle, stay with the busy one. It would take a large book to describe all of the activities which need to be supervised, so only a condensed list is presented below.

a) When supervising cooking, sit just behind the left heel of the cook. You cannot be seen and thereby stand a better chance of being stepped on and then picked up and comforted.

b) For book readers, get in close under the chin, between eyes and book, unless you can lie across the book itself.

c) For knitting projects or paperwork, lie on the work in the most appropriate manner so as to obscure the maximum amount, or at least the most important part. Pretend to doze, but every so often reach out and slap the pencil or knitting needles. The worker may try to distract you; ignore it. Remember, the aim is to hamper work. Embroidery and needlepoint projects make great hammocks in spite of what the humans may tell you.

d) For people paying bills (monthly activity) or working on income taxes or Christmas cards (annual activity), keep in mind the aim: to hamper! First, sit on the paper being worked on. When dislodged, watch sadly from the side of the table. When activity proceeds nicely, roll around on the papers, scattering them to the best of your ability. After being removed for the second time, push pens, pencils, and erasers off the table, one at a time.

e) When a human is holding the newspaper in front of him/her, be sure to jump at the back of the paper. They love surprises.

f) As often as possible, dart quickly and as close as possible in front of the human, especially: on stairs; when they have something in their arms; in the dark; and when they first get up in the morning. This will help their coordination skills.

g) Always sleep on the human at night so s/he cannot move around.

h) When a human is attempting to "make the bed", hop on it and curl up in the middle, or pounce on the sheet the human is trying to rearrange. If the human tries to ignore you by covering you with the sheets, move around and try to mess things up. Protest loudly when you're evicted.

i) Laundry presents many opportunities to hamper (hence the other name for the laundry basket, the laundry hamper). Laundry fresh from the dryer is a perfect bed, since it is warm and soft. As soon as it is put on the bed for sorting, arrange yourself for a nap. If the human removes you, keep returning until the laundry isn't warm anymore. Now it's play time. Pounce on anything the human tries to move around for folding, especially socks and nylons. For added fun, grab a sock and hide under the bed.

j) When a human is working at a computer, s/he isn't paying attention to you. Fortunately, this problem is easy to remedy. You can easily obstruct the human's view of the screen with your beautiful tail, or if it's low enough, with your even more beautiful body. Trampling on the keyboard is always good for some attention as well. Pay special attention to the keys marked "Esc", "Del", and "Brk". If you need to nap while supervising your human, good places are the keyboard, on top of the plastic thing with the cord that the humans laughably call a "mouse", or on the human's arms. If the human insists on removing you from these choice locations, there's always the lap. If possible, while in the lap try to drape yourself on one of the human's arms.

k) Guidelines for where to sit or lie down.

1) It is considered bad form to lie on the bare floor, couch, or bed. An exception is made for the human's favourite chair, which you are allowed to sit on no matter what (or who) is there.

2) On a bed, there will often be laundry or clothes lying there. It is your duty to lie on them to get your beautiful fur on them. If there is a choice, choose either the cleanest item or the item which contrasts most strongly with your fur. If your human protests, act cute.

3) It is also your duty to lie in an area that makes your human contort to the greatest extent if s/he wishes to share the bed/couch with you.

4) Even resting on a book or a newspaper on the floor is preferable to just lying on the floor. Newspapers are particularly important to sleep on if your human has them on the floor for his/her reading convenience.

5) Select a chair to sleep on that hampers your human the most. For example, if your human is doing a craft on the kitchen table to prevent your interference, it is your duty to take a nap on the chair your human would like to be sitting in. No other chair at the kitchen table will do.

6) If kicked off any preferred seating, it is of critical importance that you not immediately go about your business. You must either sit still for a time, washing yourself to save face, or lie on the floor to make your human feel guilty. If the human cheats by moving your resting chair and/or sitting in a different one (in a situation such as the kitchen table example above), you may be able to continue hampering by jumping into the human's lap. If the human has to get up to get something and dumps you off, immediately occupy the chair and look smug. Of course, the human will just switch chairs or remove you again. This game can be played for hours.

7. Scratching Posts

It is advised that cats use any scratching post the humans may provide. They are very protective of what they think is their property and will object strongly if they catch you sharpening your claws on it. Being sneaky and doing it when they aren't around won't help, as they are very observant. If you are an outdoor kitty, trees are good. Sharpening your claws on a human is a definite no-no! Some humans come equipped with "jeans", which can be scratched without inflicting too much injury. Attempts to climb up them will result in further attention, albeit perhaps not the kind you wish.

8. The Vacuum Cleaner

This appalling Beast is known by many names, Cat Eater being the most prevalent. Normally pliable, agreeable humans will turn into raging monsters while under Its influence, running around the house sucking up all the carefully shed cat hair and terrorizing the feline residents with evil glee. Nothing can stop It until the influence is over and the foul device is put back into Its closet. All you can do is run and hide when you hear the engine roar to life and hope that It doesn't find you. On some occasions, however, the humans are forced to open up the vacuum cleaner and remove a swollen, dusty bag from within. This is Its stomach, and must be destroyed if you can get the chance. Do not worry if the human yells at you, for the yell is really that of the Beast in pain.

9. Doors To get a door opened, stand on your hind legs and hammer it with your forepaws and/or yowl. Once the door is opened, it is not necessary to use it. After you have ordered an "outside" door opened, stand halfway in and out and think about several things. This is particularly important during very cold weather, rain, snow, or mosquito season. Protest if the human uses a foot to "encourage" you to leave. If a human goes into a room, especially the bathroom, and closes the door to exclude a cat, meow pathetically and try to stick your paws under the door to open it. If the human relents, lets you in and then closes the door, immediately demand to be let out. If the human lets you out and closes the door, immediately demand to be let in again. This is especially fun when it's the bathroom and there are guests. This game can be played until the human wises up and hoses you with a squirt gun. Scuttle out of range and wash yourself, to pretend that the assault on your Dignity didn't happen. Sometimes doors can be opened by cats without the aid of humans. Such doors must be kept open for the cat(s) to investigate within at any time. Swinging doors are to be avoided at all costs; their nickname "Tail-Biter" tells it all. If a door that is usually kept closed, such as a closet door, is opened, you must immediately rush in to investigate to see if anything has changed since the last time you were in there. Resist the human's attempts to remove you before you have completed your investigation. Protest loudly when the human removes you anyways.

10. Humans

Humans have three primary functions: to feed us, to play with and give attention to us, and to clean the litter box. It is important to maintain one's Dignity when around humans so that they will not forget who is the master of the house. One way to keep your human healthy is through agility training. You can do this by running ahead of your human, maintaining a distance of about one and a half of the human's paces, and suddenly stopping to clean yourself. If the human doesn't trip over or boot you (a very real hazard, especially from beginner humans), s/he is fit and able to avoid all sorts of danger in his/her world. A bonus from this exercise is that the sight of the human will be very amusing and you can share the experience with your friends on the back fence.

10.1 Waking Them Up

It is not known why humans like to sleep when it gets dark, just when the day is young and the masters of the house are fresh and ready for play. It is known, however, that sleeping humans are boring to be around and that they occasionally must be roused to attend to our needs, such as to get fresh food or water or to retrieve a toy that was batted under the sofa. Almost all of them strongly dislike being dragged out of bed in their so-called "wee hours". Some will even pretend to be asleep even when we know they're not, hoping we'll give up and go away. Persistence is the key to success in any case. One effective method of rejuvenating a dormant human is the "direct approach", namely jumping on the bed and doing one or more of the following: trampling, licking and/or nibbling any exposed parts, purring, meowing, head-butting, light taps on the eyes, or playing "Catch Mouse" or "King of the Hill". This may only result in your being ejected from the bed, but at least you now have the human's attention. If the human is being stubborn, you may have to resort to more drastic tactics, such as ripping down posters, rattling blinds, knocking over and looting a wastebasket, knocking items off the dresser, singing at the top of your voice, or even curling up on the human's head (often the only visible part). As well as being warm, in this way you will be aware of any movement made by the human, probably even before he is aware of it. You will be unlikely to wait for long. Another effective tactic is to jump, walk or knead on the human's abdomen, where the bladder is located. If the human hasn't been to the Big White Drinking Bowl during the night you can be sure of a rapid response. Eventually the human will get up and do what you want, usually employing some bad language while doing so. Warning: It is not advised to do this on a regular basis. It will very likely result in your being "banished" from and denied access to the bedroom altogether, in which case it becomes much more difficult to get them to respond to your wishes. Thumping the door or yowling may be initially effective, but will likely result in being further banished to the basement or even the kitty carrier! Discretion is thus strongly recommended. Of course, if the human gets up on his own in the wee hours to go to the bathroom, you are free to get him to do your bidding while he is too sleepy to put up much resistance.

10.2 Mornings

In order to provide and care for you, the humans must leave the domain every morning (usually before you take your first cat nap). To help them on their way, either yowl loudly, massage their scalps with your claws, gently bounce on top of them in bed, knead their chests, purr, and/or drool on them. See also "Waking Them Up". The best time to do this is about 24 minutes before their clock begins to blare or ring. We must protect them from the noise because it could ruin their sense of hearing.

10.3 Guests

a) Quickly determine which guest hates cats the most. Sit on that lap. If you can arrange for particularly bad "tuna breath", so much the better.

b) For sitting on laps or rubbing against trouser legs, select fabric which contrasts well with your fur. For example: white-furred cats go to black wool clothing. Note: Velvet takes precedence over all other cloth.

c) For the guest who exclaims, "I love kitties!", be ready with aloof disdain, apply claws to stockings or arms, or use a quick nip on the ankle.

d) When walking among the dishes on the dinner table, be prepared to look surprised and hurt when scolded. The idea is to force your humans to reveal that they tolerate this behavior when company is not there.

e) Always accompany guests to the bathroom. It is not necessary to do anything, just sit and stare.

10.4 Laps

Undoubtedly the best way to get attention from a human is to jump in his/her lap and purr. Few humans can resist because it makes them think you like them (which may even be true!). Ear scratches, belly rubs, back stroking: all these and more can be yours. Some cats like this treatment a little TOO much and acquire the silly name "Lap Fungus". Lap sessions also provide golden opportunities for shedding; be sure to take advantage of clothes which contrast with your fur (see also "Guests"). Unfortunately, humans have the annoying tendency to want to get up to do their mundane activities, like answering the thing that rings or going to the Big White Drinking Bowl. Protest this disturbance with accusing looks and plaintive meows. Some laps may require "softening up" with a little kneading; just be sure not to use the claws or you may have an unexpected flying lesson!

10.5 Confusing Them

Humans (for the most part) love order and predictability. They especially like their pets to be predictable. So if you are in the mood to indulge in a little low-risk mischief, behaving irrationally is an excellent option. The usual method is to simply tear around the house at top speed talking to yourself and perhaps launching a frenzied attack on an unsuspecting toy. If there are two or more cats in the household, you can take turns chasing and wrestling with each other. This is usually good for a shake of the head from the human, along with "Crazy cat(s)" muttered under his/her breath. Another way to baffle the humans is to interrupt your passage across a carpet (at whatever velocity) with a sudden vertical leap into the air. Then continue on as if nothing had happened. If you're skilled enough, you may be able to convince the human(s) that there are "rug worms" in the house. A third way, which isn't quite as fun as the others but which tends to get better reactions from the humans, is to stare fixedly at a blank wall, turned-off TV, corner of the room, or whatever, and pretend to carry on a conversation with another cat. The humans, who may already be convinced that you're from outer space, will think you're talking to your friends, the "Jupiter People". If they start talking about mailing you to Mars, it's a good idea to lay off this prank for a while.

10.6 Organization

Let's face it, humans are a disorganized lot. They need constant supervision in order to get things done right and on time, such as feeding their masters, retrieving lost toys, etc. Humans also need assistance in keeping their masters' home organized. They have to be continually reminded that things belong on the floor, not on shelves, bookcases, tables or dressers where accessing them may be inconvenient for their masters. It will be up to you to keep your household properly organized. Feel free to take items such as pens, buttons, waste paper (such as the stuff they call "tax return"), and unsuitable toys and relocate them to better spots, such as the water bowl, under the stove, or down the hot-air ducts (humans are always grateful if you do this with tax returns). This should be done when the humans aren't around, as they will always interfere. When the human discovers your handiwork, he will praise you with such sayings as "Stupid cat!" and "You little monster!" At this point, you should say "You're welcome!" with purring and rubbing against his/her legs.

11. Vets And Medicine

The vet is the person to whom your human will take you when you are sick. The place smells funny, there are usually other cats and dogs in the waiting room, and awful things like needles and pill prescriptions will happen there. The usual result is that you will get better, which is good, but you just can't let those humans cat-handle you. The following are some tips for dealing with vets and medicine.

a) Unless you are really sick, when you see the carrier come out, run and hide somewhere inaccessible, such as under the bed or behind a couch. Once the human finally grabs you, struggle gamely. Splay your legs out so that it is difficult to cram you into the carrier. If the human is trying to put you in with another pet, try to allow the other pet to bolt out the door. In the car, meow plaintively all the way down to the vet's. If possible, reach through the bars of the portable prison and try to claw the human as s/he drives. At the vet's, splay your legs and brace yourself against the carrier's walls if you can so that they can't dump you out easily.

b) If you are well enough, you must resist attempts to feed you pills or any liquid medicine. As soon as you hear the pill bottle rattle, hide as in part a). Resist attempts to open your mouth. Squirming is good. Once the medicine is in, try to spit it out, preferably by shaking your head vigorously. If the humans manage to get the pill into to your mouth and are still holding you waiting for you to spit it out, swallow, but keep the pill in your mouth. Then after being let go, find a suitable hiding place and spit it out. Make sure that the humans do not find the hiding place, so they think that you took the pill. Don't use the same hiding place twice. Refuse any food that looks or smells like it may have had medicine sprinkled on it. Unfortunately, humans can be really unfair and put it in tuna. In this case, accept grudgingly. Look aggrieved after the medicine session is over.

12. Illness

a) If you have to throw up, get to a chair quickly. If you cannot manage in time, get to an Oriental rug. If there is no Oriental rug, shag is good. When throwing up on the carpet, make sure you back up so that it is as long as the human's bare foot.

b) When you get sick in the house, you should hover around the general area until a human spots the mess. You should act as if you are guarding the stuff for the human and then quickly vacate the room.

c) If taken outside, you should take every opportunity to scarf down as much grass as possible (while not being spotted). After ingesting a "critical mass" amount, whine and scratch at the door to be let back in the house. After entering the house head for the traditional illness locations and let it rip.

d) If the urge strikes at night when your human is asleep, you can retch as loudly as possible so that the human will wake up. That failing, choose a location where the human's bare foot is likely to find it. They don't see very well in the morning and need assistance in locating the mess. If the human has neglected you by leaving (see Mornings), cover the fruits of your labours with whatever is handy, such as papers from the desk. That way you can soil another object besides the carpet.

13. Cat "Clubs"

When a group of humans who share a similar interest get together on a regular basis, it is often called a "club". Needless to say, cats thought of the idea first, and some of the cleverer humans have discovered that we have our own. Listed below are the ones that the humans have identified, along with their names for the clubs; for security reasons (in case this document falls into the hands of a human) the ones they haven't identified have not been listed. As with humans, cats are not restricted to membership in one club and may belong to many.

a) The "Lap Fungus" Club Members of this club specialize in enslaving humans for the purpose of sleeping on their laps. As soon as a human is seated, his/her lap becomes available and should be occupied at once, after which time the cat can get as much attention as s/he wants. See also Laps. Club motto: "Sit down and I'll be your friend."

b) The "Chatterbox" Club Members of this club love to talk to their humans, giving advice and/or criticism on practically anything they do. They are convinced that given enough time, they will be able to teach even the densest human how to take verbal commands. Club motto: "What do you mean, shut up?"

c) The "Garbage Truck" Club Members of this club firmly believe that human food is God's gift to cats and that the kitchen and/or dining room are the centre of the universe. Anything that falls onto the floor is to be eaten immediately, and if the cat can contrive to encourage the human to share voluntarily, so much the better. Hopping onto the counter to clean the plates or getting into the garbage can to check for leftovers are both considered acceptable, and the Master Garbage Truck is the one who can do this without getting squirted or otherwise "punished" by the humans. Club motto: "I'll help you clean that!"

d) The "Elephant Cat" Club It is usual but not necessary for there to be more than one member of this club per household. "Elephant" cats for some perverse reason enjoy making their nocturnal games, such as "Kibble Soccer", "Tag", and "Rumpus Raising" (see Games) as noisy as possible by thundering around home and knocking things over or off the tables, counters, etc. They believe that half the fun is getting the human to participate too. Club motto: "Did you see the look on his face when..."

e) The "Bed Hog" Club Cats who are members of this club like to sleep in their humans' bed. Of course, in order to sleep comfortably a cat needs some room and it is often necessary to push the sleeping humans around a bit to make it, especially if there are two humans and/or two or more cats. In households with more than one club member, skilled cats who cooperate can make the humans resemble pretzels (which are great snacks, by the way) by morning or even fall out of the bed entirely. Club motto: "Move over, you big lummox!"

f) The "Early Breakfast" Club Cats belonging to this club love to walk into their human's bedroom at some early hour, say, 1 a.m. They then awaken the human (see Waking Them Up and Mornings) insisting on being fed. These cats believe that their humans can be trained to be awake during prime play time. Be aware, however, that humans are stubborn and may instead lock cats out of the bedroom, squirt them or do other anti-social things instead of feeding them. Club motto: "Life begins after midnight."

g) The "Door Into Summer" Club This Club mainly performs its activities during the cold months or when it is raining. After a human obeys the master's command to open a door and a blast of cold air fills the room or rain splashes the cat, the cat wrinkles his/her nose and walks away. The ritual continues at each door in the house (sometimes including closets) until the human either kicks the cat out the door, or decides to ignore the cat altogether. In the first case, the cat must bounce up to the window and squawk to be let in while looking as pathetic as possible. In the second, the cat must attempt to make the human want to let him/her out. See Hampering for suggestions. Club motto: "Just because it's nasty out front doesn't mean it is at the back."

h) The Heat-Seeking Missile Club These cats believe in keeping warm at all costs. The best method is to lie right up against the heating vent. Make sure all the warm air is absorbed into your fur. Careful grooming will be necessary to prevent a bad dandruff problem. When the heat is not running, more creative solutions must be found. Caving into the cat bed, human bed, or any afghan or blanket available is good. It's best if the blanket was already mounded up, so that the cat is completely invisible underneath. As a last resort, curl up on a lap or with another cat. Club motto: "It's cold out there!"

i) The "Fraidy Cat" Club To this club belong the cats of nervous and/or neurotic disposition. Any strange object or human is to be treated as a mortal danger until it is absolutely it isn't dangerous. They even have to keep an eye on the humans they know, just in case. These cats know all of the good hiding spots in the house/apartment, including the ones that humans swear no cat could fit into, and are generally of little use to anybody except when it is checkup time at the vet's and it is important to be invisible. Club motto: "Yeek! What's that?"

14. Bad Weather

Bad weather, in the form of rain, snow, and/or excessive cold or heat, is always the fault of the humans. If the weather is inclement when the human opens the door to let you out, back away hastily and try another door. See also the "Door into Summer" Club. Be sure to stare accusingly at the human during this session. If all doors have the same bad weather and you manage not to get booted out, hop onto a window sill and gaze mournfully out at your domain. Then try again in about half an hour.

15. On Kitten-hood

Being a kitten is probably the best time of a cat's life. As a kitten, you can do almost anything and get away with it because, as the humans say, "Aww, (s)he's so cute!" Practice the "butter won't melt in my mouth" Look of Total Innocence now, as it is much more effective than when you are full-grown and "should know better". Even if you are caught in the act of some mischief, the Look can can considerably reduce the scolding, and if mixed with the appropriate amount of fake penitence, get you picked up and cuddled. Be sure to make full use of all your excess energy by tearing around the house at full speed, attacking anything that moves, climbing the drapes, scooting across tables, counters and shelves, taste-testing plants and cords, and generally driving the humans crazy. When exhausted, flop down anywhere comfortable and sleep. After waking up, eat and continue the fun! You will quickly learn that night-time is the best time for playing because so many things can hide in the shadows.

16. Conclusion

Humans need to know basic rules. They can be taught if you start early and are consistent. You will then have a smooth-running household.

Inspiration for the Day, December 27, 2010: 

"Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful."

- Buddha

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Rave of the Day for December 26, 2010: 

Ready for more giggles from the 2003 archives? I am!

Fun Things To Do While Driving

Vary your vehicle's speed inversely with the speed limit.

Roll down your windows and blast talk radio. Attempt to head bang.

At stop lights, eye the person in the next car suspiciously. With a look of fear, lock your doors.

Two words: chicken suit.

Write the words "Help me" on your back window in red paint. The more it looks like blood, the better.

Have conversations, looking periodically at the passenger seat, when driving alone.

Laugh a lot. A whole lot.

Stop at the green lights. Go at the red ones.

Occasionally wave a stuffed animal/troll doll/Barbie out your window or sunroof. Feel free to make it dance.

Eat food that requires silverware.

Pass cars, then drive very slowly.

Sing without having the radio on.

Honk frequently without motivation.

Wave at people often. If they wave back, offer an angry look and an obscene gesture.

Ask people for Grey Poupon.

Let pedestrians know who's boss.

Look behind you frequently, with a very paranoid look.

Restart your car at every stop light.

Hang numerous car-fresheners in the rear-view mirror. Talk to them, stroking them lovingly.

Lob burning things in the windows of smokers who throw their butts out the window.

While stopped at a light, pee out the window/sunroof onto other cars.

Paint your car with occult symbols.

Keep at least five cats in the car.

Have some passengers in the back who are having wild, noisy sex.

Root (cheer, not snuffle in the mud) for firetrucks.

Stop and collect roadkill.

Stop and pray to roadkill.


Training for Snow Skiing

Soak your gloves and store them in the freezer after every use.

Fasten a small, wide rubber band around the top half of your head before you go to bed each night.

If you wear glasses, begin wearing them with glue smeared on the lenses.

Throw away a hundred dollar bill - now.

Find the nearest ice rink and walk across the ice 20 times in your ski boots carrying two pairs of skis, accessory bag and poles. Pretend you are looking for your car. Sporadically drop things.

Place a small but angular pebble in your shoes, line them with crushed ice, and then tighten a C-clamp around your toes.

Buy a new pair of gloves and immediately throw one away.

Secure one of your ankles to a bed post and ask a friend to run into you at high speed.

Go to McDonald's and insist on paying $8.50 for a hamburger. Be sure you are in the longest line.

Clip a lift ticket to the zipper of your jacket and ride a motorcycle fast enough to make the ticket lacerate your face.

Drive slowly for five hours - anywhere - as long as it's in a snowstorm and you're following an 18 wheeler.

Fill a blender with ice, hit the pulse button and let the spray blast your face. Leave the ice on your face until it melts. Let it drip into your clothes.

Dress up in as many clothes as you can and then proceed to take them off because you have to go to the bathroom.

Slam your thumb in a car door. Don't go see a doctor.

Repeat all of the above every Saturday and Sunday until it's time for the real thing.

Inspiration for the Day, December 26, 2010: 

"The fruit of silence is prayer.
The fruit of prayer is faith.
The fruit of faith is love.
The fruit of love is service.
And the fruit of service is peace."

- Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Have a merry and blessed Christmas! 


Friday, December 24, 2010

Rave of the Day for December 24, 2010: 

Ok, so this joke is seven years old, but I just can't resist. Remember when Tickle Me Elmo was the hot Christmas gift? Hilarity courtesy of Ken from Fibrohugs....

The Elmo Misunderstanding

A new employee is hired at the Tickle Me Elmo factory. The personnel manager explains her duties and tells her to report to work promptly at 8:00 am. The next day at 8:45 am, there's a knock at the personnel manager's door. The assembly line foreman comes in and starts ranting about this new employee. He says she's incredibly slow and the whole line is backing up. The foreman takes the personnel manager down to the factory floor to show him the problem. Sure enough, Elmos are backed up all over the place. At the end of the line is the new employee. She has a roll of the material used for the Elmos and a big bag of marbles. They both watch as she cuts a little piece of fabric, wraps it around two marbles, and starts sewing the little package between Elmo's legs. The personnel manager starts laughing hysterically. After several minutes, he pulls himself together, walks over to the woman, and says, "I'm sorry, I guess you misunderstood me yesterday. Your job is to give Elmo two test tickles."

Inspiration for the Day, December 24, 2010: 

"Indeed, from his fullness we have, all of us, received -
yes, grace in return for grace,
since, though the Law was given through Moses,
grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God;
it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father's heart,
who has made him known."

- John 1:16-18, The Jerusalem Bible

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Rave of the Day for December 23, 2010: 

With electronics all the rage for gifts this year, I couldn't help but think of this. Even though it's from 2003, prior to the advent of iPads or iPods, it's still funny....


Congratulations! You have purchased an extremely fine device that would give you thousands of years of trouble-free service, except that you undoubtedly will destroy it via some typical bone-head consumer maneuvers. Which is why we ask you to: PLEASE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD READ THIS OWNER'S MANUAL CAREFULLY BEFORE YOU UNPACK THE DEVICE!!!

You already unpacked it, didn't you? You unpacked it and plugged it in and turned it on and fiddled with the knobs, and now your child, the same child who once shoved a polish sausage into your videocassette recorder and set it on "fast forward", this child also is fiddling with the knobs, right? WE MIGHT AS WELL JUST BREAK THESE DEVICES RIGHT AT THE FACTORY BEFORE WE SHIP THEM OUT, YOU KNOW THAT?!?

We're sorry. We just get a little crazy sometimes because we're always getting back "defective" merchandise where it turns out that the consumer inadvertently bathed the device in acid for six days. So, in writing these instructions, we naturally tend to assume that your skull is filled with dead insects, but we mean nothing by it. OK? Now let's talk about:

The device is encased in foam to protect it from the Shipping People, who like nothing more than to jab spears into outgoing boxes. PLEASE INSPECT THE CONTENTS CAREFULLY FOR GASHES OR IDA MAE BARKER'S ENGAGEMENT RING, WHICH SHE LOST LAST WEEK, AND SHE THINKS MAYBE IT WAS WHILE SHE WAS PACKING DEVICES. Ida Mae really wants that ring back because it is her only proof of engagement, and her fiancee, Stuart, is now seriously considering backing out on the whole thing in as much as he had consumed most of a bottle of Jim Beam in Quality Control when he decided to pop the question. It is not without irony that Ida Mae's last name is "Barker",if you get our drift. WARNING: DO NOT EVER AS LONG AS YOU LIVE THROW AWAY THE BOX OR ANY OF THE PIECES OF STYROFOAM, EVEN THE LITTLE ONES SHAPED LIKE PEANUTS. If you attempt to return the device to the store, and you are missing one single peanut, the store personnel will laugh in the chilling manner exhibited by Joseph Stalin just after he enslaved Eastern Europe. Besides the device, the box should also contain:
* Eight little rectangular snippets of paper that say "WARNING"
* A little plastic packet containing four 5/17 inch pilfer grommets and two club-ended 6/93 inch boxcar prawns.
YOU WILL NEED TO SUPPLY: a matrix wrench and 60,000 feet of tram cable.
IF ANYTHING IS DAMAGED OR MISSING: You IMMEDIATELY should turn to your spouse and say "Margaret, you know why this country can't make a car that can get all the way through the drive-through at Burger King without a major transmission overhaul? Because nobody cares, that's why."
WARNING: This is assuming your spouse's name is Margaret. And not Pete.

The plug on this device represents the latest thinking of the electrical industry's Plug Mutation Group, which, in a continuing effort to prevent consumers from causing hazardous electrical current to flow through their appliances, developed the Three-Pronged Plug, then the Plug where One Prong is Bigger Than the Other. Your device is equipped with the revolutionary new Plug Whose Prongs Consist of Six Small Religious Figurines Made of Chocolate. DO NOT TRY TO PLUG IT IN! Lay it gently on the floor near an outlet, but out of direct sunlight, and clean it weekly with a damp handkerchief.
WARNING: When you are laying the plug on the floor, do not hold a sharp object in your other hand and trip over the cord and poke your eye out, as this could void the warranty.

WARNING: we manufacture only the attractive designer case. The actual working central parts of the device are manufactured in Japan. The instructions were translated by Mrs. Shirley Peltwater of accounts receivable, who has never actually been to Japan but does have most of "Shogun" on tape.

INSTRUCTIONS: For results that can be the finest, it is our advising that: NEVER to hold these buttons two times!! Except the battery. Next taking the (something) earth section may cause a large occurrence! However. If this is not a trouble, such rotation is a very maintenance action, as a kindly (something) viewpoint from Drawing B.

Be it hereby known that this device, together with but not excluding all those certain parts thereunto, shall be warranted against all defects, failures and malfunctions as shall occur between now and Thursday afternoon shortly before 2, during which time the Manufacturer will, at no charge to the Owner, send the device to our Service People, who will emerge from their caves and engage in rituals designed to cleanse it of evil spirits. This warranty does not cover the attractive designer case.
WARNING: It may be a violation of some law that Mrs. Shirley Peltwater has "Shogun" on tape.

(courtesy of Dave Barry)

Inspiration for the Day, December 23, 2010: 

"The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion."

- Tom Paine, 1791

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rave of the Day for December 22, 2010: 

This was posted on my previous blog, but it's one of my fave holiday-themed funnies and deserves a re-run. Originally posted in 2004 courtesy of Ducky....

Wrapping Presents With Dogs

1. Gather presents, boxes, paper, etc. in middle of living room floor.

2. Get tape back from puppy.

3. Remove scissors from older dog's mouth.

4. Open box.

5. Take puppy out of box.

6. Remove tape from older dog's mouth.

7. Take scissors away from puppy.

8. Put present in box.

9. Remove present from puppy's mouth.

10. Put back in box after removing puppy from box.

11. Take scissors from older dog and sit on them.

12. Remove puppy from box and put on lid.

13. Take tape away from older dog.

14. Unroll paper.

15. Take puppy OFF box.

16. Cut paper being careful not to cut puppy's foot or nose that is getting in the way as he "helps."

17. Let puppy tear remaining paper.

18. Take puppy off box.

19. Wrap paper around box.

20. Remove puppy from box & take wrapping paper from its mouth.

21. Tell older dog to fetch the tape so he will stop stealing it.

22. Take scissors away from puppy.

23. Take tape older dog is holding.

24. Quickly tape one spot before taking scissors from older dog & sitting on them again.

25. Fend off puppy trying to steal tape & tape another spot.

26. Take bow from older dog.

27. Go get roll of wrapping paper puppy ran off with.

28. Take scissors from older dog who took them when you got up.

29. Give pen to older dog to hold so he stops licking your face.

30. Remove puppy from present & hurriedly slap tape on to hold the paper on.

31. Take now soggy bow from puppy & tape on since the sticky stuff no longer sticks.

32. Take pen from older dog, address tag & affix while puppy tries to eat pen.

33. Grab present before puppy opens it & put it away.

34. Clean up mess puppy & older dog made playing tug-of-war with remnants of wrapping paper.

35. Put away rest of wrapping supplies & tell dogs what good helpers they are.

Who am I? 

Here's a post that pretty much sums it all up. Courtesy of a Facebook fibromyalgia page:

I Am a Fibromyalgia Patient

It can be difficult to balance who you were with what you are now and what you hope to become. But I try my best to replace lost abilities with achievable ones.

The G.I.F.T. method.... 

This is an old article from 2002, but the info still applies. Courtesy of a fibromyalgia Facebook page:

Surviving the Holidays

It can be difficult to not feel any guilt, especially when someone else is doing all the hosting because you haven't the energy and all the gifting because you're broke. But I know from years of experience if I volunteer for even one extra thing, the post-holiday flare will last even longer, so I keep my mouth shut and hope I don't come across as a lazy mooch.

A holiday energy budget.... 

Another article with suggestions for reducing the possibility of a flare during the holidays. This one courtesy of the National Fibromyalgia Association:

Holly Jolly Pain-Free Holidays

Now, I haven't managed pain-free. I wouldn't be pain-free even if I did nothing. But I am trying to keep my pre-holiday flares to a minimum, and as for post-holiday, well, I'll just have to tell you how that turns out.

Inspiration for the Day, December 22, 2010: 

All I need to know about life I learned from my Guardian Angel by Erich Lessing

Know all the possibilities of your impossible dream.

Leave space in your relationships so you'll have lots of room to play.

Be yourself.

Forgive, forget, and forge ahead.

It's easier to fly when you take yourself lightly.

Reach out and touch someone lightly with your wing.

Love is the only four-letter word you need to know.

Whenever you hear a bell, another angel has earned their wings.

It's okay to cry during sad movies.

Don't postpone joy to scrub the bathroom or clean the garage.

Love mother earth.

Whenever you feel afraid, get a new box of crayons.

Carry a spare set of wings in your pocket.

Wherever you go, that is where you will be.

Spread your wings and fly.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fibromyalgia and the holidays.... 

It may be a bit late to post this, but perhaps these articles will still be of use to someone. Courtesy of a Facebook fibromyalgia page:

Fibromyalgia: keeping fibro tamed during the holidays - tips one thru three

Fibromyalgia: keeping fibro tamed during the holidays - tips four thru 10

I do agree it is best if you can scale back any obligations. Do only what is most meaningful for you.

Rave of the Day for December 21, 2010: 

I seem to have a lot of funny stuff from 2003! This is no exception....

The Flock

A shepherd was looking after his sheep on the side of a deserted road.

Suddenly a brand new Porsche screeches to a halt. The driver, a young man dressed in an Armani suit, Ray Bans, Tag Heuer watch, White Cerutti shoes, tailor-made mauve shirt, with a Boss tie.

He gets out and asks the shepherd: 'If I can guess how many sheep you have, can I keep one?'

The shepherd looks at the large flock of sheep and says: 'Okay'.

The young man connects his laptop to his mobile phone/fax, enters the NASA website, scans the field using his GPS, opens the database linked to 60 Excel tables, filled with logarithms and pivot tables, then prints out a 150 page report on his high tech mini printer. He studies the reports and says to the shepherd: 'You have 1586 sheep'.

The shepherd replies: "That's correct. You can have the pick of my flock."

The young man packs away his equipment, looks at the flock and puts one into the boot of the Porsche.

As he is about to leave, the Shepherd says: "If I can guess what your profession is will you return the animal to me?'

The young man thinks for a minute and says: 'Okay'.

The shepherd says: 'You are a Management Consultant'.

The young man says: 'Correct, how did you know?'

The Shepherd replied: 'Simple. First you came here without being invited.'

'Second you charged me a fee for something I already knew.'

'Third, you don't understand anything about my business.'

'Now, can I have my dog back?'

The most overused cliche in entertainment.... 

WARNING: contains profanity.

Inspiration for the Day, December 21, 2010: 

Indian Version of the 23rd Psalm

The Great Father above is a Shepherd Chief.
I am His, and with Him I want not.

He throws out to me a rope and the name of the rope is love, and He draws me to where the grass is green and the waters not dangerous.
I eat and lie down satisfied.

Sometimes my heart is very weak and falls down, but He lifts it up again and draws me onto a good road. His name is wonderful.

Sometime, it may be very soon, it may be longer, it may be a long, long time, He will draw me into a place between the mountains. It is dark there, but I'll draw back not. I'll be afraid not, for it is in there between the mountains that the Shepherd Chief will meet me. There the hunger that I have felt in my heart all through this life will be satisfied.

Sometimes He makes the love rope into a whip but afterward He gives me a staff to lean on. He spreads a table before me with all kinds of food. He puts His hands upon my head and all the "tired" is gone. My cup He fills till it runs over.

What I tell you is true. I lie not. Those roads that are away will stay with me through this life and afterward I will go to live in the Big Tepee, and sit down with the Shepherd Chief forever.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Rave of the Day for December 20, 2010: 

More fun from the archives. Don't know the source of this hilarity, but it's dated 2003:

Cat Wisdom

Annoying/Embarrassing Habits: Misuse/Misappropriation of Items ---

1. Although my name is Socks, this does not give me the right to take my human's socks, hide them, and growl at anyone or anything that comes near me when I am in possession of a sock.

2. I do not need to remove used feminine products from the bathroom wastebasket to show to company.

3. I don't have to grab my humans' shoes and rub my face and slobber all over them. I could show that affection to the humans instead.

4. I will not bring all of the pantyhose that my human took off in the bedroom and drop them at her feet in the living room every day. Pantyhose are not some dangerous creature and I do not have to save her from them.

5. I will not do a high-wire act across the curtain rods.

6. I will not drag dirty socks out of the laundry basket and bury them in the litter box.

7. I will not hide bath plugs under the lounge. My human has provided my with enough cat toys - bath plugs are not one of them.

8. I will not secretly extricate my human's silk lingerie from the 2 cm opening in her dresser drawer. I will not proceed to hide the articles of clothing under chairs, tables, or Christmas trees.

9. I will remember that I do not have to sit with the door open to watch it rain. I will use the window.

10. I will stop putting the dog's food into my human's shoes.

--- Misuse/Misappropriation of Items ---

1. Aquariums are for fish, not cats. Upon finding an empty one, I will not climb into it on a DAILY basis and go to sleep with all four feet in the air and my face mushed against the glass. If I do so, I will at least have the good grace to stay put until my human gets his camera ready.

2. Cats should not steal or do serious damage to the plumber's, exterminator's, electrician's, or handyman's tools or equipment, especially while they are using them.

3. Dresser drawers are meant for clothes, not for cats to hide and play in. Especially when they slither in behind the drawers like furry snakes and get stuck.

4. Every pillow/bed/plastic bag/food item is not for me.

5. I do not need the pop tart wrapper even if it is shiny and silver. I especially don't need it when the pop tart is still in it.

6. I do not need to sit on paper. The carpet is perfectly comfortable and I look silly sitting on old newspapers.

7. I don't need to hide all of my treasures behind the refrigerator, especially the pop tarts.

8. I don't need to open drawers to get at the plastic baggies, this worries my human as she fears I'll choke to death.

9. I promise I will no longer bite the rim of the pink plastic waste bin in the bathroom (it looks like it is recovering from a horrid case of teenage acne already).

10. I promise not to hunt down all the dirty socks and hide them around the house. I like my human to go outside with me but she insists on wearing those sock and shoe things.

11. I promise to stop stealing and hiding one of every pair of my human's earrings. (It's her own fault for leaving them on the bureau while she's dressing.)

12. I shall not jump through a neighbour's kitchen window and steal the foil-wrapped joint of roast beef intended for their Sunday dinner - if it just proves irresistible, I shall not leave evidence in the form of foil wrap right outside my own cat flap.

13. I will acknowledge that my human's hand bag is not a suitable storage facility for my cat biscuits.

14. I will allow my human to have his half of the bed.

15. I will never again steal two of my human's clean bras off the line, drag them under a chair in the living room and chew them until they are nice and soggy. This makes my human really cross.

16. I will not break into the (supposedly) securely latched pantry to steal individually wrapped Twinkies. If caught stealing Twinkies, I will then not run over to my food dish and drop the package in and look at my human smugly as it is now mine by virtue of it being in my food dish. (The pantry in question was one that was built in the 1940's and had a latch that you had to turn in order to open it - he figured out how to turn the latch and then pull the door open. It was funny to come into the kitchen and see him half-way into the pantry and then come out with the Twinkie sticking out on either side of his face ... he literally took one look at me and dashed PAST me to drop the Twinkie in his food dish then looked at me again. I really couldn't argue with the theory that if it's in his dish it's his.)

--- Not All There: Miscellaneous Strangeness ---

1. At 9 years old, I should not be living in the cabinet under the bathroom sink. It is disconcerting to the humans to open the doors and see kitty eyes looking at them.

2. Being close to the ceiling is not really as important as it seems.

3. Bubble bath bubbles will not support my weight. I will get wet instead.

4. Bubbles are not solid objects. Therefore I do not need to get frustrated and angry when I cannot catch them, or they disappear into thin air. Furthermore, I must not demand that my humans continue to produce them when they either get tired of blowing them, or run out.

5. Dashing outside every time the door opens to attack the trees presents a problem when one has become newly de-clawed.

6. Despite what I may think, bad timing is not better than no timing at all.

7. Doors are solid and allowed to be closed. If one of the humans has the door closed, it is because they don't want me in there. Headbutting the door will only get me a headache, not to mention it will annoy said human.

8. Hissing at the cat outside 20 feet away isn't effective. He will just ignore me.

9. I am a neutered male cat. I will not let the new kitten nurse on me and then not complain to my human that my belly is now wet.

10. I cannot fit through the strings of a harp; neither sneaking up on it, nor running at it in full spaz mode, will ever increase my chances of doing so. Relocation of the harp to another room has no effect whatsoever on the distance between the strings. It is still the same harp, and I still can't fit.

11. I cannot spring at a bird through a fence.

12. I do not have to constantly prove that I have fewer brain cells than most house plants.

13. I do not have to live up to my name (Ambush) with such enthusiasm.

14. I do not need to throw a temper tantrum every time I see the "new" kitten. Throwing a tantrum is undignified. This is not a bad dream, it is a reality.

15. I hate water, so every time my human takes a bath I will not dip my paws into the bathtub. I will not then act offended when I get wet!

16. I know I'm a small cat (about 8 pounds) but if I go hunting my humans don't think a moth is very impressive prey.

17. I will not attack the fridge.

18. I will not become upset with my human because it is raining. My human may control the faucets and the shower, but I will have to take up the rain with a higher authority.

19. I will not bite my human on the legs to tell her I love her.

20. I will not chase my tail, act surprised when I catch it, shake it annoyance that I caused myself pain when I caught and bit it, get distracted and fascinating by the sinuously waving tail and set the process in motion again.

Inspiration for the Day, December 20, 2010: 

"A Version of the Lord's Prayer" from Prayer at Night by Jim Cotter, Cairns Publications, Sheffield, England, and used in A New Zealand Prayer Book

Eternal Spirit, Life-giver, Pain-bearer, Love-maker,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:
The hallowing of your name echoes through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials too great too endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
Now and forever.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

How illness shapes the holiday season.... 

This is a moving account by Christine, webmistress of But You Don't Look Sick, of how lupus has changed her life and relationships. It is perhaps during the holiday season when we most strongly feel the desire to be "normal"....

Giving Back Would Be the Best Christmas Gift of All

I've been fortunate to not have ever been hospitalized during the holiday season, but there are a few Christmases that I honestly don't remember because I was so sick. I have drastically scaled back my holiday activities, not because I don't want to participate, but because it is far better to do just a few things and be well enough to enjoy them than to stretch myself too thin and then maybe not be able to get out of bed on Christmas day. And even with my minimal lifestyle, I still end up with a mega-flare for several days afterward, so it had better be worth it.

Rave of the Day for December 19, 2010: 

An oldie but goodie circa 2003 from my archives. Posted especially for those of you who are still set on the idea that the holidays must be absolutely picture perfect....


Here are some early warning signs that you may be suffering from "Martha Stewart Disease."

You have an obsession with hanging swags of brightly colored fabric from curtain rods.
Your house is decorated with plaster-cast gremlins and angels.
Every shoebox and empty tin can in the house has been decoupaged with flowers cut out from old wrapping paper.
You float candles in the punch bowl at parties.
You use a gold ink pen to sign all your cards and to leave little notes around the house.
You have glass jars filled with dried rose petals everywhere.
There are pots and pots of herbs on your windowsill, and each herb is painstakingly labeled, along with a hand-drawn picture of the herb.
You've made a doormat with a sunflower design on it out of old bottle-caps.
If given the choice, you would rather spend your weekend in Canadian Tire than be taken out for a good dinner.


You polish every lettuce leaf with a clean white cloth until each one shines like a newly waxed car fender before you put it in the bowl.
You save snowballs from last winter in your fridge, in case you need them to create an ice-sculpture centrepiece.
You have tie-dyed all of your T-shirts with dyes made from vegetables grown in your garden.
You've made wind chimes out of old coconut shells.
Your hedges have all been pruned to resemble chess pieces.
Your salads consist mainly of nasturtiums and pansies.
Every chunk of cheese on your cheese tray comes with a toothpick and a little flag upon which is clearly labeled the cheese's country of origin.
Your hair looks like a bonsai tree.
You hoard cookie cutters in all sizes, shapes and colors in a kitchen drawer and nobody is allowed to touch them.
You insist on using ostrich eggs instead of regular-size eggs for the annual Easter egg hunt.
You put rouge on your children's cheeks so they'll look all fresh and rosy and apple-cheeked when company comes over.


All of the grass in your front yard is braided.
You serve entrees in an attractive real bird's nest you found in a nearby forest.
You make your own Jell-o from calves' hooves rather than buy the powdered stuff.
You decorate your cakes with pieces of ceramic, bundles of chiffon, buttons, marbles and other inedible stuff just because "it looks so pretty."
Each and every flower in the back yard is wrapped in raffia and sports a shiny red bow.
You serve wine to your guests in conch shells.
You've smeared the walls with yogurt so that over time, a natural-looking greenish mould will grow, giving your home the fashionably distressed look of an ancient Greek temple.
You dress all of your children, despite their gender, in white chiffon dresses and white straw fedoras with white satin ribbons and haven't fed them for days in case they grow into an awkward, gangly phase.
You've macrame'd yourself a computer cozy from hemp and recycled plastic.
Before you go to bed at night, you spend hours on your hobby farm putting the wool on your sheeps' bodies in hot rollers, so they will look more fluffy and glamorous than the neighbor's.
You sleep outside the house, in a tent, so that you don't spoil your perfectly made bed.


Remedy No. 1: Tie the afflicted woman in a chair and brace her head with slabs of plywood so that she is unable to move her head. Force her to look at a painting of dogs playing poker for one hour the first day, two hours the second day, three hours the third day and so on.
Remedy No. 2: A night on the town with Don Cherry and his pals.
Remedy No. 3: Buy her a one-way ticket to Bosnia, Bangladesh or any Third World country so she can appreciate the real meaning of "lifestyle."

Inspiration for the Day, December 19, 2010: 

from "Prayer Is Good Medicine" by Larry Dossey, M.D.

"'If only I'd been further along my spiritual path, the biopsy would have come back negative,' one of my patients once said. Why do we blame ourselves for getting sick? I call this New Age guilt, and it is currently epidemic in our society. The accusation can also come from others. I call this New Age blame.

"Sure, disease can be a reflection of the psyche. For example, people who experience a tremendous degree of psychological stress at work and have no control over the demands of their job have a higher incidence of heart attacks. Also, it is well known that individuals who are burdened with a sense of stress and anxiety and who are cynical and angry toward life in general - the so-called Type A personality - are more likely to die younger of heart disease.

"But examples such as these do not mean that all diseases are correlated with psychological problems or spiritual failure. Many great saints and mystics died from dreadful diseases, sometimes at a young age. . . . If 'being spiritual' immunized one against illness, the saints and mystics should have been healthy and long-lived. The fact that they often were not shows that one can attain great spiritual heights and get very sick.

"Why did the cells in the stomach of Ramana Maharshi, the most beloved saint of modern India, become cancerous, and why did this God-realized man die a painful death from stomach cancer? Why did the Buddha, the Awakened One, die from food poisoning? Why was Saint Teresa of Avila afflicted with crippling arthritis? Or why did our biopsy turn out positive - in spite of the fact that we may have done immense spiritual work in our lifetime? In each instance, the cells in the body are just being themselves, doing what cells do, which sometimes involves malfunctioning.

"In the past half-century, medical scientists have discovered the most intimate connections between mind and body. These insights, marvelous as they are, should not be extended too far. The correlation between mental and physical health is general, not invariable. Even if we do our spiritual homework, it is not always the case that we will be blessed with good health.

"In the first verse of the first chapter of the book of Job we read, 'Job . . . was. . . perfect.' And later on, 'In all this Job sinned not.' Job's story shows that perfection, personal disaster, and physical illness can go hand in hand. Sometimes our body's cells are just going to be themselves and break down, no matter how spiritually advanced we may be.

"Almost everyone experiences illness sooner or later. When we ask the inevitable questions - Why is this happening? Why me? - we should resist blaming ourselves for causing the problem. When our organs, cells, and molecules malfunction, rather than criticize them we might thank them for sustaining us as faithfully as they have. . . . "

"We ought to take a less demanding attitude toward our bodies. Our bodies might be grateful. Nobody likes to be told they have to be perfect all the time."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Inspiration for the Day, December 18, 2010: 

from "The Fibromyalgia Advocate: Getting the Support You Need to Cope with Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain Syndrome" by Devin J. Starlanyl, M.D.:

"Many of us get hit with negativity bombs delivered by well-meaning people who try to explain away our conditions, not realizing that they're basically blaming us for having FMS and/or MPS. They say, 'If you just forgot about it, you'd feel better.' Clearly they need to be educated. So educate them. Well-meaning religious representatives can also deliver mighty blows, kicking us when we are down. When we are told that sickness is the way we are 'paying for our sins', that constitutes 'cruel and unusual punishment'. Try to educate them. Don't accept the guilt.

"I have spoken with religious leaders and others, and with few exceptions, I've been told to explain clearly that illness is not our fault. God doesn't want people to suffer. Unconditional love seems to be the Golden Rule here. So why do we fall ill?

"Native American healers and leaders believe that sickness is a way to learn - a process by which we can evolve to a clearer, deeper understanding of what it means to be a human being. Sometimes an unusual illness is the first sign that a person has been chosen to become a shaman, or healer. Perhaps we all have been chosen to be healers in some way. Perhaps we are teaching others - and ourselves - patience and compassion. Many great souls in history have had difficult, painful lives.

"Many FMS and/or MPS patients who believe in reincarnation have written to me asking if they were horrible people in their previous lives. Why else would they have FMS/MPS Complex? I spoke to Gordon-Michael Scallion, an internationally known psychic and friend, about this. He said that we may simply have wanted to understand the essence of life more thoroughly.

"My friend, Paul Gallagher, the director of the Deer Mountain Taoist Academy, agrees. he said that an illness such as this can be a path to spiritual enlightenment. Your spiritual belief system can be a great emotional support to you, and a positive influence in your life and the lives of those around you."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Inspiration for the Day, December 17, 2010: 

from "Alternative Treatments for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Insights from Practitioners and Patients" by Mari Skelly and Andrea Helm:

"Having a chronic illness can make a person totally alter their belief systems, too. A religious person could start questioning why God has allowed them to suffer so. An atheist might start praying for relief. People who were once independent and strong-willed suddenly find themselves weak and dependent. People who always depended on others are suddenly forced to look inside themselves for the strength to go on. Sometimes, when everything else has been taken away, relationships are the only thing that can sustain a sick person.

"Mari says that when she found her support group, she found herself surrounded by people who were going through the same thing themselves, who accepted her friendship 'as is'. Here were people, she says, who had the same condition she did, and she felt so much comfort in knowing this. Eventually, she realized that everything that happens, happens for a reason. She tried to discover what lessons she was meant to learn from her illness. Mari says that she never had a 'faith' or organized religion before February 1996, when she attended a women's purifying ritual for the New Year. That night, she says, she felt connected, a small part of the entire world. After that experience, she began attending regular rituals and co-founded a new women's group. She says it's filled a giant hole in her spirit that she didn't even know she had.

"Her most spirit-altering experience came after she injured herself about six months ago. She was lying on the sofa in great pain and began saying a healing prayer. At that moment, she says, she experienced an amazing, healing love that she recognized as Jesus Christ. She felt a presence that held her and filled the room. 'I knew then that no matter the name of the healer or type of religion, no matter whether it's God or the Source that you believe in, suffering is, in my opinion, universal, and healing of the spirit is possible,' she says. For the first time in her life, she truly understood the words 'mind/body/spirit connection.' . . . .

"Sharon W. says that one of the biggest drawbacks of having FM or CFS is that you get so busy concentrating on how to handle life on a day-to-day basis that you can't concentrate on spiritual matters. 'I've been too busy with other things that have been changing in my life to think about how being sick is changing [my spirituality].'

"Sherry J., on the other hand, has found that her illness has given her a greater spiritual focus. 'Being sick my whole life has meant that I've never had time to think about God. I was always a Christian and lived a Christian life, or tried very hard to, but I didn't go to church. I couldn't have made it this far without God. I have no doubt that there's someone much more powerful than I am. I don't really pray, but I try to give as much as I can. That's my way, and it comes back in return. I now believe God is inside us, and we each have our own ability to believe and be good and do good, or we can go the other way. Usually, if we go the other way, we pay for it. Whatever we give out, we get back. It's been proven to me over and over again in my life, with my grandchildren, my children, my illness, everything.'

"Illness can bring great transformations in our emotional and spiritual lives, some of them positive. For almost three years after the auto accident that caused her FM, Andrea allowed herself to wallow in self-pity and depression. She wandered around in a daze, wondering, 'Why me?' She was angry and upset that something so catastrophic could happen to her. One day, she ran into an acquaintance at the grocery store. His hair was gone, and he had scars all over his head. He looked like he, too, had been chewed up in an accident. She asked him what had happened. He replied, 'Brain cancer'. He had had a massive operation to remove malignant tumors from his brain. She expressed her sympathy and gave him a hug. As he turned to leave, he looked Andrea right in the eye and said, 'Count your blessings'.

Andrea says she did just that with every step she took on the way home that day. She gave thanks for her boyfriend, her girlfriends, the fact that she hadn't been paralyzed or horribly disfigured in the accident, the fact that she could still see and hear and smell and taste and experience this incredible universe. Since then, she's taken time out of every day to remember things to be thankful for. . . .

"Ellen J.'s illness has helped put her more in tune with the universe. 'I use my condition as a way to connect with the source, rather than feeling like I've been abandoned by something. And my spiritual practices have really changed. I found I could no longer go to services, so that forced me to find other says to become spiritual, including meditation, getting together with other women, and doing women's rituals. Also connecting with people on a non-superficial level, in contrast to how I think most people in our society deal with one another. I feel really blessed that I've had the opportunity to connect with people on a deeper level. I probably wouldn't have had this opportunity had I not become ill. I've had to examine who I am, whether my life is going in the direction it should go. Even though I would not have chosen to live my life in pain, I'm finally at peace with it.'" . . . .

"Cornelia is a thirty-nine-year-old actress who is studying to be an Episcopal priest. She works in the field of healing prayer and also has FM. She and her husband have two sons, and they live in Seattle. She believes that prayer can help those with chronic illness . . . .

"Here's one example of how healing prayer has affected me and my family. I had been sick with FM, multiple chemical sensitivity, and endometriosis for some time. Before I got married, the doctors who had been taking care of my endometriosis said they did not think I would ever be able to conceive or carry a child. My friends and coworkers in healing prayer had an all-day prayer session for me - what they call 'soaking prayer'. Three women gathered around me as I lay just under the altar in the church. They prayed for me, they sang, they put their hands on my stomach for hours at a time (they were praying for my fertility). It was one of the most glorious times of prayer I have ever experienced. The women were so loving and so generous, and I felt that the Spirit of God was really there. My son was born two years after I was married. It was miraculous.

"Soaking prayer can be one of two things. It can be a marathon session, like the one those women did for me. Or it can be praying day after day, week after week, just being in the presence of God and inviting God's will to come into your body. And miraculous things happen and the healing that takes place isn't always just physical. God's agenda may not be the same as ours. Healing can come in all sorts of forms. My agenda is not always dealt with in the way that I think but God's agenda always will be. God affects healing in our spirits and souls in addition to our physical bodies (or instead of, in some cases).

"I recall many other examples of how healing prayer has been a blessing. Our family went through a terrible crisis two years ago. Within a two-week period, everything horrific that could happen did happen. I lost my seventh pregnancy, my husband was in a terrible accident, and we were fired from our jobs in the theater we had founded. The church gathered around us in a way that was holy, uplifting, and strengthening. We didn't have to cook for a month. They brought us food; they mowed our grass; they prayed with us and for us; they sent us notes every day to let us know they were thinking of us. It was the most beautiful outreach of the body of Christ that I have ever experienced, and it just blessed us down to our socks. In the midst of our terrible grief and pain, the church was like a dolphin swimming alongside another dolphin that is giving birth, helping to support it as the pain fades and a new life is born. It was a perfect example of how people in the church can be family to one another.

"Currently there's a trend within the medical community to tend to patients' spiritual well-being as well as their physical needs. I know that nurses are learning all sorts of groundbreaking spiritual healing techniques, like laying on of hands, energy work, soaking prayer, all sorts of things. I've read that almost half of the nurses practicing today are doing this. That is just surprising and wonderful! Miracles of healing are happening every day.

"My spiritual director gave me a prayer that has been very helpful as a centering prayer. Christians use centering prayer in the same way that Buddhists use mantras or other faiths use certain centering words or chants. It's an ancient prayer that has been used for almost two thousand years. You simply say 'Lord Jesus Christ' as you breathe in, and 'Have mercy on me' as you breathe out.

"When I am in trouble, when I'm scared or upset, or have a nightmare, that prayer is the first thing that comes to my consciousness. It has become my default setting, if you will. It's very comforting to me, because I'm saying the name of the Lover of my soul over and over again. There's great power in saying His name, we Christians believe. It's very holy to me.

"Some people just say the word 'Love' or 'Peace'. Anything that is holy to you or that pulls you into your experience of God can be used as a simple breathing prayer. It can be done daily in a ritualistic form. It can be done in traffic; it can be done in the bathroom; it can be done anywhere. It's lovely to have a subconscious prayer that happens almost without thought. Sometimes I light a candle and use it as a centering device in my prayer. Some people hold a rock or something else from the earth. I think that women, especially, are very drawn to rituals and altars (which could be just pictures of loved ones). I always have an altar of central things in my room that focuses me. An icon, they say, is a window to heaven. Anything can be an icon for you and help you pray. It will change as you and your spiritual life change.

"I believe that the Creator made us as a unity, as wholeness. The word 'whole' comes from the same root as 'holy', which also means 'healthy', 'hale' and 'hearty'. That is very significant to me. I think we are meant to have a sort of circle, a wholeness within ourselves, and that the spirit should not be ignored in any healing journey. Our spirits are very important parts of the package that make us 'us'. If you ignore your spirit, it will send you dreams to tell you to be more sensitive. I believe one reason I am making such progress in my own healing is that my lovely Lord, my Holy Spirit, partner in my healing, will not let me ignore my spirit. I get these wonderful nudges that remind me to pray or be mindful of God . . . .

"To try healing prayer, you don't need to have a particular faith. You do have to believe in something bigger than yourself. Belief in a 'loving higher power' or however God appears to you, is fine. As you pray, you can imagine that love is coming into you; you can imagine God's forgiveness or healing power washing over you.

"And you do have to practice. It's like learning the piano - you have to do your five-finger exercises. You can't just suddenly play a sonata. It takes awhile to develop openness to the spirit of God. People who are new to prayer sometimes find it helpful to focus on the word 'God'. You don't have to be very verbal about it; healing prayer is wonderful that way. I know one woman who had trouble with the idea of Jesus as a man, so she just imagined a large, beautiful dove bringing her the gifts of God. As you may know, the dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, so it worked really well for her. Imagery is very useful in healing prayer. Often, when I pray for a client, I see a little movie or a series of pictures about what is going on in that person. When I describe what I see to clients, they are often astounded because it seems like the Holy Spirit is talking to them.

"You have to be humble, you have to be open, and you have to be receptive to whatever gift God sends to you. It's also important to have a sense of humor about it all. There's a beautiful passage in the Bible (Proverbs 17:22) that speaks to the need to keep a sense of humor through your hard times: 'A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.' Laughter can be blessedly healing, and keeping joy in our hearts is one of the keys to living a better life - for anyone , not just those with chronic illness. As author and theologian Madeleine L'Engle puts it: 'Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.'

"If you are interested in finding a healing prayer group, just call a church in your area. Call some churches that sound good to you. Most Christian churches and some synagogues, too, have a prayer chain. I am an associate of a convent, the Community of the Holy Spirit in New York City. It is a great comfort to me to know that every day those women pray for me, and every day I pray for them. They are very holy women. Their job is prayer. That's what they do.

"If you find a group who will pray for you, you don't necessarily have to 'buy' their whole package or believe in their specific teachings. If you trust them enough to ask for their prayers, they will be honored to do it, because that is a call that Christians share. That is true of other religions, too.

"Come to God humbly and openly, and listen to the Holy Spirit instead of always giving God your list of desires. Listen to what God may have to say to you, present your request in a humble manner, and God will hear you. I don't think any prayer is ever wasted; every prayer is heard and answered. The answer may not be the answer that we would choose, but there is always an answer. There's always a change in ourselves and a blessing from God.

"I think that healing prayer could be, for someone who is open to it, the single most important step toward recovery. I say that with knowledge of what I've seen in people's lives, and in my own life, when we're opened to the power of God. Exploring healing prayer could be a really great blessing to many people. It could bring a measure of wholeness that may be missing in your life."

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