Saturday, February 23, 2008

What I Did Today - Saturday, February 23, 2008

1. I got up early and had breakfast at home - fresh orange juice and cereal with raspberries.
2. I replaced the old toilet handle in the master bathroom with a new brushed nickel handle.
3. I scored on eBay - I sniped a bottle of my favorite scent, Chanel 22, which has been discontinued by Chanel and is accordingly hard to find. After not having the winning bid on a 1.7 oz bottle, I scored a 2.5 oz bottle for a little less than half what the smaller bottle went for...go figure.
4. Cleaning my bedroom, I finally found a pair of earrings I've been trying to find for months. I'd stashed them - why do I do this to myself? Now if I can just find the other couple of things I've stashed, and for which I've been looking for some time...
5. I had a quick lunch with A at LaMadeleine - A has the flu and sounds (and feels) terrible.
6. I packed up some books and CD's that Mike asked me to send him, but I'll have to mail the packages next weekend, as Mailboxes Inc., was closed when I got there.
7. I made myself a decent dinner - herbed pork chops and new potatoes.
8. I cleaned the kitchen, including the refrigerator.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dave!

Peering out of tiny eyes
The grubby hands that gripped the rail
Wiped the window clean of frost
As the morning air laid on the latch

A whistle awakened someone there
Next door to the nursery just down the hall
A strange new sound, you never heard before
A strange new sound...that makes girls explore

Tread neat, so small, those little feet
Amid the morn the small heart beats
So much excitement yesterday
That must be rewarded...must be displayed

Large hands lift her through the air
Excited eyes contain her there
The eyes of those she loves and knows
But what's this extra bed just here?
Her puzzled head tips to one side
Amazement swims in those bright green eyes
Glancing down upon this thing
That makes strange sounds...strange sounds that sing

In those silent happy seconds
That surround the sound of this event

A parent smile is made in moments...

They have made for you a friend
And all you ever learned from them
Until you grew much older
Did not compare with when they said

This is your brand new brother...
This is your brand new brother...
This is your brand new brother...

The Greatest Discovery, by Elton John

I was not quite 3½ years old when you were born, but I have that sort of elephant memory thing, so there are details that I remember quite well. We were living in the country, in southwestern Wisconsin, in a drafty old farmhouse: two stories tall, no central heat, no indoor plumbing.

Mom had told me she was going to have a baby, but I didn’t spend much time thinking about it. I had other things to think about. I was terribly lonely, always; that is my overwhelming memory of that place. The
fact that I had 5 older siblings was no consolation; there was too much of an age difference for me to be allowed to tag along with any of them. My only, constant companion, E, was usually referred to, sometimes with a chuckle, sometimes with a tsk tsk, depending on who was commenting, as my imaginary friend. Even at 3, I preferred to think of E as my invisible friend, as E was quite real to me. And anyway, E wasn’t a child, but an adult male, whom I chatted up all day as I wandered around the house and yard, exploring, always hoping to find something wonderful and regularly being disappointed in that endeavor, in that place.

Mom never learned to drive, but even if she had, we had just one car, so trips into town were few and far between. Accordingly, Mom sometimes ordered things from the Sears catalogue. I had no idea where babies came from, and at 3, no particular interest in finding out, but it occurred to me, one icy afternoon in late January when a large package from Sears arrived in the mail, that perhaps "the baby" was inside that package! I waited impatiently for Mom to open it, and was incredibly disappointed to see that the big box, so full of promise, held nothing more than a very ordinary, oversized, dark blue and white, speckled enamel roasting pan. As Mom sat in the kitchen, with the roasting pan on her lap, I urged her to put the lid on, and then take it off again, quickly, convinced, if she’d just do that, that "the baby" would magically appear. In late pregnancy, Mom was in no mood to humor me. I managed to try it myself, several times, later that afternoon, only to discover it didn’t work for me either.

Three weeks later, I was quite upset when I woke one morning and found that Mom was gone. Dad said she’d gone to the hospital "to have the baby". In an attempt to amuse me and perhaps distract me from missing her so much, he took me to a neighbor’s farm, where I was allowed to help bottle feed some baby lambs. I still remember the thrill of feeling a baby lamb tugging hard at the bottle I was holding.
After what seemed like forever, but in fact was probably about a week, Mom came home. You were in her arms, but I couldn't see you because you were completely and tidily wrapped up against the winter cold in a soft blue baby blanket. Mom walked through the kitchen and into the living room, where she laid you down in your bed: a big dresser drawer lined with an old quilt. She got you settled there, then she called me to come see you.

I heard you before I saw you: you were making throaty little snuffling sounds. Curious, I knelt on my knees beside the drawer, and bent over the edge to see you up close. My first impression was that you smelled great. Also, you were very pink. You were still swaddled up in that soft blue blanket. The satin edge was cool, and wonderfully smooth to touch, and I felt a wave of envy, running my fingertips lightly over the edge of that lush blanket.

Then I saw that you were looking right at me, staring intently, and I was transfixed. As you studied me with your big baby blues, Mom told me to hold out a finger. She said that you’d grab it if I did. I didn’t believe her, so I pointed a finger and held it in the air in front of you, right above your tightly closed fist, just to prove her wrong. Mom said, "Touch his hand," and I my surprise, your fist flew open. For a moment, your fingers waved dreamily, randomly, like the tentacles on an anemone...but the moment your fingers touched mine, you grabbed on, curling your entire hand tightly around my finger, and holding fast, with a grip like a vice. I laughed out loud, surprised and happy at the magic of that contact, of that moment...

...this is your brand new brother...

Happy Birthday, Dave

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fun, fun, fun...

So this morning at 9:30 I go to get scoped, top and bottom...well, actually, bottom and, if all goes pun intended...then top too...

Yuck. As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been putting this procedure off for years, hoping for a medical breakthrough that would help me to avoid it entirely. I thought this had finally happened last fall, when I heard about the Virtual Colonoscopy, but it turns out that it’s not nearly so virtual as one would hope, in addition to which there are two major drawbacks: no drugs (what’s the fun in that?) and, if they find any “problems” you’re scheduled guessed it... a regular colonoscopy. Uh-huh.

So I decided to opt for drugs and get the whole thing over and done with all at once. My friends keep asking, “How do you feel about this?” Can you tell I hang out with a bunch of women who majored in psychology? Well, the truth is, I’ve been feeling sort of cheap. I keep thinking the doc and I don’t know each other well enough for me to submit to this kind of...indignity. I mean, shouldn’t he at least buy me dinner or a drink first?

My baby brother has had this procedure done and assures me it’s nothing. Dave says the preparation is worse than the, uh...procedure itself. I’ve had an endoscopy before, and that was a breeze, thanks to the wonderful drugs they administer beforehand, something the anesthesiology staff calls “twilight sleep”, usually a combination of midazolam and diazepam. These are goooooood drugs that leave you conscious but extremely cooperative during the procedure, and then have the added bonus of wiping out all conscious memory of the event, sort of the GI docs’ variation of “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas...” When I had the endoscopy, I was so relaxed that if the doc had appeared with 30 feet of garden hose coiled over his shoulder to do the scope, I’m pretty sure my reaction would have been to have simply smiled dreamily and opened wide...and it’s true, I don’t remember a thing about it.

And Dave was right, the preparation is pretty grim. On Monday, I started the required liquid diet. For breakfast I had a nice glass of apple juice (orange juice is too pulpy); for lunch I had chicken broth and jello, and for dinner I had chicken broth and jello. Ditto yesterday...except that yesterday afternoon at 2:00, as instructed, I had an ice cold bottle of Magnesium Citrate, “the sparkling laxative”...yeah, well, despite the kicky name, I can assure you, I won’t be ordering that in place of any other sparkling beverages that I regularly consume any time soon. I was at work when I consumed the bottle of sparkling laxative, and shortly after consuming it, I realized the instructions should have read, “At 2:00 PM, at home, drink a 10 oz. bottle of Magnesium Citrate...”

I was surprised but happy to learn that in spite of my age and the fact that I’ve been avoiding the gym, at least some of the muscles in my body are still quite strong...nevertheless, shortly after consuming the sparkling laxative, not wanting to press my luck, I closed up shop and left for the day.

At home, the 4 liter jug of NuLytely awaited me. Mixed with lukewarm water, per instructions, it rendered a little over a gallon of a liquid that bore an alarming resemblance to spit. I noticed there was a couched sort of acknowledgment of this in the written instructions: “If you cannot drink the solution or vomiting occurs, call Dr. W’s office immediately. It may be necessary to delay your exam and change preparations.” After all the preparation I'd done up to this point, no way was I backing down now. I managed to drink about two-thirds of it (approximately 80 ounces) at the recommended rate of eight ounces every ten minutes, before my gag reflex kicked in hard and said No More; however, the amount I’d consumed produced the required results, details of which I’ll refrain from providing.

There’s a goofy GI doc named Dr. Fusco whose partner (uh, that’s medical partner) did a colonoscopy on Dr. F a couple of years ago (oh, those crazy GI docs!) and he wrote about it here, in a lot more detail than I’ve provided.

A's driving me there; Kath is picking me up, and tomorrow night I'm going to have a GREAT dinner...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What I Did Today - Saturday, February 16, 2008

1. I gave a small donation to the Forth Worth Symphony in response to a call from a phone solicitor doing fund-raising for the symphony...I kept thinking what a hard job that must be.
2. I went to the movies - I saw The Savages, an interesting film (and one worth seeing) with two of my favorite actors: Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney, playing a brother and sister who come together to deal with their aging father's dementia. I didn't much care for the script, but the acting was terrific.
3. I finally put a new handle on the toilet tank in the guest bath. It's brushed nickel, to match the rest of the hardware in there. It wasn't a difficult thing to do, except that the old hardware was corroded onto the tank, making removal...interesting...
4. I made a shower curtain for the guest bath, having discarded the ancient shower door in November, before the shower was resurfaced.
5. I put a fresh coat of teak oil on the towel ladder in the guest bath.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Let Me Call You Sweetart...

Being female, for most of my life, people who didn't know me addressed me as "Miss!" I was well beyond my 50th birthday before "Miss" began to be replaced with any regularity by the dreaded "Ma'am". Just as I was beginning to get used to "Ma'am", though, another appellation has begun to be applied, and it's one that I like even less than "Ma'am"...for the life of me, I don't know WHY, but I've begun to be addressed by strangers as "Sweetie". I LOATHE this appellation. I assure you, I am NO Sweetie. Among my friends, I'm known for my tart tongue, and a good friend once said I reminded him of a cactus: he said I was prickly on the outside, required the sparsest sustenance, and bloomed, quite unexpectedly, at odd times. I still think that's a wonderful compliment, and I still think it's quite apt.

So imagine my chagrin when I went for a doctor's visit a couple of weeks ago and the regular nurse, a 60-something who's been around the block a few times, and who knows me and addresses me by my name, wasn't there, but the 30-something substitute filling in for her addressed me as "Sweetie". As in,

"OK, Sweetie, sit up here on the table, this won't hurt a bit..."
"Oh, Sweetie, your blood pressure is VERY good, VERY good..."

"How good?"
I asked.

"Sweetie, it's VERY good," she repeated, as if I were an imbecile.


I sat there thinking, "Dammit, I have co-authored a chapter in a med school textbook; do NOT "Sweetie" me!" But I was nice to her; I didn't say anything.

My liver enzymes are funky, and have been for some time, so my doctor is methodically ordering tests to rule out various disorders. She started, quite reasonably, with a blood test for hepatitis, which I do not have. Next, she suggested a sonogram of my liver. The insurance company required that I pre-register for the procedure. "What procedure will be performed?" and "Why was this procedure ordered?" were two of the questions I was required to answer as part of the pre-registration process. I had no problem answering those questions, but I did wonder if the average bear is prepared to answer them.

This morning I went to the hospital to have the sonogram. Going to the hospital as an outpatient is pretty much like going to Chili's, except that there is no mouth-watering smell of grilled onions and fajitas as you wait; but I was given the same sort of paging device and told to wait until it went off, which I did. Eventually, I was directed to the "Imaging" area of the hospital: a rather shabby, dark, warm corridor, at the end of which was a room, outside of which stood a nice young woman, perhaps 25, the sonogram technician. She smiled at me and said,

"Hello Sweetie! Come on in..."

I complied, and she said, "Now Sweetie, tell me why you're here today...what am I going to do, and why am I going to do it?

She looked at me expectantly, and I smiled brightly...and came oh so close to saying, "Why, I want to find out the sex of my baby, of course!"

Happy Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Things I Did Today (and last night, to be accurate)...or...Pucker Up!

1. Last night, because there was a threat of possible golf-ball sized hail, I moved things around in the garage until I again had parking space. "Moved things around" sounds so innocuous...there was nothing innocuous about what I moved, which included the 78" marble countertop for the master bath, complete with two attached, porcelain, undermounted sinks. The whole counterop is still fastened to the shipping crate...sort of...(I could build a sturdier shipping crate). It's not on wheels, and it's so big there was no way to maneuver either of the two dollies I own under it, so I applied various laws of physics and after about 90 minutes of huffing and puffing, I'd managed to push it to one side of my garage without putting my back out, no small miracle. The reason it's still in the garage and not yet installed is that I have a leaky shower pan in the master bath...more remodeling to be done.

2. I drove to work this morning. So what? you might ask...well, last night, when I was leaving, having heard that the aforementioned weather forecast for "violent thunderstorms" included not only hail but possible tornadoes...and because I've had the unpleasant experience, more than once (!) of being herded into one of several of the huge basements at work when the tornado sirens go off, and being "held captive" there (company policy) for over an hour, until the tornado sirens stopped shrieking, and because I had a doctor's appointment this afternoon that I didn't want to miss...last night I e-mailed my boss that I was taking my computer home so that if the weather was horrible this morning, I'd be working from home. But when I awoke the weather was mild, the streets were relatively dry (it rained during the night), and the sun was trying to break through. So I dutifully drove the 52 miles to work, where my boss smiled and said, "Why'd you come in?"

3. The plus side to the good weather this morning: the tree trimmer showed up and cored out both of the oak trees in my front yard. They badly needed it, as they hadn't been trimmed since shortly after the fire (October 2002) and both were very overgrown. To my relief, the guy did a good job, and the price was right, so I'm keeping his card on file.

4. I went back to my GI guy (gastro-intestinal GI) for a pre-colonoscopy (ugh!) check-up. I like this doc, though. He's the guy who scoped me and diagnosed my ulcers a couple of light years ago, and more importantly, after doing that, dosed me with the appropriate antibiotics so that finally, after 10 years of living with ulcers, I was rid of them. He's very low key, totally no-nonsense, treats me like an intelligent human being (which I appreciate) plus he has great art (water colors and photographs of wild places) on his walls as well as good magazines (Women's Health, National Geographic Adventure, and Outside, among others) in his waiting room. He was running late, and apologized for that, explaining that his first patient of the afternoon was an hour late. So we reviewed what's going to happen and I got out of there.

And the reason I finally made this appointment in the first place? In November, I had my first complete physical, EVER, at which time my GP, examining my...posterior...said

"Have you had a colonoscopy yet?"

"No," I said, smiling brightly, "I've been avoiding it!"

Dr. G said, "I think you should schedule it."

I said, "I'll do that," (thinking, hoo boy, this lie is right up there with "Size doesn't matter!" and "The check is in the mail"...)

"I'm serious..." Dr. G said darkly (picking up on my flippancy, no doubt), and then she added mysteriously, "There's nothing to worry about, I'm sure, but I think I detected a little pucker back there..."

Instead of feeling worried I almost chortled. A pucker? Sheesh! She was examining my, uh...derriere, for chrissake! And I'm pretty sure, anatomically speaking, that part is supposed to be puckered...but what do I know? I'm just an aging baby I made the appointment...

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Things I Did This Weekend

1. I went to Home Depot looking for a new light for the guest bath shower. Aaaaaaarrrgggh. Unfortunately, there appear to be no good looking shower lights, so I got new trim for the old light instead, and installed that.
2. I went to Restoration Hardware, where I bought towels, a shower curtain, and shower rings for Katharina, who's found an apartment five minutes away and was busy all weekend moving into it.
3. I read three stories to Alexander. Last night while Kath was packing Xander and I giggled our way through Miss Nelson is Back and The Stupids Have A Ball, and then I made wild sounds as I read him Where the Wild Things Are. He enjoyed the sound effects as much as all 4 of mine did at that age. Xander is familiar with Miss Nelson, as I gave him one of those books for Christmas, but it was his first encounter (the first of many, I'm sure) with The Stupids, also written and illustrated by the highly talented Allard and Marshall. The books are currently out of print, or at least I can't find them at my local B&N, but I can get them through and will, as they're HILARIOUS.
4. I cleaned the rear patio, which was a mess. Because I haven't landscaped yet, instead of a decaying pool, my beautiful new fence surrounds a dried out mud pit. Alexander walked out back and said, "Wow, Judi, it looks like the DESERT out here!" Uh-huh. That's gonna change, eventually, given a little time and money...
5. I cleaned out the two big flowerbeds in front and planted another pot of pansies as well as several Cyclamen plants - I love this time of year.
6. I met Kath and Xander at Blue Mesa, where Xander had a lemonade and Kath and I each had a well deserved Margarita and we all had some dinner.