Thursday, August 31, 2006

My mothers family was connected in a peripheral way to the presidency. She was quite proud of growing up in the town of Marion, Ohio where President Harding lived. But wait there's more. Mother's uncle Henry "Petey" DeWolfe was married to Florence Kling and fathered a child by her. Florence left Uncle "Petey" and married Warren Harding. So that made mother's cousin the stepchild of the President of the United States.

When Carl Anthony wrote a book about Florence I had to have it. When he referred to the DeWolfe family as a distinguished Huguenot family I copied all 13 indexed references to send my cousins. "Our family lives in history!" I crowed. And then I heard a raucous snort. "A black sheep alcoholic is our family claim to greatness?" mocked Q.
"His picture is IN THE BOOK" I pleaded. More gagging snort sounds.

So she will not get my annotated copy of the book NOR my mother's newspaper clippings of the Harding years NOR
the documentation that might have put her royal hiney in the D.A.R. Sniff.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Men who retire meddle in their wives business. That's why they need hobbies. Something to get them out of the house. Golf is a good thing. When they are not playing they can shop for golf paraphernalia. They can register for tournaments. They can practice their stroke. You see how this works.

One of the first things Dan did when he retired was set the freezer temperature up higher. The next day the floor was covered in melted freezer water. He experimented for a week on different settings before he hit on the one it was customarily set at. He eventually did the clean up.

He didn't like the picking up preparatory for the cleaning woman to clean. He took over the chores. I tried not to criticize. He used no products when he cleaned. He told me proudly the way he cleaned the toilet was flush first then take a fist full of toilet tissue and wipe off the seat.

He vacuumed the day company was coming. You could tell from the track down the center of the hall.

It was important that I be at work. 'She's so spoiled. Her husband has dinner ready every night." The dinners I cooked all weekend and he re-heated. If I had not been at work we would have tangled. I don't know how retired couples coexist.

Unless one has a hobby to occupy ones day.

Someone has put the gypsy curse on Earthlink. The whole system is fouled up and the courteous help line folks only add layers of errors to the crumbling wreckage. So for the past month I have been paying for a DSL service designed to aggravate me.

Through the years, when I had more spunk, I would write letters explaining what had gone wrong and what needed to be done to correct things. I was then known as the "customer" and I was "valued".

Nowadays there is no one to identify the name of the person in charge of a company. There is no switchboard operator to connect you. So if I don't post on a daily basis it is because has failed me. Again.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Here are my thoughts on D.I.V.O.R.C.E. and successful remarriage.

A. Bring and keep financial independence in the match.
B. Don't expect the new spouse to solve your old Issues.
C. You will be trading one set of problems for another. Hopefully you will be better equipped to deal with the second set of problems because you are more mature.
D. Have fun more; clean house less.
E. Be sure he has a spot for his stuff that you do not clean or invade without his knowledge.
F. Be respectful and never ridicule him.
G. Be sure he has a hobby before he retires that he can keep busy with during the day while you are at work.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

When Dan and I married we combined my house of furniture with his bachelor condo of furniture. His color theme of orange, turquoise and black was drawn on the Howard Johnson restaurant color palate. Glassware, trays, towels and blankets were accumulated from time spent in Omaha working for General Foods.

The children would say "Why does this towel say Howard Johnsons ?" And I would throw away the towel as soon as I could. He had spent time "accumulating" and I was disrespectful. But we always had two of everything. That way when he left me it would be easy to divide up.

He owned a lovely Curtis Mathis stereo console in the living room. By the eighties it was obsolete. I pronounced it banished to his den behind the garage. It was transferred to the breezeway next to the den upended on a dolly and left there. He would not move it into the pig sty den that was his domain. Four months passed. Thanksgiving loomed.

"Your mother will wonder why the stereo is in the breezeway blocking everything."
"I don't know where to put it."
"Anywhere in the 28 foot long room would work. Maybe where the cat's litterbox sits."
The cat didn't like it but the stereo was moved. It became a nice place to pile newspapers and Raleigh cigarette coupons.

I didn't need to keep two of everything when we married. He wouldn't have left me. Both Dan and the cat hated change. Dan was locked in at the start. The cat never forgave me.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I was always told "Pain is your bodies way of telling you something is wrong." No one used medicine in any form in our family although my dad used whiskey extensively.

A few years ago someone researching the family sent a newspaper clipping reporting my grandmother died of aspirin poisoning at age 39. I knew she had just had her seventh child and was in severe pain with a diseased gall bladder. All my life I was told she died due to gall bladder trouble. One of those family secrets was born that shape your life mysteriously.The overuse of aspirin made my mother fearful of its power. So we didn't take pills.

When I had upper and lower spinal fusion for scoliosis in 1989 they gave me morphine. The hospital wall lit up and Mohatma Gandhi appeared in white sheets. But wait! He was smoking a cigar and wearing Groucho Marx glasses and moustache. He was doing the hunched sideways crab crawl of Groucho. And nurse he was leering at me.

So that sums up my experience in the underbelly of the drug world. You probably have better stories.

Monday, August 21, 2006

My Momma always said "Don't get thick with the neighbors" and I followed her advice. The problem is she always had strong men available to use wrenches when it came to plumbing problems. My men were not wrench savvy. Black Cloud tended to throw wrenches when he got too close to them and Dan preferred to let things "heal naturally" for a few months before calling a plumber.

The day he died in the living room 17 years ago, a plumber was hard at work in the bathroom growling at pipes that refused to heal without professional intervention. People who visited Dan the month he came home to die would murmur sadly "How can we help" and I would say "Know anything about toilets?"

So this weekend when a gentle cascade of water began in the bedroom toilet I shut the door to invoke healing. Last night I took the lid off and wedged a wooden spoon under the ball cock and the cascade abated. This morning during an inspection for spontaneous healing I nudged the wooden spoon and hurricane Katrina burst forth.

The Westerly neighbor, Archie was planting turnips in his garden so I hallooed him over to shut off the water. The bathroom is so small Dan described it this way. "If you tried to read a newspaper in the master bathroom you'd break both your arms." Luckily Archie is not a large man and he was able to wedge back by the wall and shut off the water. As far as I was concerned the door could be nailed shut and plastered over. That wasn't the only toilet in Dodge and it had failed me.

A few minutes later Archie was back with a Fluidmaster thing and had it on in 15 minutes. "Turnips" I protested, "Don't stop your gardening for plumbing!" He laughed. He knew he was a good neighbor and proved it. Momma should have lived next door to Archie and Velma.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

I have no regrets about my life decisions. Both men I married had parents and grand parents who lived to age 90 and beyond. These healthy, attractive men died at ages 49 and 56. Who could have predicted it? I was the one who was high risk and here I sit.

People on the news who say they survived whatever calamity because "I was left alive for a reason" make me crazy. Life is random. You can't plan for anything. The electric goes out. The sewer backs up. Trees fall over.
Children grow up and move away.

I have five copies of a living will laced through my files and medical records. I doubt anyone will honor it. I know of two terminal cancer patients who were placed on life support at the hospital my doctor uses. Both had written DNR documents no one looked at. I'm not optimistic about my demise.

But if only Son of Black Cloud would be able to sit by my bed snoring, while they are slamming my chest with jolts of life, i know I would die giggling.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

There was a time when mothers sang to their children. Mine sang "The Baggage Car Ahead" about some woman in a casket on a death ride home. Others were "Poor Little Joe"...No mother to guide him in her grave she laid low.... and the "Poor Babes in the Woods" who died and were covered by leaves dropped down by birds. When she had us sobbing she would sail into "La Marseilles" bellowing full throttle in all that remained of her high school French.

She nursed us, crocheted, smoked and sang all at the same time. I have moles in the same places she did but the resemblance ends there. I blame the change in today's children to mothers not singing to them more.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

There are things in life that are inevitable and there are Freak Accidents. Things you cannot plan for. Things in your wildest dreams you would not have expected to happen. Tuesday my hair dresser called to say she had injured her sciatica and needed to reschedule my "do" until the next day. This woman has single handedly raised herself from age 16 until she was able to open her own beauty shop. She is now on the high end of 50.

Last year she had breast cancer, surgery and chemo without missing a "do". Yesterday she hobbled around in obvious pain and perched on one buttock on a high stool to cut,curl and color her customers. She doesn't have health insurance but a customer helped get her in a clinic whose fees are reduced.

Freak accidents can occur early in life or later. All in a heap or dribbled out. But all of us get them. And if you aren't on the receiving end this time....... life can be sweet.

Monday, August 14, 2006

When one posts an account in tandem with ones' daughter; and ones' daughter, a.k.a. "Q", mocks everyone she writes about: one tends to hold back descriptions of shared experiences until She has her say. Her blog today grandly ignored yesterdays catastrophic brush with death so I am forced to describe it and face the ridicule.

The Mother's Day printer has been used once since installed by the King of all Technology. When I finally tried to use it by punching "ON" it ignored me. As Q was checking the mass of wires behind the desk she gasped "Hot!" and "Ow!"
She then hauled out a power surge protector strip and in it were plugs to a stapler, a fan, a vacuum adapter thingee which powered up a battery operated Eureka vacuum and the actual printer. The adapter thingee was hot and melted.

It could be the adapter preferred to be plugged elsewhere. But it could be when we had our recent power problems a bolt of lightning shot through the wall and fried the adapter. The clever stapler, fan and printer were not "on" but the busy adapter was.

So in addition to fixing tuna croquettes, and correcting ISP generated errors, She saved my house from burning to the ground. Mock away Q'tie.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

I take a daily shot to prevent osteoporosis. Three small pen sized vials are delivered quarterly in an 18" x 14" styrofoam container. I knew I had become an old lady when I could not bear to throw it away even though I had no use for it.

Once 9-year-old Son of Cloud performed a chemistry experiment on our patio. Directly above his unauthorized lab table was a styrofoam life preserver. His experiment involved matches and before he knew it the styrofoam was ablaze and subsequently the side of the shed. A neighbor hosed things down and reported to us the dangerous event.

So even though there is room in the garage for many containers, I am fearful of styrofoam. Son of Cloud lives a thousand miles from here but he has his old garage door opener. And he never forgave me for confiscating that chemistry set.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Retired friends fixed breakfast here this morning. They are ten years younger than I and walk in the mall; then come here every other week. My job is to make the coffee. Their jobs are to buy and make fruit salad, and plan and bring the rest on the breakfast. They set the table and do cleanup.

When we worked together we gathered at restaurants. After I retired we wound up here. It was something to plan for and look forward to. A reason to clean the house. And we loved trying out recipes. Each Christmas a wider circle of friends would gather here and we would prepare the best of the recipes for that year.

Before they left Pal #1 brought three cases of Boost. She extracted the individual bottles from the packaging and filled my refrigerator with instant protein. Pal #2 opened a large can of chili and seasoned it with cumin. She divided it up into 3 ziplock bowls that I could manage in portions for my appetite. Pal #3 packaged leftover pastry and fruit for me. Pal #4 called to check on what she was missing while she vacationed with her 94 year old father.

All my life I have insisted on doing things "myself", but this pampering has its perks.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Things I find boring:
People who talk about health insurance foul ups
People who talk about ISP foul ups
People who talk about ordinary aches and pains
People who send out MEMES and expect them back
People who think anything you post on a Blog will get you victimized by a pervert and/or exposed by Dateline
People who think any question they pose can be answered by a click of the mouse within minutes
People who think having children automatically enrolls them for later life duty in Slaves-R-Us

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Faithful Blurkers can click on my profile (right) to see the results of a birthday photo shoot caper with Q. The crown,scepter and throne room all revealed.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

My West Side neighbor is an educated woman who does not maintain her property. Doesn't get it when the City comes around after a complaint. I mowed her part of the side yard for years until I hired a man. He refused to mow it.
She doesn't trim trees or rake leaves. "Life is too short" she shrugs.

The lady across the street was the one who always complained. South said every time she looked out her window my neighbor had violated an ordinance. It got mean here in the valley of the flowers. I tried to stay out of the controversy but one Christmas Eve got a hysterical call from South. "Now she's done it," she cried. "I'm having guests to dinner and she has thrown a toilet out in her yard."

Son of Cloud was living here and he verified it was there. I had a Santa Claus doll and asked him to photograph Santa on the toilet. I thought South and her guests might find that amusing and hoped it would inject humor into a difficult situation. Just as I propped Santa on his perch a policewoman drove up. "Your toilet?" she growled. South had called the police and I was taking the rap. My explanation was lame but I got to tuck Santa under my arm and slink home.

Son of Cloud said, "Don't get me involved in any more of your capers." South died of a brain tumor a few years later.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Tomorrow is my 70th birthday. Only 57 years ago I celebrated my 13th birthday in an iron lung. Something in the rubber gasket that locks the air in the lung chamber caused a five inch long horizontal cut in the back of my neck. There were four lungs to each room and none of us could talk. Someone noticed a pool of blood on the floor and bandaged my neck. It didn't bother me until it started to heal and I couldn't scratch the itch.

I cried and was scolded by the beleaguered nurse. Another boy in the room kept mouthing the words water in some agitation. None of us in lungs could swallow so she ignored him. Finally it turned out the tap in the room sink had been left running. A final memory is of a 35 year old man who died in the lung next to me. His wife was not permitted in the room due to their isolation policy so she was looking in at the door when he died. She slipped noiseless to the floor.

I was only in the lung a couple months. My mom kept meticulous notes on a calendar which was discarded. When she died in 1988 I lost my historian. But it is just as well. I was at a polio survivors meeting where everyone told his story and they were surprisingly similar. I think I was the only one who learned to swallow by licking popsicles. At that meeting at least. I didn't look at the back of their necks.

Today my feet look normal and I slurped my coffee with a straw. Seventy beats thirteen.

Friday, August 04, 2006

I lost six pounds since my May visit to the internist. But I'm still 24 pounds over my usual 110 fighting weight. Most of that is located in my neck wattle, rear and wherever the water hides out that swells my feet at night. Q accompanied me to the appointment. Being with her is fun. The valet parker was so enchanted he positively flew to fetch the car. He waited by the drivers side while she loaded me in. Held her door open and murmured "Have a nice day."

Before she went on to work she made salmon salad, folded the laundry and cleaned the refrigerator gasket where something sticky had oozed out during the power outage.

"Bleak House" has an old guy who sits in a settle by the fire. He sinks deeper and deeper into the chair until he is forced to call out to his daughter, "Shake me up Girl. Shake me up." And she grabs him by his clothing and shakes him vigorously. Sometimes I feel like that old guy. Then Q shakes me up, bless her, and I make it through another meltdown.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

For my whole life my top weight has been 110. Because of muscle atrophy my arms and right leg look like toothpicks.

Childbirth increased the width of hips and stomach. For two golden pregnancies I had breasts. After Dan died I confided in a girlfriend my concern that my arms were becoming weaker. Pulling my drawers up or down was a chore. "What size do you wear?" she asked piercingly. "Five" I answered. "Dimwit! You are wearing the wrong size underpants." I super-sized to a size 8 and problem solved.

So now my arms are having trouble getting food to my mouth. Cereal splashes to my lap. Anything that can't be speared by a fork doesn't make it over the lips or to the gums. I use straws for everything but coffee with a straw is WRONG. "Sippy" cups seem doable but are too heavy to lift. King Gary put my plate on two books so I could shovel it directly in my maw. Brilliant concept but I lacked the requisite execution skills.

Maybe I should buy some size 10 under drawers.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I loved both my mothers-in-law. Black Cloud's mother gave me a full length mink coat and a hat bought in Paris. The weight of the coat pinned my frail arms to my sides so securely I looked like a brown penguin. Cloud's family liked the concept of giving the coats off their backs. Since they retired to Guadalajara Mexico they could lighten up their coat collection and have the personal satisfaction of giving all rolled into one.

I had known Faye 7 years before she mentioned she had received a mastectomy sometime in the past. I knew she used mayonnaise on her hair instead of conditioner. I knew she would chase her sons through the house with a lit cigarette when she got mad. But she wouldn't discuss health issues.

I loved Dan's mom the 20 years we were married and another decade after his death until she died at 93. She too wouldn't give out explanations. Even after her leg was amputated she wouldn't admit to diabetes. When I had to read her mind to buy her personal products she needed she was annoyed. "Just wait," she would glower "Your time's coming."

So the fact my feet and one ankle swelled up like sausages for the first time ever Sunday I won't go into. But just wait.......

While I was gone for nine days I received a letter from the electric company that I had been removed from their medical equipment registry. I had not returned their piece of paper in a timely manner.

I called and told "Theresa" I had forwarded the letter to my doctor and assume he had not yet signed and returned it. I suggested expecting a doctor to submit paperwork for a chronic condition requiring use of a night time ventilator was onerous. "Theresa" indicated people might stay on the registry for years without written documentation they needed electric to live.

The only benefit I have received from the registry is a recorded voice telling me my electric was back on and I should call if it wasn't. No wonder my doctor scoffs at the registry.

My street was one of the last streets to receive power during the last outage. We are at fault for having too many trees. Plus not having returned the medical equipment registry form. I may have to sell my Ameren U.E. stock to buy a generator. Something to ponder as I inhale/exhale through my golden years.