Monday, August 31, 2009

Lady Moonbeam Meets The Little Green Man From Mars

When Ron and I were in the 5th grade our teacher, Mrs. Chaudoin, who was also the music teacher for the entire school, decided to do a school production of “The Little Green Men From Mars.” Now Mrs. C. took great pride in her yearly musical productions and everything had to be just right from costumes to the assigning of dance parts. The boys, dressed as green aliens from Mars, would land via cardboard space ship on the moon. Upon their arrival they were to be greeted by lovely dancing moon maidens each dressed in gowns of various pastel colors.

One day, Mrs. C. began casting the moon maidens and arranging them according to height. Each girl stood next to a girl slightly shorter until they formed a visually appealing chorus line. This was all going according to Mrs. C’s plan until she came to me……. For some reason puberty had decided to pay me an early visit and I was already considerably taller than the other girls in my class not to mention the boys. There seemed to be no place for me in the ensemble where I would not stick out like a sore thumb. Suddenly, Mrs C. appeared to have been struck by creative genius. With only a slight adjustment to the chorus line I suddenly found myself not squeezed between to shorter girls but deliberately placed right smack in the center of the entire chorus line. I was immediately re-cast as, ta da, drum roll please….. “Lady Moonbeam” and was informed I would dance a solo and be surrounded by my moon maidens. Instead of my height being an eyesore it was miraculously transformed into an asset. I would be the piston of a beautiful flower surrounded by petals of moon maidens. Way to go Mrs. C.!

Ron doesn’t remember being a green man from Mars but I definitely remember. He was also the tallest boy in the 5th grade but it didn’t bother him since he had been the tallest kid in school since the 1st grade. So, I guess I’ll keep the memory for the both of us and try to find a picture of him with his little green face just to jar his memory!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunny skies

Today was a beautiful day weather wise. Nice and cool. I'll enjoy it while it lasts. I've been trying to get everything ready for Ron's surgery and recovery. Went shopping for groceries today and planning meals for a few days. Meals I can put in the freezer for him. If it were up to him he'd just eat frozen meals for a week. I thought I could do better than that.

I can't tell if Ron is depressed or not because he isn't normally a talker anyway. I know he has absolutely no energy what so ever. He just gets really tired. He isn't comfortable with a lot of attention on him so this will be a humbling experience for him.

I'm going to stay with him in the hospital and then go to his house and stay with him for a few days when he gets out of the hospital. He has no family here at all so I know he will need some help. I told him to write down the names of anyone I should contact in case of an emergency and I think I scared him. I just didn't want to be in a situation where I didn't know what to do. I don't even have his daughter's phone number.

We've been dating for 8 years but we've known each other since we were 6 years old. After all this time I still don't have a clue as to what he is thinking. He is a total mystery. He's the kindest man I've ever known in my life. I think the world of him and I don't know what I'd do if anything happened to him. I'm a real nurturer and he just wants to be left alone. This could be a real challenge. He may change his mind though when his belly gets cut......

The thing that keeps going through my head is that 50/50 chance statement the doctor gave him. That's just a flip of a coin......

I hope he finds out tomorrow when the surgery will take place. I'm planning for it to be soon, maybe Tuesday. They said he'd stay in the hospital about 2 days. That doesn't sound long for a major surgery but I know that with MRSA so rampant in hospitals today they want to get you out as quickly as possible. He'll be better off at home anyway.

Time to get our game faces on!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I went with Ron yesterday for his bladder scope. He has kidney cancer and will have his kidney removed probably next week. I think I was prepared for the news but it came as a big shock to Ron. The doctor said he has a 50/50 chance of it coming back in the next 5 years but I thought that was pretty typical for any cancer diagnosis. The good news is that they didn't see anything on the CT scan on the liver or lungs. He said they won't know for certain until they get in to take it out but hopefully it hasn't spread. The tumor is very large so they will do the surgery abdominally rather than from the back. So, we will just take it all one step at a time!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Grandpas.....don't you just love em!

The only grandfather I ever knew was not related to me by blood. He was the man who married my grandmother when my mother was only five years old. Granddad's first wife died leaving behind a husband and young son. My Grandfather then married my Grandmother who also shared the same name as his first wife, Ida.

Granddad was an immensely proud but gentle man. I never thought of him as anything other than a real grandfather. I never remember him laughing out loud but he always seemed to have a chuckle hiding behind his eyes. He would often spend hours sitting in his rocker playing the dot game, hangman or tic-tac-toe with my brother and I. In the warm, summer evenings Mike and I would run around in the yard while Granddad watched from the porch swing. He would sit with one knee bent resting his foot on the swing and gently pushing it back and forth with his other foot. As darkness encircled us we could only tell he was there by the soft orange glow of his Camel cigarette. He held his cigarette pinched between his thumb and index finger permanently staining them orange from the tobacco. In those summer evenings my brother and I would catch fire flies under Granddad’s direction and put them in jars with little air holes punched in the lid. In the morning the jars would be on the table where we had left them the night before but the lightening bugs would have mysteriously disappeared. So the next evening we would begin our lightening bug round up all over again.

Granddad had a very dry sense of humor and he would tease without so much as a grin. When I was about nine years old he began telling me the story of the monkey-faced boy. He told us about a boy who lived in town and according to Granddad, had the face of a monkey. To make the story even more interesting Granddad said the boy had lured some unsuspecting children to the top of near by Cavanaugh Hill and they were never seen again. No one could prove the monkey-faced boy was responsible for their disappearance so he continued to roam about the town.

Well, this tale of the monkey-faced boy scared the be-jeebers out of me and in spite of my mother's disapproval Granddad told the story every time we came to visit. Then one summer while visiting my Grandparents I was sent to the corner market to purchase a loaf of bread. The walk to the market was uneventful but on the return trip as I leisurely strolled along swinging the bread back and forth, I suddenly felt someone approaching me from behind. I came to a sudden stop and stood frozen in my tracks. I felt the air stir slightly as a bicycle suddenly stopped beside me and a boy leaned down and with his face close to mine said, “Hello.” Everything turned to slow motion as I found myself looking straight into the eyes of who I believed to be, the monkey-faced boy. I let out a blood-curdling scream as the bread flew out of my hands and through the air. I ran straight to my grandparent’s house and never looked back. Hysterically I told my mother and grandmother of my frightening encounter with the monkey-faced boy while my granddad tried to dodge the piercing glares of the two women who were feverishly trying to calm me. For some reason that was the last time I ever heard about the monkey-face boy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Brother's Keeper

My brother came over last night to show me his bonus check from his job. He has been working at his part-time job now for about a month and received a $50.00 bonus. You don’t know how big a deal that is unless you know my brother.

My brother and I are 13 months apart in age. Though we are close in age we are different in every way. He was the dark skinned child with brown eyes taking after our mother’s Native American heritage and I was the fair, blue-eyed child reflective of my father’s French ancestry. Mike was such a pretty little boy with his baby curls and big brown eyes that he won first place in a baby beauty contest at the age of 18 months. His reign as royalty was quickly extinguished when the judges realized he had been mistaken for a little girl. This was probably the nudge my mother needed to get Mike’s first haircut.

Once we were in school and though only a grade apart we seldom played together. He was a rough and tumble little boy who had a difficult time being still. I was a shy, quiet little girl that people hardly noticed. School was always a challenge for Mike and he usually spent most of the school year in the doghouse. As he left a grade and I took his place my new teacher would remark, “I can’t believe you are Mike’s sister.”

When Mike was in the 5th grade it was discovered that he was extremely nearsighted. Getting glasses for the first time was needless to say, an eye opening experience for him. He told our mom that he didn’t know trees had individual leaves, he just thought they were solid green forms. The only problem he had with his new glasses was keeping them up on his nose. He always seemed to be peering over the top of the lenses rather than through them and when he did bother to adjust them he would just scrunch up his nose until they worked their way back into position. This in itself wasn’t a bad thing but when he was sitting in his music class and scrunching his nose his teacher thought he was making faces at her. She began to make poor Mike sit behind the blackboard during music class for a crime he didn’t commit. The poor kid was just trying see.

My brother had physical challenges that made his life more than uncomfortable. He suffered from severe asthma and the disease was always trying to put limitations on activities he enjoyed. He loved sports and would wheeze himself to death as he ran around the bases of a ball field. If he got too excited about an upcoming college football game or holiday it could send him to the hospital with an asthma attack. I can remember going to the hospital and seeing my brother lying under an oxygen tent barely catching his next breath. His allergies were off the chart, allergic to everything environmental as well as a list of forbidden foods. He endured weekly allergy shots for years but never flinched a muscle when it was time to take one. I on the other hand would go into cataclysmic fits at the mere sight of a needle.

Mike was always the kid with the surplus of energy who never quite thought things through. He tried but there was always a glitch in whatever he attempted to do. In high school he had one date. Unfortunately, as he walked the young lady to his car he accidentally slammed her fingers in the car door. He just opened the car door and escorted her back to her front door. I don’t think he ever had another date.

After graduation he attacked college with the same gusto as he had always approached everything in his life. He was on a vocational rehabilitation scholarship due to his severe asthma and he worked ferociously to maintain his grade point average. He was into his 3rd year in school when his behavior became increasingly manic. He would barricade himself in his bedroom closet with mattresses lining the walls and doors. He said he couldn’t concentrate due to the noise in the house. He would sit in his closet with headphones on his head for hours at a time trying to focus on his textbooks. Finally, at the age of 19 he suffered a complete breakdown. He was having uncontrollable thoughts about suicide and was finally forced to drop out of school and into therapy. Our parents did what they knew to do and kept him close to them at all times. Mike worked alongside our father every day and my father shielded the rest of the family from the severity of Mike’s illness. I knew early on that Mike was suffering from schizophrenia but my suspicions were not confirmed until he was 58 years old. I don’t think my parents were ready to hear it anyway.

Over the years there were times when I was filled with resentment toward my brother. His illness consumed everyone around him. His erratic behavior was exhausting and his hospitalizations left everyone feeling confused and helpless. The mental health system is not always forthcoming and after each hospitalization he was discharged with no plan for follow-up. Mike was on his own and I believe he survived on sheer will and adrenalin. He had always made it difficult for me to be near my parents but my father acted as a buffer. Mike’s attachment to our father left the door open for my mother and I to have a relationship. She would come to visit me in my home leaving Mike at home with Dad. If I tried to visit my parent’s in their home Mike’s behavior would escalate making it impossible for me to stay for more than one day. I was frustrated but at least I still had time with my mother. Mike’s dependency on our father left my other brother and I terrified at the prospect of what might happen when our father died. Our fears were unfounded as Mike simply turned his dependency from our dad to our mother but with an increased possessiveness. I felt as though I had lost both parents. Two years after my father died my brother and mother moved to be closer to me. My mother was having an extremely difficult time dealing with Mike as she had also been shielded from Mike’s illness as well and though we now lived in the same town Mike would become extremely agitated if I came around and life would become unbearable for my mother. My visits had to be short and my resentment grew.

It was weird the way my brother resented me if I was around our mother but at the same time he was dependent upon me. He called me on the phone sometimes 20 or more times in a day. He didn’t understand boundaries and called me at work constantly and at home all hours of the day. As time progressed and my resentment grew I wondered how I would feel after our mother was gone. I was afraid I would resent Mike for all the time I felt I had been denied with our mother.

In 2002 my brother was hospitalized again with a psychotic break. This time he cut his wrists and took an overdose of tranquilizers. Fortunately neither of which were fatal and he fully recovered but this time he was discharged with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. Neither were a surprise to me but somehow I felt relief. I also wanted my brother to finally get the help he needed. I realize now that he was finally at a point in his disease where he was willing to accept help. Before he would have never accepted such a diagnosis or been willing to take medication but at 58 years of age he was finally too tired to fight. He wasn’t on medication long before he began to articulate just what his mental state had been all his life. He began talking about the voices he heard and the psychotic thoughts that plagued him every day. For the first time in his life I saw him relax. Suddenly he could sit quietly and watch TV or just fall asleep in a chair. He was in awe of the changes and so were we. It was like when he got his first pair of glasses. He never knew what normal felt like.

Mike has done well since his diagnosis and medication has changed his life. He survived the death of our mother and though he had never lived on his own he is now managing. He has a part-time job with the home health agency that helped us with our mother and he is managing his disability. I have wrestled with my own demons and won. I spent the last month of our mother’s life reconnecting with her and had the privilege of being with her to the end.

Mike will always have challenges and he will always struggle with social boundaries but I am so proud of him and so happy that he has finally found peace. I am also happy for the peace I have found as well.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I pass your grave every day. It is the last marker at the corner of the I00F cemetery. There is a stop light there and I look to the right and there you are. I never knew you and we are not related but I see your marker and wonder about you. Your marker is simple and the stone is worn from time. It says simply Susie, wife of O.E. Sheets, died October 10th and the rest is worn away. I don’t know exactly when I first noticed your grave. It must have been a day when my mind wandered as I waited for the light to change. Your grave sits close to the rode just on the other side of the fence. There is no one else near you. Since that first day I have looked over and greeted you with, “Hi Susie” each morning. My children heard me say hello to you one day and asked, “Who is Susie?” I answered that I didn’t know but that we say hello just the same. I thought it was strange that you are only identified as the wife of O.E. Sheets. I wonder about you. You must have been fairly young when you died. Your marker doesn’t say beloved wife and mother. Did you have children? What were your dreams? For the past 30 years I have passed your marker and greeted you each day, “Hi Susie” I hope you hear me. I hope you know you are not forgotten. I hope all your dreams came true.

If you haven't seen this it is a hoot....if you have I apologize ....

For those of us who have been there and those of us who will EVENTUALLY be
there... . This is funny!

Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist for the Miami Herald.

Colonoscopy Journal:

I called my friend Andy Sable, a gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a

A few days later, in his office, Andy showed me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly through Minneapolis.

Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient manner.

I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn't really hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, 'HE'S GOING TO STICK A TUBE 17,000 FEET UP YOUR BEHIND!'

I left Andy's office with some written instructions, and a prescription for a product called 'MoviPrep,' which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven. I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of America 's enemies.

I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous.

Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began my preparation. In accordance with my
instructions, I didn't eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less flavor.

Then, in the evening, I took the MoviPrep. You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is about 32 gallons). Then you have to drink the whole jug. This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes - and here I am being kind - like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon.

The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it, 'a loose, watery bowel movement may result.'

This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground.

MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don't want to be too graphic, here, but, have you ever seen a space-shuttle launch? This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle. There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You eliminate everything. And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.

After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep.

The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic. I was very nervous. Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of MoviPrep spurtage. I was thinking, 'What if I spurt on Andy?' How do you apologize to a friend for something like that? Flowers would not be enough.

At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and totally agreed with whatever the heck the forms said. Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts, the kind that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked..

Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand. Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was already lying down. Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep. At first I was ticked off that I hadn't thought of this, but then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode. You would have no choice but to burn your house.

When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where Andy was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist. I did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere. I was seriously nervous at this point.

Andy had me roll over on my left side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand.

There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was 'Dancing Queen' by ABBA. I remarked to Andy that, of all the songs that could be playing during this particular procedure, 'Dancing Queen' had to be the least appropriate.
'You want me to turn it up?' said Andy, from somewhere behind me.

'Ha ha,' I said. And then it was time, the moment I had been dreading for more than a
decade. If you are squeamish, prepare yourself, because I am going to tell you, in explicit detail, exactly what it was like.

I have no idea. Really. I slept through it. One moment, ABBA was yelling 'Dancing Queen, feel the beat of the tambourine,' and the next moment, I was back in the other room, waking up in a very mellow mood.

Andy was looking down at me and asking me how I felt. I felt excellent. I felt even more excellent when Andy told me that It was all over, and that my colon had passed with flying colors. I have never been prouder of an internal organ.

On the subject of Colonoscopies...
Colonoscopies are no joke, but these comments during the exam were quite humorous..... A physician claimed that the following are actual comments made by his patients (predominately male) while he was performing their colonoscopies:

1. 'Take it easy, Doc. You're boldly going where no man has gone before!'

2. 'Find Amelia Earhart yet?'

3. 'Can you hear me NOW?'

4. 'Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?'

5. 'You know, in Arkansas , we're now legally married.'

6. 'Any sign of the trapped miners, Chief?'

7. 'You put your left hand in, you take your left hand out...'

8. 'Hey! Now I know how a Muppet feels!'

9. 'If your hand doesn't fit, you must quit!'

10. 'Hey Doc, let me know if you find my dignity.'

11. 'You used to be an executive at Enron, didn't you?'

12. 'God, now I know why I am not gay.'

And the best one of all:
13. 'Could you write a note for my wife saying that my head is not up there?'

Monday, August 24, 2009

We went to see the traveling Vietnam memorial on Saturday. I'd love to see the one in Washington but since I'm not sure that will ever happen I was happy to see this one. We found the names of 3 of our high school classmates. One of them we had known since grade school, John Michael (Mike) Tiffany, Charley L. Mount and William (Bill) Blair Jr. All 3 of them inlisted in the Marines right out of high school and were in Vietnam less than 6 months when they were killed. Soooooo young! Charly sat in front of me in my sophomore English class and he was so funny. Just a regular class clown. Mike Tiffany went to grade school with Ron and I we had known him the longest. I actually had a crush on him for awhile in Jr. High. I didn't know Bill Blair as well but he was a closer friend of Ron's. All good young men who didn't get a chance to live out their lives. We heard that Mike married his high school sweetheart before he left for Nam and that she had a baby boy after he died. That child would be over 40 years old now.

We got the results of Ron's CT scan and it showed a mass on his left kidney. They are still planning on scoping his bladder on Friday. I'm sure a biopsy will follow but I just don't how or when they will do it. So far he is feeling fine and now it is the wait and see game.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Tear Jerker

Since I'm on the subject of is a story sent to me today by a friend. Get your hankies........

They told me the big black Lab's name was Reggie as I looked at him lying in his pen. The shelter was clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly. I'd only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open. Everyone waves when you pass them on the street.

But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn't hurt. Give me someone to talk to. And I had just seen Reggie's advertisement on the local news. The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn't look like "Lab people," whatever that meant. They must've thought I did.

But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes, and a sealed letter from his previous owner. See, Reggie and I didn't really hit it off when we got home. We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too. Maybe we were too much alike.

For some reason, his stuff (except for the tennis balls - he wouldn't go anywhere without two stuffed in his mouth) got tossed in with all of my other unpacked boxes. I guess I didn't really think he'd need all his old stuff, that I'd get him new things once he settled in. but it became pretty clear pretty soon that he wasn't going to.

I tried the normal commands the shelter told me he knew, ones like "sit" and "stay" and "come" and "heel," and he'd follow them - when he felt like it. He never really seemed to listen when I called his name - sure, he'd look in my direction after the fourth of fifth time I said it, but then he'd just go back to doing whatever. When I'd ask again, you could almost see him sigh and then grudgingly obey.

This just wasn't going to work. He chewed a couple shoes and some unpacked boxes. I was a little too stern with him and he resented it, I could tell. The friction got so bad that I couldn't wait for the two weeks to be up, and when it was, I was in full-on search mode for my cell phone amid all of my unpacked stuff. I remembered leaving it on the stack of boxes for the guest room, but I also mumbled, rather cynically, that the "dog probably hid it on me."

Finally I found it, but before I could punch up the shelter's number, I also found his pad and other toys from the shelter.. I tossed the pad in Reggie's direction and he snuffed it and wagged, some of the most enthusiasm I'd seen since bringing him home. But then I called, "Hey, Reggie, you like that? Come here and I'll give you a treat." Instead, he sort of glanced in my direction - maybe "glared" is more accurate - and then gave a discontented sigh and flopped down. With his back to me.

Well, that's not going to do it either, I thought. And I punched the shelter phone number.

But I hung up when I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten about that, too. "Okay, Reggie," I said out loud, "let's see if your previous owner has any advice.".........

To Whoever Gets My Dog:
Well, I can't say that I'm happy you're reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie's new owner. I'm not even happy writing it. If you're reading this, it means I just got back from my last car ride with my Lab after dropping him off at the shelter. He knew something was different. I have packed up his pad and toys before and set them by the back door before a trip, but this time... it's like he knew something was wrong. And something is wrong... which is why I have to go to try to make it right.

So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you.

First, he loves tennis balls the more the merrier. Sometimes I think he's part
squirrel, the way he hordes them. He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. Hasn't done it yet. Doesn't matter where you throw them, he'll bound after it, so be careful - really don't do it by any roads. I made that mistake once, and it almost cost him dearly.

Next, commands. Maybe the shelter staff already told you, but I'll go over them
again: Reggie knows the obvious ones - "sit," "stay," "come," "heel." He knows hand signals:” back" to turn around and go back when you put your hand straight up; and "over" if you put your hand out right or left. "Shake" for shaking water off, and "paw" for a high-five. He does "down" when he feels like lying down - I bet you could work on that with him some more. He knows "ball" and "food" and "bone" and "treat" like nobody's business.

I trained Reggie with small food treats. Nothing opens his ears like little pieces of hot dog.

Feeding schedule: twice a day, once about seven in the morning, and again at six in the evening. Regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.

He's up on his shots. Call the clinic on 9th Street and update his info with
yours; they'll make sure to send you reminders for when he's due. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet. Good luck getting him in the car - I don't know how he knows when it's time to go to the vet, but he knows.

Finally, give him some time. I've never been married, so it's only been Reggie
and me for his whole life. He's gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can. He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn't bark or complain. He just loves to be around people, and me most especially.

Which means that this transition is going to be hard, with him going to live with someone new.

And that's why I need to share one more bit of info with you....

His name's not Reggie.

I don't know what made me do it, but when I dropped him off at the shelter, I told them his name was Reggie. He's a smart dog, he'll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. but I just couldn't bear to give them his real name. For me to do that, it seemed so final, that handing him over to the shelter was as good as me admitting that I'd never see him again. And if I end up coming back, getting him, and tearing up this letter, it means everything's fine. But if someone else is reading it, well... well it means that his new owner should know his real name. It'll help you bond with him. Who knows, maybe you'll even notice a change in his demeanor if he's been giving you problems.

His real name is Tank.

Because that is what I drive.

Again, if you're reading this and you're from the area, maybe my name has been on the news. I told the shelter that they couldn't make "Reggie" available for adoption until they received word from my company commander. See, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could've left Tank with... and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq , that they make one phone call the shelter... in the "event"... to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption. Luckily, my colonel is a dog guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he'd do it personally. And if you're reading this, then he made good on his word.

Well, this letter is getting to downright depressing, even though, frankly, I'm just writing it for my dog. I couldn't imagine if I was writing it for a wife and kids and family. but still, Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family.

And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me.

That unconditional love from a dog is what I took with me to Iraq as an inspiration to do something selfless, to protect innocent people from those who would do terrible things... and to keep those terrible people from coming over here. If I had to give up Tank in order to do it, I am glad to have done so. He was my example of service and of love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.

All right, that's enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. I don't think I'll say another good-bye to Tank, though. I cried too much the first time. Maybe I'll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.

Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight - every night - from me.

Thank you, Paul Mallory

I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope. Sure I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies. Flags had been at half-mast all summer.

I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog.

"Hey, Tank," I said quietly.

The dog's head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright.

"C'mere boy."

He was instantly on his feet,his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn't heard in months.

"Tank," I whispered. His tail swished.

I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him. I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.

"It's me now, Tank, just you and me.
Your old pal gave you to me." Tank reached up and licked my cheek. "So whatdaya say we play some ball? His ears perked again. "Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball?" Tank tore from my hands and disappeared in the next room.

And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My First Place Girl

Arkansas Patti's lovely post yesterday made me think about my little girl, Katie. Katie was a gift from my daughters for my 40th birthday. I remember the first time I saw her,her little head came popping out from inside my daughter's shirt and around her neck was a card that read, "Happy 40th Birthday...since you don't have a life we bought you one." And indeed they did!

Katie came to be when the girls had been out shopping and saw a woman in a parking lot selling puppies. I had always wanted a Yorkie and as soon as the woman said the puppies were 1/2 Yorkie and 1/2 Unknown........the girls scooped up the only female in the litter and the deal was done.

Katie was a feisty little pup from the start. Although she was tiny and fit in the palm of your hand she could scale a fence or any other make shift wall with the gracefulness of a trapeze artist. There was no containing this fluff ball with razor sharp teeth. I never did figure out how she managed to use the window ledge for a teething ring as well as the last 4 rows on the mini blinds. Every day I would come home to find that she had somehow escaped whatever enclosure I had rigged up for the day. There she would be, sitting in the middle of the living room looking up at me with the most innocent face I'd ever seen. I wasn't fooled though.......I just followed the trail of destruction. Fortunately, we weathered her puppy stage and she grew into a well behaved young lady.

Katie was so great at heeling that we seldom had need for a leash except on trips to the vet. The rest of the time she would walk close to my left side checking out the scenery but never leaving my side. She went everywhere with me and sometimes I brought her to my office. She would just hop out of the car and walk straight in first going to the offices of friends she wanted to say hello to and then back to my office where she would quietly wait until I finished whatever task I needed to complete.

Katie was a true companion. She seemed to know the exact time I would be pulling into the driveway for her head was always at the window watching for my return. She greeted me with an enthusiastic hello but after an affectionate pat on the head she was content. She wasn't a lap dog or even liked to cuddle, she preferred to sit quietly beside me. She slept at the end of my bed and was so quiet you'd forget she was there.

My daughter entered this picture of her in a pet photo contest and won first prize. We hung the blue ribbon on Katie's picture and from that day forward she was known as the "First Place Girl".

For seventeen years my First Place Girl was my loyal, loving companion but time took it's toll on her. Her arthritis became so bad that I had to pick her up to put her on the bed and lift her down each morning. She would be obviously embarrassed when she could no longer control her bladder and I'd find her sitting alone in an empty bedroom when I came home from work. Finally, the arthritis got so bad that her back would go out all the time leaving her in so much pain that she couldn't find a comfortable position just to lay down. It was pitiful to watch her and impossible to help her. She began having stomach issues resulting in blood loss and she began to deteriorate quickly. The vet had already begun preparing me to make a decision to let her go and I realized by the sad look in her eyes that she was ready.

For seventeen years she had faithfully been my companion and friend and I wanted to repay her with the loyalty she deserved. I held her in my arms on her last day and told her what a wonderful girl she had been. I stroked her and talked softly to her thanking her for our time together. She peacefully died in my arms and I buried her in the back yard between two Crepe Myrtles. The girls purchased a little marker that is a little dog with angel wings. The marker says, "My Beloved Pet, Katie" and she truly was.

When you have had a pet that in your eyes was like no other it is hard to think about loving another animal. It has been 7 years since Katie died but I haven't been able to think about getting another dog. There are times I am tempted but something stops me. I have "grand dogs" now and they come to visit and that seems to be enough. But...I'll never forget my "First Place Girl" or the love she gave to me.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What's for Supper?

Gad, I've been thinking about food all day. I must be starving! I'm stopping at the store after work and getting what I need to make crockpot shrimp creole for tomorrow. It is a really simple version of the dish but it is great when you don't want to spend a lot of time on it.

Shrimp Creole in the crockpot
Serves 6
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1-1/2 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Tabasco sauce (a few drops)
1 to 1 1/2 lbs medium shrimp, deveined and shelled
White rice
Put all ingredients except shrimp in crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours. Add shrimp and cook for an hour longer. Serve over boiled rice.
(my measurements are approximate. I just dump it all in. We like onions so I put a might like less.) The Tabasco can be substituted with about a tsp cayenne pepper. Make sure you leave the lid on the whole time. I serve this with French bread. Also, clean the crock immediately after making this or else it's a big mess!)

Mmmmmmmmmmmm it sounds so good to me. Can't wait to make it again.

I can't wait until I'm retired and have more time and inclination to cook. I love collecting recipes and love to try them out. If you have a favorite quick & easy recipe to share please do!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Back to work. I didn't get everything done I wanted to do but I'm making progress. After I get the new carpet put down and all my furniture back in my room I'll post a picture of my handi-work.

Ron is undergoing some tests right now and he's a little apprehensive. He had a cat scan done yesterday and they will be putting him under for a scope of his bladder in about a week. I've got my fingers crossed that all is well but you never know until you get the all clear. I know he is anxious. He went to the urologist last week and he saw a lot of blood in his urine. Ron had been having some discomfort but he had no idea there was any bleeding. I think it freaked him out. I'll be glad when his tests are completed and he knows what he is dealing with.

For some reason I was awake at 4am this morning and I know I'm going to crash by the time I get home. We had quite a bit of rain this morning (which my lawn needed) but it sure is good sleeping weather and made it hard to get up.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday night and I finally finished refinishing my vanity. Actually it belonged to my mother and is the one I remember her sitting at while I watched her brush her hair. It didn't match any of my bedroom furniture so I refinished it. I'd say the match is pretty darn good. I sure don't get things done as quickly as I used to. I have to work awhile then rest awhile. I have bad arthiritis in my hands and I can't do what I once did. A few years ago I had surgery to remove the basil thumb joints in each hand. The surgery is tough but it was well worth it. I just don't have the grip strength I once had and my hands get tired. No more piano playing or hand sewing but I can do just about anything else I want to do. Modern medicine...sure is good. I just wish it were affordable for everyone but I guess we won't see it done this go around. At least they tried.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Off to paint

I am taking a few days off work. I'm going to paint my bedroom and refinish a vanity before the new carpet gets installed. I just hope I get it all done in 4 days.

We had the first meeting of our Christmas Committee today. It was hard to think about Christmas in August but it takes at least four months to get ready for everything. Since we are a children's hospital Christmas is a really big deal..........the entire month of December is one party or activity after another and they all require a lot of planning. The decorations alone take a month to get done. This year's theme is, "A Country Christmas". We kick off the Christmas season with the golf cart parade and lighting ceremony on the 1st of December. This will be my 23rd Christmas here. I can't believe it!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


In the process of rehabbing my little house I have been thinking about all the memories I have acquired in the 40 years since I moved into it. I was 20 years old and had been married 4 weeks when we moved to this house. The house payment started out at a whopping $88.00 a month and I couldn’t imagine how we would ever manage it. We had just moved from a 10 X 40 foot trailer house near the college we were attending and the rent was half as much. After we married my husband Jim remained in school and I dropped out to work. We furnished our humble little abode with imagination and hand-me-down furniture. I made a coffee table out of a big base drum I got from my dad’s pawnshop and other than the deep resonant tone it immolated when you sat anything heavier than a magazine down it served the purpose quite well. I immediately fell in love with the little house and was thrilled to be able to decorate it as my own. I covered the kitchen walls in bright yellow contact paper adorned with daisies. I used the same paper to cover the roller shades on the windows. It was 1969 so we had a little of that hippie flair going on and daisies were my favorite flower. My babies were born the next year and when I became a single mother in 1977 I wouldn’t have made it if it hadn’t been for our little house. Child support was non-existent after two years but since the house was so affordable we got by. This little house has been a place of comfort and security to all of us. It is hard to believe I’ve lived in the house 40 years now. My memories are so embedded here that all I need to do is look around and I can see my little girls playing with Barbies in the hallway or hear them in their rooms negotiating deals over clothes. Although my daughters no longer live here and they each have homes of their own this little house is now and will always be home!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

youth sports

I work with a lot of younger people (say mid 30's) who have kids in sports. I listen to so many stories about someone upset about a team their child was chosen for or that their child isn't playing the position they think they should play or they don't like this coach or that coach. It just amazes me. I just don't remember parents being so involved in kids sports when I was young. We tried out, we either got picked or we didn't. We listened to the coach and did what he/she said. That's part of the life lessons we learned from sports. Most of the sports we played were sand lot games the kids organized themselves. If there were disputes we worked them out among ourselves. Again, some of the life lessons on cooperation etc. I'm just amazed at how involved parents are now and the way the kids seem to get lost in the whole thing. It gets to be more about the parents than the kids. What are the kids learning from all of this? I've heard about bickering among the parents at games, parents getting into physical altercations with coaches. One co-worker describes out of town games where the parents drink and party all night in one room while the kids are roaming around the motels all night. What the heck are they teaching their kids anyway? I'm sure this doesn't apply to all sports or parents but it isn't an isolated thing either because I hear about it every day. I hope it isn't just Oklahoma and if it is well, shame on us!

Animal Abuse

A lady was telling her neighbor that she saw a man driving a pick-up truck down the interstate, and a dog was hanging onto the tail gate for dear life!

She said if the pick-up truck driver hadn't been going so fast in the other direction, she would have tried to stop him.

A few weeks later, her neighbor saw this truck at the Bass Pro Shop. The pick-up truck driver is a local taxidermist with a great sense of humor! And it is not a dog it is a coyote.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

Mistaken Identify

When my twins were little I used to feel quite superior at being able to tell them apart when others had so much trouble. I mean after all I AM their mother and of course I would know my own children, or so I thought until one fateful day that humbled me back to reality.

The girls were about 18 months old when one of them pulled the button of her dress and decided to shove it up her nose. They were strapped into their car seats at the time and I didn’t notice until I heard some sniffing sounds coming from the back seat. I stopped the car and upon investigation I noticed a button missing on one daughter’s dress and immediately looked up her nose. There it was, just barely visible but definitely in there. Being a young mother I wasn’t sure what kind of damage this could do to my baby. Could it get sucked up right into her brain? I remained calm as I drove straight to the emergency room of the nearest hospital. I got the girls out of the car and ushered them into the waiting room like little ducks. We were met with what had by then become the customary greeting. “Oh, look, twins, how DO you tell them apart?”

Still concerned about the possibility of my child having a button permanently floating around in her head I quickly responded, “Why, I’m their mother, of course I can tell them apart”.

Sensing my distress they ushered us immediately into an exam room. I put the baby on the exam table and had her sister sit on a nearby footstool. The doctor immediately began examining my daughter looking up her nose with a flashlight and tweezers. She was a perfect angel. She never resisted or flinched a muscle. After spending a considerable time looking for the object of my concern the doctor finally said, “There is no button in this baby’s nose”.

I immediately responded “OH YES THERE IS, I SAW IT.”

About that time I heard my other child sniffling from her little perch at the foot of the table. I looked down to see her rocking back and forth pointing to her own nose while saying, “I dot a but tin in my nose”.

I immediately switched babies and in the midst of all the laughter the doctor swiftly removed the foreign object. They were laughing so hard they didn’t even charge me for the service.

That was just the first serving of all the words I would have to eat in my life time.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Social Security

My boss is turning 65 in Nov. and is now applying for social security. I never knew the process was so complicated. He's been reviewing options and paperwork and told me today that he has an appointment with the social security office this afternoon. He said they requested a copy of his birth certificate, which according to him, is not a standard requirement. I said, "How nice, they didn't think you looked your age?"
He replied, "No, they thought I was a year older."

Since I just turned 60 myself I guess I'll be looking at social security in a few years. The question is always, take it early (betting I'm not going to live long and want to cash in as much as possible)or wait and be optimistic that yes, I will indeed live a long life and will need that little extra each month. There is definitely a BIG difference between the two scenarios. One thing is for certain, with the cost of health care I will probably not be able to retire until I am eligible for medicare. So waiting until 66 for retirement seems to be the course I will take and since I'll be working I might as well wait to draw social security until 66 as well.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Today was my 6 month dental cleaning. I'm lucky, I don't have the anxiety about going to the dentist's office that a lot of people have. Probably because I've never had anything more invasive than just cleaning. I've never had a cavity, braces, tooth pulled or any of the ordinary dental problems some of my friends have endured. So, this morning while I was in the waiting room a young girl (late 20's or early 30's) was anxiously tapping her foot and looking stressed. All of a sudden she say's, "I just hate this!"

I asked her if she meant waiting or going to the dentist in general. She replied, "Both."

I inquired further asking, "Have you had a bad experience with dentists?" thinking a root canal or possibly worse. But she replied. "No, I just hate the cleaning, it hurts sooooo bad!"

I thought about it for a few minutes and then decided that since she was obviously young she hadn't had enough life experiences to make a comparison so I told her that her perspective will change as she ages. I told her I now think in terms of hysterectomy/teeth cleaning, hip replacement/'s all about perspective.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tails from the stirrups!

I’ve been thinking about my own experience with pregnancy ever since I heard from my good friends, Megan and Brad, about their upcoming addition(s) to their family. (Note – I said 1st) I’m expecting them to have lots and lots of babies, twins if we're lucky. Anyway, I was twenty years old when I had the first little inkling that I just might be pregnant. I had gone through the checklist and was pretty sure I had all the symptoms. Let’s see, sore boobies - check, nausea - check, fatigue like I’d never known - check. Bare in mind this was in the days before ultra sound, at home pregnancy tests or birthing centers. You had to wait until you were practically showing before you could confirm you were indeed pregnant.

I was working at the University of Oklahoma, Civil Engineering department at the time and decided to tell my female co-workers about my suspicions. They immediately began sharing their knowledge on the subject. It seems that women don’t actually have to HAVE babies to be an expert on the subject.

The first thing they advised me to do was call and schedule an appointment with an OBGYN. That seemed logical. Then they proceeded to tell me who NOT to call. It seems every one of them either had either had some horrific experience with one or knew someone who did. This left me no choice but to open the yellow pages, close my eyes and just pick one. My theory was that if I hadn’t heard any horror stories about him/her then bingo that’s my guy.

After the doctor had been selected I then made the mistake of asking if there was anything else I needed to do before the appointment. I was thinking more along the line of some needed medical information such as family history etc. but instead they asked me if I had ever had a pelvic exam. Being dumber than a rock I answered no, what’s that? Not to worry, all these experienced women were more than eager to share this little tidbit of information with their young novice. They went into vivid detail describing feet in stirrups and cold instruments and as I grew more and more apprehensive they told me that in addition it would be necessary for me to shave my uhhhhhh girl parts before the appointment. Slightly shocked but faintly recollecting somewhere in the back of my head that I had heard something about this barbaric ritual before and how it was somehow a pre-requisite for childbirth. I decided to accept their instruction without question.

Now, I’m not double-jointed or even flexible in any way for that matter so I wasn’t sure how I was going to accomplish the task at hand but what I lacked in dexterity I more than made up in determination. The morning of my scheduled appointment I went to work and with minimal blood loss managed to achieve the desired outcome. I then set out to meet my new doctor and present my handy work, so to speak. My chosen OBGYN was Dr. Haddock a man about my father’s age. He had been an obstetrician in Norman for many years and I liked him immediately. He had that familiar paternal quality that I found reassuring.

After the usual paperwork and list of general questions his nurse explained how I needed to undress and lay down on the exam table. She told me to cover myself with the paper sheet provided and then showed me how to put my feet in the stirrups. She said to scoot way down to the end of the table and wait for Dr. Haddock to return. Now, I had been prepped for this experience so I thought I knew just what was required. I did just as I had been instructed and managed to get myself on the table and ready for my debut.

Dr. Haddock came back into the room and with his back to me began laying out his instruments while at the same time instructing me to scoot way down to the end of the table. Now, I took this to heart and really scooted until my knees were just about eye level. Dr. Haddock turned around and then told me what he would be doing next. He told me to relax as he began to lift the sheet. I barely felt the breeze hit my now “bare” essentials when he dropped the sheet and excused himself from the room.

I had already begun to realize I had been duped by my co-workers even before I heard the laughter from the hall, the tears were beginning to well up in my eyes by the time Dr. Haddock returned to the room. He and his nurse were barely containing their giggles when Dr. Haddock slowly lifted the sheet again exposing my new Telly Savalas look once more. With a self restrained snicker in his voice he asked me why I had done this little barber job on myself and had I used a machete. I told him about the advise of my co-workers and he chuckled replying, “Well, they were partially accurate. The hospital will shave you when you are ready to deliver but it is not required at this time.” He then added, “You are going to be a little uncomfortable for the next few months.”

I was so discombobbled by the whole ordeal I forgot I had driven my car to my appointment and walked the two miles to my home. Oh, and the doctor was right…..It was a little uncomfortable for the next few months until it was harvest time again.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Lizard

(This was sent to me by my son-in-law and it is just too funny not to share. Enjoy!

If you have raised kids (or been one), and gone through the pet syndrome, including toilet flush burials for dead Goldfish, the story below will have you laughing out LOUD!

Overview: I had to take my son's lizard to the vet.
Here's what happened.

Just after dinner one night, my son came up to tell me there was 'something wrong' with one of the two lizards he holds prisoner in his room.
He's just lying there looking sick,' he told me. 'I'm serious, Dad. Can you help?
I put my best lizard-healer expression on my face and followed him into his bedroom. One of the little lizards was indeed lying on his back, looking stressed. I immediately knew what to do.
'Honey,' I called, 'come look at the lizard!'
'Oh, my gosh!' my wife exclaimed. 'She's having Babies..'
'What?' my son demanded. 'But their names are Bert and Ernie, Mom!'
I was equally outraged,
'Hey, how can that be? I thought we said we didn't want them to reproduce,' I said accusingly to my wife.
'Well, what do you want me to do, post a sign in their cage?' she inquired (I think she actually said this sarcastically!)
'No, but you were supposed to get two boys!' I reminded her, (in my most loving, calm, sweet voice, while gritting my teeth).
’Yeah, Bert and Ernie!' my son agreed.
'Well, it's just a little hard to tell on some guys, you know,' she informed me (Again with the sarcasm!).
By now the rest of the family had gathered to see what was going on. I shrugged, deciding to make the best of it.
'Kids, this is going to be a wondrous experience,' I announced. 'We're about to witness the miracle of birth.'
'Oh, gross!' they shrieked.
'Well, isn't THAT just great? What are we going to do with a litter of tiny little lizard babies?' my wife wanted to know.
We peered at the patient ... After much struggling, what looked like a tiny foot would appear briefly, vanishing a scant second later.
'We don't appear to be making much progress,' I noted.
'It's breech,' my wife whispered , horrified.
'Do something, Dad!' my son urged.
'Okay, okay.' Squeamishly, I reached in and grabbed the foot when it next appeared, giving it a gentle tug. It disappeared I tried several more times with the same results.
'Should I call 911?' my eldest daughter wanted to know.
'Maybe they could talk us through the trauma.' (You see a pattern here with the females in my house?)
'Let's get Ernie to the vet,' I said grimly. We drove to the vet with my son holding the cage in his lap.
'Breathe, Ernie, breathe,' he urged.
'I don't think lizards do Lamaze ,' his mother noted to him. (Women can be so cruel to their own young. I mean what she does to me is one thing, but this boy is of her womb, for G~d's sake.).
The vet took Ernie back to the examining room and peered at the little animal through a magnifying glass.
'What do you think, Doc, a C-section?' I suggested scientifically.
'Oh, very interesting,' he murmured. 'Mr. And Mrs. Cameron, may I speak to you privately for a moment?'
I gulped, nodding for my son to step outside.
'Is Ernie going to be okay?' my wife asked .
'Oh, perfectly,' the vet assured us. 'This lizard is not in labor. In fact, that isn't EVER going to happen. Ernie is a boy. You see, Ernie is a young male. And occasionally, as they come into maturity, like most male species, they um .Masturbate. Just the way he did, lying on his back.' He blushed, glancing at my wife.
We were silent, absorbing this.
'So, Ernie's just, just...excited,' my wife offered.
'Exactly,' the vet replied, relieved that we understood.
More silence. Then my vicious, cruel wife started to giggle, and giggle. And then even laugh loudly.
What's so funny?' I demanded, knowing, but not believing that the woman I married would commit the upcoming affront to my flawless manliness.
Tears were now running down her face. 'It's just that ...I'm picturing you pulling on its...its...teeny little... ' She gasped for more air to bellow in laughter once more.
'That's enough,' I warned. We thanked the vet and hurriedly bundled the lizard and our son back into the car. He was glad everything was going to be okay.
'I know Ernie's really thankful for what you did, Dad,' he told me.
'Oh, you have NO idea,' my wife agreed, collapsing with laughter.
Two lizards: $140.
One cage: $50.
Trip to the vet: $30.

Memory of your husband pulling on a lizard's winkie:
Moral of the story: Pay attention in biology class.

This is for all you gorgeous gals!

Today is National "HOLY CRAP, YOU'RE HOT Day! Share this with someone gorgeous, but don't send it back to me, I've been geeting this message all freakin' day!