Tuesday, December 30, 2008

marley & me

Jack and I went to the movies this afternoon. We saw Marley & me in a theater that was not even 1/4 full. Without giving anything away about the movie, let me just say that while I thought it might be a sappy waste of time, I'd heard that it was good, and I was not disappointed. We both enjoyed it, but I quickly lost track of how many times Jack and I squeezed each others' hands when we recognized yet another scene that could have been written by us. I'm tellin' you, it was as if we were watching a blog of so much of our life together.

If only the internet had been invented 30 years ago. Sheesh.

Monday, December 29, 2008

is this great or what?

I'm sitting here on the sofa, under my favorite tv viewing blanket, with my bare feet up on the footrest, my belly full after dinner and my compy on my lap, thinking about how good it is to feel.

All of that accompanied by the sound of Jack doing the dishes.

Can life get any better?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

before you read the next two posts

Can I just ask a couple of things?

1. Do you just think my new masthead is as totally cool as I think it is? I could go on and on about how much it says and how it speaks to me, but I'll let you, dear readers do that instead...
2. Has skybird gone south for the winter or what?
3. Did I mention that Christmas was great around here, that everything got done in time, that we've survived without the caramels and toffee, that I've almost eaten the entire box of inexpensive cherry chocolates I bought for myself, half of the pecan log from Jack's mom, and most of the Christmas cookies (at least the ones that I didn't send to the neighbors), that work in the basement has slowly started to begin again (think molasses on a cold winter day, even though I've never really seen that, but it sounds very slow), that Dolly has forgiven me for trimming her one toenail too short (I can't even begin to say how devastated I was when I saw her blood--aaarrgh), that my mom seems to be behaving sensibly, and that I really enjoy blogging?

five things

My daughter-in-law, Shilo, tagged me--twice!--so this and the next post are probably more than you ever wanted to know about me, but if tagged, I respond. So--

Five Things I Was Doing 10 Years Ago:
1. Wearing braces and working at my kids' orthodontist's office
2. Worrying about money
3. Weighing a lot less
4. Living in a different home
5. Spending time with my gramma

Five Things On My “To-Do” List Today:
1. Watch football
2. Blog
3. Do some of the puzzles on Merriam-Webster.com
4. Cook a yummy dinner
5. Hope the kids and grandbabies all come to visit

Five Favorite Snacks:
1. Chai tea
2. Cherry chocolates
3. Jr mints
4. Midnight Milky Way bars
5. Christmas treats--cheeseball, candies, cookies

Five Jobs I Have Had:
1. Babysitter--earned enough to buy my own bike, a cool, green 10-speed
2. Sales Clerk at Sears--worked in every department (seriously, every department-how many 16-year-olds do you know who can sell draperies? yes, yes, I sold draperies)
3. Secretary--back when a desktop was the place where you used your typewriter, an IBM correcting selectric if you were lucky
4. Para-educator--fancy name for lunchroom monitor and playground aide at my kid's school. Imagine getting paid to play with kids--a great part-time job.
5. Paralegal--current job that I really enjoy. Lots of variety, great coworkers, boss, and pay.

Five Things I Would Do With a Million Dollars:
1. Get rid of debt for Jack, me and our kids
2. Invest wisely
3. Donate wisely
4. Build the cabin
5. Travel

Five People I Tag to Answer the Same Questions
1. You
2. know
3. who
4. you
5. are

a few of my favorite things--alphabetically

A — Attached or Single: attached
B — Best Friend: jack
C — Cake or Pie: pie, mmmmm, pie
D — Day of Choice: saturday
E — Essential Item: hmmm, besides food, diet coke, affection, time, beauty, learning, and clean teeth?
F — Favorite Color: green-my eyes and all of the different shades in nature
G — Greatest Accomplishment: parenting
H — Hometown: murray, home of the spartans, mighty mighty spartans
I — Indulgences: chai tea
J — January or July: january
K — Kids: four amazing adults who have created three and a half amazing grandchildren
L— Life is incomplete without: a cat on the bed and a dog at the door when i come home
M — Marriage Date: october 27
N — Number of Siblings: two brothers
O — Oranges or Apples: sweet, juicy oranges or crispy, tart apples
P — Phobias or fears: emotional abandonment, physical dependence
Q — Quotes: from my mom, "now, i need to say something that you're probably not going to want to hear, but..."
R — Reason to Smile: my darling grandbabies
S — Season: no favorites here--i enjoy the quiet white of winter, the wet green of spring, the hot orange of summer and the blustery rustling of autumn
T — Tag 5 Friends: i simply cannot tag anybody anymore. if you read this and would like to join along, please do, and let me know so i can learn more about you.
U — Unknown fact about me: well, it is no longer a secret that i cannot tag anybody anymore. i'm not sure there are any other unknown facts about me since i started blogging.
V — Very favorite store: kohl's because i can always find something there to buy
W — Worst habit: shopping at kohl's because i can always find something there to buy
X — X-ray or Ultra Sound: ultrasound when it's my first introduction to another grandbaby
Y — Your favorite food: no favorites when it comes to kids and foods
Z — Zodiac: Virgo

Friday, December 26, 2008

highlights of the day

  1. bows and name tags on all of the gifts
  2. breakfast in the gardens--a loaf of bread disguised as french toast (thanks, Stu!), two pounds of bacon, and two dozen eggs
  3. the softest robe and a lovely hand-crafted scarf
  4. light sabers for jack and me
  5. dvds and toys for time with the girlies
  6. inexpensive cherry chocolates
  7. thoughtfully remembered surprises from the antique store
  8. my cats and my dog
  9. homemade rolls
  10. dinner at Jessie's
  11. Audrey's amazement by the 'stars'
  12. Breanne's enthusiasm for the day
  13. Janey's warm, i'm-safe-with-my-gramma snuggly sounds
  14. time to appreciate the outside garden--windy, wet, snowy, and even quiet
  15. none of my close loved ones in the hospital
  16. friends in my life
  17. near peace with the past
  18. clean kitchen counters
  19. hope for the future

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sensible--that's the ticket

My mom is home from the hospital. The angiogram showed no blocked arteries, so the doc says the pressure my mom felt in her chest (and this morning in her back) is from the atrial fibrillation--an irregular heartbeat--and the solution is for her to take two medications. He said the key word for her from now on would be 'sensible'. He noted that it isn't sensible for a 75-year-old woman to shovel snow or mow lawns, and sensible patients sleep more than four hours each night.

Clearly, if anything, my mom must be sensible. Take, for example, her ideas about Christmas lights.

From the end of the street:

Getting closer:

Yeh, definitely sensible.

Sure, sensible. No problem.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

the best laid plans

The plan for today was:

1. Get up early, shower, get dressed.
2. Finish up the shopping.
3. Pick up a ham from Costco.
4. Return home to do the usual weekend chores.
5. Greet Jessie and the girls in the gardens for Christmas baking and candy making.
6. Prepare the ham.
7. Head out to my brother's house for the family Christmas dinner/party.
8. Return home to sweet dreams.

Instead, I:
1. Got up early.
2. Answered the phone to hear a quivering voice ask if I thought she should be concerned if she felt pressure in her chest and just didn't feel well.
3. Quickly dressed, brushed my teeth and picked up my mom to take her to the emergency room.
4. Waited while my mom was checked out and admitted to the hospital because her heartbeat was too fast and irregular--atrial fibrillation.
5. Stayed at the hospital until she insisted I leave.
6. Finished the shopping with Jack.
7. Went home to shower, dress, and then later, to play with Audrey.
8. Returned to the hospital to find that the medications the doc has given to my mom have lowered her heart rate and have regulated the rhythm as well. She will have an angiogram on Monday morning, to hopefully find no blockages, and perhaps she will return home later that day.

Usually, this Saturday before Christmas would have been spent wandering around stores, finding a perfect gift for one person and settling for an okay gift for another, over and over until the list was done or I was too weary to look at one more sweater or toy. Then I would have dragged myself and all of the bags of stuff into the house, into my room, so I could spread them out on my bed, removing tags and wrapping and determining whether or not I was truly done with the shopping. There would have been a marathon effort to bake and make candy and then more time to wonder what I'd forgotten, what was still to be done.

Today, that all changed. I didn't drag bags and bags of things around the stores and I didn't make batches of cookies and plates of candy. I didn't wrap any gifts or write any cards. And yet, I am more weary than ever. Today, I saw brief glimpses of a vulnerable frightened woman who wanted someone there who she knew loved her and would be there for her. My mom finally got to see that I do love her and I am there for her. Shopping at Walmart would have used less emotional energy than was expended today, but I'm so very relieved that she called when she did and she is doing as well as she is tonight.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

glory hallelujah

A few days ago, my friend, Joey, posted about the baking she does for Christmas. I was astounded and commented on her blog that I wanted to know what it took to get on the list for some of the yummies she wrote about.

Tonight--wait for it---I started wrapping presents. Yes, I know, this is waaaay too early for me to be touching the tape and scissors, but, well, I thought it might be nice to have the presents under the tree in their shiny paper for more than six hours before it (the paper) was all ripped to pieces and left in piles around the living room for me to pick up and smash into hefty bags, early on Christmas morn while Jack and the boys either a) head back to bed or b) play with their new crap.

So, I assembled the wrapping supplies: rolls of Christmas wrapping paper that I bought in 2005 at Costco and the tape and the scissors and the blue sharpie I use to write the names on the presents. Because, seriously, what is the point of name tags for six hours? Ribbons? Don't even think about 'em. No, presents aren't pretty around the gardens because, well, for a long time, the girls were outnumbered by the boys and the boys didn't care about what the presents looked like on the outside, the important thing was what was inside the wrapping paper, so why bother?

So. I started wrapping tonight. I wrapped a couple of gifts for Jr and the drummer and my gift to my dad and then, what to my wondering ears did occur? The doorbell rang and there stood my friend, Joey, with a HUGE plate of assorted (and I mean seriously assorted and even more seriously HUGE) Christmas treats.

this is only about 1/2 of the treats.
the others were just as pretty and so yummy, right jr?

OH MY HECK! I LOVE BLOGGING! And Joey. Thanks friend.

they never do this when the bed is made

three cats on the bed

perhaps because the dog is in the house?

I almost got her smile...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

you might think

Because I haven't posted since Sunday night, you might be tempted to think that I've been busily shopping and wrapping and baking and card-writing and candymaking.

Sorry, but you'd be wrong.

You might have thought I was working myself skinny in the basement, sorting and tossing and storing, even spackling or sanding or painting.

Alas, you would be wrong again.

After my shopping last weekend, I've felt satisfied that I am so far ahead of my usual Christmas pace that I can take it easy for a few days. So I have.

Last night, Jack and I went to a party with my coworkers. We enjoyed a tasty dinner and lots of laughs, and the gifts we took for the gift exchange were the hit of the evening.

Who knew adults could get so excited about a pen that shocks you when you try to use it or a 'bullsh*t' button that hollers smartypants remarks when you push it? Seriously, I work with nine-year-old boys.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

boundaries--everybody's got 'em

Yesterday afternoon, my mom dropped by for a visit. I invited her to sit down on the sofa for a visit and as soon as she did, Oscar hopped up on her lap. Oscar isn't known around the gardens as a sweetheart, a snuggly, purring ball of fluff. No, Oscar is the cat with the overgrown case of cat independence.

Anybody who has been around that cat for more than ten minutes can tell you that there is never any question about how Oscar is feeling. If Oscar could speak English, he would refer to himself as Oscar, as in "Oscar does not want to be held just now, so put him down before he slices you open." But Oscar doesn't need words to express his feelings. He has his twitching tail, his laid back ears, his low throaty voice, his tightly wound muscles, and if all else fails, he has claws and teeth. Once the tail starts to twitch or he starts to moan, anybody with a lick of sense pushes away from him as soon as possible.

But you know my mom. As soon as Oscar jumps up to allow her to scratch around his ears, she immediately scoops him up and rolls him onto his back, which, of course, triggers the low growling yowl for which Oscar is so well known. His tail is freakin' out, his ears are as flat to his head as ever before seen, and he is clearly yelling, "Put Oscar down. NOW." But not my mom. No, she tells Oscar to settle down, stop being such a tough cat. And then she does the unthinkable. She grabs Oscar's face with her hand. And shakes his face. While she tells him to stop all of his fussing.

Of course Oscar immediately stops yowling, stops his twitching, and begins purring, encouraging her to shake him some more. NOT. He became even more enraged and before I could say, "Uh, you better let him go," my mom yelled, "HEY--you rotten cat!" and Oscar was dropped unceremoniously to the floor and then stalked under the table to stare back at her.

She didn't notice Oscar was still staring at her because she was examining the back of her hand where Oscar's teeth left four wounds, slicing open her fragile skin, leaving it bleeding and sore. She looked at her wounds for a few seconds and then asked if I had some neosporin and a bandage. And then she said, "Well, I can't really blame the cat, I was teasing him. Rotten cat."

I called her this morning to see how she was feeling and she said she was fine, but she should have tossed that cat down after he attacked her because he needed to learn a lesson about biting.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

holy cow

You, dear readers, will simply not believe how much I accomplished today. Check this out:

1. Got myself to the Kohl's just as the wintry blizzard was blowing in, shopped for three hours, bought nothing that wasn't on sale, got an additional 20% off of everything, and got $100 in Kohl's cash that I can use between now and Christmas, drove back home during one of the breaks in the blizzard, and have nearly finished my shopping. JACKPOT!!!
2. Scooped out the catbox, tidied up the kitchen, laundry room, dining room, and my bedroom, did two loads of laundry, sorted out the stuff in the basement, got 45 minutes of effort out of Jr and the drummer in the basement so that a big load 'o great stuff went to the DI, paged through bags and boxes (my normal filing method) of old bills and receipts and warranties from 2002 and tossed out most of it, and took out a really big pile of trash.
3. Played and read and tickled and tagged along with Audrey for a couple of very enjoyable hours.
4. Hit the grocery store, picked up the usual stuff, a few extras, and ingredients for enchiladas, which were prepared by Stu and enjoyed by Jack, Stu and me. Audrey ate mini-frosted wheats at the bar while we discussed dinner. After dinner, she had a playful, splashy bath followed by lotion and warm jammies. And yes, I want that too.

All in all, a very productive, amazingly high energy day for me.

Did I mention that Jr and the drummer hauled all of the Christmas stuff upstairs, so now I know just how many Santa cookie jars and candy plates I need to fill. It's good to get a visual.

Oh, just two other things. About last night's post--I remember starting it, I remember taking my nighttime pill, and I remember waking up around 1:00 in the TV room thinking, I've gotta finish my post and get to bed. Millie was laying on my computer, and dang if that cat didn't finish my post for me, which explains my thinking that I could lay around tomorrow, get a hot breakfast, watch a movie, take a nap, and dinner would take care of itself. Seriously, I was more than a little confused to realize that the post was finished. I don't remember writing it. I'm very clever in my sleepy state.

The other thing--a couple of days ago, I read my friend Lisab's post wherein she foisted video from her new webcam upon her readers. I totally enjoyed hearing and watching her and realized, hey, I have a webcam. So I did what I always do when it comes to my compy, I asked Jack about it. Before long, the cam was up and running, but dang if MY MOM wasn't inside of my computer. How that ever happened, I'll never understand, but let me just say that after I recovered from the shock of seeing my mom on my computer screen, I leapt from the sofa and raced to my treadmill where I told myself I was never getting off. After a bit, I decided I was staying on it for at least an hour. And then I got off the beast after 15 minutes. In case you're wondering, yes I have been back on the monster since then. And I walked around a store for three hours this morning too.

Believe me, I'm more than a little afraid to turn on the webcam again.

Friday, December 12, 2008

i am making so much progress

Today at work, I made some decisions about Christmas preparations. It seemed like a good plan.

1. Do all shopping online tonight.
2. Buy groceries first thing tomorrow morning.
3. Clean basement tomorrow morning.
4. Bake cookies and make caramels tomorrow afternoon.
5. Meet Audrey's every need tomorrow evening.
6. Sleep in Sunday morning.
7. Go to movies Sunday afternoon.
8. Feed the family Sunday night.
9. Go back to work Monday morning.

The plan has fallen apart. Turns out I'm not much good at online shopping. I can't tell if I like the stuff I'm looking at, even if it is SERIOUSLY ON SALE. With FREE SHIPPING. I need to touch and be moved by the connection I get to the stuff I'm buying. Who knew I put so much effort into shopping?

Besides, after putting my new list down onscreen (since obviously I'm not putting it down on paper), I don't know, the list seems like way too much effort, like by Sunday night I'm going to be exhausted and so weary that it's another weekend closer to Monday.

This will be my new list for this weekend.

1. Blog and finish reading book that Sugar gave to me.
2. Sip tea while blogging and reading.
3. Sleep well.
4. Head over to Kohl's to get the killer deals tomorrow morning.
5. Stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things.
6. Dawdle along, tidying up here and there, and resting a bit.
7. Enjoy ms audrey
8. do together what families do together--prepare, serve, feed, tidy altogether.
9. read again or let mind wander to ideas of well-thought out gifts for those i love.
10 hot breakfast please and later a movie and then a nap.
11. dinner will work itself out, right?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


So far this year, I have not:

1. Made any lists of things to do in preparation for Christmas.
2. Figured out what gifts to buy for my children, grandchildren, parents.
3. Sent out any Christmas cards.
4. Put out any Christmas decorations.
5. Bought any Christmas gifts.
6. Wrapped any Christmas gifts.
7. Made any Christmas treats.

It occurs to me that:

1. My kids seriously ought to be giving me some major hints--in their blogs or perhaps on the whiteboard in the laundry room?
2. I may send only a few Christmas cards this year and maybe I'll take them in person to some of the friends who live nearby that I haven't seen for ages.
3. I might just head downstairs right now to gather up a few Christmas things to set out around the house. Some of my old favorites and some of my gramma's things she left to me.
4. Fortunately, Jr loves to decorate for Christmas, so our tree and lights are up. My lack-of-decorating-enthusiasm secret is safe, at least from the neighbors.
5. Obviously I don't have to wrap anything if I haven't bought anything, right?
6. I may make some chocolate-covered caramels with pecans to share with neighbors and friends because today at work I ate some really tasty chocolate-covered caramel. That's one of the big bonuses of working in a legal office--law firms send baskets of treats to the office at this time of the year. Of course, those big baskets of treats are one of the big reasons why I am going to go get on the treadmill as soon as I finish in the basement.

And there you go. My first list for Christmas this year is done. Sweet.

Monday, December 8, 2008

think before you do it

Today I got an email from Sugar that was one of those questionnaire things (Answer these questions and see what kind of [fill in the blank] you are!!) and since it was only four questions, I decided to waste a few minutes on it.

If I remember correctly--and we all know I don't, so don't hold me to this, Sugar--the email indicated it was from the Dali Lama (maybe?) and instructed me to choose my favorite number, make a wish, and remember it. Next, I was instructed, several times, that I should answer the four questions honestly, writing down the first thing that came to mind, and remember that it was critical that I not look ahead or cheat (cheat? while answering questions from the Dali Lama? Seriously).

After I answered the four questions, the meanings of my answers appeared, and of course, the meanings of my answers accurately defined me--or at least that's the way it seemed at first. I mean, who wouldn't choose a sheep as a favorite animal, followed closely by a horse, which, duh, clearly is interpreted as 'the most important things in life to me are love and family'. Obvious, right?

But then, I got to the part of the email that instructed me to send it to a certain number of friends so I could get my wish granted and if I did, my wish would come true, blah, blah, blah. WHAT? The Dali Lama is an email chain letter writer? Is nothing sacred? True, he didn't threaten me with dire consequences if I didn't forward the email to my friends, but well, I have a standing policy that doesn't allow me to participate in chain letters. even email chain letters. even from the Dali Lama. Period. (It's one of those things my mom taught me as a child about how those chain letters just clog up the mail system. I can't bring myself to rebel against her on this one.)

I have to admit that for a couple of minutes, I did contemplate who I might forward the email to. After all, I only had to send it to two friends and my wish would be granted on Saturday. And that is when I wished I had thought more carefully about my wish.

My wish was for Stuart to be better. I didn't wish for him to get better, or to be healthy, or to be healed. I just wished for better. What was I thinking? He was better today than yesterday, so in theory, my wish may have been granted and now I owe the Dali Lama a couple of links to his email chain. I bet you had no idea life was so complicated, did you?

After deciding that I had messed up my wish this time, and what I really wanted wasn't going to happen simply by forwarding an email to a couple of people, I started to think.

I wondered, just what would I be willing to do, what crazy or outrageous or simple thing would I be willing to do if I could have that one wish granted, that most deeply-held-in-my-heart-wish granted? And what wish would I want next? And would I be more careful the next time I was given the opportunity to make a wish?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

what i did

yesterday, after rising early, catching up on my blog reading, puzzle solving, and list making, i:

1. ate strawberry pancakes at the ihop with jack (also ate one sausage)
2. cleaned up dog poo with jack (the poo-eatin' dog is not keeping up with herself, apparently)
3. got a new 'do--funky, spiky short (can i pull this off? of course i can!)
4. emptied out the shed and some shelves in the garage with jack (so much more tidy!)
5. tossed out a bunch of crap (besides the poo)
6. broiled a marinated-by-stu-london broil, which we ate with mashed red potatoes and peas (except for audrey, who had three bowls of 'yoyo' with milk [cereal with milk])
7. visited with my parents and brother while the boys put up the christmas lights (you'll want to see pictures of the lights)
8. tended to audrey's every need (and she kept it together amazingly well, considering she had no nap yesterday)
9. enjoyed almost every minute of a beautiful november day.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

who you gonna believe?

When in the midst of chaos--fear and uncertainty, physical pain, the joy and stress of family and holiday times--do you go with the medical world--the sincerely helpful doctor with the medications from the folks who make the commercials that convincingly claim that sometimes life is too much to cope with, can only be survived and enjoyed by swallowing some of the pills they're selling?

Or do you go with the thoughtful therapist who says, hell yes, you are stressed, suffering, scared--who wouldn't feel that way given your circumstances, now let's lose the pills, develop some coping skills, and live?

Or can I simply sit on the stairs, survey the heap of memories amidst the junk that must be sorted and organized and stowed so that the basement remodel can proceed, and feel blessed when Jr passes me on the stairs, strokes the top of my head and says, "Mom, it's amazing, your hair never changes. It is always so soft, so comforting."

Friday, December 5, 2008

if i can't give you my liver...

Stu had his scope yesterday.

Just when I think I've thought of all of the possibilities, I learn that once again, I am no doctor.

The good news: the primary duct in Stu's liver is fairly uniform, not much inflammation.

The not so good news: the smaller ducts that branch off of the primary duct are inflamed and are beginning to clog up, which explains the yellow-colored whites of his eyes and his slightly tan-looking skin, aka, jaundice.

The other not so good news: the stent option (propping open ducts with teeny little toothpicks--or at least that's how I picture it) is not an option for smaller ducts.

The other not so good news: the doc did his best during the scope to 'blow them open' (and by 'them', the doc meant the smaller ducts) with some type of fluid, which may give Stu some relief from the jaundice for a while.

And then.

There's the other news: Stu visits his kind, compassionate Dr. Nielsen in a week, who will, once again, check his liver enzyme levels, and if the levels are still elevated, as the doc suspects they will be, introduce Stu and his liver to the liver transplant team at the local shiny new hospital.

Oh yes, one other tidbit--while Stu and I may be a very close match, it seems that the docs are no longer in favor of live donor transplants, so I will not be able to give a part of my liver to the boy. Fine. Just fine.

So, it seems, we've come to this now. Let's all hold on together for the ride, okay?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

somebody needs a new plan

My plan to discontinue the meds doesn't seem to be working so well.

The euphoria of the early days has faded in much the same way the flowers of spring wilt in the heat of summer and the spent blooms of summer darken and go to seed.

Perhaps by visualizing those seeds, on the cold ground, buried under the bluewhite snow, I'll remember the hope that surely must come again.

So, yeh, you might say I still need the meds. Probably couldn't have chosen a more jam-packed, likely-to-include-high-stress time to stop the meds, including the OH.MY.HECK.gum surgery pain, the I've-not-enough-of-the-will-I-be-addicted-too?-lortab, the clean-the-house and cook-the-meal-or in this case,-assist-with-the-meal-prep holiday dealio, wait, did i mention the STINKING sore mouth pain, the family get it together stress, and even, the celebration of Stu's birth* that, for me, nowadays, also includes a twinge of reminder of his health issues. Yeh, probably not the best time to go solo, no more meds for me, girlie.

Jack took me to the doctor today so together we could give a more accurate picture of life in the gardens of late and, with the doc, agree on a new plan--not quite same as the old plan, but hopefully better. After the visit and a stop for lunch at Olive Garden, Jack dropped me off at the gardens so I could get in my jammies while he went to the pharmacy and picked up the new stuff (yet another indication of the urgency of this mess).

The remaining items on the list of stuff to do tonight are take a long, hot soak in the tub, share the two desserts we ordered at lunch but were too full to eat, toss back a diet coke, watch a bit of mindless tv and/or the Jazz, and settle down with the new meds and a good book on our comfy bed with its white, softer than anything cotton sheets.

For those of you who don't have new meds, desserts to share, diet cokes to chug, a good book, or a bed like ours, I'll share something that may be just as satisfying--and well, I'll enjoy it along with you--a pic of the beautiful baby girl, Miss Janey.


Friday, November 28, 2008

thanksgiving 2008--brought to you by jr

Yes, I had more of the gum graft surgery on the day before Thanksgiving--long story, but it was a timing, healing, following up thing--so more than a week before the big day, Jr announced that it was time for me to put together a list of cleaning, shopping, cooking, and preparing chores and a timeline for completion of such, so that if the almost-an-eagle-scout dentist was right this time and my mouth was sore, we could still enjoy Thanksgiving in the gardens.

Jr, with backup from Jack and Herschel (and some from Stu, Shi, and me) created and served a wonderful feast--

13--count 'em--13 pies
(apple, pumpkin, pecan, berry)
(check out the huge bowl of yummy fruit salad on the bar)

homemade, from scratch, rolls
(yes, jr cleaned the toaster!)

the drummer candying his favorite
sweet potatoes

just for fun--a lovely berries, bananas,
heart-shaped raspberry jello
(yes, that's stuffing in the background
and very ripe bananas)

some of us like very ripe bananas
(check out those veggies)

what a beautiful table!
with herschel's other contribution
next time you eat at a place with cloth napkins--
remember, these are not as easy as they look

the company--uncle boyd

great gramma, shi and the darling

four men and a turkey

and what is a thanksgiving feast
without a cat by the fire?


if you check out the counters and the sink in these photos,
you can probably guess my contribution to the day

Thursday, November 27, 2008

one of those shortlong nights

it is early
the house is quiet but
for a dripping faucet and
jack's uneven breathing and
cats stalking each other
and other imaginary foes

it is quiet
but ere long, clutter will be tidied
then turkey, rolls, massive sweet potatoes and
tiny red potatoes, fruit salad and vegetables
will be roasted and kneaded and candied and
mashed and mixed and beautified

the quiet will be overcome by the preparation--
the tidying into full-blown cleaning
the aromas and the sounds of the feast about to be
and the voices and feelings of the blessed

and after the doing
and the feeling
and the blessed chaos,
comes the peace
and the gratitude
and the quiet.

blessed is the soul who finds and feels the gratitude.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

today, not so much

gum graft followup surgery--at this moment, and for the past two hours, not on my list of things i'm grateful for.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

everybody's doin' it? maybe.

stained glass
utah wins again
birds, large and small
lots of rodents where the big birds live
the love of my life
joe peschi
my car
the independence of cats
changes in the weather
skiing on the greatest snow on earth
good health
boy shorts
rapidly developing medical breakthroughs
photos of my girlies
time with my kids
palm trees
a walk in the park
unnamed regular readers of my blog
regular readers
commenting readers
running water
bodies of water
my body
joyful dancing
needed hugs
welcome phone calls
white cotton sheets
willie nelson
red lipstick
two gold bands
hair satisfaction
eric clapton
whispy smoke
the future
satisfying food
rock walls
the zoo
new york city
mail in the box from others
washington, dc
new orleans
jazz and blues and zydeco
yard sales
colorful scarves
eclectic lamps
johnny depp
modern conveniences
mass transit
my bike
cheese enchiladas
fresh guacamole
dustin hoffman
simply beautiful women
nail polish
clothes that fit
deep thinking
clean tile
no guns
moving my body
fresh berries
red potatoes with mashed skins
striped shirts on little boys
tidy closets
finished space in the basement
harvey keitel
a home in the mountains
john travolta
comfy or cute new shoes
sunlight in the morning
evening light
night skies full of stars
jamie lee curtis
christopher walken
diane keaton
indoor plumbing
hot, fresh whole grain bread

Monday, November 24, 2008

what a great place i live in

I may not have mentioned that my mind has been a bit confused for the past few days. In my mind, it feels like spring--a time to clear out the cobwebs, to organize and tidy up, and to revel in the lightness that is spring. Yes, there have been some moments of winter, but that is spring--a time to move from the dark coldness in the depths of winter toward the warm sunny days of summer.

While my mind feels spring, my eyes and all of my senses were convinced today that it is autumn. Earlier today, I drove north on the Legacy Parkway. I know it was a controversial highway project, but I can't help myself--I drive it every chance I get. It takes me through areas I never knew existed--marshes and wetlands, and also opens beautiful new mountain views, so many desert colors in the marshes, and textures I only see in a marsh or wetland, and because the speed limit is 55 mph, I have time to soak it all in as I drive.

I realize that if it is autumn today, it will be winter before too long, but as I drove, inhaling so much beauty with my eyes that my heart ached, I could only hope I had saved this day somewhere in my mind where I can find it and remember it when the cold dark days and nights of winter surround.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

oddity or fact?

1. One of my friends--who I won't identify by name, but her name is the same as the stuff you sprinkle on sugar cookies--emphatically insists that men who drive big monster SUVs--think Hummer--have small body parts somewhere. On their bodies. Which will forever change the way I view guys in Hummers, in much the same way that reading fortune cookie messages changed forever after a friend suggested I add the words, "in bed" to the end of my fortune cookie message.

2. I've been performing an experiment recently. In my twenties, I started shaving my legs nearly every day. Not in an act of rebellion against my mother, who insisted that the more often you shave, the faster the hair grows, but instead, at the advice of a silly girl I worked with at the time who insisted it was much easier to shave every morning in the shower. Yeh, I let an airhead who was probably five years younger than me determine how often I would perform this ritual, and lucky for me, she didn't suggest something more outrageous, like exercising without a bra to ensure good muscle tone or consuming 5000 calories every day to improve my skin.

Back to my experiment. Some of my friends--not the friend mentioned in #1 above--are a few years older than me, and they claim that they no longer shave their legs because the hair has stopped growing. Whaaaa? No more shaving? A benefit to aging besides all of the wisdom I've gained? It sounded good to me, so just like that (picture my fingers snapping), I gave up shaving.

I had to change the plan after six days and three of those days were when I was under the influence of lortab. For the past few weeks, I've been shaving once a week, and it's, um, okay as long as I don't look at or touch my legs. And nobody else does either.

I'm not sure where this whole experiment is going, but let me say that I cannot even describe how disappointed I was this morning when, after a very thorough shaving, I turned off the shower and opened the door to grab a towel and watched as Millie hurried into the shower and rubbed up against my hairless legs, leaving more hair than I could grow in three months.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

seriously, is it me?

This morning, after breakfast at the IHOP, Sugar and I decided to do some shopping, but first I needed to stop at my financial institution to deposit a check. We pulled up to the window in the drive-up lane and demanded to see Jr because he's a teller there. That always startles the newbie tellers and dang if it didn't work today. Jr came over to tell Wes that it was his mom, not to worry, and while Wes deposited the check into my account, Jr asked if I'd get him a chai tea at the Starbucks next door and when I said yes, he passed me my receipt with a note that gave me detailed instructions about how to order his tea and to also, please, pick up a couple of pieces of banana nut loaf. I told him I'd be back in a minute with his tea and I'd be sending it through the drive-up window drawer, unless, of course, Jr decided to meet me out front to pick it up.

Sugar and I went through the Starbucks drive-through and picked up Jr's order and then we returned to the drive-up lane to give Jr his breakfast. I pulled up behind a truck in the lane closest to the building. Wes was doing his best to quickly help the guy in the truck, but after a minute, I decided to go to the next lane, one of the lanes with a tube that shoots transactions up and into the bank, intending to press the call button to tell Jr to meet me out front.

As I started driving into the center lane, Sugar, with an urgency in her voice that I don't think I've heard ever before, yelled out, "Hey, wait, you can't send Jr his tea from this lane!" And at the same instant, Jr said that inside the bank, Wes was urging him to "Stop your mom before she puts that hot tea into the tube!!!"

After I stopped laughing hysterically and Jr came outside to pick up his tea and then went back inside to calm down Wes and the rest of the employees in the lobby, I wondered if maybe I still have some of the outer crazy to rope in, or if Wes and Sugar think I look just young and rebellious enough to follow through on my offer (perhaps viewed as a threat?) to deliver Jr's tea through the drive-up?

Friday, November 21, 2008

here we go again

1. Stu's doc called, his numbers are down some, still elevated even for him, the scope is scheduled for December 4, and none of us, not Stu, or me, or Shi, or Jack, or even little Audrey can do a thing about it except see what happens next.

2. I succumbed to peer pressure today at work. My employer, headquartered in Minneapolis (where there must be a state law requiring all citizens to own at least three items that have images of moose on them) is all about keeping us healthy, as in, higher insurance premiums for smokers, $100 refund of yearly health club dues, etc. Because this is the start of hibernation time in the cold northern regions, the company is again sponsoring the 'weigh to go' delio wherein we sign up as teams and have regular weigh-ins to see if we can either maintain our weight as a team or lose weight during the holidays. My team will be self-weighing using the well-established honor code concept because none of us are willing to admit out loud just how much we weigh. After work tonight, I hung up all the clothes that were hanging over my treadmill and I walked on it for 30 minutes. (Come on, give it up for me, yeh, that's better, I can hear the cheers now...)

3. Sugar emailed a cookbook to me today that had 594 pages of recipes (excluding the index pages and cover). It is full of 'actual' recipes from popular restaurants (Olive Garden, KFC to name a few), favorite candies and goodies, and of course, the original Mrs. Fields' cookie recipes. whatever. Tonight I cooked rice in my rice cooker, scrambled up some eggs, and tossed the rice, eggs, some leftover shredded carrots (that were cooked with a bit of butter and honey), onions, and toasted sesame seeds together in my biggest frying pan. And for good measure, I added some tiny peas. The recipe--yes, I was following a recipe, but I didn't have all of the ingredients--called for soy sauce, but unfortunately the bottle of soy I've had in my fridge for how long I don't know, was nearly unopenable, and when I did get it opened, before pouring some into the fried rice mixture, I carefully sniffed at it and was overwhelmed by the smell of very ripe vinegar, so I left out the soy and instead added a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper. It didn't look at all like fried rice, and it didn't taste a whole lot like the fried rice I've had at Benihana, but dang it was good. Tomorrow maybe I'll make the Olive Garden Toscana soup--potatoes, sausage, greens in a cream sauce--or perhaps I'll make some of the Sizzler cheese toast.

So there you go--I exercised and cooked today. And to reward myself, I'm going to the kitchen right now to get some oreos or ice cream bars for me and Jack. And when our year's supply of oreos from the Costco is gone, I'll simply make more because, yep, you guessed it, I've got the recipe.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

worst case scenario

Remember the other day when I blogged about some bits of news, and then when I blogged about feeling so hopeful? See, if I were in my right mind (or wherever it is in my head where I keep everything straight--obviously a very small, unused room) I would have the door slightly ajar to the nagging feeling room in my brain and not spat right in the face of the fates or whatever it is that happens when I proclaim all is well.

And here are thing 1 and thing 2 for today:

1. The doc followed up with Stu today. Those three higher than normal numbers were high even for Stu, oh, and yes, so is the bilirubin number. More tests today, results tomorrow. Worst case scenario: scope of liver ducts, early December; still worst case scenario: scope within a scope (hello again, mr. spyglass scope, aka the scope the doc uses to biopsy ducts); and worst of all worst case scenarios: biopsies show atypical cells, i.e., cancer, which puts Stu in the liver transplant program and at the top of the liver transplant recipient list.

I keep telling myself--worse case scenario, worse case scenario...

To remind myself that all of #1 above are clearly the worst case scenario(s) and most, if not all of them will not occur in the near future--when I start thinking that these scenarios are imminent, I will instead think of times like this afternoon when:

2. My phone rang and Jr was calling to tell me that Ann Taylor is closing a bunch of stores after Christmas so if I happen to have any gift cards from Ann, I better use them quickly before they are no longer valid.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

willie nelson may be right again

Several years ago, I read or heard Willie Nelson say that his life was really good right then, but he wasn't sure that was so good for his songwriting. He couldn't write when he was feeling great.

After my lame post of yesterday, I started thinking long and hard about Willie. And the life and times of Gilian. (Did I just refer to myself in the third person? arg. It's worse than I thought.)

I don't remember if I've posted any random thoughts lately, but these are the most recent--

1. I am almost off all of the drugs--just four more low, low doses of the anti-d's and then it's just a matter of time until I lose the anti-d/sleep inducer, which likely means the crazy, chaotic, entertaining, glimpse into my psychi dreams will end or I won't be able to remember them--but, anyway, the drug year is coming to an end.

2. Sometimes--like when I'm trying to post every day--in my mind, I hear the Sesame Street episode where Telly and Baby Bear are trying to figure out how to get the word "DOG" to get back in Abbi Kadabbi's magic book, and even though Telly thinks and thinks, his brain will not alert him to a good idea with a 'DING'. He thinks and thinks and finally admits, "I got nothin'."

3. Today I am hopeful. Jr seems happier, Jr and the Drummer are hanging out and enjoying each other, and in some cases, are contemplating dating, and in other cases, moved from contemplating dating to actually going on a date, Audrey will be a big sister next summer, Jack and I are in tune, Cory got a job, Jessie and the girls seem happy, scientists announced today that they had successfully used stem cells to replace an organ in a French woman, Dooce is pregnant, and well, I heard on the news, that O'Bama beat McCain by 296 votes in Salt Lake County.

4. With so much good in my world, it's no wonder I'm having a hard time writing. Perhaps my post today can be a reminder to those who are still in the dark or painful or extremely creative place that sometimes it can be light, painfree, and maybe even less creative, but still very good.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

i try to not fall for the cute stuff

Sugar sent me an email today that had pictures of a baby panda, from birth to four months. I'm pretty sure she found it on the internet, but there was no one to credit, so just know that I would credit the photographer if I could.

This little guy reminds me of baby siamese kittens that start out white with no markings and by the time they're weaned, their siamese marks have appeared.

So, here's the panda, enjoy the cuteness factor, and I'll be back tomorrow, cranky as ever.

Monday, November 17, 2008

you'll never believe this

Got back to the calm of the office this morning, still emotionally drained from the whole missed plane, stuck in the airport for four hours, no pincesses for mama with the girlies (who told me all of the things they saw and loved) and nowhere near enough time for me to recover (although I did my very best, obviously, because I made it to work) and guess what was in my email inbox?

A customer satisfaction survey from Southwest Airlines.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

missed it by this much

After the retirement ceremony (see next post) and the yummy buffet at the Academy, Eileen (my coworker), Jack, and I went back to our base housing, watched a movie, and sacked out for the night. (Uh, just to clarify, Eileen had her own room.) But there were a few bits of news on Friday to share (or not) and then there were the events of Saturday. Yes, you're getting another list or two. Plus explanations. This will be another long post, but well, that's what this post needs.

Bits of News:
1. Stu and Shi called with some exciting news that we cannot share just yet, but you can probably guess...
2. Later in the day, Stu called to tell me the results of his recent blood tests that were ordered because the whites of his eyes were yellow. The results: see the doctor this week because the three levels that were measured were respectively, 10 times, 15 times, and 20 times higher than normal.

Events of Saturday:
1. *Rising, showering, makeuping, dressing, packing, ordering three tickets online for the 2:30 Disney on Ice show back at home so the girlies, their moms, and I could see the 'pincesses', leaving the Academy.
2. *Breakfast at the IHOP.
3. *Got in the rental car and drove onto freeway.
4. *Realized the map to the airport was in the trunk.
5. *Decided we could probably find our way back without the map.
6. Enjoyed the drive--
7. *Until we realized we might need the map after all because we took the exit we thought made sense, drove past a couple of exits, realized things didn't look familiar, got off the freeway, stopped in the Target parking lot, checked the map in the trunk, acknowledged we took the wrong exit, got back on the freeway, and took the right exit towards the airport.
8. Started enjoying the ride a tiny bit less.
9. *Got off the freeway to fill up the rental car gas tank at the Conoco located closest to the rental car lot (as 'required' by the rental car company), filled up the tank, and waited in line inside the Conoco for the "required" receipt because the gas tank printer was out of order.
10. Re-entered the freeway, took the exit for rental car returns and dropped off the car.
11. Took the rental shuttle back to the airport.
12. *Waited for the shuttle driver to unload twelve suitcases for four women who tried their best to slow down the unloading process, and did, indeed, succeed at slowing down the process. And didn't give the driver a tip.
13. *Got off the shuttle at the next entrance into the airport--maybe 100 feet from the unloading process for the four women.
14. *Entered the airport, walked to the self-service kiosk for Southwest Airlines, and printed our tickets.
15. *Walked to the security lines, asked a TSA person if we would have a problem making our flight that was departing in half an hour, was reassured that we'd have 'no problem', and waited for our turn to enter the security process.
16. Chose the line with the 'most likely to be frequent, thus quicker through security' fellow travelers.
17. *Waited while TSA-carry-on luggage-scanner employees relieved each other for break (accompanied by much chatter and joviality).
18. *Finally went through security, redressed, repacked, headed to shuttle to concourses.
19. *Missed shuttle to concourse, waited three minutes for next shuttle, rode shuttle to Concourse C.
20. *Exited shuttle, rode escalator up two levels to gates.
21. *Walked on moving sidewalk past Gates 1-29 to Gate B30.
22. *Exited moving sidewalk, ran to Gate B32.

*All opportunities to save anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes thus ensuring we would make our flight home in time for me to accompany the girlies and their moms to the pincesses show. Alas, we did not save any of those seconds or minutes and missed our flight. No amount of pleading would convince the Southwest Airlines gateman (who closed the door as my fingers reached out to it, unlike the several times the Delta agent opened the door as I ran up and allowed me on the plane) to open the door and let us on the plane that sat there, mocking us, for at least 10 minutes after we arrived at the gate. Gateman's name escapes me because once I realized we were missing the flight, and I would be home no sooner than 4:50, clearly too late to pick up the ice show pincess tickets from will call with my photo id, order number, and credit card used to purchase the tickets, that not only would I be out the $116 I paid for front row seats (how amazing is that? it was cheaper to buy those tickets online on the day of show than it would have been if I'd purchased them through my work discount for upper bowl seats), and there was no way that Ticketmaster could exchange the seats for the 6:30 show because the tickets had already been printed---but more than any of that, the little girlies--one redhead in particular--had been talking about seeing the pincesses with mama (princesses with me) for days (two days, which in the mind of that redheaded two-year-old who asked her mom every half hour if it was time to go see the pincesses with mama, is an eeeternity), well, the idea of disappointing them and the dissapointment I felt by missing the opportunity to see their excitement and delight and even comfort their fears, was enough to cause me to simply crumble in a heap on the floor of Denver International Airport, tears leaking from my eyes, cell phone to my ear, while waiting for the compassionate Ticketmaster sales rep to change the name on the order for pickup at will call from mine to Jessie's.

We spent the next four hours, Jack encouraging me to do whatever I could to ease my pain (quesadilla's at The Cantina, gift-shopping for the girlies, chai tea from Starbucks at the end of Concourse B--way, way far away from Concourse C), until we barely made our next flight.

Yeh, I never learn, do I?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

rocky mountain high

1. Colorado Springs has some seriously great outdoors going on.
2. The Air Force Academy is an impressive place with its city within a city atmosphere--perhaps the same could be said of all bases, but not all bases are located in a beautiful forest, five minutes from a college town.
3. Colonel Michael L. Bell (my boss) retired after a 31-year career that was honored at his retirement ceremony on Friday at the Academy, and while I knew my boss is a smart lawyer, I had no idea how much he has contributed to the Air Force and his country, how unwilling he is to blow his own horn, and how deeply patriotic he is.
4. To be honest, I started this post on November 15, but I was too tired to finish it before Sunday.

Friday, November 14, 2008


good news. scary news. unexpected news. expected news. great, really great news.

i don't even know where to start.

must be the altitude here in colorado.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I'm too weary to post much today, but let me notify you, in case you haven't noticed:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

tooth-scrapin' update

I went back to see that sweet young boy scout who has been getting in his required hours of torture for his dental hygiene merit badge, in my mouth. Seriously, he is the nicest kid (who's probably in his early thirties) and he is so kind--just before he starts hurting me.

Today's visit was a five-minute appearance. You will be happy to know that the roof of my mouth (site of the donor graft) is healing nicely, keep up the good work.

However, when he carefully pulled my lower lip away from my front teeth, I immediately heard him let out a long slow breath, and I thought that even through his paper mask, I could see him mouthing the words, "oh, my." With his fingers still in my mouth, I said, "Not what you usually see one week after surgery?" And he answered, "No, not usually." Not exactly what I hoped to hear.

He went on to tell me that he had hoped that all of the stitching he'd done in my mouth would still be in place, but unfortunately it looked like some of the stitches had come out prematurely, but not to worry, because it looked good. And I might have believed that looking good comment, except for the deepening worry lines in his young, baby-soft forehead skin.

He gave me this really cool red, really soft toothbrush for me to use in the tender areas. In two weeks, I go back for a 30-minute visit, during which, he hopes to accomplish two things. The first is to clip that little muscle that divides the front of my mouth and attaches my lip to my gums. He said that clipping would be easy. (What do I do with that comment? Easy like clipping my toenails? Easy like eating pie? Easy like delivering 10 lb twins?) The second procedure involves "filleting" my gums to reposition the grafts. Before filleting my gums and the new graft so he can insert the graft in between layers of gum tissue, he will, of course, need to prepare my teeth (and by prepare, I mean, scrub, rough up, and in general, bring back the achy pain) so that the graft and the gum tissue will grow into one happy little family with its adopted child, the scraped, once again achy, tooth and its root.

I'm telling you, I can hardly wait--for Christmas, because my next appointment is the day before Thanksgiving and did I mention that Jack's mom and brother and some of the kids will be over for my usual Thanksgiving production including the freshly made rolls and of course, pie.

Another stop at the Lortab Station. Seriously, about the best I can hope for is the novacain for an hour and that funny me on the gas. I crack me up.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

yes, another list

i wish...

i'd been more clear in my last post--i no longer see the pill-dispensing doc.

mean people recognized their meanness and immediately sent it packing.

good dogs didn't get old.

seriously great treats (my homemade pie, brownies, cream puffs, you know what i'm talking about, right?) were health-inducing, and only the 'waste of good sugar' treats (like those pale orange candy sugar marshmallow peanuts and those sugar easter eggs with the hard shells and hollow insides) were unhealthy.

dust bunnies and their compatriots were more attractive than cat nip to cats and were the best way to prevent fur balls in those same cats.

the time i can't spend with those i love didn't exist so that all time could be with those i care about so much.

people could cry when they needed to and smile more than cry, because they feel joy more than pain.

rainy days were 'in' days for adults--no going outside to go to work or school or appointments.

rainy days were only 'out' days for the adults who need to splash in the puddles.

Monday, November 10, 2008

i'm cuttin' back

I've noticed lately that a lot of medical personnel operate on the notion that if a little is good, but not quite great, well, then let's just up the dose, missy.

One of the things I learned in the pysch ward a year ago was to take what I was given; if I realized there were more pills or different colors of pills in the little cup I got every few hours, I took the pills and asked questions later. When I arrived at UNI, I took two pills each morning. When I left a week later, I took nine pills throughout the day. The first night, as promised by my therapist, I got a new pill at bedtime. But she was wrong about its effects. It was not a lovely deliverer to restful sleep. It was an amazing, frightening way to keep my mind racing, doors opening and slamming closed, screeching and crying, while all of my muscles relaxed so much that all I could do was lie still in bed, while my mind wrapped itself up in knots, warred against itself, and refused to realize that my eyes were closed and all of the images were in my mind. Likely one of the longest nights in my life.

Within a day or two, my three pills per day increased to nine. My antidepressant was increased and an anti-anxiety medication showed up in my little cup. By bedtime, I realized that I now had three pills that were a different color than the old familiar ones. When my psychiatrist and therapist showed up the next day for one of our three daily chats, I asked about the extra pills, and the psychiatrist explained that he thought I might need them, so he had added them to my cup list. Unlike the 'no such thing as a sleeping pill' pill from the first night, these new friends relaxed my body and my mind. Relaxed might not be a strong enough word--it was more like being asleep with my eyes open. Stupor-like, maybe. But, the doctor gave them to me in my trusty little cup, so I dutifully swallowed them down and waited for their magic. Unfortunately, those stupor-inducing pills turned me into a blubbering, quivering mass of uncontrollable emotional silly putty. I morphed into whatever was imprinted on me by those around me. And yet, after only a week, feeling more fragile and vulnerable then I had ever felt, the docs (or perhaps the insurance) sent me home. Astounding.

A few weeks after I left UNI, I saw a new psychiatrist and by new, I mean that I met with him for 20 minutes and at our next appointment, when I admitted that I was still crying just three weeks after my mind shattered, he introduced me to another new pill. Lythium. I had never heard anything about lythium, and the guy who prescribed it seemed convinced it would cheer me up and hey, it's nothing to worry about, trust me, ms gillian. So I did. After only a few days, I was beyond relaxed, beyond stupor, close to zombie. Walking, non-dead zombie. My eyes were open, but I wasn't home. More often than not, my eyes were closed, my mind begging for rest.

After three months on all of those pills, even I started to wonder where I'd gone. The shrink seemed offended when I asked about lowering doses, so I checked in with my internal medicine guy, who agreed that I was taking high doses of strong medications, and also agreed that I could, over a few weeks, stop taking six of the ten pills. After a while, the coma with my eyes open was relieved, and even though I still had some crazy side effects that were caused by the pills I took to control the crazy in me, I started to feel better. And I started seeing the amazing Carolyn, my therapist.

A few months ago, some of my scarier crazy symptoms reappeared and the regular doc increased my antidepressant. And increased my antidepressant. That's when the tremors increased and the involuntary twitches reappeared. Oh, and then I discovered my inability to put together a coherent sentence--mostly, I think, because not only were my fingers trembling, my brain had seemingly became a bowl of jello. Man, was it fun to hang out with me. Okay, maybe it was fun for others, but not so fun for me. And hello, I was with me almost constantly.

That's why, a month ago, I decided it was time to see who I am now, after all of the drugs and all of the therapy. I lowered my antidepressant dose. And the next week, I lowered it again. And last week, I lowered it again. Kids, don't try this at home, because I didn't talk to my doctor before beginning my tapering plan, which is the one prohibited thing that is in big capital red bold letters on the information sheet that comes with most drugs, and is repeated several times for drugs that alter the brain, ergo the mind.

This morning, I called the doc to get the lowest available dose of the antidepressant, so I could take that amount this week and then be done with it next week. I left a message with his nurse, and while he usually returns my call before 7:00 pm, I have yet to hear from him.

I feel better than I have in a long time. The nagging sense of immenent uproar has been quieted. The communication skills I've learned at the knee of my therapist are still with me. Who knows, maybe by Christmas, I'll be able to speak in coherent sentences--sorry, jr, no more slips like the time I said, "Not to change the sandwich, but..." and the remainder of my sentence was lost in the sudden outburst of merriment because seriously, what mom says sandwich when she means subject, while walking into the IHOP with her family?

If nothing else, this post should be an excellent tale to keep the kids off the drugs. You've read about my brain and my brain on drugs. Kids, don't take pills unless your doctor prescribes them. And don't take pills just because your doctor prescribes them.

So, for now, I'm high on life. Don't seem to need all those pills. Might decide I need them afterall, or maybe my family or Jack or you, gentle reader, will observe something that indicates all is not well in the gardens. But, for now, I am upbeat. Not cover up upbeat--true, real, alive upbeat.

Or perhaps it is a whiff of hope.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

prop 8

if you've read my blog in the past 24 hours, you may realize that this is my third version of this post. hopefully, it will be my final revision.

when it comes to issues like gay rights or abortion or other extremely personal, yet very public policy, matters, it is very easy to see the big picture in black and white.

it is not so easy to see the black and white when looking at the little picture--the effect of these big picture issues on a small scale as they apply to those dear to me.

at least for me, the black and white are still there, but they have also blurred into many shades of gray and even many shades of black and many shades of white and sometimes into shades of color i didn't even know were part of the picture.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

not without my purse

Jack and I met up with Jessie, Cory and the girls for lunch today. (Don't tell Jessie, but Janey really likes little bits of those Cafe Rio grilled tortillas that wrap around the mahi mahi tacos.)

We got there a few minutes before they did, and when they pulled in and parked, Jack and I walked towards their car to dote on the girlies, because, hello, that's what grammas do (according to one of the Merriam-Webster crossword puzzles online today). It looked like Cory and Breanne were having a bit of a discussion about something he wanted her to leave in the car that she didn't want to leave. He told her he didn't want her to lose it, and she was having no part of his logic and was on the verge of her version of those 'Daddy, how can you say no to me' tears. Cory gave in quickly and Breanne emerged triumphant from the car with her Bahamas Elmo purse that contained her pink flowered shades and her tiny Snow White doll and Ms White's three extra plastic outfits.

And even though I am considerably older than Breanne (and by older, I mean, of course I'm older, I'm her doting gramma) when it come to purses, we belong to the sisterhood. The sisterhood of the purse. We need our purses. We love our purses and even though we have more than one purse, we can love more than one purse. We love the purse that our shades are in. And then we love the next one that holds our shades, and sometimes, we have more purses than non-sisterhood members could ever understand.

I rarely go anywhere without my purse and it always contains mints or gum or some tasty snack, as well as my shades and my keychain that has a toy on it to entertain me when things are slow. Breanne had her shades and her toy, but she needed some snacks, which I gave to her in the form of a tin of dark chocolate-covered altoids.

And as a fellow member of the sisterhood, she shared them with me until our food arrived. Now she has a lovely tin to hold her treasures in her purse.

Tell me, if you are part of the sisterhood, what do you always carry in your purse?

Friday, November 7, 2008

answering the phone

my cell phone rang today--a call from Shi's number, one I don't often see on my phone. I said hello and heard, "LLLLLO MMMAAAMMAMAMAMA" followed by many more of the Audrey jibberjabbers that if translated to adultspeak, mean something like, "Gramma, I love you, I miss you, I want to come play at your house. Do you have any of those yummy gummy fruit snacks? Can I sit in that chair at the bar? Are you still drinking that yucky diet coke? And finally, did I hear that your tailless, black and white rocking cow is wearing its own brown and white cow Halloween costume? Really?" and then she ended with, 'bubye'.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

again, who knew?

still no capital letters, but maybe tomorrow.

i had no idea there are different strengths of lortab. always, before yesterday, my prescription was the unsatisfying, 'what's all the hoopla about lortab' 5/500 pills.

but yesterday, that nice young root scraper gave me a prescription for 10 of the 7.5/500 pills.

holy pain relieving cow. can you say, 'omgosh! i.get.it.now!!!' okay, well, even if you can't, i am. (don't worry, stu, i'm not addicted, just feeling no pain in my freshly scraped roots.)

between the 7.5s and the afternoon viewing with jr of 'fido'--a perfectly delightful zombie movie--my roots feel so much better.

ps another stitch just came out. that's two of, oh, i don't know, 20 or so? seriously. no joking here about the stitch count.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

another no capital letters day

today i have no capital letters, not much focus, but enough lortab to get by.

jack's esophagus was scoped early this morning (and by early, i mean earlier than i can remember right now) because some of his stomach cells have set up camp in the bottom of his throat (and yes, cells that move to a place other than their usual body location can get a wild hair and begin multiplying in what can only be described as, well, cancer.) the doc said nothing looked too different from the last scope, but he biopsied the area and will get back to us, and jack will see him again in a couple of years. all good again for now.

then jack and i went home and ate breakfast--him: frosted flakes; me: cocoa dynobytes because how can you not go for a cereal that is chocolate and dyno--and then he went to bed and slept for hours. and since it was quiet snowy outside and quiet cozy inside, i fell asleep in the tv room, with the tv off, and slept for slightly fewer hours than jack. lovely, delicious, much-needed, enjoyed and deserved naps.

later, i went to the mouth-torturing, yet very nice young man commonly known as a periodontist, so he could move some mouthroof tissue to the lower front of my mouth in hopes that it will grow into gum tissue (which may sound a lot like jack's stomach cell journey, but apparently mouth tissue is mouth tissue, thus not cancer). the doc had the novocaine and some pre-novocaine topical gel that he described as a pina colada (defined by merriam webster as 'a tall drink made of rum, cream of coconut, and pineapple juice mixed with ice', but this dental version had no rum so we could really say it was coconut-scented gum numbing gel). additionally, he had the nitrous oxide gas. i love the gas--perhaps love is too strong a word--but if not love, then certainly enjoy, deserve, and appreciate the feeling i get from the gas (commonly referred to as 'laughing gas' because i am so funny when the dentist hooks me up with it or to it, if you prefer).

as someone who worked in an orthodontal office, you'd think i would have remembered that when someone has their hands and sharp tools in your mouth, scraping on the roots of your teeth, you are going to have some of what the docs refer to as discomfort, because they can't feel a thing, but there is no such thing. if i'm the one feeling the 'discomfort', i call it pain. and there is the one drawback to the gas. the gas and i tend to lose focus and the ability to remember anything of any value. so when the doc asked if i could feel him scraping on my roots, i said, with his hands in my mouth, that 't ddiiidn't hoot a 'it.

the grafting wasn't a big deal, at least during the procedure--using the gel and novocaine, scraping the roots, making a flap in the roof of my mouth, removing the graft tissue, stitching the flap closed, setting the graft in place, stitching the graft in place. when i left the office, i felt pretty good. even when i stopped at the pharmacy to pick up the mouth rinse and lortab, i felt pretty good. until i spent seventeen hours waiting for the prescriptions. okay, maybe it was only two hours. or maybe half an hour. but it seemed like days because the novocaine was wearing off and the gas was long gone. partway through the wait, i bought a cold diet coke, swallowed a couple of aleve, collapsed on the floor, all the while maintaining my place in the prescription pick-up line, and then held the bottle against my jaw because it was comfortingly cold. when i finally got the prescription of lortab, i used my last ounce of strength and sprinted to my car, busted open the door and settled into the driver's seat, where i ripped open the prescription bag and lortab bottle and swallowed one, like some kind of addict. or something like that.

that was two hours, a diet coke, an icebag, some reheated chicken parm, and a frozen fruit bar ago, and can i just say that i will survive this procedure, thank you, jack, and yes, lortab is my best friend in the friendship circle of drugs?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

change can happen

yes, we can.

Monday, November 3, 2008

six straight hours (less time outside her room) with mom

no, she hasn't settled down yet. today my mom had surgery (bladder repair, if you must know). she asked me to wait with my dad and then stick around with her in case she needed anything. by now, you are probably asking yourself, 'what were you thinking?' or 'jeez you are crazy'. and i have to admit that it was hard, painful even--seriously bad headache that eased when i went to the cafeteria, took some advil, and ranted to jack. mom didn't stop talking from the time she spied me from the hallway outside of her room until i left, and even then, she was still talking as i left her room to take dinner to dad. (what are you having for dinner? what will you fix for dad for dinner? there's a hungry man dinner in the freezer in the garage, oh, you have some leftover chicken parm? he'd like that. but no rice. oh, no rice? no pasta? well, there's a baked potato on the 2nd shelf down in the fridge that you could peel, cube into 1" cubes and fry in some margarine in the small frying pan that is hanging in the utility room. and then go into the storage room and get one of the small cans of creamed corn in the cupboard on the west side and open it and put half of it into the tupperware bowl under the toaster counter, and the lid's in the bottom drawer, and my, that tupperware's expensive, don't you think, and what? you're going to take vegetables with the chicken? what vegetables? fresh vegetables? what vegetables? i know what he likes...) and that's when i said, 'bye, mom, talk to you later.' and walked to the elevators.

and then jack and i went to the therapist and that's when the really amazing thing happened today. i said something about thinking that jack probably thought my idea of how our kids should raise their kids is just like the way i raised our kids and he said he thought that pretty much whatever you do or don't do that kids usually turn out okay, whereas i get physically shaken whenever i see any kid who seems distressed--not just our grandbabies, whose whimpers, yelps, and screams call out to me to come love them, save them, give them whatever they want, but also strangers' kids at wendy's and kids who aren't totally jolly in the car next to us, and on and on--so the therapist pointed out that while each of us experience childrens' distress in different, but very real ways, that perhaps my apparent overreaction was not so outlandish when considered in the context of my childhood. and i thought, 'omgosh, why didn't i think of that?'

Sunday, November 2, 2008

dinner tonight

Clean, cleaned, cleanity cleaned.
Created seven pies.
Prepared dinner--chicken parm, fresh veggies, spaghetti.
Entertained--well, okay, served the food, yes, an hour late, but tasty, just the same.
And the pie, oh, oh, oh the pie.
Sadly, bade goodbye to the girls (no, it is never enough time)
Tidied up and loaded mounds of dishes into the dishwasher while Jack (the amazing Jack) washed the pans and the pots and the empty pie plates.
Realized that the best moments of the evening were Janey's smile, and also listening to the squeals of delight from the room the girls were playing in, matched only by the realization that the word Audrey was calling out--bbbbnnnnnn, bbbnnnn, oh no, bbbbnnnnn--was the way she pronounced the name of her friend and cousin--Breanne, as she searched the house to find her.

So deeply satisfying to see them enjoy each other.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

22 years ago

Early on the morning after Halloween in 1986, Jack and I went to the hospital and that is when the drummer was born. I don't think he reads blogs, even mine (I know, can you even believe that?) so I'm not doing the traditional list, but you really should know a couple of things about him.

When the drummer was born, Jack's dad was in the hospital, unfortunately not the same hospital I was in with the baby, so Jack journeyed from one hospital to the other and back for almost a week until we took the new baby home.

The drummer is the first of our children that I felt comfortable mothering. Our firstborn was the first baby I'd ever done more than look at from a distance. What an eye-opener. And when Jessie was born, I had two thoughts--first, I wondered how I could have another baby when I already had a baby, and second, I wondered how the same two people could produce two babies who were so completely different from each other. (I also realized how great it was that Stu was first and Jessie was next because if I'd had her first and then him, I probably wouldn't have had any more kids. He was nonstop action and she was fluffy and loved to cuddle.) When the drummer arrived, I had two kids who were old enough to enjoy each other's company and I'd had some baby-growing experience, so it was easier for me to relax and enjoy him.

The drummer was born with a sense of humor. I can't explain how or what he did, but that kid could make me laugh. He had this quirky way of looking at the world--probably something to do with being Stu's little brother? (He is the kid, who at the age of five, carved, "Stuart is a tyrant." into one of the wooden desks Jack made. Seriously, what five-year-old understands or even uses the word, 'tyrant'?) Drummer still has a quirky sense of humor that keeps us all entertained. Not that that is his goal. It's just that he finds humor in everyday things and, on occasion, he shares those thoughts with us.

There are two things that I think the drummer lives for. Percussion and Legos. While he can play most, if not all, percussion, his favorite is the bass drum. He has spent three summers with a bunch of other kids who like to perform on their drum or brass instrument, so they tryout for a corps and practice and travel across the eastern half of the US. He played a small bass drum and while those 14-hour days got old by the middle of August, he made it through and went back the next year. He is working out a plan that will allow him to play and teach drums for a reasonable living. We are hoping that when he marries, his new bride will love him for his dedication and it would be great if her dad is rich.

And then there are his legos. Thousands and thousands of legos. Everytime he got a new set, he would put it together according to the directions and then take it apart and begin his own new creation. Sometimes he creates villages, sometimes amusement parks, sometimes war scenes, even stop action movies based on scripture stories. Very creative and very entertaining. The daughter of the rich guy will need to be able to tolerate, accept, even embrace his love of legos.

I think the lego adoration is a way for the drummer to escape to his own thoughts. I've never seen a kid or anybody else, who was better at quietly slipping out of the room when chores were being assigned or dishes needed to be cleared. He was born with that talent but has improved it through the years.

I could go on and on about my kids, and the drummer is definitely one of my kids, but well, I am exhausted and nearly asleep as I type this, so I'll wrap it up and just write a couple more thoughts, beginning with this--even though the other kids in the family have thought for years that he is the favorite, he is one of four favorites in my world. He has a definite streak of nonconformity that I respect. Along with the nonconformity, he is a person who thinks things through and doesn't obey blindly or just for obedience's sake. I am proud of that quality in him. One other thing about him--he loves pie. Not just any pie, my pie. And sometime on Sunday, I'll make many pies because that is one of the few requests he makes--no cake, just pie for his birthday, thanks.

In case you read this, Drummer, I love you. I'm glad you're in my life. I'm proud of the person you've been and you are becoming. Please keep playing those drums and remember, you don't have to give up the legos just because you get older. But you already knew that, right?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

where are the girls?

In case you missed it, here is a repeat of a previously posted photo--this time with a wee hint (click on the pic and look for the arrow...)

Perhaps you can spot Audrey in her new big girl bed in this one?

Or in this one?

This last one is easy on the eyes. No searching required.

What could be better than sisters playing happily together?

Monday, October 27, 2008

easy is for wimps

Thirty-one years ago tonight, Jack and I began our life together. Like most, if not all, couples, we've had our share of good times and hard times, treasured memories and events we would both probably like to forget. Right now, we are good together, even though we seem to be in yet another of those learning curve times. If a learning curve was defined as one of those old, round, metal spin-around toys at a playground, where kids get on and hold on as other kids spin it around, we would be taking turns doing the pushing and the falling off and barfing. Those playground times include lots of fun and laughter and an occasional scraped knee or tossed cookie. But usually, the good memories last and the painful memories eventually become the stuff of family urban legends.

In the tradition of many of the bloggers I follow, I will now list 31 things about Jack. I could post many more things, but, well, you know the drill--31 for the 31st anniversary.

1. Any time a mouse has moved its family someplace inside of our home, Jack has helped them all move out. Might not be a big deal to some, but it is HUGE! to me.
2. He is patient. More patient every day.
3. He builds beautiful pieces of furniture from wood--pieces of art that we use everyday in our home that in time will be his legacy, a reminder of the solid true man he is.
4. He knows about everything. If I ask a question, he knows the answer. Like the other day when I asked him which bullet would land farthest away, one shot by a rifle or one shot by a handgun and he said the rifle bullet would be farthest away but both bullets would land at the same time. I remember reading something about that from my few weeks in a physics class a couple of years ago, but until he told me that, I seriously thought it was one of those things I made up in a dream.
5. He is trying so hard to understand the constantly moving target that is me and my thoughts, emotions, and actions.
6. He introduced me to NASCAR and he understands how devastating it was to me when my favorite driver died.
7. He has become accustomed to my quirky style of decorating and definitely gave in when it came to paint colors, and even though he initially had concerns about my eclectic style of design, I think it is growing on him.
8. He said yes when I fell in love with our cabin property and begged him to agree to buy it.
9. He fathered the four most amazing people in my world.
10. He reminds me often that I was and continue to be a good mother.
11. He listens to me. and listens to me. and listens to me.
12. He may deny this, but I think he cares for my cats and our old collie, as long as she doesn't smell too doggy (and by doggy I mean--well, you can guess what I mean).
13. He is a good son and a great example to our boys of the way sons should care for their mother.
14. He has a huge, kind, tender heart.
15. He introduced me to white water rafting.
16. He appreciates and encourages my love of gardens.
17. He is a good son-in-law. He may not agree with my parents, but he still respects that they are my parents and understands the importance of ongoing, multi-generational, family relationships.
18. He bought my Scion for me on Valentine's Day and yes, there was a big white bow with little red hearts on the top of the car.
19. He is funny. seriously funny. Yes, he knows some jokes, but most of his funny revolves around our daily experiences.
20. He helps people all of the time. Me, the kids, the neighbors, his mom, my parents, people at work, strangers on the road and at the store--the list is endless.
21. He supported me completely during the year that my gramma lived with us, helped me and gramma through the acutely painful times, and comforted me when she died.
22. He introduced me to NHL hockey.
23. He likes to go to the movies with me and has, on occasion, enjoyed watching me laugh at the movie more than he enjoyed the movie.
24. He thinks before he starts a project. He plans, thinks, gets a picture in his mind and is not afraid to change midway through if we think of something we like better.
25. He has always, always, provided for our family.
26. He is smart. Common sense, logical smart.
27. He sees, hears, and appreciates the beauty in music and art.
28. He is fiercely loyal--to me, our children, and our parents and family.
29. Wherever we travel, he might be sweating bullets, worrying about the dangers that lurk, but it's like a grand adventure to me because I know he will protect me.
30. Whenever our kids asked how something worked, he didn't just tell them, he showed them. I will never forget the cold, wintery night when he and four-year-old Stu set a glass coke bottle that was full of water on the porch outside to help Stu understand how potholes form in roads.
31. He loves me, after all of these years and all of my ups and downs, he still loves me and wants to be with me.

And, Jack, I love you and want to be with you.

Like the ring says--always.