Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Time out

I'm taking time out from reading my brother's book on Revelation (the chapter about its literary structure) to brown some ground beef for a casserole, smelling onion, garlic and oregano in the sizzling meat.

Life is full of odd juxtapositions.

And the fish died this morning. I hope I didn't underfeed it. I suppose that would be possible, but it didn't look particularly thin.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

fair friend

Jonathan won this fish at the fair eight days ago.

It is still alive.

This is a miracle.

When the kids were young and wanted a pet, we tried goldfish. They usually lasted about three days, and always finished with a tearful and traumatic flush down the toilet. "I saw him move!" the kids would yell as the water swirled around in the toilet bowl, "I saw him move! He's alive! SAVE HIM!" (It was for this that Saving Nemo was produced.)

Finally they begged me to stop replacing the dead goldfish. It was all just too emotionally draining. So the goldfish bowl and the net and the fish food sat in a box in the basement for many years, until one day they were sold at a garage sale and I thought we were free of fish forever.

Until Jon came home from the fair with this one.

He won it by playing a game. Usually they set up the games so you lose, but this was was set up so you would win, and then they had goldfish bowls, purified water and fish food for sale at exorbitant prices. Jon just brought the fish home in the plastic bag it was in when they handed it to him.

We put it in a mason jar. Two days later, because it was still alive, I went to PetCo and bought the smallest, cheapest container of goldfish food I could find. It was $1.29.

The secret, I think, to keeping a goldfish alive is to hardly feed it at all. I feed it half of a flake about once every 36 hours. If I remember. It's doing great.

Also, you don't need to pay a lot for water purifying tablets. We just transfer this fish back and forth between a vase and a mason jar. Immediately upon taking him out of one, we wash it and fill it with clean water. Then it sits for about 2 days, out-gassing, and by the time his current water is dirty, the new container is safe for occupancy.

I already feel like I got my money's worth.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Last year we bought a rose plant from some iffy place, probably WalMart. It was the type that has its roots wrapped in cardboard and plastic, and it was sitting on a store shelf when we found it. It looked healthier than the others around it, and I am a sucker for rose bushes, so we bought it. I figure that at the price of roses these days, even if we get only one season out of a rose bush, we are money ahead. I think this one was $3.97 or something like that. A bargain.

It sat in its wrapper amongst the front landscaping, leaning on the birdbath, and we did not get to it for weeks. It wilted, and I told Shawn, "We really need to get that rose in the ground."

The day he dug the hole for me, I unwrapped the rose's roots and soaked it in a bucket of water. Despite the moisture, it did not perk up. We stuck it in the hole, packed it with dirt, and fertilized and watered it profusely.

It died back until all that was left was one shoot sticking out of the ground, with a bedraggled leaf hanging off it. By then it was September or October, so I figured we could just dig it out in the spring and try something else. I was pretty sad, but it had only cost $3.97, and we did let time get away from us before we planted it.

This past spring, it started to grow. It grew into a very small bush and the roses have been tiny, yet charming. They have also been steady. It makes me smile.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

birthdays and backtracking

This is a picture from Jon's 14th birthday, which was a pretty unexceptional day. It was back in August: August 27, to be precise. He had marching band. I took Jon, Laura and David out for lunch at Angotti's that day, but Shawn and Shannon had to work. It was a very nice lunch. We sat back in a private corner, and ate pasta and calzones. At the end, the waitress brought Jonno a chocolate cannoli with a candle stuck in it, and we all sang "Happy Birthday" to him. At home that evening, we had a yule log, even though it wasn't Christmas.

Two days ago (9/10) was Piper's tenth birthday, but nobody noticed or thought about it or even realized anything of the sort until today. It's a good thing he's a dog. Ten years we've had with him... every additional year is just a wonderful bonus.

Yesterday we did a big "Newcomer Dinner" at our church to welcome all the new people who have come in the past year. There were over 200 people at the dinner.

Have you ever noticed how you can be at 90%, and then you feel so good that you forget you are at 90%, so you do 100%, and then suddenly you get knocked back to 60 or 70%?

Monday, September 7, 2009


Yes. I did it. I got my varicose veins fished out. After an epic fail three years ago, where I visited the doctor, heard about the procedure, got woozy and chickened out, I actually went through with it this past Friday.

They (those blasted veins) had been hurting more and more. While limping home from a walk with Shawn earlier this summer, I thought, "I really need to do something about these." But I was scared. Also, I am tight, and with a high deductible insurance plan, I had no desire to pay out of pocket for the procedure. Then I remembered that Laura's concussion had met our high deductible, and that it would be fully covered, that everything from now until the end of the year is fully covered (not gas or parking, though, so I still don't go to the doctor on a whim). I figured it was now or never, and I'd better get going so we could schedule it before the end of the year.

They got me in faster than I had imagined possible. At the initial doctor visit, he entered the examining room with my chart in hand and said, "So, you were here three years ago and never came back. Would you care to explain what happened?" Rather than cringing, I explained, "I got woozy after you described the procedure, and I chickened out. But they are hurting more and more, so I need to get it done, and please, let's not talk about it or draw any pictures this time around."

My surgery went well. I was terrified beyond all reason of being put to sleep. This is because (I finally realized) when I was a kid, I had a bad anesthesia experience with a tooth extraction. I was drugged into a strange state of unconsciousness, but within it I remember experiencing excruciating pain. In that particular instance, as I faded out, my view of the doctors fragmented into squares like puzzle pieces, which morphed into patches of color separated by black lines. I was a small, black dot, traversing the universe of these patchwork colors. Every time I crossed the black border from one color to the next, my being was racked with intense, all-encompassing, delocalized pain.

The only explanation I could imagine was that they gassed me but forgot to give me Novocain. That was the last time (until this past Friday) I ever let anyone put me to sleep, because I have wanted to be good and sure I was numb before anyone ever took a knife to me again. I had only Novocain for my tonsillectomy and my wisdom tooth extractions, and a wee bit of Novocain for the births of my last two children. I was so scared of the anesthesia this time around, tears started running down my face as I was being admitted, which was mortifyingly embarrassing.

However, knowing what I knew (and was trying not to remember) about how this particular procedure was performed, there was no way, no way on earth, that I was going through it with nothing but Novocain.

In the end, the anesthesia was gentle and easy, and I did not feel a thing. They didn't come after my face with a gas mask, but merely inserted an IV, and added the appropriate concoctions at the appropriate times. Right before I drifted away, they asked me if I would like to listen to music. "Do you have any Mozart?" I asked. They said, "No, you have to tell us the number on the radio." I must have been getting woozy, because I asked them, "Do you have XM?" They said no, which relieved me, because I was not sure of the number of a classical XM station, so I happily told them, "91," and then peacefully drifted away listening to something which, if not Mozart, was suitably close to it.

The surgery was a breeze. It was the back of my right thigh, pretty high up. They wrapped my leg all up in three layers of bandages for compression, so when I woke up, I found it to be like a very snug sausage that did not bend.

Upon arriving home, I tried to rest on the sectional in the family room, but we could not keep the dogs off me, so I decided to go upstairs to my bed. Shawn had stepped out to the store to pick up some juice and things, but Laura and Jon were home. Once I got up to my bedroom, I decided to go to the bathroom since I was up, and since it would be easier then than getting out of bed again later.

When I pulled down my pants, my finger hit the top of my bandage and came away wet with blood, which frightened me, but I really needed to use the toilet, so I did, and when I was done, I looked down and there on the floor was a HUGE puddle of black blood. It was spurting out of the top of my bandage. I am not good with those kinds of things, so I started crying out, “Oh! I’m bleeding! Oh! I don’t know what to do!” I got my underwear up over the spurting blood (soaking it with blood in the process), but did not pull my pants up over it, because of the mess. I grabbed an old sleep shirt of Shawn’s off a hook in the bathroom and ran to my bed, trying apply direct pressure behind me while lying on my stomach. Laura by this time was practically weeping. She is not good with these types of things, either. I continued to cry, “Oh! I’m bleeding! Oh! I don’t know what to do!” and then added, “Should we call 911? I don’t know what to do!” Laura was trying to call Shawn. Jon was trying to help with the direct pressure to stop the flow of blood. Poor Jon had to do most everything because Laura turned white and blotchy and shook and looked ready to faint. He got towels for me, then went downstairs at Laura’s bidding to get paper towels to sop up the blood on the bathroom floor, after which he returned to apply direct pressure for me while Laura scrubbed the remaining blood stains out of the grout with a scrub brush.

Shawn arrived home and called the surgery center which connected him with the surgeon, who told him to redress the wound. Ugh. In the end we came out all right, but it was not what we were hoping. The surgeon said that since the veins were simply removed, the blood that is used to flowing through them sometimes pools and then bursts, spurting out like that.

I’m doing better now. So other than the trauma that it caused the kids to see their mother in her underwear all covered with spurting blood, we are none the worse for wear.