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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Paybacks

Sometimes fun or fond memories come to us in the most unusual ways. We smell a flower or hear a song or see the way the sunlight comes slanting through a window, and suddenly are feeling a changed mood or reliving a moment from our past. This memory didn't happen that way. I was sitting and playing an aggravating but satisfying word game on my computer, and suddenly it was in my mind. "I need to write myself a note about this," I thought, "I don't want to forget to write about it." Naturally, I forgot to make that note, and shortly after I awoke this morning I was remembering that there was something I had wanted to write about tonight. But what was it? 

I could remember thinking that I should make a note of the subject, but deciding that there was no way that I would forget this one. Hah! I decided to go into the room that seems to hold all of the great ideas, AKA The Bathroom. I'm still convinced that there is something magical in all of that plumbing that gives people great ideas and also wipes them out when they leave the enchanted zone created by the plumbing. The water in the walls and floor did their magic, and I was once again smiling over a moment from my past.

During the first semester of my Senior year in high school, one of my favorite classes was my Shakespeare class. Our teacher, who was also the drama teacher and director of all of the school plays, was well-versed in this subject and helped nurture our love for this poet and playwright. Although he never brought up the subject, our hearts were broken for him because he had endured a terrible tragedy the summer before the class started. He and his wife had left their two daughters with Grandma and Grandpa for a visit. The four of them, along with many others, were killed by a flash flood in the Big Thompson Canyon. After a four-hour storm that dropped more than twelve inches of rain, the river changed from an average depth of eighteen inches to a twenty-foot wall of water. It happened so quickly that many victims had no time to climb to safety, and over 140 people perished and more than 150 were injured. Due to the force of the flood, some of the bodies were never found.

We learned so much from Mr. Rogers that fall and many of us developed a great love of Shakespeare's works. One of our assignments was to memorize a sonnet which would be performed in the theater in front of our classmates. Naturally all of my friends nabbed the most famous ones right away, and I ended up loving and choosing Sonnet number 34, which I still have memorized to this day.


Sonnet XXXIV


Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day,
And make me travel forth without my cloak,
To let base clouds o'ertake me in my way,
Hiding thy bravery in their rotten smoke?
'Tis not enough that through the cloud thou break,
To dry the rain on my storm-beaten face,
For no man well of such a salve can speak
That heals the wound and cures not the disgrace:
Nor can thy shame give physic to my grief;
Though thou repent, yet I have still the loss:
The offender's sorrow lends but weak relief
To him that bears the strong offence's cross.
Ah! but those tears are pearl which thy love sheds,
And they are rich and ransom all ill deeds.


Another thing that we all loved (most of my friends and fellow classmates were theater kids) was memorizing scenes from the play A Midsummer Night's Dream. We were allowed to perform this abbreviated form of the play to a larger audience of whichever students wished to attend during classes. 

My character was a young woman who found herself in love with a man who loved someone else. Due to the spells of some mischievous fairies, she finds herself the object of two young men's affections. They follow her around proclaiming their love for her. The two young men who played the parts, both of whom I had crushes on at one point or another, tried their best to embarrass or fluster me in the scene. They would flutter around me like bees flirting with a flower. I knew I had to find a way to exact some revenge, and began to plot their payback.

On the day that we performed, I wore a dress that I had sewn for a wedding in which I was a bridesmaid. Surprisingly enough, it wasn't a monstrosity that could never be seen in public again. It was a darkish blue with soft circular spots of colors that reminded me of outer space. It had a scooped neckline and a collar/sleeves combination of flowy fabric that matched the print of the dress but was a sheer, light fabric. It made me feel pretty. When Jon and Paul started their lovestruck flirting scene, trying to steal kisses and touching my arms and such, I (or my character, I should say) began to cry at their unwanted and unrelenting advances.

I stuck my hand down into my bosom and rooted around for the hankie I had stowed in my brassiere earlier. As I made obvious and comic use of it, the boys recovered from their surprise and we finished our scene to uproarious applause. I knew from the look in their eyes that they appreciated my ability to deal with their obvious plot to try and fluster me, and my moment of one-upmanship. It was one of the most delightful moments of my school year.

I haven't seen either of those former classmates in many years, but I hope that they remember those days of our youth and friendship fondly. I still love the works of William Shakespeare, and I know that this is partly due to everything I learned from Mr. Rogers. He took a leave of absence the following semester, but he never took a leave from our hearts, and I hope that he has found some respite from his grief. I only know that his teaching and his love of Shakespeare have enriched me forever. Thank you, Mr. Rogers, wherever you are.



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The Tip Jar:

As always, I am happy and honored to write for you. It brings me great joy, and I hope that it gives you joy and/or food for thought. If you'd like to support the cause, please visit:

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Thank you for reading! 


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Laid Low

Here it is, the twentieth of the month, and I am writing what is only my third post this month. I am embarrassed to have let you down this way. I've been less than forthright with all of you about what has been going on, and I hope that the explanation I offer will help you to forgive me.

The sad truth is that Trent and I have been sick since the day after Christmas. I don't know about what's happening where you live, but there is a dreadful cold-type ailment going around here in parts of Colorado. Trent woke up with it the day after Christmas, and I joined in on the festivities soon after. Since Trent takes immunosuppressing drugs to protect his transplanted kidneys from rejection, things like this grab onto him and don't want to let go. As for me, having lupus leaves me susceptible to whatever flavors of cooties are currently making the rounds.

So we have spent almost four weeks with congested, full-of-cement heads and noses, along with yucky, coughing lungs. We have remarked on an almost daily basis that we seem to have relocated to Hackensack. It's a terribly bad joke about how we feel like we're hacking up our lungs multiple times daily. Please forgive me the dreadful pun-ishness.

Although he was deep in the throes of this mess, Trent was scheduled to have parathyroid surgery on January 5th and opted to go ahead with the procedure. For anyone who is curious, there are four parathyroid glands near the thyroid. Their function is to regulate the calcium balance in the body. These tiny glands think of the bones as a storage area for calcium, and if there isn't enough in the blood, they direct the release of calcium from the bones. Sometimes, especially post-transplant, the little guys just don't know when to shut down. They get inflamed and overactive and keep calling for calcium to be released into the bloodstream. Such was the case with Trent. He now has osteoporosis, but this might start to reverse now that three and a half of his parathyroid glands have been removed.

Because of his cough and the gunk in his lungs, what was supposed to be a simple overnight stay ended up being three nights. Trent couldn't get enough oxygen in his bloodstream post-op. After three nights in the hospital, he was released to go home on oxygen. Luckily he only needed to be on oxygen for a few days. (The equipment is still in our home racking up charges, however. Don't even get me started on the fact that we can't just return it unless the doctor writes a prescription releasing him from using it. And the fact that the doctor needs to have a form faxed from the supplier, and the supplier doesn't want to fax it, etcetera. Argh.)

We have barely had the energy to get out and do the most minimal of errands and doctor visits. I really can't remember the last time we let our refrigerator get this empty and just didn't care about it. Instead of having the desire to write, I have spent time losing my mind over a word game on my computer. This game requires you to find words in a field of letters. The first letter of each word, if it's in the phrase you need to guess, is revealed in the phrase. As you have more and more turns, the number of letters you can reveal is lowered, making you guess the phrase with very few letters showing. 

So here I am, with my fairly extensive vocabulary and moderately acceptable knowledge of quotes, phrases, and names, losing my darn mind playing this game. The problem? The quotes, titles, things, places, and names are all user-submitted. Which is really a pain in the backside when they don't say the phrase in the same way as the other 99% of the English speakers in the world. Or if they decide that a certain thing is a "department store manikin" and all you've ever heard of is a "mannequin." 

I've experienced moderate frustration at moments like this, but there was one the other day that was just too much for me. There was a place that I just couldn't figure out because the number of letters in one of the words just didn't add up properly. Let me be the one to tell you that somewhere there is a lady, I think her user name was Connie, who submitted a place for her fellow game players to solve. The place, according to Ms. Connie? The Canadian Rockie Mountains. Yes, you read that correctly. Rockie Mountains. Since I live within sight of the beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountains, and since I felt crummy, this really ticked me off. I had to tell Trent how aggravated I was with the improper spelling. Which led to a fit of knock-me-off-my-feet-because-I-am-not-taking-in-enough-oxygen coughing. Yep, it was time to quit playing the game because the going was getting rockie rocky.

I hope you'll accept my apology for neglecting you, as well as for complaining. I'm trying really hard to get both of us back to our version of normal. And with any luck, I'll be able to write enough soon to make up for lost time. I've missed it.




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The Tip Jar:

As always, I am happy and honored to write for you. It brings me great joy, and I hope that it gives you joy and/or food for thought. If you'd like to support the cause, please visit:

https://www.paypal.me/TheLunatic




Thank you for reading! 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Depth Of Feeling

There are definite differences between those who consider themselves pet people and those who don't. Since I don't cohabit with any cats, I can't address their behaviors or feelings in much depth, but I have lived with numerous dogs over the years. Let's see...there were Sam, Jill, Clyde, Abbie, Suzy, Spot, Shep, Lucky, Maggie, and our beloved Paris. I've also been friends with numerous dogs and their humans. Over these years I have seen different dog and human personalities, and they've shaped the way I feel about the creatures.

I know that some people, including some dog "owners," think of canines as just dogs. They seem to think that dogs just exist without any depth of thought or emotion. I tend to think that unless you interact with another entity, you can't know what makes them tick, whether they be human or canine or feline or whatever.

When I was a child, I grew up in homes in which children or dogs that misbehaved were given spankings. One day when my dear Lucky had misbehaved and I spanked him (even thinking of doing it makes me feel ill, but please remember it was what I was taught), I felt terrible about doing so. I remembered all of the terrible beatings I had endured and that all they had really taught me was fear. I decided right there to break the chain of abuse and deal with Lucky in a different way.

When Lucky did something he shouldn't, which wasn't often, he knew I would be unhappy about it. I would say, "Lucky, you come over here so I can spank you." He would obediently come over to me with an I'm-sorry-I-made-you-mad-but-please-still-love-me look in his beautiful brown eyes and intelligent face. I would tell him that I was very unhappy with his behavior and that I didn't even want to talk to him right now. He would lay down on the floor a few feet away from me, his eyebrows moving around as he watched my every move.

After a while, Lucky would test the waters to see if I was still angry with him. He would walk up to my chair and nudge under my reclining arm with his nose. If I was particularly disgusted with him, I would ignore his attempt to make up with me. He would sigh and resume his spot on the floor. When he came back and tried to lift my arm again, I would let him do so. He would toss my arm up enough that it was as though I was starting to pet him. I couldn't keep myself from smiling, and he scampered around while I told him that I loved him. I would stroke his silky black fur and tell him to give me a kiss, which he lovingly and politely placed on my chin or cheek. All was well with us once again.

Can you have a dog greet you excitedly when you come home and think that they don't care about you? Of course they are bored when you're gone. If they left for the day, you could watch tv, read a book (or even write one!), surf the internet, bake some cookies...the possibilities are endless. When you leave, your canine companion isn't sitting around reading Gone With the Wind or shopping on Amazon. A major part of their world has walked out of the door with you. Wolves are social pack animals, and so are their doggie descendants. When their pack leader comes home, they are thrilled to see their Alpha again, and will let them know in many ways.

Dogs, just like any human, will also get upset when they find out they have disappointed someone they care about. I remember once when Paris was very young and got too excited and forgot to go potty in her litter box. We were putting clean sheets on the bed and she was having fun getting tangled in the billows of cotton. Suddenly she had a tinkle accident right on the bed. Trent was very angry with his little girl and let her know about it. He took her in his arms and in a deep, angry voice told her that she had been a bad girl. She was so upset at making her daddy angry that she barfed all over him. Trent felt awful, and from that day forward he never held her while telling her she had been naughty.

There were other ways that she showed her devotion to us. When I went to get the mail, she would sit on the foot of the bed, watching the front door until my return. And when I went to Europe and left some unwashed clothes for her to snuggle with, she slept with them nightly, right on my pillow. On my return, she climbed into my suitcase to find the toy that she was certain I had in there for her. But what really tore at my heart was her crying when I came home. It sounded almost like it made her throat sore. I don't know if it hurt her throat, but it certainly tore at my heart.

Yes, it's definitely my opinion that dogs have feelings of love, sadness, loneliness, happiness, excitement, and more. They grieve as we do, perhaps not understanding things in the same ways, but still feeling loss. Our friend Melissa has had a lab-pointer mix named Cinnamon for sixteen years. Several months ago, they added a long-haired chihuahua to their family. Since he is big and tough and has long hair, his name is Chewbacca, with the nickname of Chewie. On Saturday, Cinnamon had to go to the veterinarian to get some help to go to the Rainbow Bridge. Melissa wanted to take Chewie along so that he could say goodbye and know what was going on, but the vet's office wasn't able to allow this. Since they came home without her, Chewie has been looking everywhere for his big sister. He looks in the yard and goes through the house looking for her, but she is not there. He ends up at her bed, which is empty. Anyone who believes that Chewie isn't feeling loss and heartbreak is someone that I have to disagree with. I hear of his searching and know that he is looking for the missing piece of his heart.

Whether you feel as I do or not may depend on a lot of things. If you've never had a dog, all of this is probably a mystery to you. If dogs have just been on the edges of your life, you may never have developed a relationship with one. They may have been more like a neighbor or roommate than a family member or treasured friend. But if, like me, you've had a close relationship with one or more of these marvelous creatures, you might think as I do, that these lovely animals possess a depth of feeling that matches many of the people you know. And like me, you'll treasure them for it.





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The Tip Jar:

As always, I am happy and honored to write for you. It brings me great joy, and I hope that it gives you joy and/or food for thought. If you'd like to support the cause, please visit:

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Thank you for reading! 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Lifesaver

Many moons ago, I wrote a blog post about running into Gerry, a wonderful woman who had been my manager and rock some twenty years before. After not seeing one another for all of those years, we were stunned to see each other in the entrance to the grocery store near my home. Since then, I've had another random meeting with Gerry, more unusual than the first. I saw Gerry in, of all places, a hospital waiting room. She looked well but worried, as many folks do when waiting for someone in a hospital. She shared the story of how she ended up there with me, and now I'm sharing this amazing story with you.

Although Gerry and I are close to the same age, she has been a widow for a number of years. She has been happily living with her daughter and her daughter's husband and her two grandchildren for some time. A few recent posts showed the latest addition to the family, an adorable little puppy. As puppies do, it loves the whole family, especially Gerry, and they all love her as well. Unfortunately, Gerry discovered that she was allergic to the sweet new family member. 

Gerry's family are very loving and close, a true blessing. One of her sisters asked her to move in with her, and Gerry was happy to do so. She settled in to her new room and proudly hung the portrait her sister painted of her late husband. One evening while they were sitting and watching television, Gerry noticed that her sister was watching the program with one eye closed. When she asked her why, her sister reminded her that she had told her over the phone recently that she had been seeing double.

Gerry was shocked because she hadn't realized that her sister meant that she was seeing double all of the time. Gerry had thought it was some occasional annoyance with her sister's vision, but that wasn't the case. (I don't remember her sister's name, so I am going to call her Gloria.) Gloria had been doing everything with one eye closed for who knows how long. She was driving, running errands, and all sorts of other things with one eye closed to prevent seeing two of everything.

Well, Gerry insisted that Gloria should make an appointment with an eye doctor as soon as possible. The eye doctor didn't find anything wrong, but Gerry wouldn't let Gloria drop the ball on the issue. After a few different doctor visits, it was discovered that there was a tumor in Gloria's head. It sat just above the area where the cerebrospinal fluid drains from the cranium into the spine. The tumor was just starting to block the drainage, and she needed to have surgery to prevent hydrocephalus. This is often called water on the brain. When the fluid can't drain, it puts pressure on the brain and can be fatal.

Gloria was in surgery to have a shunt placed to allow the fluid to drain to another part of her body and protect her brain from damaging pressure. After that issue is resolved, the tumor will be assessed to see what action, if any, is necessary. The fluid that was causing Gloria's double vision will now be draining and I hope that her vision will return to normal. 

Both Gerry and I were thinking the same thing when she told me this story. The life-saving discoveries and treatments for Gloria came about in such an amazing way. Gerry might not have seen the problems her sister was having as quickly if she hadn't been spending as much time with her. She wouldn't have had the chance if she hadn't moved into her home. And none of it would have happened if it hadn't been for her allergy to an adorable little dog, a dog that I now think of as a tiny, loveable life saver.






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The Tip Jar:

As always, I am happy and honored to write for you. It brings me great joy, and I hope that it gives you joy and/or food for thought. If you'd like to support the cause, please visit:

https://www.paypal.me/TheLunatic




Thank you for reading!