Ponder this:

Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve

new year 2011 - happy new year - happy new year 2011 - 2011

A new year...
It's an exciting time, a happy time, a sobering time . . . an arbitrary moment in time to stop and look back, and to look ahead with hope and good intentions.

My (click) New Year's wishes to all of you.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fresh sheets

Bernie's The Cool Side of the Pillow made me think of how good it feels to get into a freshly-changed bed.
Fresh sheets are crisp but soft. They smell good. The whole mattress feels new, the pillows in fresh pillow cases feel extra plumpy soft. For a while when I was newly married, and at various stages since, I have ironed my pillow cases. (Newly-married June ironed Husband's undershirts too.) I'm not in that phase right now; I like the smoothness of ironed pillow cases, and the way they look on the bed, but they smell ironed instead of fresh. And I don't sleep so well because I don't want to wrinkle them after having put in the effort of making them look so nice.

I read once that Jackie Onassis' daily routine included an afternoon nap on fresh sheets. Her housekeeper changed the sheets after she got up in the morning, and again before she went to bed at night. Probably that's a usual thing for people who have housekeepers. It would be number one on my list if I had somebody who would do it.

It's 10:41pm. I think I need to change my sheets before I go to sleep.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

...and the gifts of the season are these...

"Christmas gift suggestions: 
To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. 
To a customer, service. To all, charity. 
To every child, a good example. 
To yourself, respect." 

~ Oren Arnold 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Night lights

I haven't seen any blog posts about the hoop-de-do eclipse the other night. I was up around 2:30 and the world was bright with moonlight, although clouds covered the sky. I've spoken with a couple of people who saw the world go dark around 4:00. By then I was back in my bed. I had wanted to see that eclipse sky just because the last time it happened the Tudors were in power and I'll never get another chance. Such a historic event and I missed it for want of sleep.

Earlier that day, around 5:30, I noticed a patch of pale light on the bathroom wall.  It took me a second to realize that it was a reflection of moonlight from the mirror on the opposite wall.  It charmed me because that window is small and high up on the wall, and facing nearly north/northeast as it does, it hardly ever gets direct light. There's something about patches of pale light on walls that soothes me.
When I was very young, sometimes I would stay for the random overnight at my grandmother's. Her house was one of gazillions built in a little northeast mill town in the railroad heyday of the late 19th century, the front door opening into the side hall with the stairway (that bottle of pink Air-Wick between the balusters on one of the stairs) and with the rabbit warren of upstairs rooms. No hallways in the days when that house was built, each bedroom led to another. My room, the one designated for overnight grandchildren, was a small room off her bedroom, with a small metal frame bed and a white matelasse coverlet. She would tuck me in at night, we'd say our prayers, and then she would leave me. The excitement of streetlights would keep me awake. After she'd gone back downstairs, I always looked around for a long time, just to see how different the furniture looked, illuminated by the pale secret oblongs of light cast through the windows. Streetlights! Such sophistication to a country kid.
When I grew up and lived in a tiny studio apartment, sometimes I would sit with my lamps off at night, just to look at the room in the wash of yellow-gray light that came through the windows from the street. I could move around and do almost everything I wanted to do in that light, feeling hidden yet protected, private but not alone.  The headlights from the infrequent car crossed the wall and disappeared. Here . . . and gone . . . the travelers oblivious of my observation. 
I got married and we lived in the suburbs where, shortly after our purchase of the house, the town planners in their infinitesimal wisdom changed the zoning across the street and welcomed a twenty-four hour supermarket, with adequate lighting for the parking area. I was assaulted by, pummeled by, Light all the hours of the night. I could not find a dark spot. The charm of light at night was no more. And so we moved to the country.

In the country, there is night light even when the moon is new, even on cloudy nights: I don't know where it comes from. There is no problem navigating while walking outdoors at 2am: brush and stone walls are solid humps of black and the open ways are colorless. One walks carefully, still, since the dips and bumps of the hayfields elude exposure and an ankle can turn quickly; it would be a long cold crawl back to the house. Down the hill toward the village I see the amber glow of the lights around the sheriff's office and the jail. In the other direction, through the bare trees, more orange light, a faint glow from what is called a city, twenty miles away. Amazing that that light could intrude here, across such a distance.

As I grow older, I need (they tell me, correctly) more light by which to read. To live, it seems, I want and and am comfortable with less light. A few years ago a friend who was staying with us came upon me in the pre-dawn while I was setting up the coffeemaker. 
"Why don't you turn on a light so you can see?" she asked. 
"Oh, I'm fine," I said.
"Oh," she said. "You're one of those."

It's a contradiction, since I love daylight. 
Maybe it's just artificial light that I dislike.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Post-mastectomy: Fun Facts to Know and Tell

With hope that none of this grosses anybody out . . . Murrmurrs wrote recently about her mammogram experience and a few of her readers' comments indicated that people still avoid making the appointment. Murr's response:  "As the late and much-lamented St. Molly Ivins said, Get. The. Damn. Mammogram."
Last August 4 at 9:00am I had two breasts. At noon I had one. During the following several weeks I had the emotional upheaval that, I read, accompanies the removal of any body part. Time and Life filed off those edges and I'm fine . . . and still me, for better or worse.
I wasn't prepared for some of the physical effects that remain. None of these is traumatizing, but nobody tells you about them beforehand. Maybe they aren't fun facts, but from my point of view, they are . . . interesting.
  • The most salient sensation I had prior to diagnosis was itching. I still have an occasional itch but the itchy part is no longer there. Or the itch feels as if it's deep inside somewhere, perhaps near my liver. I have tried finding the spot where the nerve was truncated and scratching there, but it's unreachable. In either case, it's frustrating to have an itch that can in no way be scratched. The affected exterior area is absolutely without sensation, which makes that itch even more odd.
  • One has a silicone blob to wear, of course, and with it in place, my exterior is quite unremarkable. Without the accessory under a t-shirt, that part of the body is amazingly flat. Beyond flat. The original structure never was, and is not now, impressively convex, but as I look down from above it appears that I have Mount Everest sitting directly adjacent to the Dead Sea.  
  • Remember 1980s shoulder pad buildup? The shoulder pads in the coat overlaid the shoulder pads in the blazer, which overlaid the shoulder pads in the blouse and it appeared that my earlobes were resting on my shoulders. Put clothing on this guy to the right and you have the image.  During surgery, the various layers of tissue get stitched up separately, of course, from inner to outermost. If all goes as it should, which it has in my case, all those stitched-up layers knit together and make a hard little ridge in the middle of the Dead Sea. 
  • All those knitted-together layers connect the outside to the inside:  One's skin feels as if it is Super-glued to one's rib cage. Reach for something that requires a stretch, particularly at an odd angle, and the subfloor shifts a little. Not painful, but perceptible.
None of these sensations is constant, except the numb, and most of the time, even this short time after the mastectomy, I forget that I am an amputee. And all of the time I'm glad It was dealt with so simply. 
So, that's all. Just another day in the life. Who else would tell you these things?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Indoor wildlife

ID Please - Pholcus phalangioides
In my bathroom last night I noticed an infinitesimal dust bunny stuck at the bottom of the door. I poked at it because it didn't look exactly like the dust bunnies that ordinarily grow in my corners. It was a little spider. 
Was it dead? 
I poked again. It stirred. I must have woken it up. 
I gave it a gentle sweep with my finger and it lumbered flimsily down off its roost and set off across the floor  and hid up underneath the radiator where it apparently felt safe from my curiosity. 

I used to be an arachnophobe. I couldn't kill spiders because my feeble whacking (while making loud and ugly nonverbal noises of fright) only wounded them, and their crippled gimping horrified me more than their able-bodied mobility. 

Now I'm friendlier with spiders. It comes of living in the country where they own the earth and all its structures. So last night as I watched that little thing, a Pholcus phalangioides, wobble across the floor on its fragile legs I felt sorry for the little guy. Or girl. One is bigger than the other but I'm not planning on a breeding program, so it isn't important to me: I don't retain that information. Whichever sex this one was, its body was about the size of a dessicated baby mousie poop (don't ask how I know that) and its legs were as fine as the hairs on a human infant's head. The whole contraption looked . . . and traveled . . . like a broken umbrella frame in a gentle breeze. Hard to believe that such a creature leads a successful life, fribbling and weebling hither and yon, but apparently it's working for him. He has a nice life up there under the warm dry radiator. 
Maybe he'd been on vacation on the door, taking the air, and I ruined it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ramblin' around in my brain

One night last week, through some oversight, our front porch light got left on overnight. I woke up in the almost-dark and even though that little bit of light troubled my sleep, I wouldn't get out of bed to come downstairs to turn it off. 
Remember when everybody left their front porch lights on all night? Why did they do that?
Was it for their own protection, to enable them to see intruders knocking at the door? Or was it a quaint practice held over from the days of hobos and community and hail good fellow well met? 
Another odd thing. In those days when the whole family went out and planned not to be home until after dark, the one light that was left on was the light on the kitchen stove.  Anybody passing the house would have known there was no one home; the house had a look of waiting with the light on for us. Surely that dim little light was no impediment to would-be burglars. 
I wonder: What was the point?

Liverwurst is not the very best kibble mix-in to entice failing-kidney-poodles to eat. The protein makes them pee frequently. And a lot. Their little bladders fill up fast, the kidneys being unable to concentrate the high-protein waste material. And the inevitable race to the door, a great percentage of the time, inevitably, fails. The solution is potato mix-in with the kibble!  The veterinarian suggested it to me to try to get a little meat back on Max's dwindling frame.
If I had known these dogs would eat potato with such relish I would have saved myself countless supper and breakfast wars over the years.

If you wander around looking at enough trees, you'll see how they catch and hold their own (and other trees') dead branches. 
Those limbs hang suspended, completely disconnected from the original structure, through windstorms, ice storms, snowstorms. 
The living tree greens up, hosts birds and squirrels, goes on with its life, all the time holding up the dead weight.  
For years. 
I am glad glad glad that mammal amputees don't do that.
I might be the last person on earth to learn that I can watch movies online for free. On Thursday evening, I enjoyed 1937's Topper
Oh my. 
The shoulder pads. 
The luxe automobiles. 
That accent. What is that dialect the actors used in those old movies? Part British-y, part old money New England, meant to indicate upper class breeding and lifestyle. 
I love it all.  
I gather, however, that if I overdo this new pleasure, the monthly cost of our cell phone contract (through which I have my computer connection) will go through the roof. 
That's all right:  Any pleasure, too much indulged, becomes less pleasurable.  

Long before I was the sundries supplier for the household in which I lived, my family devotedly consumed certain brand names.
Prell shampoo, Tide laundry detergent, Crest toothpaste, Ivory liquid for dishes, Dial soap.  Procter & Gamble had our household sewed up.
I'm still stuck on Tide, and Dial soap's scent, although it is not the only soap we use, feels like going home. 
In the early 1950s Dial was yellow. 
Yellow only. 
When it began to be produced in colors, I recall asking my mother, in great puzzlement, why blue soap didn't make blue bubbles. 
My preference in Dial soap is still . . . yellow. 
When we built this house, I envisaged and demanded that the downstairs bathroom be yellow and white. Nothing in the room would be other than yellow, white or green. One of my rules for the bathroom was that the soap in use would be yellow Dial soap. That rule's long gone by the wayside, but last week I did find in the closet one remaining bar of the stuff, and temporarily replaced my [green] Emeraude shower soap with it. Nice.
Yesterday I bought a multi-pack of Dial. I spent an embarrassing amount of time in the soap aisle debating over color: yellow or white? Pink was out of the question.
I checked the scent: same with both. Would the white soap be as comforting to my senses as good old yellow? 
I bought the white. If I don't like it . . . if it doesn't make me feel like a safe, comforted child when I use it every morning, I will be sad until it's used up. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I will be wearing shorts on Saturday

Forecast at a Glance
Chance Flurries
Lo 1 °F
Chance Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 40%
Hi 25 °F

Chance Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 30%
Lo 17 °F
Partly Sunny
Hi 37 °F

Wintry Mix Chance for Measurable Precipitation 30%
Lo 28 °F
Snow/Sleet Chance for Measurable Precipitation 90%

Hi 36 °F

Rain/Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 80%

Lo 24 °F
Snow Likely Chance for Measurable Precipitation 60%
Hi 27 °F

Chance Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 30%
Lo 6 °F