Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"This is My Country"

I am not a scholar, nor a teacher, nor a politician, nor anyone with any power or influence over much of anyone.  Nevertheless, I strongly believe in freedom, tolerance, reason, communication, and I know for certain that "This is My Country."  It is the "land that I love".  I am an American. 

I am the product of a good education, provided mostly in the public school system where I learned enough to know that this country has its strengths and its weaknesses.  I learned that this is a land governed by laws and traditions most of which I can support.  I know that the basis of our government is spelled out in the U.S. Constitution.  And I know that this Constitution was written by a group of individuals who were, collectively, very wise men with great vision. 

From that Constituion as well as the many amendments and laws established therefrom, I know that it is my right in this country to be free from persecution because of my religious beliefs.  I know that it is my right in this country to be protected from harm, to expect just treatment, to read a free Press.  I know that it is my duty to pay my taxes, and more importantly to express my responsible opinions through the election of individuals to serve as the lawmakers and administrators of the government which exists for the purpose of representing all our people. I know that this government and its laws support and are supported by the three branches of our government  and its enormous infrastructure that has grown from the very simple beliefs stated in the Preamble to the Constituion.  

I started to learn these concepts and began to build my beliefs starting over 50 years ago and, although modified over time, I still trust that this method of government is right for this country and its peoples.

I am a very insignificant member of our society;  a very minor Patriot who still cries at parades and becomes incensed at injustice.  I rarely engage in political debate with anyone nor do I rant and rave about what I believe about this land.  I just go on believing in the inate goodness of people and the principles upon which this country is built!

I have had the good fortune to be educated mostly by Patriots too.  Not the blind, irrational type of Patriot who argues that anyone who disagrees or disapproves is not only wrong but somehow evil.  No, my teachers were Patriots of the first order.  Men and women who recognize what history has taught, who understood not only the facts of history but also its failures.  Teachers willing to share their knowledge and insight with scores of young children to help them become responsible, rational, reasonable and realistic citizens as adults.  Teachers who, despite its failings, love this country.

I may be extraordinarily fortunate in the combination of teachers I encountered over the years, nevertheless, there are four women from whom I learned specifically about America. 

Sister Rita Therese (4-5 grade), Miss Gamoche (6 grade), Mrs.  Smears (Junior year), and Ms. Shaw (Senior year).  These four women taught me what they believed in including that love of country.  I doubt that any one of the four would look at what is happening in government and politics currently and not be concerned for the future of our country and its form of government.  I know I am.

*Where are the men and women of reason? 
*What happened to leaders with integrity, honesty, compassion, and wisdom? 
*How could so many American People have so thoroughly misjudged many of the people they then elected?? 
*Why did "me" become so much more important than "we"??   
*When did rhetoric become the driving force rather than wisdom???  *Would an Abraham Lincoln or a Thomas Jefferson even get elected today??? 
* Where is compassion, open debate, the exchange of rational ideas without insult and rancor??
* How can we teach our children the repect and love of country that we learned?

I have purposely NOT expressed my opinion on any particular issue, nor have I identified specific individuals or parties or organizations or ideologies that I support or do not support.  My concern is much more widespread.  It encompasses all levels and facets of government (and some of business too).  Where will all of the divisive, abusive, non-constructive, self-serving activities lead us to?

The Mrs. Smears I mentioned taught a class called "Problems of Democracy" in the high school I attended.  I believe all "college prep" students were required to take the course.  She was a wonderful teacher and knew more about this country and how it worked than anyone I had ever known.  I loved her class.  We had challenging and interesting discussions and different opinions were listened to and debated with participation from practically everyone.

From Mrs. Smears I learned the concept that a government cannot rule without the consent of the governed.  In essence what that means is once a government - be it monarchy, theocracy, democracy - oversteps the bounds of power, the people have a divine and/or human right to renounce said authority.  If they take no action to renounce that government, they are giving their consent to it's continuation. 

As I recall Mrs. Smears was talking about communism at the time.  Nevertheless, the concept fits all forms of government.  You may wonder how this relates to the rest of what I was saying.  The bottom-line is that once a government no longer represents the will of its people and that country's people become divided enough, angry enough, unhappy enough,  they are on the road to withdrawing their consent from their government.  That could never have happened in the country I grew up in; there was no need.  (The threat felt then was external, not internal.  Everyone worried about the dreaded communism and the Soviet Union!) At the time both the government and the people were still acting responsibly and rationally.  But now??  Well, now I'm not so sure. 

I am certainly no seer into the future.  Neither am I trying to predict that our government will topple.  I am merely asking questions that I have no answers for. 

All I know is that "this is my country" but I fear that it is no longer the country I have believed in all my life....and that worries me.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

"Have You Heard?"

Well, of course you haven't heard!  I haven't told you!  I've been so busy obsessing about my eye and the eye drops that I have to drop for weeks, and about whether my eye has started to dilate like it should (it hasn't!), and about whether or not the artificial tears help or not (they do!), and all the rest of my recent angst about my sight....well, I have been remiss about posting about the regular stuff.  Well, I am going to correct that right now!

***  March 2010 is nearly over.  Already.  This is getting entirely out of hand.  It used to be that a work or school day could feel like it lasted for weeks!  A month was really a lot of time when lots of stuff could happen, and a year was an eternity.  Now???  Nope, not any more!  I don't like it.  I don't like it one bit.  And the Complaint Department isn't taking my calls!!

***  Now that Spring is officially here, all sorts of Spring Things are popping up all over.  Whee!  Pretty pastel dresses and fun pretty shoes.... Easter baskets and bunnies in every color of the rainbow....Spring bulbs and flowers that would look wonderful in my yard (even though every plant I buy commits hari-kari (sp?) in the car on the way home from the store!)....other peoples yards look pretty anyway!.....temperatures have moved out of the frigid zone for the next several months....schools having their Spring Breaks (that's something I never got, kids today have it good!)....and the one sign of Spring that really has an impact on us....yes, it's Softball Season again!  This time Maddie-the-Great's team is the Illusion, they've only played two games (a 1-1 record so far).  The team is not great but its a long, long way from awful!!  Pretty much everybody can hit, fielding still sucks, but that's true for all the teams.  This season we're hoping that they can manage to win more than they lose!  I'll keep you posted!

*** Speaking of M-t-G, she had her eyes examined and she got glasses 2 years ago.  She only needed them for distance, and after the novelty wore off, she pretty much forgot about them most of the time.  She went to the eye doctor again for the exam and I am sad to report, that her eyes had deteriorated significantly and nobody noticed until just a couple of weeks ago.  The poor kid couldn't see far away worth squat!  She didn't say anything, so she suffered the problem of not seeing very well longer that she actually needed to.  She had her new glasses for her softball game yesterday.  She was up at bat 5 times', she got a hit every time, drove 2 runners home, got on base 4 out of the 5 times, and finally managed to stay alive long enough to get around all the bases to score!  Really a stellar day for our girl!  It's amazing what kids can do when they can SEE!    :)

***  Patti Lupone and Mandy Patinkin  were appearing at one of Austin's Performing Arts Centers last Thursday night.  I was reeaalllly looking forward to seeing them (especially her!), after all she is a Musical Theater Diva, almost an icon.  I was so excited!  Its probably the only chance I will have to see her perform in person!  "Evita", "Gypsy", and so many more.  Couldn't wait!!!   Soooooo, last Thursday night, I still wasn't see very well and wasn't ready to drive at all, generally feeling kind of wobbly.  So I couldn't go.  [Small interruption while I go and sob for a bit, sorry!] 

Ratchlet went.  M-t-G went.  T.A. worked the gig.  I stayed home.  I am heartbroken.  Ratchlet said it was phenomenal incredible!  Swell.

I guess there wasn't all that much to write about after all.  Or maybe I'm too depressed because I missed Patti Lupone!  What do you think, hmm?  Yeah, me too!

Friday, March 26, 2010

"What a Difference a Day Makes"

What a Difference a Day (or 2 or 3) Makes.... Oh yeah, She's baaa-ack!!   I have officially climbed out of the "Pit of Despair" and I'm now on my way back to happy, cheerful, adorable, me!

I'll try and give you a quick rundown of why my surgical experience was better than expected AND worse than expected.  (But knowing me, I can't really promise it will be all that quick!  No surprise there, I don't write quick!  You'd better grab a cup of coffee (or your beverage of choice), and settle in.  This could take a while!)

Day 1 -  Surgery performed

-  They were a bit disorganized at the center and we ended up waiting longer than we should have, but that was ok.  I was in no hurry!  Ratchlet finally went and asked and the receptionist said, "They should have called you 23 minutes ago!"  Uhhhh, well, they didn't!  We were off to a bang-up start.

-  They finally called my name and my darling Ratchlet, (who knows me really well!) said to the nurse (whom I had never seen before), "She's pretty nervous about this."  The nurse looked at me like I was some demented child, and then in front of the entire waiting room full of people, she grabbed me in a big hug, patted me on the back about 15 times, and said, "Awwww, don't you worry!  You'll be fine.  It won't hurt a bit."  Yep, that really helped!!!

-  Preparation all took place in a communal prep area where there were 3 or 4 patients receiving eye drops, and IV hook ups (no meds, you understand, just the needle stuck in my hand).  They hooked me up to the BP and O2 monitors.  I was still nervous and getting more so each minute.  "When do I get the anesth?," said I.  "Oh, you won't get that until you're in the operating room", Nurse Touchy-Feely chirped cheerily.  Oh great!  I'm a nervous wreck here, and I don't even get any of the happy drugs until I'm already in there.  Wonderful!  This is just getting better and better!  They did, at least give me a warm blanket without my even asking.  One point for their side.

-  The Anesthesiologist came over, and without looking at me once, said, "I'm Dr. ____.  I'll be your Anesthesiologist."  Good old Nurse T-F came over and told him, "she's a little nervous."  Ha!  A little nervous???  Boy, did she have a gift for understatement!!  I, putting up a brave front however, said something like, "Oh you're the guy that's going to hit me in the head with a hammer.  Hahaha!"  I guess he must have heard that before because he responded, "We only use that as a last resort."  And that is all he said to me, that's it, every word!  Still no eye contact at all.  Some pre-surgery consult!  Really helped me feel confident and relaxed.  Right!  No points!

-  I guess to kill some time in between drops, Nurse T-F came over and wanted to show me photos of her daughters....AND the fish they caught on a recent fishing trip!  First of all, she had personally given my glasses to Ratchlet back in the waiting room!  How did she expect me to see these gems anyway??  Secondly, I was seriously thinking about starting a rosary to pray for my survival.  Looking at pictures of featureless blobs she said were her daughters was not helpful.  -1 Point

-  Finally finished with the gazillion eye drops and off we went to the O.R.  Still no happy drugs.  Climbed up on OR table, heard the surgeon say something to the tech, but I couldn't make out what he said.  Then they finally attached the needle in my hand to something other than thin air.  And I was gone, almost instantly.  (Great stuff that Verset!  Mega points!!) 

By now you may be getting the idea that maybe they were nowhere close to understanding that I WAS SCARED!!  Or if they knew, they didn't care!  I don't know how far into the surgery I was, but at some point I definitely woke up!  All I saw were some bright lights and a few shadows moving and heard some voices, but nevertheless, the good doctor had not told me the truth back in his office when he told me I'd be "sound asleep".  Being able to see lights and shadows and hear voices is not my definition of "sound asleep"!   -5 Points!

-  That must have happened pretty close to the end, because I was mostly awake from then until the time I got back to the prep area where Nurse Touchy-Feely once again took over.  I was in the operating room 15 minutes!  That's all. I did not see the doctor again after the surgery was finished!   Nurse T-F gave me a pill she said would "help me sleep".  Oh, fine, NOW they want me to sleep??  Nurse T-F's parting words were, "Oh you're going to see sooo much better!"  And she returned me to the loving care of my daughter!  +5 points!

-  Ratchlet helped a pretty wobbly me back to the car and took me home, where I did, in fact, sleep for six hours straight.  And then the fun began!

Post Surgery  - Day 1

When I woke up I needed to get more drops in the eye and as soon as we took off the plastic shield and I moved my eye, I let out a yell that probably could be heard around the block!  It felt as tho there were loose shards of glass roaming freely around my whole eye scraping back and forth.  YOWZA!  It hurt!  It wasn't constant but it was quite frequent. 

Ratchlet re-read the post-surgery instructions which said that if I had any pain or discomfort, I could take 2 Advil or Tylenol or Midol.  Huh?  My eye feels like its being gouged out slowly one layer at a time and I can take 2 Tylenol???  I take more than that for a headache!!  And there is no way this piercing pain could be considered "discomfort"!  Stubbing my toe is discomfort; shards of glass in my eye is waaay beyond discomfort!

Ratchlet called the surgeon, who actually called back himself!  (Points added there).  He said that this was something that happened to some people but not everyone.  Oh Goody, Lucky Me!  It would take about 12 to 18 hours to go away!  It was caused by abrasions to the eye and that I should keep my eye closed as much as possible!  Okay, you betcha!  No argument there!  A little warning of the possibility might have been a nice thing to add to the pre-surgery consult....but no, it was a surprise!

Unfortunately, if you stop to think about it, if you move one eye (like for seeing where you're going), the other eye moves too.  Whether its closed or not!  No choice, they move in tandem.  So until I actually fell back to sleep (blessedly soon after I returned to bed), my poor eye was repeatedly scraped by the evil abrasions the good (!) doctor had caused on the parts of my eye that were staying!  It was not helped by the 2 pills.  It was not helped by the drops.  It was not helped by closing the eye.  It was not fun!  What it was, was a big pain that woke me several times during the night!
(Minus all points and -10 more!)

Post Surgery - Day 2

When I woke up the next morning at about 6:30 a.m.  I still had the pain, but perhaps not as frequently.  I still felt extremely groggy and lethargic.  What was in that pill old T-F gave me, anyway?? After more drops and other such necessities of life, I went back to sleep. 

Next woke up around 10:00 and the pain WAS GONE!!  Oh, blessed relief.  Yay!  It was such a joy, I went back to bed to celebrate!

When I finally got up and moving around, I began noticing my actual vision, something I hadn't paid any attention to up till then.  Hmmm, I felt kind of wonky, like I was seeing differently from each eye.  It was like the two eyes were focusing on different things.  Very odd and very disorienting.  The Big Guy told me that with the artificial lens I now had,  it had a set focus point, unlike a natural lens which focused at different points depending on what you were looking at.  Well!  Hmmppf, another thing nobody ever thought to tell me!  I was getting pretty hacked off by that time.  In this day of full disclosure, I got nothing!  (I gave up counting points at all!)

-  Still feeling pretty wobbly, the Big Guy drove me to the center for the post-surgical visit that was part of the whole thing.  Saw a doctor I had never seen before (I was beyond surprise at this point).  He assured me that the pain thing was "normal" for some people.  He looked into the eye and said it all looked "perfect" and I could go.  I told him I wasn't feeling like I was seeing well enough to drive and asked if that was something to worry about.  Nope, just don't drive till you feel comfortable.  Okaaay, I wasn't planning on it anyway.  In and out in less than 10 minutes.  Not real big on bedside manner, these docs!

The rest of the day was pretty much the same, still a bit wobbly, still a bit sleepy, still not seeing the way I thought I should. Still not feeling like it was a "snap"!

Post Surgery - Day 3

-  So I was putting more drops in the eye the next morning and I noticed that the pupil of the "fixed" eye was significantly smaller than the other one.  That's a bit odd.  I went into a darker room and had the Big Guy take a look.  Yep, they are definitely different sizes.  The "new" eye wasn't dilating at all!  It was stuck in a pinpoint, no matter what the light level.  Of course, I began to worry.  Would it get better?  Was it going to stay that way forever??  Why hadn't anyone TOLD me????  I was seriously upset.

-  So I called my own ophthalmologist and was advised by the office staff to send her an email!!  Do doctors not talk to patients at all anymore???  But, hey, I'm an obedient soul, so I wrote a big long email explaining all my concerns and worries.  To her credit, she did answer the email fairly quickly.  And I'm sure you can guess from the way all of this is going that her response was, "Yep, its all normal.  Don't worry, it will get better."  Okaaay, not overly reassuring but, maybe this is only a big deal to me!  Then I asked her when I should schedule my appointment to see her for an exam and new glasses.  She said she wanted to see me in a month!  A MONTH!! 

I can't quite understand it, but that somehow reassured me most of all.  I guess it must all be normal, just like they said.  She'd want to see me sooner if it wasn't normal, right??  I decided all I could do was wait and hope things got better sooner rather than later.

Post Surgery -- Day 4

So here we are at today (Friday).  And finally, FINALLY, I feel like I can see like a normal person (almost)!!  I feel comfortable in driving.  I read a lot today, no problem.  Pupil is still the same, but the truth of the matter is that as long as there is light, I can see just fine.  "What a difference a day makes!!"  It's true!  It evidently take at least 4 days to readjust enough to feel like there isn't something out of whack.  Oh Joy!  Oh Rapture!! 

Now that I am at the point that I can see comfortably again, I am ready to look back and evaluate this whole experience.  The center even gave me a patient survey to complete.  Soooo, they asked for my opinion, huh?  Well, I will be more than glad to give it to them.  Oh yes, I will!   I think I'll start with "Sound asleep, my ass!"

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"I Will Survive"

Just a short note to let you all know that I a did survive the surgery.  It was better than I expected in some ways and waaay worse in other ways (mostly related to post-surgery.)  Thank you all for your concern and caring!  I will write more when I feel more awake and with it.  For now, I am still groggy and feeling like I came out the loser in a bout between me and a big old semi!!

I am fine, I can see out of both eyes, and I will survive!

Hugs to everyone!

Monday, March 22, 2010


WARNING:  Major Wuss Alert!  Self-pity ahead, proceed with Caution!

Many years ago, I saw a Garfield poster that I just loved.  There was a little mouse, with wild eyes, with its little legs moving like pinwheels.  He is obviously going nowhere because Garfield, with an enormous grin, is standing right behind the mouse and one paw is pinning down the little mouse's tail.  The caption read:  "It's not the having, it's the getting!" 

Tomorrow morning, if I can actually go through with it, I will have my cataract surgery.  (...whimpering...)  Tonight, I admit, I am right in the midst of an "Anticipation" crisis....in the mode of the mouse, not Garfield!  I know something is going to happen tomorrow, whether it will be good or bad, is pretty much unknown, but I sure wish I didn't have to go through it at all, no matter WHAT it is! 

I've heard from lots of different sources that it should be a snap!  Not nearly the disaster I fear.  In other words, I should put on my big girl panties and deal with it!  That would be marginally easier to believe, if any of the sources, actually HAD the surgery themselves!  But no, it was always their mother, their uncle, their neighbor who actually had the surgery, and they came through it just fine!  Uh huh!  Right!  So why didn't I hear directly from any actual victim ....um survivo ...um living, breathing, sighted post-surgical person??  Hmmm, answer me that!!   All those folks who "know" somebody who came through it, well, I know they mean well, but it really doesn't help!

I don' know, maybe I'll forget to set my alarm, or get lost, or get bumped by somebody else's ophthalmic emergency, or SOMETHING, and I won't have to go!  That would be fine!  Except I'd have to go through all this "Anticipation" some other time, because I am pretty sure my vision is getting worse every day!  Darn!

So I'll do it and I'll be as nervous as a cat on ice till its over.  But I'll do it,  I will!  (Oh, help!)

Actually, if you think this is bad, you should have heard me the night before my hysterectomy!!!!  Now that was "Anticipation!"

See you (I hope), in a couple of days....

Sunday, March 21, 2010

"Bits and Pieces" (ad infinitum)

Perhaps you've noticed that I'm not all regular at writing.  Trust me, it's not necessarily by choice, but some days I don't have anything to write about.  No inspiration, no brilliant ideas, not even any bad ideas!  Still I feel the desire to write so that I can maintain these fledgling friendships with the rest of you bloggers.  Sooooo, what's a girl to do??  Ahhhh, how about some "Bits and Pieces"?  Little snippets about nothing much, just to keep my hand in, so to speak.

1.  I was all set yesterday to write about the official end of winter and the first day of Spring!  You know, something along the lines of, "Oh yay.  Spring is here, spring is here. Tra la Tra la".  Well, you know for an old broad that Mother Nature is pretty tricky.  I woke up to 39 degrees, an icy, frigid wind, a grey and threatening sky, and the desire to jump right back into bed and pull the covers over my head!  We had been having some lovely spring-like weather for the last two weeks....bright, sunny, comfortable temperatures and trees were in bloom all over!  So March 20 and the beginning of Spring arrives and its back into the Arctic of the South!  So no happy little posting yesterday!  I couldn't think of one nice thing to say about yesterday that didn't start out with, "Well, at least it isn't _____".  Today, I woke up to the day that yesterday should have been!  Sunny, acceptable temperatures, a wind that was only mildly cool.  Thus it may be a day late but, "Oh yay.  Spring is here, spring is here.  Tra la Tra la!!"   Yep, tricky old broad, that Mother Nature!!

2.  The Big Guy and I went out to lunch together today.  Our feeding schedules have gotten out of whack the last few months and we haven't shared all that many meals lately.  It was nice to have someone to talk to during lunch!  I've been suggesting that we should split an entree when we are out.  Neither of us eats very much at one time anymore, but we could never agree on something we both might enjoy.  Today we did!!   This is a major accomplishment!  I always feel terrible about the amount of food that goes to waste in restaurants.  By sharing one meal we reduced our waste and our bill, a winning situation all around!   I don't expect that we'll be able to do it all the time or anything, our tastes are too different.  But if we can do it occasionally, it will certainly reduce the guilt I feel when the waiter clears away my only half empty plate!

3.  There are times when I do not understand how younger women are managing to live the lives they find themselves in.  Full time jobs to bring in money, take care of the children and husband's....food, errands, shopping, lessons, Scouts, sports, church, playdates (that would be for the kids, NOT the husbands!!), laundry, their own clubs/activities, hobbies, fitness activities, quality time with their kids, quality time with the husbands plus the mundane, never-ending meals, homework, baths, housecleaning and whatever else they can find to commit to!!    They are truly managing to "have it all".  Still, I can't help but wonder do they ever have any time to enjoy it??  Or do they not even recognize free time when they have it?

4.  One of my cousins died last week.  He was a year older than I and his health hadn't been good for a while.  Rest in Peace, Joey.  You may remember, I wrote sometime ago that my mom came from a family with 11 children.  Those 11 people managed to produce only 23 children among them.  Of the original 11 aunts and uncles, all but one are gone now.  Of the 23 first cousins, 7 have died and 6 have fallen off the radar and no one knows where or how they are.  That leaves only 10 remaining first cousins  When my one remaining uncle and his wife (both in their 70's now) are gone and if none of the missing 6 have surfaced by then, that would mean that I am next in line to be the family's "matriarch" because I am the oldest of the remaining 10.  Well, ye Gods!  I'm only 63!!  Matriarchs should be older than that, shouldn't they?  A LOT older than that!  Still, if I'm still breathing by then, I'm it!   Well, OK, what can you do?  I guess I can handle it, if I must.

Anybody know if its a paying position??    :)

Okay, as Lil Sis just pointed out, I can't count, or subtract, or add!
Hopeless, when it comes to numbers!  Is that pathetic or what?  There were 29 first cousins, 6 missing cousins, 6 deceased cousins.  That leaves 17.  (I THINK!)  Nevertheless, I am still the oldest of those whose whereabouts are known, so the rest of the post is correct!  I'm still in line for Matriarch!   Or maybe I should just say, "Never mind!"

5.  I am really enjoying discovering new bloggers.  I know blogging was very popular, but I didn't have any idea of how popular it is.  I keep finding new one that I just love.  Some make me laugh, some make me sad, some fill me with awe.  I look forward to reading them everytime they post.  The only drawback is that reading them all, doesn't leave me much time to do other things I should do!!  I think I need to develop my restraint!

6.  Ratchlet and her family were out of town for most of the week on a small Spring Break vacation.  They were due back sometime yesterday.  Of course, they were driving and it is about a 5 or 6 hour drive.  As I said earlier yesterday was really windy and they also ran into some rain.  They didn't get back into town until about 10:30 last night.  They were all fine and they had a nice trip.  My darling daughter knows me extremely well.  She called me to let me know they were home safely.  She always calls me when traveling.  Always!  She's never missed.  Sometimes the call isn't more than a "Hi, I'm here.  See you next week.  Gotta go."  That's okay.  I don't need a big long conversation, I just want to know she has arrived safely.  I'm a mother, what can I say??? 

Of course, the fact that she is 43 years old, just might mean that I am the tiniest bit over the top.  Do you think so?    Nawwww, neither do I!

7.  Happy Spring Everyone....whenever it shows up at your house!

Friday, March 19, 2010

"Fixing a Hole"

I hate my teeth.  I have always hated my teeth.  Always! 

I don't spend my life brushing, flossing, polishing, cleaning, etc., but I do brush a couple of times a day and floss fairly frequently.  I even sometimes use a flouride rinse.  And I get cleanings twice a year!  Despite my care,  they aren't a pretty sparkling white.  They are small.  My mouth is small and there's no room to manuever.  (Pediatric instruments have to be used!)  They are a little crooked.  They are sensitive to cold.   They have spaces where they shouldn't have spaces.  They aren't particularly strong or healthy.  They aren't even.  They collect tartar and plaque like some people collect recipes!  More often than not, there seems to be a need for "fixing a hole!"    And so they need constant attention it seems.  And the worst part of it, is that its not just my attention they need.  Oh no!  They require a....dunh, dunh, dunh....Dentist!

May I just say, it case you haven't figured  it out, that for me going to the dentist ranks right at the bottom of my "things I don't want to do" list, along with having a baby and jumping out of an airplane!    I work myself into a tizzy over having to go to the dentist.   By the time of the appointment, I am a wreck from the anticipation of whatever torture the dentist will inflict upon me this time!

Of course, my head keeps trying to remember that I have survived before.  Doesn't help too much.  My gut knows!!  There's a long, long way between survival and no pain!

Unfortunately, I am of the age that had dental experiences before the development of high speed drills, or lidocaine prior to  injections.  Headphones, TV, movies, music, etc. weren't even on the horizon.  That's right, back in the dark ages of dentistry, when the height of technology was "rinse and spit"!!

I have tried hard over the years to act like a grown up, but unfortunately that's really hard for me.  You see, for me dental pain (especially hitting a nerve), is the absolute worst pain I have ever felt!  Bar none!  I'm a wuss with a very low pain threshhold.  I quiver, I cry, I tense up, I cry some more, and I want to run out of there at the speed of light.  I hate it. 

Of course, to be fair, Its gotten better.  I finally found a dentist (a FEMALE dentist, I might add) that understands about pain and is all in favor of using sufficient Nitrous Oxide to keep me in the chair long enough to complete what needs doing!  That helps a LOT.  I don't go to sleep of course, but I do get pretty relaxed, so for the most part I tolerate the work fairly well....for a wuss.

I went to the dentist yesterday.  I was there from 1:15 to about 2:30 p.m.  Obviously I survived.  (My dentist truly is a  gem!)  Unfortunately the injection of Novocaine didn't numb my jaw enough.  So I had to have another!  That was not fair!!  I've never needed two before!   Once the second shot kicked in I couldn't feel a thing....nothing at all.  So between the numbing and the Nitrous, she was able to finish up fairly quickly.  Once the Nitrous was gone from my system, I felt an enormous sense of relief.  The hole was fixed!! Yay!  It was over.  I could leave.  My stomach didn't hurt anymore.  I didn't feel nervous anymore. I was free! 

After a couple of hours  I realized I was hungry and I went to have something to eat.    BIG MISTAKE!  I realized that even after 2 1/2 hours my cheek, my lips (top and bottom) and my whole lower jaw was dead!  Not just mostly dead, but compeletely and totally dead as a doornail dead!  My speech was distorted.  My smile was crooked.  (I looked like I'd had a stroke!) I couldn't open my mouth all the way.  I couldn't feel temperatures.  I dribbled while trying to drink from a straw!   And I couldn't feel the difference between the food  and my cheek when chewing!!  Those 2 shots of Novocaine did me in and did not completely wear off until almost 7:30 p.m.!!! 

So yeah, I hate my teeth.  I have always hated my teeth.  Really!

Monday, March 15, 2010

"Somewhere Over the Rainbow"

Despite the fact that my last name is an Irish one, I am not at all Irish!  Not a smidge.  I acquired the name along with the Big Guy!  He isn't all that Irish either as he has to go back two generations to get to his Irish roots.  Nevertheless, both Ratchlet and the Big Guy would say that they are Irish.  Well, okay!  Two (Mikey) or three (Ratchlet) generations isn't that far back, I guess.

Having lived in Chicago for many, many years, I am completely aware that (at least in Chicago) EVERYBODY is Irish on St. Patrick's Day.

Still, I have no Irish traditions to celebrate, but in the spirit of the day, I am re-posting something that's the closest thing I have to anything Irish!  So I'm sorry if you've read this one before! 

It has absolutely nothing to do with St. Patrick, Ireland, shamrocks, or little men in green suits!  But after you read it, you'll probably see how my encounter "somewhere over the rainbow" is close enough.

Original Posting:   "Look to the Rainbow"   September 16, 2009

I'm not particularly scientific, I can understand some principles when explained, but generally, I'm a words person, not a concept person. Neither am I mystic, psychic, or much into karma, chakkra, or anything that goes "bump in the night". That said, I once had an unbelievable experience that amazes most people when they hear about it. Let's see if it amazes you!

When Ratchlet was still in college (at St. Mary's College at Notre Dame), my BFF, Cath, and I planned to drive from Chicago to South Bend, IN to see a production of "West Side Story" that the Theatre Department was doing. We planned to leave on a Friday evening right after work at about 4:30 pm. Its only a 90 min. drive, so we would have plenty of time to get there, grab a bite, still be in time for the 8:00 pm curtain. As "West Side Story" is one of our favorite musicals, we were excited to see it and had been looking forward to the trip for weeks!

That Friday morning brought horrible rainstorms that lasted all day long, complete with pouring rain, thunder, lightening, and big, black ominous clouds. My BFF, my daughter, and I traded phone calls all day trying to decide whether or not to attempt the trip. We were so disappointed that we might have to cancel. We kept putting off an actual decision, hoping the weather would improve.

Finally, just before it was time for a make-or-break decision, the rain slowed to a sprinkle, the thunder and lightening disappeared, and the clouds began to slowly move off to the Southeast. That was good enough for us! The trip was a "GO!!"

All was proceeding just fine. Traffic wasn't too bad, the light sprinkling was manageable and we were on our way, high spirits restored. After the road made the required turn from South to East, the sun began to peak through the still cloudy skies in the West behind us. That breakthrough of sunlight began to make the roadway steam and the clouds ahead once again looked big, black, and ominous. It actually was kind of pretty; the rising mist with the sun highlighting the beautiful green trees and foliage all up against the nearly black sky ahead. As often happens in those circumstances a rainbow appeared.

As Cath and I were talking and laughing, having a good time, we began to focus our attention on the rainbow. It was a beautiful rainbow, a full arc, with the colors extremely vivid and well-defined, probably the best either of us had ever seen.

After a short while we realized the the rainbow was not dissipating, nor was it moving away from us (as mirages and other optical illusions often do). We were actually getting closer! We were heading right for it. The colors were still extremely vivid and the rainbow seemed to end right in the middle of the road upon which we were driving!! We couldn't believe it. Wow! Neither of us had ever been this close to a rainbow! How utterly amazing.

Now I swear that I am NOT making this up, as we continued (at about 50 mph, this was the Indiana Tollway after all) suddenly we were smack dab in the middle of the rainbow!! We were driving right through it!!! Oh my God, was this even possible?? We could see the refracted light on every surface inside the car....the hood, the dash, the doors, the seats, our clothes, everywhere! My hands tightly clenching the steering wheel each had a very clear rainbow of refracted light across the back. If I moved my hands the rainbows stayed right with me. It was unbelievably beautiful! Both of us could see it, so if it was crazy, we were BOTH crazy!!

We had no camera, so we couldn't document it; and no, we didn't stop and dig for gold! That never even occurred to us; the reality of what we were seeing was enough!

And then, just as suddenly, it was gone. Completely and totally gone, as if it had never been there at all. The whole thing couldn't have lasted much more than 15 or 20 seconds. Cath and I kept asking each other, "Did you see that??? I can't believe it!" There was no outward sign that any other driver had experienced what we had. We continued on our way, but we didn't talk about anything else for quite a while! Once we returned home, no one we talked to had ever experienced anything like it.

As I said, I am no scientist so perhaps this experience was nothing unusual. It might happen all the time, I just don't know. I'm sure there is some simple explanation for how or why it happened. Nevertheless, after all this time I don't think I want to know. I'd rather consider the experience unique and special. I'd rather think that somehow Cath and I are unique and special because of it. All I know for sure, is that now, whenever I "look to the rainbow," I remember....and I smile!


Saturday, March 13, 2010

"What's the Use of Wonderin'? " (Again)

Life appears to be chock full of conundrums, those random and odd questions of why or how certain things seem to be true, but that no one can explain or answer.  I often am plagued by my mind going off on some tangent or other, focusing on such matters until I throw up my hands and just say, "I dunno!"  Here are some of my most recent ponderances.

1.  Why a woman's hair can look perfectly fine for weeks at a time, and then suddenly one morning, out of nowhere, it starts screaming, "I need a haircut RIGHT NOW?"

2.  Why do so many companies keep bringing out "New" and "Improved" versions of their products....especially when they were perfectly fine the way they were? 

3.  How can so many people who drive cars be such totally, abysmally awful drivers?

4.  Why some men are obsessive about maintaining, cleaning, and taking care of their cars, but those same men, can't wash a dish or even find the dishwasher?

5.  Why doesn't Daylight Savings Time begin in the middle of a work day, rather than in the middle of our weekend sleeping time?  Most wouldn't mind losing an hour of work, but losing an hour of sleep is really painful! 

6.  Why do companies keep sending so much junk mail?  How can it possibly be profitable for them?

7.  Whatever happened to fashion standards like hats and gloves for women?

8,  How can anyone possibly believe that a kid "playing" baseball (or whatever) on a WiFi is getting good exercise??

9.  Why are some people so consistantly lucky and others are not?

10.  How can clothes that fit just fine in the morning become so excrutiatingly uncomfortable by bedtime??

Okay now....go forth and ponder!

Friday, March 12, 2010

"Lovely to Look At" (continued)

Yesterday I wrote about McKee Jungle Garden and all of its quirky-ness.  You might wonder why and how I knew so much about one of Florida's old-time attractions.  We lived in Vero Beach, the home of the Garden and for a few years (I'm not sure how long anymore), my grandparents lived there too and worked for McKee's. 

Gram worked with Dr. David Fairburn (the man in charge at the time).  She worked in the Orchid House.  She helped with all aspects of the orchids....planting and transplanting, pruning, making cuttings, and making orchid corsages that were sold in the Gift Shop and other places. 

Gramps was sort of a general-all-around-something.  I'm not sure I ever knew what his title really was.  He made rounds through the Garden at closing time and then again during the night.  He was a greeter, and ticket seller sometimes, he took care of the parrots, and he occasionally gave tours.  He was a little bit of everything.

There was a small house on the grounds, in the non-public areas, that went with the job and that's where they lived.  It was the perfect arrangement for an older couple.  I remember spending many Saturdays and Sunday visiting Gram and Gramps, often overnights. 

The Gardens closed at 5:00 p.m.  It wasn't set up for nighttime activity.  But at 5:00 p.m. there is still lots of light left in the summer....and that is when I took over!!

The Gardens became my own "estate".  I pretty much had free rein, the only places I could not go were the  alligators' enclosure and the undeveloped areas of the property.  I could be Guinivere and the Gardens were Camelot!  I could be Juliet and know that Romeo was fighting through the jungle to get to me....nevermind that I was pretty sketchy on the rest of the story, I made up my own.  Tarzan and Jane....Admiral Byrd discovering whichever pole he found....my imagination was up to the challenge.  I went all over the world in my Garden!!

I was never bored!  I could pound away on the huge drums Sexton brought back from Africa.  I could pretend to cook in the outdoor Spanish Kitchen.  I must have gotten "married" in the Royal Palm Grove a gazillion times.  I explored the Gardens from up and down and backward and forward and I ended up knowing it like the back of my hand.

During the hours that the park was open, I still spent a lot of time playing there, but I was a whole lot less visible!  Looking back on those days, I'm pretty sure that Dr. Fairburn and the rest of the staff knew I had made myself at home.  Evidently, however, I was so well behaved that they just accepted that I was there a lot!

I would walk with Gramps on his walkthrough at closing time.  We had some great conversations.  Other times I would sit with Gram in the Orchid House while she worked with the plants.  I'm sure I pretty much talked her ear off, but when I was getting too restless she would send me out to play in this wonderful fantasy land! 

I suppose I didn't really go out to the Gardens as often and I think I did, but it doesn't matter.  My memories of that time and place  live in a special place in my heart and always will.  

After we had all moved away, and I was grown up, and married, we took Ratchlet on vacation with us when she was about 4 (that was in 1970, before the Gardens were sold and nearly abandoned.)  We of course, visited McKee's.  Ratchlet and the Big Guy both enjoyed it, but I was  back in my own private daydream, which can never be taken away. 

I haven't been back to the Garden since it re-opened in its 2nd life.  But I will one day!

It was truly a wonderful, magical place and to a small 9-10 year old girl, it was a whole lot more than just "Lovely to Look At!" 


Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Lovely to Look At" (continued from Tuesday)

This photo is of my very most favorite place to be when I was around 9 or 10.  It was magestic and gorgeous and I "would walk down aisle" and imagine that this is where I would marry my prince charming someday.  It was the Royal Palm Grove at what I thought of as my very own personal and private fantasy land.  Other people called it McKee Jungle Gardens and it was just south of Vero Beach, Florida.  It's the third Florida attraction I want to tell you about. 

Opened in 1922, McKee's was the brain child of a couple of old-time Floridians, one named McKee, cleverly enough.  I don't know anything about him other than his founder's status.  The other was a wealthy but true eccentric named Waldo Sexton.  Sexton had traveled all around the world and brought back an enormous number of treasures that he found.  He was particularly fond of the odd and unusual and the town of Vero Beach, his hometown, had them stashed all over town.  He built the oceanside, Driftwood Inn, made of wood from ships and old buildings and the sea.  It was unique among hotels, I believe.  He also built the Ocean Grill, an oceanside restaurant that perennially looked like it was falling down, but was rated 5 stars for many, many years.  He also built the Patio Restaurant in town.  All of these places (and several others) housed all of his finds from his travels....ceramic Spanish tiles, wrought iron gates and chandeliers, statuary, furniture, artifacts, artwork,  some of it incomplete and well-worn.  His things went a long way toward making Vero Beach a quirky little beachside town back in the 50s and 60s.

McKee Jungle Gardens was another depository of his treasures.  But Waldo Sexton's trinkets were not the only thing that made McKee's special.

There were gardens with trails and tours similar to the Cypress Gardens I told you about the other day, but McKee's was more natural, less manicured, and had some unique features.  It was basically a botanical garden with a botanist overseeing all of the plants.  As part of that there was the Orchid House, where all sorts of beautiful, unusual and rare orchids were grown and propagated and studied.  There was also a natural sulphur spring where the water smelled like rotten eggs, but there were many people who came regularly to collect the water for its supposed healthful qualities. 

There were a few creatures who made their home in McKee's too, most notably, two gorgeous Macaw Parrots (who lived right next to the sulphur spring....they must not have a very good sense of smell!!)  One was mostly blue and red and the other was green and yellow.  If I remember correctly, they were quite old (does over 75 sound right??)  And boy, were they LOUD!  You could hear their squawking all over the gardens.  They supposedly talked but I don't remember anything but the squawking! 

The other full-time residents were a couple of huge alligators.  (Well, they looked huge to me, but I was only 9 or 10, so maybe they weren't.)  I remember the biggest as being bigger around than I was!  They lived within an enclosure with a 4 ft. wall around it, that also contained a pond with lots of water grasses and plants.  It was kind of marshy.  There was a big grassy area where the alligators spent much of their time just lying in the sun or else just hiding in the water with only the tops of their heads and their eyes visible.  They were so still and you weren't sure they were even breathing.  They were kind of spooky to a little girl like me!  Every now and then tho, they would all of a sudden lumber from one position to somewhere else with no real warning.  Now I say "lumber" because alligators have legs that are only about 8 inches long, when they moved at a regular pace, they lumbered!  If they were agitated....YIKES, those babies could MOVE.  They are faster and more graceful than you would believe, and if they are after something to eat....well, just get out of their way!  Seriously!  I was pretty much afraid but fascinated by them.

The Gardens boasted an enormous pond crammed from bank to bank with water lilies.  They were so thick you couldn't see any water unless a fish or something moved through.

As I said the introductory photo was of the Royal Palm Grove.  There were probably 75-100 palms in tall straight rows with a center aisle.  The Royal Palm is the tallest and prettiest of the palm trees.  Their trunks are nearly white, a fully grown one is about as big around as bicycle tire at the bottom and they rise about 18-20 ft. high!  At the top of the trunk, is a bright green section, from which long and graceful fronds emerge; spreading like a canopy over the ground dappled with sunlight.  It was a gorgeous part of the Gardens.  Over the years many, many couples were married there in the most beautiful setting I could ever imagine.

The "piece de resistance" however, was the Hall of Giants.  The Hall was what seemed to me to be an enormous 2-story building filled with more of Waldo Sexton's treasures.  A large part of the lower level was used as the Gardens' Gift Shop.  They sold shell jewelry and novelties, carved coconut faces, post cards, stuffed animals, Orchid plants, books about plants and Florida history, Florida souveniers, and other odds and ends.  A lot of the merchandise was displayed on the biggest and most beautiful table I have ever seen.  It is the world's largest mahogany table!!

The table (shown here in an artist's rendering that doesn't do it justice at all!) which was 35 feet long, was made from one single slab of mahogany cut from the center of what must have been a huge tree.  The table was polished to a high sheen and the grain of the wood was beautiful.  The table had been transported in one piece by ship from somewhere in South American where it was made.

It saddens me that McKee Jungle Gardens no longer exists in the form that I remember.  But its not all bad news!  The following is a quote directly from McKee's website:
In the early 1970's, attendance dwindled due to competition from new large-scale attractions and the garden was forced to close its doors in 1976.

The land was sold and all but 18 acres were developed. The remaining acreage, zoned for additional development, sat vacant for twenty years. In 1994, the Indian River Land Trust launched a fund-raising campaign and successfully purchased the property on December 1, 1995 for $1.7 million.

Close to $9.1 million was raised to purchase, stabilize and restore the Garden. The Garden held its formal Dedication November, 2001
I urge you to visit this website, so you can get a better understanding all it had to offer and still has to offer today!    McKee Botanical Garden

I loved this place, it was truly "Lovely to Look At" and I spent many happy hours there. 

....so tomorrow I'll tell you the rest of the story!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I know I said that I'd tell you about my third favorite place in Florida today, but I hope you'll forgive me if I ask to postpone the conclusion another day. 

I had to get up early this morning to go to the eye doctor.  They did the measurements for the new lens that will be implanted at my cataract surgery next week.  (Went fine, if you're wondering.)

In case I haven't made it clear, I hate mornings!  I've felt a little  wonky off and on all day.  That's what usually happens when I'm in need of sleep.

Anyway, I have no energy for writing tonight.  So if you don't mind too much, come back tomorrow.  I should be recovered by then and I'll try again!

So sorry!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"Lovely to Look At"

I have mentioned before that I lived in Florida as a child, we moved there in 1951 and left in September, 1964.  While those weren't exactly Pioneer Days, it was a long time ago.  Florida in 1951 was a much different place than it is now.  It was slower, poorer, simpler.  That was certainly true in the small towns and even in the bigger cities to some extent. 

There wasn't much industry except for citrus and cattle.  Much of Florida had the winter snow birds that would come down for the "season", so there was some tourism but mainly in the winter.  NASA was just getting started, but hadn't actually launched anything.  Orlando was just a city on the small side as cities go and it really didn't have much going for it.  Stuck there in the middle of the state, it had no beach access and no big draw, so it wasn't much of a town for tourism or growth. 

Nevertheless, the whole state was peppered with "attractions", but if you mentioned Disney, people thought of cartoons;  Busch meant beer; and no one had ever heard of Six Flags over anywhere.   

There were small roadside attractions that promoted everything from "Alligator Farms" to "Drive on the Beach at Daytona!" and air boats in the Everglades.  Some of the attractions were delightful others were just stupid.  Of course, their purpose was always the same.  Get people to stop and pay money to see the "the Live Prehistoric Creatures" (mostly alligators and iguanas), or "Pick Your Own Oranges", or "See Real Mermaids at Silver Springs".  Some of those roadside stops were a family's total source of income.  Many of them would actually sell you a living baby alligator that was about 18 in. long.  Most of those poor creatures were ultimately dumped into lakes , rivers, and sewers from New York City to L.A.

Not all the attractions were fake, trumped up wannabees.  There were several attractions that were truly worth the money  and time and offered something worth seeing.   Over the years there were three of that sort that I became quite familiar with and spent a lot of time at.  They were unique, wonderful places.  Sadly today, of the three, only one still exists, is still open and still worth the money and the time.  The other two eventually, along with most of the others, closed due to the poor attendance and the increasing sophistication and education of the tourists.  Basically they were overshadowed by Disney, Epcot, Busch Gardens, Sea World and the rest.  Tourists wanted the thrills, and chills, and excitement of the newer "theme" parks, where you could spend your entire vacation(and most of your money) in one place.  And they did, by the millions.

No wonder the smaller, less exciting attractions couldn't compete.

When I think of my favorite places in Florida, it isn't Disney, or Busch or Six Flags that comes to mind.  My favorites are three you probably have never even heard of if you're under 50 years old!  The thing that has always drawn me to these places is that they are eacg "Lovely to Look At."

The best known and largest of the three was Cypress Gardens just outside of Winter Haven.  It was a beautifully landscaped and meticulously maintained garden with gorgeous and unusual flowers and plants that thrived in Florida's climate.  The Gardens could be toured either by boat (through bayou type waterways) or by walking tours.  They were known for the beautiful young women dressed in Antebellum hooped skirt dresses and big picture hats that would gladly pose for photographs.  (If memory serves, several television and radio programs broadcast from the Gardens over the years....Arthur Godfrey was one, I think.  --  Again, if you're under 50 you won't have any idea who that was!)

They also had one of the very first and arguably the best, water skiing shows in the country.  Very impressive, again with beautiful young men and women who would perform tricks, and jumps, and pyramids, and patterns, while carrying flags and being pulled through the lake water right to the shore where they would let go of the ski rope and glide gracefully up the sandy beach.  It was beautiful and fun to watch.  Some of the performers were truly world class water skiers.  (Anyone recognize the name Tibado??)  The Gardens were justifiably famous all over the world and people came by the thousands to see them.  It was only about 30 miles from Disney World.  Sadly, it closed forever in 2009.  http://www.cypressgardens.com/cghistory.php

The second place I love is the Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales Florida.  Bok Tower is a gorgeous stone tower built by Edward Bok to house an enormous and beautiful carillon.  There are carillon concerts every day that can be heard all over the grounds. Its a fascinating and beautiful place.   Again there are wonderful gardens and walkways and places to sit to contemplate nature and life and and peace.  It is the most peaceful place I have ever been.  I am thrilled that it is still in existence and open to the public.

If you have never heard of it or been there, I can recommend it as a place that would shelter, comfort, and awe you.  Here  is their website, take a look!    http://www.boktowergardens.org/

The third and final place I want to tell you about deserves its own post, sooooooo I'll pick this up again tomorrow.  Y'all come on back tomorrow, ya heah?

"Certified Blues"

I'm sorry to have to say it, but I seem to have the "Certified Blues"!   I'm cranky and restless and generlly dissatisfied with life right now.  Now there is no reason to worry or anything, this is not life threatening or anything, I just do not deal well with the sun disappearing for weeks on end with only tiny peeks through the clouds every 3rd or 4th day.   My Seasonal Affective Disorder hasn't gone away.  I'm SAD.  I hate being SAD!

Years ago, I had a boss I had worked with for a long time introduce me to a new member of our staff.  I'll never forget it.  He said, "I'd like you to meet my assistant.  She's been a great help to me and she's a great resource for you too.  Of course, she's in a bad mood from January thru March, but the rest of the time she's great." 

Oh yeah, he knew me well!! 

We were living in Chicago at the time, and that's not the best place to find sunshine in the wintertime!  A few years later we moved to California and I thought, "Great!  It never rains in California.  No grey!"  May I be the first to mention if you did not already know this, the song LIES!  It rains like hell in California, practically all winter long some years!!  And even if there's no rain, there is still fog and grey, windy days.   So I was still SAD in CA.

Fast forward a few more years and off we went to Texas.  The first few years we were here were great!  Winter was truly mild and the sun shone a lot.  It was super.  I didn't get SAD at all.  But the last two winters have swung to the other side of the pendulum and the rain, the grey, the fog, the lack of sun has been happening pretty much daily.

I remember the first flight I was ever on that took off into a big, grey, rainy cloud bank that covered the whole sky.  It was an awful day in Chicago.  We were flying somewhere for a business thing the Big Guy had.  I was very SAD and didn't really want to go anywhere or do anything.  Nevertheless, off we went into the "wild grey yonder" straight into the clouds where it didn't seem like you could see a foot in front of the plane.  It only took about 30 seconds or less, but suddenly, we broke through the clouds into wonderful, beautiful blue sky sunshine!   When you looked toward the ground, all you could see was the top of this huge cloud bank.  It looked like great big white puffy, cotton balls spread like a blanket below.   It was gorgeous! 

I guess I had never really thought about it, but I was simple amazed that on the ground it was a horrible, ugly day, but just a few thousand feet straight up, the sun shining brightly, doing its thing, just like always.  I never realized that before that flight.   Sometimes knowing that the sun is still up there is reassuring and can help me fight off my SAD-ness.  Other times, it just makes me mad!!

Well, today I'm MAD-SAD again.  I think maybe I've written about this before....so if this is a repeat of old news, I apologize.  It just when it gets like this I can get so far down Misery Road, that I can't think about much of anything else.  It's the reason I haven't been inspired to write much lately. 

I hope it doesn't last much longer.  MAD-SAD isn't a nice place to be!
I'm so ready to be rid of these "certifiable blues"!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

"Yesterday's Gone""

Yesterday it was still winter.  A little chilly, cold wind, bushes and trees still naked of leaves.  Not a horrid day but still in winter's clutches. 

But today, "yesterday's gone" and Spring is poking its head up to remind us that it won't be too long now.

Yesterday, my pear trees were barren, but today they are  flowering!!  By tomorrow they will be close to full bloom!! 

Today, I am smiling!

Friday, March 5, 2010

"Poor Johnny One-Note"

March 5 was my dad's birthday; he would be 91 today.  He died so long ago now, that I can't even conceive how he would look as a truly old man!  It's been 31 years!  There's so much that he missed! 

This is a picture of my dad and Little Sis when she was about a year old or so.   (Wasn't  she cute?? Wasn't he???)

He didn't see Little Sis graduate from college or get married.  He never met her ex-husband.  (No great loss there!)  He never met her two children or watched them grow up.  He never saw me on stage in a play.  He never heard the trio I sang with for ten years(which he would have flat-out loved!)  He didn't see Ratchlet grow up, go to college and grad school, and get married.  He never knew what a wonderful person she turned out to be.  He never met his miracle great granddaughter, Maddie-the-Great!  He never knew that his wife (my mother) was a widow and lived alone for for over 20 years after he was gone!

He missed an enormous part of my mom's, my sister's and my lives; and there was so much that he would have loved.  And we would have loved sharing all those things with him too. It wasn't his choice, of course, we understand that.  Nevertheless, it was not to be and now all we have are memories. 

For instance, the little post below, about tone-deaf elephants.... that brings back a memory about my dad and music. 

You first should know that everyone in my mom's family could sing.  A big family in the Depression didn't have much outside entertainment, so they entertained themselves, singing together around the radio, or while doing the dishes and chores.  Pop songs were a big part of their lives.  My mom passed that love of singing to both Little Sis and I.  The Big Guy and I met in the college choir, so he could sing too and much later that ability to sing went on down to Ratchlet and M-t-G.  If we are in the car on a road trip, sooner or later we start to sing.  Its great fun.  And we do sound pretty good too!  We even do harmony!  It's kind of a family tradition!

When I was a little girl (even before Little Sis was born), we had to drive a minimum of 50 miles or more to get to a larger town where we could go shopping for whatever we needed, like clothes or Christmas presents and so on.  So we would get in the car with Daddy driving and head off to West Palm Beach or Tampa or Orlando several times a year.  And on every single trip we sang going and coming back.  And after L.S. was old enough she would join us. 

Now have you noticed that there is one name missing from those stories of singing???  My dad.  Dad could whistle in tune, he had a good sense of rythmn, he could dance, he could hear when someone else was sharp or flat, he knew all the old songs, just like Mom.  But what he couldn't do was.....sing!  He wasn't tone deaf if he could whistle in tune, but he just could not match tones.   His singing voice just could not be in the same place on the scale that everybody else's was. That ability was just not there.  He wasn't exactly a "Poor Johnny One-Note", but it was close.

Unfortunately, that missing element made him sound awful when he sang.  Truly painful.  You couldn't sing along with him because it inevitably sounded like we were all singing different songs!  We couldn't stay in tune while he was all over the place!  And oh, how we tormented him about it!  It was this big family joke, dad would start to sing along with us and after about 5 notes, he was off into a different musical universe, and the rest of us (well, that would be just me, mostly) would cover our ears and yell at him....."Oh no, Daddy, don't sing!  You sound awful!! Please don't sing!"  And then we would all laugh and he would stop singing and just listen the rest of the way.

It makes me cringe to write that.  I can't believe we (mostly me) would repeatedly hurt him like that and he never once got mad!  Never.  He always laughed about it, but still I'm embarrassed that I didn't really know how cruel I was being. 

You see, the saddest part was that Daddy loved music just like all of us.  He just wanted to share in the fun we were having and be a part of it.  He knew that he couldn't sing (heaven knows, we told him so often enough!), still he wanted to so much....but we wouldn't let him.  I'm really sorry, Daddy!

I'd give a lot to sing with him now.    

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