Monday, September 28, 2009


I love cool weather! Cloudy days? Wonderful. Fog? Even better!! – because along with the gloom comes the quiet.
The hot weather seems to be gone now (thank heavens) and with it went the flies as well as most other flying/crawling things. But not the ants. We had more than our fair share sharing our house this year – and like some animals I can think of the ants seem to like the accommodations well enough to extend their vacation. It’s not as if they aren’t living in a hostile environment but I guess in their tiny brains they’ve somehow come to terms with being booted out one door or another. Their thought process must run along the same lines as our cats who tolerate the neighbor’s dog. The shepherd (animal, not human) spends every waking second with his head shoved through the bars of the wrought iron fence and with glistening teeth, watches for one of the cats to appear. And somehow the cats seem to know that he can’t squeeze through more than his head. Nor can he jump the fence. Still, the thought of sunning in the backyard, next door to a killer that is bent on murdering you, would be a bone chilling prospect to me.
Right now there’s an ant after my coffee. The little guy (or gal) is persistent! He/she repeatedly sprints for the cup but the heat emanating from it forces him/her to back off. If the goal were ever to be achieved, it would be really disappointing – there’s nothing in the cup but plain, old black coffee. And what’s an ant doing in the bedroom anyway? There’s no food in here! But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, the ants are everywhere – sometimes I sit on the couch and watch them as they slowly trudge across the carpet on their way to…nowhere?
In the past I’ve been able to discourage the mobs of ants by making sure that nothing attractive to them gets left out. We carefully wipe down every surface and hide anything sweet in the refrigerator (since resealable bags, and closed jars are no deterrent). So I wasn’t surprised this morning when I saw a group of early risers breakfasting on the edge of the kitchen sink where a teensy, tiny drop of chocolate ice cream had dripped. I turned to get a paper towel and saw that another band of them were attacking a bowl containing a few crumbs of cat food. Cat food over chocolate ice cream?! I can only assume that when the scout showed up with the good news that the people were back to being sloppy again, several ants, in their excitement, took a wrong turn.
Ants can be such aggravating critters, especially when they use you as a bridge to get from one end of the couch to the other. But it could be worse. Things can ALWAYS be worse! So I guess I’ll stop complaining. At least we aren’t under attack from hordes of locust. Wait a minute! What was that thing that just flew past me?!
FACT OR FIB – you be the judge.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


At one time I had the pleasure of working in a grocery store where I was the computer inputter person. I say pleasure because it was a fun job, thanks to everyone who worked there.
My space (you couldn’t really call it an office) was in the back of the store. The area was small, maybe eight feet long by four feet wide. Because it was so narrow everything was lined up against one wall. Starting at the back corner was a filing cabinet, a few boxes of supplies, then my desk with the computer, and a couple of feet away was the doorway, minus a door. Partitioned off from the warehouse, it was kind of dark back there and during the hours I worked, very quiet. Creepy would be a good way to describe it.
While all the employees were pleasant, friendly people, it was the ones working in the deli section that were over-the-top fun. And one of them, Mike, was more than just boisterously happy; he was also a practical joker. One of Mike’s favorite things was to wait until I’d been working a while so that I was totally engrossed in my job, then he’d tip toe to the open doorway, pop into the entrance and yell, “Boo!” This joke never failed to work its magic on me. His loud voice, cutting through the silence, would cause me to jump to such a degree that my chair would shoot backwards and bounce off the wall behind me. Then, laughing like a fool, Mike would return to the deli.
One day during his mission of madness, Mike failed to see the owner enter my workspace. When Mike jumped into the entrance and saw the boss standing at the file cabinet, he tried to cut off the “Boo” part of the joke but it was too late. He was forced to settle for a slightly strangled version of the word before scurrying back to the deli. Of course the weird sound caught the owner’s attention and when he saw Mike hot footing it away he merely shook his head and returned to his search through the drawer. It was the one and only time I neither yipped nor shot across the room, so I pretended to be oblivious of the entire bizarre scene.
Before the owner left my “office” he asked, “Does he do that often?”
“Not really,” I lied.
Early the following morning the owner called me to his domain. He had never called me upstairs before so I went to see him with much trepidation. I was afraid Mike was in trouble and also afraid I’d have to come up with more creative lies than, “Not really.”
When I walked into the owner’s office I saw that a padded blanket (the kind used in moving vans) was folded on one of the chairs. The owner nodded at the other chair and I sat down.
“I hear that Mike is quite a practical joker,” he said.
“Oh?” I replied noncommittally.
“I like a good practical joke myself,” he admitted.
Not sure if this was a ploy to trip me up so I’d admit to some of Mike’s more outlandish behavior, I simply smiled.
“So,” he continued, “if you’d like to be a part of it I came up with something pretty good last night.”
I agreed, not only because it would be funny to see Mike finally “get his” but also because it was the boss’ suggestion and …well, he was the boss.
That day, when Mike went on his morning break (which he always took outside the store so he could smoke) the owner let me into the walk-in freezer where I schooched down in the corner with the padded blanket covering me. I was told later by the remaining deli crew (who watched with bug eyed horror) that the owner sent for Mike’s immediate return. As soon as Mike appeared, the owner began to reprimand him for forgetting about the special lunch (bogus, of course) to be held at one of the local elementary schools. Having never seen the owner so much as criticize anyone before, Mike was too shocked to try and defend himself and so he just stood there speechless. The owner sent Mike into the freezer to bring out a big box of frozen hot dogs so they could supposedly start thawing.
As soon as I heard the freezer door close, I peeked out from a crack at the side of the blanket and watched Mike frantically search the shelf for the non-existent box of hot dogs. I could tell by his actions that he was starting to get really shook up, so before he got hysterical I jumped up and with the blanket still in place, yelled, “Aaaaaaah!” (Boo just seemed too mild to fit the situation).
I don’t know if Mike even looked in my direction before he took off. But I did hear him bang into the freezer door a couple of times before he got it open. It just goes to show what attention to detail will do.
I’d like to say that the nearly heart stopping experience convinced Mike to stop scaring the bejeesus out of me – unfortunately it didn’t. But then, I’ve never heard of a reformed practical joker.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rule #1. Just because mail ends up at your house doesn’t mean you get to keep it.
My sister and I ordered some diet cookies – actually, lots of them! We decided to have them delivered to her house, she’d divide up the different flavors and I’d pick up my share from her. I called in the order. After giving her name as the recipient, I accidentally gave the wrong address – which we were unaware of until the night of the scheduled delivery. Already in her jammies, my sister sent my brother-in-law out to look for our cookies. He returned to tell her that the house number I had given didn’t exist. But he reported that he’d seen a huge box on the porch of a neighbor at the other end of the block.
Maybe the delivery person got tired of searching for an address conjured up by a diet crazed woman and left the package at the first door he came to?
My sister sent her husband out once again, this time with instructions to check out the box and see if her name was on it. When he came back, he reported that the box had been removed, and even though he saw a light on in the house and he could hear noises inside, no one would respond to his loud banging on the doors.
Upon this news, my sister immediately sat down and wrote a letter to the neighbor. She explained that although her sister (namely me) had gotten my sister’s name on the package, her sister (namely me again), had for some unknown reason given a fictitious house address. But, she wrote, the box was meant for her, and if the neighbor would check the label they would see that this was so. After numerous paragraphs of detailed explanations, my sister signed the two page document and convinced my brother-in-law to take it, and some tape, and stick it on the neighbor’s door. Then afraid that the bizarre actions of the neighbor might suggest that our cookies were being held for ransom, my sister called me to see what the cookies were worth.
“They’re going to make me loose weight; they’re priceless!” I bellowed.
This time when my brother-in-law returned home he reported that the house was now completely dark, but the package was back on the porch and sure enough my sister’s name was on it. He had carried the big box home and that’s when they saw that it had been opened. Did the neighbor just rip open the strange package without even looking at the label? Or had the neighbor also ordered thirty pounds of diet cookies? I’m afraid I think it’s because the neighbor didn’t like any of the flavors we’d chosen. But maybe I’m just jaded…which isn’t surprising after coming into contact with several Postal Rule Breakers – not that all of the encounters were bad, of course, nor was everyone a Rule Breaker. The people way up the street have good postal manners. When a huge, heavy package meant for us was delivered to them they loaded it in their car and drove it down here. Unfortunately not everyone is as sharp as they are.
One day as I was out watering the lawn a neighbor approached me.
“Your gas bill is higher than mine,” she gloated.
“It came to my house,” she explained, as she handed me the open envelope.
And you’re reading my mail because you have a secret desire to pay my bills?
I would have reminded her that she was breaking the law by tampering with the United States mail, but I know it would have been pointless, since the confrontation over her last invasion obviously had no impact on her – that was the time she opened an unexpected, $400.00 check meant for us (but delivered to her) and left it languishing at her house - for two years!
FACT OR FIB – you be the judge. I’ll give you a hint: it’s fact.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I bet, since the beginning of the year, I’ve easily had over a hundred appointments – and I’ve never been late to one of them. I’m a punctual person; I take pride in the fact that my brain can work out a simple schedule starting from the end goal and working backwards (the appointment is for two-fifteen, the drive there takes half an hour, it takes so many minutes to dress, fix hair and makeup, so many minutes to shower. Conclusion: start getting ready at such and such a time. P.S. have clothes ready well in advance of that ). Simple. And any Simpleton can do it. But do they? Uh-uh. Now I’m not calling doctors Simpletons – and thank heavens they’re not, but with the smarts it takes to become a doctor doesn’t it seem logical that they could figure out how to be on time?! To paraphrase U.S. Anderson: the most perishable of all things is time. Dealing with death as well as life, as most doctors do, don’t you think they’d know that? – and time spent waiting in a crowded doctor’s office is not time well spent!
My daughter has been known to walk out if she has to wait more than half and hour past her appointment time (but then she isn’t hamstrung by having to have a prescription refilled). I, myself, have been tempted to do the same when a patient who shows up late is taken before me – me who is not only on time, but early! And the reasons I’m taken late besides that?: the doctor is on the other side of the waiting room having snapshots taken with a group of foreign patients, doctor is having a marital spat (one that’s audible clear out to the waiting room) over a credit card bill, doctor is busily showing vacation photos to the office personnel, doctor and staff are fifty minutes late returning from lunch! And then I’m asked why my blood pressure is up? I’ve sat in the examining room (forty minutes past my appointment time) and watched, while across the hall doctor is trying out a new hair style.
Come to think of it, in the last hundred appointments, involving many, many doctors, I’ve never been taken on time. Wait, that’s not true. I was taken on time once. It was for the removal of a cyst. Two weeks later, when the bump was still there, I found out I’d have to go back and have the procedure done over – so even though I was taken on time, that appointment was really a disappointment.
FACT OR FIB? – you be the judge.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I’ve been engrossed in knitting toys to be handed out to children that might need them. Even though some of them that are supposed to look like bears come out looking like mice, it’s okay because they’re really cute. For the older kids (the ones that know better than to ingest their playthings) I’ve made clothes to go along with the toys: sweaters with boats embroidered on them, dresses embellished with beads and ribbons. But suddenly I’m having trouble. It isn’t lack of supplies; I have tons of yarn – yarn in every color imaginable (thanks to my sisters and friends). It isn’t lack of ideas or patterns. I have plenty of both. The problem is a big arm!
My arm was a little swollen so the therapist decided to wrap it and my fingers – cotton wadding, foam rubber pads and six Ace-type bandages. It’s now the size of a tree trunk. On the way down the hall and out of the building, I was afraid to move it for fear I’d send hospital personnel sprawling and patients in wheel chairs flying into walls. All my life I’ve had very little upper body strength. I now have an arm that’s a lethal weapon, one swipe could send even a Sumo wrestler to the emergency room – I can’t bear to think what could happen if any of the elderly got in the way.
I’m supposed to use my arm and not treat it as if I’m wearing a cast. The movement is supposed to make it more flexible. If by moving it she meant bending it, the only way that’s going to happen is if I were to miraculously turn into Superman! I feel like I have a wooden arm! Made from one block of wood and without any hinges! Get food to my mouth with that hand? Out of the question! Pick up a glass of water? Impossible – my hand is even fatter than my arm, except for the very tips of my fingers. Typing? Barely and only if it’s very slooooow.
I’m afraid knitting is out until this latest fiasco in over (which I assume it will be one day). In the meantime I’m hoping to figure out how to knit with my toes – until somebody finds something wrong with them!
FACT OR FIB ? – you be the judge.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Hoping for a refreshing respite from the daily grind, the love of my life and I got some coffee (decaf for me), along with two buttermilk donuts and headed for the park. We pulled into a spot shaded by pine trees where a slight breeze rattled aspen leaves before floating through the open car windows. The fog having lifted, it was a beautiful day, so clear that ships passing through the breakwater were clearly visible. And below us the town was spread out in quiet surrender.
Rather than sit on a bench, we stayed in the car where the view was better (and we didn’t have to worry about those pesky rattlesnakes that we were being warned of on big metal signs placed every ten feet).
The coffee was hot, the donuts were sweet and we were enjoying the peaceful environment when out of the blue an elderly man and a tall skinny youth appeared carrying a large, hard plastic pad thing. The man attached the pad to a tree in front of us (even though there were plenty of trees elsewhere to choose from) and the kid began to throw punches at an imaginary opponent. Although visually distracting at least they were quiet…until the “fighter” began to punch and kick the plastic pad which gave off a loud thumping noise.
As my sweetie and I stared at each other with an “Oh boy!” kind of look, a small black car pulled up. Ignoring the thirteen empty spaces beyond us, the guy pulled in right beside us and the next thing we knew the music (and I use the term loosely) from his car radio drowned out the commotion being made by the up and coming kick boxer.
“He won’t stay long,” the man of my dreams shouted over the music. “People who can’t stand silence can’t sit still for very long.” But before the man’s adrenaline got him moving a group of about seven or eight mothers with toddlers in strollers headed toward us from down the parking lot.
Now we get as big a kick from children as we do from animals so the little bit of childish chatter, heard above the car radio and the “fighter,” was pleasant. But then one of the mothers stated yelling about something. She got several children crying which in turn drowned out the “music” and the thump, thump, thumping of the “boxer’s” blows.
I believe the rattlesnake signs can now safely be removed. I’m sure the vibrations from the three “nature lovers” has sent the snakes slithering clear into the next state – I know the racket sent us on our way.
FACT OR FIB? – you be the judge.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Cantankerous (a great word) = bad-tempered; quarrelsome; perverse.
Yes, that pretty much sums up a friend of mine.
BAD-TEMPERED = - not always. In fact much of the time she has a great sense of humor and keeps me in stitches. Like the time we vacationed together. We were staying in a grand old hotel that looked like something straight out of the movies: louvered doors, great ceiling fans that ran day and night, rattan furniture, and silence (even though the place was full of guests). And every morning my friend would sneak out of her room, gather up all the trays of dishes left out from the previous night for room service pick-up, and pile them up in front of my door. That was her good tempered side.
The other side runs toward the paranoid. Hearing of the slightest injustice she’ll immediately glom (I like that word, too) onto it as if she were the next victim, the next to be maligned, or somehow mistreated. “They’d better not try to do that to me!” she’ll rant, working herself into a red faced lather.
“I don’t think you need to worry about it,” I remind her. “You don’t live in the Brazilian jungle and that type of behavior is not common in our culture, anyway.” But once started, she isn’t easily contained.
QUARRELSOME = There are some days she just seems to need to pick a fight with somebody. “I’m on your side!” you may remind her. “Why are you arguing with me?”
“I’m not arguing,” she’ll argue.
One day during a phone conversation on a subject we both agreed on, she began to add a negative to every comment I made. Finally growing out of sorts I confronted her.
“Why do you always have to have the last word?” I asked.
“I don’t!” she replied and quickly slammed down the phone.
PERVERSE = Obviously, her perverse side comes into play when she catches people off guard with her bad-tempered, quarrelsome side.
FACT OR FIB? – you be the judge.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Even though the sentiment is well intentioned there are some things that are better left unsaid…or at least said differently when speaking to a cancer patient.
As I did my part of staying positive and maintaining my focus on health I was constantly amazed at some of the comments from personal friends as well as healthcare professionals – one of which was a nurse.
I had been admitted to the hospital because of an infection. And as was my determined intention I was staying upbeat (which included being appreciative of my life, as well as the staff looking out for me). I was getting along very well with one nurse in particular (laughing and joking around) when out of the nurse’s mouth came, “I guess it’s true, the good do die first.” Hey now! That’s not how the saying goes! And who the heck said I was dying?! Certainly not me – and to prove my point, the convoluted compliment occurred eight months ago and I’m still here.
In closing it’s my opinion that comments like: “Is it fatal?” or, “I hope when they do the surgery they get it all!” are really very inappropriate. It’s best to remember that just because a thought pops into your head, doesn’t mean you have to say it out loud.
And one last thing. Don’t send a cancer patient quotations made by someone upon learning that they have terminal cancer! Jeeze!
FACT OR FIB? – you be the judge (you gotta know this one is FACT).

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sept. 7, 2009

I had no life. And then I was diagnosed with cancer.
At the time I was in a frustrating job (which I worked at from home), my car had so completely broken down it was beyond repair (which made me prisoner of a house so small it was referred to as “the crawl space”) and without any chance of a diversion from “chores” (feeding animals, washing pet bowls, letting animals in and animals out…and animals in and animals out, and in and out, and inandout and inandout) there seemed never enough time for doing the things that brought me pleasure. Then suddenly, against my will, I was consumed by doctor appointments and procedures; it wasn’t glamorous, it wasn’t even high drama. It just was.
Cancer and the resulting activities weren’t anything I would have chosen for myself (although personally, I believe I did for some good reason – which I may never understand while on this plane of existence). But at least the experience has been “do-able”. And sometimes interesting. And at times humbling. And even humorous.
One day as I sat knitting in a waiting room, a man was wheeled in by a caregiver and accompanied by his wife. Even though the patient could only say, “Dabba do,” his wife seemed to understand him perfectly. He’d say, “Dabba do,” she’d say, “You want the door closed?” He’d say, “Dabbadodabbado,” and she’d get up and close the door. He’d tell her “Dabba do,” and she’d pull out a bottle of water from her purse and hand it to him – to which he’d tell her “Dabbadodabbado.”
Numerous hospital personnel passing by stopped to greet him (“You look so good!” they’d say – “Dabbadodabbado,” he’d say – “Such improvement!” they’d exclaim – “Dabbadodabbado,” he’d tell them. “You’re talking so well!” – “Dabbadodabbado” It was obvious he was well liked as he was showered with warm greetings and hugs of affection, all of which was answered with a, “Dabbadodabbado.”
After a period of time things quieted down and I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, that he was watching me knit. I looked up and he said, to me “Dabba do.” Before returning to my knitting, I said, “Fine, thank you.”
As we waited our turns to see the healthcare professional that was going to help us regain our lives (and hence our sanity) the man continued to stare at me as I worked. When my name was finally called, I glanced up and he said, “Dabba do.”
“The sleeve to a sweater,” I replied as I packed up my knitting bag.
FACT OR FIB? – you be the judge.