Friday, December 29, 2006

A Fond Farewell

When I checked back to my journal recently, it hit me with crystal clarity that my journaling odyssey was over...for now. Since I haven't made any entries since September, it's obvious I've shared all the memories, stories and insights that I care to for now. All good things come to an end and my journal has.

However, I want to end this journal of mine by supplying a few last thoughts to tie up a few loose ends that have been dangling since I last wrote anything. This has been a challenging, difficult year for me and my family. Over the summer, I dwelled upon some very rough times but good things have happened to us too.

My son is doing just fine these days. Since my last entry, he has since resumed his driving practice, tested for and received his license. He has purchased his own car and my days of driver training and transport to and from his job are over.

My daughter, after a ten year absence from any further education past high school graduation, has completed her classes, been tested and become a certified phlebotomist. She told us over the years that one day she would further her potential and this has finally has taken place. She has a job lined up right in our home town in our own little hospital. She is wading through the proverbial red tape and as soon as she has all the necessary documentation in hand, she'll be able to begin. I'm so proud of her for what she has accomplished. Over the past decade she has dealt with a marriage that didn't work out, several moves, a daughter, a new, better suited husband and stepson (they've been married for three and a half years) and working very hard to juggle it all.

And myself? I am now a year and four months into my "new" job. Most days I like it well enough; some days I don't. That's normal in any job, isn't it? I still have lots to learn. Sometimes I feel like I really have a handle on all the stuff that goes on and other times, I feel clueless. I take heart in knowing that I certainly know a whole lot more about how things work in this out patient department than I did on day one. I have a long way to go. I still hate the phones but dealing with that aspect of the job has become a bit easier. I never have been nor ever will be a "phone" person. I try to take it one day at a time which is, I think, excellent advice on how to deal with life in general.

I've enjoyed my journaling experience very much. It has given me much pleasure and a creative outlet Ineeded for quite some time. A big thank you to any of you who have followed the adventures of my life in recent years and shared my reminiscences. I might be inspired to continue this one at some point in the future or begin a new one a few months from now or perhaps years.

Best wishes to all for a happy, healthy 2007

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Saturday Six - Episode 127

1. You find out that you've just gotten a new job in a different state. Besides your spouse, who is the first person you tell?

My children

2. With the money in your pocket, wallet or purse right now, could you make change for a $20 bill? Could you make change for a $1 bill?   No, to both questions

3. Is this ability (or lack of ability) to make change a typical reflection of how much cash and coins you regularly carry?


4. Take the quiz: What mythological character are you?

You Are a Centaur

In general, you are a very cautious and reserved person.
However, you are also warm hearted, and you enjoy helping others in practical ways.
You are a great teacher, and you are really good at helping people get their lives in order.
You are very intuitive, and you go with your gut. You make good decisions easily.


5. Are you typically the "heart breaker" or the "broken-hearted" in your relationship history?

I am neither

6. Considering your answer to #5, would you rather be the opposite?




Tuesday, August 29, 2006


I am a happy woman. It's been a long time since I've been able to write that I feel this way. Life has returned to usual around here and I'm so very glad of it. Michael's just about back to normal and eating regular foods; not a whole lot at one time and no fast-food, greasy or fat-laden foods. These are good things.

It's wonderful to see him up and about, visiting friends or entertaining them here. He's back in the driver's seat, continuing practice time behind the wheel in order to get his license. He starts back to work this week, slowly, and I think he'll find he can pick up where he left off and go for more hours. Ah youth! It seems that even when a young person is brought down to such a low point physically, he bounces back quickly.

This short entry wraps up the horrible drama that dominated our summer this year. It's time to move on to other topics, thoughts, etc. There hasn't been room in my thoughts for much else throughout this ordeal. One last observation, however, is that I've always felt our family was a supportive, close-knit group; now we are even more close. This is the silver lining we received from the cloud of misery that hung over us all for such a long time. Life is good once again.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

An Indulgence

This has been in a holding pattern for some time in my "favorites" column.  Now is the time to come forth with my true identity a al Jim Henson.  I'm okay with the results.

The Muppet Personality Test

You Are Kermit
Hi, ho! Lovable and friendly, you get along well with everyone you know.
You're a big thinker, and sometimes you over think life's problems.
Don't worry - everyone know's it's not easy being green.
Just remember, time's fun when you're having flies!

Sunday Seven - Episode 51

That's my girl, my darling daughter who answered first last week.  Check out her journal, leave a comment...she needs a little free press.

Name seven things you'd like to do in the next three years.

1.  Retire

2.  Pay off my mortgage

3.  Seeing my daughter making good money doing what she's currently going to school for and becoming successful and enjoying whatever it is she ends up doing with her new-found skills

4.  Marveling at the fact that my granddaughter and inherited with much love step-grandson will be in the vicinity of nine years old and in fourth grade

5.  Seeing my son continue to thrive and discover his path in life and pursue the direction in which he'd like to go and find happiness and success therein

6.  Celebrate my 35th wedding anniversary at my favorite place on the planet, The Springs (those who know me, know) for one solid week.

7.  Retire and, no, I wouldn't be bored.  I could do what I want to do, volunteer where I like, when I like.  Work part-time, if I choose.  What a sweet life and one, I fear, I will never experience.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Home At Last

Michael is home! This dreadful nightmare we've been living with is finally over. My husband and I went down to San Francisco this weekend for our weekly visit. We knew he was doing better and there was an outside chance that he may be discharged today at the earliest but more likely later in the week.

Today was the 30th day he's been in the hospital, the 23rd day at this particular facility. Since Thursday morning, he's been improving steadily, experiencing no further nausea or vomiting and slowly progressing from a full liquid to partial liquid diet and then on to a soft diet and tolerating everything well. Hallelujah! After much discussion at the hospital today, the decision was made that his PICC line would be removed and he would be able to come home. The joy and relief that coursed through my son, my husband and me were palatable.

Today goes right up there among the happiest days of my life. Life is good once more. Life has a purpose. I haven't felt this wonderful in many weeks.

Saturday Six - Episode 123

1. Would you prefer being a small fish in a large pond or a large fish in a small pond?

Without doubt, a large fish in a small pond.

2. If you could change one thing about the climate where you live right now, what would it be and why?

The climate in my neck of the woods is just about perfect.  The spring season could be a little longer but it always depends on how long our rainy winters last.  You take what you get and deal with it.

3. Do you consider yourself more or less normal than those around you?

Normal?  What's normal?  I suppose I'm drearily normal according to the world's current standards and definition of the word.  Ho hum.

4. Take the quiz: Are you right or left brained?

You Are 65% Left Brained, 35% Right Brained
The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people aregood at communication and persuading others.
If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

Oh my!  Is this normal???  (I'm hopeless at math).

5. Consider the last meal you ate: was the primary course beef, chicken, fish or vegetables? How often is this your primary course?

Beef and I eat less of it than I used to much as I love it.  We use beef as a primary course about twice a week.

6. Should men who belong to a religion which permits it be allowed to have more than one wife? In other words, should polygamy be legal on religious grounds?

Certainly, as long as the women who belong to this particular religion are allowed to have more than one husband.  It works both ways, you know.  I think the days of polygamy are over in our complicated world of today.  I love being married but isn't one spouse at a time enough for anyone?


Friday, August 18, 2006

Observation of Self

It's a hackneyed expression, but I have found it to be quite true that one never truly realizes how strong they are until the "going gets tough". My goings have been extremely tough of late and I've discovered that there is a choice of two paths which one can follow. One choice is to fall apart completely, have something close to a nervous breakdown and be of no use or support to yourself or anyone else. The other is to stay strong, hang on, get a grip and know that things can only get so bad before they turn around and start to head in a positive direction.

I don't think of myself as a strong, resilient person but I think I must be. The two clues that lead me to this momentous decision are that a) considering what's been going on in my life lately, I'm not in a straight jacket in a padded cell and b) my husband says I am strong and I consider him to be an excellent judge of character. How could he be wrong about me? He's known me for more than half my lifetime; therefore, I trust his opinion. I marvel at how people exist with terminally ill children, handicapped children, missing children, deceased children and the very worst, murdered children. After what I've been through these past weeks, I realize I could not bear these things. Yet again, I say that none of us know how we will deal with situations until they are presented to us. I pray that none of those afore-mentioned horrors will enter into my existence.

It certainly helps to have the solid foundation of a loving mate and supportive family. How else could we bear up? How do people without this help deal with a hell such as we've been living if they're alone. Maybe these are the ones who go off the deep end. I don't know. Within the family that I helped to create, my husband and I have been taking turns being staunch supporters of each other. Our oldest child, our daughter, has been our rock of Gibraltar. What's left of my own family are my siblings and they have been in constant communication, offering encouragement and love. It all helps.

I want to thank my husband for his steadfast love. I want to thank my daughter for her devoted love and kindness and the wonderful wisdom she's come to possess at such an early age. I want to thank my dear brother and two sisters for their concern, attentions, hospitality and love. What a lucky woman I am to be surrounded with such a wealth of love and compassion. In these emotions, I am rich beyond compare.

Picture with no caption

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Tinkering Around

Off and on for the past eight months (since I received my digital camera, an  especially requested Christmas gift), I've been trying to put pictures in my journal.  I actually managed to do this recently but when I try to do what I remember doing to get them there it's not working for me.  This has been so exasperating but I keep at it.  I will succeed.

This is another attempt to share a nice picture of Michael from a couple of months ago in May.  Since I've been writing so much about him, I want to share what he looks like as well.  This is a picture his sister took when he was getting ready to go to his Prom.  What was particularly special about this evening was that all through four years of high school, Michael never went to one dance.  Come time for Prom in his senior year, he and a group of his friends decided to go all out, rent suits, a limo and make a big night of it.  He asked a girl with whom he works to go with him and they had an enjoyable time.  I was very glad he decided to go and he looked so handsome all dressed up that he quite took my breath away.

A Note of Recovery

   Last night we finally got to a turning point in Michael's recovery.  My husband called the nurses' station to get our daily update on his condition and then got transferred to speak to Mike directly.  The nasogastric tube is out.  Apparently it was removed several hours after my departure from Tuesday's visit.  He hasn't vomited or felt nauseous since its removal which is a very positive sign.  He told us he's been up and walking (the nurse verified this) and has cut way back on taking pain medication.    As anyone knows who's had surgery, the use of pain medication (while very necessary in the early days of recovery) impedes natural healing of the body.  I know that Michael was using this medication more because it made him drift off into sleep to get away from his personal hell rather than to alleviate unbearable pain. 
It really sounds as if he's doing what he needs to do and things are progressing in a forward direction.  It's going to take a long time but any positive news regarding his recovery is the best thing we could ever hear.  This is Michael's 27th day in the hospital.  He's been in the room he's in now for 20 days and spent 7 in the hospital closer to home.  I want my child back.  He wants to come back.  He's thoroughly sick of hospitals and everyone in them and they're probably pretty sick of him (and us) too.  Actually though, the common opinion of his nurses is that he's brave, a real trooper and has handled himself amazingly well throughout this ghastly ordeal.  And so he has.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Visit

Today was my one day off from work this week. Since I had to work this past weekend, I hadn't seen my son since he came back from surgery last Friday afternoon. I decided I would drive down to the big city myself to spend some time with him. This is a more momentous decision than you might think. All these many trips we've made to San Francisco since the beginning of July, my husband has been at the wheel and I've been cringing and cowering in the passenger seat. My husband is an excellent driver; it's me!

Somewhere along the time line of my life, I became one of these people who fear driving on freeways or highways at super speeds. Thoroughfares where drivers seem to interpret the name of the freeway; i.e. Route 80 or Highway 101 as the speed limit. There was a time thirty or so years ago when I used to zip up and down Highway 101 when I visited my parents who lived in Sebastopol on a regular basis and we lived in San Francisco. I never thought a thing about it. The simple fact is that when you stop doing something on a regular basis over time, you get out of the mind set, the habit and driving skills it takes to handle the traffic. (Traffic which has multiplied in the last three decades, let's not forget.)

My husband's job of the past few years has turned him into an excellent driver. Still, I have my personal fears as a passenger and try with all my might not to flinch, brake or cry out loud when I see something that I think needs these reactions. I've learned to try hard to knock it off because these things are exactly what would lead us to disaster. In spite of these fears, I wanted, needed, to see my son, Mike. Yes, that's his name, Michael.

In a nutshell, I made it to his hospital room and back home again. We're always tougher and made of sterner stuff than we think, aren't we? Apparently, I am. My personal mettle's been put to the test this summer and that is no lie. It wasn't so much a visit as being a visible presence. Most of the time, I sat by his bed and read my book as he drifted in and out. Mike is still hooked up to many different tubes. However, the oxygen and catheter tubes are gone and that's a little something good. The nasogastric tube is still firmly in place pumping out lots of nasty looking, greenish-black bile that won't pass through his intestines. If they took this tube out now, he'd just throw up the bile so he has to wait until the fluid coming up through the tube clears up. He has a feeding tube inserted into his stomach down through the other nostril. Nothing's been introduced into this yet but will come in time. The PICC line is still in and his diet continues to consist of a bag of sodium chloride, a bottle of lipids and a large bag on T.P.N. (Total Parental ?! Nutrition) Yum!

He needs to get out of bed, move around and walk. I impressed this upon him while I was there and we took two walks while I was there. He needs to do this on his own. This is what he has to do to get things moving.He's angry, sad, frustrated, fed up and just wants to sleep all the time to escape the pain and boredom of the life he's been living for such a long time now. I understand all that and I tried to impress upon him how important it is for him to get up, get moving on his own. Make a schedule, set a goal. Yeah, yeah. He knows this is what has to be done and yet, doesn't want to hear it. I understand that too. How long can you listen to, "hang in there, son." "This won't last forever". "Be strong, be brave, this will come to and end". And so on. How would any of us deal with hearing this positive, supposed uplifting speech day after day? Jesus! This guy is so young. He just turned 18 before this hell on Earth began. I look at him and all I see is someone who's half there, wasting away and looks like something from The Borg. Any Star Trek fan will know what I mean. Please, please send good thoughts our way. We could all use them.


Monday, August 14, 2006

A Not So Happy Birthday

August 14, 2006. Today is my birthday. Today I turn 53 years old. All my life I have had the privilege of enjoying the celebration of my own special day. It has never been overshadowed by any kind of holiday (unlike my poor husband's birthday which falls two days after Christmas when everyone's tired, broke and had enough). Therefore, I'm a spoiled brat who is mourning the proper festivities of MY day, dammit!

Over the years, I've been wined and dined at fine restaurants, spent many birthdays camping at some of California's beautiful lakes and, more recently, we've spent the day at our special hot springs and my husband makes a fabulous lunch for us. This year, this time, my birthday is nothing more than another long day waiting for my youngest child to get well and come back home. This is the only gift I want for my birthday. By the way things look at this point and judging from the brief conversation I had with my son about an hour ago, it looks like I'll be getting the present I'm wishing for most...belatedly.

I have always looked and felt younger than my chronological age. I don't anymore. When I look at myself in the mirror these days, I realize with a mild shock that I look more like my actual age than ever before. This entire nightmare with our son has aged both my husband and me by what feels like ten years. We're so tired, so worn out, so emotionally played out. I hope this awful period in our lives will end soon.

An addendum: Wouldn't you know. My darling daughter and her family came to visit this evening with birthday cake, love, support and a great gift that I really needed. Details later. I thank the Gods that be for my wonderful daughter and her family and the love and support that they give so selflessly. This is why we have children!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Nightmare Continues...There may be a Shining Light at the End, however...

On Wednesday, August 9, one of the G.I. specialists who's been tracking my son's problem called me at work to say that she and the doctor who performed the initial laparascopic surgery back on July 7 (which seems like a million light years from now) were going to meet with my son on Thursday at noon in his room to discuss what's been going on and what options were available to him. Oh, how things change so suddenly when "the patient" has become an adult. She outlined what they were planning to do do and said the final decision was up to my son. No problem. Son, father and I all were in agreement  for a more aggressive surgical approach to bring this nightmare to a close. The final ball to the decision landed in my son's court and he asked to do whatever it would take to escape from this hospital hell in which he's been incarcerated since his graduation from high school.

When I got this phone call at work (and had to rush outdoors to enable my cell phone to work) and received this message that someone was actually going to do something, I felt as if the weight of twenty 150 lb. anvils had been lifted from my upper back and neck region. This was all I wanted...someone to do something!! Finally, this past Friday, August 11, my son underwent a second surgery to fix what obviously wasn't taken care of the first time around back on July 7.

Once again, my husband and I made an early morning pilgrimage to San Francisco. His surgery was scheduled for 7:30 AM and we wanted to be there to send him off, wish him well, tell him everything was going to be okay. There's something in the parental makeup that deems it necessary that even when your child is oblivious to your presence during a procedure, you know that somewhere, deep down within, it's essential that your child knows you're there, on the sidelines, waiting...waiting...waiting. After he was taken away, we took ourselves down to the lobby to wait through the surgery and recovery time and at last, six hours later, at 1:30 PM we met up with him again back in his room.

This procedure was more involved than the last. This time, two doctors worked on him; one on the inside and one on the outside. The scar tissue which had been removed from his duodenum had reformed and had to be cut away once again. This time, a sealant was applied to each side to prevent future formation. A tube was inserted through the mouth, into the stomach and down through the duodenum the size of an adult's index finger; basically a probe to ensure that the path was clear all the way through. The outside surgery will result in a four to six inch vertical scar on the belly. A battle scar, to be sure.  That's okay; I've got one of those myself.  Once back in his hospital room, our young man was hooked up by tubes to so many things that it took me a while to sort them out. He was on an oxygen tube, delivering 2 liters. An I.V. of simple saline was running into his PICC line. Another I.V. hooked up to a self-dosing pain medication machine was attached to the top of his hand. The much feared. detested nasogastric tube was threaded back through one nostril into his stomach and a feeding tube was threaded into the other. When I talked to my husband this morning, I learned that a catheter had been put into place because he wasn't voiding. Other than the N.G. tube, this was something he feared the most and I sure hope he was off and away on a cloud of strong pain medication when they introduced this awful thing. Catherization is bad enough for a female; I can't imagine it being done to a male, especially a young 18 year old!

I had to go to work this weekend. I was scheduled to do so and was very lucky to have gotten Friday as my scheduled day off. My department director has been most sympathetic and accommodating throughout all this time in juggling around my work days to give me time to attend to personal problems. My husband is always off on weekends and went down by himself to the city to visit our boy. He will once again spend the night at his brother-in-law's and be there for our son on Sunday and return home to me on Sunday evening. I have used up all but about 7 hours of sick time. Likewise vacation hours. My vacation time (as well as my husband's) has been used up this year making trips to doctors and hospitals. In the past five weeks, we've been to San Francisco about 7 or 8 times, All we've seen are hospital rooms, E.R. rooms, lobbies, hospital cafeterias and the medical center parking garage adjacent to the California Pacific Medical Center.

The current plan now is that if all goes well, our son will be released to home in a week. That would bring his total hospital stay to 21 days at the facility where he's been staying. Add seven days he spent prior to his ambulance transfer from the hospital closer to us to this place and that makes 28 days--four weeks--one month. Not much of a summer for a young man who just graduated from high school and turned 18, is it?  And that doesn't even include the two hospitals stays before this.  What a summer.  This will go down as one none of us will ever forget.


Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Saturday's been a while

1. How many different time zones have you lived in? Which one would you most like to live in?

I've lived in two, on both sides of the country.  Which would I rather live in?  It really doesn't matter, does it?  Where you live at the time in whatever time zone that is works just fine.

2. What is the current setting of your home's thermostat? Do you adjust it up or down based on the time of day, or leave it at one setting at all times?

During the summer months, my thermostat is turned all the way down.  I don't have air conditioning and have nothing to regulate during the warm weather.  I only tend it to it during the cold weather.  Off at night and when we're at work and 68 degrees at the highest during the coldest temps.

3. Go to your bedroom closet (or the closet in which you keep the majority of your clothes. Take a quick glance: what color do you see the most of? Is this color your favorite color? If not, why do you have more of it than your favorite color?

These days, I see blues and shades of purple and cranberry.  Are these my favorite colors?  Not really but they're what I've accumulated in the way of work uniforms and for that purpose they serve just fine.

4. Take the quiz: What kind of house are you?

Well, so much for this quiz.  Yeah, I'd love to dwell within something that resembles a gigantic mammal's stomach!  I simply must get in touch with my personal architect so we can get right to work on making this happen.  I can't wait to move right in!!

5. Imagine your dream house: how many stories would your ultimate home have?

Okay, I imagined my dream house.  That dream is over.  Let's get real.  I'm about to turn 53 and my husband is 55 with painful knees, joints, etc.  I'd say a one-story house would do quite nicely.  But I have to say that there is something quite lovely about going upstairs, to bed.  Alas, when I was living in the house that provided that aspect, I was young and unattached!

6. Ripped from the Headlines: An under age teenager decides he does not want to undergo a particularly rough regimen of chemotherapy to treat his cancer. With his parents' blessing, he decides to pursue an alternate treatment to be supervised by a clinic that is outside of the country. Should a court intervene and force the teen to undergo the "traditional" treatment? How much does the prognosis for successful treatment with the chemotherapy affect your judgment?

No, I don't think "a court" should intervene and I would applaud the family in allowing  this teen to make this decision and stand by with their support.  No one knows how anything will turn out and we should all be allowed the freedom to choose our own way about how we wish to deal with health issues.  Obviously, teen and parent(s) have discussed the pros and cons prior to coming to this decision.  No government has any right to dictate to any human being what they should or should not do regarding personal health-related issues.

Monday, August 7, 2006

A Mother's Rant

Sometimes I think about how I will remember this summer for the rest of my life. Cliched titles and phrases come to mind such as "The Summer of Our Despair", "The Summer that Never Was" or, to use the ever popular current vernacular, "The Summer That Sucked--Big Time". Here's a phrase I fervently dislike and never use but it seems to fit how my family's feeling these days.

I'm a Leo, a summer girl who generally glories in these golden months. This is one of the seasons I look forward to all year very much. Here we are into the first week of August already and I feel as if summer hasn't even gotten off the ground yet. Last fall we had to tear down our backyard deck because in its old age it had become a major safety hazard. Winter and its lengthy rainy season came and went. Once the dry, warmer temperatures finally returned, our priorities shifted to what the hell was going on with our son.

There's still no deck. We haven't been eating alfresco dinners as in the past years. I haven't even opened up and set out our two comfy reclining lounge chairs. I haven't set up the little covered nighttime niche outside our large living room window with pretty night lights and candles for after dinner, early evening drifting and dreaming to enjoy the cool night air following a hot day.

Life comes to a standstill when an immediate family member is seriously ill. Everything ceases except going through the motions of what one must do to make it through a day of work, eat some dinner because it's necessary but there's no appetite, fall into bed for a fitful sleep and get up the following morning to do it again. I now know, and always suspected, I could never be one of these mothers who tend to their comatose child lovingly on a seven day, 24/7 basis. You know, the type who reads to their unresponsive child, manually moves arms and legs to provide range of motion and all the time maintaining composure to the world. Maybe this is the stuff you only see in movies. Maybe I've seen "Steel Magnolias" too many times. However, I've come to realize I don't possess this steel and this is yet another disappointment unto myself. Forgive me, I am just ranting. This could also be known as "The Summer of my Disenchantment" and if I don't stop here I will wake up in the morning reincarnated as Tennessee Williams. God Forbid!

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Comforting Cats

I am a relatively new cat owner and tend to wax effusive about the marvels of felines. We've shared our home with Finnegan, our Siamese cross, for over a year and a half. Neferteri has been an unending source of sweetness, amusement and delight in our lives for about eight months. Judging by the recent behavior of these two while our son's been gone from home, I am pretty sure that cats have an innate sense of what's going on in their humans' lives and act accordingly.

Finn is a fine cat, a regal cat...a "yes, I know I'm a handsome boy but keep your distance" kind of cat. Neferteri is more sociable, playful and affectionate. Since our boy's been gone, both have kept pretty close to us. Both have taken to sleeping on our bed and coming up to us in the early morning for pets, cuddles and love. Kitty kisses in the form of soft little licks are abundant and purring is audible. Neither of these cats are big in the purring department so when they do, it's a real treat. After all, isn't purring one of the main attractions of cats? I think so. Both seek us out during the day which is unusual as well.. They both know that something's afoot, I mean, apaw!

I don't know anything about cats' memories but I'm convinced our cats know someone's missing from the fold and the remaining humans are very unhappy about it. Neferteri is especially partial to our son and I see her look for him from time to time during the day. She plants herself in front of his closed bedroom door and if I've left it open a fraction from going in there to air out the place when a nice breeze is blowing, she'll push through into the room and stand in the middle of the carpet, looking all around for him. My son, the former self professed cat hater, adores Neferteri aka Little One, Little Miss Kitty and other equally obnoxious terms of adoration that only one who truly loves a kitty can understand. I wish I could bring Little One to him for a visit in the hospital. I know it would help to cheer him up no end. However, I know the hospital wouldn't go for it and neither would kitty. Being lured into a carrier and placed in the car means only one thing to our cats; a trip to the vet and so this option is out of the question.

I've wanted to share our cats in my journal for some time now. Somehow, some way I have broken through the barrier (and it's still hit and miss) that has prevented me from getting pictures into my entries so I'm feeling brave and ready to try it again.

Here are our beautiful cats:

Finnegan has the most beautiful blue eyes but they never come through in any picture I take of him. He always winds up looking possessed like a "devil cat". Just use your imagination and replace those blazing eyes with a gorgeous deep blue

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Still Adrift in Hospital Hell

Since being transported from the hospital closer to our home on Friday, July 28th back to the hospital in San Francisco where his surgery was done, my son is still in the hospital. He has been in a room, hooked up to lines of saline solution, lipids and assorted liquids for 15 days! We spent last weekend with him as much as we could, once again using my dear brother's home as a home base to return to for late dinner and sleep. When it was apparent that he wasn't going to be released Sunday, we returned to our home late that evening and remained home the whole week so we could both return to work

Our contact with him has been a nightly phone call each evening. In the middle of the week on Wednesday, my husband had a short day at work and took himself down to the city for a personal visit, as much for his own good as our son's. Being in the position of utter helplessness has driven my dear husband nearly to the brink of insanity. He's a "take action" kind of guy and doesn't do well with "sit and wait" situations which is what this whole nightmare with our son has been.

Today is Saturday, August 5th. We got up early and traveled to San Francisco to check up on the situation and visit with our son. The last message we received from one of the doctors, one of the G.I. specialists actually, was that there is indeed a blockage leading into his small intestine that allows only a very small amount of liquid to pass through and nothing else. The jury is still out as to whether this is something to be fixed with a second surgery or perhaps it's a result of swelling in the area following the original surgery. Given time--an estimate of four to six months has been given--everything will return to normal. Let's see. Six months! Why, that brings us to January 2007 and if he goes that route, my child will not be able to eat one single bite of anything until then.

He now has something called a PICC Line inserted into his upper left arm. These initials stand for a Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter. This is a tube that is inserted into a vein in the upper arm and threaded along to a point near the heart. The placement of this thing takes about an hour and a half and an x-ray is taken to verify proper placement at which time the port on the outside of the arm is sutured into place. This is a larger catheter than the one he has in his arm above his right hand that has been used as a port in which all I.V. liquids have been given. The PICC Line can be used for blood draws (no more pricking needles) and he is now getting a bag of liquid in the evening which serves as a substitution for nourishment he's not getting from eating normally.

Over the past month, we have learned that everything seems to come to a screeching halt in Hospital Land once the weekend arrives. All the key players (doctors attending to your particular case and surgeons) seem to go off on some group sabbatical from Friday evening to Monday morning. It won't be until Monday, at the earliest, that we'll find out what the next step will be. All we want is something to happen, some action in a positive direction, be it to discharge him to home with this PICC Line over which a visiting home nurse will oversee for an indefinite amount of time or schedule another surgery to open up whatever it is that's blocked. We are all caught up in this medical web of frustration and it has turned out to be just about the most difficult occurrence my little family has had to deal with so far in our lifetime. We've had our times of grief, misery and sadness in the past but nothing has been as frustrating as this.

All I want is my child back home and well again. There is no joy in life these days; only worry, heartache, sadness and frustration. Believe me, it's not a diet for living I would recommend to anyone. I hope that the next time I post an entry there will be some positive news to share.

In happier times, a time that seems like ages ago, here is our son making a batch of chocolate chip cookies for the first time...and they turned out perfectly too!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Hospital Hell

An update following what I thought to be my son's healthy recovering from his laparscopic surgery. This did so not happen! This is an extremely long entry but I know my journal readership at this point is extremely low. This is more for a record for me and as anyone who likes to write knows, there is nothing like the catharsis of writing when one's head and heart are too full. All that stuff swirling around inside me has to go somewhere and so I have poured it out onto this page.

Tough love usually means taking a firm stand on your child's (or any loved one's) very bad behavioral problems and not giving in an inch until they are resolved or a major attempt at resolution is made. Many days ago I experienced another variation on this theme. The five to six days following my son's surgery were good. He seemed to be doing well, eating okay and feeling fine. As we approached the weekend his nausea/vomiting problem returned and, subsequently, the increasing inability to keep any food or liquid down. This was the weekend of July 15/16.

By Monday evening, we had a young man who couldn't even keep a 1/4 cup of water down. My husband and I had gone to work, hoping for the best that he'd come around and start feeling better. I called him on my lunch break and learned he'd eaten one piece of toast for breakfast and one small 4 oz. container of applesauce for lunch. By the time I got home around 5 PM he told me he managed to eat a small piece of a flour tortilla. Desperately trying to think of something that might appeal to him and that he could tolerate, I bought some nice Dryers Strawberry fruit bars. I gave him one. He ate it and not even ten minutes later, up it came. The result was not red as one would expect; it was dark yellow-bilious green nasty looking stuff. Since the onset of this entire nightmare, green vomit has been the red light to signify immediate action. A few quick phone calls later, we were in the car heading back to San Francisco to the Emergency Room of a different hospital from where we'd been before but an affiliate of the same group.

We got to the city in record time and worked through the inevitable ER waiting room maze in good time. This was about 10 PM. Before long, my son was lead to a guerney and the attending nurse proceeded to start him on fluids, intravenously of course. As the nurse was hanging up the plastic bag of solution, my son told her that it looked refreshing to him and since the poor guy was drooping like a wilted plant and extremely dehydrated, this didn't seem surprising. The decision was made to admit him and we followed him up to a room and proceeded to move ourselves in for the night. Fortunately, this room was set up for two beds but only had one in it. Our son was in line for more tests and since we weren't sure when these would take place we wanted to stick around. A very helpful nurse brought a futon, pillows, sheets and a blanket in for us to sleep (sleep??) on and there was a recliner to sprawl out on, albeit not a very comfy one.

The vomiting continued and then a nurse arrived with the worst news of all. Remember that ghastly nasogastric tube? One was going to be inserted once more to suck the crap out of his stomach. The sheer panic and horror on his face was heart-wrenching and just about did me in. This tube was the worst part of the entire first surgical experience and he was sedated when they put it in that time. That was not to be the case now. The nurse gave him some Ativan, a med for anxiety, and told him she'd return in about 20 minutes. Now my son is feeling wretched, nauseated, still retching and lying there like a sitting duck just waiting for the door to open again, knowing what's in store for him and filled with dread. My husband and I left the room when the nurse returned to insert the tube. There are definitely times when it's better to leave and let the medical staff do what must be done. We walked to the far end of the hall and could still hear the process going on. He gagged and retched through the entire procedure.

By the time we returned to the room, it must've been around midnight. We were exhausted, all three of us. My husband and I had been up since 5 AM since we'd both gone to work that day. My husband threw himself down on the futon and tried to get a little sleep. I think he fell asleep for a few hours. I was past the point of sleep and listened to my son throwing up all through the rest of the night. The N.G. tube was pumping out some very nasty looking stuff; it looked like what I always imagined the Le Brea Tar Pits to look like. He went on like this until almost noon the next day. I mentioned tough love. When he could muster enough strength to talk, mostly what my son said was, "get this tube out". "I can't stand it". "This is going to kill me"! I was practicing "tough love" each time I had to tell him his doctor was emphatic about keeping this thing in. Finally, thetime came somewhere close to midday the following day when a male nurse came in to tell my son he was there to remove the tube. My son looked up at him and said "I love you". It could've been anyone telling him this; male or female, beautiful or plain and he would have said the same thing. I know that he meant it with all his heart and soul.

The day progressed and the patient was feeling better by the moment. Gradually, a little solid food was brought in to try. It was a small bowl of mashed potatoes. Very plain, institutional mashed potatoes. I didn't see a trace of seasoning or margarine/butter mixed in and there probably wasn't any. My son ate this and seemed to tolerate it well. Time went by and it stayed down and he continued to feel better. The surgeon came in to talk to us and said he'd done all he could, there was no blockage in my son's system and perhaps we just had to give the procedure (and resultant shock to the intestinal system) time and all would be resolved. We were given a guide to follow for a bland diet; foods to encourage, foods to stay away from. This sounded encouraging and by around 5:30 PM, he was once more discharged and we headed back home. Back to an incredible heat wave that had northern California (and a great deal of the country) in a melting grip for a very long time. It was now Wednesday night and we were back home in the sweltering heat but we were home! Two days went by and all seemed well. We followed the diet and though he wasn't eating much at all, at least what he did consume stayed down. Saturday, July 22nd arrived. I had to go to work and my husband was home for the weekend as usual. Our son had been vomiting again during the night and several times upon waking in the morning. My husband telephoned me at work to tell me that he had been in touch with the local doctor and that he was taking our son to the ER at a hospital in the area. They got there around noon and I met up with them in the emergency room when I got off from work at 4 PM. After waiting for hours in the ER, once again the decision was made to admit our son and by 7:30 PM he was settled into a three-bed room, once more hooked up to a drip bag of water plus whatever flowing into an I.V. in his arm. Hmmm, three admits to a hospital in as many weeks this month.

Today is Wednesday, July 26th. He's still there. More tests, more observation. Fine when he's hooked up to bag-o-water and receiving anti-nausea meds. Begins to feel sick when he ventures to eat something as simple as a few grapes and a small container of jello. Now he's afraid to try to eat anything. He was scheduled to have an endoscopic procedure late this afternoon around 5 PM and we're awaiting the results. Basically, this test is a camera which will be put down his throat to take a good look around the inside of his stomach. Thankfully, blessfully he will be sedated for this test because guess what? That wonderful tube will be shoved down his nose and into his stomach one more time.

Friday, July 28th. Test has been completed; still no answers. Biopsy done of stomach lining; came out benign. Well, thank God for that! A possible theory has been tossed around that the lower section of his stomach does not contract the way it should to break down food sufficiently in order for it to get passed on down the intestinal line. If it can't go down, it's going to come back up. At present, my husband and I are sitting by the phone awaiting a call from the hospital to tell us that a bed is free and an ambulance is taking our son back down to San Francisco to the hospital where he had his laparascopic procedure. We'll be right back at square one. However, this time around he'll be seen by different people who specialize in gastrointestinal problems. Interesting to note: I'm sure the ambulance transporting the patient won't be rushing to the city at light speed with sirens wailing. Evidently one of "the rules" is that transfer from one acute hospital to another must be done via ambulance.

Nothing more to report at this time but I'll return when I have more information and time and opportunity to write.

Friday, July 14, 2006

A San Francisco Recollection

Over the years from time to time, I've remarked to my husband about how long it's been since we've spent any length of time in San Francisco. It's been almost 30 years since we lived there. Our visits over the past years have been limited to streamlining through the city en route to the airport and in more recent years, several visits to the zoo with my daughter's family.

Because the dictates of health insurance can be crazy at times, inconvenient and sometimes absurd we were directed to a hospital and surgeon in San Francisco to fix our son's woes. The first trek into the city was back on June 26th for a consultation with the surgeon who ultimately performed his operation in July. The appointment was 10:30 AM so we were at the tail end of the morning commute into the city and things were in full swing by the time we rolled into San Francisco around 9:15 AM. Cars, taxis, busses and pedestrians were out in full force. There were so many of them and they were all over the place. I had forgotten what driving in the city was like. Your eyes really have to be everywhere at once. I found it hard to believe that I used to drive around in this city. True, it took me a long time to gain enough confidence to even attempt it at first but I soon got in the groove.

My daughter is my San Francisco child and my son is local home grown from where we currently reside. Throughout his life, he's heard stories and reminiscent tales about our several years living in one of the most beautiful, interesting cities in the world. It really is! Since we were already in San Francisco, my husband got a bee in his bonnet to check out the old neighborhood and show our son the flat where we lived and how everything looked in general these days. This is exactly what we did once our appointment was over.

For those of you who know and read me, you know where and what type of neighborhood this was. For those who don't, check out this link: wherein I regale my public with some interesting facets of my life.

Up and over Divisidero we drove and down the hill to cross Market Street onto Castro. The Castro. A neighborhood unto itself! There was the glorious, regal Castro Theater in all its glory. It looked the same and one glance at the marquee assured me it was still showing those wonderful older films from yesteryear when movies were....well, better! But that's just this woman's opinion. The sidewalks were full of life and seemed more congested than I remembered. It was difficult to recall that for almost four years, my husband and I were among that throng. It was even harder to believe that I walked around this neighborhood pregnant and later, pushed a baby in a stroller or (more often than not) hauled her around in a Gerry Carrier frame on my back. But I did these things and they seemed to be part of another lifetime. This baby is now 28 and has her own little girl of six so indeed it was another lifetime.

There were a lot of changes. There seemed to be more stores and everything seemed to be shoved together more tightly than I remembered. We turned a corner onto 18th Street and headed for Diamond. Sweet Diamond Street. A quick left turn and several hundred yards later, there was the building housing four flats looking very much the same as when we moved. The little spindly trees in front had grown quite a bit, the color of the building was different but it looked the same. The Catholic Church was still next door and the school and large playground (where The Sisters of Divine Indulgence used to cheer on softball games between San Francisco's finest and the Gay Pride Union) were still across the street. When we moved in the late summer/ early fall of 1980 we were paying $350 a month rent for a San Francisco flat. This gave us three huge rooms, a long hallway (along which cloth diapers were hung to dry on a clothesline strung from one end to the other during the wet, cold months), one small room (the nursery, of course), one bathroom, a very small kitchen and back stairs leading down to a funky garage with parking privileges for one vehicle per flat.   A clothesline was strung out from the side of the porch to the corner of the garage, the kind on a circular loop where one hangs the laundry from one spot and feeds the line out. I wondered what the current renter is forking out now each month.  $1,500? $2,000?

We didn't stop, we didn't spend any more time than driving by slowly and saying, "there it is" but for me, this little side trip spoke volumes. I had many a happy time in this place but I was very happy to drive away and head for the Golden Gate Bridge in a northerly direction to my own little house in my own little town. The sheer force of traffic and humanity was overwhelming. I was very young when I lived in the city and it was my first and last experience in a large city. What a lucky woman I am. One city to have lived in thus far in my life of almost 53 years and that city was San Francisco. Sweet! It was so good to return home and I've had quite enough of the big city for some time to come. At heart I am the epitome of the country mouse and that's perfectly fine with me.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Surgical Story Part Two: The Fateful Fart

One of the hardest times of being a parent is killing time, sitting in a waiting room lobby while your child is undergoing surgery several floors above you. Just as we had been assured would happen, the surgeon came to see us once our son was in the recovery room and explained what he did and that everything went well. We were very impressed with this gentlemen when we met him for the first time at our consultation. This man knows his business and travels the world to educate and help others to perfect this particular surgery. My son liked him right from the start and felt quite comfortable. Yes, yes. This was the one he wanted to take care of his problem.

Our arrival up to his hospital room coincided with our son being wheeled down the hall from recovery en route to the room. I had forgotten how people look fresh out of recovery and after taking once glance at him I felt like bursting into tears of relief, joy, empathy and shock at his appearance because I'm a menopausal, sentimental old fool and one can only hold things in for so long. However, I pulled myself together rapidly to present a brave face as we accompanied him through the door. My recollection is a very pale young man on oxygen lying supine on a bed, a nasogastric tube down one side of his nose and a Foley catheter hanging from the side of the bed. The oxygen and catheter were taken away immediately after settling him in his room. My husband does not concur with this memory and only agrees with the N.G. tube. Perhaps I was hallucinating. After all, I'd only been up since 4 AM that morning and it was now going on 3 PM.

As he began to come around a little more, it was that tube that was causing him the most distress. I've only seen N.G. tubes carrying nourishment into the stomach of individuals not able to swallow. Evidently it works in the opposite direction as well because this was drawing some nasty looking stuff out of his stomach. The presence and discomfort of this tube seemed to be worse for him than any incisions lower down. That tube had to go and thankfully before too much more time went by, one of the nurses got the orders to pull it out. The next chief complaint was a sore shoulder and neck. God knows what position they had him in during surgery but whatever it was left its mark after almost three hours of surgery. Some nice, friendly morphine took care of these problems and the ever increasing pain at the surgical site. As he drifted into a mildly drug-induced state, we drifted out of the room knowing he was in good hands and there was nothing more we could do for the time being. An eighteen year old doesn't really want Mom hovering about but takes great comfort in knowing that she's going to be only a phone call away.

When we returned the next morning, our son was up and sitting on the edge of the bed looking a whole lot more like himself. As usual with such surgeries, he was started on a liquid diet and one look at the breakfast tray on his side table told me he hadn't taken in a thing. He was still hooked up to a saline drip bag and at this point had eaten about one spoonful of putrid looking green Jello and some ice chips. He had no appetite at all, not surprisingly, and the chicken broth, apple juice, hot tea, and the ubiquitous Jello (multi-colored this time) did nothing to spur things on.

The nurses impressed upon him he needed to at least drink water. By this time, he'd had enough of the "hospital experience" and just wanted to go home. On a regular basis, the nurse appeared to check vital signs, listen for bowel sounds and inquire about his level of pain. Apparently it was bearable because he never asked for any additional pain reliever after receiving the last infusion of morphine which had worn off long since. We were assured his gut was making good bowel sounds but what they were really waiting for was evidence of, ah...flatulence. That's right, one good fart and you're out of here, kid! Then everyone's sure things are moving along and all systems are, if you excuse the pun, go. As you can imagine it's hard to get things going when there's nothing in your stomach to get. A nurse offered him a choice of some cereal or a piece of bread and peanut butter. He chose the latter. It was the creamy variety too. What luck, his favorite. It took him more than 30 minutes to get that slice of bread down.

He'd been in and out of the restroom a lot throughout the day because that bag of slightly salted water somehow created gallons of liquid. The hours were ticking by and finally through the closed door following yet another trip to the john, our son announced that the much anticipated event had occurred. Houston...we have lift off. Honestly, the balance of our private little planet was hanging on this one little phffft. It took about another two hours after this before we were officially discharged and on our way home. We live several counties away but for insurance purposes, this entire process had to been done in San Francisco. I knew the ride home was going to be long and hard on the patient. No matter how hard you try, it's impossible to avoid all the bumps, twists and turns on the road and traveling along at a good clip to keep up with traffic. The weather had been very hot the short time we were away and once we finally walked through our front door around 7 PM Saturday night, the house was hot and stuffy My son flopped down onto the sofa. Within five minutes he was back up and in the bathroom...vomiting. Hell, I thought, we're right back where we started. We set the patient up on the sofa bed in the living room, got some Gatorade into him and pointed a box fan in his direction. It was all uphill from that moment on. The ride and the heat and a great deal of pent-up anxiety were to blame for this backward slide.

It's Tuesday afternoon now and I'm pleased to say he's doing just fine. His appetite's back, his discomfort seems to be minimal, if not non existent, and aside from taking two Tylenol Sunday evening for a headache (once again, from the hot weather), he has taken nothing else post surgery. All systems are working well and now he's better than new. Literally!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Surgical Story Part One: The Modus Operandi

All hail the marvels of modern medical technology. Four short days ago, my son was wheeled into a hospital room from the recovery room looking quite green around the gills and looking like it would be some time before he would be up and around. By the time Sunday night came around (and he'd been home a mere 24 hours), he said his stomach felt like it does after completing the last of 100 sit-ups. By Monday morning, this number was reduced to 25. Not bad for gastrointestinal surgery; not bad at all. Frankly, I'm amazed.

Last Friday, July 7, my son underwent laparoscopic surgery to have repaired whatever it was that was making him vomit on a regular basis two to three times a week. This was occurring at the same time, early morning, and once he was finished he felt fine and life went on normally until the next bout. If this had been my teenaged daughter, I would've been certain the girl was pregnant. After much second guessing and being told what the problem wasn't, an upper GI series test provided the answer to his problem. A diagnosis of malrotation of the bowel was confirmed and surprisingly, this is a congenital defect that is generally discovered in infants and very young children--not young men on the verge of turning 18. Who knew? Who suspected? This symptom began to manifest just several months ago, was quite sporadic at first and then began to occur more and more frequently.

I won't go into a long song and dance about what this condition entails exactly (anyone that interested can look it up easily enough on the Internet). The surgeon with whom we met for an initial consultation regarding surgery told us that until he was able to look around inside, he wouldn't be sure exactly what would be needed to be done to "fix" the problem. Therefore, my son was going to wake up with either four very small incisions or a more traditional long incision across his belly when he came to in the recovery room. Happily, everything went extremely well and he ended up with only three small, very neat (and I don't mean "cool") incisions. The surgeon removed a great deal of scar tissue which had been developing over time across the Duodenum which is a narrow tube at the end of the stomach which leads into the large intestine. Enough scar tissue had developed there to form the pressure of a very firm handshake and if left undiscovered would, in time, close things up completely, cut off the blood supply and the rest I'll leave to your imagination. Trust me, it wouldn't be good and quite likely fatal. Yikes!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


I’ve had neither the time nor the inclination to write and add any entries into my journal. Life has been relatively calm around the homestead but a few items of interest have taken place since I last wrote. Perhaps if I try to condense them into small vignettes, I’ll actually succeed in making an entry.

On May 11th, we celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary and, of course, went to the same place we’ve been going for the past several years, our beloved springs. The weather was most cooperative and we had a lovely time as always. We were able to stay three nights and four days this time. As is often the case, our anniversary trip coincided with Mother’s Day. The attendance is usually large for this occasion; many young families with babies and small children visit the springs but it was not so this year. I’m thinking that high gas prices may be a factor.

Upon my return home from this little getaway, I found a gift from my daughter on the kitchen counter. I lifted a pretty lidded box out of the gift bag, opened it and found many small slips of paper folded up inside. I pulled a few out and began to read. On each paper, my daughter had written a specific thank you for each nice thing she remembered me doing for or with her. There were a lot of folded notes in that box and by the time I read the last one, I was quite overcome with this tidal wave of love from my daughter. She, like her Dad, is a thoughtful and inventive gift giver. A great deal of time and effort went into this gift and that along with all the nice memories she noted made it one of the best presents I’ve ever received. This is the type of thing that gives a parent reassurance that she’s done a good job with her child’s upbringing. We can all use some positive reinforcement on that subject!

This brings us to June. Ah, June...June of 2006. This is the June I’ve been looking forward to for a long, long time. This is the June of my son’s graduation from high school. There were more than a few times when I worried seriously that he wasn’t going to do so. The past six years since he began junior high have been fraught with tension, upset, disappointment and apathy.

This past Friday, June 9th, I felt as if the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders as I watched my son walk down the aisle to the strains of the ever familiar Pomp and Circumstance. I, for one, felt quite pomp(ous) and this graduation was quite a circumstance. When my son was handed his diploma and stepped forward to present himself with diploma in hand to the audience, I breathed an audible sigh of relief. As my son passed by my seat in the recessional from the graduation platform, he passed his diploma to me saying, "here Mom, this is for you". I think he meant it as a joke but there was more than a little truth in that statement. I fretted and agonized over every missed assignment as if I were the one attending school. This was a mistake on my part but one I think many mothers are guilty of making.

Truly, graduation is the closing of one door and the opening of another in our lives. It is a pivotal moment and I never recognized it as such when I graduated from high school 35 long years ago. My life following graduation was mapped out and I pretty much stuck with the plan and things worked out well. My son’s future is an open book. I don’t know what he wants to do and I don’t think he does either. Whatever he chooses, the responsibility to achieve his goals rests with him. I will always be loving, supportive and interested but I will no longer agonize over whether or not his work is completed. That’s his job now.



Sunday, June 4, 2006

Saturday Six

I haven't added an entry in a long time and my most recent one was an absolute bust...I deleted it (comments and all) because I was so frustrated that what I've been trying to accomplish lo these many months is, apparently, beyond my computer skills at this time.

Just to keep a hand in, however, here's a round of Patrick's Saturday Six which I haven't played for a long time.

1. Have you made any plans for summer vacation?  No, we most likely won't be going anywhere this summer...we have other fish to fry.   Will rising gas prices have any direct impact on your plans?  Hell, yes!

  2. What quality do you hope most readers will observe in you through your primary blog?  I never gave a thought to this question when I started my journal but I suppose I would want my happiness with my life in general to come shining through.

3. What quality do you think you possess that comes through the least effectively through your primary blog?  I confess; my journal is not so deep and of the heavy duty variety that I was attempting to impart personal qualities of which I am possessed to the general public. 

4. Take the quiz: Who were you in high school?

Brainy Kid

In high school, you were acing AP classes or hanging out in the computer lab.

You may have been a bit of a geek back then, but now you're a total success!


5. What logo or message is on the last container you drank from?  Peaks of Otter

6. You find out that a co-worker you consider a close friend is stealing supplies from work. You know that if you tell your boss, your friend will likely be fired. If you began to think that your boss suspected that you might be the person stealing the supplies, would you tell on your friend?  Yes, but I'd have a little chat with my "close friend" long before it came to this.



Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Weekend Diversion

I live in a very well known area of one of the "wine countries" in northern California. Long ago, my husband and I used to go wine tasting, take family and friends to wineries and then...stopped. Our palates became very educated; our wallets never became fat enough to purchase that which we tasted and knew was wonderful. Over the years, we experimented and discovered what would work for us on a daily basis. Yes, I am one of those people who support the theory that daily consumption of wine, particularly red, is good for the heart, body and soul. Saturday, I was taken on a wine-tasting adventure that was most delightful, long and...well, delightful!

This is an adventure I have long abandoned because like so many other things these days, it has become an outing for the "elite"; the more affluent portion of the populace that has taken over our little town over the past ten to fifteen years or so. It used to be that any one could walk into a winery, sample a taste or two, say many thanks and be on their way. Now, more often than not, a tasting fee is required and it is almost expected that the purchase of a bottle of at least one bottle of wine will be made before bidding the tasting room host or hostess thank you and farewell. Now, anyone who has visited one knows full well that the price of a bottle of wine in a tasting room is outrageous. All wineries are counting on well-heeled visitors who have been tasting the day away and will purchase a bottle or two (or perhaps a case) without a thought to their budget at each one. Alas, I know an excellent wine when I taste one but have become quite comfortable with wines in the $5 to $8 range and more often, the former. There are a lot of very nice little wines out there that are very affordable and they work for me. But, as usual, I digress.

It was to nice to be picked up from home, settled down in the back seat and driven from one winery to the next for an entire afternoon. Pure bliss. This was a young couple, the husband works with my husband and had often suggested going wine tasting together, who shared the day and wineries they had visited previously with us. We were the more knowledgeable couple; they are relatively new to the delights of wine and it made for a happy foursome. They are incredibly young; late twenties, I think. We are middle-aged but in age only and surely not in mind or spirit or why else would they choose to spend a precious Saturday with us? It was lovely to be chauffeured around from one winery to the next, asked every once in awhile, "are you having a good time?". As if it really mattered to them and, of course, it probably didn't but it was nice to hear anyway. Yeah, I was having a hell of a good time and could have quit after the first winery we stopped at where business was slow and the personable young man behind the tasting bar poured generous tastes from the open bottles and spirited (!) us away to sample one barrel taste after another. It was all good; even the Pinot Noir which I never drink and do not like. After eight to ten generous tastes, one's palate becomes numb and I challenge anyone to differentiate between the best Zin out there there and plonk!

Before heading for home, we stopped back at the winery where the generous tasting room employee worked and bought a bottle of 2002 Barbera to tuck away until our anniversary next month. We purposely planned an easy-fix dinner because after a day of wine tasting, the thought of dealing with creating an involved dinner is rather...overwhelming. It's not that we arrived back home intoxicated; more like drifting along on a nice little wine buzz. All in all, it was a wonderful way to while away a gray, rainy Saturday in northern California.

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Sunday, April 9, 2006

Saturday Six - Episode 104

1. Researchers in France have announced that they have developed a "mirror" that uses digital technology plus user input about diet and exercise to determine what you will look like in 10 years. So if you found yourself before such a device, would you want to have a look?  No, I have a pretty good idea of what I'll look like.  I can wait.

2. Have you done your taxes? If not, when will you finish them?  Yes

3. Has the amount you owe or the amount you're getting back (or what you expect the outcome to be) likely to get you to change how much your employer withholds?  No  Why or why not?  Because it usually means we get money back which is always a good thing; getting money back or breaking even...that's all I want.

  4. Take this quiz (if you haven't already!): Should you quit your job?

Your Job Dissatisfaction Level is 36% Your job is not bad, but it's probably not a long term thing.
You're just not happy enough to stick around for too long...
And there's little that can change how you feel.
Start looking around for other options, but only quit for something really good!

My job dissatisfaction is, in reality, 100% because I wish I didn't have to work at all.  But I'm not even one year into a new job so I'm still feeling my way!

. SECOND CHANCE TO BE FIRST TO PLAY QUESTION #1: The Saturday Six began on April 17, 2004, on the old version of "Patrick's Place" over at AOL. When everything moved here, the old comments weren't able to follow. Cdmmw of "I've Got A Fever, and the Only Prescription is More Cowbell" already has a first "link" to her questions on that entry. But for the rest of you, here's your chance to be the first one to answer those original six questions in a comment. For this question, leave your answers in a comment hereVery confusing question but I happen to know Cdmmw very well and that gives me an advantage:  Saturday, April 17, 2004 Saturday Six - Episode 1 Here's how it all began, on April 17, 2004!

1. Name the last movie you watched on DVD.  King Kong 

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #87 from springsnymph: Suppose you're given a box containing a substantial amount of money and it's yours to keep and use however you wish. If and when you open it to retrieve the cash, someone you don't know in another state, country or perhaps even across town will drop dead instantly. This will happen only the first time you open the box. Would you open it?  Oh dear!  I feel compelled to answer this question because it came from me.  What, oh what was I thinking at the time???  I've thought about this long and hard and yes, in the final analysis, I would open the box.  And if it matters to anyone, the amount is very substantial.      

Monday, April 3, 2006

Saturday Six - Episode 103

1. Assuming you have a DVD player and a show you used to enjoy becomes available on DVD...what is the deciding factor on whether or not you'll actually buy it?  The price; always comes down to the price, doesn't it?

2. What do you find generally more offensive: the average prime time television show or the people who want their own personal standards of decency to be the guidelines the networks must follow?  Tough call...I'd say the average prime time television show.

3. If you were in charge of the FCC, which of the following would be your priority when it comes to decency on the airwaves: cutting down on violence, sex or profanity?  Violence, definitely violence.  Isn't there enough violence in the real world?  Do we really need more poured into our living space each day???

4. Take this quiz (if you haven't already!): What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?  Ooh, Edward Gorey!  What fun.  Let's take the quiz and find out, shall we?  Answers are courtesy of The Gashlycrumb Tinies.  Yep, I know my Edward Gorey.

You will be smothered under a rug. You're a little anti-social, and may want to start gaining new social skills by making prank phone calls.

5. One of those crazy remodeling shows appears at your door one day and offers to redo any room of your house or apartment for free, but that it can only be one single room that gets a makeover. Would you let them in, and if so, which room would you choose and why?  Yes!!  Where are they?  I would point them in the direction of the master bedroom because there's much room for decorating improvement in there.  Again I say, where are they?

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #86 from cdmmw2: Do you recall your first kiss? Did you think that kissing was worth all the hype??  Yes, I recall it quite vividly.  I knew it was coming, I wasn't ready and completely inexperienced in such things.  But I was a quick study, caught on quickly and yes! it's definitely worth all the hype if one is blessed with being taught by a good kisser.  Thankfully, I was.  And he still is!