Friday, January 22, 2016

Roller Coaster Rides

Three days before Christmas, I was sitting at my kitchen table watching CNN News, and drinking coffee.  A white cloud came down over my right eye and rendered me blind in that eye.  To say I was terrified is not an overstatement. 

Within 5 or 10 minutes, my sight slowly came back.  Fortunately, Alex was home and took me to the hospital emergency room where I would have about 10 hours worth of tests, pokes, prods, and so on.  It was determined that I had experienced something called "Amaurosis Fugax", also sometimes called a TIA or mini-stroke. The ER doctor coordinated with my primary care doctor and I was set to meet with him the Monday after Christmas.

I waited to see if the weird stuff would happen again after I got home from the day of ER tests.  I was feeling stressed and frightened.  Christmas came and went without incident, but I couldn't get past the fear of "what comes next".  It didn't help that multiple people started telling me about somebody they knew who "had exactly the same thing and then they died".  Worse, even, I watched the movie, "Legends of the Fall" with Brad Pitt and Sir Anthony Hopkins, which depicts Hopkins after a supposed stroke struggling to walk, unable to talk, walking around with a tablet to write on, while he drooled and slobbered constantly.  Oy vey!

The doctor appointment on Monday was fairly low keyed.  My doctor is a calm person and I trust him completely.  He told me I would have to have more tests, visit an eye physician and surgeon, and a neurologist, and perhaps a vascular surgeon in the next few days.  At least there was a plan.  I had a CT Scan, Angiogram, with contrast dye which was fairly quick by also fairly scary because I was told I would feel "warm" from the dye injection.  I actually felt my womb and ovaries heat up like they had been zapped in a microwave oven.  Warm?  Hah!

The eye doctor explained to me that Amaursis Fugax is not a diagnosis, but a description of what happened.  He also said that it could have been caused by an ocular migrane or a wide range of other undetermined factors.  Further good news, he told me that my eyeballs are healthy and I have very good vision.  I was feeling better by the moment.

Two days later, I visited a neurologist.  It was a strange doctor's visit.  First thing, the guy shares offices with two OB/GYNs.  They actually all share one office and one exam room, and play musical chairs with each other to see patients.  While the doc and I were discussing what had occurred with my "episode", people in the waiting room could hear every word with said as clearly as if they were in the same room with us.  I'm just glad I wasn't there to see the OB/GYN about STDs.

My next appointment was with a vascular surgeon.  Long story short.  I'm okay.  I do not need surgery, or anything except a low dose aspirin every day.  Then, of all things, David Bowie died at age 69.  Two days later, the actor from Harry Potter died at age 69.  Do you see where I'm going with this?  My mother was a whimsical creature.  She identified with actresses Jean Harlow and Marilyn Monroe.  Harlow died at age 26, and Monroe died at 36.  My mother announced that she knew she would die at 46.  (No, she died at age 81.)  But all at once, I started feeling like I was turning into my mother.

I waited up until midnight the last night of my 69th year waiting for the grim reaper to come and get me.  I also made Alex stay up with me.  I was so relieved when midnight came and went and I was still breathing.

I never expected it would feel so damn marvelous to turn 70!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

"Yes. Feed The Ugly Ones To The Lions."

I may or may not have uttered those words to my friend Jim, 25 years ago or so.

He may or may not have commented on the attractiveness of my children in order to elicit such a response from me.

Who remembers?

I lost touch with Jim for many years, but it was such fun before he disappeared off the face of the planet.  We were friends.  We were co-conspirators.  We were cohorts in crime.  And then he was gone.

I was instrumental in hiring Jim at the engineering firm where I worked.  He was young, brash and handsome.  Oh, and he was very smart as well. Jim was charming and appealing, and too many of the young women at work started vying a little too hard for his attention.  I had to fire a couple of them when the catfights got too noisy to ignore.

I would say that Jim was innocent and blameless in all of these shenanigans, but that would not be the truth.  He was neither innocent, nor blameless.  I never really saw him in the light that the younger women did.  To me, Jim was smart, funny, and incorrigible and I like that in a guy. But as a red-haired white boy, let's just say, he was never my cuppa tea.

Jim had a preference for nubile young blonds.  (Don't all men?) I think he was close to 30, but dated 18 and 19 year old girls almost exclusively.  He even moved some of them into his apartment.  Jim promptly asked them to leave if they left bra's on his door knobs.  (Why else did God make door knobs?).

I loved him.  And he found me after 25 years on this site.  There is a god.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Native Americans and a True Life Story

In the early 1940s, Nellie was forcefully taken from her family on the Navajo Reservation by Missionaries and placed in an Indian Boarding School.  Nellie's  ten siblings were also placed in the same boarding school.

The children were told to speak English, were punished for speaking in their native tongue. And taught about Christianity. We must not forget the Christianity!  They were also taught how to read, write, some basic math skills, and  most of all, how to do domestic chores like laundry and housekeeping.  The skills from the Reservation, like pottery, weaving, storytelling, healing, and so on were no longer desirable.

At 18, Nellie married Fred, a Navajo man with a similar background,  and soon after bore a son, my husband Alex.  As a young mother, Nellie got educated to be a practical nurse.  She and her Marine Corps husband lived in San Diego where he was stationed at the time of Alex's birth.  After serving in the Corps for 4 years, Fred and his family moved to Phoenix, Arizona. Fred worked for the City, and Nellie worked at Indian Hospital.

My husband's upbringing was a series of highs and lows because the relationship between his parents was usually turbulent.  Alex's two sisters were born shortly after they moved to Phoenix. A growing family, tight money and oppression linked with some alcohol and anger made for some unhappy times. Eventually, it got bad enough that the marriage ended, increasing the stress on all members of the family.

Alex spent summers on the Navajo Reservation with his family members who lived there.  From a fairly young age, he learned to walk between the two worlds, not as easy a task as one might think.  In the world of Phoenix, he was discriminated against because he was Navajo, and on the Rez, he was considered "an Urban Indian", and disparaged because he was not "Navajo enough" to be like his cousins.

Predictably, Alex got in some teenage trouble and decided to join the Military at a fairly young age.  That may have saved his life.  Most of his childhood friends are either dead or in prison.  A very disproportionately large number of Native Americans join the Military.  When I asked Alex why he thinks that is his response was "We have nowhere else to go.  We can't go back to Europe, to Canada or to South America. This is where our roots are."

I met Alex when he was 22 years old.  It was the night before he was leaving on a Westpac cruise and Alex would be gone for six months.  We exchanged addresses and began a six month friendship through two or three letters a week.  The rest (as they say) is history.

We try to visit the Reservation every couple of years at least.  Alex went alone this time to meet his family and receive a blessing from the Medicine Man.  The Navajo Reservation is a beautiful place.  Alex's family are always thrilled to receive us as visitors.  All of his "Reservation family" have jobs and seem to be enjoying their lives. None of them are wealthy, but they aren't impoverished either.  It's a different and more spiritual world than the one we live in.  The more I learn about the culture, the more I understand why there is a peace and harmony on the Reservation that is missing from many of our lives.

22a) Department of the Interior (DOI) letter, 2011:
The Department of the Interior has a solemn responsibility to uphold the federal government’s unique government-to-government relationship with federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, as provided for by the Constitution of the United States, U.S. treaties and court decisions, presidential executive orders and federal policies and administrative actions.
We recognize that a legacy of injustice and broken promises shapes the history of the federal government’s relationship with the American Indian and Alaska Native people. We are therefore working to turn the page on the federal government’s pattern of neglect of this community and, instead, build a strategy for empowerment that helps the tribal nations forge futures of their own choosing.
To chart this new path, we are restoring the government-to-government relationship between the federal government and these tribal nations because “self-determination,” “sovereignty,” “self-government,” “empowerment,” and “self-reliance” are not abstract concepts. Rather, they are the tools that will enable tribal nations to shape their collective destiny.
This is why Interior is committed to partnering with American Indian and Alaska Native communities to help them prosper by expanding education and employment opportunities for youth and adults, protecting lives and property by strengthening law enforcement, and building strong, sustainable tribal economies....

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Glorious Little Slobs

I have some expertise about teen girls.

I was one.  I have a daughter.  I have 3 sisters.  I have 4 granddaughters.  I have 3 nieces.  And I know all the really big secrets about teen girls.  They are glorious little slobs.

Clothes are left in piles on the floor and hanging out of dresser drawers and closets.  There are mostly parents who end up saying "I give up" when it comes to teen girls and their rooms.

The likely outcome is that parents eventually tell these glorious little slobs to close off their rooms when you are having company.    This solution never really satisfies the parents completely, but the alternative threats, tears, and trauma are much more dramatic and unpleasant than just closing a door. 

The amazing thing is that these glorious little slobs emerge from their lairs looking like the cover of glamor magazines.  How they find anything is a miracle.  How they get so perfectly "put together" is a mystery!  But they manage to do it.

Teen boys are much more likely to be neat and tidy in their quarters for whatever reason.  My son and grandsons and nephews are actually pretty organized.  It's the girls who are the "hot messes".  Almost all of the girls I know, including myself, get their neatness act together in their 20's. 

Men seem to go downhill from that point.  Or maybe that's just my experience.

It's a good thing teen girls are so gorgeous.  If they were not, I'd feed them to the lions.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


It's only one o'clock in the afternoon, but the dark skies make it feel like dawn or early evening.

The storm of the decade has arrived and brought with it pounding rains, hurricane force winds, fallen trees, power outages and mudslides.  Never mind.  I'm safe and warm in my lighted and warm house.  I have books on the kindle, hot tea and lemons,

I didn't sleep well last night partly because I was waiting for the pounding rain to come through our bedroom ceiling, or for a tree to come crashing through the house.  I had flashlights and candles stacked in every room because if there's one thing I am, it's prepared.  There was another reason I didn't sleep last night.  I'm sick.

One week ago today, my husband Alex came home after work complaining of a cold, a sore throat, a cough, a headache, and a hurting stomach.  Upon observation of him, I did notice that his eyes were a little more "glassy" than normal and he had a slight flush on his cheeks.  I insisted that we check his temperature and was unhappy to see that he was running a fever of 101 degrees.  I gave him some over the counter cold pills, and some Aspirin and told him to go to bed.

Alex enjoys being taken care of, and I am a good nurse.  The only part of this situation that isn't 100% fun is that I hate being exposed to illnesses.  Alex and I both have had flu shots, so I doubted that it was the dreaded influenza, but I still don't want to catch what he's got.  I wash my hands every time I touch him or anything he has touched.  I avert my face from him so he can't blow cooties on me.  I'm careful.

I make every effort to keep the man comfortable so that he has no reason to venture out of bed, or move for that matter.  I don't want him spreading his germs all over the place and if I can contain him, all the better for me.  The problem is that Alex does not like being contained.  He likes to walk through the entire house, and touch everything with his germy hands.  If he's not touching things, he's sneezing or coughing on, or toward, things in every part of the house.  If I bed down in one of the guest bedrooms, I am generally awakened when Alex crawls into bed with me and wants to sleep "with" me. 

Fine.  As a result of all this, of course I got sick with Alex's crud.  After 3 days of coughing fits and a sore throat, I have completely lost my voice.  I cannot make a sound.  I cannot yell at Alex for making me catch his germs.  I can't even whisper.  I have been struck dumb.

As of today, Alex is officially "feeling much better".  I, on the other hand, have another 4 or 5 days to go before I will improve.  In the photo above, it looks like I have a wonky left eye.  I assure you that is not the case.  Sleep deprivation causes it.  Not being able to talk makes it worse.

Much as I am tired of coughing my damn fool head off, I am even more tired of having to keep mum on how much I blame my husband for my condition.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Linda And Alex Have An Excellent Adventure

I don't travel.  I don't like to travel.  I dislike leaving my dogs so we usually drive and take them with us most places.  Alex flies a lot.  It's been several years since I have flown at all.  I always have found an excuse not to go.  I'm not afraid of flying.  I simply don't like flying.

We have made two trips via airlines in the last couple of months. 

One trip took us to Oklahoma City for my 92 year old Aunt's funeral.  Despite it being a sad event, we did enjoy visiting with my cousins and the trip was actually very enjoyable.

Our most recent trip took us to beautiful British Columbia where we spent several days at the Empress Hotel.  The hotel is glorious!  The people were delightful.  Canadians are lovely to look at and probably among the nicest people on the planet.  Even the custom's officer with his quick smile and "No worries!" comments was charming.

Canadian folks just seem to ooze charm, friendliness, and warmth.  I actually wonder if they might be aliens.  Adorable aliens, but aliens none the less.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  It was all great.  This is not a travel blog. 

We made the questionable decision to take a seaplane from Victoria to Seattle in order to accommodate our airline schedule.  I am not the adventurous type, (except when it comes to romance of course), but I overcame my hesitation and decided getting a seaplane ride would be the best way to get to our plane in time.  Never mind that I don't like to fly.  Never mind that I don't like heights.  Never mind that I don't even like water.  Yeah, it was one of those "what was I thinking?" moments.

We arrived at the terminal of Kenmore Air in Victoria about an hour before our scheduled flight.  They thoughtfully had coffee and bagels set out for passengers, many of them looking like daily commuters.  While Alex with his cast iron stomach opted to eat and drink, I sat and wished I could remember what a rosary was and how to pray on one. 

Several of the pilots walked into the terminal with their dark glasses and pilot gew gaws on their shoulders.  They looked cocky and about the same age as my 18 year old granddaughter.  Confidence inspiring for some I'm sure, but I began to feel a bit nauseous with nerves.  I watched the tiny seaplanes take off and wondered if I could still change my mind about this mode of transport.

Then she walked in.  She was a small woman, perhaps 30 years old, and gorgeous.  She wore tailored trousers, shiny boots, and a windbreaker jacket.  Her dark slightly curly hair was tied back in a ponytail.  There was something about her that stunned me.  Besides her obvious beauty, she radiated a quality of utter confidence and competence.  I sort of fell in love with her at first glance.

When our flight was called and we were told to gather outside the terminal and wait for our pilot, I was feeling a tiny bit shaky.  But then I saw her walk toward us.  She said good morning and introduced herself as "Anna".  She was leading our group of four people to a tiny plane.  Alex asked me when the pilot would come out, and I told him "Anna is the pilot".

Alex commented that she was probably just the person who helped with the luggage and such.  (Silly men.)  We got on the tiny plane and Anna told us to strap our seat belts and warned us not to get out of our seats during the flight.  Anna jumped into the pilot's seat and started the plane's engine and eased out onto the water.  She picked up speed and before long we were airborne in the smoothest take off  I have ever experienced.  We flew low enough to really see the channel islands. 

It was a beautiful flight.  I never experienced one second of trepidation.  I've never enjoyed a flight more! 

In fact, I've never enjoyed a flight at all before come to think of it.  All too soon, we were landing in the water in a totally smooth transition. 

Oh well done, Anna!  If I were a rich woman, I would hire Anna to take me everyplace!