Looking Smashed

No. I don’t drink. Although a stiff one might have been in order…I had my annual mammogram this week. It is never fun but usually tolerable. I am bruised. I generally like to go to the mobile unit. They are close and quick and there has never been an issue getting an appointment. This one was different. I showed up ahead of time for my appointment. I followed all the instructions – no deodorant, no powders, no lotions. I wore an easy on and off top. I cheerfully put on the hospital gown so that it opened in the front. And I waited. And waited. And waited some more. My appointment was at 9:00 AM and I had arrived at 8:50 AM just in case I needed to fill out any paper work. I had a meeting at 10:00 AM. Checking my phone showed that it was 9:20 AM. I didn’t need to panic. I was a short walk from my building and if I hustled I wouldn’t have a problem as long as I was done by 9:50 AM.

And I waited. Finally a nurse came in (not the one who had checked me in). She was all business as I stepped up to the machine. She was young and had very long fingernails, dagger-like, decorated with paint and rhinestones and glitter. To say she was rough would be an under statement. She slammed me around and pulled on me and then used the hydraulic pedal to really mash me flat. As she sweetly told me to hold my breath, she took the x-ray. AND THEN SHE DIDN’T RELEASE MY BOOB FROM THE MACHINE!!!!! As I clenched my teeth the sweat started down the sides of my face and began to bead on my upper lip. I saw the black clouds roll in and start to envelope my field of vision. The only times I’ve experienced the black clouds have been just before fainting. She looked up. She realized that there was something wrong. She started toward me and then the light went on in her brain. She released me. I gasped and a small whimper escaped my lips. One side of my chest was bright red and the other was ghostly white. I sat down in the chair. I gulped air. I tried very hard not to cry. She wrung her hands. I managed to finish the x-rays. She was new and young and inexperienced. She wasn’t familiar with the details of the machine. We had a chat. I seriously doubt she will make that same mistake again.

Then the real waiting began. To get my results. Of course I got the envelope in the mail last night. I opened it expecting to place it in my medical file and forget about it until next year’s letter reminding me I’m due. The letter basically said, “Hold on a hot minute, not so fast sister. There was something wonky on that film and we want you to call your doctor so we can check it out with bigger and better boob smashing equipment.” I don’t have time for this!!

Looking Huffy

I grew up in central Indiana, south of 40. To those in “the Region”, everything and everyone south of I40 is considered country, backwards, and pretty close to Southern. Of course it isn’t in anyone’s wildest dreams close to what my sister in Georgia would consider Southern. Still there is a sense of graciousness and neighborliness that is not as pronounced in the more northern areas of the state. That said, even in northern Indiana there is a helpfulness that permeates the culture. People will hold doors open for those carrying children or large boxes. They will stop to see if you need help if you are stuck in the snow. They will let you go ahead in the check out if you have a gallon of milk and a candy bar and they have a cart full.

Times are changing. I experienced it first hand. Sparky and I were in the check out line at Dollar Tree. Now, I know that there are some people who would never set foot in that store. They are generally the same folks who make fun of Wal-Mart shoppers. I’m not a big fan of Wal-Mart but it has nothing to do with the people who frequent that chain. Dollar Tree clientele are on the whole looking for a bargain and rather a diverse group. But I digress. The line was very long and only one cashier was working. Some folks had been waiting a long time. They announced that lane 3 was opening. Sparky nodded for me to head that way. I took a small step back. I’m talking the length of my foot (I wear a size 7 shoe). As I brought my foot down I felt resistance. Having owned pets and being a mother, I abruptly stopped my progress. In that instance the woman behind me squawked. Immediately I apologized, “I’m so sorry!” Her response was greatly exaggerated and she began to curse at me as she moved to lane 3. I just looked surprised and remained in the line instead of moving – since I was NOT going to get closer to her.

This whole episode has irritated me. Why was she standing so close to me? Why was my apology not accepted? What was I supposed to do instead or in addition to the apology? I’ve been accidentally rammed with a shopping cart and the apology was accepted and I ended up having a nice conversation with the young mother wrangling her rambunctious 4 year old. On one occasion I was smacked with a gallon of milk. I wasn’t injured and again a profuse apology and we parted with smiles. What has changed in this world? Are we so pugnacious that we are looking for any excuse to have a tiff or start a brawl? These are mostly rhetorical questions. I can point to our current political atmosphere. I can nod at the general lack of interest in organized religion. There is permissive parenting, the opioid epidemic, cognitive dissonance, rampant drug and alcohol use/abuse, unemployment, shirking of personal responsibility, too many triggers and not enough sensitivity, a sense of entitlement, and a myriad of other cultural and economic woes that impact our lives.

Still this kind of encounter bothers me, and I’m not sure I can do anything about it. Sorry for the rant but every once in awhile I just need to get these things out of my head. Thanks for reading.

Looking Messy

I had the pleasure of being chauffeured by my sons last weekend to pick out wedding gifts for their cousin’s upcoming wedding. Son#1 drove in the morning. His car is “new to him” and he is very particular about keeping it pretty. He has realized that eating and drinking in the car can result in spills and a mess he’d like to avoid. His car is pristine inside and out. He was describing his altered behavior. Instead of getting a beverage refill and taking it in the car, he drinks his fill and disposes of the remainder. His reasoning is that he won’t become so thirsty that he can’t wait to get home/to work and get a beverage.

That same evening I went with Son#2 on the same mission to purchase a gift. His car is older, having purchased it from his grandmother about 3 years ago. It is a very nice car. However his approach to car ownership is somewhat altered from that of his brother. I opened the passenger door to get in but I hesitated. There were literally a hand full of potato chip crumbs coating the seat. I scooped most of them out and had to use a discarded granola cardboard to scrape out the remainder before sitting. As it was the seat was stained and altogether icky. I was thankful that I had changed out of my white pants!

This is a quick photo of the floor AFTER I threw away the accumulated trash and empty food bags and recycled all the pop cans and plastic bottles. I’m really hoping he takes my suggestion to vacuum out the car and use some upholstery cleaner on the seats. It is a shame that it has been so abused… But then he didn’t keep his last car very clean either. I ask myself, “Where did I fail?”

Looking for Summer

I know I was just moaning about the hot weather. It seems the perversity of nature has once more shown itself. Since last week it has been downright chilly. Friday night Sparky got the space heater out for the bedroom! I purchased a pair of capri pants and a bare shoulder top last Saturday thinking I’d be able to wear them this week. I was wrong. I haven’t even worn my sandals opting instead for socks with solid shoes. On Sunday night I even fired up the oven and baked a winter favorite – turkey pot pie.

I decorated it to remind those at the dinner table that it was still summertime despite the chill in the air!
I tried to get some photos of the fireflies/lightening bugs but my camera is not accommodating and my cell phone and my hand-eye coordination is not geared to snapping pictures at the speed of light. However this year has seen a resurgence of the lightening bug population. Several years ago I was worried that there just weren’t any to be seen. Made me sad to think future generations would never have the thrill of seeing them flash and disappear in the tall grass. Or rise up in a great cloud of blinking lights. This summer they are back! I even had one get in the house (no doubt from when I was going in and out from the patio grill). I saw an eerie light coming from the curtains. At first I thought it was from outside until it decided to move location from the curtain to the stove top!! Unlike spiders that must die if they dare enter my kitchen, the lightening bug was gently scooped and released into the outdoors.

This coming weekend is the last push to have a “summer excursion” to Chicago. We haven’t been to the planetarium for at least 5 years and Sparky wants to go again. Originally we thought about taking the train (South Shore Line) but with the track repairs and delays a car trip is a safer bet. I’m thinking we’ll leave very early Saturday morning and spend the day and drive back in the evening. We might even stop for dinner at an old haunt in Michigan City… If I’m lucky, I’ll get to wear my new outfit to Chicago!

Looking Sneaky

The comparison of a sly and sneaky person up to no good to a snake, especially one in the grass, never made sense to me. I personally like snakes. They are fascinating in the way they move, how they eat, and even their camouflage. The snake has been carrying around a reputation as evil incarnate and the great tempter. The snake is implicated, tried, and convicted of causing the exile from Eden. I mean, even the Bible gets in on the snake bashing, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15).

As you know I’ve been dealing with my own pit of vipers. Right now the pit has been emptied and sanitized. There are no more snakes identified in my work environment. But snakes are a sneaky lot. Currently there are two employees in close contact with former management. I am looking for any slithering since snakes like to return – no matter how inhospitable the lair.

While visiting the local botanical garden and nature preserve, I happened upon this fellow. He was at least 3 feet long and had a pretty substantial girth for a garter snake!


I was able to get a couple photos before the snake decided to move on, no doubt in search for a midday snack. Indiana only has a few venomous snakes: the Copperhead which is only found in the southern third of the state, the Cottonmouth which is on the State Endangered List and only found in one small area in southwestern Indiana, and the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake again it is on the State Endangered List and is a Federal Candidate for am endangered and protected species. It is located in the northern third of Indiana which is in my area! I have never seen one alive!! Even with the poking around in the woods there hasn’t been any trace. I only wish the other kind of viper was as shy and and rare!

Looking Unnatural

Sparky has been trying to capture a particularly bold chipmunk. This fellow has decided that our garage is a great spot to take up residence. Sparky disagrees. He baited the trap with his expensive coconut peanut butter. The stinker managed to eat the bait without setting off the trap. We had to purchase some cheap peanut butter, you know the kind – creamy and very gooey. The trap was set. The trap was sprung. The trap contained a critter. It just wasn’t the one we were trying to get. So Sparky had to make a “relocation” trip with Ms. Opossum. No one was happy.

Then there is the invasion of the beetles. Sparky has again put out traps to catch the interlopers. He has had to change the bag twice. I didn’t realize that there were so many Japanese beetles in our yard. They go into the trap and die. I don’t feel any remorse since they have all had a wonderful “last supper” feasting on our beans. We have a handful (maybe 8 beans) that survived the ravages of the beetles. They are so shiny and a pretty iridescent blue-green. But pretty is as pretty does which marks these as truly ugly bugs!

School starts in a week in my area. There are several kids at church who dyed their hair for the summer. The servers were a rainbow a couple of Sundays ago. Miss P had a pretty aqua color on the last 5 inches of her blonde hair. The brothers H were sporting school colors – the younger had Kelly green and the older had a two-tone purple and yellow dye job. Then there was One-of-Four whose mother allowed him to bleach his hair white (he had black hair) and then put bright blue on the tips. This last Sunday revealed Miss P with a short bob having cut the dyed ends off. The boys all looked like they had been inducted into the army – completely buzzed to remove all traces of color. Personally the color wasn’t as distracting as the scalped look…

Looking Spread Thin

I’ve been spread thin. There was so much I wanted to do this last month. Time got away from me. I forgot to sign up for ceramics classes and the first class was yesterday. My intention was to finish the mending but there are still 3 piles stacked on the sewing table. The desk is a mess and I promised myself that I was going to get it all organized. And yet having let those things slide didn’t give me any extra time. I keep thinking I accomplished plenty of other things but I can’t recall a single one.

I’ve been spread thin. The recommendation that we each consume 8 glasses (cups) of water a day is a difficult goal to achieve. If I don’t have at least 5 cups a day I get leg cramps at night. If I have more than 4 cups I end up racing to the bathroom several times during the wee hours of the night. They are called the wee hours and I’m guessing they were so christened by a woman with a small bladder.

I’ve been spread thin. Walking in the bright daylight causes me to glow an unearthly white color. The daily application of sunscreen has prevented me from ever tanning. Not that I could tan. Too many people are ashamed of their race. I am going to declare it loud and clear. I am Caucasian from the cold and sunless northern realms. I don’t tan and that’s OK with me! No, I’m not wearing socks with my sandals – those are my white feet.

I’ve been spread thin. There are so many things to accomplish before the big implementation of the new organizational structure. It seems that we will have to multi-task like never before. I have to set up 3 CE meetings, revise a fist full of standard operating procedures, write a newsletter, update the web page and still manage to provide a mailing to the investigators.

I’m spread too thin. Like the tiny package of peanut butter at Bob Evan’s. My time has been portioned out and when smeared on hot toast like peanut butter, it disappears. At least it is only time and not me disappearing!

Looking at Humidity and Heat

The dog days of summer arrive
Panting we try to survive
It only gets hotter
With cool drinks of water
Our flagging spirits revive

I really don’t enjoy the limerick. This one however just kind of birthed itself from my brain. It happened and I couldn’t stop it and yes, it was unpleasant. Such is life. I am trying to stay cool both literally and figuratively. August is the month that prepares us Northern Indiana residents for winter. It is so humid and miserable that we have emotional spasms and blurt out heretical words “I wish it was winter”. This causes us to immediately clap a hand over our mouths and mutter phrases such as “I didn’t mean it!” and “I’m sorry! I love summer!” But it is too late. In retribution August gives us the heat treatment. We have temperatures that hover in the 90s with humidity reaching 90% but it doesn’t rain often. When it does rain it isn’t a cool rain. No, it is tepid rain that fails to refresh. It is the same as that first drink from the garden hose that is the water that has been boiled in the sun. By the end of the month we are ready for the gradual slide into winter.

Looking at Assassination

There are several adjectives that have been used to describe me over the years (at work). Usually these have run toward organized, meticulous, patient, observant, professional, and efficient. I have been accused of being “too motherly” and too unemotional in the past as well. I can live with that. Descriptors that have never been used in describing me include petty, vindictive, dishonest, deceitful, and unskilled. Until now. The additional accusations that I “have a hidden agenda” and I’m “evil” just made me laugh. Of course the definition of assassination is ‘to injure or destroy unexpectedly and treacherously’. I’m not too much concerned about my professional reputation or my character. Anyone who knows me can come to their own conclusions and if questioned I will just have to say that they should consider the source.

That’s all I have to say about that.

Watching Plans Go Awry

I’m a planner. I make lists and agendas and have several calendars that chart the course of my life in hours, days, weeks, months and even years. It is not in my nature to “wing it”. On the other hand I have been trained in emergency medical response. That means I have explored the chaos and “what if” scenarios and have armed myself with the appropriate reactions. When things go sideways I am prepared. If I haven’t already prepared for the specific issue, I have the flexibility and confidence to formulate a response. I stay cool under pressure.

I am staying calm as I watch plans go awry. Moving in slow motion, an avalanche seems distant and silent. My brain knows that it is not silent and it is not a sluggish disaster. As the solid water tidal wave gets closer I realize that there are few options. The idea that I can brace for impact and survive is silly and impractical. Instead I’m evaluating the possibility of sheltering in place or making a run for it. I am not a coward. I am also not an idiot.

So where does that put me? Smack in the middle. I’m going to exercise my critical thinking skills. By evaluating the magnitude of the problem, weighing the options, and performing a few tests and trial runs, I should be able to reformulate my plans. Or at least get things back on track after seeing them go clean off the rails! Yep. Fun times.