Friday, December 26, 2008

Snowpeople Unite!

I came across an article today about a giant snowman in Anchorage, Alaska, named Snowzilla. Seems due to Snowzilla's sheer height, which has gotten larger each year for the last three years, the city of Anchorage has put an injunction on the building of him for future years to come. Aside from the ridiculousness of such an injunction, I was especially stricken by the realization that it seems the Anchorage City Counsel has absolutely nothing better to do than ban a snowman. What a sad, sad commentary of our times.

Anyhoo, the article linked me to a website rallying to save Snowzilla. I especially liked this page, that documents a protest held by other snowpeople in the community. How genius is this? :-) Go ahead, look around. Enjoy yourself. I did...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! Since I'm beginning to feel the let down of the holiday season (as in the post-holiday depression the goes along with the ending of the stress, hustle and bustle), I'm not really feeling up to being soulful and inspiring with my holiday greeting. So, instead, I would like to share with you my two favorite holiday greetings received this year (both linked/reprinted with the authors' permission). The first I received in a card from Heather, a good friend of mine from law school. She is always entertaining me with the cards (and emails) she sends, and the newspaper clippings, advertisements, caricatures and recipes she tucks inside. But this time, I think she's out done herself. Her holiday greeting this year is as follows:

"Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, best wishes for an environmentally conscientious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

Also a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2009, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great, (not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country), and without regard to race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform or sexual preference of the wishee.

By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others, is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher.

This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher."

The second greeting came from my fellow blogger, Michael, from Always Going, Going, Going On Beyond, on his own blog to his readers. I believe it is the perfect offer of a holiday wish, and it is the way I would want to wish you all Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. It is such a simple wish of peace, and he simply says it better than I ever could. Linked with his permission, please enjoy this Simple Wish, and may peace, happiness and the spirit of the season find you today.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Christmas Spirit

Today my dear husband woke up sicker than a dog. We don't know why, exactly, but my guess is food poisoning from the restaurant his work Christmas lunch was at. He was guessing the flu, but he's had no fever and I think it moved in way too quickly, then moved on way too quickly, to be the flu. Regardless of the cause, he was quite ill this morning. After putting him back in bed, I decided it would be best if Sweetpea and I vacated the premises to give him a chance to rest. I had some more Christmas shopping to do anyway, and thought I might as well take her along for the ride. I also added my grocery list to the mix, and off we went to my favorite store to hate, Wal-Mart. Now I knew the place would be packed. I knew there would be angry, rude, intolerable Christmas shoppers everywhere, and that we were likely to spend three times longer in the store than we normally would. But, it had to get done and with no one to watch Sweetpea, it would have to get done together. Plus, I found myself to actually be in the right mood to be able to deal with all that nonsense, on top of whatever nonsense Sweetpea might cause on her own, which isn't so very often to begin with. So it was best for all to take advantage of that alone, if for no other reason.

I must admit that I feel I did well for the first, oh, two hours that we were in the store. Mom would be so proud. I was polite and remembered my manners, even when others didn't. I did not butt in line or step in front of anyone who was perusing a shelf without saying "excuse me" first. I did not stomp on any toes, shove anyone out of the way or roll my cart into their ankles or heels. (I wish I could say my politeness was revisited on me, but alas....) I did not yell at Sweetpea for dropping items out of the cart or for dawdling behind when she wanted to walk. I did not even yell at her for hanging off the side of the cart, her feet on the bottom rung, hands gripping the basket, back arched backward until she was looking at the Wal-Mart world upside down - regardless of how many times she came within millimeters of hitting her head on a shelf. I tried to remember the meaning of Christmas and feel the spirit of giving. And I managed to accomplish it...for a while.

It was when Sweetpea decided she wanted to push the basket herself, that things started to go downhill. She had become increasingly restless and crabby the longer we stayed in the store. And who can blame her, really? I can't imagine that much shopping is all that entertaining to a 4-year-old. But I have been wrong before... She finally determined that she needed to be the one to push, and at my initial "no" began to throw what I could tell would be an epic fit. Being already on the verge of fed up with all the socially inept Christmas shoppers, and not wanting to have to deal with their condescending stares that had "can't you shut that kid up?" written all over them, I gave in and let her push just to keep her quiet (even though I know very well what a really bad thing giving in is to do.)

It was all fine and good at first. There she was, her arms stretched above her head, hands on the handle, feet way out behind her until she was nearly parallel to the floor pushing the heavy cart along with all her might, despite the fact that she couldn't see where she was pushing the cart to. I was there in front, holding on to the basket, guiding it along so she she didn't run over anybody (at great risk of bodily damage to myself) and gently helping pull the cart forward - without Sweetpea knowing I was helping, of course. Unfortunately it was not very long before she figured out she was getting some extra help. Unbeknown to me, at one of our numerous stops in the aisles, she had actually stopped pushing the cart several feet before I stopped pulling. This resulted in the dragging of her along, her shoes sliding along the floor, for those last few feet before the stop. Instead of her normal reaction of yelling for me to stop that, she found it fun to be drug along behind the cart. When the cart started to seem exceptionally and inexplicably heavy all of a sudden, I discovered her little skating act. Apparently she was even going so far as to hold one leg out behind her, either straight or curved upward toward her head like a figure skater would do, as I pulled her skating along the floor on one foot. It occurred to me that just maybe this was the cause of the snickers and humorous stares I had been receiving from fellow shoppers for at least two aisles. I finally yelled. Unfortunately. At first I just told her to stop. After the third time of telling her, I yelled at her to stop. She made the mistake of pushing me one skate too far.

When I discovered her doing it again, I picked her up and practically tossed her into the basket of the cart, butt first, stating at the top of my lungs that "that is IT! You are not pushing any more, and I think you may have just lost your walking privileges PERMANENTLY!" This of course brought on a round of whining that she was sorry and wouldn't do it again, which did absolutely nothing to convince me of the fact. Unfortunately it wasn't until after I had launched her into the cart that I discovered I had dropped her on the dozen eggs sitting on top of the pile of goods to be purchased. We were extremely lucky to find that none of the eggs had broken, (though I still have no idea how we managed that), but I knew she could not stay there or they would get broken. So I moved her to the child seat at the front of the cart. This changed the whining to an all out fit complete with tears, devastated looks, demands to be let down, pleading to ride in the basket and many pathetic "I'm so sorry mom, I'll be good" type statements that only caused me more anger. As I predicted, it was a fit of epic proportions, lasting the remaining 45 minutes we were in the store. By that time I didn't care what the other shoppers thought of me, and decided they were the ones that chose to go out shopping under these conditions, so they brought the trouble of listening to a screaming, crying child through the whole store on themselves. The gloves were off, and it was on.

We finally made it to the checkout line, Sweetpea still crying as if she had just started, and proceeded to wait the 15 minutes it took to get checked out. I think that might have been a store speed record for checkout, by the way, but I have yet to verify that with Guinness. After a few minutes of standing, I noticed the family in line in front of us. It was not a large family: Dad, Mom and two kids, the oldest being probably 11 or so. I did not notice them because they were not anything special or unusual in any way. I didn't even pay any attention to what they were buying. I noticed them because the mom was continually turning around and looking our direction. After several looks cast our way, I started to pay attention. I realized, very shortly, the she was looking directly at Sweetpea - and glaring! She had this look on her face of absolute total disgust and anger every time she looked at my daughter, a look that said at the very least she wanted this child to disappear and at the most that she'd love to beat the child herself. She did not cast her looks toward me, only toward Sweetpea. You'd think that maybe something like this would make me embarrassed at Sweetpea's behavior. Or maybe make me feel like I was a bad mom who couldn't control her own child. Instead it just made me horrendously angry. I couldn't imagine that a woman with two young children has never experienced a fit before, especially at an age such as Sweetpea is at. I certainly couldn't imagine how she thought she had the right to judge me or my daughter for such a fit. Children throw fits, and that's all there is to it. I was seething over the nerve of this woman who had not spoken a single word to me, but yet wore everything she was thinking on her face.

I stood there, staring right back at her, never taking my eyes off of her even when she was not looking our direction. I wanted to make certain that when she finally did look at me, she could read every thought on my face as clearly as I could read hers. I especially hoped she could read "don't mess with my child". I wanted that perfectly clear. Finally the time came when she turned another disgusted look toward Sweetpea, and misjudged the aim of her gaze. She turned to find herself eye-to-eye with me, and I made no bones of letting her know everything I was thinking with my look. It was obvious by how quickly the look on her face changed to something akin to fear, that she understood everything I had intended her to. She never looked at us again, the rest of the time we were in line behind her family. Well Merry frickin Christmas to you too, lady.

After leaving, I had to call my sister and tell her I just about kicked some lady's ass in Wal-Mart. I told her the story, and she said she'd have helped me. So I had to give her crap about why she wasn't there to back me up. She countered with reminding me that I've not been there to back her up a few times, either, and wondered why it is we keep trying to get into fights in Wal-Mart - which, of course, is a whole other story. Thankfully the conversation picked up my spirits, and I decided Sweetpea and I could use a little Christmas fun. We had already made gingerbread men, though they have never quite made it to the decorated stage:

And decorating the house had already been done. I admit, I may have gone overboard, since I had the room this year to not only display all of my Christmas Bear collection along with the tree, but also my newly-acquired Christmas Village handed down by my mother-in-law:

So I thought the next best thing would be to do our nails - Christmas style, of course! What did I choose? Candy cane, of course!
Unfortunately Sweetpea could not hold still long enough for me to get a shot of hers, but she had snowflakes on her beautiful little girl press-on nails. It was just what the two of us needed to raise our Christmas spirits!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sanded Teeth

Today I had to go to the dentist. Fun, huh? Obviously I was not pleased at having to go at all, since I am not a huge fan of the dentist (but really, other than Spongebob, who is?) But I was especially not pleased that the appointment fell right in the middle of the busy Christmas season, not to mention in the middle of one of the busiest work weeks I've seen in quite a while, causing me to rearrange my schedule and essentially con my co-worker into covering court for me. As this was only a six month check up, I briefly considered rescheduling the appointment, but realized that it could feasibly be six more months before I would be able to obtain an appointment that would be convenient. Grudgingly, I trudged into the dentist's office.

As I opened the inner door, I was immediately greeted with a rush of warm air pungent with the mixed smell of dental tools and potions, and the nearly overwhelming smell of women's perfume. Though it was of indiscernible brand, it was not altogether unpleasant. Just entirely too intense and overpowering. Nice cologne. Must you marinate in it? I quickly checked in with the receptionist and then turned to find a seat in the small waiting room. The room has maybe a total of ten chairs in two rows, each row against a wall on either side of a large fireplace. There were two other people in the room, each one sitting in a different row of chairs, both of whom were sitting one chair in from the end of the row. Why is it people feel they must sit in a row of chairs in such a way that the next people that come along have nearly no way to maintain personal space and sit away from them? *sigh* I chose to sit on the end of one of the rows, closest to the fireplace since it was so cold outside, with one chair between myself and an older woman, probably around mid-70's, already seated. As I walked past her to get to my chosen seat and began to sit down, I realized the overpowering perfume bank was coming from her. Of course by that time it was too late to get up and move again without letting on that I was moving because of her for one reason or another, so I stayed put, tried to hold my breath and prepared to write out a list.

No sooner had I sat down, than the woman began talking. It took me a few seconds to realize she was talking to me. I turned to look at her and saw that the smell was not coming from her, but from the multitude of white perfume sample cards spread in her lap, piled in her hands and spread out on the chair between us. She must have had 50 of those cards. You know the kind. You walk through the banks of cosmetic counters in departments stores, and pick up these little white cards with the names of perfume on them. Then either you or the perfume people (as I choose to call the people working with the perfume samples) sprays the card with the scent named so that you can sample them without having 100 different perfumes sprayed on your clothes until the scent lines are literally and visibly wafting up from your body like they do from Pepe Le Pew.

As I turned to look at her, she reached out to me with her right hand, shoving a sample card directly in my face and under my nose. "I just can't decide. What do you think of this one?" She spoke to me as if we had been friends for years, and I had sat there specifically to help her choose some new perfume. I had no idea what to do, or what to say. Other than having perfume shoved in my face, the forwardness of this woman was a bit of a shock to say the least. But, I didn't want to be rude. So, I took the card from her, smelling it at a little bit further distance than shoved up against my nostrils, and told her I thought it was a nice smell. Truly, it wasn't bad. Not my taste, but then the perfume wasn't for me.

I thought this would put an end to our conversation. Instead, when I handed her back the card, she immediately shoved a second card in my hand. "What about this one?" I honestly couldn't hold back the grimace upon smelling the second card, and she chuckled, "No good, huh?" She continued to hand me sample cards, until the smells all began to mingle together in my nose, and I could no longer tell them apart. During this time we carried on a pleasant conversation, about the different scents, and what kinds of smells each of us preferred. She was quite a nice lady, and I got the impression she was just really lonely. I finally gave her my suggestion of which of the perfumes to chose for which she had samples. It was about that time that the hygienist came to the door to call my name, and I bid her goodbye. I walked to the back actually smiling about the experience I just had, my mood lightened considerably, and wondering once again how these things happen to me.

Little did I know that was just the beginning of my adventure at the dentist. I sat in the chair and endured the normal routine, answering all of the questions as best I could, with the exception of "how often do you floss?" This question I attempted to tactfully avoid, since somehow I don't think Jeff Foxworthy's answer of "When was the last time I flossed? Ummmm....YOU did it!" would be acceptable. As the hygienist flossed along, she came to one space between two of my molars where the floss suddenly snagged. On what, I had no idea, but I was sure I had had nothing sharp to eat recently. She managed to pull the floss free without causing me too much pain, only to find that the snagged floss had been utterly shredded. She exclaimed "what in the world is that?!?" and began examining my teeth with her face inches from mine, peering determinedly into my mouth. She came to the conclusion that one of my fillings must have a rough edge on it, and asked "is that one of ours?" Of course my answer was that I had no idea. I have so many fillings in my teeth from so many years of lots and lots of cavities that it's a wonder I don't set off the metal detectors at the Court daily just by walking within 15 feet of them. Of course all of those fillings had come from multiple dentists, and I have no idea which of those might be "theirs". She said she would inform the dentist that he needed to check that spot out closely, and finished flossing the rest of my teeth with a new string of minty floss, all the while telling me she couldn't believe how non-chalant I was being about that problem. She said it would have driven her nuts, and that would have been the first thing she ranted about upon stepping one foot through the door. I just smiled and said nothing, knowing that I couldn't very well tell her that I hadn't complained because I had no idea the problem existed.

Soon the dentist came to examine my xrays and my "problem spot". Luckily the determination was no cavities, and I could continue on with my regular dental routine. He then took a piece of floss and wedged it between my molors, extracting it with the same shredded result. He determined that one of my fillings had set with a rough edge that was catching the floss, he was going to need to sand it down. Um, wait a minute. Sand?!? He read the look on my face and told me not to worry, it wouldn't hurt a bit. He then told the hygienist to get him a piece of gold such-and-such a millimeter with a so-and-so grit something or other. All I heard was "grit". He was truly referring to sandpaper! The hygienist disappeared briefly, and reappeared with something that looked remarkably like Christmas tinsel, except it was gold. He slid the tinsel between my teeth and began to pull it back and forth like a two-handled lumberjack's saw. The result was something akin to the feeling of rubbing a real pearl against your teeth - not painful, but annoying to the point it would make you grit your teeth together. If I wasn't already laying there with my mouth wide open, I probably would've done just that. He only sawed away with the tinsel for a few minutes, and then once again tested the spot with the floss. The result: intact floss. Ta-da! My favorite part? I now get to tell people that I have had to have my teeth sanded!

The Coolest Thing

I just wanted to share with you all the coolest thing that just happened! I got a hit today on my Garden cake post from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY! Now, no one left a comment or anything like that, but just knowing that someone in a culinary school looked at one of my cakes is soooo awesome! But don't worry. I won't let it go to my head. Yet...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Black Friday

As just a quick update for those who don't already know. I did finally hear from my doctor, and she did follow up with the patheologist on my case. He did perform the required additional tests, and even verified the results with a second patheologist. They are certain it was a partial molar pregnancy. I have had several blood tests since then, and the hormone continues to decrease, so all is well for the time being. We go on.

So, I gave in and braved Black Friday this year. Actually, I wasn't given much choice. My sister was supposed to have worked that day, and we had planned to go out shopping later in the day. However, with my grandma's passing and funeral scheduled for that afternoon, we figured there was no way we'd get to go shopping at all that day if we didn't get up and go early. And early we went. We were standing outside of Wal-mart, in line, by 4:45 a.m. That's right. Me, who HATES mornings, actually crawled out of bed at 4:00 a.m., on a day off, was ready to go by 4:30 and was standing in the freezing cold and wind at 4:45 WITHOUT ANY COFFEE. Because in that town, the only Starbucks doesn't open until like 5:30 or so. It was HILARIOUS.

So there we stood, in line, waiting, exasperating our colds that we were beginning to suffer from, and trying to remember why exactly we thought this was a good idea. We had our list of items we wanted to get while we were there. And it started to snow. Of course. So I just couldn't help myself. I said to my sister, in my loudest obnoxious voice, that I was terribly disappointed in us for contributing to the commercialization of Christmas! Of course I wasn't really serious, but I did get several chuckles and a few surprised looks from our fellow curb-sitters. Then, while we were STILL waiting, we watched a couple get out of their car and walk up to join several people they knew ahead of us in line. And it made me angry. Not at the fact that the couple was line jumping, because, let's face it, I had no intention of plowing over another shopper in order to get my hands on a $15 (normally $25) Crayola Light Brush (cool as they may be). No, what made me angry was that nestled against the woman in a baby carrier, covered with only a thin blanket and whatever small clothes it was wearing, was a small baby, probably no older than 2 months old. Outside, in November, at 4:45 in the morning, in Wyoming, in the howling wind, freezing temperatures and falling snow. Nice parenting. Really. Upon hearing my gasp, my sister turned to me and gave me that "I don't really want to get in a fist fight this morning, so keep your trite comment about what a terrible mother she is to yourself" look, and I bit my tongue.

It seemed like we'd been standing there forever when they finally opened the doors. My legs were so frozen through my jeans, I had difficulty getting them to move. Which was just as well since from my view point I was able to see the horde of crazed shoppers burst through the front doors shoving each other out of the way and running like heard of stampeding cows. You know those scenes you see on t.v. news reports about the crowds bursting through doors on Black Friday? They're all absolutely true. I didn't believe it either, until I saw it. And this took place in small town Wyoming! Once my sister and I finally made it through the doors, we started down the aisle picking up purchases as we went. In the process I got my heels run over three separate times with shopping carts, and my sister witnessed a fight. That's right, an actual fight. Another thing you hear about happening on this most important shopping day of the year, but never really believed happens. It does. As it turns out it wasn't actually a fist fight. It was two women yelling at each other over one hitting the other in the back with her shopping cart. Then, as we made our way to the electronics section, I took the cart and tried to proceed through the section while my sister went and tried to find the gifts she was hoping to get for her husband and my mom. I finally gave up trying to get through, and "pulled over" into an empty side aisle to wait for her. As I was standing there, the din of the crowd was suddenly overcome by the sound of two shouting voices. It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen. Every person in the immediate area literally froze where they were, and all conversation stopped. No one moved. No one spoke. I don't think anyone breathed. And that is saying a lot, considering the crowd was so dense, people were shoulder to shoulder, cart to back, nearly nose to nose. There, in the middle of the ocean of bodies, were two women screaming at each other. I never did quite figure out what they were fighting over, since they just kept saying something about "how could I shove in front of you when I've been behind you the whole time" and the like. But let me give you a picture of these women. One stood about my height, 5'6". The other, was at least 6', if not larger. She appeared to be the aggressor in the situation. The two were standing only about 6" apart, the shorter woman craning her neck back to look the taller in the face. I was waiting for Tall Girl to pick up Shorty by the scruff of the neck and the back of the pants and toss her into the $5 DVD bin. Now along came Mr. Wal-Mart Manager. Mr. Manager was maybe 5'2", if he was a foot. He actually had the ca hones to wedge himself between the two angry women and politely ask the two to break it up. I swear, I thought I'd fallen into a Warner Bros. cartoon, it was so ridiculous-looking. After three tries, and having to raise his own voice, the women went their separate ways.

My sister and I managed to eliminate a huge number of gifts from our shopping lists, and Christmas is officially on its way. I may even brave Black Friday next year, for no other reason than the sheer entertainment value.

In Memory

As some or most of you are probably aware, my grandma passed away the Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving. She had small cell lung cancer. She was diagnosed sometime in June or July, and by the time it was found it had spread to her liver and her brain. She also had a tumor in her throat that eventually caused paralysis of her vocal chords. They gave her 6 - 8 months to live. She only lasted 4 or 5, in part because the doctor she had refused to provide her any sort of hope whatsoever. Now I realize doctors have a job to do, and they are supposed to be honest and inform their patients. But it seems to me that a lot of doctors have crossed over the line to the point they have lost their compassion. She had an appointment with her doctor less than a week before she died. Instead of telling her something as simple and noncommittal as "you're holding your own", he told her that things were just getting worse. It was at that point that she literally gave up. She was so upset that those with her had to carry her from the doctor's office. My understanding is that she didn't get out of bed again.

To me this is a huge travesty. I understand that in all reality there was no hope for her. Her cancer was terminal from the day they diagnosed it. This I get. But haven't these doctors seen enough to know that a little bit of hope, founded or not, can go a very long way in helping the ill? Had her doctor simply given her some small shred of hope, she may have survived to enjoy life a bit longer, and feel like she was going out with a fight. Instead he took that from her, with just one sentence. And to have the woman I knew just give up like that, and lose her will to fight, is a tragedy all in itself.

But, there's no longer anything that can be done about this. She is gone, and I hope someday I will get to meet her again. Her services were held the day after Thanksgiving, giving a very appropriate meaning to Black Friday. She chose to be cremated, her ashes spread in her rose garden, as that is the place she most loved to be. This was difficult for me, as the cremation did not really give me the chance for closure. I have simply had to accept that the last time I saw her, just before Halloween, was my final goodbye to her. Her funeral was a Catholic funeral, preceded by a Rosary. I have to say I was quite disappointed in the funeral. Now I've been to Catholic funerals before, and, let's just say it, they have a tendency to be quite impersonal. I understand, it's part of the religion and the choice of the family. It is what it is. However, this funeral was the least personal of any Catholic funeral I've ever been to. They said little about Grandma herself. The one personal mention of her was the mention of her love of her garden. That's it. The funeral did nothing to help me with the closure I was looking for, because it simply felt to me as if I was attending a church service. Nothing more. So, because I don't feel like her final farewell really did anything to tell those in attendance about my grandma, I'd like to share a few things about her here.

Grandma was not actually my real grandma at all. She was my Dad's stepmother. But, that never stopped me from loving her as if she were mine by blood. She was as much my grandma as she could be, and I loved her as such. Grandma was an amazing woman. Truly amazing. She was so strong, one of the strongest people I've ever known. She was strong in mind, in heart, in will. One of my favorite things about her was something that was also the least favorite thing of others. She had a tendency to tell it like it is. She never hid her feelings from you, and was always upfront and honest. She never talked behind your back, but instead would say what she had to say right to your face. To me this was an endearing quality, since I don't like games and admire people who have the courage to say what they think. Unfortunately, this was something a lot of people didn't like, and the cause for some people to simply not like her.

Grandma was an awesome gardener and an even better cook. It pains me to know that I will never have the opportunity to eat her cabbage rolls, cheese or apple strudel, pateetsa or homemade pickles again. Even if she did give these recipes to someone else before she died, it will never be quite the same. It's difficult to duplicate a recipe when you're being told "oh, now you just add some dill until it looks about right".

Grandma was a faithful Democrat (though we don't fault her for that :-) ) and a faithful Catholic. She worked for the Superintendent of Schools until she retired, and after that went back to school to earn her degree. Unfortunately that was something she wasn't able to finish before her death. Though I have no doubt that given the time, she would have achieved her goal. She shared my taste for tea pots and cross stitch, and her shining moments were when she was discussing a subject she was wholly passionate about. As it turned out, this was something she saw in me as well. My favorite memory of her, though there are many happy memories, is the look of pride upon her face when I stood up at a school board meeting and strongly argued against the forcing of high school students to pay for parking passes. A small thing, to be sure, but the look on her face told me she was as proud of me as if I had taken on the fight to end all fights, and won. She was a wonderful person, taken from us entirely too soon. She will be missed.

Rest now Grandma, and know that you are loved and will be sorely missed. We could never replace you, and you will be remembered.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I Want Sprinkles

So most or all of you know that I am a huge fan of Cake Wrecks and read it nearly every day. While the majority of the cakes posted are absolutely hilarious (and a few a little sad), I have my favorites. My new, all-time favorite is this graduation cake. For those of you who aren't getting it (as my husband did not at first), I imagine the phone conversation between the customer and the decorator went a little something like this:

Customer: I'd like to order a graduation cake, please. It's for my daughter.

Decorator: Ok, a graduation cake for a girl. Got it. What would you like to have on it?

Oh, I was thinking something pretty simple. I'd like to have the colors in pink and purple. I'd like to have a graduation cap with a tassel, and "2008" on it. Oh! And I want sprinkles on it, too.

Decorator: No problem. I can do that!

Too bad the decorator had such difficulty deciphering those instructions. He just couldn't grasp that "I want sprinkles" means...I want sprinkles. (Ok, so really the back story is that this is a reference to an episode of "The Office", and the customer really wanted the cake to say that, but it's much funnier to imagine the bakery screwed up, so that's how I choose to view it. :-) )

I had something just as interesting happen to me this last week. (Bear with me, I promise the two stories do mesh.) It was really an awful, stressful week for me. While nothing seriously bad actually happened to me,
after nearly a month of being sick I am still coughing up a lung on a daily basis, and after being in Court four days straight, followed by a day of hearings, and clocking over 46 hours of work (this with leaving for 2 hours in the middle of one day for an appointment), I was done in. Not to mention the fact that I witnessed a massacre of epic, if not biblical, proportions of debtors' counsel (every debtors' counsel) in Court on Tuesday, as well as an out-of-control psychotic creditor, and a debtor who was essentially (proverbially) drawn and quartered right in front of me. Talk about a rough week.

So there I was on Thursday, a little over half-way through this monstrosity of a work week, and a very nice surprise arrived for me:

Beautiful, aren't they? And smell great, too, since the lilies are especially fragrant. They instantly made my whole office smell wonderful, except to the paralegal in my office who said that the smell was "shattering" to her, since it was so strong. Along with the wonderful smell, they did wonders for my spirits as well. Except for one thing - I had no idea who they were from.

Yes, of course there was a card. But it did not say who the sender was. The only thing on the card was this: "AC WHAT A GIRL WANTS" Just like that. Typewritten, all caps, italics. For a minute I thought they had delivered the flowers to the wrong person. But no, I checked who it was addressed to, and it was definitely me. So I reread the card. I had no idea what it was supposed to mean. I couldn't figure it out. There was no special occasion, no holiday that I would normally receive flowers for, so they were totally unexpected. It is not like my husband to send flowers for no reason (though he does come home with flowers for no reason every once in a while). It is also not like him to send them anonymously. There's always some indication that it's him, either his name or "Love, Me". Just to be certain, I checked our bank accounts to see if there was a debit to the flower shop. There was none. I even tried calling the flower shop to ask who the sender was. When the woman answered the phone, I told her I had just received a flower delivery and was wondering if she could tell me who placed the order. Haughtily she replied, "I'm sorry, I cannot disclose that information."

Slightly irked, I said, "You can't disclose that information? I'm just trying to find out who sent me these flowers. I don't understand the card."

She said, even more snobbily, "I'm sorry, we have a duty to protect the identities of our patrons."

I was floored. Absolutely stunned. "A duty to protect the identities....lady, I'm not asking for credit card numbers here. All I want to know is who sent me these flowers. A first name would be all I need!"

She repeated, "I'm sorry." And then promptly hung up. Ooook then. Note to self: once the sender is found out, suggest they use a different flower shop next time. So, my mystery continued. I wracked my brain. I could not think of a single person I know who would have a reason to send flowers and not let me know who they were from. Not one. Obviously the flower shop was a dead end, so I thought maybe the card was a clue. First I looked up the lyrics to Christina Aguilera's "What a Girl Wants", thinking there might be something in the song that would give me a hint or switch on a light. Nothing clicked. So then I started to think that "AC" was really the key. I wondered who I know with those initials. I went through all of my address books, both personal and business. Believe it or not, I know not one person with those initials. Then a co-worker asked if I like that movie. I didn't know what she was talking about. I had no idea that there was a movie named "What a Girl Wants". I knew about the Mel Gibson flick "What Women Want", but not this one. Imagine that. Movie buff me didn't know there was a movie by that title. Hmmm. So I looked up the movie. Of course, I've never seen it, and the plot didn't strike a chord, so I could not see how that would give me any inkling as to who the mystery sender was.

Finally, stumped, I gave up trying to figure it out. I had no time for an enigma this week, so I went on about my work. I did decide not to mention it to my husband, though. I thought if he had sent them, he would probably make some mention of it, or some slip of the tongue that would give it away. (Aside from Christmas or birthday gifts, he doesn't always do well with keeping a surprise. :-) Love ya, honey!) Anyway, I thought that the last thing I needed this week was to freak him out with the idea that someone else was sending me flowers, especially when I didn't know who the somone was. So I kept it to myself.

When he called that day, he asked me if anything exciting had happened. This is not unusual, as this is a normal part of our daily conversations. I told him no. Through the course of the conversation he asked me several more times if I had anything exciting to tell him. Each time I told him no, finally thinking he had asked a few too many times for this to be our ordinary banter. I asked him why he kept asking. He said no reason. I replied that he was asking as if he knew there should be something exciting going on, so what was up? He said nothing, he just wouldn't worry about it then, and refused to answer me when I asked what "it" was. I suspected he was the would-be mystery sender, but opted to wait to say anything until he gave me more to go on. He said nothing more that evening that would have given him away, and I still was unsure that he had sent the flowers.

The next day, Friday, my husband had the day off. Unfortunately I was stuck in hearings for most of the day, and wasn't able to talk to him until well after 2:00. When I was finally able to call him, he nearly immediately asked if I had any exciting news. I once again said no. In an annoyed voice he said "Well then, I guess someone owes me $40." Ah ha!!! Jackpot.

I replied, non-chalantly, "Who owes you $40?"

He replied, "No one. I guess I just have to make a call and chew someone's butt." Actually, butt wasn't the word he used, but I'm trying to keep my blog a respectable place to visit. LOL! Yeah right.

Anyway, I replied, with a slight giggle in my voice, "It doesn't happen to be someone you paid $40 to for flowers, does it?"

Of course the answer was yes, and I caught a ration of crap for not mentioning the flowers to him. I told him until I knew for sure it was him I didn't want to say anything because I didn't want him freaking out over it, and he gave me a hard time about "all the guys" that send me flowers on a regular basis. (He has told me several times (jokingly, of course) over the last two days how he's sure I didn't tell him because I thought my boyfriend sent the flowers. Right! Like I have the time, energy or patience for a boyfriend.) I told him that it was not like him to send flowers without something saying it was from him. He said he did send a card, that it should have had his usual on it. I told him it didn't, it had some weird, cryptic message. He said the flower shop must have screwed it up, wanted to know if they had gotten the flower order right, and described it to me. I told him they did. He told me about how he had chosen that particular arrangement and talked about the description of it on the website. Then it occurred to me.

"What was the name of the arrangement?" I asked.

"I dunno, something about a girl," he replied, in typical male fashion. I started to laugh. "What?"

"It wouldn't happen to be 'What a Girl Wants', would it?" I asked.

"Yeah, that sounds right." I laughed harder. In fact, I nearly fell off my chair and peed my pants all at the same time. I explained to him how I had struggled with the "clue" on the card and everything I had gone through to try to figure out what it meant. And all the while it was just an order code and the name of the arrangement. Of course, this has just increased all the jibes and teasing he has given me, but it's all in good fun.

After I finished my phone call with him, I went to tell my co-worker, who had stuggled with the mystery right along with me, what had happened. She rolled her eyes, and in between fits of laughter said, "That's an 'I want sprinkles' moment if ever I've heard one!" And, of course, she's 100% right!


I've been reminded of a few things I left off my last post. Thanks to my friend Em, I was reminded that you know you've gotten old when:
  • The toys you played with as a child are having their 25th Anniversary celebrations.
FYI, Cabbage Kids now have their 25th anniversary dolls out. There's one on my Christmas list. Another thing that came to me while recently reading about the planets with Sweetpea was, you know you've gotten old when:
  • You've actually heard yourself say "When I was your age, Pluto was a planet."
Also, with the descending of the holiday season upon us, it occurred to me that you know you've gotten old when:
  • The phrase "requires some assembly" has taken on a whole new meaning.
  • For you, Christmas is usually more work than fun, and is sometimes just another day.
And, for that matter, you know you've gotten old when:
  • Your birthday is just another day, but it perplexes you when other people don't celebrate theirs.
I suspect there will be many, many more revelations of this sort, and once they present themselves I will be certain to share them with you. Happy growing old to you!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

You know you’ve gotten old…

Lately I’ve been feeling pretty old. (With everything that has been going on lately, I'm sure that's not really a surprise. But I mean that in addition to all of that, I have been feeling quite old.) Granted, I know that some people I'm friends with and who I work with consider me to be a young ‘un in comparison to them. And I certainly know I’m not nearing the end of my years or anything so silly as that. But there have been some things lately that have just made me feel, for lack of a better word, old. Which, of course, I’ve absolutely had to put into a list. You didn’t really expect otherwise, did you? So, here we go. You know you’ve gotten old when…

Music you listened to, or that was part of movies you watched, while growing up is being played on the local “oldies” station.

Your kids use terminology that makes absolutely no sense to you in the context they are using it.

“Remember when” has become a staple in your daily conversations.

You catch yourself thinking that a walk around the block is a whole lot more work than it’s worth.

You find relating to your parents a whole lot easier than relating to your children.

Dessert is seldom something you would consider eating first. (Ok, usually.)

You feel guilty for eating a potato chip before dinner, because you know “it will spoil your appetite”.

You clean your entire plate, whether you want the food or not, simply because you feel guilty about wasting what might be left: "There are starving people in Ethiopia who would love to have that food."

Your friends marry and divorce, instead of hook-up and break-up.

You consider renewing your vows for no other reason than all the cool “wedding” gifts you would receive.

You send your friends housewarming and “happy divorce” gifts instead of care packages and “to cheer you up after the breakup” gifts.

You catch yourself arguing with your child over whether the correct spelling is “cookie” or “cooky”. (BTW, spell check doesn’t like “cooky”.)

If someone younger than you says they’ve never seen a movie you consider a classic, you are shocked and insist they need to see it immediately.

You find things such as the Doodlebops, Courage the Cowardly Dog and the Teletubbies, boring, weird and just a little creepy. They will never be as good as the things you used to watch.

You find yourself struggling to keep up with the changes in technology. You reminisce about when things were “simple”.

Your class reunion comes and goes, (doesn’t matter what year), and despite your promises way back when that you’d make it to every single one, you’re not the least bit sorry that you missed it – but are pretty sorry that it’s already time for that reunion.

Pets are suddenly a whole lot more work than they were when you were a kid.

You resist change. Change on a small scale makes you queasy and interrupts your sleep. Change on a large scale gives you chills up and down your spine and breaks you out into a cold sweat. Sometimes it even has the ability to send you into convulsions.

Walking to school "in 6 feet of snow, uphill both ways" suddenly doesn't seem so unbelievable, because when you were a kid...

Suddenly Friday and Saturday nights are just like any other night, and you generally can be found vegging out on the couch in front of the tv.

Your children listen to an Ipod with headphones, and you are constantly telling them to "TURN THE MUSIC DOWN!!!!!"

Having drinks in a bar with your parents is suddenly no big deal.

The price of a ticket, a bucket of popcorn, some Raisinets and a large soda at the movie theater nearly gives you a heart attack, and sends you running to check your bank balance.

You no longer consider the first row in the movie theater as "the best seats in the house".

You find yourself thinking that "these movies have just gotten so loud!"

A DJ on the radio makes reference to some young famous person, and you think, "Who??"

Reality shows are just perplexing to you, and you find yourself wondering "whatever happened to good, wholesome, family shows like M.A.S.H. and The Cosby Show?"

9:00 p.m. rolls around and you start wondering what you're still doing up.

You get surly with teenagers who drive by your house too fast.

You check movies for ratings and read reviews about them before deciding to see them or not.

You fear you've developed AOADD at the ripe old age of 30.

You catch yourself saying ridiculous things you never thought you'd say: "We DO NOT put Pez up our nose!"

You've nodded, smiled, chuckled or outright laughed at everything on this list, knowing I've experienced each and every one - and so have you!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Shadow of Fear

It's official. I'm a dork. Of course, this was never really a question. In so many ways I am the definition of a dork. I got great grades in school. The only sport I played was softball. Fast pitch, but softball nonetheless. I lettered in Drama. I used to write poetry. Now I'm a lawyer. I decorate cakes for fun. I cross stitch, also for fun, but for relaxation. I cry, without fail, at any sad or touching books, movies, songs - even tv commercials, for crying out loud - regardless of how often I've read/seen/heard them. I'm a M.A.S.H. fanatic, to the point I want to buy a M.A.S.H. t-shirt and dog tags, (and would wear them in public!) I collect miniature tea sets, Christmas Bears, quotes and useless facts. I get overly excited - and defensive - about cute shoes. Not to mention my numerous quirks. But last night, on my way to my car after work, the fact that I am actually a dork became solidified, without a doubt, in my mind.

First, you'll need a little background here. Unfortunately, while this incident is humorous, I'm afraid it arises out of a situation that is extremely serious, sobering and frightening. About a week and a half ago there was a rape that occurred in the middle of the day, in broad daylight, in a parking lot directly across the street from my office building downtown. I never heard of the incident until Friday morning, after which I forwarded the linked article from the Trib to all of my co-workers and everyone I know in the area to warn them to be safe. A co-worker of mine is married to a police officer. She immediately contacted him to ask questions about obtaining pepper spray for anyone in the office who was interested. Preparations were made, and a group order placed. We received our order today.

You'll also notice that the linked article contains safety tips. Two that have stuck in my mind are: always be aware of your surroundings and what is going on around you, and never talk on your cell phone or listen to your Ipod while walking to your vehicle. I have worked downtown for the last 5 1/2 years. I have always been cautious, since downtown is not the safest place in the valley, especially after dark. I always try to be aware of my surroundings, and the people and happenings within those surroundings. I even try to practice my "witness" skills, making sure I can describe people around me, having had nothing more than a glance at them. I am never distracted (or try very hard not to be). But I have never been afraid. Until now.

Since last week, I have heightened my awareness. But, quite often, I listen to my Ipod while walking to or from my car. It has previously occurred to me that this is not safe. I still do it. I love my music. I love my Ipod. I know I should probably change the habit. I haven't yet. Last night I worked late to make up a couple of missed hours. I was the last one to leave the office, and though it wasn't that late, it was after dark. As I waited for the elevator, I had all of these recent occurrences and safety thoughts swirling through my head. I even considered how I might use the empty Rubbermaid tote I was carrying as a weapon. "Here Mr. Rapist, catch!" or "Didn't anyone tell you to duck?" Or, if nothing else, to use it as an object to put between me and an attacker. Right, like any of those ideas would work! But, the most foolish thought I had was one of pure defiance. I am listening to my music because I am not going to let some psycho control my life and therefore take away any of my enjoyment. Yes, I am perfectly aware that this is a STUPID thought to have, composed of nothing more than absolute stubbornness. We are talking about safety, for goodness sake. And that's certainly more important than my music.

That's how I view it now. Then, I just stuck the ear buds in my ears and headed for the car. Despite the holiday, the building had quite a few people in it. There is a Distance Education college that holds a few classes in the building, and has offices there. Their classroom was full, there were people in the office, and there were a couple of students outside the doors on a smoke break. I continued on past them, still practicing my awareness skills, and despite my Ipod blaring away in my ears, I knew there was no one behind me. Once I got into the parking garage, though, there was suddenly no one around. At all. There weren't even cars coming and going from the other levels, like there usually are. It was a bit creepy. To top it off, it's a parking garage, which means not exactly the best lighting in the world. Even in the daytime, this garage is pretty dark. The florescent lights cast pink and yellow shadows all over the cement walls, pillars and ground. I started to get nervous.

I continued on around the corner, since my parking spot is on the opposite side of a wall directly across from the door, and headed cautiously to my car, bending down just a bit to peek under and make sure the rapist dude wasn't hiding under it waiting to grab my ankles. Reassuring myself that no one was there, I stopped at the passenger side door, opened it, and deposited the tote and my purse on the passenger seat. As I shut the door, I glanced slightly over my left shoulder. I caught something move out of the corner of my eye, and realized a dark figure was standing against the wall my spot butts up against. My heart leaped into my throat, my stomach dropped, and I whirled around to face my would-be attacker. Already my mind was mapping out which way I could run to get away. Should the person move just a little to the left, they would be blocking one way out, the way I had just entered by. I would have to run down, further into the garage, to try to reach the second exit door at the other end. My right hand still held my keys. Somehow I had reacted, drawing on a safety article I had once read about using your keys as a make-shift weapon, and slipped several of the keys between my fingers, narrow ends out, to be used a bit like you would use brass knuckles. My left hand went to my pocket, where my cell phone was. To my credit, I did not scream. So there I stood, ready to defend myself against, or run away shadow.

Go ahead. Finish your laugh. I'll wait...

That's right, folks. I gave new meaning to being afraid of my own shadow. Once I realized that the dark figure was me, I just dropped my hands, rolled my eyes, practically ran to the car and leaped into the driver's seat. I shut the door and locked it....then I began to laugh. Only after I was safe, theoretically from myself, inside my locked car, did I actually laugh at myself. I laughed most of the way home. Along the way I called my sister and my friend to regale them with the tale of my silliness. My friend thanked me for the much needed laugh. My sister reminded me that it was a similar situation that caused her to slip on the ice and consequently break her ankle. And when I started to tell her about my foolish thought of defiance, I said "and I thought 'I'm not going to not listen to my music just so -' " She broke in with "so I don't get raped?" And then started to laugh. Ha ha. Ok, so, I know it was dumb. But you can bet it won't happen again.

Geez, I'm a dork.

Monday, November 10, 2008


First, I would just like to say thank you to all of you who have expressed your condelances for our loss, and expressed your concern for my well being. I do appreciate how difficult a situation this has been, even for those only indirectly involved by the sheer misfortune of knowing me and/or my family. I understand the effort it takes to say something when it seems there is nothing to say. I just wanted to let all of you know that I greatly appreciate every word I received. Even the simple "I'm sorry" is something I am thankful for, and, in some cases, was the most meaningful thing I heard. I had forgotten, I think, how extremely lucky a person I am in life, even when it doesn't quite seem so. I am truly blessed to have friends and family such as you.

Now, some of you have also expressed concerns about my mental health. After re-reading my own two last posts, and not to mention realizing my tendency to just latch on to anyone who mentions the situation to me, and just chatter up a storm with them, all the while seeming to be perfectly calm about it all despite that wild look in my eyes, and probably scaring the crap out of them in the process,
I can completely understand why. (Sorry, Lee, didn't mean to do that to you in Court!) I would just like to let you know that I am completely aware of my mental state, and have decided along the way that some therapy might do me good. Keep in mind, though, that I consider there to be lots of different kinds of therapy. Over the last several weeks I have indulged in attempted several types of therapy. I have several more I intend to try out as well. And while no one method has worked wonders for me, all have contributed to allowing me to keep little bits of my sanity. Hopefully you will see a return, (if not slow and extended, at least steady,) to my old self, and therefore my old blogging ways.

Let me share with you my exploration of the World of Therapies. The first therapy attempt was that of Retail Therapy. You know, this is where you go out and spend inordinate amounts of money on things you really don't need. I did spend a little money on things we did actually groceries. But for the most part it was completely unneccesary items that did nothing more than make me feel happy. There were four new pairs of shoes (two for me and two for Sweetpea), because I made the mistake of going into Payless to look for ballet shoes for Sweetpea's Halloween costume right in the middle of BOGO. Usually I would have been more aware of this, and try to stay out of Payless during this event. But, with all that had been happening, I don't remember paying attention to any commercials for it, and didn't even notice the signs as I entered the store. Imagine my surprise and delight when the very helpful clerk informed me of the sale. Just ballet shoes turned into ballet shoes and black boots for Sweetpea, and black ankle boots and red and black Airwalks for me. Too cute! (BTW, I am completely aware of how much several people will make fun of me for the Airwalks. I don't care, I love them!)

My shoe splurge was followed by a trip to my favorite store to hate, Wal-mart. I did have a legitimate reason for going to Wal-Mart that day. I had groceries to buy, and several other household items, which I did purchase. And of course I needed a new shirt to go with my Airwalks... In addition to that, I had to buy Halloween treats for my niece and nephew. (My sister is so kind as to spoil my daughter at every possible holiday, I MUST return the favor! :-) ) Ok, so that wasn't so bad. Until I really stopped and looked around in the Halloween aisles. Then suddenly I realized I didn't have any treats for work. So into the basket went six more bags of candy (all of which I did actually have coupons for). Then I realized my friend might like a treat, too. So a couple little things for her went in the basket. Then I saw some really cute pumpkin tatoos. You use them to decorate the pumpkins instead of carving Jack-o-Lanterns. So into the basket for Sweetpea they went. Oh, here's a pic of the result of that therapy:
She did pretty well, don't you think? The Mr. Potato Head ears were a nice touch, I thought.

Then I realized we were supposed to have company for Halloween dinner and I had no indoor Halloweeny decorations to go with our Dinner in a Pumpkin dish. There were several adorable Halloween table cloths, so I thought that would be cute. I saw an equally cute haunted house tea light holder that I thought would be adorable as a centerpiece.

And of course I had to have the black and orange Halloween tea lights that went with it. No, the bags of white ones I have at home are not good enough. But then I noticed it was probably just a bit too small to use as a centerpiece by itself. So I looked around for something to add. Then I saw the artificial black roses. And I thought, hmmmm. A dozen black roses in a clear vase with black river stones in the bottom would be a perfect addition to the tea light holder. Orange ghosty table cloth - check. Haunted house - check. Black and orange tea lights - check. Dozen black roses - check. Tall, clear, slender vase - check. Black river stones - whoa, not so fast! They ended up being like $5 per bag and I was figuring about 3 bags for the vase. Ok, so there may be something called too much Retail Therapy. Instead I opted for vase marbles I already had at home. And the result:
Kinda cute, huh? Forgetting for just a minute that my Retail Therapy doubled my Wal-Mart expense, I didn't do too shabby. So ended that therapy session. (Kind of. Here and there I've bought a couple things along the way. :-) )

The next therapy I sampled was Assisted Flight of the Imagination Therapy. This is therapy where, by perusal of certain fanciful texts, the imagination is transported to exotic and far away places in the past, present and future... Ok, so it's reading a book. Hey, I needed an escape. So I re-read one of my favorite romance novels and spent a few days immersed in the romantic and fascinating medieval era (one of my favorite time periods). This therapy has provided a most favorable release for me, and I think I may continue on with this method.

Next I attempted Dexterity Completion Therapy. This is the therapy of finally finishing the million and one craft projects you have started over the last umpteen years. Ok, so this one wasn't so successful. I got some work done on the cross stitch I'm doing right now, and I got Sweetpea's headpiece together for her Halloween costume...and that about sums it up. However, I believe this form has its merits and future attempts at this therapy may be beneficial. (If for nothing else than finishing the cross stitch I promised my mom three months ago.)

Annoyance Therapy has been something I've returned to over and over again. Annoyance Therapy is applied by sinking your proverbial "claws" into whoever might be available (or just in the wrong place at the wrong time) and annoying the hell out of them by discussing every gruesome detail of the horrific situation you are currently going through. Unfortunately, participation by the opposite individual is completely involuntary, and prior participation of such individuals is not taken into account. Let me just say, I'd like to apologize to all past and future participants in my sessions of such therapy. Equally unfortunate is my apparent inability to stop myself from practicing such therapy, and I do feel quite sorry for my victims friends and family when I am driven to the practice.

The most recent test therapy has been Beautification Therapy. This is the practice of doing something to make yourself feel, if not look, pretty. It does wonders for the soul. In my case, I had my nails done:

This was something that Sweetpea was more than happy to also participate in, so after mine were done, I did hers, too:

No, I am not multi-talented. Mine were done in a salon, and hers are those sweet little girl press on nails you can get a Wal-Mart. We just also add a little super glue so they stay on for more than five minutes at a time. She always gets so excited to show everyone her pretty nails. Anyway, Beautification Therapy proved to be a success as well. I think it is something I will have to continue, especially since I've noticed over the last few months that my normally dark brown hair has taken on a silvery luster that was not quite so apparent before...

I'm also considering some Hands-On Therapy. *gasp!* Get your minds out of the gutter! I know what you're thinking, and you ought to be ashamed of yourselves! I am, of course, referring to massages, wraps, body scrubs and other relaxation type therapies available in a spa. *Ahem* Anyway, I have a gift certificate my dear husband gave me for this last Valentine's for a massage that I need to use so it doesn't expire. I was saving it for a maternity massage as time went on, but maybe now a hot stone massage or aromatherapy massage might be in order...

And maybe, just maybe, when all is said and done, I might actually consider some professional therapy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

When It Rains

First, I apologize for the length of this post. There is a lot of information here, and I'm afraid there are not a lot of ways to get it all across without the length.

I feel like I’ve slipped into the twighlight zone. I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going. Processing simple thoughts and performing simple actions suddenly seems complicated and difficult. I’ve lost the ability to perform mental checks on myself to make sure I’m not flying off the handle for no reason, or saying something I shouldn’t. I don’t know what I’m thinking. Most of all I don’t know what I’m feeling, or even what I’m supposed to be feeling. Suddenly all these unreal things are happening. Someone I’ve known since grade school had her father pass away this past weekend. Both of her parents have passed in the last five years or so. She’s the same age as me. That is unreal to me. A friend of mine, who I never thought would be a parent, has told me of a pregnancy. Another person, someone who has never, ever taken an interest in my life at all, (at least, not a genuine interest), is suddenly offering me condolences on my loss. A co-worker thought her 24-year-old sister had a heart attack last week. My mom is once again enduring chemo. My grandma is basically sitting at home waiting for her cancer to take her, all the while wishing she could fight. (Not to mention Obama winning the election.) All of this is enough for me. Given this alone, I would think I had slipped into some alternate universe, some freaky, out of whack third dimension. But then add what additional developments have happened with my personal situation, and life has truly turned upside down.

My D&C (sorry, I have been corrected as to the true name of the procedure, it is not a “DNC”), went fine, and while I was very tired, I felt no pain by the afternoon of the following day. In fact, by that afternoon I was feeling really good about the whole situation. It was as if I had a little closure on the ordeal, now that the procedure was over and didn’t turn out to be quite as bad as I had expected. The day after that, October 24th, a Friday afternoon, I received a message from my doctor on my home answering machine. But that afternoon I was already on my way to Wyoming for my bil’s surprise 30th birthday party, so I didn’t actually hear the message until the following Sunday night. The doctor said she had received the pathology results from the D&C. She said she wanted to discuss them with me. This is not something I was expecting, since I had been told that I would just need to come back to see her in six weeks for a follow-up to make sure everything was ok. The message said that if she had not heard back from me by Monday afternoon, she would call again. This worried me, though, since it was the doctor herself who had contacted me, and not some assistant that just wanted to set an appointment for me. But, since there was not much I could do about that on a Sunday night, I thought I’d just call her sometime Monday morning, after I had returned from my Court hearings.

8:30 Monday morning, as I was in the process of hustling Sweetpea out the door to school so neither she nor I would be late, the phone rang. It was the doctor. She checked that I had gotten her message, and then said she needed to discuss the pathology report with me. She wanted me to come in to meet with her. When I asked if there was anything to worry about, she told me no, but that there was just something a little unusual with my pregnancy that she wanted to explain in person. Needless to say, this really offered me no comfort. Especially since the last time she said there was nothing to worry about, there actually was something to worry about. I managed to concentrate enough to get myself through the day, then hurried to the appointment. Unfortunately, due to an accident occurring right in front of me, I was about half an hour late. Thankfully, the doctor felt the matter was important enough to stick around and wait to see me, and had not left the office yet. When I asked what was going on, she had some difficulty explaining the situation to me. After having talked to her about it, and trying to read about it on the internet, I understand why. I will try my best to relay the scientific mumbo jumbo to you.

Originally they told me I had a misabortion, which I have since found out basically means a miscarriage that has not been expelled from the body. There is an embryo that forms, but almost immediately dies and then is reabsorbed into the body, leaving only the placenta and possibly the yolk sac. Then these things remain until a miscarriage or D&C occurs. Instead of this, the pathology report came back indicating that I had a rare occurrence called a partial molar pregnancy, which is something different than what they had told me I had experienced. Molar pregnancies occur in 1 in every 1,000 pregnancies. Partial molar pregnancies occur less that that. This is how the doctor explained it to me: a normal, fertilized egg has 46 chromosomes – 23 from the egg and 23 from the sperm. When the egg ends up with 45, 47 or 48, the majority of the time the pregnancy will end with either a miscarriage or a misabortion – though sometimes an embryo with 47 chromosomes will survive. This is where Down’s Syndrome comes from.

In my case, the egg had 69 chromosomes. What this means is that there were two sperm and one egg, and all three contributed all of their chromosomes. Or, there ended up being two copies of the chromosomes from the sperm. The result was a fertilized egg with 1/3 more chromosomes than it should have. Some of my readings about this have indicated that this is actually a form of twins, though my understanding is that the egg does not split as it should. Other readings have said nothing about it being a form of twins, so I’m not 100% sure as to what is right. In the articles that indicate twins, what appears to happen is that there is one viable embryo, and one embryo with three sets of chromosomes. That embryo immediately dies and forms this abnormal tissue resembling a cluster of grapes (called a mole). The tissue continues to grow and quickly destroys the viable embryo. In the articles that didn’t mention twins, this is the best I can translate: the same cluster of grapes forms, but somewhere inside it is some normal placental tissue that does begin to develop into an embryo, but not one that could ever survive due to the abnormal tissue and abnormal number of chromosomes. In a molar pregnancy, no embryo ever forms at all. I found these two articles the most helpful in learning about this: Parent Center: Molar Pregnancy

Wikipedia: Twins

Now here comes the really wacked out part. Ready? This abnormal tissue actually acts like cancer. While Wikipedia refers to it as cancerous tissue, most of the other articles I read stop short of calling it cancer. However, it is abnormal tissue formed from normal cells that continues to grow. If all the cells are not removed with a D&C or miscarriage, the remaining cells can actually begin to re-grow. If not treated, they can spread to other organs of the body and can be fatal. Sounds a hell of a lot like cancer to me. The articles refer to the re-growth as Persistent Gestational Trophoblastic Disease, which is 100% curable if caught while the cells are still only present in the uterus, and 80 – 90% curable if the cells have spread to other organs. Now get this. Persistent Disease is treated with chemotherapy. That’s right, you read it correctly. Chemo. One minute I’m pregnant, the next minute there’s a possibility that my failed pregnancy could lead to cancer. Or, at least, cancer treatment. On top of that bit of news was the additional blow that because of the way they test for the disease, an attempt at another pregnancy would not be possible for at least six months. The possible re-growth is monitored by blood tests insuring that the pregnancy hormone has reduced to zero, then remained at zero for six consecutive months. If another pregnancy were to occur during that time, there would be no way to determine whether the presence of, or increase in, the pregnancy hormone is due to the disease or the new pregnancy.

My first reaction was not to the news of a possible disease, (though this did hit me later). It was to the news that not only had I lost something, but that something had now been taken from me for at least six more months on top of the additional nine months necessary for a healthy baby. In addition, on the chance that my husband and I decide we don’t want to have children a minimum of six years apart in age and choose not to try for a baby again, it has been taken away from me permanently. I know the doctor tried to break this to me gently. I did not take it well. I dissolved into tears right in the middle of the poor woman’s examination room. And I don’t mean just silent, upset tears that do nothing more than run down your face and maybe make your clothing a little damp. I mean the out and out sobbing in your hands so loudly the woman in the examination room three doors down can hear it, while all of the belongings that were previously neatly perched upon your lap fall to the floor and you don’t even care about the embarrassment that it may cause you later to have to pick them up. I really don’t remember a whole lot of the rest of the conversation. In fact, I don’t really remember much of the rest of the evening. All I know is that I was upset, and couldn’t understand why all of these bad things keep happening in my life in such close proximity to each other.

I did go home that evening and try to educate myself on this anomaly. I’ve found that because this is so rare, there is not a lot of expanded information on it. Most of what I found said the same thing over and over again, with maybe the exception of change in numbers here or there (i.e. 5% chance vs. 20% chance, or 6 months vs. a year). I spent most of Tuesday miserable, until I realized at bedtime that I was literally making myself sick. I woke up Wednesday with a full-blown cold, the stress of everything that had happened finally catching up with me. To be honest, I’m a little surprised it has taken me this long to get sick. After all, I have been on total stress overload since July. But, when I woke up sure I was sick, it was a bit like a mental slap in the face. I told myself that I had to pull it together. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t get well, and I was doing myself no good being sick. I’ve managed to feel better for the last week. While that worked for now, I believe it is only temporary. Especially after the phone call I got just this past Sunday evening.

My doctor had called and left me a message on Thursday to let me know that, as suspected, the blood test had come back with the pregnancy hormone still present. This was no surprise, as she had told me that would probably happen. It is too soon after my pregnancy to have it returned to zero. She wanted me to return to have my blood drawn again sometime between Monday and Wednesday this week. Sunday evening she called to make sure I got her message. I told her I had, and asked what the count actually was on the hormone. She said it came back at 938. When I asked if that was normal, she told me she had discussed my case with the head of the research department at the hospital. Apparently this man is also heading up a study dealing with miscarriages and the affects of low-dose aspirin on attempting to get pregnant again after a miscarriage (something I was looking into participating in). Because this man has so much experience, he is apparently the resident expert on miscarriage and related events. She said she had gone to him to make sure that he agreed that my hormone count was normal for the amount of time that had passed after the pregnancy. He agreed that it was. She then questioned him as to whether I would still qualify for the study since I had experienced the partial molar pregnancy as opposed to simply a miscarriage/misabortion. He then told her he didn’t think I had a partial molar pregnancy. This was not based on his review of my records. Instead it was based upon the fact that she was the second doctor to approach him with questions concerning a patient diagnosed by the same pathologist as having a partial molar pregnancy in a two week period. Since the disease is so rare, and it is practically unheard of to have two cases in such proximity to each other, he doubts the pathologist’s diagnosis. He is concerned that the pathologist may be seeing something slightly unusual in the tests performed, and rather then taking the extra steps to perform additional genetic tests to verify the results, is defaulting automatically to a partial molar pregnancy diagnosis. He suggested that she contact the pathologist to determine if they actually performed the additional tests, and if not, order the tests to verify the diagnosis. She intends to do that when she returns to work Thursday this week, but results won’t be available until sometime next week at the earliest.

Frankly, I don’t know what to do with this information. I cannot absorb it. I cannot process it. I cannot fathom it in any way at this point. So I simply am not. Until the doctor provides me with some additional information, I am continuing on as if Sunday’s phone call never occurred. I simply do not have the capacity at this point to deal with any more, good or bad. Until then, everything is as it is, and is no more.