Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Nerve Test Thingy

A few days ago I mentioned going to the doctor with some discomfort and ending up scheduled for a round of bloodwork and a nerve conduction test.

You would think the bloodwork would be pretty basic. A quick stick and it's done. But not this time. Apparently this lab tech graduated from the Marquis de Sade College of Bloodletting. It hurt when the needle was going in. It hurt while it was in. And it hurt even worse when he pulled it out. And I still managed to walk out without bitch slapping him across the room.

And then came The Nerve Test Thingy. It was weird! First of all I had to walk around the room on tiptoe and then on my heels. No problem there. Then I had to hold my hands out in front of me, close my eyes, and shake my head. No problem again. Then I had to pat my head while rubbing my tummy. Oh, okay, so I made that one up. Let's move on.

The real core of The Nerve Test Thingy was the zapping, the poking, and the vibrating. The doctor had me lay down on the table while he attached all sorts of little devices to my arms and legs to measure response. Then he proceeded to zap me with a little electrical gadget that looked like those battery operated nose hair trimmers. It varied in intensity from a slight tingle to making me jump around the table like those actors when the yell 'clear' and zap them with the paddles! And then he put away that little gadget and poked me with wires (sort of an accupuncture thingy)...and oh yes, that was pleasant. NOT! Finally he touched me here and here and there (no, not THERE!) with a little vibrator. My job was just to let him know what I felt.

I'll get the results of some of this nonsense tomorrow. At the moment I'm not worried about the outcome. I think I'll be just fine. Unless they want more tests. Those things are worse than my original symptoms!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Stages of Recovery

Well mom has flown home. Back to her home in Georgia. And we have entered the first out of three stages of recovery. They are as follows:

Stage 1 - Decompression
This is the stage where each member of our family puts on their comfort clothing - old sweat pants, pajamas, robe, favorite jeans, etc - and retreats to a quiet spot in the house to do something they find enjoyable and relaxing. At the moment, Son16 is upstairs watching TV in our bedroom, Son19 is watching TV in his room, Daughter13 is watching TV in the family room, my wife is in the office on one computer listening to her favorite podcasts, and I'm hiding out with the laptop writing. This stage allows us to bleed off the anxiety and tension and can last from one evening to as much as three or four evenings, depending on the needs of each individual.

Stage 2 - Debriefing
This stage is most notable for the numerous instances where one member of the family approaches another, looks confused, and then utters the phrase "Did she really say (insert bizarre comment here)? What the hell was that?!?!" This is a real healing stage. During my mom's never ending monologue, so many freakish comments and stories poured forth. But in that particular moment, we were trying so hard to appear interested while really meditating on the dust bunny in the corner, that only now do we begin to comprehend some of what was said. And the healing comes in knowing others heard it too...that it is not a stroke-induced memory caused by the pressure of so many words pounding against our brains.

Stage 3 - Celebrating
My good friend, LD, asked today if we would celebrate now that mom was gone. Eventually. But these things must be done in the proper order. If the family went out to dinner tonight, we would sit and mutter while pushing the food around on the plate with our forks. Not until we've passed the healing of Stage 2 can we really move on to the celebration of having our life back to normal. Well, we may not be normal, but we like what we have. And it will be good to get back to that.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Mom Gap

It has been a week since I last posted. I realize I miss it! I've wanted to write. But there just wasn't time. Why? Cause my mom came to visit. She arrived last Tuesday and heads home tomorrow. Nine days.

So what is a visit from mom like? I wanna say...take the bizarre behavior of Mork, take away every ounce of humor, and add 50 years of being absolutely certain that your view is the ONLY view of things in the world. And that might be selling the visit as better than it is.

Nine days of listening to rambles about people and things we don't know. We don't respond. But she doesn't need a response. In fact, any response just slows the flow of the monologue.

Nine days of answering the same "yes/no" questions. Any attempt to provide more information is met with a bored 'uh huh' or is just interrupted by the next question or monologue.

Nine days, sadly, of tolerating her deeply seated racist views of the world. We cringe. We redirect the monologue. My wife even confronted her directly on some of her comments...even relying on the old standbys of 'do unto others' and 'kindness is a virtue', along with 'the inherent worth and dignity of all people'. Surprisingly, that was met with 'the bible never told me I had to be nice to everyone'. Hmmm.

Nine days. Just about five days too long.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I never expected this!

So I turned 50 last month. Not such a big deal. I don't feel old. Don't look old (so I'm told by reliable sources). So I wasn't really worried. Oh, getting the bifocals - pardon me, graduated lenses - made me feel a little old. But that seemed to be the only real sign of aging.

And then I broke a tooth. Could happen to anybody, right? But I wasn't eating cashew nuts or nachos or chewy taffy. Oh no. I broke a huge hunk off of a tooth eating a glazed donut. A fresh one. Soft. Should not have broken a tooth, right? Dentist managed to repair without much discomfort.

Then I went to the doctor due to some discomfort. That led to some simple tests in the office. Not being satisfied, I'm now lined up for blood work, a session of nerve conduction testing, and a return to the doctor. Oh...and get this. The doctor actually used the phrase "a person of your age". OUCH! Totally unnecessary, dear doctor.

And last night, eating a pizza with a soft crust, I broke another freaking tooth!! Not the same one...but the same position on the opposite side! Of course the dentist was all booked up today. I whined on the phone about eating Thanksgiving dinner with a broken tooth and earned their sympathy. They worked me into the schedule and all is well - as long as I avoid hard food, sticky food, cold food, and hot food. And get this...he actually used the phrase "when people get to be your age". Is this a conspiracy?!?

So I feel a little like I'm falling apart overnight. And I'm not loving that feeling. But I know I've had enough of that 'person of your age' shit! I'm just NOT that old!

Monday, November 20, 2006

This is a 'must have'

Things are gearing up for the big feast. My wife has already baked lots of pumpkin bread and cranberry bread. We've planned our appetizers. And the actual meal is planned. Not too much work in the planning stages cause we stick with pretty traditional fare - turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, etc. And all the shopping is done and the ingredients are awaiting us in the cupboard.

I've also had some time to engage in one of my favorite pre-holiday pastimes - watching The Food Network. Every cook who ever had a show gets their own holiday special. And then they all come together for The Food Network cook-off or holiday luncheon or whatever they call it. And from the shows I've seen so far, it seems that this year a huge focus is on the mighty cranberry. That tiny red fruit waiting to burst forth on our holiday table and bring us delightful goodness. No longer shall it be just a side dish. Oh no! It is time to heat up your cranberries with some various juices and liqueurs, throw in some diced mango, stir in some crushed nuts, and serve it all up as a feast for the eyes and the palate.

Good for them. But there is one thing that I absolutely must have to make my Thanksgiving meal complete...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Don't look, Mom!

When Son16 was about 5 years old, he was outside playing on the driveway one warm summer day when he dashed into the house, told his mom, "Don't look out the window, okay?", and then dashed back outside. Now, my wife is a very smart woman. So she did what any smart parent would do. She ran directly to the window, did not pass GO and did not collect $200. And she arrived at the window just in time to watch young Son whip it out and pee all over the driveway!

When you make the decision to have kids there is just no way to predict what types of rules you might have to make up. But 'thou shalt not pee in our yard' has been a standard guideline for our kids since that day.

Leaves From Afar

Look at the size of this leaf!

Yesterday I did a final leaf cleaning around the yard. And found numerous specimens of this gigantic size. Scary. I know there was nothing this big hanging over my head in the summer. That would not look like leaf cover. That would look like a tree filled with patio umbrellas! The only explanation I can find that makes sense...aliens. Someone from another planet is dumping his/her/its fallen leaves in my yard! That would certainly explain why I keep raking but never finish.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Hey, ladies!

Yesterday, Son16 had one of his regular check-ups with the specialist who prescribes meds related to his disabilities. And they always do a variety of tests to check therapeutic levels, impact of side effects, etc. Height, weight, blood tests, naming the states in reverse alphabetical order. Anyway, yesterday they tested his Body Mass Index. At dinner he was sharing this story and informed the family that he scored a 21 and 21 was 'desirable'. We nearly peed ourselves laughing over that one.

Hey, ladies, I've got a BMI of 21...wanna hang out?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Where's that remote?

Television is battling for ratings. Prime time shows are breaking out their very best to get us to tune in and watch. And I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for television. I love it. My guilty pleasure is that some nights I’m watching one show while taping two others at the same time. Oh, I know, just get TiVo, you say. But that costs money. I can still press the ‘record’ button on the VCR for free. But this isn’t about my finger exercises, this is about ‘my shows’ and the stupid networks that want us to watch.
LOST. This is a must-see. The layers of character development alone make it worth viewing. Combine that with the actual plot lines and it makes a show I love to watch.

Same with CSI. And I mean the real CSI, not the spin-offs in Miami and New York. Those do nothing for me. But the original is hard to beat. Great characters. Great stories. Just enough humor thrown in to give it a wry twist.

And for the best humor of the week there is Boston Legal. The oddest bunch of folks with bizarre story lines. This is a great show to brighten things up in the middle of the week.

I also enjoy a couple of the fall reality shows. Survivor is still good, though getting a bit tired. And Amazing Race still keeps me rooting for certain teams to do well. And I love watching the “I’m too good for home cooking” chefs on Top Chef bitch and moan cause they are asked to cook a meatloaf.

What else? Two And A Half Men makes me laugh. What About Brian is the new Thirtysomething. And I enjoyed Thirtysomething. Standoff, NCIS, Criminal Minds, and Jericho are all fun to watch. And when it is in season (whenever that is, hard to keep up with seasons these days), Monk is a real pleasure.

Can’t forget late night viewing. The day is not complete without The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Gotta get my news somewhere! ☺

BUT…here is my rant for the day. If the networks want us to watch, why do they keep screwing around with the schedules?!?! Let’s take Boston Legal.
It should have been on last night. But no, some new game show was on. It should be on next Tuesday, but some awards show is on. And it should have been on last week. And the week before. But no! The last new episode aired on Halloween. And according to their website, it won’t be on next week either. In fact, the next new episode will be on a Sunday rather than a Tuesday. Talk about messed up! And they wonder why people don’t watch! We lose track. We forget. We tape the wrong things. And good shows lose out. Which means the viewers lose out. And we end up with more and more shows where we watch other people win money cause it is cheaper to give away money than produce a good quality show that can’t hold on to viewers cause the networks are lame about the whole process.

Okay, rant is done. And LOST won’t be on again till February. Maybe The Food Network has something on….

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

It has begun!

No waiting till the day after Thanksgiving for us! Oh no. My wife and I did our first Christmas shopping today! Oh I know…some folks feel the whole holiday thing starts way too early. So do I. But if you can’t beat ‘em...join ‘em! Better yet, go ahead and get there before they do!! And that was our plan. We would get in some early shopping while the shelves were full, the crowds were slim, parking was available in the same county as the store, and discount prices were all around. And for the most part, it worked. We even had time for some good Chinese food for lunch.

The only problem? We still have about a hundred more trips to go. The crowds will be ridiculously large. Shelves will be bare. “Merry Christmas” will turn into “get the hell out of my way!” And the spirit of Christmas will teeter on the brink of extinction.

We’ll get through it. We always do. Our traditions and fun times will save us. But knocking off some of this shopping while it was a bit easier was definitely a smart way to get things started.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Giant Snowball of Blogs

It starts as just one little flake. Then it picks up a few more. Before long, it is a snowball. It keeps rolling downhill picking up more and more snow. A bigger ball. A freaking giant ball. And passes the 'ball' phase totally and we're talking avalanche.

I'm talking about the blogs I read. Is is just me, or does everyone have more bookmarked than you can possibly read? I've got a few of my favorites right here on this page. And those are just a few of my faves. I've got more faves. Then I've got the 'read when I have extra time' blogs. They are interesting but maybe don't post as often. Then there are the blogs I saved cause they had one or two really awesome posts that made me laugh till I I keep going back hoping for another one of those posts. And then, there are blogs I read for a while and just don't any longer. Just too many. And the list got even longer when I started to blog! It is like a separate little world that self-perpetuates!

So tonight I thought I would clean up my bookmarks. I got rid of the ones I haven't looked at for at least a month or so. And the ones who haven't updated in a month or so. Plus a few others for various reasons. And two things were noted.

First, I felt guilty about every one. Almost like I was dumping a friend. But they don't know. So it felt secretive and and sneaky. I know...weird, huh.

Second, I still have a LOT of blogs left on my list. Thank god LOST is going on haitus for a while. Maybe I'll use that hour on Wednesday to catch up on blog reading.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Report Card

It's been a long and busy week with all the election stuff going on. And while everyone in my house was excited about the overall outcome, that was not the biggest thrill of the week.

I've not mentioned this on here yet, but Son16 has multiple cognitive/learning/social disabilities. But with a lot of hard work and some great teachers, he is in the tenth grade and still attending all regular classes and doing the full load of work expected of a tenth grader. Oh sure, he has a wonderful resource teacher who he gets to see a 2-3 times each week. And he gets to type most things rather than write them. But overall, he is expected to do the work just like the other kids.

We're proud of his progress but we also hold our breath every day. And yesterday, when he brought home his report card, we made sure we were sitting down before opening it.

Then we opened it. And what to our wondering eyes should appear??? FOUR "A's"!! That's right...FOUR. Let's say that together, shall we?





That would be "4" for those who prefer their numbers as numbers. Or "IV" for the Romans in the crowd.

Oh yes, there were a couple of "B's" on the page. Even a "C" in algebra. But an "A" in science and language arts. "A" in Aviation (not flying, just designing). Even a "B+" in Latin!

Who would have thought report card day would be my best day of the week?!?!?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Man vs. Nature

We have a lot of wonderful trees in our yard. Different sizes. Different kinds. And right behind our house is a big patch of woods, so looking out our windows we see nature everywhere. And on one side of our property there is a stream surrounded by more trees. In the spring everything is glowing green as new leaves bud on the branches. In the summer it is lush with a cooling shade. And it reaches it's peak in the fall when it explodes in reds, yellows, browns, golds, and oranges. Just beautiful.

And then those leaves fall. And fall. And fall. A carpet of leaves. Piles of leaves. Leaves from our trees. Leaves blowing in from the woods. Leaves blowing from the stream. And the battle begins. The leaves trying to cluster in the gardens, on the deck, against the house. While I try to put them back in the woods or pile them near the street for the giant leaf-sucking truck. Choosing the right time to rake is more of an art than a science. Clearing the yard too soon just means I'll have to do it over and over. Too late and I run the risk of an early snow that turns them into a thick, heavy, wet clump that is almost impossible to move. (I speak from experience having used the snow shovel one year to 'rake' the leaves!)

My Magic 8 Ball told me this was the weekend. Working along with Son19, two rakes, a pitchfork, a hand-held blower, and the big 5 horsepower blower, it took us seven hours to turn that thick carpet of leaves into The Great Leafy Mountain Range - mounds of leaves all along the edges of the yard and in the woods. Well, to almost accomplish the task. Some leaves will blow back in the yard and need to be cleaned up. And there is still one large tree in the back that hasn't dropped any leaves yet. Maybe by Turkey Day. But most of it is done.

Anyone got some Ben Gay?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Signs of the Time

One of my favorite blogs to read on local politics is My Left Nutmeg. On their front page they feature this Welcome To Connecticut sign. I love it. And I thought it might be my favorite sign about little Bush. Until Winston showed us this!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Midterm Madness and Mayhem - Part 2

There are awards for everything. The Country Music Awards. The Tony Awards. The Darwin Awards. The People's Choice Awards. The Hasty Pudding Awards. The Best Awards Awards. So tonight I present the Midterm Madness and Mayhem Awards. For the most part, these awards are just for candidates in the great Nutmeg state cause that is what I know best. But I'm sure you've got your own award winners right where you live.

Our first award tonight is The Most Over-Used Euphemism Award. And it goes to Joe Lieberman. He has told us over and over and over and over just how he can 'reach across the aisle' to get things done. That is his way of saying, if George Bush wants it done, I'm abandoning my party and voting Republican.

Next up, The Biggest Waste of Experience Award is awarded to Rob Simmons. Mr. Simmons has stressed his years of military and intelligence experience. And yet, he never seemed to use that when making decisions. He was bamboozled by the WMD argument. He supported the rush to war. He sees no way out of the war. So apparently his years of experience mean nothing.

The 'Nothing More Than Feelings' Award
goes to our highest ranking politician in the state, Governor M. Jodi Rell. In her short term as governor, both good and bad things have happened. Ethics violations in government - including her former boss being sent to prison. Men being put to death in the death chamber. Child abuse. High gas prices. And the list goes on. And on every occasion, Governor Rell simply seemed incapable of taking decisive action, taking a stand, or setting progressive policy. But she never hesitates to tell us how she feels. She feels badly/ashamed/proud/angry/sad/etc. She always has feelings. But never really any ideas.

The Total Truth In Advertising Award
is presented to Alan Schlesinger, Republican candidate for US Senate. His TV commercials have been perfectly true and accurate. What's the catch? He has NO advertising. He has NO money. His own party nominated him and then abandoned him to support Joe Lieberman's independent bid for Senate.

Susan Bysiewicz, State Treasurer, wins The Exploited Children Award. Her commercials start with her kids, focus on her kids, and end with her kids. "Our mom...." That's cool. She has handsome kids. But what does that have to do with being Treasurer??

One of our double award winners, Joe Lieberman, picks up The Slushie Award. He has a remarkable amount of petty cash funds that he can't account for. Well over $300,000. If you aren't sure how that stacks up to other candidates, check out this chart at Connecticut Blog.

The Sleaziest Politician Award
is given to Nancy Johnson. In this category, there weren't even any other nominees. Her commercials have been vile and untrue. In some cases, they were so ridiculously bizarre and untrue as to be laughable. In other cases, they were so mean-spirited that it was uncomfortable to watch. The result, for the first time, in the last poll, she has fallen behind! Whether it is a response to the polling or just a calculated move to end on a positive note, suddenly all her commercials are quaint and upbeat and never mention her opponent. I truly hope the voters aren't fooled by this 'Grandma Goes To Washington' pitch at the final hour.

The Man On The Corner Award goes to Bill Aman. He is our local representative to the state legislature. And he stands on street corners waving at passing cars more than any politician in history! And he has become such a fixture on the corner that his campaign posters are now life-size cardboard cutouts of Bill waving at cars. So now he can be on lots of corners all the time! (Wonder if he supports cloning?)

The See No Evil Award
goes to our other two-time winner, Governor Rell. While she was Lieutenant Governor, our Governor engaged in enough ethics violations - stealing money, misappropriations of funds, rigged bids for state contracts, etc - that he ended up in prison. Somehow, in all those years, Jodi never saw a thing. She never grew suspicious. She had no clue. She was obviously so uninvolved in goverment that she had no idea what was going on around her. Oh, but when it finally became too obvious and too publicized to ignore, she felt really badly about it all.

This final award does extend beyond state lines. The 'I Can't Believe Anyone Thinks This Way' Award goes to every politician at the national level who voted to support Bush's torture legislation but opposes gay marriage. I don't care how you look at it, I just can't understand how any list of human behaviors would rank torture as a more favorable thing than a loving marriage. And yet, we have a lot of senators who would rather torture someone than let them get married.

Congratulations to all our winners.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Midterm Madness and Mayhem - Part 1

We're just one week away from the elections so it seemed as good a time as any to toss out a thought or two. I'm no political junky but I do try to pay attention to current events. So I've got a few thoughts about this whole midterm muddle.

  1. Every survey tells us that we, as a people, are unhappy about the direction the country is headed. We are angry about Iraq. We got tricked into this war and now there is clearly no plan to get us out. We are unhappy about the economy and the prices we paid for gas this summer. And we are angry that Dick Cheney can shoot a guy in the face with no real consequence while we can't even carry shampoo on an airplane cause that seems dangerous. And yet, I wonder how much will change? We get pissed. We rant and rave. But will we really vote for change? Or will most incumbents slip by with a narrow margin so we can continue on our merry way with no real change?
  2. What if we do elect a whole new slew of politicians? Will it matter? Do any of them give a rat's ass about change - or do they just care about getting elected? The way they alter their positions almost daily as the polls move up and down gives us a hint about what they care about, doesn't it!
  3. I don't know about the politicians where you live. Perhaps they are fine, upstanding characters with integrity and decency and high ideals. But if that's the case, then you don't live here! Some of the commercials on TV here have broken new ground in tastelessness. If the commercials were true, we would be choosing between terrorist supporters, porn producers, idiots, losers and crooks. Okay, some of that may be true. But I'm betting most of it is not. While the commercials have that same bizarre appeal as a car crash - we are repulsed but we can't look away - it seems the quality of them must surely be bad for the political process as a whole.

I will stand in line next Tuesday and cast my vote. I enjoy participating in the process. I like expressing my opinion with my vote. But my track record isn't so good. I usually vote for the one who loses. My values and beliefs are not mainstream. But that won't stop me. I'll be there. I'll pull a lever or scan a document or punch a chad or whatever the hell kind of voting mechanism we get to use this time. And I'll sit at home Tuesday night, watching the returns, and keeping my fingers crossed for just enough victories locally and nationally to maybe make a difference. And I hope I'm not writing next Wednesday about how futile the whole thing is and what a dumb bunch of voters we all are.