Catching-Up is Hard to Do

Happy New Year!

It’s New Year’s Eve and our house is full of modest activity. Bossman is cleaning off his desk, The Queen of English is probably watching a Hallmark movie or is at her desk editing bird pictures from today’s sit-outside. The Man-Boy is in his bedroom meditating after trying to figure out all the problems with this blog over the last few days. I’m sitting here, drinking a Pumpkin Spice Latte with Wild Turkey. Don’t judge.

A lot has happened this past year. Good and Bad, of course. The Queen of English has been afflicted with Meniere’s Syndrome for almost a year. It’s horrid. Her POTS, postural orthostatic, tachycardia sydrome has been pretty steady at being just ‘bad’. The good news is that she’s finished her novel and has gone through three edits. I’ll keep you all posted when it goes off to agents. Her birding has also been pretty steady. 99% of her sightings are from the backyard and she’s ranked 6th in the county for species sightings for the year.

The Man-Boy, 43, has moved from Oregon to our spare bedroom. He’s job searching and ready to start over in the south where the weather is warmer and brighter. He’s a helper to all of us and has lifted his sister’s spirits quietly by just sitting and watching Hallmark movies with her during the holidays.

Bossman has played golf two to three times a week in good weather and enjoys poker night with the neighborhood guys once a month. He keeps busy with tons of bookkeeping and paperwork, shuttling The Queen to therapy and appointments, finishing handyman work around our house and anyone else’s who needs it.

Our ‘chosen’ grandkids are the lights of our lives. Kate is almost 17 and Cannon will be five on our birthday. Such fun with these two!

Last year started out with a bang for me. I had basal cell surgery on my nose in February which took six hours because the wonderful, amazing Doctor  William G. Stebbins rebuilt my nostril. I love showing it off. I stick my nose up in the air at a lot of people. In March I had two wisdom teeth removed. The only outcome of that was the tattoo I decided to get of Bernie Sanders. (get it?)

I’ve been active in my three writer’s groups, one which Bossman has now joined, and another with just chicks. I also am a leader in our church’s Poets and Writers group.

I attended two family weddings and four graduations in Mississippi, New York and Atlanta. I traveled to EUROPE!!! It was a dream-trip~ France, Switzerland and Italy. Words fail me. I went with 14 others from the Journey Church Arts Collective and we had an experience of a lifetime. The bonding was unexpected and is still so very strong months later.

Last February I was approached by my friend and Creative Pastor, Brett Mabury. He asked if I thought I could write lyrics. “Sure! I think I could do that.” Meanwhile a little voice was yapping at me, “What? What? You? Write lyrics??? hahahaha”.  Well, those lyrics were for a song that was hopefully going to be included in a movie; which opened this December, and had music from Journey Church people, including my song. I took all my friends and family to the red carpet premieres in Franklin and Nashville. I had to join a union. I met the actors in the movie, Believe, and we have three songs, including mine, that are three of 91 songs submitted for nomination for an Academy Award for best original song in a motion picture. We will find out January 24th if we’re nominated. One song, by Rachael Taylor is Number One on the Christian Music Charts right now. She sings my song, Mother’s Theme (I didn’t name it that), in the movie and on iTunes. The DVD should be coming out in January of 2017.

The trip to Europe and the song have been highlights of this past year. What a blessing to have these happen late in life. I’ll turn, cough-cough, the magic age of Social Security benefits in May. It’s never too late to have some exciting firsts. God has plans for us that we never see coming, sometimes.

Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy

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Hangin' in the Paris Metro.
Hangin’ in the Paris Metro.
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I’ve Been Committed

Decisions

 

I woke up around 5:30 this morning thinking about the commitment I made two days ago. Bossman was with me, so he’s a witness. We talked about this commitment yesterday and in celebration of my commitment, he committed by making a tee time for himself for 9am today .

So, I’m laying, or lying in bed, thinking about what I’ve sworn to do. Seriously? Again? Good gravy, Marie!  All the decisions that go with signing on that damn dotted line have just hit me between the eyes. My intentions were sincere and I was even excited when I signed and handed over my credit card.

I joined a gym. Planet Fitness. Like I need another planet. I have a hard enough time balancing the two I’m trying to function on now. Earth and the one people think I’m originally from. Probably Mars, or maybe Neptune. Mars is pretty and I can see it at night, I think I’d like to be… . Squirrel!

The clock next to the bed is glowing at me. I’m wide awake. Last night, I told Bossman I was going to get to the gym three days a week and Friday was going to be my first day. Today is Friday. My problem is making decisions. Now I have to decide what to wear and what time to go.

Clothing: Definitely not the skin tight workout bottoms I see women wearing at Kroger. (I’m envious knowing they made decisions and have already been to the gym) Not the baggy pair of knit black pants I wear around the house with the stains on them. Not the knit knee-length pants I only wear in the house that are semi-loose, lightweight and need to be worn with a long, sturdy tee shirt to cover the tummy area because that’s where they aren’t loose. I settle on a pair of knit crop pants that miraculously aren’t skin tight. I’ll top them off with a t-shirt of some sort with a neck that won’t choke me when I’m gasping for air on the elliptical machine.

Shoes: I have sturdy sneakers that pinch my toes a little bit, and I have neon nylon Nikes. So, the Nikes have it for today.

Time: It’s 6:30am. People will be hitting the gym before work. I’m avoiding the gym when it’s at its busiest.  There is absolutely no reason for me to be there during rush hour with women having to shower and get ready for work. The fewer naked women I see at the gym, the better. I’m modest, self-conscious and have a problem dialoging in my head about details. I’m detailed oriented and I don’t need any naked information scurrying around me that might end up in a blog or story. Well, maybe… . No! No rush hour gym time!

Now, another decision. Shower before the gym or after? I’m exhausted just thinking about going. I won’t shower or maybe I will shower. I feel better after a shower. So maybe I will. Yes! I’m going to shower!!!

Gosh. I’m ready for a nap and I’m not even out of bed yet.

 

A note from Susie:

I’m glad I wrote about this decision making issue I have as I laid in bed this morning. The whole reason I joined the gym in the first place is to increase my stamina for walking. You may have heard that I’m going on a trip to Europe (still can’t believe this) in October. Paris, Lausanne and Florence. Journey Church Arts Collective is taking about 15 of us over to share the love of Christ, our artistic gifts and our hope for a better and kinder world. My personal plan is to represent my faith and my country, and the expectation I have that Americans will pull our country together and become united–to where we are blind in judgment when we see the color of people’s skin and  we’ll be wise in choosing a new leader; and to travel to Paris, take Parisian’s hands in mine and tell them “I’m sincerely sorry for your enormous loss.”

I am not afraid to travel but I will be observant. God has made it clear that I’m supposed to be on this trip. There is a reason. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m praying that I will make Him, and all my supporters, smile at  my efforts while I’m abroad.

As always ~ Thanks for reading me.

Susie

 

Hope is like peace. It is not a gift from God.
It is a gift only we can give one another.

Elie Wiesel

Overwelming to Overwhelmed

 

o-ver-whelm-ing adj. 1. So great as to render resistance or opposition useless; overpowering.

o-ver-whelm v.t. 1. to overpower in mind or feeling; overwhelmed by remorse. 2. to overpower with superior force or numbers. 3. to cover or bury beneath a mass of something. 4. to burden excessively.

 

 

Where do I start? I like to think that I roll with the punches, so they say, when challenged with hurdles thrown in front of me. I think I handle them pretty well when they’re my hurdles.

In January, I had a medical problem that my regular doctor couldn’t quite fit into a category. After having a physical exam and a CAT scan that showed no abnormalities he diagnosed a pulled groin muscle and told me to rest, don’t lift, apply heat and take ibuprofen. (I rarely do anything strenuous enough to pull a groin muscle. Honestly.) Three months went by and I still had terrible pain in my lower abdomen and both groin areas. So, I went to see a young woman from church who is doctor of kinesiology and chiropractic. She helped me with, what I called her ‘voodoo’, aromatherapy, and weird and wonderfully painful pressure-point torture procedures. Today, I am pain-free and I thank God for her. Hurdle cleared.

A large basal cell carcinoma on my nose was my hurdle in February. My left nostril was rebuilt by my surgeon, Dr. William Stebbins at Vanderbilt Dermotology. I had eleven shots in my nose, was at the surgery center for six hours, had three biopsies and a partridge in a pear tree. It was overwhelming for a day or so when I’d see the quilting job he did on my nose,but I moved on. Those stitches were a hurdle I had to reckon with, and I did it. I reckoned that the surgery probably saved my nose and maybe my life. Hurdle cleared!

On March 23rd I had my two upper wisdom teeth out at the age of 63. They weren’t doing me any good, wisdom was fleeting and they were harassing the teeth in front of them, so I figured, “What the Hell. Get rid of them!” Dentists had been after me for at least three decades to get them out, so I finally gave in. It was a no brainer and I recovered quickly and completely. Hurdle cleared!

April was a reprieve for me, but Bossman had basal cell cancer surgery on his neck. He’s joined the Skin Cancer Survivor Club with The Queen of English (our daughter who has a Masters degree in creative writing), and me.

May was my birthday month, so Bossman gifted me his cold that had staked a claim in his chest producing a barking cough. My present just made me feel lousy. We missed church for the first time in forever. Then all Hell broke loose.

On Wednesday, the 18th of May, I woke up, rolled over to look at the time and couldn’t open my eyes. Damn that Sandman. I felt my way to the bathroom, turned on the faucet and prayed I didn’t have pinkeye. The soaked heavy warmth of the washcloth felt good on my now scratchy eyes. One was pink. Thinking I could catch it early, I treated each eye as an individual. Each one had its own fresh washcloth for its warm water compress and individual towel. I researched which Essential Oils I could use and placed them in odd reflex spots on my toes to help my eyes. (I don’t get it either) I was going to tough this out. Hell, I was turning 64 in less than a week and this childish pinkeye hurdle was not going to get the best of me.

So, later that evening it was close to 10:30 when the ER doctor, Dr. Handsome, ordered a shot of antibiotics in my hip, put antibiotic drops in my eyes and handed me two scripts for drops and 1,000 milligram capsules for a week by mouth. My painful eyes, almost swollen shut, and the disgusting goop being manufactured at a pace that would rival China’s iPad production were a challenge for the medical staff to contain their “Oh, that’s really gross” face. Zombie PinkEye. I looked as if I did a few rounds with Mohammad Ali and lost. But, I was much better by my birthday on the 24th. Bossman and my semi-pink eyes and I went to lunch and picked up Gigi’s Gluten Free Cupcakes to share with the Queen of English. Then I took a nap. Hurdle cleared!

Little did I know that those hurdles were nothing compared to what lay ahead for our adult kid.

Our medically disabled daughter was diagnosed with POTS [postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome] a few years ago and falls down frequently because of low blood pressure. That’s a twenty-seven foot tall hurdle in itself. She has also been suffering from vertigo over the last few months – a double-whammy if I’ve ever seen one. With her POTS falls, she’ll yell, “I’m fine!” when she goes down like a pile of bricks and we’ll continue to watch TV or eat our dinner as we reply with a mouthful of mashed potatoes, “Okay. Thanks.” If we don’t hear the “I’m fine”, we yell, “You okay?” and she might eke out a weak “yes” and one of us will run or hobble up the stairs anyway. Hurdles everywhere.

During all my temporary medical drama this past year, we’d hear her POTSie falls, later mixed in with the Vertigo crashes, coming from the second floor where she lives. SuperDad/Bossman/ManNurse would fly up the stairs to check on her. I’d cover my head with my soft blanket and pray.

We need a better system.

Lately, her vertigo has become violent. Tests start on Monday with an MRI of her brain and we’ll go from there. Her saving grace has been the nurturing and photographing of our abundant, civil war battlefield/ backyard birds, ducks, turkeys and squirrels. As she pushes her walker to the back door to feed the yard birds, all too often it looks like some ghost of a Yankee or Rebel soldier is pushing her sideways or backwards. She’ll slam onto the hardwood floor, and while I move to help her I yell, “You bastards!!! Leave her alone!!! Sons of Bitches!!!” It feels good to be able to blame someone for this stuff.

Vertigo is an evil hurdle to tackle. The attacks come as if they are set up on her old high school track where she ran miles and miles for years. One after another after another… . When an episode happens, it’s as if she’s being slapped on the forehead. Her head jerks back, she loses her balance and down she goes. Again. She recalls her college days occasionally while she’s on her knees hanging over her fuchsia walker. “I used to enjoy feeling this way once in a while.”

It’s overwhelming.

I am useless. I freak out. In my rush to get to her I might trip and fall on the bed or bang up against the wall. She smiles and shakes her head. When she has an attack in front of me, I automatically turn into Kramer from Seinfeld. That makes her laugh. I try to help her get up and either tickle her by mistake or grab her somewhere inappropriate. We laugh again. “Just helping…” I mutter.

The Queen of English says we’re a sitcom.

We are.

I’d call it, Overwhelmed.

Everyone Has One

I’m talking about a nose.

I’m also talking about a quirk with some bodily task, function, obsession that might partner with that nose or your choice of body part. You might have the desire that your fingernails be trimmed to a certain length. All the time. Or maybe it’s your toenails. What if that big toe catches on your sock and tries to push through to freedom? Does it make you crazy enough to throw your shoes and socks off, race to get the clippers and take care of the little bugger? Not that that’s ever happened to me, mind you. But does that bother you?

Ears. Do you need to inspect your ears and Q-Tip them until they’re pink? Or could it be the eyebrows with the willy-nilly antennae reaching for Mars? Do you snag the strays and release a relaxing breath?

My personal quirk is that I enjoy a clean nose. It drives me crazy to feel any material in my nostrils. I have issues, so I have tissues with me at all times. I try to be discreet in public and will excuse myself to take care of any debris I’m suddenly aware of. I will drill to China for a clean nose. It’s become an art.

But, I’ve been challenged for almost a week now. I had surgery on my nose to remove a be-damned basal cell cancer. A tumor was hiding down where that cute little bump connects the nose to the face. It was large enough that the surgeon had to rebuild my little bump and nostril. I’ve endured swelling, many stitches, of which Doc would win a blue ribbon in a quilting competition, and a closed nostril due to said swelling. No clean nose for days. Now, almost a week later, there is still a partial blockage to access material. I’ve devised a plan so I don’t hurt my nose and still get some satisfaction of clearing the material, which we all know are boogers. I hate boogers in my nose.

So, there you have it. My confession given under extreme circumstances of not being able to take care of a personal hygienic issue, of which I’m handling, not so much with grace but with humor and extreme stress of not being able to let go and blow this nose to kingdom come. Soon. Soon enough. The stitches come out tomorrow.

Thurman Munson Woke Me Up

I’m at my computer at six o’clock on a Saturday morning because former New York Yankee’s catcher, Thurman Munson woke me up. It’s 2015 and Thurman Munson died in 1975-ish. I’ll have to look that up when I’m fully awake.[edit: August 2, 1979]

This was all in a dream. I have no clue why Thurman Munson was in my dream because I haven’t watched a baseball game on television since I left Detroit in 1994.

Thurman, in his words, has some tips for young men and women:

Go to baseball games. If you can’t afford a ticket, don’t worry about it. Go anyway and bring my picture with you. Tell the ushers that you’re a fan and will stand through the whole game. When they see that you just love the game they’ll sneak you in. Then go to another usher and show’m my picture and ask if they have any empty seats in their section. You don’t care where you sit, you just wanna watch the game. In person. There’s nothing like hearing the crack of the bat from a hitter who loves the game like you do. Go high if you have to. Be discrete and use your manners. Don’t forget to take me with you.

Why Thurman Munson visited my rare-as-hens-teeth dream is beyond me. In 1979 my son was in the hospital having surgery when Thurman, a favorite player on the Yankees, died on August 2nd, in a plane crash. Our son would be going into first grade a month later. We were devastated when we watched the news from Chris’ hospital room. We wept.

My best guess is that I had this dream because I wore my nightgown inside out two nights in a row. If I notice I put my nightgown on inside out, I immediately whip it off and put it on the correct way. Last night I was consciously trying not to be so OCD about that. Who cares if you wear your bedclothes inside out? Right? Well, dead baseball players obviously have some kind of issue with it.

munson

Thurman, I loved you then and I love you now. Thanks for giving me this interesting information. I’m going to go back to bed, but first I’m going to take this nightgown off and put it on right-side out. I don’t even watch baseball anymore. I’d appreciate it if you let me go back to sleep.

After sleeping a little more, I’ve edited this sleepy piece and will now post it to the world for Thurmon. I don’t know why, but the dream was so odd, I can’t not post it. Happy dreams everyone.

The Chicken Story

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As I stand on the street corner a chicken struts by.
Now, understand, I live in the city
with traffic, like buses and cars, kids with bikes,
and houses sittin’ on top of each other.
“Hey, Chicken!” I says. “Where the hell did you come from?”
That chicken stopped dead;
turned its ugly chicken head and stared me down.
I stared right back. I aint backin’ down from no damn ugly chicken.
Then it started comin’ at me.
“Whoa!” I yelled. “Whoa there Chicken! I take it back. I ain’t lookin’ for no fight!”
I remembered seein’ chickens fight’n on the TV.
Some big-shot football player got into hot water for holdin’ chicken fightin’ contests in his mansion.
Them chickens can take a lickin’.
I started backin’ away from this thing, but he just kept comin’ at me.
“Hey Chicken, I ain’t lookin’ for no trouble. Just wanted to make sure you weren’t lost or somethin’.”
That chicken stopped and looked me over. Creeped Me Out!
Lucky for him my bus pulled up. Just in time so’s I didn’t have to do somthin’ I’d be sorry for.
That’s one damn lucky duck! Er…Chicken.

(this was written at a woman’s writers lunch meeting at a prompt. we were given five minutes to write. the first sentence was the prompt. it has been mildly edited)

Cabin Fever 2015

The winter of 2015 has become a cabin fever nightmare.

The Northeast has been hit time and again with blizzards that would freeze your gizzards.

A gazillion feet of snow in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, little Rhode Island (now a big snowball), Vermont and New Hampshire (secretly one good-sized state cut on a diagonal) and New York, including the frozen Big Apple and the rest of the state which is an massive orchard in size-comparison.

Slip on down the coastline and everybody has gotten a taste of winter right into the Carolinas and into the mid-south states of Kentucky and Tennessee.

Here in mid-Tennessee all schools, and trash pick-up are closed for the rest of the week. Malls, restaurants, offices, fast-food, slow-food, doctors and lawyers have closed offices. Our area has been crippled. Except for the NHL game in Nashville! Hockey fans rock it!!! Go Preds!!!!

So, my prediction from all this snow, ice and mayhem?

stork multi