Thursday, July 14, 2011

On Sisterhood...

It had been awhile since my last mammogram, too long according to some. Tuesday, at 3:10, I showed up to Evergreen Breast Center to have my boobs laid out on a clear plastic rectangle plate topped with another plastic plate which was cinched down until my boob was reduced to a painful pancake only to have this repeated a few more times. All this to see if there is a lump. So tight the plate is tightened that should there be a lump I would think it would pop and be squished to smithereens!

Like all women who enter the clinic, we are to remove any clothing above our waist and don a short one size fits all cape that closes with one snap in the front. No arms, just fabric. Thin cotton covering breasts of all sizes, shapes, and age. A lifted arm or shift in the seat and peek-a-boo. No one wants to look, to see.

Our clothes in small lockers, the key around our wrist. Funny, our shirts, blouses, and brassieres behind lock and key, as if that is what's valuable. It makes us feel better, as if we have some control. We don't.

But there we were, sitting, nine of us, waiting to be called back. We sat, side by side or across from each other;  Sisters of the Perpetual Cape. When the door opens, names are called. Eyes look up to see who's next or who is coming back to unlock their clothes and go home.

I noticed one woman wearing a 3/4 length terry cloth robe. It stood out. Why did she have a robe? There were plenty of capes. Had her mammogram gone bad and more pictures need to be taken? Do you get a robe if that happens? Did she bring it herself? Too polite to ask, I wondered silently.

Some of us read, books or magazines, others watched My Fair Lady on television. Light-hearted Eliza Doolittle trying to be a lady, she was. As were we, bound together by possibility, or not. All knowing that statistics say one of us in that room is likely to have a lump. Prayers travel with each of us as we go through that door. Superheros in our capes.

The technicians are polite. Soft. They know. They see the films. They see the shadows. They know the numbers. They tell us to have a good day as we leave. Most of us will as we leave, only to return another day or year, still bound together; Sisters of the Perpetual Cape.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Of Brussel Sprouts and Burn Barrels...

 "When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad...I simply remember my list of things I don't like and then I don't feel sooooooooooo bad...."

Running around my mind lately has been this list of things that I dislike strongly. Mom said 'hate' is not a good word. We shouldn't hate. So, this is a list of things I really really don't like, understand, or that annoy me. It could be longer, but I try to be a positive optimistic person.

10: Tramp Stamps...not being a big fan of tatoos anyway, why would someone, namely females, spend money to permanently color their lower back with eagles or hawks or something large that is only nastier when it shows along with their red or blue thong because when they bend over their jeans run too low! Ick. Not sexy. 

9.  Brussel Sprouts...this vegetable is wrong. Enough said. 
                             {Really? Is this on Martha Stewart's door}

8. Chin Hair...on women. Is this a direct correlation to my thinning eyebrows? I'm a tweezer nazi because of said chin hair, but those women who let them grow into 8 inchers? Or have a whole herd grazing below their lower lip? Nasty! Get a magnifying mirror or some Nair!

7. Ear Wax...someone invented Q-tips so no one else would have to see yellow nastiness hanging around your ear hole! I do not like to see it! These people usually have long dirty fingernails too. The two go together.

6. Long Fingernails...on men. See above. Would you want these caressing you?  

5. People who sniff, sniff, sniff...instead of blowing their nose! Worse, they hold a Kleenex up to their nose to wipe, but don't blow, and keep on sniffing! Blow for heaven's sake! Get the snot out! Those of us around you are going insane because YOU don't blow. Please!

4. Knee Hi Nylons...that lose their elastic and become anklets! Not a good look when you cross your legs and see the great expanse of white flesh uncovered because of wilted knee hi nylons! It's worse when you forget to throw them away and you wear them again! Grrr.

3. Burn Barrels...really? In 2011? Well, in any year. P.U. Pay for garbage pick up. Take it to the dump. Put it in your neighbor's can. Don't sit around it like it's a camp fire with a beer in one hand and a s'more stick in the other.  

2. Dog Poop...I am a dog lover, an over the top dog lover, but I hate their poop. It's big (even Gracie June's is too big), SMELLY, and is always in the wrong place like hidden land mines. Dogs would be perfect if they didn't poop or shed.  Just sayin...

And the number 1 thing???

1. Toilet Lid Covers...that are fringy, like shag rugs. Usually they match the rug at the base of the toilet  and the tank as well, and come in colors such as pink or mint green. This makes me think the toilet seat will be warm and sort of spongy. Gives you the creeps doesn't it? 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Of Pancakes, Tubes, and Stolen Socks

 Ed asked me when Annie was two how old she should be before we got a dog. I said 35, so of course the next day he brought home Sandy, our first family dog. After a wonderful 14 year life, Sandy passed away. We were dogless until Ed said on a Monday night, "I thought we could go up to Millcreek to look at basset puppies."

I didn't know we were interested in getting another dog, and what did we know about bassets? But a little over 11 years ago, an 11 week old basset pup weighing in at 11 pounds, mostly ear weight, stole our hearts. My class at the time voted on her name: Lucy. She would trip over her ears, fall into our little pond, and drag any socks left on the floor outside to bury. We had to warn over night guests that underwear or socks left on the floor might never be seen again. How many dozens of Ed and Charles' socks that are at some stage of disintegration in our yards is up for grabs.

Lucy was a bit obsessive. We found out early on that she loved toilet paper tubes. Not paper towel tubes or wrapping paper tubes, just your run of the mill toilet paper tubes. She loved them! She would bat them around, bark at them, and proudly bury them outside. We always knew when a burial took place by the tiny pile of dirt on her nose upon coming inside. One of my students saved up 127 tubes for Lucy which lasted quite a while. Gramma Bev would save tubes for Lucy tying them up with a ribbon. We always put them in our bathroom closet on a shelf and that damn dog could smell those tubes. She knew that's where we hid her treasures. Often she would sit and bark at the door waiting for us to dole her out 2-3. Being a brilliant basset she could count to 4 as that's how many she could hold in her mouth at once to take outside.

Like any regular dog Lucy liked to eat. Normally she wasn't a beggar, but if given the right opportunity she would clean off a plate or lick crumbs off the floor. Who wouldn't? But she did have her favorites. Any carbohydrate was a first choice, but her favorite thing in the world? Pancakes. Lucy loved her pancakes, and such good parents were we, she was indulged. If we got busy or neglected to give her one, she would sit in the kitchen and whine. Only over pancakes. She didn't whine if there was leftover chicken or steak, but give the girl her pancakes and love was in the air. She didn't need syrup or butter, just plain would do please. She just knew if there was a plate of them on the counter they must be for her! Silly Lucille.

About a year and a half ago the whole family went up to Whidbey Island for the weekend. Six adults, five dogs. The tide was low and the sun was out. Charles' dog Piper and Annie's dog Logan would run, run, swim, play, swim, run, and play. Gracie June and Bella dog accompanied us all but have a bit more of a princess mind set. Lucy ran around, and BARKED. She never really knew how to play with other dogs, but she was a very accomplished barker, her version of play. The beach was such that her bark echoed and carried down the beach alerting all for a mile in either direction that she was playing, loudly and having a good time.

Lucy loved a good walk. Living by the river and trails this was a good thing. Ed and I weren't too found of autumn walks as Lucy was a sneaker pants. She would quietly disappear off the trail to go to the river, not really for a drink, but to roll in the fall nastiness of spent salmon. Or in the pinch, dog poop. Why not? Ever proud, she would re-present herself on the trail with her new aroma as if to say, "Look at me!" That meant a bath, in my shower, with me. P.U. Stinky dog!

Of course we never got pet insurance. Why would we? We should have for Lucille, a veterinarian's dream patient. She had the usual shots and check-ups, but wait, there's more! Lucy got an infection in her head from a stick in her mouth. Operation.  She had a torn meniscus in one knee. Operation. Later that year, the other knee. Operation.  Then arthritis. Meds. Bladder infection. Meds.  Repeat bladder infections times a million. More meds.  Teeth cleanings. Head infection from a cat whapping her. Overnight at the vet.  Meds. Various lumps and bumps that needed draining. Meds. Yes, Lucy has sent the vet on vacations many times over the years. Perhaps it was her calling.

And yet, we loved her. She was a loyal, upbeat, hilarious dog. A few weeks ago, she got another bladder infection. It cleared up, but came back. She needed an ultrasound so couldn't be on antibiotics and this last week was very hard on all three of us. By Wednesday she'd stopped eating. By Friday morning when Ed took her to the vet she was shaking. The vet wasn't completely sure what was wrong, but it wasn't good. Ed brought our beloved Lucy home throwing up and shaking which she did all night unable to get cozy or relax. Annie came over to stay and help, but our dear favorite basset Lucy June passed away this morning at 6:45 in her dad's arms.  We buried her under the magnolia with her favorite squeak toy, a fresh tube, the grungy socks and various nasty dirty tubes Ed unearthed when digging her grave and so much love it gnaws at our hearts.

We Billingtons love our dogs. We spoil them and make them our own as if they were one of the family, which perhaps is why we hurt so much when they leave us. The circle of life is full of joy if you're a dog in our household, and while death is part of the deal, it's hard and it hurts. What will we do without our Lucy girl?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I Hate Tennis Shoes...

I don't like tennis shoes. I don't like sweating. I don't like working out. To do all this, I have to change my clothes, except for my underpants, then do stuff like lift weights and get on the 'dreadmill.' Don't like sports, never did 'em. Bleeech. I've tried walking, running, aerobics (I have rememberies of perky bouncy Bambi the instructor saying, "That's it, you can do it, just 5, and 4, and 3, and smile, now 2, give me another 5, and 4, and breathe, and 3, and 2, and 1"...groan), gyms, personal training, and once I even played racquetball.

But, my favorite son Charles is getting married in the fall and I don't want to wear a dress shaped like a muu-muu to the wedding. Such a sight it would be, preserved forever on film for all to see and report: Huge Mama in Nasty Muu-Muu at Wedding Celebration. I don't like that either.

Thus, due to my expanded butt and flapping upper arms, I rejoined Weight Watchers (you know, because I'm a 'lifetime member' that didn't stay within the 2 pound target weight) and have started to workout....again. I'm counting points and measuring food trying to plan what I eat...bleech. What happened to being spontaneous? I haven't worked myself up to sweating yet and I'm afraid that will be on the horizon...oh ick, dark circles under my armpits or an giant dark V on my chest. That will mean I'll smell and need to take a shower which cuts into my reading time. It's a problem!!

However, I am saying to myself, "This is good for me, this is good for me." But give me a cozy couch, a good book or nine (this is my type of sport!), perhaps next to a warm fire with my doggie Gracie June and I'm a happy girl. Without snacks, but I'll be happy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Raise Your Hand if You Love a Snow Day!!

Who doesn't love a good snow day? Waking up to sense the presence, the quietude of snow that lies untouched in the back yard? The illusion that everywhere things are good, pristine. Just a smattering of snow on the thin ice covering most of the pond. Underneath, the fish are dormant, in winter mode.

Inside the shed, spring tools wait, sleeping through the cold days and nights. Empty pots rest. Shovels lean against the wall and old seeds hide in the cracks and crevices.

The bench, while inviting on warm summer days, now sits empty, besides the occasional bird resting before bathing in the cold rushing water. The garden normally stark and bare in the November season, now white, snow adorning sticks and branches.

Snow resting atop Brazilian verbena as if it was meant to be. A new look for the purple stalk. Simple, yet lovely beyond words.