Saturday, January 31, 2009

Typing Type

Did you know you might have a typing style? Neither did I.

During a highly scientific research project I didn't know was taking place, my husband and daughter informed me I type in very different ways. They made this announcement public yesterday at an informal press conference. It was all news to me. No one listens when I talk but they pay attention to my typing? Why aren't I writing them letters? Loudly?

Apparently, I sometimes type 700 miles an hour (or Mach 1) pounding out each word so hard and fast I can be heard as far away as Paris. Frankly, I am incredulous. If I yell my loudest that the dishes have not been done yet, absolutely no one in the whole house, in any location, can hear me at all.

At other times, I am told, my typing is tentative, quiet....a staccato ritardando (I am not swayed by this fancy-schmancy vernacular - anything with the word "retard" in it is an insult).

Well, I can explain these two phenomenons easily and there was no research necessary.

First of all, if I get an idea I have to type really really really really fast before it leaves my head because then I would.............I would..........I would.........I'll get back to this.

The quiet parts are me editing the loud parts. Or searching the data banks for something fresh. Do you ever feel like you only have a 100 word vocabulary and you just keep recycling them in different ways? Okay, you're right. 100 words is hyperbole. I'm stuck at 50. (Koko the gorilla knows 1000 sign language words. Where is she when I need her?)

But there you have it. If you're a writer, a blogger, an emailer, or someone with an extremely boring life, listen to yourself type next time. Or have someone else listen. When you're done, look over and ask them what they perceived. They will most likely be in a coma. Take this opportunity to vigorously and loudly recount to them all the chores you want done. They won't hear this either.

Copyright 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Jason McElwain - Gotta Love This

This has been around for a couple of years but a sweet friend of mine posted it on Facebook today and I thought it deserved a look if you've never seen it.

I want to make it a priority in my life to believe in people, to encourage the best, and to never let the naysayers get me down (even though I KNOW they will, which is okay, because I always need material and they're wonderful to write about!). But this kid, THIS kid trumps life's tough cards with a royal flush. Thought you might need a "feel good" moment today as well. A little love from me to you.

Observational Twitter 9


"People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." Proverb of unknown origins


"People who live in glass houses should shower at the gym." Robynn Reilly

Copyright 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Riotous Good Time

If you do nothing else for yourself today, please do this one thing: Go to Stopped By the Police .

This is located at the site of "Ladybird World Mother" and you are in for a rollicking good time. She is brilliantly funny and you have to promise to come back here and tell me if you laughed as loud and uproariously as I did - okay, I won't MAKE you but I'll probably whine and discuss it at dinner if you don't. (Laughs are always more fun when they're shared.)

Read the comments, too, especially the one about the father who took his girls to "The Sewerage" for a day of fun. Ladybird hails from the United Kingdom and you will hear a different turn of phrase that is also refreshing and entertaining.

Now go, have fun!

P.S. I added a World Map, Visitor Counter, and Location Tracker on Sunday so I can see the places people come in from (do not end sentences with prepositions unless you're completely lazy, like me). It's made it lots of fun to check on the blog (like it wasn't before and I'm not unabashedly addicted to reading every word that drips from your lips, or brain, as it were). Look for yourself if you'd like. Here's a big HELLOOOO! to all of you coming in from everywhere and a THANK YOU! as well. Who knew I had friends in so many places? (And parenthetical thoughts and the use of parenthesis should be severly limited in any well written work.) But I'm not a well writer.

Monday, January 26, 2009

False Teeth and Pastors

My pastor has been on my mind and heart lately because he has been through so much in recent days. He is an incredible man with a true heart for God and for people and, when that's who you are, you go through a lot. He lives his faith. He's the real deal.

So naturally, this has led me to think of false teeth. Not that he has any, false teeth I mean, he has actual teeth (though I haven't tried to remove them so I'll do that and get back to you). But I had another pastor I dearly loved when I was four years old and he had enormous false teeth. This one fact can highly recommend you to four-year-olds, especially if you take the teeth out on demand. You must then extrude them from your mouth just far enough to resemble a scene from "Aliens." At this point you should snap and clack them a few times, and then suck them back in. What is not to love here?

I constantly demanded that this fabulous talent be demonstrated and he never let me down. In addition, from my diminutive perspective, he was at least thirteen feet tall. I would ask to be lifted up and he would perch me on his shoulders. This afforded me a view of the surrounding countryside as well as a direct look into his snapping jaws. I could bend over, twist my head around, and watch from two inches away with abject horror and complete fascination.

I had no idea this man was my pastor. His name was Brother Whitaker but every single man in our little backwater Southern Baptist church was Brother Something-Or-Other. Nothing about the title caused me any sort of appropriate awe or reverence. I presumed he had been created for my entertainment. Apparently, I paid no attention in church or I might have noticed him in the pulpit. I was too busy flirting with Ronnie Miller.

Ronnie Miller was about 18 years old and as handsome as a movie star. And he sported his own teeth. My mother always sat towards the front but Ronnie was in the back. Every time I would sashay by, and I made frequent excuses because I needed to take a good, long look at him in all his glory, he would talk to me. He would never fail to tell me he was going to marry me when I grew up. I believed him without doubt. On Sundays, I would smooth out my crinoline and shine my patent leather shoes to be sure I looked like marriage material. And he would not fail to remind me that we were an item.

One Saturday, he two-timed me and married a girl named Sharon. He walked her right up the aisle I had walked down a hundred times just to stare at him. She had nothing on me as far as I could tell and it made absolutely no sense. My heart was a shambles and I never loved again until I was eight. Even now I run into him at get-togethers and always remind him that he left me at the altar, sort of. That's how un-petty I am.

I soothed my little soul with dental entertainment. Brother Whitaker and his choppers were good medicine. Food helped, too. One time he took my brother to church camp and let me ride along up to Hume Lake. Those were the good old days when kids could stand in the front seat and launch through the windshield when you had to stop fast. Along the way he bought me a whole pack of Oreo cookies and a carton of milk. These were rare treats in my life. By the time we had traveled up and back and spent nearly a day, my milk was sour. I took a big drink, spit it across the room, and howled. In typical good-guy fashion he took me to the store and bought more milk. Some guys know how to treat a lady.

I will always wonder what became of Brother Whitaker and his teeth. He and his wife left our church not long after those days. I doubt he ever found a more appreciative audience for his special talent but he certainly laid down a fondness in my heart for pastors who are willing to go above and beyond.

And now, having come full circle, I appreciate a pastor who tends to my soul and does not feel the least compelled to share his dental work with me. So, maybe I won't check his teeth. He has been a gift from God and you should never look a gift pastor in the mouth, unless you're four.

Copyright 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

Saying Goodbye

On Saturday we say a temporary goodbye to an incredible man: our friend Norm. He and his wife and daughters have walked through the journey of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, for the last two years with grace and patience. I sit on the sidelines and know, without doubt, I could never have had the strength Norman has exhibited. It is in that strength he has decided to let go of the machines that keep him alive and embrace the new, robust life waiting for him in God's presence....whole and restored and rejoicing to see the Savior he has loved so dearly and served so well.

I won't even try to speak to the private moments and the long paths that led to this decision because I don't know them and I have no place there. I have merely been a spectator to an exquisite love story between Norman, Debra, and their girls, and my words could add absolutely nothing.

But what I would like to say is this:

Norm, the first time I saw you I didn't see you at all: I heard you - laughing. You always laughed, a big hearty light-up-your face laugh, and you made me, and everyone else, bust up right along with you. Even last night when we came to see you and try, somehow, to say good-bye, you made us belly laugh. How is that possible? Weren't we supposed to be somber and reflective? But, in typical form, you cracked a joke and we were off to the races. With only your eyes to affirm chosen letters and with your precious wife, Debra, to translate, you worked us.

When the girls called to say one of your dogs, Remi, was sick (and we all went through a laundry list of what he could have eaten), you spelled, "Maybe..Remi..ate..Nugget's..poop." (Nugget being another one of your dogs.) We laughed over that but Debra said she didn't think that was the problem. We could all tell she was worried, especially where your young daughters were concerned, about anything happening to their baby dog and causing them more sadness, so you lightened the mood even more. You indicated to Debra you had something else to add. "Maybe," you said, "Remi.....ate......Nugget." And then you lifted your eyebrows and rolled your eyes in that way that makes a person crack up even if you hadn't made a wisecrack. Debra repeated your words with a mock-scathing tone of incredulity and complete adoration, while Jamie and the kids and I burst out laughing. We couldn't help it and you didn't want us to.

It was plain to see, Norm, that you weren't filled with dread. You wanted to share joy with us, and hope, and even genuine merriment because that's how you lived and you eagerly anticipated where you were headed. You wanted us to see God's grace and, as always, to point us to Him. How could we see anything else when we considered who you were and how you lived your life?

It's not enough but I want to say thank you. I want to pay tribute in some small way to how you touched us. I'll miss you. We'll miss you. It's so very hard to say goodbye. However, we know without doubt, truly, we will all be together again. And knowing you and I, we'll be fighting for airspace on who can make 'em laugh the longest. You're gettin' a headstart and, with your delivery? I don't stand a chance.

See you there, Norm.

With Love,


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Observational Twitter 8


"Walk softly and carry a big stick." Theodore Roosevelt quoting a West African proverb.


"Walk hard and carry a gun." Robynn Reilly

(Disclaimer: My personal views may be modestly impacted by having played fire hydrant tonight to a two-legged pittbull who simply chews up shoes and sticks. Ah committees.....Someone once said, "A moose is a horse made by a committee" to which I would add "I'm ridin' Bullwinkle off into the sunset." Goodnight saddle pals!)

Copyright 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

"I'd Like to Thank All The Big People"

I am the proud recipient of the "Honest Scrap Award." I was nominated by Libby, of Neas Nuttiness. She took me under her wing when I decided to merge onto the blogger freeway and has been pointing me in all the right directions. She bragged on me to her friends and sent several of them my way by raving about a posting and linking it from her site. They became followers and friends, too. How do you top that? And she only met me here. (Okay, that may explain a lot. She doesn't know me well enough yet to run the other way...)

The Rules:

The honorees are to:A) first list 10 honest things about yourself - and make it interesting, even if you have to dig deep!) and B) pass the award on to 7 bloggers that you feel embody the spirit of the Honest Scrap.

Thank you, Libby, for this award and I'll try to come up with ten things people might not know but would want to, though they may change their minds. My life's been pretty bizarre and a whole bunch of it wouldn't be fit for a family page but, I'll take a shot.

1. I once sang for the funeral of a beloved older woman in our church. I was very saddened by her passing so I was appropriately somber and subdued as I performed. I was also impeccably clothed with my dress on backwards. It was a two-piece number, skirt and top, and I had no idea until the pastor's ten-year-old daughter asked me afterwards why the pockets of the shirt were on the back. Yes, I performed like this. No, the bonfire wasn't that big when I burned the dress.

2. When I met my husband I was camping in the high Sierras by myself. Well, sort of. I had my big ol' dog, Buck, and a 38. Jamie was camping alone too, sort of....he had his big ol' dog, Hooter (don't ask), a 357, a 22, and a shotgun. He watched me from afar as I pitched a tent big enough for six people (hey, I like comfort). He was straightening out the sheet he'd slung over a rope and nailed to the ground on four corners. (He hates it when I describe his pup tent this way but it's my blog so I get to take liberties!) Mind you, he didn't introduce himself until my tent construction was all done. This should have been a sign to me. It wasn't. Twenty-two years later we're still camping together, happily so most of the time, and we haven't shot each other yet. I'm not sure if that testifies to our markmanship or not having enough ammunition at the right time.

3. I have homeschooled my children from the very beginning and I'm getting ready to graduate my oldest. I think the Peace Corp had homeschoolers in mind when they coined the slogan, "It's the Hardest Job You'll Ever Love." The best and worst thing about homeschooling is being with your children 24 hours a day. You also don't get to blame those doggone teachers for your kids' bad habits and for everything they don't know. They imitate you. Oh dear Lord. I have created far more questions about how to do this right than I have ever formulated answers. There are lots of right ways (don't ever let some demi-goddess tell you differently) but there are a few real doozy ways to mess it up. Being so in love with your children that you don't see what needs fixing and having the guts to do it, would top the list. These are the shin kickers, the smart mouths, the disdainful, the sullen. If you have children like that and aren't heartily applying yourself to the fix, save yourself the trouble of knocking because I'm almost positive I'm not home.

4. When I was six-months-old I was given up for adoption by my father when my mother went into the hospital for five months. When she got out she wanted to know where in the heck I was and brought me back home. I'm still pondering whether or not that was a good decision but the next fifteen years would give me enough material to fill a couple of books.

5. I left home at fifteen - for good.

6. I have cleaned motel rooms and other people's toilets and eventually went to college and became a sales rep, and then manager, for a consumer products manufacturer for nine years. I saw places I had only dreamt of: New York City, Toronto, Niagra Falls, both coasts of Florida several times, the beautiful Arizona desert, among other places. I met one of my (still) very best friends on my first trip to New York. We were both dating James Reillys who were younger than us. Hers became part of ancient history. Mine is in the livingroom building a computer for our son. Most of the time he's glad it worked out this way.

7. I have snorkeled off the coast of Kaua'i in the pitch blackness of night with only a flashlight, my husband, and my children. We did have a six-inch knife to protect us from "Jaws" and the depths of the ocean's unseen horrors. We lived through the inky blackness, saw a beautiful bright orange octopus, tons of fish, of course, and snorkeled there several more times in the light of day. Two weeks later a fourteen-year-old little surfer girl had her right arm severed by a shark right where we'd been. We were also 1/2 mile out when they issued a Tsunami warning after an 8.0 earthquake hit Japan. We never knew until we got back in. The Tsunami never came but if it had we'd have been hanging a lot more than ten.

8. I sang before I could talk. I love music. I play rhythm guitar and sang in different country music bands for ten years when I was younger. I've been to Nashville and hung out at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge and Ernest Tubb's Record Shop. My big break there fell through due to an unscrupulous manager and I didn't have the heart to stick it out alone and keep pluggin'. Would I have made it? Hey, I did make it. Best gig I ever had was singing my babies lullabies and I ALWAYS wanted babies.

9. I once fell off my horse from not properly securing her bareback saddle. She cut a tight corner and I cut a fine picture sliding right underneath her belly for my graceful dismount. I don't know who got more scared but she put on quite a Wild West Show with hooves and teeth and tail and mane all flying in every direction. When it was over I'd seen a lot of horse but I never sustained so much as a broken fingernail. God determined it was not my day for facial reconstruction.

10. I love animals. I have had dogs, cats, birds (wild and domestic), horses, fish, snakes, spiders, rats, rabbits, chickens, sheep, and even insects (not counting fleas). I have been puked on, loved on, pooped on, and slept on. I have been elbow deep fishing a thermometer out of a horse's behind (who knew they just get sucked in?) and I have operated on a couple of critters in a pinch. My life must include them in order to keep me sane. Oh...and I MUST have mountains. I live at the base of the Sierras and I wish I lived 7000 ft. higher. I can never see them enough or smell them enough and, if I'm ever rich, that's where I'll live and write - in a comfy log cabin with a cheery fire, a cat on my keyboard, and a dog at my feet. When I die I want to be cremated and scattered there so I can become one with the trees, the duff, the rocks, the woods. As every mile of pavement or dirt road leads me deeper into the mountains, I feel as though I'm heading home. Everywhere else has just been a place to visit. When The Lord comes and sounds the last trump, He will know where to find what's left of me: dead or alive.

Ross Meadow

Dinkey Creek Road

Tamarck Meadow - Hunter and JoJo
Courtright Reservoir Area
Toward the West from Pine Ridge

Kings Canyon near John Muir Lodge
Northern California Redwood Forest

Oregon Caves Chateau - We were the only family there one night
Near Wawona in Yosemite

Some of the places I love the most......

Now I'm supposed to pass on this award to 7 bloggers that I think fit the spirit of the "Honest Scrap", so I am passing it on to a few who have already received it but I feel they deserve it again, if only for honorary purposes, and a few who haven't received it as far as I know:

Libby of Neas Nuttiness: This goes back to her because she cared enough to invest time in me and try to get others to do the same. She is real, honest, extremely caring, and we make each other laugh. She also writes about interesting things and takes risks. And she goes out walkin', after midnight (even if it's just in the house), like me 'n Patsy Cline, another insomniac apparently.

Tatersmama: She lets it all hang out and in the funniest ways. She's never afraid to tell it like it is while still finding the silver lining in everything, and she'll help you find it, too, and cheer you up with her beautiful colors. She also brings a tear to my eye when she tells me she spews her morning coffee while reading my blog. That's poetry, that's what that is.

A Cowboy's Wife: She is a kickin', stompin', scrap of a woman who'll make you laugh and cry with her upfront tell-it-like-it-is style. She's hard-scrabble and you'd want her on your side in a dark alley or while enduring a broken heart, 'cause she'd get it and she wouldn't run away and she might even clean your kitchen. She's organized. I wish she lived a LOT closer. I'd give her a heart attack and a lot to do. Boy, I bet she'd jump at a chance like that.

Gizzards & Calf Fries: I follow her around reading her posts to others because they make me bust up and split a seam. I started following her and she can't get rid of me. She takes the most beautiful pictures and she's a darlin' girl. You just gotta go look at her. But be careful: she photographs the south end of north bound cows.

Tetertot's: Reginia has been a friend for a long time and has the most generous spirit and humblest of hearts. She's devoted to whatever God calls her to. She could be really stuck up (but of course she's not) because she sings better than just about anybody. She's gotta be tired of the saying "The Voice of an Angel" because that's how we all describe her. And these are her bad points. Her blog is real and about her life and the wonderful children she has every right to be proud of: her beautiful (inside and out) daughters and her son who is proudly serving his country in the Marines.

Linda at Another Piece of the Pie: If you haven't seen the cup Linda's husband bought her while in Salt Lake City then I'm not saying anything else. She is so creative and funny and is always such an encouragement. She also takes great close-up pics and makes the everyday seem fascinating.

Lori She doesn't post as often but when she does it's like a storybook and, as we've been friends for years, I love her subject matter (kiddos, grandbaby, and friends) very much. Her and her husband should write volumes because they are gifted wordsmiths....and musicians.....and singers......I only hang out with the best. Follow them around very long and they'll lead you right to the heart of Christ.

So there you have it. I strongly encourage you to check these people out. And when you do, drop them a line in their comment sections. It means SO much to hear from people and it takes so little time to carve your initials in their blog. If you are a friend of mine and I didn't nominate you it's not because I didn't want to. I have another award I received and you are sure to show up there when I pass it on.

Copyright 2009

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Hey Friends - Just a quick note to ask something.....

Is anyone having trouble seeing my background? The center section should look like a dark brown fence and one of my friends said it came up looking white for them. Since my lettering is a shade of beige, that's not good. I'm trying now to determine what the problem is. If you could let me know what you're seeing that would be great. Thanks.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Breast and the Beast

For You....My Dear, Sweet Friend

(and you know who you are...)

I am declaring today a "Breast Cancer Awareness Day" in honor of one of my dearest friends.

She got the news yesterday that no one wants to hear.
She will overcome....she is strong....she caught it early.....she did her mammograms.....
she is overwhelmed. all my friends here, female (AND male, because you have wives, daughters, sisters, mothers, and others), go to the phone and make that mammogram appointment. I did. Mine's overdue. Is yours?

Don't put it off. I realize there are other methods of detection. There is ultrasound, thermography, even MRI. But like the Nike commercial says, "Just Do It." Do something. Do your self-exam. But just don't pretend you don't have breasts and they don't need your attention. You don't want them to remind you.

When this is over and you are healed....

And you will be....

We will fly the flags and celebrate.....

As only we can.

I'm here....always will you have always been for me. I'm asking for prayer on your behalf and there are lots of wonderful people here who will lift you up.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Playing Dress Up

Okay, I'm in the dressing room again and trying this on for size. You all are my 3-way mirror. Tell me if you think this new design makes my butt look big(ger).

I just figure I'm like the neighbor who's jonesin' to tell you somethin' over the fence every ten minutes, so, maybe the fence motif would work for me....for a week or two. I cannot find the look I want. My daughter is writing all the code for my web launch sometime in the spring. Maybe then I will finally capture what I want. It's her senior project so I don't even feel guilty (like I was really going to)....

And the grey/brown theme on the other page just really wasn't me. I like color. Too much sometimes. I'd be the Dolly Parton of blogs if I let myself go. Dolly says she's always enjoyed dressing up to where she practically looks like a call girl. She is attracted to the cheapest make-up, flashiest earrings, baubles, hair, perfume, eyelashes. That's probably what my blog would look like minus the scratch-n-sniff for the perfume. (You can just hang on to one of those samples that falls out of the "Oprah" magazine, or "Sod 'n Clod" or whatever....) Except I really like the outdoors, and the mountains especially. How do you combine all of those things into one tasteful presentation?

Let me know what you're thinkin' and please put up with me while I parade around in my boa and bright red lipstick. I'll find my look, I suppose, but if you have any suggestions, I'd love to look through your closet. Just tell me where to go. Well, you know what I mean.........

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Delurking Day '09 I'm a few days late for it to actually be "Delurking Day." What's new? I will unofficially declare "Delurking Week." Some of you in my personal friend group are new to the blogging world so I'll explain. A lurker is someone who stops in and reads your blog but never let's you know. You don't know it but bloggers love you and want to be able to thank and fully appreciate you! the interest of all that stuff I'm throwin' at the wall hoping some will stick.....would you mind just taking a moment and leaving a comment? Or maybe you really want to make my day and you would be willing to sign up as a follower. Yes, I AM that needy and pathetic. You have no idea that my daily self-esteem is completely based on whether or not I hear from people. Yes, I AM that shallow. Okay, maybe there is more to me but I really don't have time to plumb it and find out. In fact, there are a lot of plumbing issues around here I don't have time to get to.

Go ahead, make my day and tell me you love me or hate me.
Nevermind that last part.

Observational Twitter 7


"Think outside the box." Unconfirmed Origins


"What are you doing in a box? You have bigger issues than your thought processes." Robynn Reilly

Copyright 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hot Lot Shot

I have a love/hate relationship with vaccines. I think some are necessary and have saved many lives. I think others endanger our health by overtaxing our immune systems all at once (especially the immature immune system), are way over utilized, and expose us to more potential danger than we would experience without them.

Now, in our family, there are those of us (me, my son, my mother) who tend to have problems with medicines and even some vitamins. I am hunting down why as I write but testing points toward porphyria which means we would have an enzyme missing that would clear porphyrins from our blood stream. Porphyrins are a naturally occurring by-product in blood. Everybody makes them. But if all is well, they are quickly cleared from your blood and eliminated. If you have porphyria, you have a much harder time with this process. Medicines, some vitamins, alcohol, even a few foods can cause them to build in your system and poison you. So, it's important we try to stay as healthy as possible and not have a need to take pharmaceuticals because if, and when, you get sick from this, you are SICK. It can cause damage in your body, especially the liver and nerves, and, in some cases, can cause total paralysis and even death. Is that what we are dealing with for sure? Can't answer that yet. All my tests are currently with the American Porphyria Foundation specialist and he is reviewing them but I WILL let you know, whether you want to or not!

Now, it was in that mindset we visited my son's immunologist last week. What had been ailing him for about a year had resolved without medical intervention. (Insert GREAT thankfulness to the Lord here.) However, the doctor said (and you know how I feel about doctors) "According to his test he has very little resistance to pneumonia and is at great risk. I think he should have the vaccine." Hmmmm.

There probably aren't many of us who don't at least stop and think when the word "vaccine" is mentioned to us these days. We've heard, read, and seen so much about the risk involved. Because of our issues, I would additionally ask myself, "Wouldn't it be better to try to prevent something from happening since we don't process medicine well?" And that's why I said, "Well...okay." The physician saw my reticence and assured me it was safe and he had seen no negative reactions. The nurse came in and shot Hunter in the arm.

On the way home he told me getting the shot hadn't hurt at all but his arm felt like he got sucker punched by the Incredible Hulk. I know shots can feel that way sometimes so I didn't worry. The next day was our San Francisco trip and he didn't feel on top of his game but I figured it was just being drug out of bed too early. He complained of a little achiness. By the time we made our first stop in Pleasanton, he found it painful to bear weight on his right ankle. Weird. I asked him if he had been sitting on it, tucked underneath him. Nope.

Throughout the day he began to feel more exhausted and fluish. He slept all the way home and when we arrived he could barely put his weight on his ankle as the joint was inflammed. He felt slightly feverish and I tucked him in bed thinking he was probably having a reaction. By 5am he was miserable and running a fever of 103.5. His arm was twice the size of the other one and the red mark where the needle had been inserted was as big as a grapefruit. Bruising began to appear on his hand. I called the office and the on-call doctor told me to administer Benadryl, along with the Advil I had been giving him. That helped to break his fever. I would have considered the emergency room if I had any confidence they wouldn't make it worse, and in our area, make him wait for 12 hours before being seen.

His fever continued to rise and fall through Monday night. I iced his arm and watched him closely, calling the doctor's office again Monday and telling them I wanted that shot reported to the CDC. I got the Lot number and manufacturer and filed two reports myself.

Here's the real rub: When I went to file the reports there WAS no vaccine designed to be given to children except "7 Valent Pneumovax." Hunter was given "23 Valent Pneumovax." That means that, all at once, he was vaccinated for 23 different strains of pneumonia. Only adults are supposed to receive that shot. Children are not small adults. Their systems can only handle so much. It's not a lawsuit, not that I'm looking for that; it's not unheard of, I suppose; but it is HIGHLY imprudent. And I didn't know so I didn't ask.

That's why I'm encouraging you: ASK, ASK, ASK. Make another appointment. Go home and research and don't be pressured into doing something you might regret later. You can always go back. Not getting the vaccine TODAY is not going to put your child (or you) in harm's way unless there is serious compelling evidence to the contrary. I wish I had thought of this and researched before I said yes.

On Sunday, a friend of mine was at church and told me she had experienced a similar reaction to this very shot and she knew of someone else who had as well. Three people in this circle and the DOCTOR had never heard of negative reactions? Really? Can I tell you I think he was being less than truthful? I reported the shot and found out there were four other complaints about it possibly being a "Hot Lot." A "hot lot" is a shot from a batch of vaccine that has a larger number of reactions than normal. For your information the shot is as follows: 23 Valent Pneumovax Lot # 0669X - manufacturer is Merck.

Hunter is better today. He is hardly limping now and the fever is gone. He has resumed normal activity but his arm still has redness and a 3" diameter lump. Why didn't the doctor offer me the lesser vaccine that would have been better for a young person? I don't know. Have I ever mentioned, "I Hate Doctors?" Sorry.....there really are some wonderful individuals but there simply seems to be a bizarrely disproportionate number who are careless at best, and reckless at worst.

Be well, my friends, and thrive. Do not be bullied by the medical establishment. You are your own best advocate and that of your children and other family. Research, pray, and make informed decisions. Vaccine may be the right choice. It has been for us at times and we have declined other recommendations. I just want you to know what you are saying yes to, and why. I know I won't be blindsided again.

Copyright 2009

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Let the Games Begin

Photograph by Hannah Reilly 2009

I love San Francisco. I would make up almost any excuse to hit the Bay Bridge and watch The City skyline loom into view. Restaurants, museums, architecture, miles of rolling hills and narrow streets, cable cars, crystal air, the Golden Gate. It’s all there. If you have to endure Frankenstinian medical procedures to experience this, really, so what?

Yesterday I played another round of, “What the Heck’s the Matter with YOU?” at UCSF. In this game contestants dress in bizarre outfits designed to reveal their rattiest underwear while simultaneously enduring pranks thought up by the producers of “Fear Factor.”

All I can say is it was dark in my bedroom at 5:00 a.m. as I rummaged through my dresser drawer. Don’t we all keep at least a few pair of underwear that really should be thrown away but we know, when the laundry piles up, we might need them? They aren’t really fit for being in an accident but they will cover your posterior well enough for sweatpants and yard work. Well, those are the ones I wore. Of course, there was no way to discover this until I stood in the torture chamber preparing for my first round of competition.

The torture chamber is purposely deceptive and distracting. It is splashed with brilliant sunlight and designed to put you off guard. The room is fairly small but elegantly decorated. One wall displays an open-aggregate column with an arch right out of a castle motif. This would distract you except for the opposite wall which is solid windows overlooking San Francisco, the Presidio, and a huge expanse of the bay. And all this from an 8th floor perspective. The day must also be perfectly clear to enhance the effect.

It was in this environment that I donned my costume: the flimsy gown we all know so well. The one Dave Barry describes as making you feel more naked than if you were naked. However, when your underwear has gone as far south as mine had, you actually long for nakedness. Too bad. My only hope was the thought that perhaps I could lie on my back for the entire procedure and use my half-gown to cover my front half. As the “doctor” walked in she smiled and told me to roll onto my side.

Now, I put “doctor” in quotes because she wasn’t a full-fledged doctor yet. She was still in her residency. This is important because they don’t really want someone highly skilled to perform these tests. It might make the procedure entirely too painless to be entertaining for them.

As I lay gazing into the distance at the Fallon Islands, imagining myself running free and unseen in brand new underwear, I heard her voice, thick with an East Indian accent, announce, “I’m going to administer a series of shocks.” What she meant was a “series of shocks” in much the way a police officer means it when he yells, “STOP!” just before he tasers you.

In this round they are checking you for nerve responses. If your nerves are somewhat damaged your only response might be to bounce up off the table, smash into the ceiling, and land back on the table. Or you may launch face-first into the window and contort your features. If your nerves are all completely intact it could be bad for them because these shocks will catapult you across the room, leaving you in a standing position, where you are then free to beat them about the face and head with their own equipment. Fortunately for them, mine were not at the top of their game. We repeated this step several thousand times with her shooting at me from every corner and jumping out from behind chairs. When she would find a particularly damaged and painful place, she would then proclaim, “I am going to do this nine times in the same spot.” Apparently, they don’t do it ten times because the smell of burning flesh is too unpleasant for the physician.

Next comes the bonus round. In this event, needles are shoved into the muscles of your legs and feet. Just when you think you might black out or lose control of your bladder, the almost-a-doctor tells you to contract your muscles by using them to push against something. You volunteer the back half of her brain via the front half, but she only offers her hand. Now, at this point, you get Charley Horses big and violent enough to compete in a rodeo. She will then leave the room and come back with a real doctor so he can participate, too. He will say things like, “Let’s pull this needle out and shove it in her eyeball” or maybe he just mentions repositioning it, but it will all sound the same to you. He pulls the needle out and jams it in somewhere else and when you don’t celebrate this by singing, “The Hills are Alive!” he will exhale dramatically, punctuated by his tongue flicking back and forth between his lips. They will continue to tag-team like this for another twenty minutes knowing they are safe since all their needles have effectively sewn your muscles together.

When they leave the room you and your ratty underwear are free to crawl over to your clothes and salivate on them. They will then return to tell you your test reveals more abnormalities but they have no idea why. At this point they will thank you for playing and invite you to return in six-months where they will introduce the newest event: “Toenail Removal for Fun and Profit.”

Your parting gift is the realization you may now head into the heart of The City to let it heal your wounds.

That’s what I did. The kids and I had already strolled the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park that morning. Now it was time to limp toward comfort food and fortify myself for cultural pursuits.

The price of admission for this scintillating soiree may have been dear but, hey, so is beautiful San Francisco. I'll be back and I'm bringing my toenails with me.

Copyright 2009

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Have Bluetooth - Will Travel

Headed for San Francisco for the round of doctors again on Friday.....if you're driving in the City....sorry!
(Just in case you don't know what I'm talking might want to check out this post.......)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009






Big Girl Panties

Thank you to all of you for your prayers and thoughts these last few days. They have helped me more than I can express. I've read and reread your comments. Do you all do that? It's like a little visit each time and it helps all over again.

But now, it's time to put on my big girl panties and move forward a little.

I have a lot of ideas in the cooker for articles. Just waiting for my heart to cooperate. It will. In the meantime, nothing says "Buck up" like organizing. That's why I do it so rarely. I don't like being told to "Buck up." It's rude. But today I'm gutting a corner. Wow. Nothing like long-term committment. But it's a corner that actually has bi-fold doors off the entry leading to the study/schoolroom. I haven't opened them in quite awhile. Didn't really want to as I needed to use it as wall space more. I put the old Mission rocker in front of them. We bought the rocker from a gal down the road who had a true "estate" sale. Her grandfather sat in it out on his front porch for as long as she could remember. The sale wasn't advertised and there weren't many people so a lot came home with us. We bought a couple of quilts, some china, furniture. But it has all remained "Mel's." That was her name. We thought her identity should come with the treasures.

ANYway...WHAT was I saying? (You should try listening to me in PERSON. My friends that have to can testify, I'm sure...) Oh....well, the rocker has quite a following now. Many have gathered around migrating down from shelves, out of closets......runaways from filing cabinets. The "trash-y" are even there (but what's a gathering without a little color?) So it's time to chase them all off and back to where they belong. And open the doors. And shed light. And downsize. And distract myself. And actually have that sense of accomplishment that is healing in its own right.

Wish me luck....I'm goin' in and hopefully, coming out with something to show for it besides a clean rocking chair and 315 little piles.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"Kitty Baby" - A Love Story

“Kitty Baby.” It wasn’t supposed to be a name, just something to call her until we figured it out. But I’m sure most of you know how that goes and, after while, she just couldn’t be called anything else.

I found her late one afternoon as I turned into Wendy’s for a quick bite. She was hanging out at the trashcans eating French fries (fast food would continue to be a favorite her whole life). I have always been a sucker for cats and dogs so I couldn’t help stopping to talk to her and see if I could get her to come. We made eye contact and a little sizzle of connection zipped between us. She rolled over onto her back with a bit of a tease on her face. She wanted to come to me but was unsure. No one at Wendy’s knew anything about her but when I inquired at the bank next door, a lady said she had fed her intermittently for about six months and she seemed to want to make contact with people.

I left the parking lot determined to catch her. The weather had been unusually cold and was forecasted to drop to 17 degrees that night, with freezing rain. We had been experiencing record low temperatures for several days and nights and I wondered how much longer she could take it. I made my way to the local animal shelter, secured a trap, and headed home to give Jamie the good news. He was less than thrilled, but amenable. We baited the trap with anchovies and tuna and left her alone. A half-an-hour later she was protesting loudly, with fish breath, from the confines of the cage. She was officially ours.

I was 5 months pregnant with our now 17-year-old daughter and Kitty was wild as a March hare once she was confined. Jamie had built a large convalescence cage for a former cat and that became Kitty’s home. Each day he admonished me to stay away from her until he could tame her. I was very careful but I couldn’t stay away. I spent time with her and talked to her. I brought treats. Within a week she began to rub against the cage and flip over onto her back. I knew any threat that may have existed was gone. I reached into the cage and petted her. Warm response. I leaned over and ran my hand under her belly, giving her a little lift up. No protests. Soon I dropped her into my arms. She nuzzled my face, purred, and became mine. I left the garage and headed into the house with her in my arms. Jamie thought I was nuts and immediately envisioned toxoplasmosis and rabies. The baby and I were never in danger. In fact, nothing could have been farther from the truth.

Kitty seemed to know I was expecting and doted on me. She was especially fascinated with my burgeoning belly and would spend hours draped over it. She would stare at the movements underneath and send her purring vibrations directly to Miss Hannah. We three spent many contented evenings snuggled up together.

Once the baby arrived, Kitty took over. She diligently watched out for her. Wherever I would lay Hannah down, Kitty was immediately nearby. When Hannah nursed, Kitty would drape herself over my shoulders and around the back of my neck, gazing down at her. Occasionally she would get down and give her head a good washing so she would not only be fed, but clean. One time as I sat in the rocker with my nursing bra on, Kitty walked up, took a look at Hannah on one side and decided the other side ought to be put to use as well. She opened her mouth wide, gently latched on, then looked up at me as if to say, “What’s so great about a mouthful of cotton?” She decided it wouldn’t work for her. I couldn’t have agreed more.

When my son was born four years later the treatment was the same. Each time the babies learned to crawl she shadowed them. If they went into the playpen, so did she. If they pulled out fists of fur….all in a days work. She knew they were baby “things” and afforded them every exception. She never slept near their faces but I would occasionally find her snuggled in a crib at their feet. She watched baths and hung out close by. She endured the dress-up of fashion shows, bit parts as the “baby” actor in plays, and dutifully accepted being pushed around in strollers and mini-shopping carts.

She never bit, hissed at, or scolded a child. The only time she got her tail in a knot was if we had been gone for a few days. When we would return she would snub us for a bit, and then absolve us. That changed, one time, with an extended absence. The kids and I had been traveling for three weeks and Jamie was the only one home. When we finally returned, Kitty was beside herself with joy, meowing loudly. Suddenly she disappeared and ran out the pet door. I forgot about it with the unpacking and didn’t give it another thought until I flopped down on the couch exhausted. In a few minutes I heard the telltale sound of yowling that cats make when they have prey in their mouths. Kitty was just below me. I looked down as she looked up and our eyes locked. We both regarded the dead gopher she had laid at my feet. Her most prized prey was my welcome home gift. And she’d even thought to skin it for me. What a gal.

Then there was the night she came in injured, with a terrible abscess. I thought it was a bite but actually came to find out years later it would be a chronic condition she developed many times. She had a fever and needed immediate treatment, and the vet was closed. Having grown up around critters, horses, kids, etc. I wasn’t squeamish and had some limited medical training. I shaved her down, got out a scalpel from my ditch medicine bag, treated the area with betadine, and, after donning gloves, employed ten-year-old Hannah as my assistant – she’s tough as nails. There was no anesthesia so we made every effort to be as gentle as could be managed. Kitty was in so much pain she seemed to be relieved at any treatment and lay as quietly as she could. She never tried to bite either one of us though the procedures would sometimes take two hours to complete. We would drain and clean the affected area, and debride the necrotic tissue. I would do Internet searches for what antibiotic would be effective and then go on the hunt for left over meds the kids hadn’t been able to take. (Remember, we don’t do meds well in our family so those were always plentiful.) Invariably, I would have what was called for, measure it out by tiny amounts on a grain scale, and treat accordingly. She recovered beautifully each time and only needed a trip to the vet for it once or twice.

And there was no mistake: as much as she loved the kids it was because she saw us as co-parents. She belonged to me and it was me she slept with and sought out for love and assurance. We had a sixth-sense connection. Those don’t come along with just any animal but if you’ve experienced it, you know what I mean. That made it doubly hard as her health began to deteriorate. She looked to me for comfort but dreaded the meds I had to dole out to help her and would often avoid me. I began to know the decision was coming. I just didn’t know it would happen so suddenly, all at once, in a day.

We laid her to rest here. It was terribly hard to part with her beautifully soft fur and gentle little body. But we will always keep the love we shared so earnestly through the years. She brought me great comfort during times of sadness or crisis and there were many during the years. And she offered abundant love and true friendship on a daily basis. I hope I’m half the patient, loving, friend my cat was. I will continue to learn from her legacy. Good-bye, my dear little friend. I will sorely miss you.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Losing My "Kitty Baby"

Just wanted you all to know that very unexpectedly today, I had to lay to rest my dearest old cat, "Kitty Baby." She was one of a kind and one of the sweetest cats I've ever had the privilege to call my friend. She was 18 1/2 and had definitely shown signs of aging but went downhill and into kidney failure today, followed by a seizure. She became blind and deaf very suddenly and was disoriented. But, as always, she sought comfort in my arms and was not panicky. It was a great sorrow and loss and I can't write any more about it tonight. Those are just the details of her death. Her life deserves description far more because she was an incredilbe cat and I will do that tomorrow. For now, I'm just sitting with empty arms and a very full heart. I loved her more than should be possible.....unless you've loved a pet like that, and then you know, without a doubt.

And I know a pet is not a person so please don't feel as though I'm equating the two. I have experienced that type of loss as well in losing a sister, uncle, babies I was carrying, and friends. But our pets are special gifts from God and they can be difficult to part with. However, the grief of goodbye will never outshadow the joy of relationship on any front. She was a blessing and she reminded me in many dark times that God loves me. Thank you, Kitty, and thank you my friends for listening tonight.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ma "Barkers" Gang

I just posted about my dogs last night so it would seem fitting that I’d be barking today. The cold I was whining about a few posts ago turned into the creepin-crud, which means I’ll be more of a joy than usual to live around. Nothing like hearing someone coughing up a lung to beautify your day. The dogs don’t care though. They’re on the bed with me, upstairs, and as long as I look out the window when I start barking, they join in and think we’re having a party up here. Anyone outside who appears in our line of vision gets heck from us.

And that’s the thing about dogs that we all know: they love us no matter what and they’re always happy just to hang out. Minky, our new Border Collie pup, is so thrilled at the sound of my key in the door she nearly turns herself inside out bawling and yipping. I haven’t had a reception like that in years. (I think Jamie and I were dating.) Even our old dog, Jo, saves those free-for-alls for extended absences. She has her dignity you know.

So here we are....holed up and hackingly happy.....and those kids are gone at another sleep over/party. They get out more than juicy gossip. So much for the myth of homeschooled kids not having a social life. It's me you should worry about. I've gone to the dogs.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I'm In Love With Herding Dogs

Introducing baby "Minky"

Not ready to leave my mama yet

4 months old and livin' large at my new home

I look innocent when you want me to pose...

But I'm actually packin'.....think "Aliens" meets "Jaws"

Do you see the knowing, tired look on my older sister's face? Her name is "Jo Jo" and she's 11.

Witness Jo Jo's happy, carefree days a few months ago with her boy. Now I stay constantly attached to any available part of her body - preferably her jowls - just like a tick.

Jo Jo has the title "Best Dog in the Whole Wide World" least to her family. (I have a way to go to earn my stripes and get a title like that.) She has raised two kids, chased off bad cats, protected good cats, and even been bear bait. (My HM - human mama - will have to tell you that's a good one, except to Jo.) Her daddy was a working McNab and her mama was a McNab/Border Collie. I am from a working class family. My mama is the most beautiful, gentle Australian Shepherd family pet, and my daddy is a rough and tumble, get-r-done, cattle-drivin' Border Collie. You know opposites attract. My Aussie mama didn't like my teeth either and was glad to see me go, for Pete's sake. Her last, snappy words to me were, "Get off a me!" Geez.

These are the beautiful kids Jo Jo is raising.

She just took them on a backpacking trip to Cliff Lake in the Sierra MountainsIt was a big trip for an old dog but Jo says, "If something was gonna kill me, I'd want it to be this."

My HM will be dropping in tomorrow to tell you why not even my teeth can deter her from falling madly in love with me. Apparently, what I lack in dental discretion I make up for in love and enthusiasm.

Decorating - Gotta Do It

You all have such great sites and here I am, sitting around with "Generic Blog Background #who knows." (I'm trying this one on but I'll probably go back into the changing room even though I HATE those LIGHTS!! Do ANY of us look good in the changing room? More about that later....) So, today I'm searching and figuring out what to get because I want something reflective of me - quick glance in the mirror, maybe not.

My hair looks like I styled it with my Kitchen Aid, my sweat-shirt is older than my thirteen-year-old son, and underneath it I have a workout t-shirt with a pocket on it. The pocket is significant because I constantly carry dog treats in it since I'm training a puppy. And that gets rather strangely obscene looking because my puppy is always jumping up on me and rooting around the pocket right over my bosom-age, as if she's trying to nurse.....takes some explaining.....and in so doing she chewed a hole in the pocket. And my pants were actually okay until about two hours ago when the same puppy jumped up on me, grabbed on, and tore a hole in them. You can see how well the training is going. "The Dog Whisperer" is safe. No threat from me.

The puppy's name is "Minky," short for Minkler, a family name. It was far more complicated than naming a child because then it was just the two of us arguing over names. This twerp has four parents (what with the two kids and all) and everyone of us had to agree. And you might ask, "And THIS is what you came up with?" What can I say.

Minky will be the subject of my next post because, unlike my teenagers, she's actually happy to see me and that kinda goes to my head. Oh, here I go. I better stop and fix up my "home" so it's more fun for all of us. I'll be able to post pictures, too, and will let you meet Minky and her teeth.

Hope you all have a great day and I'm sure you're looking better than I am! (And I don't plan to do anything about it. My husband......WHAT a lucky guy! Woohoo honey!)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Short Insane Moments with Robynn Reilly 1

While yesterday was great - I spent the late afternoon and evening with some of my dearest, fun friends - I spent an hour or so falling apart before that. I bawled, I carried on as only I can, I lamented my BIG health - the frustrations, the actuality of it all, having to get off the only medicine that has ever helped me - the energy issues - and my little health - catching cold - being so bitterly behind in my house and yard - and my lack of sleep.

Psalms 127:2b says "God grants sleep to those He loves." I commented that maybe God hates me. Jamie looked at me aghast and said, "Do NOT say things like that. You CAN'T mean that." Well, of COURSE I don't mean it. Isn't he used to the bizarre things that pour out of my mouth after 22 years?! It was a Robynn comment because who could actually believe that every wakeful night is a curse from God? The verse is often quoted but taken out of its overall meaning.

So, then I spent another hour carrying on about how he should know that's what I meant and how I was just having a moment of despair and where could I go if not to him and how I was weary with pain and so on and so forth in diatribe manner and more tears and laments of how I'm just T-I-R-E-D! I was pretty sure he regretted saying ANYthing but he hung in there, which is no small feat.

When we got home from the party I was done-in and starting to feel worse. The kids had headed out to sleep-overs and I longed for my bed. And it's in those moments, when you think you're almost there and nothing else better happen, that clocks fall off the wall and smash you in the head and knock you to the floor. Irony, really. It was our huge wall clock that has "The Reilly Family - established 1986" emblazoned on it.

What kind of weird message from the Lord was this?! Remember what you have to be thankful for? Don't stack stuff on the "crappy" chic cabinet (Jamie likes to call it that instead of "shabby" chic 'cause that's just the way he is, being Mr. Irreverent and all) because you might bump it and cause the clock to fall off? Here's a concussion and that should help you sleep if you don't think I love you?

I was still sorting out the meaning an hour later with a cartoon-sized bump on my head, an ice-pack, and visual disturbances. And that's how I fell asleep. But, hey, I slept!