Ten

Occasionally I scroll back through my blog posts, cringing at the many mistakes and applauding for the (very rare) apt turn of phrase. Writers and imposteritis: we’ve all got it, every stinking one of us.

That being said, I noticed I started this blog ten years ago this month. Ten. A decade. And just what have I done in ten years? Let’s see… all three of my sprogs are still alive. They seem fine. I’ve had a cancer diagnosis that I’ve lived with for seven years. Our pet total seems to fluctuate – we’re at a single cat now. My darling husband is a little more silver on top, as am I. My royal backside is (sadly) about the same as it was ten years ago, give or take a few pounds. I’m no longer an Irish Dance mom. I only have two jobs. We still live in the same house. We are still driving the same cars. I’m still not published, though my collection of unpublished work is unparalleled and impressive.

What’s changed the most is the country. The politics. The freedoms I took for granted growing up. We have taken enormous backward steps in the liberties we afford our citizens; the one exception being the federal passage of marriage equality. Frankly, I’m scared of where we’re headed, because it does NOT seem like it’s going to turn out well. A very unsettling minority seems hell-bent on pushing a racist, misogynistic, selfish, and infantile agenda onto the national stage.

Just a few years ago, I didn’t have panic dreams about when the other party took over an office. Each person elected was still a public servant, and still expressed (and followed through, mostly) a desire to do the best thing for the citizens they represented. Some of the people I most respected were not members of my political party. My friends and I could discuss why we fell into our respective parties, and still enjoy one another’s company.

Not anymore.

Racist, misogynist, violent, selfish, win-at-all-costs people are being elected. Everywhere. I can’t condone it. Ever. I’m scared for my family, for my children, and for their children. I’m scared for mothers of daughters. I’m scared for non-binary gender/sexual oriented people. I’m scared for people of color. I’m scared for me.

Voting isn’t enough. Voting is great, and if indicators are correct then these people will be gone in twenty years. But look at the damage done in the last two years. Only two. I don’t know if there’s a specific answer, though if I did I’d surely communicate it to everyone in skywriting. All I can say is this – educate your children/grandchildren/young people. Teach manners. Teach civility. Teach tolerance and acceptance of each other’s quirks and foibles. Teach them to be human. Teach them away from screens and devices, and teach them how to engage with other people.

I hope to still be around in another ten years, and I hope to be able to say we changed things for the better. Join me, won’t you?

Ten year card

How Doth It Grow?

It’s been so lovely here in the great Pacific Northwest over the last few weeks. So nice, in fact, that we have already planted most of our garden for the year, including veggies. Darling husband has done the majority of mowing and weeding, but I did help out a little bit. Usually by throwing weeds on the grass he just mowed, but that’s another story for another time.

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Containers on the back patio, aka The Riviera. It’s shady there, so mostly begonias and impatiens. They’ve done really well there before, so *fingers crossed*.

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New containers for the tomaters. The old containers, the square black ones, have been moved to frame the second table on the old pool site. (You can see one of them just past the shadow line.) I believe we have three varieties of ‘maters in the four pots.

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No new plantings here, just the chives, the white lilac, and the artichokes. Oh, and one of the peonies is just starting to bloom on the far side of the artichokes.

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So shady… must have been late in the afternoon… Here are the blueberries and grapes. Weeded with TLC by my incredible darling husband. And watching over everything is Forrest, my metal chicken.

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In the front, I gave up putting veggies in the planter and just planted flowers (impatiens). Some things had wintered over in my containers, like the Gerber daisies, one geranium, a purple salvia and possible some snapdragons. I added other things to hopefully add pops of color to the front.

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For the three hanging baskets, I kept it simple. Million bells (calibrachoa), snapdragons, some trailing small zinnias, and bacopa. My intent is for a round basket of color in about four weeks, lasting to August. *fingers crossed*

I’ve also planted the front planters under the trees with impatiens and begonias, because we lean into the shady areas here. Gotta be realistic with what plants can survive, and those bloom all summer even in the shade.

I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere, but I’m late for work. Smooches and hugs to all of you, and I wish zero slugs, double blooms, and endless temperate sunshine to you and your garden.

Rad

I recently had my fourth surgery to combat ovarian granulosa cell cancer. Everything went swimmingly, and Timmy the Tumor (3rd iteration) was removed from my person yet again. Now that I’m back to normal-ish, my gyn-onc wanted me to have all the information for treatment options open to me. 

Option A was chemotherapy. My visit with the medical oncologist was short, sweet, and ended with a resounding ‘hell, no’ from both my royal self and the oncologist. Traditional chemo doesn’t seem to be the trick with a tumor as slow growing as mine (apparently, Timmy has a mitotic rate of 1). It would be a waste of poison. If it looked like chemo would make any difference at all, or if it would kill any random cancer cells floating inside me, I’d already be in the damn chair with my arm extended for the IV. 

Option B was radiation. And since I have had Timmy the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, the radiation oncologist wanted to basically irradiate everything from my belly button to my nether regions. Side effects? Maybe nausea, maybe some hair loss, probable severe scarring internally that would eventually restrict my bladder volume to a couple of tablespoons, the possibility of my vagina scarring shut (although they provide a vaginal dilator to help prevent that – yay), cancer of bladder, bowel, kidney, liver, bones, or blood ten to twelve years down the road, and, as usual, the threat of a colostomy bag for the rest of my life.  

I… what… I mean… what?

Pretty much a direct quote. I do have a way with words, don’t you know. 

I’m lucky. Timmy hasn’t been invasive yet, and we are praying to all the gods, goddesses, pixies and fairies that he will not come back. If he does, he leaves a signature hormone that is easily picked up with a blood test. After weighing my choices, my decision was to go with neither Option A or Option B, but to keep an eye on my bloodwork and keep living my life. Bob willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll have many years ahead of me to irritate my darling husband and sprogs. I’ve lived for over seven years with Timmy lurking in the background of everything I do. It’s annoying and exhausting and saps me emotionally, but those things aren’t fatal. Radiation might be. 

I am a lucky one. Oldish, graying, wrinkly, fat, and with teeth the color of Irish Breakfast tea… but lucky.

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Mama Bear

My middle sprog texted me a picture last night, and my blood has been boiling ever since. Someone took it upon themselves to throw a container of food at him while his car door was open, and yelled, “Faggot” while doing so.

Jeremy March 9 2019

Was he draped in rainbows? No. Dressed in drag? Pretty sure that’s a ‘no’. He was simply getting into his 1985 beige Volvo sedan (the most Portland car you can own besides a Subaru Outback). He was going about his own business, which involved no one else but him.

Can we report this? No – it happened so quickly that middle sprog didn’t get a plate number. Will the police care? No. Nothing was damaged. No one was hurt. Would the media care? No, it’s not sensational enough to get any attention.

But think for a minute…what if they had yelled ‘Jew’? Or ‘Bitch’? Or ‘Jap’? Or ‘Nigger’? Or ‘Whitey’? Or any other offensive slur? Would anyone care then? What if they had thrown a brick at his head? (This Mama Bear needs to lie down for a moment after typing that…)

I’m back now.

I am beyond glad that both he and Lola (the Volvo) are okay. Nothing was broken or damaged this time. But the climate of hate is heating up to the steaming point here in, what many believe is, Liberal and Easy-Going Portland. Instances of hate crimes are increasing alarmingly. And that’s my point – these things escalate very, very quickly. It doesn’t take much to let the perpetrators of these crimes think they are getting away with it. By ignoring, we are condoning.

I. WILL. NOT. CONDONE. THIS.

Call it Tough-Love. There is no excuse for this behavior. If your toddler did this, you would put them in a time-out for a century and explain to them why what they did was wrong. Just because some parents have dropped the ball with teaching human decency doesn’t mean I should have to worry every FUCKING day about my sprogs.

No more. NO MORE. Mama Bear is fed up to all fifteen of her chins. Sprogs, consider me mobilized. I will help as much as I can. I’ll give rides. I’ll volunteer with PFlag. I’ll attend Pride. I’ll be the mom giving out hugs to kids whose families have disowned them. Whatever I can do with my middle-aged, middle-income resources, I will do.

Love is love is love is love – help me protect love.

Checklists

I love checklists. I’m an accountant by education and trade, so I love linear things – I write that way, I count that way, I look at things that way most of the time. Thoughts that pass through my mind inevitably end up as mental checklists, and I thought I’d pass along a few of them to you. Welcome to my mind-pantry.

Parenting Tips- because all my sprogs are alive (thank Bob) and I’m old:

  1. Please stop giving tiny humans phones/iPads/video screens to occupy them. Please. While we were on our cruise last week, we saw a little girl actually coloring while in the dining room waiting for dinner. It was awesome. On the flip side, we also saw a toddler (on a leash) cry because the iPhone he was holding wasn’t doing what he wanted.
  2. On that note, don’t feel that you need to provide entertainment to kids all the time. If they throw a fit in a public place, they throw a fit. It happens/happened to us all. Kids have to learn patience, and a constant diet of instant gratification does no one any good. Help them learn to wait by talking to them, playing little games with them (i.e. let’s look for the color green), interacting with them. Show them.
  3.  Talk to them like they are the people you want them to be. I can’t stress this enough. Small brains are sponges. They will learn how to communicate based on YOU. Smart tiny humans are made as well as born.

Things I am Grateful For – and I know I ended the sentence with a preposition:

  1. Two ply toilet paper. Whoever invented this should be canonized. A week without (I’m looking at you, cruise lines, though I know the reason you don’t use it) made me very happy to be home.
  2. Hollandaise sauce. It’s good on everything except maybe ice cream. A gift from Bob.
  3. My oncologist and her tiny hands. It’s a long story, but she’s a Gyn-Onc, so you can take it from there, I think.
  4. My incredible sprogs, my darling husband, my amazing family, my stupendous friends. And adjectives.
  5. Snow. Which we haven’t had this winter and are forecast to get tonight. But here in the lovely Pacific NorthWet, if it’s predicted it never happens.

Things Kevin said this week:

  1. Meow?
  2. Reooooooowwwwww!
  3. Mierf…
  4. Mrrr.

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Silence

There is beauty in silence; tranquility, peace, and letting yourself just BE for a little bit. It’s also very difficult for most of us to get to any silent place given families, occupations, hobbies, pets, annoying neighbors, nice neighbors, cars, car alarms, planes, trains, trucks, cell phones, computers, video games, television, movies, squirrels and chickens.

It’s amazing our ears don’t go on strike.

I’m going to be on what I like to call (in my old curmudgeonly way) ‘radio silence’ for the next week. No internet. No phone. No email or texting or viewing anything. And I am completely okay with it.

Consider yesterday’s scenario: I was driving between Job 1 and Job 2, scrambling to get everything done, and I realized I hadn’t heard from one of the sprogs in a week. An entire week. I hadn’t seen anything posted by him on social media of any kind, so I sent him a short message asking him to check in.

And nothing happened. No reply.

It seemed like ages went by. Years. Eons. After about twenty minutes, I decided he’d been kidnapped, or was being held as a hostage in his apartment, or he had had some kind of tragedy, or that he and his fiance had been done in by Lola (our somewhat-sketchy, totally Portland 1985 beige Volvo sedan). I sent a message to sprog’s fiance asking if everything was okay.

Nothing again.

Now Worst-Case-Scenario-Mom was amping up into full crazy-pants mode. It was time to check the hospitals and morgues, as soon as I could get off the damn road. Or maybe I’d done something so horrible, so atrocious, the two of them had decided to eliminate me from their lives. Because the only thing that explained a no-response was death, serious injury, or shunning me like an Amish stripper. (Full disclosure, I did NOT text while I was driving, nor did I check the phone while I was driving. Only at stoplights. I promise.)

I started the Litany of Motherhood, which we all know by heart, ” Please-let-him-be-okay, please-let-him-be-okay, please-let-him-be-okay…” My head knew I was being ridiculous, but the rest of me was in full panic. What if I never saw him again? What if I never got to tell him how amazing he is?

Then my phone beeped, and he texted me saying he’d been really busy and that all was well. Of course it was. It always had been. And that’s my point, here. (I do have one, really.)

We get used to seeing and hearing things constantly, with no wait time. We have no patience because we are instantly gratified at almost every turn. We all (and I am using the royal ‘we’) need to relax, unplug, and be grateful. Try it for a little while. You’ll be surprised how lovely things are when they aren’t on a five inch screen. Go outside. Take a hike. Or stay in and have a sun-bath on your couch while reading an actual book. Sketch. Run. Write. (And for me, switch to decaf.)

But make sure to check in with your mother first, so she knows that you haven’t been abducted by space aliens. Seriously, she will get to Def-Con 2 crazy-pants worry mode in a heartbeat.

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Back to Random

I saw something while working out this morning that made me smile/grimace.

(Yes, I was working out. Really. No, there wasn’t a piece of toast dangling in front of me like a carrot on a string. No container of Rocky Road either. Now stop – you’re distracting me…)

Working out. Smile/grimace. Wanted to share with you.

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What the ad said, out loud, was that these particular drugs cause a risk of a flesh-eating, genital gangrene.

Let that one sink into your mind-camera.

First, I am SO sorry that anyone, anywhere had to endure this enough to make it onto an ad. Second, I think we have a new punishment for rape. And third, they said ‘genital’ on early morning television. Right before a ‘Parks and Rec’ repeat.