Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hip Hip HOORAY!!

A month ago . . .
Just Now!
The white blossoms are cherry trees and the pink tree nestled next to the building is a flowering plum - at least that's what I think it it.
The forsythia is also blooming and a couple of tulip trees (outside this shot) add even more color.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Was it something in the tea bags?

There's a new, frightening permutation of the rabies virus going around the United States. A massive outbreak appeared in D.C. during the past couple of weeks. Unlike the virus that attacks dogs, raccoons, cats and other mammals, this virus is attacking Republicans almost exclusively. Recent stories of someone spitting at a member of Congress seem to confirm the foaming-at-the-mouth symptom. As the virus takes hold in a person's brain, it is causing foul thoughts and deeds. Persons who otherwise would not utter the n-word or even dream of insulting a gay person are spewing hateful things left and right. Offices of non-Republican members of Congress have been vandalized and threats have been made against themselves and their families. This disgusting behavior can only be blamed on this new, noxious virus. Thankfully, most Democrats seem to be immune to it -- at least so far. Members of Congress have always disagreed on particular issues. It is expected of them. Healthy debate usually smooths the political waters. The behavior we've seen from Republican members of late is completely out of character and lacks the dignity and decorum expected of all members of Congress. Republican Rabies is spreading rapidly and there seems to be no cure in sight. Should I be scared? Maybe it was something in the tea bags . . .??

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I accept your challenge, Mark!

My blog-buddy, Mark of, Mark's rants and raves challenged me to open the first album of photos on my computer and post the tenth picture. Mark is a gifted photographer who also happens to be in the Merchant Marines. I was relieved that the required photo turned out to be this one. Alex is my youngest sister Janet's younger son. He is now a rambunctious nearly 9 year old. I took this photo on Christmas day when he was three. Even at this young age, he knew how to pose for the camera! The first three months of his life were hellish. He spent them in Children's Hospital where doctors dealt with several genetic anomalies. Thankfully, he doesn't remember any of that, but all the adults in his life do. One of his doctors thought he would never walk - HA!! He had physical and occupational therapy which helped him to crawl then walk. The O.T. was necessary because he was fed through a feeding tube inserted through his side into his stomach. He had to learn to suck, eat and drink. If it wasn't for his eye glasses and hearing aids, most would have no idea of his physical challenges! He's incredibly smart, creative, stubborn and curious. His older brother, Zach, his parents and grandparents all contributed to the extraordinary boy he is today. He is one special little dude to his adoring Auntie Peg.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A pound is no longer a pound

Spouse and I bought some gorgeous and scrumptious fresh strawberries at Trader Joe's on Saturday. Later, when we stopped in to Shoppers Food for a few groceries we forgot, I saw a display of pound cakes. Naturally my mind started humming: "yum . . . strawberries and pound cake -- excellent combination." During my youth, strawberry shortcake was homemade, sweetened biscuits, strawberries and whipped cream. I was feeling too languid (sounds so much more genteel than lazy) to think about baking on such a warm day. There must have been 100 neatly stacked boxes, so I grabbed one. Expecting some heft I practially flung it over of my head when I picked it up! If I'm not totally off my rocker, pound cake is usually pretty heavy. It's supposed to be made with a pound each of butter, sugar and flour with some eggs thrown in to hold it all together. I was expecting a pound of pound cake, not 5/8th of a pound of pound cake! Manufacturers are still trying to fool us into paying the same or more for smaller quantities by packaging less in the same sized packaging. For example, rather than corn meal coming in a full 16 ounce package, we now get 13.5 ounces -- same price! Others try to fool us by using metric measures -- it works on me cuz I never quite got a grip on metrics . . . *sigh* Still, I know a pound is 16 ounces (283.5 grams, if you will), so what's the deal?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Davy . . . Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier

Davy Crockett and Dan'l Boone were more real to kids during the 1950s than the actor who portrayed both of them: Fess Parker, who just passed away. My older brother and I were always seated and waiting eagerly for our tiny, black and white TV to warm up so that we could see what predicament our idol, Davy Crockett would have to get himself out of. The theme song was utterly singable, so we always sang along. Fess/Davy's slow, self-assured drawl mesmerized us. He was a frontiersman born and raised in the wilds of Kentucky. Unlike Chuck Conners of "The Rifleman," Davy always had his trusty rifle at his side, but seldom used it. He was a peace-lovin' man and only took a shot at food or in self-defense. Our children's world should have been shattered when Daniel (Dan'l) Boone was killed at the Alamo. Thanks to the magic of television, this historic tragedy became only make-believe to our young minds. Admittedly, I haven't given much thought to those early shows until reading Fess Parker's obit in the paper. What I remember most vividly is that TV shows back then all seemed to have happy endings and incorporated some sort of lesson on good behavior or citizenship. The only time I remember ever being scared after watching a show during those days was after an episode of "The Twilight Zone." Some of you will remember this one . . . A hairy critter terrorized airplane passenger, Bill Shatner, who watched -- midair -- as it tried to sabotage the wing. Of course everyone else thought he was crazy because they couldn't see the creature. When the plane landed and he was being led away by the men in white coats, the truth was clearly evident on the wing. After that, I decided to stick with the Mickey Mouse Club, Father Knows Best, My Little Margie, The Steve Allen show and others that were fun and not at all scary. R.I.P, Davy, Dan'l, Fess.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Beware: I'm ranting again

There are places in this world where men are expected not to exercise self-control. Because these males are so utterly incapable of controlling their libidos girls have their genitals scraped and stitched almost closed in an attempt to maintain purity. In some cultures if a female loses her virginity, often as a result of rape, she becomes unmarriageable at least and ostracized or killed at worst. The so called "honor killing" of such a victim is required to remove the dishonor brought upon her family. The rapist might get a slap on the hand while his victim is blamed for inciting the attack. Being raped is terrifying and humiliating. To actually be blamed for it would be unbearable. Could it be that death becomes a welcome escape from such twisted thinking? I cannot figure out how this mindset came to be. Humans are all born with brains and sexual organs. When and how did it become OK for one gender to completely overrule the other? Archaic religious doctrines can explain some of it. Males are physically stronger than females, but intellectually they are quite different. How then have women come to embrace as tradition what I recently read about? In a misguided attempt to control young pregnancies, breast ironing remains popular. Yes, it is as barbaric as it sounds. Girls who develop breasts at an early age are forced to have hot irons applied their chests in an attempt to stop the growth of their breasts. This is considered necessary because of the belief that just the sight of breasts arouses boys and men. Though it's mostly true, I cannot understand how women can continue to buy into torturing girls in an attempt to protect them. Though sex is a normal and necessary part of life, it continues to be used as a weapon. Combatants at war are encouraged to defile women and girls to demoralize their enemies and contaminate blood lines. Where is the honor in that? Is the human race reversing its evolution?

Friday, March 12, 2010

I am a murderer.

Thank goodness the statute of limitations has run out in my case. My conscience, however has no such limitation. Though this dastardly deed happened a long time ago, my guilt has not been relieved. The victims' eyes still haunt me. That and their last, desperate attempts to gulp enough oxygen to live. When I first met who would become my three victims, they were happily swimming around a dark-bottomed, beautifully landscaped outdoor pond in Glen Echo. They would playfully leap up into the air, splashing back down in a sprinkling of diamond-like water drops. And they were huge. With a little coercion from two adorable little girls -- daughters of a friend -- I had agreed to see to their well being during the winter months. Though I was living in a tiny studio apartment at the time, I made room for them. At first, my guests seemed a little disoriented and I soon came to realize that my idea of accommodations was not theirs. I thought giving them plenty of sunshine would cheer them up. It didn't. The situation became murkier and murkier as days went by. Leaving for work each morning I worried that one or all three of them might escape -- leaping to certain death. You see, during their first evening with me, I spent an inordinate amount of time picking up their slippery bodies from the floor and returning them to their bowl. I tried to contain them by placing a cookie cooling rack over their bowl. They just knocked it off. A heavy bookend put an end to that trick. I fed them regularly and even talked to them. No matter -- in mere days their skins became slimy and started sloughing-off. Horrors!! How could this be happening?! I'd been so conscientious! Who knew that goldfish, actually carp, would grow as large as their container would allow? When I agreed to house them through the winter, I had pictured three, tiny fish of the sort one wins at a carnival. I'd purchased a large (or so I thought) glass bowl and even prepared the room-temp. water with anti-chlorine tabs as instructed by the guy at Woolworths in Georgetown. I wonder what would have happened to them if I'd freed them into the Potomac? Who knows -- maybe they would have grown to record-breaking proportions and inspired fishing tournaments. Their golden coloring certainly would have stood out among the muddy, gray catfish! Maybe they would have crossbred and spawned gold and gray polka-dotted progeny! They could be called Potomacus Polkadotae . . . ;-}

Friday, March 5, 2010

Catching up Part II

Today is Spouse's and my 27th wedding anniversary. It's a nice feeling, but hardly mattered today. Early this morning, Mom phoned to say that my 8 year old nephew Alex was in the hospital. Seems that yesterday evening, he and his mom, my sister Janet, were having a chat while nibbling on grapes. Nothing unusual or untoward there. Suddenly Alex got a stricken look on his face and started gurgling. Janet knew right away what had happened: a grape had become lodged in his esophagus. If it had been in his windpipe, a Heimlich maneuver might have dislodged it. The esophagus is a different thing. When Alex was born, the connection between his esophagus and windpipe never separated. A fistula [like a tube] connected them, so anything he swallowed he also inhaled. Three months, numerous procedures and surgeries later, part of his esophagus was removed. He's had other scary choking events before, but usually, he becomes so exhausted from trying to send something up or down, he falls asleep and his throat loosens enough to swallow. Not this time. His parents rushed him to their local hospital in Calvert County, but it is not equipped for emergencies in children. After waiting hours in the ER, hoping the grape would move up or down, the doctors decided he had to get to Children's here, in D.C. He and his mom came by ambulance shortly after one o'clock this morning. As soon as I heard about it, I headed up to Children's. I don't remember ever seeing their parking garage as full as it was today. There were guys directing people to park perpendicular to cars already parked. By some miracle, I found a legit spot within minutes! I found Alex in the PACU [pediatric acute care unit], wrapped in a warm blanket, sitting up on a regular size hospital bed. Almost two hours earlier he'd been anesthatized and the grape removed. He was still very groggy and coughing, but ALIVE!! Janet looked relieved and completely exhausted. They'd been sitting in two ERs since the night before and had had no sleep. When his vital signs stabilized, his nurse removed all the monitoring stuff and he perked up a little. All he and his mom wanted at that point was to get home to Lusby, sixty miles south in Maryland. That's where I was able to help. I drove them halfway where we met up with Alex's dad and big brother Zach. When Zach crawled across my back seat to unbelt and waken his little brother, Alex continued to dose while Zach lifted him up and carried him to their car. I was moved watching how gentle and loving Zach was and how Alex rested his head on Zach's chest as if it was the most comfortable place in the world. When I talked with Mom this evening, she'd heard from Janet that Alex went straight to his parents' bed and fell asleep. Janet said she would be joining him as soon as she got her coat off. By now, Bill has probably carried his son to his own bed and the whole family is breathing easier now. I sure am. Thank goodness for Children's!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Catching Up

Hello, my loyal fan! I'm back. . . On Monday Mom had arthrosocopic surgery on her knee to get rid of torn cartilage that had been causing her serious pain for the past few weeks. It was disconcerting for her because she was awake during the procedure. The doctor decided a local was enough. She didn't feel pain, as such, but the sounds and awareness of what was happening were not fun. Monday night was pretty dreadful for her. As soon as the local wore off, the serious pain set in. Even vicodin didn't make much of a dent in it. The next day, we agreed that perhaps the darvicet she'd been taking for the pain before her surgery might be better. It was!! It was still difficult getting around, which her doctor wants her to do, but she was able to sleep. Mom is a woman who doesn't eat when she's hurting. My purpose in staying with her was to make sure she got some nourishment and didn't try to do too much too soon. Thankfully, she likes Trader Joe's soups of which I'd brought three, so she managed to get some down each day. As is family custom, we needed something sweet afterwards. At her suggestion, I'd come with a half gallon each of chocolate chip coffee and peppermint ice creams. Oddly enough, I'm the only member of my family not crazy about ice cream. Nevertheless, I kept her company by digging in to some of the peppermint. By day three, yesterday, Mom was moving with more grace and fewer grunts and groans. She is one tough, strong-willed 85-year-old-lady!! We both had mixed emotions when I decided to get back home last evening. I was so homesick for Spouse and my own bed and -- thankfully -- she understood. She said all the right things to reassure me that she'd be fine on her own, with help from her marvelous friends and neighbors who'd been there for her since before my Dad died. She did nothing to lay a guilt trip on me; I am perfectly capable of doing that to myself. Mom sounded almost cheerful when I phoned her this morning. She's always been a very gracious hostess and I think it was a little hard for her to get out of that mode, even though I'm just one of her five kids and there simply to look after her. I hope it is a relief to have her house back to herself. We both know my sister Janet who works fulltime and lives closeby is available in a pinch and I'm just a phonecall away. Mom: if you've finally figured out how to find my blog and are reading this -- I enjoyed our "girl time" together and wish it could have been under different circumstances. Please try to take it slow and let your friends and family do for you. From your own experience, you know how good it makes one feel. To my sibs: please don't hold it against me that Seal took a liking to me. It's taken months of visits to get her to come out from under Mom's bed and into the world. Maybe she decided I was OK because I was temporarily feeding her. [Seal is Mom's paranoid, very pretty kitty who never comes out when ANYONE other than Mom is around.] Hope y'all have been doing well without my brilliant, mind-bending input! ;-} More later. . .