Monday, February 25, 2008

Huck on Harmony

There is no doubt that I'm biased, but I do believe my grandson Huck is a musical prodigy. He is only four, but the kid is totally enamored with making music and STUDYING those who make music. He owns several small instruments, and he can sit beside an adult who is playing the mandolin, for instance, and mimic every chord change and every nuance of picking and strumming. Huck is drawn to anyone playing music and will sit engaged, watching and/or playing his own instrument, for a very long time.

Once, when he had just turned 3, I took him to the Mariposa County Fair. He wanted to do two things: ride the kiddie motorcycles round and round and sit at the music pavilion in the front row and watch the musicians. We must have sat watching the music for more than an hour. He was 3 years old.

Every Thursday night he goes to music night at Granddaddy's, and when the musicians gather round the music stand, Huck is front and center, eyes on the lead guitarist copying every move. His foot taps in perfect time and he sings out joyfully.

In my imagination, I hear an emcee sometime off in the future, introducing a band with this comment: "And Huck on Harmony."


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cold Sore Flashback

A couple of days ago, my body started growing a humongous cold sore, bigger than any I've HAD since I was in my 20s. In fact, the previous cold sores I've had in the last 30+ years were tiny ones, usually related to sun and wind on the boat. But this one is clearly a giant statement about the wreck in my body, a compromised immune system and of course the big "S" word: stress. Since I lead a consistently frenetic, stress-filled life, I am prone to blame this most recent ugliness on the ear surgery of a few weeks ago, a clear traumatic assault of cutting and chemicals and in my estimation a torturous experience. Call me wuss or purist or whatever, my body did not like what happened to my ear on January 29 when a growth was removed from my auricle and a piece of skin was cut from behind the same ear and attached by stitches to the place where the growth once lived. I've already related all the crummy details of that experience in earlier posts (here and here), so today I'm only going to talk about the latest development: the cold sore.

However, rather than focus on the negative aspects of the mess on my lip that is growing up into my nose, I want to talk about what a weirdly enjoyable day I had yesterday, a series of flashbacks that were almost hallucinogenic in quality. First, the cold sore itself feels like a flashback to when I was in my 20s and my lack of coping skills leaked across my upper lip in the same kind of mess that grows there now. Because I woke up yesterday feeling like I was getting the flu—lethargic and headachy—I decided to cancel all my commitments for the day. Cindy, too, was feeling punk and when one of her jobs was canceled, she postponed the others and stayed home too. Tuesday is normally our shopping day (to get the senior discount at the market), so our cupboards were bare which meant we had to get inventive. This was the reason for the second flashback.

Cindy found a loaf of raisin bread in the freezer. Yipee! All morning, I ate raisin bread toast soaked in butter, something I used to do in my teens when I stayed home sick on a rainy day. Back then I could eat a whole loaf of raisin bread, and I almost did that yesterday. I wasn't exactly hungry for lunch so I took a nap—well 2 naps, first a real nap on the bed and then a second nap on the couch where I tried to read (I'm reading The Year of Living Biblically ), but I guess all the butter and bread turned into a sedative in my system, and I drifted back to sleep. When I woke, Cindy was thinking about dinner: Flashback 3. Our menu from the bare cupboard: mac & cheese, frozen corn, steamed broccoli, and little cups of chocolate chips for dessert. Does that sound like a college meal or what? At least that's what I ate when I was 18 or 19 and in college.

We ate dinner watching a NetFlix DVD which was the source of Flashback 4. Actually it could be called Flashback 4, 5, 6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13 . . .ad infinitum because the movie was Across the Universe. Have you seen it? It is simply marvelous, a must see for anyone who grew up in the 60s, anyone who is a Beatles fan, anyone who wants to understand my generation, who hates the idea of a war on the other side of the world, who loves humankind and knows that All We Need is Love. It was an incredible 2 hours and 15 minutes of time warp.

The tingling-itching-burning on my lip notwithstanding, I relished my day of FLASHBACK.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My Writing Group

In 1990, I overheard a colleague at work refer to himself as a poet. It was one of those earthshaking moments for me. I knew this fellow well and I knew that he wrote poetry-- good poetry-- for fun. When I heard him call himself a poet, I understood that I could call myself a writer. I think at that moment, I birthed not only the writer part of me, but I also established that I need a community to support my writing. I needed to regularly associate with others who were also writing in order to validate my efforts.

From that moment on, I sought a writing group. At first, I went to writing classes. Then I invited friends who were writers to meet regularly to share writing work. Over the years, I've been in many groups, some of which have last only 2 or 3 months and one that lasted almost 6 years. For 3 years, I was a member of a group of 2. At other times, I have been in groups of 4 to 7. While in graduate school, I worked in online groups of as many as 12. I have a new group that is only 2 months old. Some of the members I've worked with before and some are new writing friends.

The thing is this: the 7 women in this group are smart and generous. Time with them infuses me with delight and inspiration. Reading their work is awesome—the tender places they visit with words, the hilarious and poignant voices they record, the colorful scenes they paint. WOW! How lucky I feel to be among the first to read their work. Each of these writers shows me something new and marvelous about craft. Each gives me permission to stretch beyond where I currently sit as a writer.

And when they comment on my work, I am challenged to work harder to make my words say what I mean; I am thankful for their astute observations. I am a writer who needs a community to push and cajole me. I need my writing group's applause, and I need their wise nudges.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

17 Syllables

I found this cool blog that has a page called sentences. The introduction to the page is a weird comment on the 17 syllable American sentence that I didn't really understand, but I love the sentences the blogger wrote. (The blog is called The Polka Dot Witch Blog if you want to go take a look.)

I want to write 17 syllable sentences. Here I go:

Weekend chores like car washing, laundry, and taxes are necessary.

Deer beware: 5 roses are transplanted behind a fence; 3 to go.

Ashley's cedar tree is mulched with leaf and bark; her headstone is in place.

Two ravens waddled and flirted in the parking lot at 6 am.

If the sentences sound Haiku-like, that's because haiku is also 17 syllables: 5+7+5=17.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Business As Usual

After 10 days of recovering from my little ear surgery, life returned to normal this week. Coming from a slightly different vantage point—that of slug on a couch—the usual routine looks filled to capacity. No wonder my body decided to take advantage of the hiatus.

Business as usual the week included: 3 yoga class; 4 appointments for freelance work; 3 home-school appointments; 2 lengthy stints assisting Cindy with resets (4-5 hours each); a doctor appointment; a morning with Huckleberry while his folks did a walk through at the Waldorf School; a meeting with a graphics designer about the cover for my book; a gazillion phone calls and email regarding 3 feature articles I'm working on; finishing a Tall Tale for ABC Teach; finishing the Reading Guide for my book; prepping for our Valentine's date (which we delayed until Feb. 15 because we were too wasted on the 14th), and if I count Sunday as part of the week, pruning 3 trees, transplanting 4 rose buses and a lilac, and hauling away the slash.

The weekend will involve reordering after the busy week. There are piles of laundry and compost to deal with. Since my practice is to create a bag to carry materials for the various events, I now have to empty those bags: the yoga bag; the Democrat bag; the homeschool bag; the lunch bag; the KleenSlate bag; the backpack with a slew of miscellaneous folders and receipts that need to be properly filed—my tax gal (Cindy) is a stickler about keeping those receipts filed. Then there is the check book to catch up on, i.e. recording the ATMs. And I'd love to wash the cars, and I HAVE to check on my transplants and see how they weathered the windstorm last week which littered the yard with branches (the yard I just raked clean of storm debris). Oh and I have to assist Cindy with a mystery shop and I want to get the twins' birthday pictures printed.

That's life . . .


Friday, February 8, 2008

My Ear

I keep getting myself into a snit about my ear. Yesterday morning, I was driving to town to prune roses for Michael. and I caught a glimpse of my ear in the rearview mirror and it looked red and swollen. Before I got to town, I had visions of ear amputation, so I drove straight to the doctor and asked to be seen. He was not in the office and the receptionist recommended I go to Prompt Care. I could feel myself crumbing in despair, and it must have been visible because she called a nurse to look at my ear. The nurse said it was not infected, but I could make an appointment for the next day if it would make me feel better. It would and I did.

The thing is: I didn't ask enough questions up front about this whole thing. I don't have any idea how long a skin graft takes to heal, what the progression is, how it's supposed to look, etc. When the doctor said on Tuesday that he wasn't happy about the vascularity not returning, I should have asked for a better explanation, but I didn't. What's with that?

I don't know enough so I keep getting freaked out. The wound site doesn't appear to be changing in any way. Andrea pointed out that there is not a lot of blood flow to auricle . . . that's why folks get all kinds of piercings there. So what does that mean if I need blood flow for the skin graft to heal? Does it mean it will take longer or that it won't take at all?

I've added large amounts of bioflavinoids to my supplements. Andrea says they promote capillary growth. I've looked up ears in Louise Hay's book about healing. Of course, ear ailments are a sign of not listening. What am I not listening too? I'm not asking the right questions, so therefore I can't HEAR what's up with this thing?

There are probably a ton of other things I'm not listening to as well, like my body asking for more time to relax and exercise, my trees and roses asking why I don't prune them instead of working other people's, my grandkid's wanting to tell me stories, my books calling to be read, songs that need to be heard . . .

I'm trying to slow down and listen. What else can I do?


Sunday, February 3, 2008

What a Wuss!

Last week I had a minor surgery to remove a persistent growth on my ear that had resisted two attempts by the dermatologist to freeze off. My FNP said it was time to get it permanently removed. She sent me to the doctor she felt could best do the job and soon the date was set. I admit to being a little nervous BEFORE. Thoughts about malignancy floated up occasionally, and I was NOT excited about having surgery. But overall, I went into the whole thing thinking this was going to be simple . . . surgery in the morning, resting in the afternoon, and back to business as usual the next day.

The surgery was on Tuesday and it's now Sunday and I'm still recovering, the weirdness of the first day extending into 6 days. I woke from the surgery completely bewildered that it had already taken place. Apparently one of the drugs they gave me was Versed which promotes memory loss. I don't remember a thing. Interestingly, it is also associated with respiratory depression which may account for the asthma I've had since the surgery. I've had other strangeness as well: sleep disturbance, reoccurring bouts of nausea, incredible malaise, blurry vision, and generally slow thought processes.

Belatedly, I looked up the side effects of Versed and sure enough every symptom listed above is a potential side effect of an intravenous injection of Versed during surgery. I don't know whether to be relieved or feel stupid. I'm glad I'm not the wuss I was beginning to believe myself to be, but I'm also disturbed that I didn't realize sooner that the "sickness" I've been feeling was very likely related to the drugs I was given.

I've discussed the after effects of anesthesia with Cindy, Andrea, Jennie Lou, and a number of friends, so Darn It! Why didn't I think of it this time? Was it the word minor? Was it the fact that I was told I would be given a local? Why didn't I pay more heed to Andrea when she was questioning me about the sedative I would be given? Does any of this matter? Are the effects long term? Or will it be relatively short-lived and should I just relax and enjoy getting a much needed rest from my go-go-go self?

I can't answer these questions right now. My fuzzy thinking persists but there is something I can do. To my caretaker Cindy, I thank you for all that you've done these past few days cleaning and tending to my ear and putting up with my confusion and whining and ineptitude. Maybe now that I have some idea what's going on, I can quit thinking, "What a wuss!"