Sunday, November 1, 2009

Need Help with a Writing Project

Could "you" assist me with a open-heart surgery project I'm working on?

I'm looking for people experienced in the field of caring for open heart surgery patients who can answer questions for me. These include: nurses . . . both with intensive care experience ANd follow-up care on the "step-down" floors, certified nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, physical and occupational therapists, speech therapists, and anyone else who deals with any aspect of open-heart surgery that I've forgotten to mention.

I'm also looking for family members who provided care for the open-heart surgery patient after they left the hospital.

I especially need "your" input for this project. I'm looking for different challenges "you" faced during the recuperation period of your loved one and how "you" helped them overcome their difficulties. Examples of this include: lack of appetite which seems common after such a major surgery, forgetfulness and depression.

You can contact me at an email address I've reserved for this project. Thank you in advance.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

We're home from the hospital

*deep sigh*. It's been a long time coming. We've got a lot of work to do in the next few weeks to get her up to par.

THanks for all prayers. I can't believe she's home again.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cinderella's shoes


"Cinderella seen in Bergner's store at Grand Prairie Shopping Center".

When asked for an interview, Cinderella inquired, "first... what time is it." When told it was 5 minutes till 12, she bolted from the store screaming "I'm late, I"m late," leaving only this confused reported and a purple sequined 3 inch pump respendant with a bow and a large purple and two crystal jewels by the open toe.

Just thought you should know famous people DO make it to Peoria.

BTW....WHO would wear such a thing? Ggggrin!

Oh wait, I do have a friend who could pull this shoe off and do it with style, but us ordinary folks, husband would be laughing his butt off at this one.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What do light switches, ketchup dispensers, bananas, chairs and tables, a yellow-- Caution WET FLOOR sign and a tree have in common? I'm at the hospital visiting mom. SHe's asleep so I'm in the cafeteria wondering what I could write in my blog.

Sometimes, it's amazing to me how you can be in a place so very many times, but not "see" something. There are actually "3" trees in various corners of our cafeteria. Most likely fake ones. Ggggrin! ( I think) I've never seen them shed their leaves, but then again, since I never SAW the trees in the first place, one never knows. The darned things are actually dusty, so I assume they've been here for a while. (blushing faintly that I coulda missed the dumb things in the first place)

Oh well, guess I better turn my brain on next time I come to the cafeteria. Hope there aren't any pink elephants in the soup line. Ggggrin!

Friday, September 4, 2009

7 Rules to live by

1. Smile more often. It makes better looking wrinkles.

2. Take time to smell the roses (and if you're allergic, you can just wave from a distance. Even roses get lonely, ya know.)

3. Shave your legs more than once every 3 months in the winter. (You just never know when you're gonna fall on your face on the sidewalk and end up in the ER with a skinned up knee and a rattled brain.) And . . . IF you choose NOT to shave more often than that, tell the ER personnel that you are trying to start a new trend by wearing dread locks on your legs.

(Hey, wearing your pants around the bottom of your butt with your underwear hanging out came into vogue...I think you can away with this one!) gggrin!

4. When someone asks how you are . . . give them a spontaneous answer. None of that "fine, how are you?" crap.

Personally, when someone asks me how I am, I respond, "I'm reeeally, reeeeally, reeeeeeeeeally good, bordering on spectacular, but not quite there." That's been known to startle the person asking, but they almost always smile when I do it.

5. Be sure to listen. You just never know what you're gonna find out. Maybe it will be the winning lottery numbers. (Well, I can dream, can't I?)

6. Don't assume that someone should "see" you need help. Ask for it.

I know you think you shouldn't have to ask, but most of us are not mind readers, although I do "play" one on TV.

7. Pay it forward. Do a small kindness for someone and when they want to repay you, tell them to do something nice to another individual. I know for a fact that slowly and over time, you can influence an entire group of people to do the same.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Laughter reigned in the ICU

As many of you know, my mom’s occupied a room in the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital after undergoing open heart surgery more than a month ago. She experienced two respiratory arrests during the last five weeks and was on a ventilator/breathing machine most recently for more than two weeks.

Thank heavens . . . to quote a cliché, “she has turned the corner” and her health improves daily. The doctors decided to put a tracheostomy into her neck which sounds horrible but since then, her difficulty breathing has eased considerably. And as her breathing becomes better, her sense of humor erupts full force almost daily to the point she nearly made one of the nurses pee her pants tonight laughing.

Mom requested I place a cold rag for her head. A minute or so later, she made a grimace and gestured her fist towards her head several times like she was pounding something into her forehead. OH, NO, I think. She's got a horrible headache or is it a stroke?

Scared to death, I ordered her to tap out a message explaining the problem on an alphabet board. And this is the message I received:

“I need to tack the cloth to my brain. It keeps slipping.”

Relief swept through me. I laughed till I wheezed and me, being me, I told her I was going to ask her nurse if Mom could borrow her stapler. Tape would do if they didn’t trust her with the stapler. She chuckled silently and shooed me on to see what the nurse would say.

Of course, the nurse entered the room with a frown. “What do you need a stapler for, Mary?” Mom pantomimed that she wanted to staple the cloth to her forehead while I explained what she wanted. Thought we’d have to clean up the floor when the nurse finished laughing. I did end up taping the cloth to Mom's forehead anyway, just to tease her.

Candace, her nurse, told her that soon they would put a valve in her tracheostomy which would allow her to talk again. “Then you can cuss us nasty old nurses out.” Mom made the “who?…lil’ old Me cuss you out?” face and batted her eyelashes all sweet and innocent looking.

I told her I really wanted to know what word she said first when she could talk. That woman, my dear sweet 82-year-old mother, looked so pensive and thoughtful and onery (up to playing tricks) that both the nurse and I laughed till I ended up wiping tears from my eyes.

We’ll see what she says.

Report to follow . . .

Sunday, August 23, 2009

New Slipper Sox

Mom's still in the hospital on a respirator. It's been almost a month since she had her surgery. Has had two respiratory arrests probably from a reaction to some medicine. Not as serious as a cardiac arrest, but serious none-the-less.

Her sense of humor is still there, however. She asked me to bring some slipper socks from home. She's tired of the icky old red ones they give you at the hospital.

I decided to make her day and bring her SPECIAL ones. BOught a pair of florescent pink one with heart shaped gripper thingies on the bottom. On the top is a picture of Ehyor, the donkey from the Winnie the Pooh stories. Just above his picture it says, LOVE ME.

I brought them in and said....don't feel like you HAVE to wear these. But she grabbed them and hugged them to her chest, her eyebrows wiggling their approval emphatically. It's so hard to talk when you have the equivalent of a fist stuck down your throat. Hard to read lips that way.

She's the talk of the ICU now. Gggrin! I don't suppose very many 82 year old ladies wear Ehyor socks up there. But then again, most 82 year old ladies don't wear ball caps with the caption ......
"Don't let the hallo fool you." (I'm not sure how to spell's one of those round shiney rings that angels wear above their heads. gggrin)

Anyway, it made my day to see her eyes sparkle when she saw them.

Friday, August 14, 2009

One more thing about mom

One of the male nurses who had taken care of her earlier stopped by to ask her how she was doing. She opened one eye, arched her eyebrow at him and squinted her infamous "How the *e*l do you think I'm doing, you big dope" look at him. When he left, she looked at me and shook her head so hard, I could almost hear her brains rattle.

If she hadn't been tied down so she wouldn't pull her breathing tube out, she would have taken the palm of her hand and thudded it up against her forehead several times. But then she just shrugged and grinned.

Setback on the Mom front

Mom suffered a setback in her quest to get out of the hospital. She's been in the ICU for 10 days since her respiratory arrest. She started getting so lethargic that she would forget to breath so they ended up putting a breathing tube back in last night. Her fingers were quite blue by the time they got it done. aCk!

She's back again. Last night was a little worrisome but my ex-boss's dad had just had open heart surgery by my mom's doctor and he (the doctor) got outa surgery just in time to go put a breathing tube in mom. PErfect timing, I guess. My boss was there for me and gave me hugs and talked to me till I could deal with things.

My brother is coming back from Denver by Saturday night and my sister will be here all weekend. Yea me! Yea mom! Thanks for all your prayers.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Selling books before they are published

I made another sale for the novel my writing buddy, Joe, and I have written and it isn't even published yet. Whilst sitting in the ICU watching mother sleep, the nurse asked me what project I was working on.

I explained about writing the novel and how a professor had offered to edit the book for free. I decided to make her a beautiful hand embroidered crazy quilt quilt in return for her kindness.

The nurse then asked what the book was about and with very little explanation about the details of the book, she said...well, just let me know when it's published and I'll buy one. Ggggrin! Even gave me her email address so I won't forget to contact her. She was so impressed that a REAL person, someone she'd actually met, had written a novel.

I'm planning to publish on demand after the professor is done editing. Sooooooo, things are moving closer. I even had someone show up in my life who had self-published before and offered advice on things to ask so I make sure the the final product is made with quality paper and printing. Amazing how people keep showing up in my life to help me along the way.

Ain't life grand?

OOOOOOH by the way, Mom had had a relapse last week and ended up back in the ICU for the past 6 days. Not going to get out of the hospital any time soon, but she's getting slowly better.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

When do our parents become our children?

Mom had open heart surgery two days ago. There were a few unsuspected complications once they got in there but she's doing okay considering. There were calcifications in her aorta (the major blood vessel coming off the heart) which looked like stalamites, sharp, pointy rock formations that develop over years of liquid dripping from a cave ceiling onto the floor.

The only thing now is that she won't wake up. SHe's ultra-sensitive to pain meds and I have to keep prodding her to wake her up. I have to nag her to eat. I have to boss her around like she's a small child.

I was never a parent, but if this is what it is like, I"m kinda glad I din't go through it. I know I've missed a few of the warm fuzzies that go along with parenting, but this is one of the hardest things I've ever done.

I"ll take a deep breath, tuck my head down and keep plugging along. I knew this day would come. We all gotta get old sometime, but it's giving me more and more thoughts about how to plan my own future for when I get old.

That includes more exercise now, eating less chocolate and caffeine, less fatty foods, more vegetables, less red meat. Now wait a minute!!! Did you just read what I wrote? WHO am I kidding? Gggrin!

Whew...glad I got over that insane before I went too far.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What Bugs Bunny taught us about classical music

I bought a CD of popular classical music. I love it. My husband doesn't. One day however when we got in the car, it began playing. I figured he would turn it off.

After twenty minutes, I commented on how odd it was that he was actually listening to classical music. He said ... "oh, is that classical music? I thought it was the soundtrack to Bugs Bunny cartoons."

Rossini, Mendelson, Straus, Wagner, Stravinski, and (if I could spell it right)...Betovan, Bethovan, get the picture. It's 4:30 in the morning and my spell check is still asleep.

The background music for cartoons I'd listened to all my life were all there. I hadn't realized it until he said something.

As Richard Wagner's song, The Ride of the Valkyrie, played in the background, I could just close my eyes and "see" Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny dressed as vikings with Elmer proudly belting out the tune, "kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit, KILL THE WABBIT".

Hard to believe, Bugs Bunny is good for something other than a laugh. He helped me learn to appreciate classical music too.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Squatter's Rights for Frogs

Is there such a thing as Squatter's Rights for Frogs?

Somebody moved in a few days ago. He may be
little and green, but he's a persistant little buck. My
husband keeps finding him hiding in various
places around our garage. It seems our
log cabin is his favorite place to vacation and hang
during the summer months.

Mr. Frog's favorite hidey-hole is under the lawn mower
hood. Good thing, dear hubby peeks underneath every
time before he starts the darned thing. Otherwise.......

Funny thing is, it seems to be the same frog each time.
I guess nobody's gonna tell HIM where to live.

Living in the country is fun. If you don't
have deer in the driveway, frogs in the lawn mower,
chipmunks chirping so loud they wake you up out
of a sound sleep, turkeys in the back yard taking a dust
bath, hawks circling the woods in back of your house,
racoons pooping on your back deck, squirrels getting
trapped inside your house and chewing a hole in the
window screen so he can get out, woodpeckers trying
to drill a hole in your house cuz it's a LOG cabin and
Gee...that's what woodpeckers do, and various and sundry
ground bee swarms to drive over with the lawn mower
and get attacked by, miscellanous bugs and once finding
a brown wolf spider in the middle of your bed when
you walk into the bedroom to go to sleep, life just ain't
worth livin'. Ain't life grand?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bully Bird

"Hey Lady. Get outa my way. Ah'm flyin' heyah."

My walk today was punctuated with a moment of
of extreme surprise. I felt a thump and flutter
at my back. As I tried to see behind me, I
noticed the shadow of a small bird hovering
behind me just below my shoulders. It glanced
off my back again and then flew off.

What do I look like? A window? Hmmmmmmm...
on second thought...don't answer that. Gggrin!

Just thought I'd share. Odd things happen to me
but this one rates pretty high on the weird-o-meter.
Now I'm gettting pushed around by birds.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Oh to be young again? Not me.

I worked with an 18 year old who was graduating from
high school today. She's scared spitless about her future.
Has no plans on how to accomplish her goals of being a
kindergarden teacher some day. She physically shook
from nerves as I performed her sonogram.

I never thought about that sort of thing when I was young.My
future unfolded for me without a hitch. I got into college
in the x-ray school program by a complete fluke. Someone dropped
out at the right moment so I could just slip in the door. Exit
college, there's a job waiting for me. The next years crop of
graduates had no jobs at all.

A few years later, someone sidled up to me and whispered...psssssst,
there's a job in Ultrasound, pass it on. I hollered ... ME...ME...take
MEEEEEE! They did and there were no openings in Ultrasound for
another 10 years after that.

Everything I've ever wanted in the way of a job has opened up
right when I wanted it and I've loved my job ever since.
How lucky is that?

My advise to her is to always keep a positive attitude no matter what
happens. "We become what our thoughts are." Then I said something
utterly inane and made her laugh.

Don't know which helped more...being silly or being profound but
at least she wasn't shaking any more.

BUt all this made me realize I wouldn't want to be young again
for a million bucks.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Brain Development . . . is this a good thing?

I just bought a CD program called The BrainFlex Method. It talks about how to develop
your brain so that as you get older, you have less chance of developing brained related issues
like dementia and Alzheimer's by stimulating your brain to form new synapses instead of
decreasing them as usually happens when you get older.

The program talked about being a left brained person or a right brained persons. Left brainers
are logical people. They make lists and follow them; they make great detectives. They wear
watches and are almost never late.

Right brainers are those flighty kinds of creative people who "feel" more than they "see".
Not the most organized people in the whole wide world. In fact if they made a list,
they'd probably lose it. And watches? HA! What's time to a creative person?

Now just because I haven't worn a watch in over 28 years doesn't mean I'm a right brainer.
I just keep forgetting to take the watch to the jeweler's to get it fixed. Get the picture? The
list I wrote it down on to remind me is probably buried until piles of creative clutter on my
kitchen counter.

To stimulate the other side of your brain, they suggest doing things with your non-dominant
hand. Ever try brushing your teeth with the opposite hand? Oy! I got cramps in my wrist
doing that. I've been using my left hand on the mouse when I play solitaire. I have to use
my middle finger to click the mouse instead of the forefinger. *Mr. Left ForeFinger* has gone on
strike. It doesn't want to work right.

And soooo...they suggested a way of right brainer's developing the left side of their brain.
Keeping a blog every day for 30 days. You might think this is a creative person's forte but
it's not. It's organized and logical, *delicate shudder*, but I'm going to try to do this for
30 days.

oh yeah . . . just gotta share one last thing. They suggested using two pieces of paper and two pens. Draw a circle with one hand while you are drawing a square or a triangle or some other structure with the other hand. They offered about 12 different drawing scenarios graduating up to the more difficult ones of drawing two squares with one hand, a triangle with the other hand and trace a circle with your foot on the floor as you do it. By the time I got done, I felt like I'd pulled a hamstring in my brain. Aiyiyi! DO NOT do this exercise just before betime, boys and girls. I kept waking up wondering where I was that night.

Anyway, I'm gonna try that write a blog post every day. We'll see how far I get. ggggrin!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What makes you happy?

Have you ever thought about what makes you truly happy? TOday...I decided to make a list.

1. When a stranger responds to your smile.
2. The smell of cut grass
3. The smell of flowers as you're sitting under a busy overpass waiting for a traffic light to turn green. (can you tell this happened to me today? I've never smelled flowers there before in my life and I've been driving under this overpass for almost 30 years)
4. Seeing the sunshine after days and days and days and days of rain. (can you tell we're a bit water-logged here in the Midwest?) gggrin!
5. Finding the perfect pair of pants on sale for $2.99. ( my husband doesn't like them, but WHAT woman wouldn't LOVE to find a pair of bright red elastic waisted suede pants ON SALE and they actually FIT?) gggrin!
6. Having someone tell you the convoluted directions to a doctors office, but stopping after she says....go down this long the door, THen go down the hallway. (That's my kind of sense of humor.)
7. Helping someone who is very uptight about having some medical testing done laugh through their procedure and reeeeeeeeally relax. (Of course, it's hard to be around me without laughing really hard. Hmmmm....I wonder if that's a good thing or not, she pauses to consider, then grins)
8. Realizing it doesn't make that much difference if you are one minute late to work or not, as long as you got there safely.
9. Getting to think about what makes you happy and then realizing you had a most excellent day.
10. Realizing you really only have nine things that made you happy today, but in sharing those nine things, you get to say you have 10 things that made you happy.

And so...what made YOU happy today? I wanna know.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Serenade of the Tree Frogs

Have you ever heard a tree frog sound deleriously happy? We experienced a "gully washer" of a thunderstorm last night, one of many the midwest has endured in the past week or so. At 4:30 this morning, the sound of 30,000 happy itty bitty little frogs outside my window woke me up.

(Okay, so it might have been the hot flash that woke me up, but the "Halleluja Chorus dressed in green" prevented me from going back to sleep.) Gggrin!

I suppose most people never have the opportunity to hear tree frogs. Living in the country for thirty years near the woods and a big pond helps. There's something so soothing about their joy. Oh ... to be happy it rains ... and rains ... and rains.

Did you know most tree frogs sing soprano? Well, for years, one of OUR frogs sang bass. You'd hear chirp, chirp, chirp and then BA-ROOm. In fact, the "bass" frog possess what sounded like a smoker's cough. YOu'd heard chirp, chirp, chirp ...BA+ROOM....cough, cough, wheeeeeze. Life's interesting around my house. Even the tree frogs are different.

More later. I can't believe it's been so long since I last posted. Vacation, work related seminars and life in general have gotten in the way. HOpe to remedy that.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Innocent.

The following story, "The War Tattoo" is true. The name of the person involved has been changed to protect his identity. In fact, even though this man touched my life and changed it forever, I would not know him if he walked up and shook my hand. It happened too long ago.

Be forewarned. Grab a hankie before when you read. I'd love to hear what you think about it. Thanks in advance.

The War Tattoo--1995

I darted glances at the bent frame of the angry seventy-two year old man shuffling by my side to the ultrasound exam room. His snow white hair and wrinkles gave the appearance of great age, but he vibrated with a barely suppressed fury that seemed more appropriate for someone much younger.

My hectic schedule had caused me to be an hour behind for his appointment, but his anger seemed out of proportion to my being late. Others might tremble in the face of such wrath, but I’d faced down other tough characters during my career. I unleashed the considerable charm I’d inherited from my father, determined to draw this guy from his ugly mood if only for a moment. But, my preliminary instructions for the exam, which usually brought a smile to most patients, fell flat.

I inquired about his work prior to retirement. He gave minimal answers. Even my cheerful inquiry of “What do you do when you’re not hanging out in hospitals having tests done?” brought a curt reply of “nothing.”

Silence hung in the darkened exam room like an oppressive fog. On edge and uncomfortable, I found it difficult to breathe.

He rejected my attempts to draw him out, but inexplicably, I felt an intense need to connect with him. I refused to relinquish verbal contact, so when a faded marking on his arm caught my attention, I changed tactics. “There’s always an interesting story behind a tattoo. Can I ask how you got that?”

He turned his bleak, lifeless eyes towards me. “I got that when I was young and foolish during World War II,” he explained in a dull voice. Instinctively, I understood the silent words he telegraphed, ‘when I was young and still alive!’

The implied message discomforted me, but I pressed for details anyway. “What did you do during the war?”

His nostrils flared as he exhaled deeply. The quiet noise punctured the leaden silence in the room. “I was a lieutenant in the infantry,” he said, his low voice rough with emotion.

I suddenly realized I’d reached the limits of decency in questioning the old man, so I squeezed his arm. “If this is too difficult, we don’t have to talk about it.”

Another deep sigh punched me in the chest. He whispered, “I know…but I’d like to tell you.” With flashes of controlled emotion, he told me about his job as a group leader in the first wave of the invasion on D-day. Their landing craft took fire. Most of his men died instantly. The gentleman’s voice shook with regret. “I was so much older than those boys,” he said. “None of them knew combat. I couldn’t help them.”

“How old were you?”

“Twenty-three,” he mumbled.

“You were just a youngster. You shouldn’t blame yourself.”

He ignored my comment. “I was ancient compared with those seventeen, eighteen, nineteen year olds. It was such a waste…such a huge waste…” His voice trailed off. In the semi-darkness of the exam room, I saw faces of young men long dead reflected in his eyes.

I felt like a heel for bringing up long suppressed memories, yet somehow the old man seemed more alive. I vowed to listen as long as he wished to talk; I didn’t care if it made me even later than I already was for my next appointment.

“They assigned me a new group of men. We went inland to take more ground.”

Details were sketchy and hesitantly presented, but I didn’t press for more than he wished to give. Deep down, I recognized this was a subject he rarely spoke about.

He shook his head and stared intently at my face. “I don’t know why I survived. No family, no sweetheart. Those guys who died lost everything. I had nothing to lose.”

The bitter emotion strangling his voice touched me to the core. With the utter conviction of someone who’s never faced death before, I uttered the senseless platitude, “There must have been a reason for you to survive.”

A sardonic chuckle startled me. “Well, it's been over fifty years, and I’ve never figured it out. If you were to ask me when the war ended, I'd tell you it ended two weeks ago. I never got over what I saw or the bad things I did.

“My life became better after a Colonel chose me as his aide. No responsibility for anyone but myself. I was in danger at the front lines gathering information, but always got out safely even though artillery fire destroyed my jeep once. Luckily, I had sense enough to run when a series of explosions hit the road ahead of me. I exited the vehicle seconds before it blew up.”

“Oh my God!” I grabbed the old man’s arm.

“You know,” he continued, “I married a couple of times after the war, but the marriages didn’t last. Never had children. Couldn’t hold a steady job either.” His face dropped. “Why am I still here?”

By this time, I had completed his test. He fell silent, but this time, the quiet felt less oppressive.

I left the room to finish my paperwork and came back to walk Mr. Martin to the exit. He ambled along in companionable silence, a real change from his attitude just a short time ago. When we reached the door, he said goodbye and turned to leave.

I called him back. “Sir, can I shake your hand?”

He searched my face with narrowed, suspicious eyes. “I guess so, but why?” he demanded as he stuck out his hand.

“I just want to thank you for all you’ve done.”

He blinked rapidly and whispered, “Thank you.” His firm grip expressed the emotions I saw warring on his face. He turned and left without another word.

With tears in my eyes, I watched an amazing metamorphosis. As Mr. Martin walked away, his slumped shoulders unfurled like a flag catching a sudden stiff breeze. Even the shuffling gate of the old man became more sure and confident. In my mind’s eye, I saw the ghost of a young man, ripe with potential, before the demons of war had ravaged his soul.

Inside, I was saluting.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Power in a Promise

My job as an Ultrasound Technologist in a busy metropolitan hospital requires an expertise in dealing with all sorts of nervous patients, especially little ones. Children, agitated about their coming sonogram, often require special efforts to ensure their cooperation.

Over the years, I developed some effective ways of neutralizing the fears of little ones, such as demonstrating how the sonogram is done on their parent or making a game out of the test; look…your tummy is on TV. Occasionally simple explanations are enough to calm them. Little did I know in one case, a special promise would be necessary.

Several years ago, I called the name of an eight-year-old girl in the waiting room. She cringed and resisted her mother’s attempts to lead her in my direction by clinging to the armrest of a chair with a death grip. Loud, exaggerated wailing and crocodile tears ensued. It was obvious she had no intention of allowing me to perform the test.

Immediately, I crouched by her side to be smaller than she was and hopefully less intimidating. My voice became strained as I struggled to be heard over her sobs.

I attempted to explain the test and soothe her fears, using every technique I’d ever learned to deal with children. Nothing quieted her vociferous demonstration. The child even screamed, “You’re a liar!” when I promised the test wouldn’t hurt. That really hurt my feelings.

She eluded her parent’s grasp and slide underneath the chair. Every time her mother grabbed her, the little girl wailed even louder. Embarrassed at first, her mom pleaded with her to come out from under the chair. She progressed to demands and threats, but the child ignored her.

I tolerated fifteen minutes of this behavior before I became impatient. It was obvious the child was not mentally handicapped in any way. This would have tempered my reaction to the tantrum.

The irritation in my voice finally caught her attention because her eyes widened as she peeked out from under the chair. I pointed my finger at her as I said through gritted teeth, “I will not hurt you. Scout’s Honor!”

Automatically, I raised my right hand, three fingers extended upward in the traditional Girl Scout’s pledge. I’m not sure why, but the habit of using that sacred pledge when I really want to be believed, ingrained itself in me during in my early years in scouting.

The sudden silence stunned me. The little girl’s eyes bugged out in surprise. “Are you a scout?” she demanded.

Stunned by the abrupt change in her manners, I paused a moment before I nodded. “A long time ago, I was. Once a scout, always a scout. You know we never lie when we say, Scout’s Honor! It’s against the Girl Scout rules. I promise this test will not hurt!”

The child emerged from her hiding place and grabbed my hand. She dragged me down the hallway towards the exam room.

Her mom and I looked at each other as we hurried down the hall. “What just happened?” I asked.

The woman just shook her head and shrugged. “I don’t know, but I bet you’ll remember us.” We both grinned in relief.

The testing proceeded without a hitch. The little girl enjoyed watching the sonogram and was a delight to work with. And I NEVER forgot the power in that special kind of promise.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fairy Godmother Wings?

(You should probably read the posting below about the $30 dress before you read this note if you are a new visitor to my blog. It will make a lot more sense.)

I suppose I ought to explain the drawing with the fairy wings. Thirty years ago, I watched out for a friend of mine going through a trying time in her life. She was in medical school. I gave her little presents and sent letters just to say, "hi, I'm thinking of you." She used to marvel at the wonderful timing my letters seemed to possess. They always came at a time when she needed a pick-me-up.

In fact, one time she asked, "How do you know when I need you?" I laughingly replied, "it's magic." She asked, "Are you my fairy godmother or what?" I liked that idea and adopted the non-de-plume of Nancy's fairy godmother.

(I could go weeks and weeks without thinking of my friend, but whenever she came to mind, I felt a compulsion to write immediately. Once, however, I put off writing to her for two weeks, until the urge to write became too strong. That was the time my letter arrived on the very day she lost her first patient as a resident.)

Over the years, I've played fairy godmother to four different people. When their lives seems to get on an even keel, I retire as their fairy godmother, but we remain the best of friends.

So, when I had my portrait taken in the fairy princess dress and the photographer suggested giving me fairy wings, I had to agree. He saw the real me.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

This is the tale of a dress, a beautiful dress, a $200 fairy princess dress marked down to $30. A warning to all those budget-minded women who think they are getting such a deal when finding a magical dress like this. BEWARE---- it can end up costing you way more than you think.

You laugh...ha, ha, but my $30 fairy princess dress bit me in the behind and took a big chunk out of my wallet. (Aaaaaaah...but it was worth it.)

Two of my very good friends and I went shopping just for fun. Evie and I went into a teenie-bopper's store to look at prom dresses. Joe, her husband, sat outside to wait while we played.

Since it was after prom season, we found the marked down dresses and started rummaging around through the racks. Evie picked out a wonderful dress and said, "Kate, I think you would look good in this one." It was a cream colored strapless dress with an organza overlay split down the middle on the long empire waist. The bodice was laced up the front with a ribbon. It looked like the kind of dress a princess might have worn back in the days of old.

I decided to try it on. After all, I was just sure it wasn't going to fit and heavens sake, if it did, the dress would only cost me $30. While I slipping it on, Evie went out to get Joe to see. When I finally squeezed into the dress, I pranced out of the dressing room to show it off. The amazed mutual gasps of, "Katie?" from both of them made me realize this dress just had to follow me home.

I called it my "fairy princess" dress. I felt so beautiful when wearing it that I decided to have my portrait taken in it. I found a photographer who looked into my soul and photographed me, the real me. He did such a wondeful job with my photographs that I ended up spending $1,500 all because of a dress that cost $30. And so, the story goes: Beware the $30 dress. It can cost you more than you think.

Because of copyright laws, I cannot show you the real photograph, but this is an outline drawing of an image of the real me as seen by this extraordinary photographer.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Crazy Quilt Heaven

If there a crazy quilt heaven, then I must be living there.

For those of you who don’t know crazy quilting ; we’re not crazy. (Well, for some that might be arguable, but hey…it’s a lot more fun than being a sane quilter.) Crazy quilting is an art form developed during in the late 1800’s during the reign of Queen Victoria by the rich ladies of leisure. They used silk and satin scraps, laid them on a piece of fabric in a crazy (irregular) pattern and then embroidered along the edges of the patches to attach the fabrics together.

The ladies included many interesting items in their crazy quilts. They painted pictures on fabric, used political campaign ribbons, tobacco silks (tiny pictures printed on silk fabric which were included in cigarette packages to entice the ladies to encourage their gentlemen to smoke more so they could own more silks) and they also embroidered all sorts of important information on their crazy quilts such as births and deaths, marriages … anything of interest for the person creating the piece. One lady even attached a stuffed chipmunk to her quilt. Little did she know it would make her quilt one of the most famous crazy quilts of all time.

(You can see what a modern version of a crazy quilt is by visiting my board. (Http://

And so, you ask …what about this crazy quilt heaven I'm in? Since learning to love crazy quilting, I’ve developed a magpie’s obsession with glitter and glitz. We crazy quilters hoard GOOD stuff. We call it our stash. Beads, buttons, charms, laces, broken bits of jewelry which can be easily attached to fabric, small pictures printed on fabrics (i.e. today’s’ modern tobacco silks) ribbons, tons and tons of fabric, embroidery threads and even a bit of “magic” to hold it all together.

Misplacing my CQ stash is easy here in the creative chaos I call my sewing room. There have been times I’ve had to warn my husband … Enter at your own risk. I don’t want to read about you in the tabloids. Man Killed by Wife’s Creative Clutter.

Anyway, in the past two weeks, I’ve found so many wonderful items that went on “walkabout”; it sounds better than “losing it.” My mother’s prize buttons from the 1950’s. Three huge gorgeous mother of pearl buttons that cost $3.00 each in a time when you could buy ten nice buttons on a card for twenty-five cents. Four missing antique tobacco silks surfaced for air finally. My angel beads (beads shaped like angels) miraculously appeared before my eyes when I stirred in a drawer full of stuff. The large baggie of charms I’d gently tucked away for safe keeping 2 years ago finally saw the light of day and I finally found that partridge in a pear tree. (Oh wait, that’s another story all together.)

But the real reason I believe I’m living in CQ heaven is because of a roll of grosgrain ribbon and nine CQ blocks. I needed enough ribbon to border those nine blocks. Didn’t know if I had an adequate amount, but when I got to the last block, I had 1/16th of an inch more than I needed. If that ain’t heaven, I don’t know what is.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Who am I to deny the spiritual existance of a candy bar?

The other day at lunch, I heard a candy bar calling me from the vending machine down the hall from the cafeteria. I begged my friend, Drew, to help me ignore that sweet siren call. His intriguing reply was … “Kate, remember. The candy bar is but an illusion. It doesn’t exist in your current reality.”
I replied, “I don’t know about you, but it’s a pretty darned strong illusion right now.”
“Okay, then go out the other door and maybe you won’t hear it.”
“Is that what you call avoidance behavior?”
“Whatever works.”
Afterwards, it occurred to me … what if a candy bar has feelings and I broke its sweet little heart by ignoring it? I’ve heard of a study that said plants have feelings. They thrive if you talk to them nicely, but wither if you speak hatefully. Who am I to deny the existence of feelings in a supposedly inanimate object once composed of living matter?
Well, the guilt I felt from ignoring that poor Milky Way made me invite his lowly cousin, the Snickers bar who lived in a different vending machine, to come make my acquaintance.
Later that day I explained my theory about the spiritual existence of a candy bar to Drew. He wagged his finger at me. “That’s your lower self speaking to you, Kate.
“Yeah, but my lower self is smacking its lips right now.”
He just smiled, shook his head and walked away.