Tuesday, March 29, 2016

With Love, To Nicky Eff and Max

I fell in love with her online.  Nicky and I seemed to have lived in a parallel universe in many ways.

Exactly what drew me to her, i am not even sure.  But I knew her and she knew me.  I was so thrilled when she told me that she and her son, Max, were coming to visit me in 2012.

Alex and I drove to the airport and were very excited to meet them both.  We had brought snacks for Max and could not wait to see them in person.  Even before the plane had landed, we had checked a hundred times to be sure we would be there on time.

Finally, the plane had landed, and I insisted that Alex drive up to the terminal level to see if they were outside.  My first sighting of Nicky was a young woman with beautiful alabaster legs standing on the  curb wearing a pair of shorts and high heels, smoking a cig as a lovely boy ran in circles around her knees while she spoke on a cell phone.  She was the most glorious woman I had ever seen.

Five minutes later, Nicky and Max were in our car heading home to our house in Alameda, California.Max was curious about every thing he saw.  He was such a smart little guy!  His introduction to our crazy pit bull Zoe worried him a bit, but he soon got more relaxed with her.  Max was more comfortable with staid and reserved Harry, deeming him to be a "good boy".  He told us very seriously in English that ZoZo was "not a good boy".

Max spoke very little English, but that did not stop him from bonding with us.  His fluent French and Alex's fluent English was enough to make a firm friendship between them.  He was the most beautiful little guy I had seen in years.  Alex and Max spent many hours playing chess, and I was pleased to see that Max actually won several games.

Max and Nicky and JP got on Face Time a couple of times a day and I was lucky enough to walk in on some of their online visits. JP was so happy to see his gorgeous wife and boy child.  JP was a handsome and sexy man.  He and Nicky flirted obviously delighted with each other for an hour every day while they were here.  I was so happy seeing that kind of affection. 

We drove to San Francisco and on the ride I spilled Diet Coke on Alex accidentally.  He was not pleased.  Alex's displeasure caused me and Nicky to start laughing.  The more we tried to stop laughing, the worse it got with snorts and snickers.  Soon Max and Alex joined in the absurd giggles.  Nicky and I also managed to get locked in our parked car after setting off the alarm.  Panic ensued!  It was getting hot in the car and we couldn't open doors or windows.  I finally called Alex and he told us how to shut it down.  We looked at each other after the horrid siren had quit screeching and simply cracked up.  Neither of us was really good at dealing with a crisis.

To say I will miss Nicky isn't really true.  She is in my heart and always will be right there.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Roller Coaster Rides

Three days before Christmas, I was sitting at my kitchen table watching CNN News, and drinking coffee.  A white cloud came down over my right eye and rendered me blind in that eye.  To say I was terrified is not an overstatement. 

Within 5 or 10 minutes, my sight slowly came back.  Fortunately, Alex was home and took me to the hospital emergency room where I would have about 10 hours worth of tests, pokes, prods, and so on.  It was determined that I had experienced something called "Amaurosis Fugax", also sometimes called a TIA or mini-stroke. The ER doctor coordinated with my primary care doctor and I was set to meet with him the Monday after Christmas.

I waited to see if the weird stuff would happen again after I got home from the day of ER tests.  I was feeling stressed and frightened.  Christmas came and went without incident, but I couldn't get past the fear of "what comes next".  It didn't help that multiple people started telling me about somebody they knew who "had exactly the same thing and then they died".  Worse, even, I watched the movie, "Legends of the Fall" with Brad Pitt and Sir Anthony Hopkins, which depicts Hopkins after a supposed stroke struggling to walk, unable to talk, walking around with a tablet to write on, while he drooled and slobbered constantly.  Oy vey!

The doctor appointment on Monday was fairly low keyed.  My doctor is a calm person and I trust him completely.  He told me I would have to have more tests, visit an eye physician and surgeon, and a neurologist, and perhaps a vascular surgeon in the next few days.  At least there was a plan.  I had a CT Scan, Angiogram, with contrast dye which was fairly quick by also fairly scary because I was told I would feel "warm" from the dye injection.  I actually felt my womb and ovaries heat up like they had been zapped in a microwave oven.  Warm?  Hah!

The eye doctor explained to me that Amaursis Fugax is not a diagnosis, but a description of what happened.  He also said that it could have been caused by an ocular migrane or a wide range of other undetermined factors.  Further good news, he told me that my eyeballs are healthy and I have very good vision.  I was feeling better by the moment.

Two days later, I visited a neurologist.  It was a strange doctor's visit.  First thing, the guy shares offices with two OB/GYNs.  They actually all share one office and one exam room, and play musical chairs with each other to see patients.  While the doc and I were discussing what had occurred with my "episode", people in the waiting room could hear every word with said as clearly as if they were in the same room with us.  I'm just glad I wasn't there to see the OB/GYN about STDs.

My next appointment was with a vascular surgeon.  Long story short.  I'm okay.  I do not need surgery, or anything except a low dose aspirin every day.  Then, of all things, David Bowie died at age 69.  Two days later, the actor from Harry Potter died at age 69.  Do you see where I'm going with this?  My mother was a whimsical creature.  She identified with actresses Jean Harlow and Marilyn Monroe.  Harlow died at age 26, and Monroe died at 36.  My mother announced that she knew she would die at 46.  (No, she died at age 81.)  But all at once, I started feeling like I was turning into my mother.

I waited up until midnight the last night of my 69th year waiting for the grim reaper to come and get me.  I also made Alex stay up with me.  I was so relieved when midnight came and went and I was still breathing.

I never expected it would feel so damn marvelous to turn 70!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

"Yes. Feed The Ugly Ones To The Lions."

I may or may not have uttered those words to my friend Jim, 25 years ago or so.

He may or may not have commented on the attractiveness of my children in order to elicit such a response from me.

Who remembers?

I lost touch with Jim for many years, but it was such fun before he disappeared off the face of the planet.  We were friends.  We were co-conspirators.  We were cohorts in crime.  And then he was gone.

I was instrumental in hiring Jim at the engineering firm where I worked.  He was young, brash and handsome.  Oh, and he was very smart as well. Jim was charming and appealing, and too many of the young women at work started vying a little too hard for his attention.  I had to fire a couple of them when the catfights got too noisy to ignore.

I would say that Jim was innocent and blameless in all of these shenanigans, but that would not be the truth.  He was neither innocent, nor blameless.  I never really saw him in the light that the younger women did.  To me, Jim was smart, funny, and incorrigible and I like that in a guy. But as a red-haired white boy, let's just say, he was never my cuppa tea.

Jim had a preference for nubile young blonds.  (Don't all men?) I think he was close to 30, but dated 18 and 19 year old girls almost exclusively.  He even moved some of them into his apartment.  Jim promptly asked them to leave if they left bra's on his door knobs.  (Why else did God make door knobs?).

I loved him.  And he found me after 25 years on this site.  There is a god.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Native Americans and a True Life Story

In the early 1940s, Nellie was forcefully taken from her family on the Navajo Reservation by Missionaries and placed in an Indian Boarding School.  Nellie's  ten siblings were also placed in the same boarding school.

The children were told to speak English, were punished for speaking in their native tongue. And taught about Christianity. We must not forget the Christianity!  They were also taught how to read, write, some basic math skills, and  most of all, how to do domestic chores like laundry and housekeeping.  The skills from the Reservation, like pottery, weaving, storytelling, healing, and so on were no longer desirable.

At 18, Nellie married Fred, a Navajo man with a similar background,  and soon after bore a son, my husband Alex.  As a young mother, Nellie got educated to be a practical nurse.  She and her Marine Corps husband lived in San Diego where he was stationed at the time of Alex's birth.  After serving in the Corps for 4 years, Fred and his family moved to Phoenix, Arizona. Fred worked for the City, and Nellie worked at Indian Hospital.

My husband's upbringing was a series of highs and lows because the relationship between his parents was usually turbulent.  Alex's two sisters were born shortly after they moved to Phoenix. A growing family, tight money and oppression linked with some alcohol and anger made for some unhappy times. Eventually, it got bad enough that the marriage ended, increasing the stress on all members of the family.

Alex spent summers on the Navajo Reservation with his family members who lived there.  From a fairly young age, he learned to walk between the two worlds, not as easy a task as one might think.  In the world of Phoenix, he was discriminated against because he was Navajo, and on the Rez, he was considered "an Urban Indian", and disparaged because he was not "Navajo enough" to be like his cousins.

Predictably, Alex got in some teenage trouble and decided to join the Military at a fairly young age.  That may have saved his life.  Most of his childhood friends are either dead or in prison.  A very disproportionately large number of Native Americans join the Military.  When I asked Alex why he thinks that is his response was "We have nowhere else to go.  We can't go back to Europe, to Canada or to South America. This is where our roots are."

I met Alex when he was 22 years old.  It was the night before he was leaving on a Westpac cruise and Alex would be gone for six months.  We exchanged addresses and began a six month friendship through two or three letters a week.  The rest (as they say) is history.

We try to visit the Reservation every couple of years at least.  Alex went alone this time to meet his family and receive a blessing from the Medicine Man.  The Navajo Reservation is a beautiful place.  Alex's family are always thrilled to receive us as visitors.  All of his "Reservation family" have jobs and seem to be enjoying their lives. None of them are wealthy, but they aren't impoverished either.  It's a different and more spiritual world than the one we live in.  The more I learn about the culture, the more I understand why there is a peace and harmony on the Reservation that is missing from many of our lives.

22a) Department of the Interior (DOI) letter, 2011:
The Department of the Interior has a solemn responsibility to uphold the federal government’s unique government-to-government relationship with federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, as provided for by the Constitution of the United States, U.S. treaties and court decisions, presidential executive orders and federal policies and administrative actions.
We recognize that a legacy of injustice and broken promises shapes the history of the federal government’s relationship with the American Indian and Alaska Native people. We are therefore working to turn the page on the federal government’s pattern of neglect of this community and, instead, build a strategy for empowerment that helps the tribal nations forge futures of their own choosing.
To chart this new path, we are restoring the government-to-government relationship between the federal government and these tribal nations because “self-determination,” “sovereignty,” “self-government,” “empowerment,” and “self-reliance” are not abstract concepts. Rather, they are the tools that will enable tribal nations to shape their collective destiny.
This is why Interior is committed to partnering with American Indian and Alaska Native communities to help them prosper by expanding education and employment opportunities for youth and adults, protecting lives and property by strengthening law enforcement, and building strong, sustainable tribal economies....
SOURCE www.doi.gov | PDF

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Glorious Little Slobs

I have some expertise about teen girls.

I was one.  I have a daughter.  I have 3 sisters.  I have 4 granddaughters.  I have 3 nieces.  And I know all the really big secrets about teen girls.  They are glorious little slobs.

Clothes are left in piles on the floor and hanging out of dresser drawers and closets.  There are mostly parents who end up saying "I give up" when it comes to teen girls and their rooms.

The likely outcome is that parents eventually tell these glorious little slobs to close off their rooms when you are having company.    This solution never really satisfies the parents completely, but the alternative threats, tears, and trauma are much more dramatic and unpleasant than just closing a door. 

The amazing thing is that these glorious little slobs emerge from their lairs looking like the cover of glamor magazines.  How they find anything is a miracle.  How they get so perfectly "put together" is a mystery!  But they manage to do it.

Teen boys are much more likely to be neat and tidy in their quarters for whatever reason.  My son and grandsons and nephews are actually pretty organized.  It's the girls who are the "hot messes".  Almost all of the girls I know, including myself, get their neatness act together in their 20's. 

Men seem to go downhill from that point.  Or maybe that's just my experience.

It's a good thing teen girls are so gorgeous.  If they were not, I'd feed them to the lions.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


It's only one o'clock in the afternoon, but the dark skies make it feel like dawn or early evening.

The storm of the decade has arrived and brought with it pounding rains, hurricane force winds, fallen trees, power outages and mudslides.  Never mind.  I'm safe and warm in my lighted and warm house.  I have books on the kindle, hot tea and lemons,

I didn't sleep well last night partly because I was waiting for the pounding rain to come through our bedroom ceiling, or for a tree to come crashing through the house.  I had flashlights and candles stacked in every room because if there's one thing I am, it's prepared.  There was another reason I didn't sleep last night.  I'm sick.

One week ago today, my husband Alex came home after work complaining of a cold, a sore throat, a cough, a headache, and a hurting stomach.  Upon observation of him, I did notice that his eyes were a little more "glassy" than normal and he had a slight flush on his cheeks.  I insisted that we check his temperature and was unhappy to see that he was running a fever of 101 degrees.  I gave him some over the counter cold pills, and some Aspirin and told him to go to bed.

Alex enjoys being taken care of, and I am a good nurse.  The only part of this situation that isn't 100% fun is that I hate being exposed to illnesses.  Alex and I both have had flu shots, so I doubted that it was the dreaded influenza, but I still don't want to catch what he's got.  I wash my hands every time I touch him or anything he has touched.  I avert my face from him so he can't blow cooties on me.  I'm careful.

I make every effort to keep the man comfortable so that he has no reason to venture out of bed, or move for that matter.  I don't want him spreading his germs all over the place and if I can contain him, all the better for me.  The problem is that Alex does not like being contained.  He likes to walk through the entire house, and touch everything with his germy hands.  If he's not touching things, he's sneezing or coughing on, or toward, things in every part of the house.  If I bed down in one of the guest bedrooms, I am generally awakened when Alex crawls into bed with me and wants to sleep "with" me. 

Fine.  As a result of all this, of course I got sick with Alex's crud.  After 3 days of coughing fits and a sore throat, I have completely lost my voice.  I cannot make a sound.  I cannot yell at Alex for making me catch his germs.  I can't even whisper.  I have been struck dumb.

As of today, Alex is officially "feeling much better".  I, on the other hand, have another 4 or 5 days to go before I will improve.  In the photo above, it looks like I have a wonky left eye.  I assure you that is not the case.  Sleep deprivation causes it.  Not being able to talk makes it worse.

Much as I am tired of coughing my damn fool head off, I am even more tired of having to keep mum on how much I blame my husband for my condition.