Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Monday Monday...OMG it's Tuesday!

Monday a week ago I had the the fantastic opportunity of addressing a group of lovely ladies and gentlemen at the Hampton B. Allen Public Library in Wadesboro, North Carolina. I know, I know, doesn't it just sound like I traveled hours and hours for this delectable event? (Delectable because they served lunch!) Actually, it only took me about 45 minutes to get there, if that. The director, Phoebe Medlin (another new friend for me, woohoo!) had invited me to speak at their Lunch in the Stacks Author Talk. Now, since I can hardly refuse an opportunity to speak while others are having lunch (talk about a captive audience!) I accepted with great appreciation. Nothing builds an author's confidence more than knowing that others are actually interested in your work.

I parked with little trouble and admired the well kept campus and entered through the front door. There I introduced myself as the guest lecturer and two young men came forward and took the box containing my books from me and directed me to follow them. Phoebe came forward to introduce herself, took me to the back and there explained that I would give my talk while the guests ate their lunch. Wonderful! I took my place behind the podium and watched as Sheriff Tommy Allen entered the room. Phoebe had told me that the Sheriff, as a Friend of the Library, wanted to introduce me. I had of course met him when I worked for the Chesterfield County Sheriff, Kenny Welch, but we had become friends just in the past few months. He opened with the info he had collected about cats...cats do what they want, cats love attention but only on their terms, cats expect what they want to be served up as soon as possible...if they don't eat it then, just put it away, like Arnold Schwarzenegger r, they'll be back. In other words, the Sheriff concluded that he had discovered that cats were just tiny women in fur coats.

I couldn't be insulted, I had to agree with his assessment, although I did make a weak effort with, "oh no you didn't!" But by then he had turned to me and was introducing me warmly to the dozen or so ladies in the audience. I began my talk with how my family had a long history with Sheriff's both in this county and state and others. Most of the history is good...but a former Sheriff of Anson County wanted to arrest my Great Great Grandmother, Nancy Johnson, with ever so much fervor. According to my mother, the story went like this. Granny Johnson had lost her husband during the civil war. I believe (I could be wrong) that it was something innocuous like pneumonia or measles that carried him out, but in the mean time the young widow had mouths to feed. So she began to make and sell liquor. She would load the wagon and drive across the state line into Anson County to ply her trade. She had heard that on her next trip the Sheriff would be waiting on her, so she packed the wagon carefully. She loaded on sacks of corn and dried beans, a bit of this and that, even a crate of chickens...the kegs of liquor were placed directly beneath the wagon seat and as she perched herself upon it, she was careful to spread her skirts over the seat and onto the floor. As she approached the State line leading into Anson County, sure enough, there were the Sheriff and his men and he announced in no uncertain terms that they would be searching the wagon for contraband. She smiled sweetly, (as I was told) and wagging a cautionary finger at him said, "Sheriff, search the wagon of this poor widow woman and be damned, but don't let one finger of you or your men come within an inch of my skirt tail!" And so she was saved by her intelligent assessment of the situation of the times. And lived to sell another day and tell the tale.

As I said, I was impressed by the library itself, and the ladies who came to the Lunch in the Stacks. I learned that several were actually reading my blog, which warmed me greatly. One, a Doctor of Education, was telling me about her own website and I took down the address. Misty, if you are reading this, I have to have a personal invitation from you, so please could you do that? Just send me an e-mail (digby@shtc.net) so I can visit.

In the hallway leading to the lunching area is a case with dolls of the First Ladies as dressed for the Inaugural Ball. They have every first lady, up to Mamie Eisenhower. They have all been donated by people of the county. Now, not many of the dolls actually look like the person they represent (I don't believe that Mamie was blonde, I could be wrong but I think I'm right). They are simply dolls, some ceremic, others actual dolls, and the dresses have been fashioned as the dress worn by the first ladies. Now, if anyone of you out there can help our Phoebe complete her collection, would you be so kind as to e-mail her at phoebe.medlin@ncmail.net and tell her what you have in mind. Click on the picture to enlarge it.

As I was preparing to leave, the young men who had helped me before, packed up what few books I had left and offered to carry them to my truck. As Tommy and I left, he directed me to a side hall where there was an elevator. Now, this may sound very silly, but I was so impressed to see an actual working elevator in a library...of course our library in Chesterfield County is only on one floor and not nearly as large as the Hampton Library. Phoebe, you do a great job! Keep up the good work.
Publish Post

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Week of Thrills and Chills....

Last week was a winner of a week. I had the delight of visits from two of my favorite girls, Arianna and Haley. Arianna is our granddaughter and Haley our Great Niece. She calls us Grandma and Grandpa, too...we don't mind a bit. The girls are very close in age and interests so the fun was insured from the beginning. The Pageland Watermelon Festival was in full swing on Friday and Saturday and the girls had roped their Uncle Wallace into taking them for the rides on Friday night. They are ten years old...well Arianna will be ten on the 28th of this month...Haley is ten already.

I drove them to Pageland and dropped them off at the Newspaper office with their Uncle Wallace. He was nearly as overjoyed to take them to the park as I was to be heading back to Jefferson. Where once I adored these things, now I just don't. It had been a long week and even though the girls had mostly entertained themselves, I was tired. I think it was on day three of the visit that I realized why we have children when we are young. Wallace promised to take pictures and I happily headed back to Jefferson. At 10 pm I got the call to be in the parking lot at 10:30 and they'd be ready to go. I arrived just in time for the rain that had begun to fall, hoping it was doing the same thing in Jefferson. The girls were still so excited and talked about the rides they had been on. They pronounced the swings dull (not when I once rode them, swinging high over the heads of the revelers in the park) and spent most of their time on the Plane...it went round and round, over and under and forward and backward. It was pronounced "kewl". "Grandma, I rode the Plane four times and didn't even puke, " Arianna told me with such enthusiasm that I quickly stepped back in case my shoes got splashed by delayed reaction. As you can see by this last picture, it was not just a stray thought going through my head. So, my precious girls...that's Haley on the left and Arianna on the right in the top picture, have returned to their homes and I'm sure they had a great time. I cooked what they wanted, watched what they wanted, pretty much did what they wanted. They were looking forward to going home to their parents, I'm sure. I was just looking forward to a nap.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

It Ain't over till it's Over

Today is July the 9, 2009. This is a day I have been looking forward to for weeks and I had marked it on the calendar. And why have I been looking forward to the 9th so excitedly? Because it meant it was no longer July the 8th. The dreaded Colonoscopy and Endoscopy were things of the past. Finis. Over. Done with.

Back in April, God pulled the ultimate April Fools joke on me (after I had mockingly said "they'll do a Colonoscopy on me when we have full camera pill technology available in Jefferson, ". And I said that in here of all places!) He had pointed His gigantic finger at my gut line and produced a little life threatening abscess on my colon. "Deal with this, smarty pants", He seemed to say. And therefore taught me the meaning of an old saying "never say never".

So, after a life altering two week stay at the Carolina Pines Hospital Resort and Vacation Spa (not) I sort of rethought my decision on Colonoscopies and me in general. Dr. Dameron, my surgeon, set the date for July the 8th. Since June 15th the box marked HalfLytely & Biscacodyl tablets Bowel Prep Kit has sat on my dressing table, mocking me. And it has the nerve to say in bold print (no whisperer this box) WITH FLAVOR PACKETS. The flavor packets being, cherry (yummy) pineapple (really?) and orange...oh no, the dreaded orange. The box mocked me every morning and every evening, so I stuck it in the closet where it could mock in darkness and leave me to my delusion that I could stave off July 8th with will power alone.

On July 6th a sweetheart of a nurse called me to remind me of our date with destiny. We did a preregistration by phone which meant saving scads of time on July 8th. There it was again, that date. July the 8th. I brought the box out of the darkness and got my hospital folder down from the bookshelf. Inside the folder were the directions for taking the Preparation. I read the directions and it didn't seem so bad. I put a brave face on when talking to Mac about what was coming up. The air of nonchalance and utter disregard for my upcoming event gave me a sort of courage that I hadn't known was there. I announced to the world that there was an upcoming party and I was the pinata...it was about then that Mac gave me the Jane Wayne award for bravery.

My pal Lee (Chrysalis Dreams) and I discussed the procedure ad nauseum by phone and by instant messenger and I knew that I would not back out of this. So on July 7th, at 6 a I mixed the solution which made up 2 litres of what I hoped wouldn't be a terribly vile drink. I added the pineapple and the cherry packs to the solution and shook well. I placed it in the fridge to chill (shaken, not stirred comes to mind...James Bond invades my daydreams on the occasion). On this day I could eat nothing. It was a clear liquid diet of tea, broth and hard candies (no red colors it announced in bold letters on the diet instruction sheet). No caffeine (I was doomed) no aspirin, no arthritis pain meds. This was going to be a pretty crappy day. In more ways than one.

At three p I was instructed to take the first of the two Bisacodly tablets. Then, I began drinking the solution at 5 p. It wasn't as bad as I had imagined it to be. Not great, I mean I wouldn't take it over say, tap water...but not bad. I had to drink the whole two litres in two hours 8 ounces at a time every ten minutes. What fun. I don't know why I a straw in the bottle wouldn't have accomplished the same thing, but I am a stickler for instructions so eight ounces every ten minutes it was. It was along about 6 p that I warned Mac not to get in my way when I began to beat a hasty retreat to the master bath. At 7 p I took the second of the two tablets and finished off my not so tasty cocktail. And the trotting to and fro began in earnest. This little drama continued till about 2 a. Exhausted, I threw myself into bed at 2:30 a and slept the sleep of the seriously disturbed until 5 the same morning.

I needed no alarm clock. My eyes opened wide in consternation, and I ran for the bathroom for what I hoped was the last time during this event. Having been NPO (nothing by mouth) since Midnight the night before, I fought the urge for that hot life giving cup of coffee that I knew the pot was brewing at that very instant. I also fought the urge to dump the contents down the sink so that Mac couldn't have any either. I'm sort of evil that way. But I took a sip of water with my blood pressure meds, the altace and the ToProl xl...and enjoyed the very wetness of that water against my lips. Mac got up and asked me if I was okay and I assured him that I was. "Piece of cake, " I threw off while feeling as though I could throw up.

At 6:45 we gathered everything I needed to take with me and walked out into a blanket of fog. We could have been in England the fog was so dense. (Lie back and think of England...could this be what they had meant?) Announcing that it was a good thing we were able to get an early start, Mac loaded my few things into the truck. We arrived at 7:30 and I was escorted to the Out Patient Services department. Once taken into what was called a Holding Room, where I was hooked up to an IV and my b/p checked, I waited for the eventual trip to the OR. Mac was allowed to stay with me till the appointed time and he kept asking me why I was so quiet. Okay, if you knew me personally you would know this is an important question. I talk incessantly sometimes. My brain never rests. I had to tell him that I really had nothing to say except "get me out of here" and I knew that if I said it often enough he would oblige me. So, it was best to say nothing. At 9a they came for me.

The nurse chatted lightly to me all the way to the OR area. She was very pleasant and cheerful. It had helped to know that I was not the only person in the hospital for this procedure that morning. I was one of 9, she told me. As we rolled into the OR room that I would be getting my procedure done in, I finally gave in to the inevitable. I was asked by someone, I'm not sure who, if I was ready. I put as much bravado in my voice as I could muster and told them, "lets get this party started, the Pinata is here!"

I came to at about 10:45 and they were bringing me a Sprite Zero and asking me how I felt. Amazingly I felt fine. I asked if was all over and they assured me that it was. Hmmm. Mac came into the room, kissed my forehead and asked how I was. I told him I was fine, that I couldn't believe how upset I had been over what was nothing really. Earlier I had quipped "a piece of cake" and now I knew it really was. The hardest part had been the preparations the day before, the constant run for the bathroom...that had been the worst of it. I was in utter disbelief.
And Mac said that Dr. Dameron had found nothing to be alarmed by in the bowel and no bleeding in my stomach to explain the low hemoglobin, either.

So, children that is why I am so glad that this is July the 9th. It's all behind me, now.
No pun intended.
Post of the Day

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


She was leaving work late one night when she heard the plaintive mewl coming from beneath the car. Leaning down to peer under the darkness of the vehicle, she saw nothing. Still the noise came. Opening the car door, she pulled the hood release lever. When she opened the hood, the mewling became louder and suddenly she pinpointed the noise...there just within reach was a bundle of color just a little lighter than the darkness beneath. Reaching out, she bravely grabbed the little bundle of fur encased within the engine and it yawned widely, already knowing that a parking lot vehicle was not going to be it's home forever.

They named him Hollywood. He was a star. The silky gray fur stood out from his body as though he had stuck a claw into a light socket. Bela, the Dark Lord of the Underworld, simply ignored him. He neither hissed nor threw out long claws to dice and dissect, simply walked around him so as to give this new intruder no purchase on his body or his psyche. So Hollywood stayed.

He grew into a rather large cat who neither ruled nor became enslaved. He simply was. And because he was, he was loved obsessively. You could not walk into his presence without reaching out a hand and touching the velvety ears or tickling the small pointed chin. So in a way, I suppose he actually did. Rule that is.

And so this is how came into my life, the first "Grandcat". We heard the story of the rescue from the car engine several times, and the haughty young mister would stroll out into the limelight to be admired and stroked (or not) and then lay upon his sofa or chair of choice and like Garbo, wait to be left alone.

He was older now. Not quite as old as niece Deanna, but older by far then nieces Haley and Kirsten. He did not move as fast as he once did. He began to lose weight. One weekend he simply could not eat. He slipped into a deep sleep from which no amount of coaxing or cajoling could waken him. Hearts broke. Tears welled. Whispered discussions were held. Phone calls made. Vet appointment scheduled for the final goodbye. Grandma called.

So this is how Hollywood came to rest within the hallowed wood behind our home. Resting comfortably in the shade where wild flowers grow and squirrels romp through trees and birds fly and nest and other cats play along the primeval floor and God looks down from His Heaven. Where Grandma can keep him safe and softly speak to him when she passes by the place where he sleeps. No more goodbyes. Hello, Hollywood.