Thursday, September 30, 2010

And I always loved amusement park rides

Whenever I think things just couldn't get worse, somehow they do!  I don't wanna complain.  (Oh yes I do or why would I be typing this?  By the way, is it still called typing?  Or is it keyboarding now?  That sounds too much like snowboarding, which would absolutely be disastrous in my case.  I'm fairly good at typing since I've been doing it regularly for 50 years.  One would hope after 50 years a person might have developed some degree of expertise.)  Okay, back to me not complaining, or more precisely complaining but not acknowledging it.  It is still raining, which is good for the water table but not so good for my head.  I still have yesterday's headache.  It's not any worse, and I dare not say it couldn't get worse, but it is still echoing through my skull with a vengeance along with each beat of my heart.

So to add to my misery, while I was drugged and asleep last night, someone (it couldn't have been God, I don't think He is vengeful) ramped up the speed on my personal merry-go-round.  Another goofy part of SCDS is that just when you think you have adjusted to actually feeling the rotation of the earth, it all speeds up and you are totally screwed once again.  Today's post will be short and random, because today my mind is not the only part of me going off in unpredictable tangents.

Until I got SCDS (but I don't think this is something you  just "catch") I had never suffered any motion sickness for any reason.  I loved roller coasters -- the bigger and faster, the better.  Bud and I used to ride roller coasters over and over, moving to different seat locations each time to get a better "feel" for the ride.  I loved all the rides; the screaming swings, the log flume, the bullet, the tilt-a-whirl.  Which brings to mind another story.  Once many years ago I lived in Austell, Georgia which is a little town just to the west of Atlanta.  It is also almost within walking distance of Six Flags Over Georgia.  At that same time, my sister Cathy and her husband George lived in Atlanta (well actually Decatur, but you tell me where one ends and the other begins).  One day we all decided to go to Six Flags.    No one bothered to tell me George sometimes had problems with motion sickness.  I, of course,  insisted everyone go on the tilt-a-whirl because it was one of my favorite rides.  So here we are, the three of us in one car, George in the middle between Cathy and me.  The ride starts up and George almost immediately starts to turn colors and it wasn't the result of any colored flashing lights on the ride.  First he went remarkably pale, then he started to have a slightly jaundiced look, and finally the man literally turned green around the edges.  I thought it was poor form to wait until he was about to spew all over his loving wife and sister-in-law before he mentioned his motion sickness problem.  And Cathy's reaction to this impending disaster?  She calmly says, "Oh yea, I forgot George gets sick on rides like this."  Now this was before Cathy decided she wanted to be a doctor when she grew up, but that is still no excuse.  She was a Registered Nurse and she had been married to George for a few years.  All's well that ends well, so the cliché goes, and George did manage to keep it together until the ride ended, for which I am eternally grateful.  I may have been a bit of a thrill seeker, but it's a good thing Cathy went into medicine and not me.  I don't handle tossed cookies very well.

Also while I lived in Austell, I worked for a company that taught people all they needed to know to pass the written tests for a pilot's license.  All of the instructors were licensed pilots, and eventually the company began pilot training in the air too.  Since I worked there and could get lessons at a seriously reduced price (it may have helped that I was dating one of the instructors), I decided to learn to fly.  Flying in a small, single engine airplane does not even come close to being in a giant airliner when it comes to the thrills and chills of moving through the atmosphere.  You feel everything in a small plane, you see so much more, and the sensation of flying is acutely personal and intense.  I never experienced even one second of motion sickness while flying, no matter the wind conditions or the weather.  How unjust that now just opening my eyes on days like today will make me sick.

Another interesting note that has nothing to do with today's subject.  A few days ago I mentioned my subscription to Boxerjam, where I enjoy solving the puzzles.  I also mentioned that Boxerjam had been having some issues lately and I was not exactly pleased with the value I was receiving for my money.  I received an email from Boxerjam in which they acknowledged the problems they have been experiencing and extended my paid subscription for 90 days in an effort to appease those of us who might have been a bit put out.  I appreciate the gesture.  I hope they solve their problems.  I would also like to think someone "important" read my blog and that's how the reparation plan came to be.  I know it is mere coincidence, but it doesn't hurt anyone if I pretend.

I was going to write about dogs today.  I have a lot to say about dogs (and cats), but I would much rather write about them when I am feeling better.  Right now, I'm gonna take my three babies and we are all gonna curl up in bed and hide under the covers until the sun comes out.  The forecast is for clearing skies around noon.   We all know how often the weather forecast is right, but I'm an eternal optimist.  I'll poke my head out later today and expect the best.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Life, or at least a reasonable facsimile

I was going to write about dogs today.  Actually dogs will appear in this post, but they are not today's main subject.  Today I am writing about "one of those days", because that's what I am having.  We've all had them -- days when absolutely nothing will go as it should no matter how much or how little effort you put into it.  If I had any sense I would be back in bed already.  As I am clearly not back in bed (I could be I guess, as I'm writing this on a laptop that I could take to bed with me), that should be adequate proof that I have no sense.

My little medical problem (SCDS) is affected by changes in atmospheric pressure. Apparently having extra holes in your head makes you more susceptible to pressure fluctuations.  (When I was a teenager and wanted to have my ears pierced, my stepfather forbade it and told me I already had enough holes in my head.  I, of course, paid absolutely no attention to him and pierced them myself as soon as he turned his back, using self-piercing earrings.  Maybe the new extra holes in my head are payback for being such a brat.)  When we have storms, which are caused by low pressure systems, I develop headaches that are indescribable. This also means, of course, I should stay out of airplanes and it is probably not a good idea to visit my sister in Colorado.  I'll stay out of all airplanes going to humdrum places, but I truly believe if the plane is headed to say Aruba, I'll probably chance it.  The headaches last until the atmospheric pressure rises.  I don't seem to develop the same problem with high pressure systems.

So, I should've known last night I would have a headache today.  We have a NOAA weather radio, which is either a Godsend or a tool of Satan, depending upon my mood.  At approximately 7:30 PM last evening, the weather radio broadcast a flash flood watch beginning at 8:00 AM on Wednesday (today) for our area of North Carolina.  Now, in order to have flash floods, it stands to reason you must have rain and usually lots of it.  If the skies are clear but you know it is going to be rainy soon, the next logical conclusion is that a low pressure system will be passing through.  Low pressure = seriously bad headache.  Yet, I was surprised and annoyed when I woke this morning with my head already pounding.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda stayed in bed, but no, I got up and made a valiant attempt at starting what I assumed would be a normal day.  Silly me!  First of all, there are never normal days in our household.  There is relatively little that is normal about me or Bud and we like it like that.  But even in our abnormal little lives, there is a semblance of normality -- for us -- and I was hoping to achieve just that semblance.

The second sign that my day was just not going to work out well (the first was the blinding headache) occurred when I spilled my entire first morning cup of coffee all over my recliner, end table, all of the junk on the end table including lottery tickets, floor and lamp.  I used to drink a LOT of coffee.  Caffeine does not affect me; I don't get hyper or jittery, and I could easily drink a cup of coffee and go to sleep (maybe while still drinking it).  Of course, I can go to sleep under almost any circumstances, and often do.  I am known among our friends as the Queen of the Nap, though I have a bit of competition in that department from two of my closest girlfriends.  Oh, we were talking about coffee.  Anyway, I am not a very nice person without that morning coffee. ( I only drink two cups of coffee each day now, but I do drink Diet Pepsi all day so I still get my caffeine fix.)  I am a really not nice person when I have to clean up spilled coffee before I've had even the first sip.  Bending over and moving my arms in anything resembling a sweeping motion makes me sick to my stomach which tends to make even more of a mess if I'm not careful.

One of the things I do first thing every morning is feed the dogs.  We currently have three dogs.  I had set the bowls of dog food out for them in the kitchen prior to pouring my coffee and they were happily munching away, until they heard all the cussing and swearing and throwing things coming from the living room.  Realizing that I was otherwise occupied, our Siberian Husky (who is the only male dog in the pack) decided this would be a good time to run our smallest dog off and eat her food instead of his own.  Their food is exactly the same!!  So, when I return to the kitchen with my hands full of sopping, dripping paper towels reeking of coffee, I find him with his nose in her bowl and she is standing in the hallway whimpering.  I toss the gushy paper towels in the trash and go over to Logan (the husky), grab his collar and start to pull him away from Abby's dish, with the intention of pointing him back in the direction of his own food.  Now I'm not sure where our dogs think I come in the pecking order in our pack.  Bud is by far the Alpha.  But I spend more time with the dogs because I am stuck at home all day, I am generally the one who feeds them, I am usually the one who gives them dog biscuits, and though they might be lying right next to Bud, I am the one they come to when they want to go out (even if I am already in bed).  Quite possibly they think of me as the hired help.  I have never had a problem with discipline with any of our dogs, but for some unknown reason this morning when I grabbed Logan's collar he turned and nipped at me, then put his head right back in Abby's bowl.  He did not make a serious effort to bite me.  He was trying to tell me to go away and leave him alone, but I wasn't having any of it.  So I grabbed his collar again, and again he nipped at me.  That was it!  I was having none of this stupid behavior, so I got into a screaming match with a dog.  And yes, he talked right back to me.  Huskies don't bark.  They make a lot of strange noises, but seldom bark.  The more I yelled, the more Logan answered back.  We don't hit our dogs, but I can tell you this morning he came damn close to making me forget that rule.  I chased him around the kitchen for a bit, which must have been comical as I am extremely unbalanced (yes, mentally and physically).  I finally just put him outside to give him an opportunity to reconsider his attitude, which also gave Abby an opportunity to finish her food.

I am at last convinced I need to just go back to bed.  The dogs are all fed, I've had a cup of coffee, the rain has arrived, and Bud is off to work (he slept through everything).  Maybe tomorrow I'll feel more like telling you how wonderful my dogs really are.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I may have mentioned somewhere that I'm a computer geek, and I have many of the personality traits so often attributed to geeks.  But as a regular, functional human being, I do not have all the quirks that make geeks so beloved.  For instance, I actually have real relationships with real people in the real world and I use their real names (most of the time).

Another idiosyncrasy I don't share with geekdom is the love of gadgets. I have never owned an iPod.  My cell phone is very basic.  It takes pictures and receives and sends email because it is impossible to purchase one that doesn't.  I don't text.  I think my phone would let me text, but I don't text.  It's a phone for heaven's sake.  If you have something to say to me, call (no guarantee I'll answer, but that's another subject).  I don't download ringtones; the ones that came with the phone are fine.  I don't use my cell phone to connect to the internet.  I have three computers with much larger display areas.  Why would I want to surf the net on such a little screen?  I'm 62 years old; most of the time I can't see things that small.  I do have GPS on my cell phone, but not because I'm a geek.  I get lost when I leave my driveway (we've only lived here 28 years)  and when I was still driving, GPS saved my sorry little butt many times.

To be perfectly honest, I hate phones.  Even as a teenager, I was not one of those who spent hours on the phone with friends, female or male.  However, I must admit, when my sisters were becoming teenagers and I was easing my way toward adulthood, between the three of us we did manage to wear out the dialing mechanism on a telephone.  It became impossible to dial out from our home because the dialer seemed to just arbitrarily pick a number that may or may not have been the one you chose.  Seven numbers -- seven opportunities to get it wrong.  Thankfully, this was at a time when you still needed an operator to place long distance calls.   However, good fortune shone down upon us.  This occurred around the same time Ma Bell introduced the touch-tone telephone, with pushbuttons.  Problem solved!  As I was saying before my mind went off on one of the many tangents it so often travels, I don't enjoy talking on the telephone.  Most of the jobs I have had over the years involved too much use of the phone.  Therefore, the odds are pretty much against me answering when it rings.  Two of my favorite inventions are the answering machine and caller I.D.

Yet again, though, I have veered off topic.  I have recently acquired a new toy, which some would call a gadget.  It's not a gadget to me, it is a Godsend.  To me it's the greatest thing since sliced bread.  I have never lived in a time when you couldn't buy sliced bread, but it seems to me sliced bread was probably a fantabulous invention in its day.  My new toy is an eReader.

I am an inveterate reader.   I will read almost anything.  Seldom have I encountered a book that I just could not "get into" (Future Shock by Alvin Toffler comes immediately to mind).  Once I discovered eBay and the fantastic deals I could get on used books, there was no holding me back.  (As an aside, my sister has also discovered an online auction site she loves.  Her choice is (I think) uBid and she buys jewelry in much the same way I buy books.)  I buy books, by the boatload.   If I read a book by an author and I like that author's style, I will go to eBay and buy many more books by that author, particularly if they are a series.  I've been doing this for awhile so our house is littered with books.  When I travel, I usually take four or five books with me, just in case I should happen to finish one or two.  I never abuse a book, but since I buy them used they sometimes come to me in questionable condition.  Once I've read a book, I don't usually have any desire to keep it to reread.  There are notable exceptions to this, and those books will remain with me until my last day on earth, but most books are merely passing through.  I started boxing up the books in our house so we could donate them to Goodwill or a used book store or some other place that takes books.  Now our home is also littered with boxes of books.  They will all eventually find a new home, but in the meantime I decided adding to the disarray is madness.  Thus, the eReader.

I have over 600 books on one little device only slightly larger than a normal paperback.  There is no fear that I might run out of reading material while traveling.  The eReader allows me to group my books by author, or subject matter, or any other category that suits me.  I can change the font size, thereby making it larger in the morning when my eyes aren't so good, and smaller later in the day when I see much more clearly.  If I'm reading a textbook or instruction manual, I have the ability to make notes in the margins.  But for me the best part, the very very best part, is if I encounter a word and I don't know what it means, there is a built-in dictionary.  All I need do is tap on the word twice and I get the definition.  I don't often run across words I don't know, but in the past I always had to find a dictionary (or lately use a computerized dictionary).  I've never been the kind of person who could just ignore the word. That problem is now eliminated as long as I have my eReader.  I feel like a kid at Christmas, which is only appropriate since Bud says the eReader is my Christmas present, even though I got in September.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The games we play

I love games.  Well, probably more accurately, I love puzzles and games.  I love jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, mind bending puzzles, but most particularly I love word game puzzles.  I lie to myself (and anyone else who will listen) by claiming I play games and puzzles in an effort to keep my mind sharp.  Unfortunately, I'm not sure my mind has ever been sharp, which would make keeping it that way more than a little difficult.

My husband also loves games, though he is a lot more particular about the games he plays.  For instance, he is a chess player.  I can play chess.  I know how each piece is allowed to move.  I know the object of the game.  I also can lose to him in three moves or less, because I won't take the game seriously enough to think ahead to what his next three moves might be. We both love World of Warcraft, which is a MMORPG (massively multi-player online roll playing game).  I started playing WoW shortly after it appeared on the market and I spent a lot of time holed up in my home office in my fantasy world where I was omnipotent and in control (the only place I could be these things).  My husband knows me well, and he knows I tend to get wrapped up in things and forget there is a world out there.  But after some weeks (or months, but definitely not years) he comes to me with "the family that plays together, stays together" line.  So, we buy another copy of WoW, install it on his computer and we start conquering the world together.  Unfortunately, I can no longer play WoW.  The graphics are just too real and my SCDS makes me want to barf every time I start to play.  Bud, however, is still addicted and a daily player.

Allow me to go back a few years to the early 1990's.  Bud was a bit of an audiophile.  His home sound system was as good or better than some recording studios.  In fact, our speakers really are studio monitors that came from a real sound engineer.  To say he had a lot of money tied up in audio electronics would be an understatement.  I enjoy music.  I have absolutely no musical ability, cannot read music and cannot carry a tune (not even humming); but I do enjoy music.  I used to play an accordion, but that is another story for another day.  Bud was a musician.  He played clarinet, saxophone and flute.  Unfortunately, something about hooking up with me must have put him off of it, because he quit playing at exactly the time our lives coincided.  I have never heard him play, though I did see his clarinet once (no innuendo intended).  Oops, now I'm really off subject.    Anyway, we had a small fortune tied up in his stereo equipment.  I wanted a home computer.  I know home computers were pretty uncommon in the early 1990's, but that wasn't relevant.  I wanted a computer and figured since he had all that sound system stuff, I should be able to have a computer.  I found one for sale and broached the subject of its purchase.  Bud could not imagine what we would do with a home computer and suggested that we might be able to "justify" its cost if I were to start taking in work at home (in my spare time) such as typing term papers for college students.  So, I, of course, now want to hear his justification for all that stereo crap in our home, which incidentally cost a whole lot more than one measly little home computer. I won the argument, but almost lost the war.  To this day Bud has a love/hate relationship with computers, and I'm sure it has a lot to do with our original "misunderstanding" about their purposes.  However, one of the first things I did with our new home computer was install a game.  Computer games in the early 1990's were primitive with rudimentary graphics, but could still be compelling.  I installed a game named Moraff's World.  MW was a precursor to MMORPGs such as WoW.  Once I introduced Bud to MW, the computer was instantly an acceptable tool, and there were no more discussions about "taking in typing".  We have never been without at least one home computer since (we currently have two desktops and a laptop).

As mentioned earlier I cannot play WoW, but I have a subscription to a gaming site called Boxerjam.  Boxerjam offers games and puzzles (the puzzles require a paid subscription).  There are new puzzles every day and if you are the least bit competitive, there are competitions though no prizes other than bragging rights.  For years I have begun my days by solving the puzzles on Boxerjam (keeping my brain cells from deteriorating).  I have absolutely no objection to paying for something that brings me so much pleasure and the subscription price is negligible.  I do, however, have serious objections to paying for something and not getting any value in return.  Lately the Boxerjam site and puzzles have been what can only be described as unreliable.  I hope this is temporary.  I hope it is something simple, like some personnel issues with programmers.  I really would be unhappy to lose these puzzles, but I will not continue to pay for something that does not provide as advertised.

I also now play a (huge) number of games on Facebook.  I started on Facebook as a way to keep up with my far-flung family, but I stay because of the new "friends" I have made and the games.  The games are one of the few things I can still do without getting seriously nauseated.  And, as we all know after all, it is extremely important to keep those old brain cells active.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Siblings, part three

At this point, my siblings are scratching their heads wondering where I could possibly go with this.  We covered the girls, we covered the boys, there aren't any steps or halves, so what is she up to?  Actually, we had a stepfather at one point, but he brought no children into the union and by the time he came along my mother was no longer into birthing babies so he got stuck with the six renegades she already had.  Maybe I should revise that a bit.  Four renegades and two sweet little girls who had not yet hit their stride.  And I have a theory about half-siblings.  I believe I probably have a slew of them, but I've not ever met any.  I think if we did a DNA test on every child born in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas from 1938 through 1964, we would find we are closely related to an amazing number of people.  My father was a "traveling man" and he had the morals of a jackrabbit.  I chose those years because my oldest brother was born in 1938 (a mere 12 months after my parents were wed), and my father died at the age of 49 in 1964.  I will assume he was no longer capable of procreation after his untimely departure.

But, I digress...this post should most likely be subtitled "And then there was Joe".  Joe was, in fact, a sibling.  He was closest to me in age, in that he was only three years older.  He was actually closest to Glenn in age, being only two years younger, but Glenn and Joe are totally different personalities.  Joe and I had a lot in common and I had a much closer bond with him than I did with my other brothers.

How to describe Joe?  He was a combination of Fonzie from Happy Days, James Dean from Rebel Without a Cause and Elvis in his early years.  He was handsome in a "bad boy" kinda way.  He was skinny, but he always wore "pegged" black pants -- no baggies for him (that just wasn't cool).  He would use a fine-toothed comb (which never touched anyone's hair) and run it down the crease of his pants to make certain the crease was razor sharp.  He wore pointed-toe black shoes and he combed his dark hair into something he called a Venetian Waterfall.  It was the 1950's; pre-Beatles.  Almost no males had long hair.  Most young boys had crew cuts.  But Joe's hair was his pride.  It was short on the sides and back, but long on top.  He combed it up from each side in such a way that it fell into a wave in the center of his head and cascaded down onto his forehead in a devilish lock.  The girls swooned and I idolized him.

When our parents finally split for the last time, each of us had a different way of dealing with the enormous changes in our lives.  Joe's reaction was to see this is an opportunity to grab the world by its tail and see if he could shake it up some.  Our father had provided little enough supervision, but now that he was gone completely, this was Joe's opportunity to go for it.  I'm not gonna lie.  Joe was trouble.  He didn't always agree with some of the rules (or for that matter laws) that people were always laying down.  He bent them all and broke a few.  But, he paid for his mistakes and went on to break a few more.  To my knowledge he never killed anyone.  He had a mean streak sometimes, but he just wasn't a killer.  I'm sure there were numerous people who would have loved to have eliminated him, though.  Few people were ever ambivalent about Joe -- you either loved him or you hated him.  In spite of it all, Joe was warm and loving and funny and quick-witted and the world is a better place for his having lived here.

Joe taught me to change a tire, change my oil and clean a carburetor.  He said if I was going to drive a car, I needed to know how to take care of it, and he didn't want me to ever be stranded.  Joe could literally tear a car completely apart and rebuild it, with no parts left over.  He tore our mother's washing machine apart once.  She had a fit, so he put it back together and it ran perfectly. I can no longer change a flat because lug nuts are put on with hydraulic wrenches, I don't change my oil because of environmental regulations regarding the disposal of used oil, and cars don't have carburetors any more.  But I will forever be grateful that I had a brother who taught me to take care of my car and myself.

When Joe met his future wife, Martha, he knew almost immediately she was the one and there was no more chasin' women for him.  I can't say married life calmed him down all that much, but somewhere along the way he started to live what most people would have called a "normal" life.  He and Martha and their two sons bought a home and Joe got a white-collar job.  There are a lot of reasons why that lifestyle didn't work but that's another whole book itself.  Suffice to say, one day when Joe had had enough, he bought an old school bus, tore out the seats, built in some beds and storage space and a small kitchen area, packed up his family and drove off into the sunset.

There is so much that could be said about Joe.  His life was filled with funny stories, some not so funny stories, and a whole lot of stories of love.  But his life was also filled with serious health problems and a lot of pain, both physical and mental.  He left us unexpectedly one cold January morning when he was just 58.  I guess, once again, he had just had enough.  I sure hope they were prepared on the other side.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Siblings, part two

Aside from having the most incredible sisters in the entire universe, we had three older brothers.  I say had because only two of them are still with us.  Joe has gone on to what I believe are bigger and better things.

Brothers are not like sisters (duh).  They don't appear to form the same link amongst themselves as sisters often do, and brothers and sisters don't seem to connect in quite the same way sisters and sisters seem to.  Maybe that has some connection to the macho male persona and boys don't cry and all that bull, but I just think guys are wired differently.  That is not to say they don't love, and love deeply.  It just usually isn't expressed in quite the same ways.  Also, our brothers were older; Harry is ten years older than I am, and Glenn is five.  Joe was only three years older than I, but that still made him seven years older than "the twins".

The story from my mother is that after she had Harry she had no intention of ever going through childbirth again.  Once was more than enough!  And she did manage a good five years before she had to swallow that crow.  However, my mother had three siblings, all of whom were much older than she.  One of her siblings had already produced a daughter before my mother gave birth to Harry.  After she had Harry, another of her siblings had a child, and it too was a daughter.  Now, I'm sure my mother loved Harry (who was called Butch at the time because his real name is William Harry Knight, III).  But she started to think it might not be so bad to have a precious little baby girl.  So five years after Harry's birth, nature took its course (remember, this is the 1940's so birth control was sketchy at best), and along came Glenn.  I'm sure my mother was thrilled with Glenn, and I know she loved him dearly.  He was, however, not a precious little girl.  Now, my mother may have been a bit hardheaded (and may have passed that trait along to one or two or six of her children).  Since she'd already bitten the bullet on the "no more kids" rule, she decided to go for it, and two years later she was presented with a bouncing baby, whom she named Joseph.

At this point, you are probably wondering where my father is in all this.  It is my belief the only time my father was actually present and accounted for was at conception.  My father is an entire story unto himself, and I'm sure he will pop up in my writings, but just take it as read that he doesn't have a starring role in our lives.

After Joe's arrival, my mother's remaining sibling produced a child, who was, of course, female.  Then all of her siblings stopped.  That was it -- one daughter each.  And here is my mother with three rambunctious, healthy, rowdy boys.  Most people would have just let it go, but not my mom.  Three years later she is finally blessed with her heart's desire (?), that precious little girl she had longed to hold for so many years.  I was anything but precious or little when I was born -- I weighed 8½ pounds and was 21" long.  But, by now my mom is pretty much a sport about the whole thing.  In spite of the fact that her marriage was a disaster by most reasonable standards and in spite of the fact that my father was nowhere to be found (I said he was there for conception, not delivery), she tells the nurse on the way back to the maternity ward after my delivery, "next time I'll just have twin girls, even up the family, and quit".  And, true to her word, that is exactly what she did.  Oh, and yes, my father provided the DNA for my sisters too.

But back to my brothers.  My brothers started out with a pretty decent childhood.  They were close to my mother's family in Georgia and they had grandparents and siblings and cousins and pretty much everything a kid could need growing up in the deep south (think Opie Taylor).  My father's family is large and though he was seldom a part of our life, his parents and brothers and sisters and their children all were.  When I came along, my brothers treated me just like another boy and I was fine with that.  But no good deed goes unpunished so they say, and my father popped back into our lives and uprooted the family to move us all to southern Florida.  As the saying goes, life was never the same after that.

This is not the time to air all the dirt that came after our move, but things became difficult for all of us and my brothers suffered the most because they were the oldest and they understood more about what was happening.  Those years did not give us the opportunity to bond as a normal family might have, and so my connection to my brothers was tenuous at best for many years.  Fortunately, we all came through it only a little worse for the wear, and as adults we have had the opportunity to forge those bonds.

I can tell you thousands of stories about my brothers, and some of them are actually funny -- some of them not so much.  But I can also tell you, without any hesitation, my brothers are good men who have made good lives for themselves and their families.  I love them without reservation, and as we age, I want to spend more time with them.  I wish we could make up for the times we missed.  We can't, but for whatever time we have left, I am blessed to have these men in my life.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Siblings, part one

Yesterday was my sisters' birthday.  Yes, that is plural.  I have two sisters.  They are four years younger than I am and they are identical mirror twins.  What that means is they came from the same cell, they have the same DNA, but one is right-handed and the other is left-handed.  Like when you look in the mirror -- if you raise your right hand, the image raises its left.  Of course, I never thought they were identical.  My mother and I were apparently the only ones who could tell them apart.  We had three older brothers who referred to both of them as "The Twins" or just "Twin" until the twins were about ten years old and had completely separate personalities making identification an easier task.

Yesterday they were 58 years old.  However, in my mind's eye they are only eight years old.  I'm not sure why they stopped aging at eight, but my guess would be because that was a year of major changes in our lives.  Our family moved from southern Florida to New Jersey (talk about culture shock).  We also acquired a stepfather that year.  I suppose I stopped them from aging at that point in an attempt to hold on to some misplaced memories of innocence.  I, on the other hand, didn't stop aging in my head until I reached the age of 30, which was another traumatic year for our family.  If you can perform simple addition, you have determined that I am actually 62 (and believe me my body knows how old I am) but in my mind I am still 30.

When we were younger (teens and twenties), strangers sometimes thought we were triplets.  They are naturally blonde and I am a redhead, but I used to dye my hair blonde before all the blonde jokes became part of our culture.  We were all the same size (itsy bitsy, teeny weeny), and often wore each other's clothing.  There is a very strong family resemblance, and since most everyone already knew they were twins, it just seemed natural to include me in the grouping.  Now they are still blonde (but not quite as naturally) and I have embraced my redheadedness (again not quite all natural, damn those grays).  They are still thin, though no longer skinny.  I, unfortunately, am larger.  Sir Peter Paul Ruben and my husband are fans of my body shape, but I'm afraid not even I can appreciate this form.  We definitely don't share clothing any longer.

I love my sisters.  I know it is easy enough to say you love your family, but I'm not so sure that is always true.  In this case it is the absolute truth.  My sisters are amazing women, and I would be proud to know them even if we weren't related.   I know they share a bond between themselves that only another twin would understand, but we three have always been close emotionally no matter how much geography there is between us.  Currently I live in North Carolina, Cathy lives in Georgia and Cindy lives in Colorado (my mother had a thing with "C" names, at least for the girls).  I think it would be wonderful if we all lived in the same town, or maybe the same state, or even the same time zone, but it isn't gonna happen at this point in our lives.  Still, I have visions of three old wrinkly women in rockers sitting on the front porch on a Sunday afternoon,  bickering about something that has no significance and probably no solution.  My life would have been emptier by far without sisters.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Well ya gotta start somewhere --

I'm supposed to be writing a book.  I've always said I would write a book.  Many others have said I should write a book.  You're supposed to write about things you know.  So my life would be the obvious choice.  Except I'm not really sure I know everything I think I know about my life.  A lot of it is hearsay, or stories that were passed on to me by members of my family or close friends of my mother's.  Even I find a lot of my life to be unbelievable, and better suited for fiction.  Then there's my family.  Should I change their names to protect the innocent?  Are they really innocent?  Would changing their names be of any value since I'm not going to change my name?  Maybe I should start with something simpler -- like my imagination.  Now there is a very strange place.  My imagination, that is.  Once upon a time there were a million stories rattling around in there.  Now that I'm older, most of them have fallen by the wayside and I find myself not nearly so clever or entertaining.  So, here I am writing a blog.

blog (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia):  A blog (a blend of the term web log) is a type of website or part of a website.  Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video.  Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order.  Blog can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

We'll see where this goes.  I've always thought bloggers were rather pretentious.  I mean, seriously!  Why would anyone actually care about the drivel I write?  I'm not even sure I care all that much about it.  But who knows?  Let's start with reality, which may edge into fiction and my imagination as we go along.  I have a condition called Superior Canal Dehiscense Syndrome (SCDS for short, of course).

dehiscence (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia):  Dehiscence can refer to:
  • Dehiscence (botany) is the spontaneous opening at maturity of a plant structure, such as a fruit, anther, or sporangium, to release its contents.
  • Wound dehiscence is a previously closed wound reopening.  Total disintegration of mechanical bonding of wounds brought about by influences not totally understood.  Signs and symptoms of wound dehiscence:  open incision, serous oozing and wound pain.
  • Superior canal dehiscence in which a new window opens in the labyrinth of the inner ear, resulting in a form of vertigo.

It's a problem with the supposedly solid bone structure covering the inner ear.  Mine isn't so solid it turns out, and there are openings into my inner ear that aren't supposed to be there.  The result is lot like having vertigo all day every day.  Not pleasant under the best of circumstances; unbearable under the worst circumstances.  

What this actually means is that most days I am relatively useless and unable to perform even the simplest of tasks requiring hand/eye coordination, dexterity or balance.  On really bad days, getting out of bed is a monumental problem and not really a very good idea.

I don't walk straight and appear to be drunk as I stagger about from Point A to Point B, often arriving at Point C inadvertently.  Interestingly, I have tried getting drunk to see if there would be any noticeable change.  There is not.  I cannot do regular housecleaning chores like dusting or cleaning bathrooms (and yes, this is a problem).  The movements involved almost always cause severe nausea and then my only option is to sit or lie down until the nausea passes.  It is my hope this blog will give me something constructive (well, that's definitely questionable) to do while sitting on my butt being useless.

Today, I have an appointment with the doctor in Chapel Hill who diagnosed my condition.  I'm assuming it's a six-month checkup kinda thing, since the appointment notification just came out of the blue (actually it arrived in the mail, but you know what I mean).  Maybe I'll have something more to say when I return.  That's pretty likely.  I am almost never without words.