Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Shot Heard Round the Neighborhood

Dad gave my Brother (B) his first and only slingshot, but I'm not sure if the occasion was Christmas, birthday or 'just because.'

I say Dad, because I'm sure his decision overrode a veto Mother surely issued. She abhorred anything perceived as violent, apt to injure siblings or any living creature, damage inanimate objects , or initiate nuclear destruction of the world.

Dad gave B instructions in slingshot use and a litany of safety instructions, no doubt supervised by Mother. I remember observing the tutoring.

This slingshot was store-bought, probably Woolworth's, simply styled like homemade ones with traditional "Y" structure and wide rubber band-like slings between the "Y" arms.

Although I'm not sure B's age, I think it was pre-school. I may have been in first grade. In those days 1st grade let out about noon, so Mother still held her Bible story and other reading sessions in the afternoon, plus the obligatory nap which I persistently, consistently, faked, using such time to conjure up my next escapade.

The David and Goliath encounter was a regularly requested Bible story. Often Mother allowed us to select our favorite stories. B's was often David/Goliath; mine was Gideon's army, followed by Joshua and the fall of Jericho. Seems B and me liked weaponry, war and regimentation, like marching around Jericho sounded trumpets, etc. [Maybe this inspired me to abandon a cappella chorus and join the high school marching band; I played piccolo and flute instead of trumpet, but we occasionally shouted as part of our marching routines!]

Although our little brains had not developed the ability to comprehend allegories of good vs. evil, or the Lord's on our side, etc., we quickly grasped the finite details of the stories. Hence, David's sling-shot was fully understood as a lethal weapon.

Play-acting David and Goliath outdoors was a natural extension of our storybook hour and nap. At first I would be Goliath, but one wee stone on the shin cured my desire to be the Great One. Goliath was a braggart, not a wimp. Further B and I knew if we were caught aiming slingshots at anything with a respiratory system meant violent repercussions from both parents.

Since he did not share his toy with me, I made my own slingshot with a tree branch and some rubber bands...a really wimpy slingshot. A small stone was not much of a projectile; it fell with a faint Plop! one foot away. Our parents knew I devised the seemingly harmless slingshot imitation.

B and I had "competitions" to see which slingshot stone went the longest distance. Of course, he won.

We aimed at the side of the brick house, the garage, a playhouse, but contact was a rare event. However, one fateful day one of us connected with a window of our house-not just any window-the window by which Mother sat, reading. It made a small crack in a lower corner--hardly noticeable. OOPS!!!

Mother was a large woman, but she nearly sprinted out the door and horse collared both of us. Mother did not live to know horse collaring is a major NFL penalty these days. B and I might have had grounds for personal injury claims.

Since neither of us knew which stone hit the window, we both received 'paddling,' as it was called at our house. We both were honest--neither of us knew which stone hit the window, and I guess we both were in error for aiming at something of value--except in my 1st grade rational mind the house was not a living, breathing thing. Belatedly I came to realize if Mother was in the house, it became a living, fire-breathing dragon lady with a paddle.

Paddling meant the application of a paint paddle to our derrieres. Dad's lumber and hardware store dispensed free paint paddles with cans of paint sold. Mother wore out two paint paddles on three children before a different kind of discipline was incrementally installed, according to age.

Since she grabbed the paddle before exiting the house, we received "on the spot" discipline. We cried and hollered. B tried to suck it up like a little man; not me. I let the neighborhood know I was being persecuted, in true Biblical fashion--no sparing the rod at our house!

And where was little sister during this fun? She was not a tomboy and probably was demurely, quietly, playing with her dolls. I never learned "demurely, quietly."

The neighborhood fell silent!

Unlike the Biblical story, David and Goliath both were slain with LOUD SPATS accompanied by hollaring and exaggerated sobbing in the Richardson backyard on Elizabeth Drive ('silk stocking row'), then an exclusive subdivision, one sunny week-day afternoon.

[David and Goliath painting by Caravaggio courtesy Wikimedia Commons]
[Other graphics - Internet]

Post Script: Brother received a BB gun as a gift (Christmas or birthday). It was immediately relegated to Dad's gentleman's farm/ranch for use only with Dad, under his supervision, for hunting hen-house bandits and varmints stealing eggs and feed. This was an abysmal hunting failure as most hen-house criminals were snakes. Maybe there was small redeeming value in the companionship of father/son!

No doubt Mother only allowed this gift with this mandate.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Because of a litany of appointments and duties, as well as another light (Thank the Lord!) chronic bronchitis bout, I am "out to lunch" for a few days, but will be reading and, in some cases, lurking among all of you.

Hmm, "out to lunch" may not be the best one of my duties is to re-organize my diet approach as it is stalemated. Some changes in our daily life routine has upset the diet and exercise wagon, which I need to reset, to accommodate my current needs.

Meanwhile I post two photos, (I missed FOTO Friday).

The photo of myself is cropped from a 2002 photo. I am trying to find time to "stitch" it and Luckie's together for my "About Me" part of my blog. Although taken at my heaviest, that's characteristic of most of my adult life, so might as well go with it.

The Marigolds is a "Straight Out of the Camera" photo. I don't know why I love this picture, as it is somewhat mundane. After a shower, it was a last minute shot that caught my eye on the way back into the house....totally unplanned and hastily composed.

It would benefit from some editing insofar as lighting. It was an overcast day which some film photographers call "losing the light." Digital photographers can "find" the light through digital "darkroom" photo editing software.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Crossroads of Liability and Volunteerism

She was an elderly, shrunken, somewhat deranged, poverty-ridden lady living alone in subsidized apartment housing. A victim of self-inflicted poor life choices, she was dependent on public assistance for subsistence.

She was accustomed to a life style of acceptance in her small town's social circles. Even after three marriages, one failed and twice widowed, she continued to enjoy a circle of friends from her many years working with her husband(s) as entrepreneurs, and later when widowed, for local businesses.

She had no children; only distant young descendents of her generation living 500+ miles away. Her cantankerous attitude and acid tongue alienated her from them and others who atempted to be helpful.

Like many widows, her income became a free-fall in widowhood. Income drastically reduced, she did not realize the life-style to which she was accustomed no longer had financial resources to substantiate continuing.

Belatedly, she downsized her living quarters from manors and multiple homes, to modest housing, to manufactured housing. Finally selling her last home, she applied and qualified for public housing for the aged.

Like many persons on public assistance, she did not adjust gracefully, demanding white-gloved service and maximum care.

Expecting individualized personalization of services for which she qualified, she verbally criticized the Senior Meals on Wheels volunteers who prepared menus, lecturing them about inclusion of spinach for Coumadin (warfarin)-dosed clients. There are only two type meals provided in the area: regular and diabetic.

She ranted at the physicians who accepted her Medicaid assistance.

Routinely, she threatened lawsuits against physicians, hospitals, health care providers, living arrangements and agencies providing taxpayer provided services she received. The threats never materialized.

She periodically fell behind on bills, but railed at providers as not having sent her monthly statements. It became such a habit, she called "wolf" too often. Utility shut-offs became common. She lost her TV cable service, and her phone was often shut-off. Finally, her only contact outside of her apartment was a small radio and land-line telephone with portable handset.

Occasionally, old friends would invite her for lunch, but many days were spent in isolation, no phone calls and no human contact. I have seen persons living in isolation sink into dementia, solely from lack of human contact.

Her very old vehicle was not reliable, nor should she drive. Her driving was erratic and she made U-turns on congested highways. The local police were generous in simply issuing her warnings and not tickets which would have gone unpaid. She did not have a current license tag.

At this point in her life she contacted our local TeleCare service for our daily phone call.[See A Simple, Single Phone Call ] We added her to our client list.

We carefully explained our program and its limitations to her; basically all we provided was a single phone call per day, 365 days per year. But as with other free services for which she qualified and received, she pushed the envelope at every opportunity.

She needed bread, a ride to the doctor, a can of soup. If we kindly refused and re-explained our service, she usually found someone to provide the service. Our next call would be the "rub it your nose, I found somebody" type conversation.

We provided her with the name of charitable organizations devoted to rides and shopping, etc. Interestingly, she had used them and did not like the attitude of their volunteers.

We had arrived at the crossroads of liability and volunteerism. This is not unique. Large organizations are able to afford some measure of liability insurance, but not our little group of 12.

Several meetings of volunteers were devoted to how to handle these requests. We are a loosely organized group of 10-15 volunteers devoting approximately one hour a day for one phone call. We chat with clients , some briefly, some longer.

At times this lady could be really funny, even when she repeated, repeated and repeated the same old stories. We listened. One volunteer kept a list of how many times he heard the same story.

The three organizers, of which I am one, finally told the volunteers they were welcome to do errands or other services if they wished, as long as it was clear it was personally provided, and not in the name of TeleCare.

In the interest of the volunteers and other clients who depended on us, we felt we could not jeopardize our service with even the remote possibility of a lawsuit. Neither our small organization that operates on less than $2000/year, nor any single volunteer had the wherewithal to survive litigation.

Further, our state's Good Samaritan Law did not cover taxi-like service, only stopping to render aid, primarily vehicular accidents.

This lady threaten lawsuits for dust in the HVAC ducts of her apartment, the inefficiency of the physical therapy department at the hospital just because one of her two knee and hip replacements weren't as she expected, and on and on.

Our anxiety was fueled by a case where an accident occurred, and the family of the client, who was severely injured, sued the driver providing the service.

We had this lady as a client a few years. She looked forward to our annual luncheons and never missed one. She never failed to thank us for calling. It was evident she received very few phone calls.

Over the years her mental and physical health became so compromised, we wondered about all the physicians' visits she mentioned.

Her personal habits became repugnant; her apartment was unfit for human habitation (read total incontinence with no cognizance of fact, soiled clothes and furniture, I think you get the picture. ]

The Senior Meals on Wheels drivers, hated to enter the apartment, its odor left them gagging. Adjacent apartment dwellers claimed the odor permeated their units through walls and ductwork.

Yet she continued to combat forces trying to help her.

Sadly, her health became such she could not live alone. Our service found her unresponsive, but conscious, on a Sunday. The apartment manager called the ambulance and sent her to the hospital. Subsequently, she was committed to a nursing facility by the state advocacy service.

At this writing her apartment is locked and sealed. We suspect HAZMAT specialists will be required to sanitize the quarters, before needed renovation can be started.

This is a sad story. No one could find a mutual acceptable solution. The lady would not designate a medical power of attorney. It is never pleasant invoke the state advocacy unit for a court ordered solution. But an impasse is impassable.

[This story is a composite of clients, including a male; it illustrates the dilemma of elderly living alone far from relatives, without advanced directives, or designated power of attorneys, and the stress absorbed by friends, churches, volunteers, healthcare personnel or others trying to provide compassionate care.]

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Don't Blame Me!

My week is overly loaded with meetings, delivery of my monthly city newsletter, and a few other appointments.

With Senior Citizens being blamed for the increasing cost of health care and skyrocketing insurance premiums, plus a zillion other things wrong with this country, I submit the following ditty with thanks to my sister who forwarded to me.

Apologies to readers who are not senior citizens, but you will have your day, and no doubt a similar ditty will be composed by some of your contemporaries but probably differing text.

Apologies also if you have received this from someone before!!!!


Senior citizens are constantly being criticized for every conceivable deficiency of the modern world, real or imaginary. We know we take responsibility for all we have done and do not blame others.

HOWEVER, upon reflection, we would like to point out that it was NOT the senior citizens who took:

The melody out of music,
The pride out of appearance,
The courtesy out of driving,
The romance out of love,
The commitment out of marriage,
The responsibility out of parenthood,
The togetherness out of the family,
The learning out of education,
The service out of patriotism,
The Golden Rule from rulers,
The civility out of behavior,
The refinement out of language,
The dedication out of employment,
The prudence out of spending,
The ambition out of achievement.

And we certainly are NOT the ones who eliminated patience and tolerance from personal relationships and interactions with others!!

And, we do understand the meaning of patriotism, and remember those who have fought and died for our country.

Does anyone under the age of 50 know the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner?
Just look at the Seniors with tears in their eyes and pride in their hearts as they stand at attention with their hand over their hearts!


I'm the life of the party...... even if it lasts until 8 p.m.
I'm very good at opening childproof caps.... with a hammer.
I'm usually interested in going home before I get to where I am going.
I'm awake many hours before my body allows me to get up.
I'm smiling all the time because I can't hear a thing you're saying.
I'm very good at telling stories; over and over and over and over...
I'm aware that other people's grandchildren are not nearly as cute as mine.
I'm so cared for -- long term care, eye care, private care, dental care.

I'm not really grouchy! [I just don't like traffic, waiting in long lines, crowds, lawyers, unruly kids, Toyota commercials, Dan Rather, barking dogs, politicians and a few other things I can't seem to remember right now.]
I'm sure everything I can't find is in a safe secure place, somewhere.
I'm wrinkled, saggy, lumpy, and that's just my left leg.
I'm having trouble remembering simple words like....., .....,
I'm beginning to realizing that aging is not for wimps.
I'm sure they are making adults much younger these days, and when did they let kids become policemen?
I'm wondering, if you're only as old as you feel, how could I be alive at 150? [And, how can my kids be older than I feel sometimes?]
I'm a walking storeroom of facts..... I've just lost the key to the storeroom door.

Yes, I'm a SENIOR CITIZEN and I THINK I am having the time of my life!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Blue Sky and Sun Day

Normally, Sunday is Slider Sunday for me but today I could not resist a short post for Monday.

Although leaving home for church services in rain-free cloudy weather, I observed glimmers of hope for seeing sun today. I was not disappointed this afternoon.

How appropriate: Sun on SUN Day and some Blue Sky thrown in for good measure. A rainbow would have been that little hors d' oeuvres of life, but I am assuredly peachy pleased.

Unlike Noah I had no doves to test the receding waters, but then the covenant of Noah was no flood ever again would destroy every living thing in the entire world.

A happy camper am I, for at least one day. How can you beat sunshine and 75 degrees???

SO I've been humming one of my favorite old time joyous hymns about sunshine. I found a YOUTUBE rendition for your listening pleasure--Sorry! Breathe a sigh of relief-I have no recordings of myself. In a much younger life I learned to sing a cappella, in school, church and a quartet for weddings and funerals (not much difference in the latter music).
Asthma, chronic bronchitis and COPD inhalers and drugs have severely limited my voice, but not my JOY.

Eliza Edmunds Hewitt, an US songwriter, penned 1,743 known hymns. Among her many hymns I love are Will There Be Any Stars in My Crown? and When We All Get to Heaven.

Another US songwriter and favorite of mine, Frances J. Crosby, known as Fanny Crosby, penned over 8000 hymns. Crosby was blind shortly after birth.

[YouTube Mormon Tabernacle Choir link]
Text: Eliza E. Hewitt, Music: John R. Sweney

Refrain (Chorus)
O there's sunshine, blessed sunshine,
While the peaceful, happy moments roll;
When Jesus shows His smiling face
There is sunshine in my soul.

Verses 1-4
There is sunshine in my soul today,
More glorious and bright
Than glows in any earthly sky,
For Jesus is my light.

There is music in my soul today,
A carol to my King;
And Jesus, listening, can hear
The song I cannot sing.

There is springtime in my soul today,
For when the Lord is near
The dove of peace sings in my heart,
The flowers of grace appear.

There is gladness in my soul today,
And hope, and praise, and love,
For blessings which He gives me now,
For joys laid up above.

My fingers and toes are tapping after listening to this song!

If the sun does not shine on Monday I'll play it again!

[Until I figure the photo muddle out, I may be leaving photos at top of post.]

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Where's Noah?

Raindrops on Mums
[Macro Straight Out of the Camera]

Liquid formula, known to scientists as H(OH) or H2O, or water, has been falling in my area since Sept. 12. Sometimes light and steady, other times deluges for 5-10 minutes; we've accumulated several inches.

The current forecast is for periods of showers and sun through Wednesday, Sept. 23, but lately these forecasts seem to be extended daily into the future.

Rainfall reports of bloggers and family in Texas and central Arkansas are even greater than here. An half brother in Texas had 6 inches a few days ago.

On a rainy Wednesday, I caught this photo of a fiberoptics technician working in a tent on the front corner of my lot at a new dropbox for my home. An out-of-state contractor, he appeared to have a self-contained mini-motor home/work home on wheels.

Our independent telephone company has designated a huge outlay of funding to upgrade service to our little town using underground fiberoptic wiring. My neighborhood which is a part of Phase- I is nearly completed.
Upon completion of Phase-I and activation, the phone company may provide faster DSL or video feeds (essentially cable TV) and possibly a different kind of telephone service.
Contractors work with deadlines and are often penalized for unmet deadlines, so if work can continue during inclement weather, it usually does. Hence this technician is splicing and connecting various fiberoptic cables, protected from the elements by his utilitarian tent.

Now if we had Noah among us, he had a direct pipeline (maybe not the best word) to God, who kept telling him when it was gonna rain, and how much. I doubt Noah knew how big " the whole world" was, but he had a Texas sized 10 gallon hat full of FAITH.

Noah's God inspired instructions included heavenly blueprints for building a giant ship called an ARK of certain dimensions and materials. It's a good thing Noah had the pipeline, because nobody knows exactly what gopher wood is! I trust if I'm told to build an ARK, God will pick measurements and materials like oak so I can fulfill his orders. [My beloved 100+ year old red oak, which bit the dust in our 1000-year ice storm, would have been a good start on an ARK!] 

Then there were those 120 years of preaching, not to mention the subject was RAINFALL for 40 days and nights, an event which heretofore had never happened. No doubt Noah took a lot of hootin', hollarin', hecklin' and rolling-on-the-ground, side-splitting laughter from his contemporaries, His only converts were seven members of his immediate family.

I wondered if 120 years could be classified as preaching without ceasing. Modern day men of the cloth point to Noah, a "preacher of righteousness," for their inspiration of endurance, "keeping the faith" in difficult times and unbelieving audiences.

My husband will testify I could easily preach 120 days without ceasing, but years, he would be long gone.

When it came time to pack and move into the ARK he had to round up a litany of animals not to mention his  seven family members. He had a long checklist.
But the reward of a covenant signified by the beautiful rainbow kept driving Noah for those 120 years.

Whether the rainfall spigot is controlled by natural forces of the universe, or divine intervention, a Creative Force set the universe and probably other universes still unknown, into being.

Rainfall, or the lack thereof, became a natural event in the lives of Biblical people living in primarily agricultural settings. Today, is not much different, but encompasses the earth. No agriculture, no food; no vegetation, no oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange. Unfortunately, humans have disturbed the O2-CO2 balance. 

This year has been a "wet" year so far in Northern Arkansas, but the amounts generally have been sufficient, without overloading our flood controls, as in recent years.

The importance of rain reminds me not too fret when the days are gloomy.

May I suggest an awe-inspiring series of  of DVDs originally commissioned by BBC, shown on the Discovery Channel, THE PLANET EARTH. It is being re-runned periodically, on Animal Planet, TLC and probably other cable channels, too. What better way to while away a rainy day, than an educational, beautifully filmed series on our planet?

The photography is unbelievable...I repeat- UNBELIEVABLE!  I bought the 4-DVD series so I could revel leisurely through the superb cinematography, importance of rain forests, jungles, balance /original harmony of life on the planet. It doesn't sugar-coat man's damaging contribution to imbalances.

Three segments stood out to me: (1) the plight of the polar bear (2) the tracking of a rare large cat (in Russia, I think) by photographers for months in the extremely harsh conditions for a shot of the rare cat. (3) the time-lapse photography of the effect of cutting ONE tree out of a forest canopy--life sprang up in response to the small amount of sunlight from one hole in the canopy.

I am sure The Planet Earth is available in libraries and video rental stores. My set was purchased from the Discovery Channel and included a bonus disk entitled Planet Earth: the Future. There are newer series like The Blue Planet: Seas of Life. has many listings.

I am writing this on Thurs. Sept. 17 for posting 19th. I spent my morning at the opthamalogist office. I was two years overdue.

A free screening glaucoma test in May with borderline reading in right eye convinced me I should overcome my dislike of the more comprehensive glaucoma tests. It is very hard to touch my eyeball, even numbed. It is a reaction to a childhood event--I know all in my head.

After a dose of Valium we managed with much difficulty to accomplish a better reading. The dilated eye exam results indicated other factors pointing to glaucoma in the right eye, maybe both eyes.

While dilated, three other tests were performed and I return Monday for a final test. I expect to be put on drops. I think we have caught it early with out damage to my eye. Peripheral vision seems to be fine, but that is Monday's test.

Believe me I can handle drops in eye once or twice daily. It is just one of those little annoyances that come with age.

I bought some computer-only glasses, and special clip-on polarized sunglasses for fishing and/or driving, ever though I have Transition lenses.



Friday, September 18, 2009

Foto Friday

Flower photos made between rain showers , are covered with raindrops.
If you click on photos to enlarge, raindrops are visible.
The Red Naked Lady is probably same as some have mentioned to me.
Google Search of Lycoris shows "Naked" flowers in different colors.
Mums (perennials) planted after Great Naked Lady Harvest by Ark - Pat.

^RED Naked Lady
^RED Naked Lady
^RED Naked Lady
^Orange Bronze Mums

^Orange Bronze Mums Macro

^Orange Bronze Mums Macro (same as above)
[I've played around with the colors for a little fun]
^Orange Mums in Whiskey Barrel
[Straight Out of the Camera]
^Yellow Mums
[Straight Out of the Camera]
^Yellow Mums Macro
[Straight Out of the Camera]
Canon PowerShot A1000IS
I've mentioned my impression with quality and features of this compact Canon.
The Macro shots are probably about 2" from object(s).
The camera's macro focusing range is 1.2 inches to 1.6 feet.
The small built-in flash has coverage from 1-13 feet.
I expected more light falloff in the exercise class pictures.
Room was well lit.
Auto ISO must have kicked in. ISO up to 1600 is normal.
ISO 3200 possible with special setting.

^Macro of Remote Control on Arm Rest
Protector of My Lift Chair
[Straight Out of the Camera]
^Texture MACRO of My Lift Chair
Arm Rest Protector
lStraight Out of the Camera]
^My Silver Sneakers Exercise Class
[edit: slight crop only]
^My Silver Sneakers Exercise Class
[Edit: slight crop only]

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Main Entry: 1com·pli·ment
Pronunciation: \ˈkäm-plə-mənt\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle French, from Italian complimento, from Spanish cumplimiento, from cumplir to be courteous — more at
Date: 1598
1 a : an expression of esteem, respect, affection, or admiration; especially : an admiring remark b : formal and respectful recognition
honor2 plural : best wishes : regards

From time to time this blog receives expressions of respect, admiration and affection including formal recognition or honor with various awards. Regretfully I have failed to pick one or two up in a timely manner and lost track of them when I remembered, for which I apologize.

I humbly recognize accept and post the following accolades...

With a few exceptions, and as a policy, I have decided to offer ALL my readers these few awards for the taking, whether followers, blog lists, or transient traffic because I humbly believe all of you far exceed any of my efforts and deserve them.

You may use my blog and screen name as attribution if your blog use is in keeping with the general principles of my blog. The only unacceptable blogs to me are 100% pornographic and intentionally, repeatedly, vulgar.

Silver of Reflections, notified me to pick up an award.

I began reading Silver's posts from another blog list; I entered her blog posts at the end of an extremely difficult time in her life when the Big C (my shortcut for cancer) had permeated her family life. I cannot imagine being able to post under her circumstances.

Since I still remember the day I received my Big C diagnosis, the posts were particularly poignant. Silver has a great following, but I know she will appreciate more friends as she continues her post "Big C " journey.

What has amazed me most in my relative short bloggie life, is the number of you, who are cancer survivors, or intimately connected to cancer as caregivers. Some of you fit in both categories.

My blog list and FOLLOWER list is randomly created from both my reading and others who read me, so it boggles my mind have so much in common without searching for the commonality.

I received the Kreative Blogger award some time ago. I failed to note the nominating bloggie, to whom I also owe an apology, but indeed appreciate the honor.If you read this and are the source of the award, let me know and I will acknowledge attribution.

Recently Carol of The Writers Porch received this "bloody brilliant" blog award and awarded it to all her readers. I'm not sure I qualify as "bloody brilliant" but salving my ego never hurts, so I've claimed it.

I migrated to Carol's blog one day because of her two beloved Pekes (Pekingese). She is a Southerner and lover of the written word. She regularly purchases and reads an amazing variety of books which she reviews in her blog posts. You may be fortunate to win a book, as I did recently.

So all my Followers and Blog readers: Here are three lovely designed awards to which I nominate y'all; you may claim and display as you wish, or just keep on bloggin'.

You are all Awe-Summm!!!, Kreativ and Bloody Brilliant!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Case of No See'ems

" No, Officer I didn't see the STOP sign," to an incredulous officer. No see 'um.

"No, I didn't see an ad on Channel 99," to anybody, knowing my TV is on 24/7. No see 'um.

"No, I didn't see the camel and donkey plowing a field," my husband (H) said, as he was maneuvering our Ford LTD along a paved, very narrow road in a foreign country-Morocco, while I enjoyed the scenery. [My question had an oblique reference to an Old Testament "do not" of Jewish, law. Deut. 22:10 which actually refers to OX (not camel) and donkey] H dislikes my distracting mobile guided tour comments while he is driving. No see 'um!

But this post is really about bugs, so tiny they are not ordinarily visible with the naked eye. No
See 'Um is a term applied to an aggravating, biting, invisible insect, properly called midge, a two-winged flying insect that travels in swarms, commonly found in damp areas, like beaches. Besides being appropriately described and called No See 'Ums, other aliases for these invisible, blood sucking flies include sandflies and punkies.

The common effect of No See 'Um bites is a multiplicity of intense itching with redness, welts, and even water containing blisters. Misery upon misery!

My first encounter with this tiniest of vicious, blood sucking vampires was a few years ago in Arkansas. I escaped encounters in Texas, Maryland and Morocco [I lived in a villa on a beach].

My luck ended one humid spring day prior to 2002. In this time period I was frequently fishing and gardening. When the swarming army decided to attack me, I don't remember, but intense itching hit me as I entered City Hall to attend a public meeting.

Wondering what rare, exotic disease I had encountered, I recanted list of strange diseases I had studied as part of my pharmacy curriculum:,
leishmaniasis (sandfly), trypanosomiasis (tsetse fly), toxoplasmosis (cats, other animals), babesiosis (ticks), cryptosporidiosis (water) schistosomaisis. Or maybe, more common occurring diseases like borreliosis (Lyme disease) or ehrlichiosis. Most of these are not fatal to persons with fairly good immune systems.

How could my almighty education of every variable in the microbial and parasitic world have failed me? My confidence level in higher education was precipitously in free fall. Most all the above diseases are mostly found in tropical areas, except borreliosis and ehrlichiosis, both tick borne diseases found in US.

I am a tad paranoid! Then studying all these maladies with strange names and an alphabet of spelling, tends to boggle one's mind. I have to remind myself, as I often did in pharmacy counseling: "Don't assume everything you read will happen to you."

How we maintain a state of reasonable health and well-being in a world of never-ending, newly discovered and evolving viruses, bacteria and invaders of nearly every bodily organ or system is an amazing feature of our being as designed by the Creator of the Universe. It is called our immune system, an intricate system of checks and balances involving various bodily systems so well tuned only a few months after birth into a fully functional protector of its host. It is miraculous!

Before the session was called to order, I mentioned my miserable, unbearably intense itching to several persons in the area where I was seated. No doubt the spectacle of squirming, wiggling in my chair, trying to discretely scratch certain areas was obviously amusing, but perhaps distressing, to others.

Some persons strangely moved across the room.

I mentioned it could not be chiggers as there were no hard little "red bumps," but I had splotchy red areas spreading over my body, unfortunately in areas which could not be viewed publicly. I wondered if I had become allergic to poison ivy, something I surprisingly uproot with my bare hands.

More persons began to distance their chairs from me.

My best friend, sitting beside me, and a few city workers laughingly said, "No See 'Ums." I laughed in disbelief as I thought they were teasing me. Seeing my dismissing skepticism, they told me to look it up on the Internet, which was beginning to be the popular authoritative encyclopedia for every subject known to man.

More disillusioning was their suggestion there wasn't much relief, except some of the same remedies used for other biting insects.

So home I went to the Internet. Lo! and Behold! with much searching I found the little boogers--no where near the information I found today (151,000,000 hits). No See' Ums in 679 species range in most of North America. I was lucky to avoid them for 40+ years, insofar as I know.

I wondered how I missed this biting nemesis in my required Public Health course, Bacteriology and Biology in Pharmacy curriculum.

Leishmaniasis (sometimes called Black Fever), the vector of which is sandflies, is rare, but has occurred in US. Until I began researching No See 'Ums did I realize this nonsense terminology was an Americanized synonym for the sandfly, some species of which cause leismaniasis, a disease of which I indeed had knowledge, but no association with common terms associated with the invisible boogers.

Generally, the worst side effect of No See 'Ums is infection from intense scratching with fingernails of other instruments in a non-sterile environment.

On subsequent trips to Texas I had much fun in introducing No See 'Um midges to non-believing friends. I suppose Texans living in the Gulf Coast areas of Texas probably know about them. Most acquaintances live inland and more acquainted with ticks, mosquitoes and chiggers. Further, I haven't lived in Texas in 30 years.

I do have a perverse sense of humor....

Fast forward to 2009, almost everyone I meet knows about No See 'Ums. Credit the Internet???

I'm loaded for bear now with supplies of OFF (DEET) repellent, Benadryl, Calamine Lotion, Triple Antibiotic Ointment, Hydrocortisone Cream, Hydrogen Peroxide, Alcohol, and a number of home remedies like baking soda packs and my favorite, vinegar baths.

Is everybody scratching, squirming and wiggling now??? Time to move on to some other blog???

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Tad Tipsy

Being a tad tipsy is a relatively rare event in my everyday experiences, since I am essentially a teetotaler.

However, the ear problem mentioned in a previous post seems to be instigating a state of being disoriented, indicating an inner ear disturbance, rather than the more common middle ear infection..

My physician said the ear appeared to be infected. After a "water gun" treatment (her description) did not clear the debris, she gave me an antibiotic-steroid prescription ear drop sample to use for three days and return in one week.

Despite no pain, I have this allusion of being inebriated, dizzy and somewhat nauseous with deafening, persistent "ringing, buzzing sound 24/7. To be inoccuous (I hope), it is driving me CRAZY!

Today my Toyota Highlander needed a routine checkup; I had made an appointment with a dealership in Harrison AR, about 50 miles away. My husband drove as it was about an 100-mile round trip. I didn't need a patrolman to stop me for erratic driving. I'd have a hard time telling the above story.

However, I should pass the Breathalyzer test, but walking a straight line--debatable.

I have several duties on my calendar before my follow-up appointment Sept. 15. Fortunately, all are in my small town where I am well known for being sober...I think.

And to further disturb my day, Luckie snitched a package of Voortman's Sugar Free Peanut Butter Wafers, eating the entire contents of an opened package. My husband thinks there were only 1-3 wafers left.

I've read where some artificial sweeteners are near deadly for dogs. This package had a substance called sorbitol, a sugar alcohol. Sorbitol's side effect in humans is mainly diarrhea. In dogs, I don't know. However, it is 12 hours later, and I haven't noticed anything unusual.

Until I sober up.............yeah, I know what you are thinking...likely story.

Tipsy Nipsy NitWit1

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Ear Aches - Misplaced Confidence in Healing

Childhood diseases are a given when kindergarten and public education exposes students to unknown, random viruses and bacteria spread by a multitude of persons and agents. Even though I had the obligatory small pox vaccine, the other contagious epidemics of chicken pox, mumps and both kinds of measles did not pass me by, not to mention every variation of cold virus known to man.

My siblings and I were elementary students (grade school) during the polio epidemics. My susceptibility to viruses worried my parents, especially after a classmate with severe asthma contracted the dreaded paralyzing disease. When the vaccines became available, I was first in line.

However one childhood malady incurred far more often -- earaches. With colds, bronchitis or any respiratory infection, I developed earaches, one ear or both, a source of excruciatingly, tear provoking pain. In those years there were not many forms of relief. Most home remedies were aimed at alleviating pain, not the primary cause, infection.

I was subjected to home-made blistering mustard plasters, vaporizers, Vicks nasal drops and Vaporub and Metholatum or Musterole Ointment, warmed olive oil in the ear. Eventually, the earache would be relieved, but more often it ruptured which to my young mind was an horrifying event of blood and pus.

Physicians then had a procedure of "lancing" which essentially put a small hole in the eardrum for drainage after a shot of Novocaine. Lancing did not rip and tear the eardrum like spontaneous rupture.

At one point in my childhood my parents relied on a family friend, a chiropractor, for preventive health and medical needs. I am unaware of how he became our primary source of medicinal consultations, but the entire family got adjustments on a regular basis. Since he was a rancher, I wonder if he and Daddy has some cattle or land deals.

Although my young bones sounded as if they were popping and cracking, the adjustments usually did no harm, caused no distress and may have been helpful.

Chiropractors certainly have their place in our health system. My parents, especially Dad, who did a lot of physical labor in his management of a lumber yard, really seemed to benefit. He and Mother had migraine headaches which they attested were relieved by an "adjustment."

The time spent away from their rambunctious offspring was probably the curative factor, rather than the "adjustments."

In the area where I now live, chiropractors are in heavy demand among the elderly population of aching backs, necks and extremities. Some patients go to a chiropractor after exhausting orthopedic and primary care physicians whose medical advice and treatments have failed. These patients invariably become ferocious disciples of chiropractors.

However, one earache event convinced my parents of the need to return to a primary care physician, then called a general practitioner.

I had double earaches, and was screaming with pain, all day and all night for several days. Mother made appointment with the chiropractor. Since Mother did not drive, Daddy took off work to drive us to the chiropractor's office.

After jerking my head, neck and back in every contortionist move, he ordered Mother to make hot salt packs, homemade sachet-like bags to be applied to my ears continuously until relieved. Mother whipped up some little bags out of scrap materials, filled them with rock salt and heated them in the oven. God only knows what temperature, but they were blistering hot I forgot the ears were aching; instead they were scorching.

These packs were in addition to sweet (olive) oil ear drops, mustard plasters, vaporizers, OTC nose drops and chest rubs. I'm surprised a soap enema wasn't included.

Oh yeah! there was the home-made hot, and I do mean HOT, lemonade, which was the juice of lemons in a glass of very hot water. The hot lemonade was a cure-all for almost any illness in my home. There are a number of recipes; most contain honey and some have rum or similar alcoholic concoction. In my home there was no alcohol. I don't remember the honey either but there may have been a dab.

My ears were blistered from hot salt packs, my chest was burned from mustard plaster and my throat was scalded from hot lemonade. Misery heaped on misery!!!

Nothing worked. Then one night both ears ruptured at the same time. I was screaming and yelling at the ugly, yucky disaster, thinking I was dying, even though I don't think I understood the word at that age.

My screaming and yelling was louder than usual; I could not hear myself!!!

Mother sat up with me the rest of the night and near morning I fell asleep. The pain was relieved, but that did not prove to be the end of it.

The infection spread around the ears on both sides and tonsils/sore throat aggravated discomfort. This event convinced them to return me to a general practitioner.

There were few effective drugs but I was placed on a round of sulfonamides, the only antibacterial in common use. Fortunately it worked. A compounded prescription for Aspirin, Phenacetin and Caffeine with Codeine powder was also prescribed for other aches and pains. We called that concoction "Cold Powders."

Earaches are SERIOUS; they may lead to more serious disorders such as hearing loss, mastoiditis or infection of other nearby structures surrounding the ear.

To read really scary earache tale see Remembrance of A Childhood Illness – Part One: Blowing Smoke, Remembrance of A Childhood Illness – Part Two: In Which I Almost Go to Heaven and by Remembrances of An Arkansas Stamper.

From then on my ear were lanced when needed. Scarring from so many eardrum ruptures is primary cause of my moderate hearing loss today.

There are many home remedies for this common childhood malady; most involve some method of heat applied to the ear. A Google Search, home earache remedies, results in 89,600 hits. My recommendation to use them only until you can see a physician. There are antibiotic, anti-inflammatory ear drops now along with a multiplicity of oral antibiotics.

Having earaches is not limited to childhood. Adults have earaches, no matter who may pooh-pooh the idea. Wind, hard sneezing, persistent or spasmodic coughing and/or sudden temperature changes cause my ears to ache.

I have been battling an annoying mild earache for about a month. I think it is a mechanical effect of some persistent allergy sneezing fits. Ringing in the ear is very annoying. I have not cleared the pressure yet. I bought a decongestant yesterday. The other ear vacillates with some pressure, too. I see my physician Tuesday.

In my adult life I have had only one other encounter with a chiropractor:

In the 1980s I had severe carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands. The stinging, tingling pain became so severe, medication only offered sleep for a few hours. Only holding my hands under cold water provided temporary relief. The attacks were more prevalent at night.

This disorder is a compressed nerve that comes out of the neck area of spine, across each shoulder, down the arm crossing the elbow to the underside of the arm, traveling through a "tunnel of bones" at the wrist into palm. Compression causes burning, tingling, stinging pain from the ring finger to the thumb. The pinkie finger is excluded.

Trying to avoid surgery, I decided to give a local chiropractor a try. My insurance would pay for a series of treatments. Since this is more in the line of chiropractic practice, it seemed worth a try, but it also failed.

I had bilateral carpal tunnel release surgery. Now there is mild compression some where along the very long nerve, causing occasional discomfort. Surgery is not in the immediate forecast. Nor is a chiropractor.

[Photo: a few items I currently use to alleviate earache - the red earmuffs replace heating pads and hot salt packs. I wear them as a preventative against wind well into Spring. Hydrogen peroxide- a few drops are as first aid remedy for ear wax . removal. Olive oil and also mineral oil can be warmed and instilled in ear blocked with a cotton plug. The tiny blue dropper bottle is a popular prescription pain reliever, Auralgan. Sudafed (available generically) is a decongestant.]

Sunday, September 06, 2009


Today I added the Followers gadget back to my sidebar.

It was removed because so many visitors, and MYSELF, received "Operation Aborted" messages when trying to access my site.

Blogger first said the problem was the Followers gadget, so I removed it.

Then I was advised it was conflict with Internet Explorer, v7 and v8. Sorry I don't have access to version 6. I am reluctant to confuse my computer with two browsers but many do. I have to have IE to get Windows Update. But this advice was certainly believable, a la past experience with Microsoft products.

I removed my fish tank gadget.

Nothing seemed to help.

Arkansas Patti suggested I make the Comments section a separate page which appeared to solve the problem. Not my preference, but if it brings peace, let it be.

VOILA!!! It seemed to have worked.

Several viewers have asked where the Followers gadget is, so I have added it back in--hope it resides in peace. It is located far down on the sidebar, a suggestion of blogger. However, the gadget had NEW beside it so maybe there was some revision, who knows!

If you encounter problems with error messages, please e-mail me at The "b," "s," "c," "c," and "" are all lower case letters. All other characters are numbers: 11, 04, 20, 08 .

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Dad's 40-acre Farm..OOPS! Ranch

Texans are often gregarious persons with somewhat grandiose visions as seen through their optics. Born and raised in Texas, Dad was a realist raised on a peanut farm near Stephenville TX. He had dreams of owning a 40-acre farm, which in Texas is a ranch.

The definition of farm and ranch are somewhat blurred. Being a Texan, I can say this. Grandiose vision becomes exaggerated description, so in Texas (and other western states) "ranch" fits the description better and implies large size like sections of land, not acres. Then there is ranchette- an uniquely American word, implying a ranch of few acres.

Dad probably had a ranchette, certainly at first. How he came to own his first approximately 10 acres, I am not sure as I was in elementary school. I know Daddy was very frugal and scrupulously saved from the time he left home, attended a business college and married.

His and Mother's stories of surviving early years of marriage and the Great Depression are interesting, yet he was able to adopt two children in 1936 and 1940, plus had child in 1938 is remarkable.

Before children, they lived in Abilene TX and Coleman TX, until he landed a bookkeeping job in Brownwood TX with a small lumber, hardware and furniture chain. He was promoted to manager and worked for the same chain nearly 40 years, as I remember.

Mother tells of oatmeal three times a day until pay day, plus not having a full set of tableware during early years of marriage. Instead they bought nickel silver from a nickel and dime store, probably Woolworth's. My memories of meals were plenty of various dried beans and cornbread, no meat, a favorite meal of mine to this day.

At the time of my birth they rented a small place in Brownwood, but at some point still in the Depression era bought a white brick home which always was Mother's favorite home.

As I neared entry into the Brownwood Public Education system, my parents purchased a house within two blocks of South Ward school. This house was built in a nice subdivision on a street named Elizabeth Drive, and nick-named "silk stocking row," a street of very nice homes.

This house was about to be, or may have been, a casualty of the depression. It had elegant chandeliers and sconces in numerous rooms, including bedrooms, "music" room, dining and living rooms. It is the only property of any kind, my parents financed, as Dad did not believe in borrowing, debt or credit cards. At least that was told to me by my Mother.

So how he acquired 40 acres in at least three purchases leads me to believe he may have done some horse-trading, debt by paying off a bank loan of someone about to lose land in exchange for the land. Since he saved with religious zeal, he probably had funds to acquire land.

One purchase I think was simply a neighbor to neighbor purchase when the neighbor became aware he could no longer take care of his land which was adjacent to the RANCH. That purchase enhanced the farm because it had a "water tank" already on it. A "tank" is a pond or pool for water storage, occurring naturally, or water retained by an embankment of natural materials.

Besides acquiring the land, he built a small one room house, septic tank and water supply from a neighbor's well. Later, two rooms were added and city water was available. My sister lives in this house today, having bought the farm many years ago from my parents.

One of his acquisitions brought irrigation water to the land, a valuable asset in Texas. He raised some cattle and chickens, planted and harvested grains and grasses for feed, fodder and hay, had two horses and a hand-cranked John Deere tractor. Even today I can visualize him in the process of the back-breaking labor, hand-cranking the John Deere.

I think he put land in the Land Bank, too, as was the custom of similar landowners in his day.

We went to the farm almost every evening to feed the animals. It was just five miles from our home in town.

Memories of THE RANCH:
1. We had one rooster with the hens. One evening the rooster flogged Mother, apparently unprovoked. She fell on the gravel driveway, and could not get up without assistance. One of us kids had to find Dad to help her. The rooster later ended on the table. Sorry, I could not eat it. I am a town girl; chicken from the grocery store is more impersonal. {Strange! fish doesn't affect me that way.]

2. In a mishap involving my brother on a bike with sister riding on the back, made contact with a hoe where I was planting a make-believe garden. The bike and riders went down, breaking my sister's arm. I got blamed for breaking her arm by intentionally sticking the hoe in the bike's wheels; I did not get a bicycle for Christmas as punishment and was constantly reminded of the reason.

The bike was driven into my make-believe garden approaching me from behind. I had no idea it was coming, but parents never believed me. A broken arm in those days landed the patient in bed--how quaint that sounds now.

3. Dad harvested the grains, fodder or hay. Sometimes someone cut, raked and baled the crop for him. In early years, it was raked in piles or rows. He borrowed a flat bed lumber truck and manually used a pitchfork to load and haul it to the central location of a haystack. The haystack was covered with a tarp. Many evenings and some weekends were involved in hauling. My brother often helped when he was old enough.

4. One year someone burned the haystack down. The arsonists were never caught. Dad had been involved in a bitter church split and there were some suspicions but never proved. My parents came to believe it was simply a random prank of persons roaming and trespassing the countryside.

5. Strangely enough at the same time as the fire, a stray, old Scottish terrier appeared and hung around, until we placed it in the fenced yard with two other dogs. It had a huge tumor underneath one leg. I loved the old dog, which once was black, but very much salt and pepper when it appeared.

Just as strangely the old dog disappeared. Mother said it somehow escaped and died. I never bought that story. Daddy was never a pet person; he, being a peanut farmer's son, believed every animal served a purpose be it food, milk, eggs, etc., something with significant upkeep. It did not take much for him to haul animals to the vet for euthanizing. the other dogs did not disappear immediately. However, their fate was eventually the same.

6. I first was aware of allergies, asthma and breathing difficulties when I was allowed to ride the lumber truck as Dad and brother loaded a maize like product called hegari. There was dust and mold in the grain head of the product. I started wheezing so badly Dad took me back to the house to stay with Mother. Of course, I was not diagnosed until many years later, but I remember how scary it was not to easily breathe.

7. Lots of cats resided at the farm--some strays; some were Mother's acquisitions over Dad's dead body. She was a cat lover. However, our busy corner in town was very busy and cats did not live long running loose. Eventually, to prolong their lives, and use their talents as mousers, they ended up loose on the Farm.

When we arrived in the evenings the cats knew the sound of our car arriving. They ran en masse to meet us. Many met their fate underneath the car. This was not intentional but certainly left impression on me and my siblings.

8. Dad built what he called a "poor man's" swimming pool at the ranch. He tried to teach me to swim. He had no trouble with my siblings, but I had an unnatural fear of water which lasted to this very day. He had no patience with my fear and never attempted to teach me to swim. I was the older child who probably developed a fear from Mother who warned me not to go near the fish pond, etc., as I might drown if I fell in.

9. My first pony lived on this farm, a Shetland. It was a mean sucker, pitching me into a cactus. OUCH!

A beautiful collie ran loose and killed chickens. I remember one day we arrived to the scene of quite a number of chicken carcasses dotting the landscape. Daddy shot and killed the dog, but not until he found and warned the owner more than once of its demise if the chicken slaying continued. The dog did not eat the chickens, just seemed to kill for fun.

Truthfully, I don't have fond memories of the farm as too many unpleasant things happened there. Most of the time I was bored. I played alone and didn't have many favorite toys. Later Dad added TV but our viewing was carefully monitored.

However, I realized this was Dad's escape from the everyday trials of "making a living," which Mother shared with him.

When I became old enough to stay at home alone, my parents didn't insist I accompany them every time they "went to the farm."

NOTE: Soon I will try adding the FOLLOWERS gadget back in. Some readers have asked what happened to it. I am going to put it way down on the sidebar.

Ifyou get the "OPERATION ABORTED" please let me know at