Busy, busy, busy!

Since our younger daughter is graduating from high school soon, we’ve been busy winding things down. Add a friend’s son’s wedding and we are going to be running around a bit, but it should be a gorgeous wedding, weather included! Graduation evening, however, isn’t looking so good, which means the ceremony will be moved indoors, the class divided in half for two ceremonies (our daughter, as a top-ten student, has to attend both), and space will be limited. We’re praying the rain holds off!

Between the various ceremonies, my daughter also had an scholarship interview. While she was at it, I went to a favorite place of mine called Calhoun Pickers. It’s a huge warehouse full of partitioned booths that different people rent to sell…stuff. Some of it is really cool, some of it is probably rare, some of it is definitely old, and some of it is just pure junk. For example, one time I went, someone was selling a large empty pickle jar. Seriously. Nothing special about that thing. I wonder, though, if anyone bought it; you know what they say about one person’s junk being another one’s treasure or something like that.

Anyway, while my daughter was at her interview, I went the few blocks to the Pickers place and browsed. Many things caught my eye and I snapped a few pictures of some of them. Before I knew it, her interview was over and I had to go pick her up. I will post them at a later time, but for now, I will leave you with this one.

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See you later, alligator!

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Life with Jules, Season 24, Episode ??

So I decided to wash our pillows, this afternoon. I put 2 of them in the front-loader washing machine and after the cycle was done, went to get them out to put in the dryer. Mine was pretty wet, but my Southern Man’s was…soaked! I could wring it out, there was so much water!

So I put them both back in on just a drain and spin cycle which, in spite of supposedly being just “drain and spin”, also puts a little water in there. Why? I don’t know. After it was done, I went to get them out and my pillow was better, but his was still SOAKED! I could wring it out, there was so much water!

So I put mine in the dryer and his on a second “drain and spin” with a little water cycle. After it was done, I went to get it out…but his was STILL SOAKED!!! I could wring it out, there was so much water! This after THREE spin cycles, if you include the original one.

So I grabbed the huge stainless steel bowl I got from my grandmother that I use for things like washing gallons of strawberries, tossing popcorn, and carrying dripping-wet pillows in, and went out the back door to wring it out as best I could, so I could then put it in the dryer. Unfortunately, it was very bulky and awkward to wring out, plus the case material was obviously partially waterproof because it was NOT cooperating in letting the water out.

So I decided to let it air-dry on top of our clothes drying rack. Since I had no shoes on and our landlord had removed the gutters, which had been full of soggy dirt, decaying leaves and probably lots of bugs, I hadn’t swept, yet, and I was barefoot, I figured it was close enough to the deck that I could just gently toss it onto the top of the lines and leave it to dry, overnight.

So I gently tossed it onto the top of the clotheslines, which apparently had more slack than I was aware and the pillow snuck through the lines and fell onto the dirty, grassy area underneath the clothesline.

So after maybe saying a few not-so-nice words, I went inside, put on my shoes, went back outside, picked up the soaked, freshly-laundered, dirty pillow and placed it gently on top of the clothes drying rack. It’s still there.

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All by its lonesome. In the dark. Soaked. It looks so pitiful, I almost feel guilty.
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Meanwhile, back inside, I found an old spare pillow and, unbeknownst to himself, my Southern Man is using that until I can buy him a new one. Mischievous person that I am (you may decide on a different adjective), I did not tell him about the pillow mishap. I want to see if he notices. If I tell him, he will notice, even if it’s not noticeable. If he comments or seems uncomfortable, I will confess. Maybe. If he doesn’t, I will say nothing and we’ll see if he still reads my blog posts.

Stay tuned for the next episode. Always an adventure with me, no matter how trifling.:)

Addendum: He’s already in bed and I asked if he was comfy. He said he was. So all is well until he gets a new pillow. Or reads this….

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And so it begins…the end….

This evening I will be attending the first of several events leading up to our daughter’s graduation, in this case, an awards ceremony. As I was driving to pick her up from school, today, I remembered that she only has nine days of actual school left. I was thinking I should say to her, “Only NINE days left!” when she got in the car. Then my mind went to her going to college and my vivid imagination showed a lovely scene of leaving her there at the dorm and driving off and, yes, the tears kicked in. Boy, am I in trouble when that day finally arrives!

It was hard when our son went to college, too, but it’s different with our daughter. First, she’s a girl and I just think that’s harder, especially with all the scary things out there in the world that one sees and reads about. Second, she’s the last one! No more kids in the house. Plus, she’s my buddy. Yes, I’m a Mom, first, and sometimes things are not always pleasant when I’m being “the MOM” or as my daughter will address me when she’s annoyed, “MOTHER” (to which I often reply, “DAUGHTER”), but we’re also pretty close. She even wrote a college essay about me being the most influential person in her life and told me that through all of our moves and different schools, I have always been the constant and am her best friend. Wow. Yes, I cried at these things, too. Not bawling, just tears, you know. Probably hormonally-driven or so I like to say. Perhaps not.

Anyway, I knew this year was going to be a challenging one with many changes that we knew were coming (and a couple that we didn’t), and I knew I was going to have a harder time than I’d like to admit, tears and all, but I wasn’t expecting it to start so soon! Maybe by the time we drop her off at her college dorm in August, I will have met my “tear quota” and there won’t be any left. Hmmm…it doesn’t work that way, does it?

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Lipoma surgery follow-up

Today, I went back to see my surgeon, Dr. L, for a follow-up appointment relating to a surgery I had almost two weeks ago to remove a lipoma, a usually-benign, fatty tumor. Thankfully, mine also were benign. I say “were” rather than “was” because there turned out to be two of them. I asked Dr.L about the lipomas he removed from my lower back and he described the shape and size of the first one, then told me how in the lower back there’s the skin, then a layer of (subcutaneous) fat, then a thick layer of (thoracolumbar) fascia, then the muscle. I already knew all this because I’ve got an educational background in human anatomy and physiology, however, I just sit there and listen when medical people tell me these things. Sometimes, through the course of the conversation, they figure it out and have even asked me about my background. Anyway, the first lipoma was between the fascia and the muscle. Then–surprise!–there was a second, smaller one that was actually IN the muscle of the lower back, itself. I asked him if my case was typical and he said, “No.” Figures. There are already a few things about me that aren’t “typical”, so I wasn’t really surprised to hear of one more thing.

I’ll be curious to see how my lower back feels in terms of tightness and soreness once all the swelling goes down. I asked him how long that will take and he told me 2-3 months. Wow, I wasn’t expecting months, but the fluid takes a while to be absorbed by the body, apparently. Plus, I suppose with the infiltration of the muscle, it was a little bit messier than it would have been, otherwise. Regardless, all looks good, according to Dr. L, and continued happy healing to me. Meanwhile, I think I have another lipoma in my thigh. Right now, it’s only about the size of a pea and is not noticeable. Hopefully, it will stay that way, otherwise I may be seeing Dr. L again, in a few years.

I feel very fortunate, though, for many reasons. As I wrote in an earlier post on aging, my health concerns are relatively minimal for a middle-aged woman. I can’t believe that’s what I am. When did that happen? Anyway, after some of the stories I was told about lipomas, how common they are in the middle-aged, and how some people are covered with them (I looked up pictures on the interweb–it can be very deforming), I am happy that I only had this one big lump to be removed versus what some people go through, sometimes repeatedly, and am also thankful it was benign. Because of where the second one was located, I will have to put off doing dead-lifts in my weight-training routine and probably go easy on the stretching of my lower back for a little while. However, I will start walking again, and doing my other weight-training exercises. I haven’t worked out since before the surgery, but have tweaked my diet because of my cholesterol levels, and according to that horrible doctor’s scale, have lost about 6 pounds, already! That was a nice piece of good news!

From what I’ve been told and have seen, it’s a fairly downhill trip, this aging thing. However, I’m a fighter and while I plan to age somewhat gracefully, I’m going to try to keep this body and my health in the best shape I can and hopefully avoid some of the problems–and medications–that aging brings with it. I see so many people my age and even younger that have so many health issues, whether because of genetics, their health habits, or just some horrible disease. It really makes you take notice of mortality, whether your own or just in general, when you see all the illness and death that goes on. All we can do is try to take care of ourselves, help others do the same, and pray and hope for the best health and life possible.

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Newton

When you read the name “Newton”, you probably think of Sir Isaac Newton and the laws of physics he formulated that we have all learned either in school, perhaps unwillingly, or in life, unknowingly. My favorite demonstration of his 3rd law is below:

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Garfield was one of my favorite cartoon characters; I have a stuffed Garfield that I bought from a little shop in western Massachusetts back in the late 1980s, when I was in college. I saw him and thought it was hilarious. If you know Garfield, you’ll understand the pasta bowl.

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He’s in pretty good shape for an old tomcat! My other favorite cartoons, Looney Tunes and Calvin and Hobbes, also had many demonstrations of the laws of physics, as well as of breaking of the laws of physics. Anyway, the Newton I am about to discuss is not Sir Isaac.

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It’s Fig Newtons, one of my favorite cookies since childhood. I loved them so much, that I even gave them up for Lent one year when I was a kid. At the end of Lent and as a reward, I was given a box of them by my Sunday school class teacher. I was so happy!  I brought them home and put them in the kitchen cupboard. However, as it turned out, I did not get even one. Not. One. Nope, I didn’t. You wanna know why? It’s called “older brother”. Yeah. He ate them all. ALL. Jerk. That’s how I felt at the time, anyway. I got over it; it was about 40  years ago, after all.

Since those days, Fig Newtons, which were named after the town of Newton, Massachusetts (click on the Fig Newton box for more info), have dropped the fig and now are just called Newtons, because they added a bunch of different fruit flavors to their line-up. I’m old-school and like the original fig ones, myself. Not that I ever get them, much. Maybe once every few years, when they go on sale and toDAY was that day!

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As you can see, the packaging has changed quite a bit, including the “easy peel” tab that I didn’t notice until after I’d ripped open the end so I could eat a couple of these cute, little mini-pastries. (Easy-open anything is pretty much wasted on me.)

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Don’t they look yummy? I love fig filled cookies and pastries. Just figs, in general, I guess. Perhaps it has to do with my Armenian ancestry, since the fig is entwined with our history. Maybe one of these days, I will get my hands on some Alabama-grown figs and be able to make some goodies with them. In the meantime, I will just buy my occasional pastry or box of newtons, knowing that I don’t have to worry about my brother stealing them all since he lives all the way up in New England.😉

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Even more on aging.

I finally had a physical after…several years. You know how it is; you think you’re in great health, minus a few aches, pains, or whatever, until you go to the doctor and they discover all kinds of stuff wrong with you. I have to say, however, that I am blessed with pretty good health, all things considered. I joke that I’ve got great genes, but that’s not necessarily the case. Granted, most of my family have lived to decent old ages, especially my grandmothers. When the nurse asks you for your health history and there’s not much to report, it feels good. I almost felt a little smug. Almost, because I knew what was coming…family history. Any smugness I might have felt a twinge of immediately disappeared and was replaced with mild chagrin. High cholesterol? Yes. Heart disease?  Yes. High blood pressure? Yes. Diabetes? Yes. Cancer? Yes. Did I miss any? I lost track.

So far, the only thing that has affected me is the high cholesterol gene, because my cholesterol has always been borderline with not very optimal lipid levels. My triglycerides were pretty high, so I have to go back in a few months to get tested, again. Since I wasn’t fasting, though, I’m not overly concerned. I’ll just tweak my diet, continue my quest to lose weight, and fast before the next appointment.

Oh, yeah, we also have a lipoma gene. A lipoma is a fatty tumor that is usually benign. Apparently, it runs in the family. I know of one (of my mmmany) cousins who had one removed. What I didn’t know, and apparently neither did they, was that both my parents also had them–quite a few of them. They never knew what they were and never thought to get them checked out or ask about them. Now that my Mom knows what they are, maybe she’ll have them looked into. Granted, they probably are not the size of the one in my back, but still. I’m surprised that in a society so obsessed with lumps (but unable to deal with taking their lumps–but that’s for another day and Facebook rants), my parents weren’t concerned.

I wasn’t really, either, until it got to be big enough to start bothering me. So I had it checked out and had them (there were two, turns out) removed. Thankfully, they were benign. The same day I got the benign news, I got another call that I had to have another mammogram to more closely check out a cluster of calcifications. That was not a welcome phone call. Today I had it done and after the technician took the results to the radiologist to read, they both returned within a couple minutes. He introduced himself, hand extended, and as we grasped hands, in the same breath as his name, he said, “You’re okay.”

Whew!! What a sense of relief I felt, as the apprehension and stress disappeared. I’ve never had this particular medical experience, but always had the “C-word” fear in the back of my mind, even though breast cancer doesn’t run rampant in our family like it does in other people’s; there are only two cases I know of and both my aunts survived and are in their seventies. As far as other cancers, pancreatic cancer is an issue, as is the pancreas, in general, it seems. Time will tell with me on that one. I am definitely at high risk of diabetes, especially since I had gestational diabetes with both pregnancies. Once again, diet and exercise are the key to keeping that in check.

My health concerns are very minimal, especially compared to many people I know; I really have nothing major to complain about and much for which to be grateful–and I am, believe me. Granted, I like to poke fun at myself and what aging issues I am discovering as time passes. Today, however, was an eye-opener for me. Even though the odds were in my favour that cancer would not be the diagnosis, even though I have strong faith in God and His divine will, and even though the few people I told offered encouraging words, when I got that phone call telling me to come back for more testing, I was stressed and a bit fearful. It’s a scary thing, just being presented with the possibility, no matter how minuscule it may be, that you may have a disease that seems to be everywhere we look, whether in the news or amongst people we know and love. And it does seem to be so prevalent, whether it’s breast cancer or some other cancer.

Watching the people we love suffer with cancer–in my life, my father was lost to pancreatic cancer after only a few months, and another friend died after battling breast cancer for almost two years–is exceedingly difficult. Trying to understand what the person whose body is battling the cancer or any serious, potentially fatal disease, and whose heart and soul are also embattled, is probably impossible. All those of us on the sidelines can do, as helpless as we feel, is love them, care for them, be there for them, offer encouragement, and pray that they will win the war and live on with us as long as possible.

Cancer is not a huge issue on my side of the family, but there are several on my Southern Man’s side of the family who have it or are now fighting it. We also have had several friends ranging in age from 5 to 65 that have had it. While it’s hard seeing anyone you love get that disease, the youngest ones, whether it’s a child or a parent with younger children, are some of the most heart-breaking to see get diagnosed and do battle, in my mind. Hopefully, there will soon come a day, when the breakthrough cancer cures we’ve been hearing about and hoping for will finally be figured out. In the meantime, if you or a loved one has cancer or any potentially terminal disease, my heart and prayers are with you.

Words seem so insignificant in this case, don’t they….

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Dash Away

My daughter often gets annoyed when she’s with me and I stop to take pictures of random things. I must admit, though, I’ve never taken a picture of a plunger head and a piece of broken tile in an aisle in Wally World. But there is a story behind the picture…well, before it, actually.

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A minute or so earlier, we had passed a somewhat frazzled mom with a couple kids, a boy and a girl. The boy caught our attention because as he was passing a display, he had apparently pressed a plunger he was carrying up against a sign, creating some impressive suction. When he removed the plunger and it made that suction-releasing sound, he laughed a laugh that could only be described as all-boy. It was rather mischievous-sounding, too; impish. It reminded me of the laugh that little boys will do when they either discover something cool that they didn’t expect to happen or are proud that it did. It also sparked a memory of another little boy with that perfect laugh as I’ve described: Dash from the movie “The Incredibles”. I found the clip of that laugh–hopefully, it won’t get blacked out by the powers-that-be:

THAT is the perfect, impish this-is-SO-cool boy laugh, is it not?

My daughter and I were still laughing about the boy with the plunger, when we turned into an aisle to grab some trash bags and that’s when we saw a plunger head on the floor with a piece of broken tile that SOME little boy had obviously had the surprised pleasure of suctioning up. That must’ve been one heavy-duty plunger! I can only imagine the awe of the boy at his unexpected and amazing feat and the dismayed reaction of the mom . I think anyone that has been around children, especially boys, knows that feeling of dismay.

My daughter and I had already been laughing, but when we saw this little scene, we were even more amused. And I had to take a picture and write a blog post. After all, it’s these little, unexpected things in life that can make it more interesting and, at times, amusing, don’t you think? Unless, of course, it is your own child that does stuff, then it’s only amusing in retrospect or if you can separate yourself from parenthood and get a different perspective. I think we’ve all been there, too, hanging up the stern parent hat and remembering what it’s like to be an innocent, mischievous child full of wonder at the simplest things, at least I know I have. There were times when I just couldn’t help it because the situation was so humorous, that I couldn’t keep a straight face or hadn’t turned around quickly enough to hide my amusement.

We should all try to keep that childlike wonder in our hearts and the sense of humor to find the lighthearted side of life. I’m sure that mom has it…but when we saw her, I think she was too busy trying to dash out of the store with her own little Dash before he destroyed something else.:)

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