Thursday, September 29, 2011

Morbid Meanderings

Death comes for us all
even at our birth — even at our birth,
death does but stand aside a little.
               ~ Robert Bolt, Sir Thomas More, Act II
Sometimes Often, I think about my impending death. No, I'm not ill (well, not in any kind of terminal way), but death is an inevitability, so it's always at the back of my mind.


It may be a slightly OCD thing.

When I had young children, completely dependent on me, I would sometimes obsess over what might happen to them if I suddenly collapsed, like Julia Roberts did in Steel Magnolias. The image of her wee toddler there wailing his little heart out traumatized me something awful.

I frequently contemplated making "in an emergency, please call" cards, just in case I died on the way to picking up a child from school. I never did that, but it was probably a manifestation of how burdened I felt by the responsibility of caring for my children.

Sometimes when I'm driving, I'll think, "What if I had a massive coronary right now? How would I manage to stop the car without killing anyone?"

And whenever I sign a document with a date on it, I fret if I accidentally put a future date on it: what if I die before the actual date? Then there would be an impossible document: either the date or the signature would be fraudulent! (For some reason, this does not bother me when it comes to post-dated cheques.) [Haha! Cheques! Who writes cheques anymore?]

Yes, death is a constant companion, and not in the good "live each day as if it were your last" kind of way.

So it will come as no surprise to you that when I saw this ad, I clicked.

'Cuz who wouldn't want a casket made by Trappist monks?!
Sadly, it looks like they don't deliver to Canada. But it's given me a new death-related thing to obsess about. Yay?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Migraine Aura

The first time I had a migraine, a blank spot appeared in my field of vision, just off centre. Blinking didn't remove it. Closing one eye or the other made no difference. I was trying to read and, no matter where I looked, there was a gaping hole. And it grew.

It dawned on me that my sister, Pat, had mentioned having a migraine while trying to write an exam: she couldn't read because of a blind spot, and her head was pounding.

With subsequent migraines I've also experienced aphasia, where there is a curious and frustrating disconnect between my brain and my mouth. (You may recall Serene Branson's on-air episode that had people worried that she was drunk or having a stroke.) I almost sound drunk, speaking slowly and purposefully with mixed-up words, while feeling like my lips have been pumped with Novocaine. Even more than the blind spot, the inability to communicate makes me panicky.

I've also experienced numbness and tingling running up my arm.

And of course, there's the pain. I am blessed in that, although I do get migraines, they rarely send me to a darkened room with a cloth over my brow. More often, I get the aura, without the crippling pain. (I have one friend who is completely incapacitated when a migraine strikes her. A padded cave with no light or sound would be her refuge at those times.)

All of these are alarming symptoms for anyone who has a familial history of stroke, as I do.

If I suffered the kind of pain my friend does, I doubt that I would have come to appreciate - enjoy, even - the visual disturbance that precedes my migraines. These are called auras, and are often experienced before migraines as well as before seizures.

For me, they include the "blind spot," but they also include a kind of kaleidoscopic play of lights at the edge of the spot.
This is one artist's depiction of an aura
The other night as I was reading in bed, I noticed the portentous blind spot. Knowing it was hopeless to continue reading, I closed my eyes and observed. As I watched the colours dancing, I wondered how I might show you what it's like.

Using my recently acquired Photoshop skills, I played with some images. This is what I came up with. You will likely have to click on the picture to reactivate the gif.

It still doesn't do it justice, because the curving arcs look blotchy and pasted-on, which is not how they appear when I experience them. To me, they actually look like jagged tears in a canvas with an ever-changing rainbow lit up behind. The colours dance.

The other thing that is different is that, with an aura, you really can't look right at it - or I can't anyway. It stays off to the periphery of my field of vision, no matter where I look.

I had never timed one of these aura progressions before the other night. I always thought they lasted at least half an hour, but this one was done in a mere five minutes, much to my surprise.

Have you ever experienced an aura? What was yours like?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Changing Things Up

Photo by Cathy Walters in Colorado Springs
I've heard that the secret to a long, sexually satisfying marriage is to change things up every now and then.

So last week, I warned Steve that come Saturday we were going to try something new. He didn't really take me seriously.

I know he didn't because on Saturday morning, when I said, "So tonight we make the switch," he said, "You're serious!"

Yes. Yes, I was. It was time to switch which sides of the bed we sleep on.

You see, for almost three decades, we've been in a rut, and it probably could have gone on indefinitely, but Steve suffered an injury while working on our back yard last fall: he wrecked his left shoulder. That was a year ago, and he still has pain, even after massage therapy, anti-inflammatory meds, and exercises.

As a result, he has only been able to spoon me for short periods of time before his shoulder starts hurting.

I don't know about you, but for me, spooning is one of the single greatest benefits of marriage. Even back when the kids were little and I felt "touched out" by the end of the day, I still looked forward to that comforting snuggle.

Even when summer heat and medication-induced sweatiness made me want to sprawl under a lawn sprinkler, I still craved my snuggles, and lots of them. So this year-long deprivation has really bothered me. Several times I had joked that we should switch sides of the bed so Steve could lie on his right side, but we never did it.

"What! Change?" Steve would jokingly retort, "That's the kind of crazy talk that leads to revolutions!" And then he would claim that his shoulder was feeling surprisingly better, but it never lasted.

So last night was our first night under the new order. I moved my things from my bedside table to the one on the "wrong" side. Swapped pillows.

Totally, totally weird. We'll try this for a while, but I don't know ...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Family-Friendly Fart Chart

UPDATE: see picture at bottom. 

By way of introduction to today's topic, please view the following. If you find this offensive, please move along; there is nothing more for you to see here.

Is that not masterful? At first, both Will Farrell and Charles C. Reilly had such straight faces that I couldn't tell which one was the culprit.

And now, another one for reference. (We will be using these two examples for testing our rating system.) Wait for it ... wait for it ...

On to our discussion.

The other night as I drifted off to sleep, one of the two of us in our bed passed wind. I won't say which. The other party, however, was still wide awake enough to mutter, "Good one," the generally accepted acknowledgement of a satisfactory exercise in flatulence.

But it occurred to me that, really, we ought to be more discriminating about breaking wind. I, therefore, have constructed a Family-Friendly Fart Chart for your use and enjoyment. It will be useful in settling arguments in competitive families where farting is considered a skill.

There are, I feel, four factors we can observe in rating farts.
  • Volume of air
  • Stench
  • Auditory properties
  • Visuals
In rating farts, I think we have to agree that, in this case, worse is better. If we wanted greater discretion, we would be the Queen and farts would not exist.

Volume can only be observed, except by the farter, by duration. Though as an experienced producer of gastrointestinal gases, I do wish there were a way we could better evaluate – and score – large-volume-short-duration bursts.
Description     Score
Small poof, like the baby's powder-fart1
Less than or equal to 1-second duration2
Up to 5 seconds duration3
Epic duration, like Charles C Reilly's fart4
In this case, worse is better.
Description     Score
Odourless (I was tempted to give this 0 points, but is any fart really ever worth 0 points?)1
Pungent, like Charles C Reilly's fart, stimulating olfactory senses like taste.3
Epic, room-clearing. The kind that you smell within microseconds after delivery and raises suspicions that there are dead animals in your intestines. 4
Description     Score
Silent (Note that Silent but Deadlies earn extra points in the Stench category.)1
Quiet flutter of cheeks 2
Squeaky (Charles C. Reilly loses points on this score)3
Long, low rumble that reverberates melodically 4
Liquid elements (Sadly, Charles C. Reilly loses points on this score also.) Liquid sound effects are only permissible if the farter can demonstrate extenuating conditions such as being in a bath tub or wearing a wet bathing suit. Sharts are NOT considered a bonus.-1
Here, one earns points for either stealth or other special effects.
Description     Score
Grimace  1
Stolid facial expression. Charles C. Reilly totally nailed this one.2
Visible evidence, like the baby's powder fart or flaming farts. BUT NOT fecal matter! (See above.)3
Cuteness (puppies, kittehs or babies) Hey, it's my chart, so I get to make the rules!4

So, after all that, who wins? The baby or Charles C. Reilly?

Charles C. Reilly's Score
Factor     Score
Auditory2 (He loses 1 point for audible liquid at the end.)

Baby's Score
Factor     Score
Visual7 (bonus points for baby AND powder)
So there you have it: it really was a close call, which is why we NEED a system like this. Feel free to share it broadly. Eventually, we may be able to call out "12 with bonus points for visuals" when someone lets loose a good one.

Disclaimer: Very few people have ever called me "classy," so I don't think I've disillusioned anyone. But if I have, I apologize. Now you know the real me. 

UPDATE: I had to include this, by the ineffable Natalie Dee.
You see why I had to include it, right?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Is that a bear?

Source: True Wild Life
When my sister was young, she had a nightmare: a bear was stalking her, and she could hear it growling. Loudly, the way wild animals do, with that low rumble that you can feel in your spine. She awoke in a panic, then gradually realized that she COULD STILL HEAR THE BEAR! It was in the house!

A few more moments later, and a little wider awake, she realized that there was no bear. It was our dad, snoring.

My dad's snoring was ... "loud" doesn't do it justice. "Apocalyptic" is the word that comes to mind, though it didn't really presage the end of the world. Let's just say it was memorable. Also inescapable anywhere in the house.

Even worse, to me anyway, his snoring would stop abruptly for long seconds at a time — an indicator of sleep apnea. I remember lying awake, waiting for him to breathe again. For me, his snoring became a comfort: I knew my daddy was there. I knew he was breathing and alive.

But no one will be surprised to learn that our mother spent many years sleeping on our couch, despite the fact that she had a bad back. She had a choice: comfort for her back OR sleep.

I recently read an article that said,
In fact, 23 percent of married couples sleep alone, according to a 2005 survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, an increase from 12 percent of American couples in 2001. The National Association of Home Builders, which has reported requests for duel-master bedroom houses on the rise since the early 90s, predicts in the next five years 60 percent of new, upper-middle-class homes will use the double master bedroom plan.
Once there were enough extra beds in the house, my parents did take up separate rooms. I scorned them for what I perceived as a failure of intimacy. [In their case, I do think it was that, as well as the whole snoring problem.] This, of course, was long before the days of sleep studies and the awareness that snoring and sleep apnea were serious medical concerns that could worsen heart disease.

Steve snores. I don't ever remember him not snoring. Yes, loudly. And I can honestly say it hasn't really bothered me. Sometimes I nudge him to roll over, but most of the time, I just relax and am glad he's there and breathing. You know, alive and everything. I do hold my breath if he actually stops breathing (most snorers do), but those are rare and for very, very brief periods.

I also snore. It bothers Steve, worse some nights than others. In fact, it seems to depend more on how well he is sleeping in general than with my actual snoring. He has spent a few nights sleeping on the guest bed, however.

I also have apnea episodes that have actually woken me up. It's not a pleasant thing. I have a CPAP machine which, as well as stopping the apnea episodes and helping me live longer (yay!) stops the snoring. But ...
(I flipped the picture, so it looks more normal to you.)

I agree: it's hard to say which is worse for your marriage: separate beds or CPAP "snorkels."

Also, you can't open your mouth while these things are hooked up or they just blow air through your nose and out your mouth. It feels as weird as it sounds. And when you wake up? You have little indentations on your forehead that remain visible for at least an hour. I hate the thing. Seriously. I haven't worn it in months. Fortunately, Steve's been exhausted enough that he's sleeping soundly despite my snoring.

Getting old kinda sucks.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Welcome, Fall

Well, it just didn't seem right, having bright, summery colours on my front porch, now that the weather has changed. So while I was at Winners on Sunday, I picked up some fall decorations.
A more autumnal look, but not too kitschy, I think.
Fortunately, the chairs and table still work, I think. (Not sure how they'll look come winter.) Here's what I added.
Three funky pumpkins, including one in brushed aluminum.
A lantern with a battery-operated candle with a timer.
And a dramatic wreath for the door. (The lights are battery-powered.)

And in case you're wondering, the picture in the banner at the top of my blog was on my camera's memory card, but no one remembers taking it. I think it's kind of cool, so I'm using it for a while.

Also, my camera with the "hot pixel" was determined to have a "hot cluster" of pixels. It is on its way to Japan. I will be using my old camera for the next couple of months. Sigh.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A new name game

Could this be Ipetrya?
Source: PartyPM
(I won't link to their site because it's quite NSFW.)
You already know I have a fascination with names, partly because my own name is so unusual. And you know I have a lot of fun with words.

I just finished reading the Hunger Games trilogy, and wondered how the author came up with the characters' names. I know the old [middle name] + [street name from your youth] trick, but for sci-fi or any fantasy genre, that doesn't always work.

And then I had a night of insomnia. As I lay there not sleeping, I played around with things you could do to a "normal" North American name that would make it sound out-of-this-world. Here's what I came up with.

STEP 1: Syllable Swap
If your name has two or more syllables take any of the later syllables and move it to the front. If you have a one-syllable name, proceed to Step 2.

Wynn Anne => Anne Wynn
Katharine => Akathrine
Emily => Ilemy
Peter => Terpe
Brian => Anbri

Not bad so far, though my own is pretty boring.

STEP 2: Consonant Substitution

Take the first consonant and substitute it with the one three further in the alphabet. So W becomes Z, C becomes G, and so on. If your first consonant is part of a consonant blend, substitute any different consonant blend. So, ST could be CH, for example.

Wynn Anne => Anne Wynn
            => Arne Wynn
Katharine => Akathrine
            => Anathrine
Emily => Ilemy
            => Ipemy
Peter => Terpe
            => Xerpe
Brian => Anbri
            => Arbri
Steve => Cheve
Joe => Moe

Looking better. Some of the names are already completely unrecognizable.

STEP 3: Add a Vowel
Any vowel, anywhere.

Wynn Anne => Anne Wynn
            => Arne Wynn
            => Arine Wynn
Katharine => Akathrine
            => Anathrine
            => Anathrione
Emily => Ilemy
            => Ipemy
            => Ipemya
Peter => Terpe
            => Xerpe
            => Xeripe
Brian => Anbri
            => Arbri
            => Arbriu
Steve => Cheve
            => Chaeve
Joe => Moe
            => Moye

STEP 4: More Consonant Fun
Using one of the following, either swap out a consonant or add to the end.

G, K, L, M, CH, TR

Wynn Anne => Anne Wynn
            => Arne Wynn
            => Arine Wynn
            => Arine Wyng
Katharine => Akathrine
            => Anathrine
            => Anathrione
            => Anathrioche
Emily => Ilemy
            => Ipemy
            => Ipemya
            => Ipetrya
Peter => Terpe
            => Xerpe
            => Xeripe
            => Xeripem
Brian => Anbri
            => Arbri
            => Arbriu
            => Arbriuk
Steve => Cheve
            => Chaeve
            => Chaele
Joe => Moe
            => Moye
            => Moyeg

STEP 5: Add an Evil Syllable

To help your readers identify a bad guy, add one of these two to the end of the name:

OL or SK

Wynn Anne => Anne Wynn
            => Arne Wynn
            => Arine Wynn
            => ArineWyng
            => Arine Wyngol
Katharine => Akathrine
            => Anathrine
            => Anathrione
            => Anathrioche
            => Anathriochesk [hm. we may have gone too far on this one.]
Emily => Ilemy
            => Ipemy
            => Ipemya
            => Ipetrya
            => Ipetryask
Peter => Terpe
            => Xerpe
            => Xeripe
            => Xeripem
            => Xeripemol [this sounds like an enzyme or something. Should I suggest it to Pfizer?]
Brian => Anbri
            => Arbri
            => Arbriu
            => Arbriuk
            => Arbriuksk
Steve => Cheve
            => Chaeve
            => Chaele
            => Chaeleol
Joe => Moe
            => Moye
            => Moyeg
            => Moyegol

Yes, I had a really, really hard time falling asleep that night.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Peter's in stitches.

YesterdayToday, Peter fell and gashed his knee, requiring three stitches. There's more to the story.

There I was, enjoying my Saturday-afternoon nap, when the phone rang. Assuming it was a telemarketer, I let Brian answer it, but it was Peter, and he sounded distraught, like he couldn't quite get his breath.

"I need you to come and get me," he got right to the point. No niceties like, "Hi Mom."

"Where are you?" I asked.

"On the Mackenzie King bridge," he answered in a very tight, barely-holding-it-together voice. (Mackenzie King is where the main buses cross through downtown.)

"What's wrong?"

"Well," he stammered a little, "I've hurt myself and the bus drivers won't let me on the bus because I'm bleeding too much." Words to make a mother's heart sing.

"Okay, Peter, I'll be there in about 20 minutes," I assured him, then I hustled to go get him. I desperately wanted more information, but I knew that now was not the time.

Peter has Asperger syndrome. I hate saying that whenever I talk about him or write about him, but it gives important context. Peter's biggest challenges are social. It's really hard to describe, and it's not just that he's geeky. (Or nerdy; I know one is supposed to be an insult and one a compliment. I don't know which is which, so please assume I mean the kind one.)

Peter works part-time cleaning the inner-city parks of alcohol, drug and prostitution paraphernalia. It is really one of the few bottom-rung jobs he could get because he is ill-suited to anything in the service industry, like checkout clerk or McDonald's prep.

He takes his job seriously, works diligently, and is proud of the contribution this makes to our community. We're proud of him, too. However, in the course of this work, he has come across the unsavory underbelly of our society: the disenfranchised, the addicted, the psychotic.

These are not happy people, not stable. Peter is justifiably afraid of them. At one point, he considered carrying a can of mace (illegal) or a knife (stupid). In the end, he decided to work within the justice system and has chosen to study forensic science.

So when he called and said he had hurt himself, I imagined that one of the homeless people had hurt him. Steve imagined that Peter had cut himself on a crack pipe or a needle.

I pictured him walking from wherever this had happened to the bus stop.

I pictured him bleeding so profusely that a bus driver rejected him. I was angry at that driver. I was angry that no one helped him.

I pictured him shuffling along. One of the interesting features of Asperger syndrome is lack of coordination; in fact, it was this that first brought him into physiotherapy and occupational therapy, which eventually led to his diagnosis.

I imagined him looking somewhat like a homeless person himself, with unkempt beard and scruffy hair, with his bags of equipment for his job slung loosely about his body. I imagined people being afraid of him.

Finally, I got to him. There were two security guards with him who flagged me over to where Peter was. His jeans were ripped at the knee and sopped in blood all around the knee, which was wrapped in a grey cloth.

The security guards told me, indicating a young man nearby, that Ahab had helped him, had given his own T-shirt to Peter to stanch the bleeding which gushed every time he bent his knee. My anger dissipated with relief.

As we drove to the hospital, Peter told me what had happened: there was no violence. He was late for work, so was running. As he tried to dodge the crowds, he decided to hop over a fire hydrant. (Hey, it always works on TV!) He fell, landing on a pipe or piece of metal. It ripped his knee.

I wasn't happy that he was hurt, but I was glad that it was simply an accident.

But I prodded him on what he could have done rather than walking to the bus, who he could have called if he hadn't been able to reach me. In his state of anxiety, he had focused on getting home the usual way. It hadn't occurred to him to call for help until he was blocked. And THAT is what I mean by social challenge: most of us would immediately reach out if there were blood running down our leg.

At the hospital, things went as slowly as expected. Because Peter is 21 years old, I was told to wait for Peter in the outer waiting area. I paused, about to mention the Asperger syndrome, but then thought better of it. He was in good hands.

But I should have stayed. Turns out the doctor had mentioned that the gushing could be related to fluid from ruptured bursa in his knee. Peter never got a final answer on this (again, the social challenge) or, if it was ruptured, whether this is a big deal or not.

But we're home. He's got painkillers in his system, and he's in bed. We'll watch it, and if anything goes wrong, we'll follow up with a regular doctor.

Letting your kids, especially your "special needs" kids, become independent is fricking difficult. I wish I trusted the world more to care for him. I wish there were more people like Ahab.

You would never catch me...

Hello all! My name is Diane and I blog (occasionally) over at Diane, Diapers, and Drool about life in Georgia with my husband and now 14-month-old son, Drew. Wynn Anne, my aunt (and Drew's great-aunt) asked if I would like to contribute a guest post to her blog. I love reading her fun stories over here, so I jumped on the chance.
But what to write? I don't often plan topics for my blog. I just write whatever comes to mind (rather infrequently lately, unfortunately). My aunt offered up some thought-inspiring suggestions, so I settled on something fun and easy. But she gave me much fodder for some future posts over on my blog, too!
As a full-time working mom there are many things I do every day. Cooking, cleaning, sitting in traffic, wiping bottoms, all the usual. But here are 10 things you would never find me doing.
You would never catch me...
1. Eating eggplant. Can’t do it. I’m all for vegetables, and I love zucchini and squash, but I CAN’T handle the texture of eggplant. You’d think it would be similar enough to other squashes, but it is definitely not. Seriously, what is wrong with eggplant?

It LOOKS tasty!

2. Saying y’all. At first it was a stubbornness thing when I moved from Canada to Georgia. I didn’t like the ugly word. As time has passed I have accepted that it is actually a very useful word, but it just has not been adopted into my vocabulary.

3. Without a water bottle. Work. Church. Even just running errands. I don’t go anywhere without my water bottle. It started when I was pregnant and thirsty all the time. Then I was nursing and thirsty all the time. Now I’m just thirsty all the time.
I drink at least this much in a day
4. Eating a whole handful of Skittles. Nope. They must be sorted by color, saving the reds for last.
5. With one wet hand. Or one barefoot. Or tapping a rhythm on only one leg. Yes, this is an OCD thing. I can’t stand being uneven, especially with extreme tactile sensations like cold, hot, wet, sometimes even pain (I know. I should probably see someone.). Please don’t give me a high five unless you intend to do it twice, one on each hand.
6. Offering up hugs. It’s just not my thing (besides with my son, husband, and immediate family, of course).
Probably not.

7. In closed-toed shoes in the summer. I heart my flip flops and will wear them as long as I possibly can.
Pink, of course
8. Sunbathing. I burn too easily. Seriously. Add on top of that the fear of wrinkles and skin cancer and I pretty much avoid the sun at all costs. I’ve recently learned that a certain amount of sun can actually be good for you, but you still won’t find me laying out trying to get a tan. I don’t have the time or patience to deal with that. It’s hot. But you may find me playing outside with my son without suncreen. (Oh my!)
That's me on the far left.
As if you didn't already guess.
9. Walking around with an iPod. I get a lot of hate for this one, but in general I am just not a fan of music. I like music. I have loved on some Jimmy Buffet, Garth Brooks, Wicked and Rent soundtracks, and even some Jewel and Alanis Morissette back in the day. But, for the most part, I find music to be noisy. Even when working out music just doesn’t do it for me. Give me a book-on-tapeMP3 and I’ll be happy. But music? Meh…
10. Watching TV. Even before we cut cable to save money, I just didn’t watch it. Literally. Didn't turn it on once in an entire month. I’m not against TV. We used to “have shows” but we got so far behind in them (that’s what a TiVo will do) that we gave up. And at one point in time I had a Food Network addiction, but apparently I became addicted to the internet, and just forgot that TV existed.

Thanks for reading! Please come on over to my blog and say hello, y'all! ;)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ass Alert

So, I saw this today.
An ass. On a bike. I KNOW!
(I did this in PowerPoint. If I'd used PhotoShop,
I could've made his front legs [paws?] go onto the handlebars.)
Okay, okay, it wasn't an ACTUAL donkey, but it was behaving like one. Remember the delightful route I take to work each day?
The yellow line marks where the curb is.
Well. The road is fine and all, but it really is just wide enough for two North American drivers to navigate safely. There is no room for a bicycle. Instead, there are bicycle paths well away from the road. Safe.

Most cyclists use those paths, but some cyclists — usually wearing "real" bicycle gear with those fancy shirts and shorts — feel it is beneath their dignity to share a lane with other recreational (a.k.a. "slow") cyclists and old people with walkers. So they ride on the road.

Which leads to traffic congestion as cars merge into the left lane to get by the cyclist. And ranting from people like me.

Please note that:
a) I am really pro-bicyclists. I yield when appropriate, watch for them when I'm turning or opening my car door. I'm glad that Ottawa supports them.
b) Can't remember my second point.

Even Steve, who has started biking to work, uses the bike paths. His comment is, "Yes, the paths are longer than taking the road, but what is the point of biking in anyway? Isn't it for the health benefits?" And, frankly, if they knew much about my driving, they would be well advised to give me more room.

Dung beetles.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Every now and then I check out the statistics for this here blog, out of idle curiosity. I only have 10 followers (Yay! I'm into the double digits!), so it's not like I expect to find that I suddenly have thousands of visitors or anything.

I shared a previous review with you, where I marvelled at the number of visits I get from Russia. Well, they're still coming, though not in the droves they once were.

What I found most interesting in this review was the key words people used in searches that led them to my blog.

spiders in colorado
colorado spiders
writer spider
nasty spider
spiders of ontario
yard spiders
dinner plate spider
nj spiders

What is it with me and spiders? Seriously! I mean, my own blog URL ranked lower on the list than spiders. A total of 66 people came to my blog after searching for the first two combinations on that list.

I can only hope that all those searchers eventually found Kimberly Hosey's blog "Arizona Writer" where she shares her singular experience with black widow spiders. Here's a sneak preview;
Kimberly's self-portrait.
Remind me never to move to Arizona.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Dinner at the River's Edge

I forgot my camera, so this is the only picture I got of the evening.
It's Heather, with her friend Alison in the background.
Last weekend, Steve and I enjoyed an absolutely exquisite gourmet meal with our dear friend Heather and her boyfriend Paul, and another couple. It was an hours-long, al fresco repast beginning with hard-to-find cheeses, artisan breads, and dry, sparkling wine, followed by some amazing salads, tandoori chicken, and barbecued corncobs, and ending with a sachertorte and the best dessert wine I've ever tasted.

(Diet be damned, is what I say.)

A day or so later, I noticed that my legs were itchy. Itchy as all-get-out.
Legs covered with itchy, red spots. 
Meh. Mosquitos.

But then a colleague at work asked, "Are you sure it's not poison ivy? Cuz that's what I thought my poison ivy was at first."

He'd recently had a horrific case of poison ivy: huge, watery blisters covering both his legs, especially the backs of his calves. Even the soles of his feet! (He could hardly walk.)

Never, never, never suggest to a hypochondriac that she might have something more complicated than she has already acknowledged. I proceeded to fret and worry - texting Heather to ask if anyone else who'd visited her had "a rash."  They didn't, but Paul had been heartily bitten by mosquitoes. Clearly, Paul and I had provided the nasty bloodsuckers with dinner.

Anyway. I pulled out my trusty Caladryl. I couldn't remember the last time I'd used it.
Hm. That does not look right. Even after shaking.
So I turned the bottle over.
That explains a lot.
So I reached for this.
Which worked for about an hour at a time.
Finally, I became desperate. I was confident that this was not poison ivy, so I rubbed my legs with a rough cloth. Oh, sweet.

But it didn't last long enough, and had really only whet my appetite for MORE SCRATCHING!
Serious scratching.
Would you look at those bristles?
It's like a thousand tiny scratchers.
(I did wash the brush, but I could not get rid of all of the hairs.)
Here's the trick: you don't actually have to brush your bites (though that provides near-orgasmic pleasure). You can simply press the bristles against your skin and roll the brush the length of your limb. The irritated nerves get the response they need and the itching abates.

It's probably a very good thing that this did not turn out to be poison ivy. I don't know what I would have done if I really had not been allowed to scratch.

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