Friday, January 28, 2011

Sweet Nothings

I've enjoyed reading Nora Ephron's book I Remember Nothing. Many of these essays were printed in other magazines, but some are new. They are funny because they invariably strike a nerve. She may be a decade older than I, but her thoughts and opinions ring true.

Take her stance on going to the movies, which I recently lamented when I wrote about True Grit: Nora - Instead of how romantic theaters used to be, we now go to horrible unadorned gray rectangles where the sound bleeds in from the gray rectangle right next door. It's sad. How true. She goes on to mention how most projectionists today are just teens and don't seem to know their stuff, as evidenced by the movies that end up out of focus and out of sync to the sound -- until finally somebody in the audience has to go out and track down an employee who looks at you blankly and you end up missing a chunk of the film regardless of whether or not it gets fixed.

Or this: things you once had that you are finally old enough to appreciate, you no longer have anymore - usually a casualty of a move or divorce -- when you leave behind all sorts of things you don't have the sense to know you'll someday wonder about or wish you had, (my biggest was an expensive office chair), or, worst of all, feel nostalgic for (a gorgeous watercolor I had before marriage). And Waterford.

And especially, this is my life: Running into someone who seems to know me -- maybe I don't catch the name because the party or whatever is loud. I decide to assume we have met before and not say 'Nice to meet you,' because invariably the person will say we've met in an aggrieved tone. So I say, 'Nice to see you,' with a big smile and hope against hope they'll throw out their name, which, of course, they never do. About that time Excy will wander up and I won't be able to introduce him and I give him my panicked secret look for help, which, of course, he never recognizes, and when he doesn't pick up on my secret plea for introduce yourself so this person will tell us their name (despite the fact he was coached in the car on the way to the function to be on the alert for such pitfalls), I'm stuck there like the boob I am. When the person finally realizes the mind-fart and archly gives their name -- glancing at me sideways as they do to register my discomfort -- I realize 10 minutes later I've forgotten it already.

Finally, she identifies a few symptoms of 'OLD AGE' all of which I realize -- aside from the physical -- even though 52 doesn't seem quite like old age to me...I guess I am on the slippery slope.

1) repeating a story (though I usually catch myself I can see the writing on the wall for this one). BORING.
2) walking into a room and suddenly realizing I have NO idea why I am there. Thirty seconds of standing shock-still usually is enough to resurrect the thought...
3) not getting the joke -- though I pretend to...
4) watching a movie and realizing I've seen it before -- yet it's as if I have never seen it, for the most part. Particularly irritating is when Excy quotes some line from it -- not some memorable one, either, like 'here's looking at you, kid,' 'frankly, m'dear, I don't give a damn,' or 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore' from the popular does he remember??
5) when a friend (or mom) quotes me -- and I have no memory of having said it.
6) aging out of People - who are these people? And why are there so many 'b' and 'c' grade celebrities? What are they famous for?
Like Ephron, I have not yet reached the nadir of OLD AGE, which she calls 'The Land of the Anecdote,' But I'm getting there. On a bullet train.

Good lord. The problem with remembering nothing when you don't have a medical excuse is that you know you remember nothing.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Stormy Weather

It was a winter wonderland out there, and so beautiful I was going to take a photo from bed -- of course, I didn't. The best laid plans...It was our second snow of the year. Now it's just COLD again.

Our studio cat, MC, rushed out the door to chase off the stray two Sundays ago and is still missing...In the cold, rain, and snow. Considering she's been an inside cat for 7 years, we are heart-broken. Plus, our neighbor reported two coyotes in his yard. Not cool. A friend (mentor of 'all things cat') suggested hanging an item of clothing outside to 'lure' her back via the scent.

Our next-door neighbor has hiking trails behind her house so I went tramping around trying to find cat tracks in the snow. They have a motion-detector camera near a deer-feeding station that I noticed when it 'clicked' -- if I had seen it earlier I would've given a big wave and smile!

After this MC incident, and Excy's hand bite, I am MORE than ready to find a home for this little stray. I talked to at least 10 people about the cat Sunday, but no takers. I know it's not the little guy's fault, but he's worn out his welcome. With everything we're dealing with, on top of this, I just cannot deal. I wish they'd stop seeking us out.

When I'm upset, I cook and bake. So far I've made coffee-braised beef brisket, roasted veggies, spaghetti and meatballs, roast chicken and mashed potatoes, chili and cornbread, quiche, citrus salad, apple crisp, and brownies. Tomorrow is chicken and dumplings. Yikes.

I need to turn my attention to my latest editing project and house cleaning (or Weight Watchers).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Low Tolerance

Tuesday was the last day to talk with the 2nd year medical students about vHL. In separate exam rooms, five other people with various afflictions and chronic diseases were giving their talks as well.

One of the participants was a women in her 60s with MS. I met her last year at this thing. She complained then that doing this was depressing to her because it emphasized just how ill she was, so I assumed she wouldn't be back, and was a bit surprised to see her. Considering she's had no surgery, is fully ambulatory, and you'd never know she had a physical impediment, she's certainly a negative person. And aside from asking why I was using a cane, she asked no questions and was remarkably uninterested in my or anyone else's illness or wellness journey (however you want to look at it).

She kept whining about how her doctor says to exercise, but even though she knows she's supposed to, she just can't anymore...I confess to tuning her out at a certain point. Finally after shooting down the other's - - all with ALS or Parkinson's, and far more physically compromised than she -- well-intended and thoughtful suggestions, I'd had enough.

"Use it or lose it," I replied, and said there was also lots I couldn't do anymore, including the yoga and floor exercises she kept harping on, but I could modify Pilates and exercises in a therapy pool, work with weights, and there were lots of adjustments one could make or trainers that could coach you, which was far more productive than focusing on what you've had to give up. I saw a few smirks on the faces of the group. She was silent. For about a minute.

Then she started on the fact she couldn't wear high heels anymore.

God in heaven.

This is a sore point with me. I used to LOVE high heels. Lord, when I modeled, I walked a few runways in 5-inch heels as gracefully as a cat.*

Do I miss it??

Hell yeah.

Did I bother to mention any of this?

Hell, No.

* Yes K-rowe, I was actually graceful on the runway!

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Must-See

Coin Firth winning a Golden Globe for his performance in 'The King's Speech' was no surprise. After seeing it with friends a few weeks ago, I told Excy that Firth was going to win an Oscar. And Geoffrey Rush will get the supporting Oscar. You heard it here first.

'The King's Speech' is a brilliant movie. I did a lot of looking up facts afterwards and was pleased to learn much of it was true. Those 'based on facts' type of movies can take liberties, so you never know.

King George VI ascended the throne in 1936 after his erstwhile brother Edward (played by Guy Pierce, always genius), abdicated in order to marry the Baltimore socialite Wallis Simpson (a three-time divorcee). The new King never wanted or expected to become King. He struggled since childhood with a severe speech impediment, and suddenly he's thrust into the world's stage on the eve of WWII.

The story centers upon his attempts to overcome his stutter with the help of an unconventional speech therapist and the support of his loving and no-nonsense wife -- who becomes 'the Queen Mum' when her daughter Elizabeth takes the crown after her dad's death in 1956. The King and his speech therapist, Lionel Logue, become fast friends for life. In recognition of his helping the King with all his major speeches and broadcasts, the King conferred upon him the Royal Victorian order in 1937, and made him a commander in 1944. (A dynastic order of knighthood and chivalry for personal service). In a footnote, the real Lionel Logue was really a good-looking man! Wow!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Don't Bite the Hand that Feeds You

What a week. Freezing temps, snow, our truck needs yet more expensive repair, and now the latest drama: we have been feeding a feral cat sleeping in the hay barn for weeks now that has been trying to angle a spot in our home. NO. WAY. With Corey's cat still with us and MC in the studio, we are up to four and that's my limit. Said cat is sweet, though, and since I have had some success placing strays in 'forever' homes after em-ing their pictures and a brief bio, Excy was on the terrace attempting a good picture when the cat freaked out and BIT the ever-loving $%^&**#@ out of his hand.

Dixie apparently had been lurking close to the glass and the cat felt threatened...the bite is to the bone and you can see the entire outline of his mouth and teeth. Excy's hand is now swollen and red and hurts like hell. He's on antibodiacs. I admit to being worried about it, I have heard so many horror stories (so please, please, don't tell me more). If it isn't better after the weekend I'll insist he go back for stronger stuff--I know it's nothing to ignore.

Thursday afternoon and again this coming Tuesday, I've been talking to 2nd year medical students at our teaching hospital about vHL. Since it's a NORD (rare disease), most don't know about it. This is the first time they've met with real patients, and learn not through lectures or a text book. For the most part they were very bright, respectful, and sensitive. (Guess that jaded dr thing is something a lot of them pick up as an intern). They came through in groups of five or six at a time and we met for 20 minutes each session. I found it interesting that the only student who wanted to ask me about the "mental and financial stresses of dealing with it all" had been a nurse for 10 years. She obviously learned the compassion gene in her first career and no doubt will be an excellent doctor. The jury's still out on the girl who grabbed my foot and welded a device to test reflexes without saying a word. Guess she hasn't figured out she's dealing with a person, not a 'disease.'

It's hard to believe I was their age when I had my first brain tumor. They seem so young. Doogie Howser was on the tip of my tongue (they probably wouldn't even know who that is). This is the 6th year I have done this, and it makes for a long day but I always enjoy it.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hit or Miss

I'm a huge advocate of the home-made present. Each year I do something, in addition to the baking treats. Some years have gone off better than others.

This tradition began in childhood with those typical kiddie things you made your mom in kindergarten. Most of my early presents back then were pieces of art work or clay sculptures and one time I made ornaments using walnut shells, cotton balls, and teeny wooden figures my mom still has.

A few years ago I made paper stars and moons for ornaments and also sheets of paper I impregnated with violets and ferns I pressed over the summer. The week before that Christmas I was chatting with the bagger at our grocery store when he asked if I was finished with my shopping. I said yes, I just needed to finish making my home made gift, which was paper that year. He was aghast. "Lady!" he exclaimed, 'NObody wants paper!" That still makes me laugh.

This year I made fudge, three varieties of cookies, gingerbread, lemon curd, chocolate and cranberry covered nuts, a photo book of my mom's cats in humorous positions (she wanted it to draw from), a Klimpt-inspired needlepoint pillow, and six suet feeders from instructions found in Bird&Bloom magazine. The one I kept is below:

Taking old pieces of cypress, the suet holders are hammered pieces of flat wear. The suet cakes are held in position by the plastic trays they are sold in. A door hinge nailed on top holds the wire I strung through and looped to hang from a chain or whatever. I took the wood burning kit and burned our initials and a bird on the bottom. I think they came out rather cute. I plan to make more for gifts next year.

Excy's getting better at flying his remote-control helicopter and is almost able to land it on the ceiling fan. Surprisingly enough, the cats don't seem to be scared of it at all...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

First Things First

I hope everyone had an excellent holiday. Considering where we spent last year (the hospital for Excy's ER surgery), this year was perfect, even if it wasn't! I am feeling over-fed, over-indulged, and lucky. One thing, though - candies and cookies had better freeze well. We got so many treats if we ate them all, I'd be a fat diabetic by spring.

Most folks feel let-down after Christmas -- empty house again, tree and decorations down, the magic's over and all that. Truth be told, as great as the holiday is, I feel a slight sense of relief. I like the first of January. It's rife with possibilities. The emptiness and silence gives me space to consider the new year. I've always been a lover of anticipation, anyway. I don't really make resolutions, I just try to make a small positive difference in my world every day and reflect on how I can enhance it. May everyone reading have one of the best years of their lives...