It is GORGEOUS out today! Upper 70ºs, sunny. Just the way we all want June to be! Roses are blooming- Willow just brought in the first from “Miles” (so called because that particular rosebush is a “hyperactive little git”), they smell SO good! I’ve been meaning to bring in some from the white bush, but hate to possibly lose the buds that aren’t out yet. Gardens we pass are looking so colorful, I can’t identify most of the flowers in them. I’ve seen Yarrow beside the road, and the pond at the bottom of Pinnacle has yellow water lilies.
I’m going to have to be brief today (yeah, like that’s going to happen!) because I lost the morning. For some mysterious reason Willow got a rash on her wrist this morning bad enough that her thumb started to swell up to the point where she couldn’t bend it. It came on suddenly, around 10:15, she showed it to me around 10:30, then the swelling got to the scary level, she called the doctor around 10:45, and got seen at 11:30. As with most rashes, it was gone by the time we got there, although they looked at the pictures she’d taken appreciatively. There was also a certain amount of “You MUST have touch something, eaten something, or otherwise been exposed to something.” She’d just gotten up, had a glass of water, brushed her hair, and noticed that she was scratching. She hadn’t done anything yet. I know it’s frustrating to think that something can happen out of the blue, (they can always track down the cause on TV shows!) but that’s what happens sometimes. And Willow may be more sensitive than most. The poor nurse was disturbed that after taking her pulse (which is a very light touch) there was a red spot, as well as a red band after the blood pressure. (and a mark on her forehead after the swipe thermometer– I think those are so cool!) As Kat said when we called to tell her everything was OK, “Willow is soft and pink and squishy”, which is exactly how Willow had described herself.
We’ve spent more time than I like going to doctors lately. Monday Willow had a follow-up with the Gynocologist. I’m going to tell you where: OB/GYN Assoc. of Southern New Hampshire, because they are SO wonderful! Willow said her “impossible task” now is to find a mental health practice she likes as much as them. Going to an Ob/Gyn is intrinsically stressful, but none of it is coming from the staff at this one. They were wonderful! And yes, the ovarian cyst just went away by itself, as they expected. If we hadn’t been concerned (probably because of the frequent pains that are part of CFS, Willow usually just ignores pain, so I figured it had to be something really special and pushed her to go), the pain would have been less the next day, and gone after that, and remained a memory of an unexplained pain. Like today’s unexplained rash. Oh, well. At least we know what that was. (Rashes top the list of inexplicable, but are apparently dangerous when accompanied by fevers, trouble breathing, or dizziness- all of which are scary without a rash.)
We are doing our annual spring “walnut/clove/wormwood” anti-paracitic and I’d have suspected that, except that she hadn’t gotten to it yet. Most Americans are really oblivious to how dirty the world we live in is. We tend to feel smug because we have an understanding of germ theory- but then people don’t wash their hands, and have a “5 second rule”, which rather proves that they don’t really understand it. I figure that de-worming the family once a year is a good thing for maintenance. The doctors are disturbingly surprised when they ask what medications we’re on and we aren’t. Vitamins yes, drugs no.
One thing going to the doctors often has done is served my curiosity- they’ve just put up a new medical arts building in Milford, between the old emergency room (now Urgent Care) and the new doctors office. Then last week they started bulldozing the Urgent Care, so I guess it’s replaced. This is especially interesting to me
because over the last few weeks we’ve watched them disassemble another building on the other side of Milford. When Willow left they were removing the windows, and then they took off the siding, then the wall boards,…. I wish I’d gotten pictures of that, especially at the stage when it was just the beams and chimneys. Then it was just the chimneys, and then it was gone. And now there’s a new building. It must have been modular because it took less than a week to appear. I am far more comfortable with the taking a building apart to reuse the pieces than just knocking it down and dumping everything in a landfill.
After seeing the doctor we stopped at McD’s for a burrito, as she hadn’t eaten anything yet. We went in and while waiting checked out the happy meal toys. Apparently they aren’t banned here yet. This time they were some sort of nerf weapons color coded for boys and girls: black and pink. Willow was irritated that the girls were pink. “Because everyone knows that boys can’t touch anything pink- it might turn them gay!” I did a facepalm and said “How did I not know that? Oh, wait! I forgot to watch Fox news!” The guy waiting in front of us cracked up. I haven’t been IN a McDs lately, and this one had some very comfortable chairs. I was pleasantly surprised by that.
On the way home we stopped at the Town Offices, paid the taxes, (have to appreciate the wonderful way the road crews maintain our roads!), reregistered the trailer, and picked up a bag. Apparently it’s “clean up the roadsides” week. We can pick up cans and stuff when we take a walk and leave the bags for the crews to collect. That’s a wonderful thought!
Monday we had our traditional decadent fresh summer fruits salad with cream: Strawberries, Blueberries, Cherries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Peaches, an apple, a pear, and because we had them kiwi fruit. Kat doesn’t like the cream and can’t eat the blueberries, so we add the cream ourselves. You’ve probably heard it before, but I hate that all the peaches were hard. A few years ago they had signs up saying “Have your peaches the way you like them: Crisp and sweet, or Ripe and Juicy!” The only reason people would like “crisp” peaches is because that’s all they’d ever had and they’d gotten used to them. A peach is supposed to be soft- which I’ll admit makes them a bitch to hold. The cream on fruit salad goes back to the Process Foundation Day, (which is the 14th) but I am not going to waste an excuse to make one of my favorite dishes.
Technically, the anniversary was the 14th, but we needed to get fresh fruit, and when I started to go out for it, the brakes were mushy. I remembered I had the appointment for Monday, but Willow had driven home, and I didn’t realize how mushy the brakes were, so we turned around and came home.
The van is off at Winkles. The “check engine” light was on before we picked her up, and the “check brakes” light came on while we were in the car park. I am trying VERY hard not to associate losing one’s brake line with those parking garages, but Willow lost hers in the one at Anime Boston, and I spent a half hour driving around the one at Logan, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it got broken there. In fairness, Gary said that it was fairly corroded. Until that is fixed, of course, they aren’t going to drive it around to see what’s up with the engine. Since they’ve warned me that the van will probably not last more than a year, every trip to the shop is worrisome. Will the repair be worth more than the car? Will we have to find a replacement before the war? (or this week, will it be available to go to the Palio this weekend? The van can hold the Gold Key, OR our stuff, but not both. For that we need van and trailer.)
Willow was off Sunday night. She went to a Fall Out Boys concert with Raye and Joanie. It seems to have been in a venue where only half of it was under cover- but they had a great time. Other than the concert, she’s mostly been resting. She came home with a cough which got worse, and is now getting better, but those are tiring.
Kat has been busy in her room- she painted and put up the cool hook we got her for her birthday, and also painted a shelf to put her Dr. Who figurines on. She’d had them balanced on top of her computer, and they kept “leaping to their doom”. They should be safe now. While she was looking for the shelf (I knew I had one around somewhere), she tripped over a present we’d picked up for her and hidden to give it to her for her birthday- if not Christmas: a ribbon rack. She has it totally filled with lace- including having made some custom spools for oddly shaped ones. While she was at it she repainted her chair. She also did a major cleaning on her room. I don’t know if you can tell from this shot of her corner, but she’s also taken to watching Midsomer Murders. I’ve watched a few more, but I think she’ll pass me soon. When it’s hot she tends to stay in her room where it’s cooler, and gets art done.
I am watching (listening to) DVDs in the kitchen while I paint. I have continued on the string of “about the afterlife” movies I was watching last week. Here comes Mr. Jordon (1941) was lovely. Claude Rains alone made it worth watching. Heaven Can Wait was was a remake of that one, not very different, although updated to 1978, and James Mason was a yummy update on the Claude Rains role. I’d love to see what they’d do with it these days. I was a bit confused because Heaven Can Wait in 1942 was a semi sequel to the 41 Mr. Jordon, with Don Ameche as someone reviewing his life for His Excellency the Devil, done as a real gentleman, who couldn’t see loving beautiful women as being damnation worthy. As I recall a there was another movie I watched back in school (loved those saturday double features!) there was another movie with Mr. Jordon, who found a body for the muse Terpsichore to come Down to Earth and try and keep a modern musical from ruining their reputation. Of course, as it was a musical comedy, she fell in love with the producer, and ended up going along with the current styles. The line “I am Terpsichore, goddess of song and dance. I put the ants in the dancers pants.” Painful! (but fun). I didn’t bother re-watching that one. It was sort of neat that they had the whole Christian Mythos with heaven and hell and the pearly gates, combined with the ancient gods, though.
In City of angels. Nicholas Cage plays and angel who falls in love with a human, and decides to “fall” become human to be with her. I had an odd thought while watching it- since clearly angels could choose to become human, and in that form could die (presumably going to heaven as a human, if they met the criteria) one could see this as angels being a “previous incarnation” of humans, that humans are the “old souls” evolved not devolved from angels. If it reminds people to appreciate being alive, it’s worth watching. We need to appreciate touch, smell, and our other senses. Apparently I’d seen The five people you meet in Heaven before and forgotten it. The interesting version of the afterlife in that one is that when you die you meet five people with whom your life has interacted, even if you never actually met them, and they help you learn something you need to know about your life. It also reminds us how interconnected we are. I also enjoyed the idea (also explored in What Dreams may come) that we each make our own heavens. (Maybe I just like it because it matches what I believe.) The lovely bones was a good book, but I don’t think the movie could possibly do justice to the themes. I did enjoy the interesting visuals of the in between place. I thought the comedy in Ghost town was somewhat lame (I’m not fond of Ricky Gervais’ humor), but I did enjoy the love story. Frankly, I preferred Ghost for a movie about someone who sees ghosts. I’m still not tired of watching them. As the professor said in the audio course on speculative fiction (I think it was Rings, swords, and monsters) said, in speculative fiction you can go beyond what effects a death had on the people who observe it, to what effects it has on the one who experiences it. These are wonderful movies. Others I haven’t re-watched this time around include Monkeybone (the end always makes me cry), What dreams make come, Ghost, Beetlejuice, Casper, Ghostbusters, 6th sense, The Others, Corpse Bride, Stardust (I love the dead brothers), Monty Python’s Meaning of Life. and of course, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.
Why so many movies? Because I like having something on in the background while I paint, and I’m trying to finish Jane’s book cover. I have discovered something important. I am not very good without reference pictures. I can paint what’s in front of me, but painting from my imagination, not so much. I can come up with the sketches, the composition, but I NEED to see the light as it is. I can tell that the light isn’t coming from the same place, and it’s driving me nuts!
I also watched some NON ghost movies. I finally watched Absence of malice which was really sobering. The concept of how much responsibility we should take for unintentional harm if we could have reasonably predicted it is an important one. Yesterday was a Hunger Games marathon. The starving games arrived from the library, and I discovered that I hadn’t actually watched Catching Fire yet, so I got that to watch before #3. I am reminded how good the books were, and as with The Lovely Bones, it just didn’t hold up. In my opinion, special effects should be there to tell the story, but too often they seem to become an end into themselves. I also watched an old Bob Hope comedy: the Princess and the Pirate and Hoodwinked 2, because you need to watch something funny. Sadly, these weren’t really. I’m not fond of slapstick.
I’ve gotten to the part of the Greek & Roman Mythology on line course where they’re discussing Tragedies. The Oresteia and Oedipus Rex. I can really understand how they needed a comedy after watching three tragedies, but comedy has to be topical, and it’s sort of better when tragedy is not personalized so much. The Magic in the Middle Ages one is done. Sadly, I missed the deadline for the final assignment, so had I wanted a grade, it wouldn’t have been as good as I’d have liked. Excellent course though. I finished the one on Comics. I never figured out the software to make my own superhero, and I really would have liked to have seen non-superhero comics covered, but really enjoyed the reading and videos. The argument that superheroes are a sort of modern mythology works. I signed up for a new one: Soul Beliefs: Causes and Consequences, Sadly, it is having a LOT of technical problems, I have yet to get all the way through the first lecture without it crashing. The option to download it doesn’t work, I get a corrupted file message. The “help” page is useless, it suggests trying Firefox, which is what I’m using. If I can’t figure out how to listen to the lessons, I’m going to ditch it. There’s another I’m considering Plagues, Witches, and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction, and also Hadrian’s Wall: Life on the Roman Frontier. (Still haven’t gotten into those- I’m trying to keep most things on hold until I finish the book cover.
I have mostly kept up with posting holidays. The 12th was “Diary Day” (in honor of Anne Frank’s birthday). While checking that, I saw that since they’d put out a definitive version, that included some of the bits her father had taken out when he published it, and some (overly protective) parents think it’s pornagraphic. So I took it out of the library to see what I’d missed when I read it as a kid. So far I haven’t found anything. I am struck by a couple of things: first, yes, she was a good writer. Surprisingly so for a 13/14 year old girl. Also, it reminds me a lot of the Roman Mystery stories, which I suppose means that Laurence did a good job expressing what it’s like to be a young person of that age. I have finished the series now, and it was wonderful. It’s rather sad to let go of a set of characters in a well developed world, I expect I will at some point read her new series with different kids in the same world, but not for a bit.
I blush to admit that I took out The Ultimate Depression Survival Guide to discover it wasn’t the depression I was thinking about- it was the recession. Ooops.
I finished the Checklist Manifesto. Wonderful book, and very readable. Dr. Gawande describes how some disciplines include checklists to reduce risk: flying airplanes, building skyscrapers, and he describes how he helped the World Health Organization adding it to surgery. Perhaps one of the more exciting aspects was that when they did their test run, comparing rates for serious complications and deaths in the three months before and three months of using the checklists, the results were amazing. There were more than a third less complications and the death rate was nearly cut in half. I think I was also impressed that it was a two year process: designing workable, adaptable checklists that could be used all over the world, in rich and poor hospitals, cutting the checklists down short enough to reduce the temptation to skip them, but covering the most dangerous things they could forget. The checklists not only ensured that people didn’t overlook critical steps, while allowing the ability for the people using them the ability to adapt and update them as the situation demanded, they were also designed to foster communication between members of the teams, to coordinate them, and help them learn to accept responsibility. When the members all respect the contributions of others and themselves, it resulted in those marvelous improvements.
I learned a couple new terms: Hawthorn Effect- changes that result simply from being observed. They checked to see if that could account for the improvements mentioned above, but since they started with observing their test hospitals first, pre-checklist, the change was between with and without, not watched and unwatched.
He also introduced me to the term “Cocaine Brain”. Apparently the opportunity to make money lights up the same places in your brain that cocaine does- hence people getting excited about investing (or gambling). Now I’m trying to figure out how to apply checklist to my life.
I also finished Less medicine, more health: 7 Assumptions that Drive Too Much Medical Care , and heartily recommend it! The seven assumptions are All Risks can be Lowered, It’s always better to Fix the problem, Sooner is Always Better, It never hurts to get more Information, Action is always better than inaction, Newer is Always Better, and It’s all about Avoiding Death. Notice those “always” and “never”s? Dr. Welch does recognize that every situation is different and sometimes our new technology is just what is needed. It’s assuming that all the situations are the same that sinks us. Completely side stepping the monetary costs of modern medicine, he talks about the medical costs of using these assumptions as if they were universally appropriate.
On the Avoiding Death one, I’d just point out that given how many people would rather risk diabetes, heart disease, etc. than give up chocolate, the convenience of fast food, alcohol, smoking, and other of life’s joys, I think it’s pretty clear that quality of life is more important to most people than just adding a few more days. He also mentions (as I have so often pointed out) that sometimes the added “life” is spent uncomfortably, in the hospital. Would you rather have three months at home, or six months in the hospital? Added life should imply an ability to actually live it. I also liked the story from the early days of palliative care where the people who opted for palliation lived three months (on average) longer than those who chose interventions. Live worth living has got to be better than being a guinea pig.
Under the “lowering risks” he talks about statistics- pointing out that two or three percentage points don’t make a huge difference, he suggests that you shouldn’t worry until something is two or three times as likely to cause problems. He also suggests waiting several years before trying a new treatment (unless it’s your only chance). Wait to see how it plays out in the real world. He tells of a doctor who opted for the all metal hip replacement because he knew that they usually needed replacing every 9 years (how many recipients are told that before it’s time to have it replaced?) and wanted longer between major operations, but the new metal ones apparently leaked cobalt into his system, poisoning him, which gave him a lot of psychiatric symptoms, complicating the diagnosis.
He also agreed with my uncle Dewey, the doctor, that screening doesn’t tend to help much, except making people more scared and get more medical care that doesn’t enhance health. (data vs. useful information). Actually, this may make this a life changing book for me. My kids have told me for years that they didn’t want to hear all the “fascinating medical trivia” I’d accumulated. I’m now feeling a bit embarrassed that I needed to read it in a book before what they’d told me repeatedly sunk in. Another point he made (about cancers) is that some can be left to watch, you don’t always have to do everything, or do it immediately. Often problems resolve themselves. If you enjoy perspectives about medicine from the inside, I heartily recommend this book! (I know I’ll be looking for his other titles.)
When I’m done with the afterlife movies, I think I may go on a Christopher Lee binge. Dracula, 3 Musketeers, I’ve never seen his Fu Manchu. He had a wonderful career, and I am glad he was able to share his talents and passions with the world. He kept on doing very cool stuff right up to the end.
This week we’ve been making lemonade by squeezing lemons. We’ve always made it by using bottled lemon juice and sugar, but really, when you use fresh lemons it’s even better. Three lemons, 1/2 cup sugar, a half gallon of water. Try it. We are trying to reduce the amount of sugar we eat. I don’t think you can “diet” anyone else, so I’m eating my way, Kat’s eating her way, we all choose our own diets. I try to provide what they are going for, while coordinating it all. Luckily, we all are happy with big salads. I moved the rolling board over to the top of the wood stove, so until fall, no burning off paper trash. It now has the tea maker, the soda stream and the blender on it. There really isn’t enough counter space in this kitchen. Today I tipped the scales at 267 pounds. I try not to pay too much attention since there’s so much fluctuation, but it is good to be on the low side of 270 again. My current plan is fairly low carb- but eating a bit of the potato or whatever everyone else is eating- just not a full serving. So far, so good. This is John’s breakfast a couple of days ago. Personally, I’d have done egg eyes and a toast nose instead of the other way around, but as I said, we each choose our own system.
We are still playing on the wii exercise board. I still like the bird game, but having been inspired by Kat doing her very aerobic games, I started doing the “bicycle” game. After a week or so I knew the one mile course and switched to the next. I got SO lost on this virtual island! I think I did 40 minutes instead of the 20 you’re supposed to take. Sometimes I just going wherever I liked, as one would on a bike: out along the shore of the ocean, up by the lighthouse, I also ride at pedestrians, and off cliffs just to see what will happen. Not having bugs to swat as I walk is a major attraction! Today I found a map to keep from getting quite so lost!
While we were out today we found some sign supports we’ll be using at Pennsic- they hold 13×20 posters. We also replaced our US flag which had gotten a bit tattered. I also got one of those electric fly swatters. A couple weeks ago there were white faced wasps trying to build a nest in one of Kat’s windows- it would have been nice to have it then.
The light fixture in the living room went on the fritz and we got a new one, but because it was over my head we didn’t put it up. The first day Willow was home she installed it. She doesn’t seem to be afraid to tackle anything. I didn’t bother taking a picture because it’s primary characteristic is that it’s the flattest one we could find (since we’re doing wii under it). The next day the Box she’d sent up from florida arrived that she’d sent back. She got John a Captain American shirt, and she got me a plush Anubis (from the Universal Mummy ride, and I think the plush Bast may have been for Kat, although I think she may have gotten her a Ravenclaw something. She got a lot of Harry Potter souvenirs for friends, so since those haven’t gone out, I should keep quiet about them. She’s put up some more pictures from her trip on facebook.if you’re interested.
You may be able to tell by the time I’m mailing this out that I didn’t get it done before the podcast. Tonight I talked with Selina Rifkin about Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Cathy has suggested that I make a fb page for the podcast so there’s a good place for people to find the links, but they have them for tv shows, but not podcasts, so I’m not sure what one would call it…. It’s a good idea, but I need to figure out the category, because that’s the first step.
Well, I need to finish up.
Have a wonderful week!
I’m going to have multiple sig quotes this week because I like so many.
I turn to the ‘Telegraph’s’ obituaries page with trepidation.
Let’s just say I was in Special Forces and leave it at that. People can read into that what they like.
‘The Wicker Man’ for me, as an actor, was definitely the best film I’ve ever done.
The most important film I made, in terms of its subject and the great responsibility I had as an actor, was a film I did about the founder of Pakistan called ‘Jinnah.’
As far as I am concerned, Don Quixote is the most metal fictional character that I know. Single handed, he is trying to change the world, regardless of any personal consequences.