Archive for September, 2009

Yo ho ho and a barrel of grog
September 24, 2009


it is a foolish thing well done.

-Samuel Johnson (1773) 

Shannon e-mailed me the other day, “There’s a show on tonight called, ‘Your Kid Ate What?’ It’s about weird things that kids have swallowed, and I had to laugh. You could 
have put me on it 19 years ago!” 

She was seldom sick growing up; we would go to the doctor mostly for well checkups and routine inoculations. Every so often she’d have an ear infection or some such minor thing. She never got the chicken pox, even after being exposed to it numerous times (finally, she got the shot for it). And she never even threw up on me until she reached middle school. Thank goodness for that, because I don’t handle throw up very well! 

After her initial pediatrician retired, we switched to a different clinic and had her records transferred. The new doctor took a look at her record and said, “Wow!” I said, “Wow, what?” She said, “Shannon hasn’t had a sick visit in over 12 years!” 

But there was one time I had to call Dr. Ragan early one evening. Shannon was 4 years old and she had just swallowed the grog ladle. The WHAT? Yes, you read correctly. The grog ladle, otherwise known as “the golden spoon”. 

It was my birthday, and Shannon and her friend JD were upstairs playing with her Playmobil pirate ship, an elaborately detailed hard plastic ship outfitted with stumpy little pirates and all their regalia. Joel had spent hours rigging the sails that Christmas Eve (oh wait, I mean SANTA), and it was a big hit on Christmas morning with a wee little girl who loved Peter Pan and pirates. 

Shannon was pretending to sip grog from “the golden spoon” on that memorable day, and as she slurped, down the hatch went the spoon! As Joel and I were getting dressed to go out for dinner, we heard the thumps of frantic feet pounding down the stairs. Both came in with wide, frightened eyes, and the spokesman, JD said, “Shannon swallowed the golden spoon!” They both looked so worried, which made me anxious because I wasn’t sure what we were dealing with here… but of course, I had to remain calm so as not to escalate the situation into hysteria and/or tears. 

Joel asked what the golden spoon was, and after they described it, he found the box which had a picture of all the parts. We determined that this ladle was maybe an inch long at best, very narrow with rounded edges. I called Dr. Ragan, thinking we were in for a trip to an emergency room for x-rays or worse. Happy birthday to me! 

When he called back, I explained the situation to him. He asked, “Can she swallow?” Yes. “Can she breathe?” Yes. “Well,” he said, “Just go on out and have fun, and look for it in about 24 hours!” I loved Dr. Ragan; he was always very pragmatic. 

So off we went to dinner. Shannon was rather quiet in the back seat, and she didn’t eat much. The next day, sure enough, we looked carefully at her “bm” and there was the golden spoon! Except that it wasn’t so golden anymore… 

You know, at the vet’s office, there are all sorts of odd items on display that have been surgically removed from various creatures over the years, things like golf balls, sewing needles, fishing lures and assorted buttons. Perhaps we could have kept the golden spoon as a souvenir of this experience, but we opted to wave goodbye to it instead! 

Shannon ran next door shouting to JD’s mom, “Mrs. Collado! Mrs. Collado! The golden spoon has arrived!” Kathy and I got a big laugh at Shannon’s exclamation that day, and now, 19 years later, we still laugh about it. 

I didn’t watch the show that Shannon mentioned above, so I have no idea what all the other kids swallowed. But something tells me that swallowing “the golden spoon” is unique only to Shannon, and that we will be telling the story about it for years to come. 

Note: Pewperson will return on Friday, Oct. 9


The Bug
September 18, 2009


Why so pale and wan, fond lover? Prithee, why so pale?

-Sir John Suckling (1637) 

For the first time in decades, I have succumbed to an illness. Was it the flu? No way of telling, I guess. There’s been so much hysteria about it in the media that it makes me believe it may have been. But if it actually was the flu, it was somewhat kind to me. 

Earlier this month, I spent the weekend up at Camp For All on the annual Pure Sound Labor Day Retreat. They made us take our temperatures prior to boarding the buses; if you had a fever, you were not allowed to get on. Some kids came later in the weekend; some kids were sent home over the weekend. It’s just the nature of a virus to spread in a group setting, no matter how many precautions are taken. 

For instance, we had hand sanitizers all over the place. I even brought my own bottle of it to use during the communion service, which our seniors planned and implemented. I know that when I serve communion in church, I have to use the stuff prior to serving, so it made sense to me to bring some, just in case. 

We had 18 seniors this year, and the process of baking the communion bread was a prime example of too many cooks in the kitchen. Several kids took the lead in whipping up the ingredients, while others worked on organizing and planning the service. I was vigilant about everyone’s washing hands, so in that situation, I felt confident that all was sanitary. 

Two of the young men were elected to serve the bread to the assembled group that evening. And so when the time came, I made them use the hand sanitizer liberally prior to their breaking off chunks of bread and dispensing it to the other campers. 

Except I hadn’t counted on how high emotions were running. Prior to the actual communion service, the seniors had all shared their testimonies about what Pure Sound meant to them, and combined with the realization that this was their last Retreat, there were more than a few tears. 

One of those who was affected was my bread server. He dutifully sanitized his hands, but because he was still so emotional, his nose grew runny, and he proceeded to wipe it with his hand, as he served the bread, because he had nothing else to use. All I could do was shake my head and roll my eyes. Oh well, I tried! 

Sure enough, the next week, my sniffly bread server was one of the ones taken ill; who knows if he infected others? 

I made it through the next week, and thought I was home free. This past Sunday afternoon, I was with the kids at their rehearsal; were germs still lurking there? On Tuesday I went to a Fine Arts planning meeting, no problem. 

Wednesday morning I did my usual run, and remember thinking how heavy my feet felt. That afternoon I met Joel for lunch and then went to the closing of his mother’s condo (hallelujah!). I was SO cold at lunch time, and wasn’t very hungry at all. I just picked at my salad, but I felt like I’d overeaten, sort of like a boa constrictor must feel after eating a small mammal. 

We went to the closing where I proceeded to shake hands with everyone in the room (sorry!!). Then I went home and just felt lousy. Something told me to check my temperature, and I was startled to see it was 100.6 (my normal is usually about 97.6). 

So I rummaged around in the medicine chest to find stuff to use; most everything had expired. Oh well, I truly believe that sleeping cures everything- that and lots of water. So that’s what I used to do battle with this bug! 

Thursday, I was up to 101.6 and feeling REALLY awful. I barely had the energy to do anything; my skin felt prickly, I was freezing cold and my eyes hurt. I honestly just laid around all day, either in bed or on the sofa. I had no appetite, but knew I needed to eat, because I was feeling wobbly. I stepped on the scale at one point and was shocked to see I had dropped 3 pounds just that quickly. 

That night I went to bed at 8 p.m. I stirred several times in the night, but fell back into a deep sleep, dreaming strange and wonderful dreams. When I came to, I saw that it was 8:30 on Friday morning! And I felt human again! 

It was with great delight that I discovered my temperature was down to 98.9, which falls in the normal range for most folks, but a little high for me. Still, to have it drop 3 degrees overnight is promising. More importantly, I don’t feel cold, my eyes don’t hurt and my skin isn’t sensitive. I do believe I’m on the way back. 

Who knows what bug felled me after all these years? I hope it WAS the swine flu. That way, I won’t have to worry about it anymore. Oink.

Procrastinators Unite!
September 11, 2009


It was a miracle of rare device…

-Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1816)

At some point in July, my printer died. It is an HP model- an all in one printer, scanner, fax machine. We hadn’t had it for very long; it had replaced one that had shorted out after a plastic water bottle stored above it developed a leak. You might ask why was a plastic water bottle stored above it? The answer is because the printer sits on a raised up platform in my pantry, attached to my computer through an outlet in the wall. I thought plastic water bottles (leftover hurricane supplies) were indestructible. Nope. They deteriorate and leak. So make note and never store your water bottles above your printer! 

Who knows why this new printer failed? I dawdled about trying to fix it, because I managed to limp along by e-mailing items I needed to print to Joel’s computer/printer. He kept saying he’d take a look at my dead printer, but that day never came. I even shopped for a new printer at the office supply store, thinking that I might just buy a newer model; it’s not like they are all that terribly expensive. But I’m such a tightwad, I just couldn’t spend the money before trying to fix it ourselves. 

As I procrastinated away, six weeks came and went. Then late one afternoon, a storm blew through with powerful lightning crashes all around. Just to be safe (after my Ike crash of September 2008 I wasn’t taking any chances!), I turned off all the computers in the house. 

During the height of the storm, I heard a funny sound coming from the pantry. I looked in and discovered that the printer had turned itself on and was printing things I’d asked it print in July! A miracle had occurred! 

I can only surmise that a nearby lightning bolt must have jolted it into life again. We do have surge protectors, so I do not understand why that would be the case. But whatever it was that caused my printer to resurrect, I am happy to accept such a gift. This was one time it paid to procrastinate! 

Now my dishwasher is on the blink, and I’m wondering if it is due to a similar electrical incident (we have had numerous thunderstorms recently). Some of the lights on the control panel are now stuck on, and I can’t get it to start. Unfortunately, I only have this one dishwasher, and while I COULD live without it to see if another miracle occurs in a month or two, I would rather not have to hand wash dishes for that long! 

To heck with this procrastination stuff! Repairman is coming on Monday.

Running in Suburbia
September 4, 2009


Gwine to run all night! Gwine to run all day!

-Stephen Collins Foster (1850)

 I like to run without listening to music or radio talk shows. By not doing so, my observations are sharpened, and I notice more around me- interesting sights, unusual sounds and distinctive aromas, both good (flowers) and bad (trash trucks). The following are recent random occurrences of note, for what they are worth: 

  • While running this week, I felt the first breath of fall in the air. This pleasant surprise in late August has brought a new spring to my step! Prior to this weather change, I’ve been quite the tortoise, plodding along. I began wondering if my slower gait was due to the heat, or maybe my age? How about my RA? Let’s hope it’s the heat!
  • School has just begun, so as I run I must evade swarms of mothers who power walk together now that their little darlings are safely tucked inside their classrooms. All of a sudden, they look young enough to be teenagers! I guess the flip side of this is that I must look like granny to them, especially since I’ve been running like a tortoise lately.
  • This week, I spied some ironic litter on the roadside. People, when you drink from a cup that has “don’t mess with Texas” and “Please don’t Litter” printed on it, don’t throw it out the car window! I guess you thought it was funny, but it isn’t.
  • Puppies are SO Cute!! They evoke smiles, oohs and ahs. It’s impossible for me to not stop and pet them. I just love that puppy smell! I’ve always told Joel that if I should croak before he does to get a puppy and take it on lots of walks. It’s a definite chick magnet.
  • Yet another perfectly good house bites the dust. I am betting that the replacement will be a monstrosity that looms over the others. But there is hope! On a nearby street, not one but two new recently built homes are just one story and fit right into the neighborhood’s proportion. Good job, builders!
  • Why is the mimosa tree blooming in August? Who cares! I’ll take it. The aroma of a mimosa blossom is my absolute favorite floral smell. I cannot pass a blooming mimosa without stopping to inhale the scent. It takes me back to my childhood days, as I specifically recall climbing the one in our yard and in my grandmother’s.
  • I keep looking for the gigantic snapping turtle I recently spied in the W-151 ditch (from the bridge over Memorial Drive). It was unbelievable! I don’t think there is any uglier creature. With its grotesque head, long reptilian tail and big feet, it must have been four feet long from nose to tail. I wish I had had a camera with me when I saw it the first time, so I could prove its existence. To think that it lives right behind somebody’s house. Yuck!
  • Another reptilian story involves a snake. I recently heard wild cries coming from a flock of blue jays. They were fussing about something in a nearby tree, so I took a look. There, curled around the branch was the most enormous snake I’ve ever seen around here! It was as thick around as my upper arm and probably as long as my two arms could stretch. I assume it was after the baby birds in the nest or maybe the eggs. This was something I just had to share with somebody, so I actually flagged down a strange man and showed him. He was amazed and took a closer look. Neither of us knew enough about snakes to identify it other than the fact that it had no rattles nor a triangular head. Again, I wish I had had a camera with me. If puppies make a good chick magnet, I think snakes must be a good guy magnet.
  • This day’s run took me down a street festooned with green ribbons on each and every mailbox. I wondered about it at first, but then I figured it out. They were to welcome home a resident of the street from the hospital. Her house was all decorated with signs and more green ribbons. I thought that was a thoughtful gesture on the part of the neighbors. My own street is populated with equally thoughtful neighbors, however, on our street, we don’t decorate. Rather we welcome home our ailing neighbors with food! It’s the Methodist way to do it… 

I am looking forward to running down country roads this weekend at the annual Pure Sound Retreat at Camp for All. It’s a nice change of pace (so to speak!). If I see/hear/smell anything out of the ordinary, I’ll be sure to make note! Happy Labor Day to all…