Archive for March, 2009

My Pink Eye Week

pink-eyeIt started a week ago when I noticed that my eyes seemed to be watering more than normal, particularly my left one.  Since I sometimes get little ingrown eyelashes, I didn’t think much of it.  As a matter of fact, I used my magnifying mirror to see if I could find the culprit, but my eye wouldn’t stop running long enough.

Tuesday I had a hair appointment and it seemed to be a little worse.  Other people at the salon said they’d been having troubles with their eyes, too, and attributed it to allergies.  Although I’ve never been diagnosed with allergies, this seemed a reasonable explanation, and I started trying to “wash” my eye out with the artificial tear type of eye drops.  They’d provide momentary relief, but didn’t seem to solve the problem.

Wednesday I had breakfast with my friend, Babs, and told her that my left eye was really starting to give me problems.  She said she’d been having similar problems and that made me go back to the allergy idea once again.  By this time, my eyelids and the corners of my eyes were becoming very sore from wiping the moisture away.  But, still, I thought it was just a temporary thing.

By Thursday, it was becoming really, really annoying.  It was hard to read or watch TV without wiping my eye, and I spent much of the day using the artificial tears and then a commercial eyewash. A couple of times in the evening, it became so frustrating that I ended up in tears.

Friday morning dawned with the answer.  When I woke up, my left eye was glued shut!  This provided me with an immediate “flash from the past.”  I remember, as a very young little girl, maybe five or six, waking up frightened because I couldn’t open my eyes.  I’d start crying and my mother would come in with a warm washcloth and gently wipe away the crust from around my eyes.  So that was it.  My old friend Pink Eye. I had errands to run Friday before the predicted snow, but suddenly my number one priority became getting my eye taken care of.  I knew that bacterial pink eye required antibiotic eye drops or ointment.  But, what to do?  Fortunately, I remembered reading about CVS’s “Minute Clinics.”  No appointment required.  I looked up the closest one on my computer and set out.  It took courage because, believe me, by now I looked like some crazed witch with an evil eye!  And the damned thing kept leaking!  Try driving while your eye drips infectious liquid!  And worse, sometimes the “gunk” would float across my field of vision. (Eye doctors call it “discharge.”  Oh, good, my eye is “discharging!”)

Anyway, I walked into CVS, signed in at the Minute Clinic, and was seen within fifteen minutes.  Turns out my diagnosis was right on track and I was prescribed antibiotic eye drops that I have to use every four hours for five to seven days.  I was very impressed with the level of service and the fact that I didn’t have to call someone for an appointment and then wait three months to be seen.  They even electronically transmitted my prescription to my grocery store pharmacy so that I could kill two birds with one stone!  Great job, Minute Clinic!

That day I only had three doses of the eye drops and didn’t notice a radical difference, other than the “leaking” let up a bit.  But on Saturday I was able to dose myself five times, and I could really see the difference.  It was truly like putting a magic potion into my eye!  Now my eye is back to normal and I don’t have to worry about scaring children anymore!

In the course of all this,  I made myself somewhat of an expert on pink eye.  Bacteria, viruses or allergies can all cause it, but bacterial is the only kind that can be cured with antibiotics.  Both bacterial and viral are highly contagious, so by wiping one eye and touching the other, you can infect yourself.  It’s often contracted by simply touching a surface that was touched by someone who has it, then touching your eye. (Hello, grocery carts and door handles!)  If you think you may have pink eye, use a tissue, rather than your fingers to wipe away the wetness. (That’s easier said than done, I know!) The four main symptoms, all of which I experienced, are:  1) redness, 2) a gritty feeling like you have something in your eye that you just can’t remove. (I had this one big time!) 3) a watery discharge (viral) or pus-like discharge (bacterial) and 4) constant tearing.  If you experience all these, you might want to be a little smarter than I was and get treatment as soon as possible.  When I think of all those days I was suffering but just kept thinking it would pass, I could just kick myself!

You know, pink used to be my favorite color… and it probably will be again.

But right now?  Not so much!


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As dawn breaks over the sleepy neighborhood and a jet zips across the sunrise, it would appear that Spring has arrived.  sunrise-airplaneEverything seems so quiet and peaceful.

There is the promise of growth with shades of green slowly seeping among the barren trees.  barren-trees1

Even lawns which were thought to be lost causes, are starting to display a little color…grass-greening1

And, just as we get our hopes up, Mother Nature is standing ready with a great big “GOTCHA!” For tonight, in my area of the world, they are forecasting three to six inches…OF SNOW! And, how will all these burgeoning signs of Spring react?  Well, it looks like this giant dragon-cloud is hightailing it out of Dodge!  dragon-cloud

Oh, how I wish I could go with him…

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As I Was Saying…

woman_aloneI talk to myself. There, I said it!  And I’m not talking about just saying things like “Oh darn it, I forgot to get milk.” I’m talking about whole conversations about certain topics.  And I’ve decided that, for me, it’s not a sign of mental illness, but rather of mental wellness.  The fact is, that having these conversations seems to add to my sense of well-being.  It really does.

Take stress, for example.  When I was working, stress was a part of my daily life.  Huge chunks of my existence were lost, sitting in mandatory meetings in which nothing was accomplished other than to feed management’s ego.  So much of that kind of pointless activity went on that I walked around all the time, virtually seething with frustration.  Rather than let it out, I kept it bottled up and often ended up being sick.  This is not to say that stressful things still don’t happen to me.  Heaven knows, they do!  But now I talk about it – to myself. It gives me a chance to vent and rant and air my grievances without boring others to death.  And there’s the added advantage of not having anyone interrupt me, trying to make me “see sense” before I’ve had a proper chance to let off steam. I highly recommend it!

And talking to yourself is also a great way to rehearse things you want or need to tell people.  Often, after hearing myself say something out loud, I realize all of the reasons why it wouldn’t be such a good idea.  There have been many times when, after I’ve voiced my complaint, I’ve realized it wasn’t as bad as I thought.  This has helped me avoid many a black eye, I’m sure!  And other times, when I know a confrontation is inevitable, it equips me to uphold my end of the argument because I’ve already rehearsed my response to all possible objections. It’s good to be prepared.

But the times I need to talk to myself the most, are those in which I need comfort – forgiveness, reassurance and support.  Sometimes just saying, “No, no, you’re fine honey.  Don’t worry about it,” or “You”ll be okay,” or “It’s not your fault.  You’re a good person,” is enough to calm me down and give me perspective.

Now, maybe if you live in a place where you’re surrounded by people, this whole idea may seem a silly one.  Maybe you live alone and still think it’s silly.  Maybe it just works for me and I shouldn’t have written this post at all…

No wait, I just asked myself and heard myself answer, ““No, no, you’re fine honey.  Don’t worry about it.  It’s your blog and you can write about what you want!”

And I realized it is…and I can…so I did!

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I talked in this earlier post about the disaster I made of trying to refinish my dining room table and how I would redo it someday in the far future…  Well, sometimes the future  happens a lot earlier than you expect!  The morning after the Big Table Job, I noticed several places where the varnish had bubbled up.  I should have ignored them, but nooooooo!  I had to mess with them, and the next thing I knew, I was stripping off long stringy pieces of varnish from the table!  It was quite fascinating actually, if not reassuring.  So I knew that I had to redo it sooner rather than later.

Naturally, this meant going back to Square One, putting down the drop cloths, hauling all the equipment up from the basement and having a good stiff drink!  (Just kidding.  I don’t drink.) “This time,” I told myself, “this time, I’m going to take it slow and easy and do every step exactly right and it will end up being perfect!”

First I used liquid stripper and then scraped off all the old varnish.  This is a nasty job, let me tell you!  You find yourself with  handfuls of sticky tar-like stuff that wants to stick to everything.  Then I had to re-sand places to get it all smooth again and applied the stain.  Here is a shot of what that looked like.  table-before

After about 15 minutes, you have to wipe the stain off – another very messy job.  I bought a bunch of disposable gloves, and I was glad I did!  The stain is just as fond of skin as it is of wood!   Anyway, according to the directions, you need to let the stain “dry” for twenty-four hours.  This was hard for me because I hate leaving a room torn up any longer than I have to, but I did it.  The next morning I applied the first coat of varnish and, when it dried, the second.  This is how it ended up. table-after

Is it smooth as glass like I wanted it?  No, there are places where it isn’t.  Is it better than when I started this whole fiasco?  Yes it is.  More importantly, I learned a lot from this project.

  • Refinishing just isn’t my thing.  I can paint all day long, do some plumbing and repair work, but refinishing goes against my nature.  It requires an infinite amount of patience and there’s really no aspect of it that isn’t messy, smelly, and hard.
  • There are some things in life you just can’t rush, and, if you do, you’ll pay the price.
  • This one’s probably the most important for me:  Not everything I do has to be PERFECT.  I’m a perfectionist by nature, but this project showed me that that can lead to madness.

While the table didn’t turn out perfect, it still looks pretty darn nice.  Brain surgery, nuclear fission, disarming a bomb – those things have to be perfect.  But a refinishing job?  It’s not like my house is a museum where guests tour daily.  No, I’ve learned that sometimes “good enough” really is  good enough

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When I read that Steve Wozniak, one of the co-founders of Apple Computer, was going to appear on “Dancing with the Stars,” I didn’t know what to expect.  Prior to this, I knew very little about him, but I did wonder how a computer guru would take to the strenuous rehearsal schedule and the energy required to give a good performance.  Wow.  I needn’t have worried.  I found myself impressed.

Maybe if I’d done a little research beforehand, I wouldn’t have been so surprised.  Wozniak appears to be an eclectic renaissance type of man.  After leaving Apple, his resume includes helping develop the first universal TV remote, teaching 5th grade students, being inducted in 2000 to the National Inventors Hall of Fame and being a member of the Segway Polo Team.  He’s also a huge philanthropist and involved in education.

But, back to the dancing.  What impressed me was not his natural aptitude for dance.  He doesn’t seem to have a lot.  (But, he can learn.)  No, what impresses me was is his attitude. This man literally throws himself into the whole experience! Granted, he’s built more for thought than graceful action, but apparently, someone forgot to tell him that.  And he’s not just doing a throwaway performance for laughs like some past contenders.  No, he’s applying himself, heart and soul.  And he has such a sense of  joy! It’s like he approaches life with the awe and wonder of a child.  I find him a delight to watch.

And another thing I’ve been absolutely blown away by is his refusal to be negative.  The judges have made comments to him that would  have hurt my feelings, but he somehow always finds a way to put a positive spin on them.  It’s amazing to me.  On the last show when one of the hosts asked him, “How will you feel if you end up in the bottom two and have to dance for your life?” At this point most contestants say something like, “I would be really disappointed because I want to stay.” Steve just smiled and said, “Well, at least we’d get to perform our dance twice!” Turns out, he was in the bottom two, but he didn’t go home.

Each time he performs, I find myself smiling.  It’s so nice to see someone who is obviously brilliant and rich and powerful being so real and nice and sincere.  Here is a You-Tube video of his first performance, the cha-cha.  I’m not saying he’s a great dancer, but he’s better than I expected.  I admire the fact that a computer geek type of guy like him would even try something like this.

His partner, Karina Smirnoff, characterizes him as “the nicest guy in the world.” What I like about him is the way he puts a positive spin on everything. Even when he’s being insulted, he just smiles and is gracious.  He’s in it for the experience.  He’s inspired me to try to be more like that.  Like that table I tried to refinish that went wrong?  Well from now on, I’m not going to call it a disaster.  I’m going to call it “a practice round!” So, how am I doing?

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redheadDear Karen,

When we first met, it was like any new relationship.  I had butterflies in my stomach, wondering, “Will she listen to me?  Will she understand?  Is she good at what she does?” And, I’m sure you had the same reservations.  “Does she know what she wants?  Will she be a joy or a pain?  Is she a good tipper?” But it seemed to turn out well.  You liked working on my hair and I liked what you did with it.  We laughed.  We talked.  We skipped through a meadow of daisies together. (Oh no, wait, that’s from a movie.) At any rate, I thought we were set for life.

But then, you started slipping.  You started letting yourself go – a little unevenness here, a little “boo-boo” there, but I so wanted to believe in you, believe in “us,” that I was in denial.  “After all,” I argued to myself, “she still does the color the way I like it.” So I remained  committed, never tipping less than twenty per cent and even giving you a little monetary gift at Christmas.  But on my last visit, the dream died.  I told you exactly what I thought needed to be done with the cut, and, did you do it?  No, you did not.  You made it look like you were doing it, but it was all a charade.  What you did instead was unforgivable.  You thinned my hair without my permission!

Oh, I didn’t notice at first.  For almost four weeks I struggled, trying to bring some order to my hair – to no avail.  I kept thinking it was something I was doing wrong.  But it wasn’t.  I asked my friend, Babette, for an honest opinion and she immediately saw the flaws.  All of a sudden, all of the trust I had built up in you crumbled like a sandcastle being washed away on the tide.

But the turning point was a few days ago.  It was when I realized that it wasn’t normal for me to be spending 12 out of 24 hours a day trying to deal with the shapeless mess that I used to call my hairdo.  I decided to take action and made a 911 call to you.  I told you I still had a week until my regular appointment, but that I simply needed a 15 minute appointment for you to do some first aid on my cut.  I told you I was very, very unhappy.  And, what did you say?  You said, “So sorry, I’m booked up every single hour every single day until your appointment.  I can call you if I have a cancellation.” Considering that I’ve never asked for a favor before, that was pretty cold.  Considering that I’ve always been there for you, that was pretty flippant.  Considering you don’t even come in until 10:00 a.m., I’d think you could have adjusted your schedule a little.  But noooooo!

So you forced my hand!  Don’t say you didn’t, because you certainly did! I marched right down to Great Clips and explained my problem.  The stylist there, Mandy, actually listened to me (like you used to.) She saw it right away.  She also saw where you had cut a chunk of hair out on one side, and that the back was uneven, as well.  No wonder I’ve been losing my mind! And you know what she did, Karen?  She took her time and fixed it as much as it possibly could be fixed, due to your indiscriminate chopping!  It’s 100% better. And she didn’t charge me an arm and a leg for it, either!  I felt appreciated.  I felt loved.

So, as much as you might hate to hear it, here is my confession:  I cheated on you…and I’m glad I did! It was refreshing to be with someone who didn’t take me for granted, someone who actually cares about how I feel.  I cheated once and I’ll probably cheat again.  It’s sad, too, because I’ll always think of what we could have had.  And once you realize that I’m not letting you near my hair with scissors ever again, don’t blame me.

For you see, Karen, it’s not me, it’s YOU.



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Some days, not often, but some days, I wake up feeling as if the day to come is just waiting to pounce on me.  It’s nothing specific, and I certainly would prefer that every day be bright and shiny and full of smiley-face feelings, but that isn’t the way life operates.  As the old saying goes, “some days you get the bear and some days the bear gets you.”

As I got out of bed on St. Patrick’s Day, the smell of varnish wafted upstairs, reminding me of the disaster of the day before.  Bad Thing Number One. For reasons I won’t go into here, I decided that I needed to refinish the top of my dining room table, which has been the bane of my existence since I purchased it.  Unknown to me, the finish was so fragile that even a dirty look left a mark on it!  So it had to be done!  I had all my equipment – liquid stripper, my sander, stain and varnish.  And, even though I had never refinished anything in my life, I had studied the steps so often that I felt nothing could go wrong.  I was so very wrong! Somewhere beyond the point where I had the whole thing sanded down to a nice smooth finish, “varnish demons” entered the equation, and I ended up with a less-than-smooth final result.  At the best I can now call it “rustic looking.”  I know that some day (in the far future) I’m going to have to do the whole thing over, but not soon.  Please God, not soon! It was the messiest job I’ve ever undertaken!  I had gobs of tar-like goo which I scraped off and dust from the sanding covered every square inch of the room.  When the third coat of varnish was on, I still had to work another hour, sweeping, wiping down everything and mopping the floor.  So when I went downstairs the next morning, just the sight of the table started me off on the wrong foot.

Then I put on one of my favorite denim shirts.  I had changed into it the day before after I was finished staining, but before I varnished.  Dumb, dumb, dumb! What I didn’t notice then, but noticed on St. Patrick’s Day, was that I had apparently leaned against the table when I was varnishing, and now I had several long “stain marks” permanently ruining the shirt!  Bad Thing Number Two. I took a deep breath and put on a clean shirt.

When I was fixing my hair, my mind took a brief detour and I did something I haven’t done for years – I touched the side of my face with the curling iron! Without going into the “ouch factor,” this was a totally painful reminder that the day was sinking fast!  I mean, my face has enough personal problems of its own without my adding to them.  I immediately doused the area with cold water, but yes, it left a mark.  Bad Thing Number Three.

Trying to finish up my hair, now that I was in a completely angry/depressed mood was a disaster.  This was the same haircut that was bad three weeks ago and which I wrote about in this post. Well, it has only gotten worse, and I’m not due at the hair salon until next week!  I simply can’t get it to look normal.  Bad Thing Number Four. So now, from the neck up, I am this hideous beast with a red-marked face and hair that is as lumpy as a bag of rocks!  Great.

So I go downstairs to read the paper and have breakfast and I’m calming down.  Then I happen to look at the chandelier that hangs above my dining table which I just then noticed is almost white with all the dust from my sanding.  This is a chandelier that takes almost 45 minutes to clean under the best of circumstances!  In my cleaning frenzy of the day before I had totally overlooked or underlooked it, depending on how you view it.  Bad Thing Number Five.

So I tell myself, “calm down, everything will be fine.” (I often lie to myself like this.)  I figure I’ll get all my chores done, and then treat myself by watching the recording of “House” I made while I was watching “Dancing With The Stars” the night before.  Then it hits me. I was so hell-bent on getting the table done the day before that I forgot to set the DVD recorder! Bad Thing Number Six.

And, lest you think I’m overreacting, let me point out one small fact – all these things happened before 9:00 a.m.! Well, I’m no fool.  I immediately closed all the blinds, wrapped myself in a straitjacket and hid in a closet the rest of the day!  Otherwise, it could have gone this way.  sj

I guess you could say that on Tuesday …the bear got ME.

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