Going to a doctor’s appointment is not where I usually find things to laugh about, but there are exceptions. Mom and I manage to find them. We go together to her appointments, because two sets of eyes and ears are always better than one, and also because she has decided not to drive anymore and lets me take her around.

Yesterday found us at the clinic for a pre-op exam. We were hoping it would go well so she could have her carpal tunnel surgery next week. Mom wanted to ride in a wheelchair (why waste energy?) so after I parked, I went in and got one. It had no footrests, so in we went, masks on, feet held high, to join all the other compromised and infirm in the waiting room. It’s an exercise in gratitude to watch others who are living with conditions we are glad we don’t have.

But our observations were cut short when one of the assistants opened the door, with chart in hand and called out “Owen!” No one responded and we were all wondering where Owen had gotten off to, when she called him again. Still no response.

“Could you possibly mean Gwen?” I asked. The similarities in the names was something I had often thought about because Dad’s name was Owen – one letter different, and a G is a lot like an O.

And so started our relationship with Krisy, who was willing to laugh off her poor eyesight and be thankful she had not lost an Owen but gained a Gwen. We had our short stop at the scale, in spite of Mom’s joking attempts to get past it. Mom would make a great stand up comedian with her own kind of dry humor, which I think she gets from watching Golden Girls. Krisy directed us on into the exam room and in the course of getting us settled, she noticed Mom’s purse.

“I really like your purse! I need one like that to go with my new coat.” She went on about purses that didn’t go with her coat, until Mom, thinking that she would share a valuable secret with a new friend, told her where she had gotten her really cute red purse. Mom is unabashedly proud of her ability to find pretty much anything she needs at Salvation Army. Of course, there was no chance of finding another purse like that at Salvation Army now, so Krisy just answered her with “Oh, well that’s okay. I’m kind of a purse snob anyway.” I think she was surprised and I think Mom was glad she had gotten there before Krisy.

So the vital signs got taken and the routine questions got answered and recorded on the computer while Krisy chatted with us about the new coat. I can’t remember the exact words she used to describe it, but in general, it was black and shiny. I was picturing something like patent leather when she said shiny, but the image got more defined when she said one of her co-workers told her it looked like a garbage bag, the big, black kind. Krisy was having a great time telling us this so she must not have gotten offended.

It was not the end of the coat story either. She went on to say that her coat had fur trim around the hood which she really liked – very fashionable. Only one of the doctors at the clinic had told her it looked like a squirrel, checking out a garbage bag for something to eat. That cracked her up, and we had to laugh too. The exam was off to a real good start.

We had a good little wait time after she left. I went on a long verbal critique of the picture on the wall that I was facing. Mom felt a little cheated since her wall only had a mirror. She’s not big on mirrors and is always wishing to fix what she’s seeing in them.

We have a nice, woman PA and she finally came in and explained things that would be covered in the pre-op exam. Well, actually she only got about three sentences out before she got a tickle in her throat and had to leave the room, coughing into her mask. Mom and I kind of looked at each other in horror, or maybe it just seemed that way because all we could see were each other’s eyes.

These poor healthcare workers don’t have it easy. Our PA returned after a while, reassuring us that she had a cough drop in her mouth, and had gotten over her bout with Covid a few weeks ago “but that darn tickle” was hanging on.

The rest of the exam went just fine. Mom answered all the questions the right way. The PA listened to her chest and couldn’t hear anything alien in there. Krisy came back and did an EKG on Mom – she was still just as happy as could be. We finished off with a trip down to the lab for some bloodwork, and then out the door, feet held high, whipping off our masks.

Mom and I try to laugh a little everywhere we go, but as much fun as this pre-op exam was, I can hardly wait until the Covid test on Friday and surgery next week. Yeah, just sayin’…

Mom’s best pick of the day

February Goodness: Finding Lost Things

It is so good to be able to find things that are lost. Well, not actually “things” plural, but “thing” singular. I’m betting every woman who owns a purse or a bag that goes everywhere with her knows the panic of losing her purse.

It’s not a little purse.

This is my purse. I don’t take it everywhere because I carry most of what I really need in my phone wallet. But today I took it along to the husband’s weekly chiropractor appointment. I had it with me in the treatment room and hung it on his cane, like in the picture. After the appointment I had an errand to run for Mom at the hardware store.

I came out of the hardware store with my purchases and as I set them on the floor of the truck, where I usually put my purse, I was aware that my purse was not there. Thinking it must be in the back seat, I got out, opened the door and took a look. The inside of my truck is black too and sometimes the purse is hard to see. It definitely was not there.

No problem. We just went back to the chiropractor’s office a minute or two away. It wasn’t in the waiting room where I thought it had to be. But I could have put it down in the treatment room when I helped the husband up after his adjustment. The receptionist went in and looked. It wasn’t there either.

Back to the truck I went. Everything in it got lifted, opened, felt and thoroughly examined, but there was still no discovery. I went back in the office and waited for ten minutes until the person in the treatment room was finished and came out. I had to see for myself that the purse was not there, although I didn’t think they could have missed it. There was no purse and there was nothing left to do about it except pray that it be found. The chiropractor added his prayer as well, and it was comforting to know he was genuinely concerned.

I went back to the truck to inform the husband, who is also as eager to give lost causes to God as I am.

Husband: “God knows where it is. We’ll pray and keep looking.”

Me: “I know, but there isn’t any place left to look. It wasn’t anywhere in the office and I can’t see it anywhere in here, unless you’re sitting on it.”

Husband: “I am sitting a little bit crooked.”

Me: (looking at him in disbelief) (shoving my hand behind his back and feeling a purse strap) “You’re sitting on my purse! You couldn’t feel that?!”

Husband: (looking sheepish and overjoyed, a very strange combination) “Well, that was quick.”

All good. We were both so relieved that there was instant laughter. Losing things is not fun, but sometimes finding them again makes it all worth it. Just sayin’…

The Shadow, Renamed…

Most people my age have had numerous pets of their own, and also have had their children’s pets to contend with. In addition to that, I have a soft heart for strays of all kinds and have successfully passed the gene on to my daughters. I have grandpets. I truly know the joys and sorrows of pet ownership. Most people my age could live very well without any more pets, thank you.

But there was this small cat, barely out of its kitten hood, that my brother and his wife found. It was under their car as they were leaving a graduation party this spring, mewing pitifully. It was skinny, wet and cold, probably hungry. And it was black. For some reason, being black is a strike against a cat. They are least likely to get adopted once they are abandoned. My brother tried but could not find the owner and since the cat was overwhelmingly friendly, they took it home.

More than that, they had their vet look the little creature over and give it some drops for its eyes and an appointment to be spayed. It was litter trained already and acted grateful for a warm bed, food and people petting it.

This is where I came in, thinking that the husband might enjoy having a cat to pet and take care of. He’s retired and spending a lot of time at home without much to do. He’s gotten attached to cats in the past. It seemed reasonable. And the first few days, when the cat was tired and half starved, were peaceful days. And then it got frisky.

Now, several months later, I am very much reminded of what cats do. I have wiped up mounds of semi-digested cat food from the carpet. I have awakened in the middle of the night to find the cat sleeping on my chest. I have taken to smelling any pile of laundry left on the floor for the all too familiar odor of cat pee. I frequently walk around the house feeling like the cat is tied to my leg with string, trying not to trip over it. I sneak to doors and try to get through them before the cat hears me. I could go on – you’ve all heard about cats, if not experienced them yourselves.

So Shadow, as my niece named her before I took her, finally got well enough to keep her surgery appointment. We thought she might be in heat because of the way she kept running to open windows and trying to get through the screens. It was hard keeping her inside. I was glad she was getting spayed.

The vet called later that morning. “You have a very lively cat”, he told me. “She’s unusually active (which made me wonder what kind of fun they had anesthetizing her) and it took a little longer than we had anticipated. Oh, and by the way, we couldn’t find any female organs. She must have been spayed already. We looked extensively to make sure so she’s going to be pretty sore for a while.”

She was. There were a few more peaceful days until she had recovered somewhat. I cautiously let her go outside to sit in the sun. That’s what I would have liked to do if I were a cat. I would leave the sliding doors to the patio open just enough for her to squeeze through. She was definitely an indoor/outdoor kind of cat, who loved both worlds. She came running when I called her and loved to nap inside, but was just as eager to get out again.

It wasn’t long after that when I realized what she was doing outside. She was hunting. One morning I found a mostly dead mole, inside the house. I found him by following the trail of blood spatters on the floor and wall. It had to have been a tortuous way to go. This was followed in short order by several frogs who also bled and lost body parts. I got suspicious of her antics any time she seemed to be having fun “playing” with something.

I knew her skill was increasing one day when she brought in a bird. She had it cornered under a bookshelf and I was able to rescue it. It was so tiny and had a numb, dazed look in its eyes. I took it outside, wondering what to do with it, when it flew away!! I had saved it! I wish I could have done the same for the next two she caught. But I had to wonder… how is she catching birds?

We were having dinner on the patio one pleasant evening. The cat was also out and we were watching her tear around the lawn. Without hesitating she aimed at a tree and went up it like a squirrel to a fairly high branch. Hugging the dark branch, with leaves all around her, she was hard to see. I think that’s why the large flock of sparrows flew into the tree all around her and perched – poor unsuspecting things. So now we know she doesn’t wait for them to come down. She goes up and gets them.

This brings me to today. This morning Shadow brought in a small grey mouse and let it get away. She was waiting patiently by the couch where it had fled for shelter, waiting for it to come out and play again. I got down on the floor with the flashlight and witnessed it scurrying back and forth, trying to find a safe escape route. Definite mouse panic. I felt sorry for it, but what could I do? I couldn’t get under the couch either.

I don’t know where the mouse is. I came in the living room this afternoon to find the recliner upside down – the one the husband usually sits in. He’s doesn’t know where the mouse is now either, but he’s pretty sure it was in/under the chair. I think we now have two house pets.

Do I hope the cat will catch the mouse? I can’t quite decide. But I am renaming her. I’m calling her Shadow of Death because it fits her very well. Just sayin’…

The Future Starts Now (Scary): A Windows 10 Review

At this point, I think you are very brave talking about the future....
At this point, I think you are very brave talking about the future….

And who better to write a internet technology review than me?  After all, I was one of the lucky few (smirk, smirk) to be offered a free Windows 10 upgrade, not only once, but EVERY time I opened my computer for the last couple of months.  Smarter, faster, more secure… what’s not to like about that?

Evidently Windows 10 is new enough that not many reviews have been written about it.  I couldn’t find any as I was toying with the idea of trying it.  I asked around among my tech savvy friends and no one had any advice to offer.  I didn’t find any help online either.  Finally, just to get rid of the annoying pop-up I agreed to try it.  The marketing lesson here is that if you  badger people long enough they will agree just to get rid of you. But we knew that…

The upgrade was pretty easy since it required nothing of me except for checking boxes that gave permission for me to turn my life over to Microsoft for pretty much anything they wanted to do with it.  I can see that it’s true – they have to know all those details about me in order to know what ads I would appreciate seeing (never) and what movies and news programs I want to watch (not).  Advertising specifically tailored to my needs is very important.  I don’t even remember what I did with my needs before the internet came along.

The initial appearance of my start screen was, well, smaller? Instead of charms spread across the whole screen they were all lined up in a small box on the left of my screen.  I later learned that was desktop mode.  I learned it when I accidentally got in tablet mode and couldn’t find a way back.  You’re thinking “why didn’t she watch the tutorial?”  I watched the little movie.  I watched it every time I encountered a new question.  They were always clicking buttons and tabs that I didn’t have on my screen.  I gave them virtual punches in the face.

After not being able to open my Open Office program for several days I finally adjusted by stopping production of documents.  I was pretty proud of myself for that fix. After a couple weeks of learning my way around and thinking “I can do this” I noticed a weirdness of slow motion taking over my usual online activities.  Not wanting to blame Windows 10 for every interminable black screen, or frozen loss of control episode, I called my computer’s doctor and got a prescription to clean up and check for viruses.  It was about time anyway.

All was well, as I recall, and I was thinking things were moving along a little faster. Truthfully, I don’t remember everything that transpired in proper sequence.  Did I close down and restart before the next problem occurred? Don’t know, but suddenly I’m going nowhere on the internet.  I’m getting a simple message that there are no internet connections available.  That’s happened before.   I turned of the power to the router and rebooted, twice I think.  My cell phone was connecting with wifi, my internet home phone was connecting with wifi, but my computer kept saying there was nothing to connect to.  Liar, liar, circuits on fire.

I spent the rest of yesterday looking for a wifi switch on my computer, looking for Windows 10 help on my cell phone, and having real angst about being so reliant on the elusive cyber world. During my search for Windows 10 connection problems I ran across a note from Microsoft that offered a return to my previous Windows 8.1, which at that point felt kind of like a lost child finally finding mother.  It didn’t occur to me that I would need the internet to bring my mother back.  I clicked.  The screen was black for hours.

I finally decided the computer had turned itself off and was not just working silently in the dark.  I powered up and Windows 8.1 magically loaded itself and all my familiar friends were there and in good health.  Thank you Windows 10 for the experience with smarter, faster and more secure… just sayin’.

What Is That Smell?

“The carpet is dirty.” she told me, wrinkling her nose. She was a prospective renter for a condo we manage.

“No, actually, that’s the color it is.  Multi-color sand and dirt, and it looks pretty good.  We’ll check it out when the furniture is off.” I was able to reassure her, but I could smell it too.  Mild animal odor.

This carpet isn’t that old!  I can’t stand the thought of replacing it again already…aaagghh!

I remember other times being assaulted with an odor as soon as I stepped into a house.  Usually it was the house of an animal lover with indoor pets abounding, or an elderly couple whose days of cleaning up immaculately after kitty were past. This all makes me think of the power of smell to form our opinions, and rather quickly I might add. This is not good news.  For one, the impression left on a prospective renter might mean I have to replace carpet in the condo I was showing.  For two, it means I have to watch out as some people would describe the husband and I as an elderly couple whose days of cleaning up immaculately after kitty are past.

We aren’t that old!!  I clean up after that cat all the time, cat hair, cat puke, cat litter, all of it…

One of these days I will start losing my sense of smell.  It might actually be an old age blessing, I don’t know.  but it’s not happening yet.  Lately every time I walk into my closet from a certain direction (there are two doors) I smell something… something sour, old.and difficult to describe any more concretely.  It’s only there for a few seconds and then it’s gone. I have done housecleaning professionally and following my training I have taken that closet apart, including inspection of all the shoe soles, behind the small dressers and washing the throw rug.  There is nothing there.  I have checked out the air vents. Nothing.  I don’t know where else to check, but the smell is still there.

Did I just tell people that my house stinks?!  I’m making it sound like I live in a barn – that’s just not right.  I shouldn’t write that. 

Lying in bed in the morning, I can tell if the timer on the coffee pot worked. I can walk toward my kitchen and tell immediately if the garbage should have been taken out the night before.  I can tell what it is in the garbage that is announcing itself and almost to the hour how long it has been there. I can tell from the opposite end of the house that the pan cooking whatever on the stove is out of water and working on a burn.  I can tell if the cat has used the litter box (oh, how I can tell!), I can tell if the shirt lying on the dryer is used and on its way to the wash or fresh and on its way to the closet.  I can smell way too much sometimes.

I’m revealing my smell obsession.  Stop it now.

Last night as a friend came to the house to bring me something, we stopped and talked by the dining room table.  I was very nervous to linger there as it was the area of one of my latest mystery smells.  Smelled like rotting chicken.  Really.  Fortunately she was bringing me some essential oils which smell really great.  I will never know whether she decided to demonstrate the difuser out of self defense.  She was too polite to say, and I kept hoping it was just happy coincidence that she chose a nice strong lavender.

Wow, maybe I do live in a barn!  What kind of house cleaner am I?!

When the husband came home from band practice, he smelled it too, and said he had been smelling it for days.  Funny thing, it was coming from his briefcase that he keeps on a chair at the end of the table.  Yeah, the one he takes to work and sometimes he throws his lunch into the side pocket.  Well, what do you know?  There’s still a boiled egg hiding in there from two weeks ago.  Nasty thing.

Gosh, it was rotting chicken.  We are getting so old.  But hey, we found it.  

I ran the difuser all night, right by my bed.  It was great.  I love lavender.



Please tell me this happens to you too.   Maybe, just once in a while?