Thursday, January 29, 2009

So Hungry. So Hungry.

I am committed to eating healthfully---but it isn’t easy. I am mourning the loss of my delicious carbs and goodies by wearing all black ...with colored sprinkles and a meringue and candied-apple colored shirt…(rapid head-shake), O.k., I’m back.

When I’m on food restriction, food is all I can think about. And here I thought I had a problem before. Now I’m counting calories, sadly chomping vegetables I DO NOT LIKE, and guarding my stash of “allowable food items” like a lioness hoards her kill.

“Back off!” I hiss; yellow eyes burning.

My stomach was making angry-volcano rumblings last night. Feed me!” it yelled, as Audrey II in “Little Shop of Horrors.” I sat straight up in bed and AH-HAed—I can have air popcorn!! The nanosecond the dry, puffy stuff came tumbling out of the popper, I grabbed the first handful and pushed it in my mouth so frantically I bit my finger…hard.

As my finger throbbed, and I felt a faint coming on from the pain—some things became rapidly clear:

1. How low I’d sunk

2. That I have the jaws of a bear

3. I taste pretty good.

4. I had become a desperate wolf, hungry for the “Three Little Pork Chops” (ahem, Pigs), “The Goat and Her Seven Lamb Chops” (whoops—kids), and all those other animals carnivorous, half-starved predators crave.

5. I am pathetic

Fred is ready to force-feed me a donut just to simmer me down. I have been very unpleasant these past few days. “Unpleasant” is my word; Fred has another word he uses. In my defense, I’m not at the point yet where I need to be strapped down to receive a spray of holy water …not yet anyway.

There really should be a hotel for people just starting a diet-- “The ‘No-More’ Suites.” There, hungry, grumpy people could be housed until Day 4, when the cravings subside and we stop clenching our fists, rocking back and forth murmuring, “French Bread” and chewing in our sleep. There, T.V. stations would be censored to exclude all mention of ice cream, hot-wings and juicy, gigantic burgers…(rapid head-shake), O.k., I’m back. Rooms would have thick walls to drown out the wails of guests who accidentally received a free pizza coupon under their door.

Once checked out of “The 'No-More' Suites”, I should able to control my mouth and eat properly without all those cravings. And my family can stop locking their doors at night.

Unless, of course, there’s a Kentucky Fried Chicken/Taco Bell combo mini-restaurant around the corner from the hotel…

My nose is sniffing one out even now.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

When Men Lose Their Ability to Coordinate

This December, when I picked up my son, Jon, from college, I noticed he was wearing a new sweater.

Where did you get that sweater?”
”I bought it.”
”You REALLY bought yourself a sweater?” I was shocked and joyful.

This “First Real Clothing Purchase” (concert T-shirts don’t count) I found as marvelous as his “First Smile” or his “First Steps.” I got out his baby book and wrote on the “Momentous Firsts” page:

December 19, 2008, age 19 – First Sweater Purchase.

But I know… his attire purchasing years are going to peak someday. Some girlfriend/wife will start helping him pick out his clothes and then his color/style preference know-how will retard.

“Do these go?” he will need to confirm with some female.

Men do buy clothes for themselves at some point in their lives, especially once their mother’s stop buying for them. My husband Fred had clothes when I met him and always dressed nicely. But something happened to him when I started shopping for him.

He forgot how to do it himself.

When Fred and I were married and our closets combined, I saw that everything he owned was neutral. If his clothes were “Garanimals” brand, all the tops and bottoms would be Tigers. In other words…he had a completely idiot-proof wardrobe. Not long after that...

Fred: “Does this go?”

Heidi: “Of COURSE it goes.”

Men’s clothing stores cater to men who forgot how to choose clothes. We went looking for a new suit and accessories for Fred a few years ago and the Men’s Warehouse associates danced around him like Disney animals getting Cinder-Fred ready for the ball. Even then…

Fred: “Does it go?”

Heidi: “They’re professionals, honey.”

The only items men still have the ability to select from their closets “all-by-themselves” are horrible, holey-yet-soft, shirts and pants… you don’t even want to touch. Those items, of course, they put on without confirming their “Do they go?” status.

These are the clothes they, wisely, hide from us.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dream those Improbable Dreams

I don’t know about you, but seeing millions of hope-filled, weeping Americans witnessing our new President taking the oath of office has renewed my enthusiasm to dream big for a few things myself.

My hope is that parents will someday… get their kids to stop kicking the back of my seat at the movies. In my vision, parents would take the hint from my backward glances and respond to my polite request, “Can you please stop kicking my chair, little boy?” They would apologize for junior and clamp down on his little legs before his foot would swing or when he seems about to use my seat as a leg-press machine.

If this doesn’t work, I dream that I would just…so… happen to have a tall, fruited, “Carmen Miranda” hat to put on. I would also dare to hope for the ability to pump-up my seat (like a barber-chair) to become such an obstruction that junior’s entire family would move.

I’m giddy thinking that my dream might someday come true.

I also dream….

“Dream, what do you mean by dream?”

Well, as I was saying, I also dream…

“The other day, someone else said the word dream.”

Yes, that’s nice, but I’m dreaming of a …

“A White Christmas? HAHA”

I dream, O dream-weaver, for the return of conversational manners. Life would truly be beautiful if customer service agents would wait for me to finish, before telling me I can’t change my cell phone plan. Sales people would remain silent while I describe what I want. Talk show hosts, “Hannah Montana” and politicians would keep their mouths closed while others spoke and take turns like they did a few decades ago. Such changes of practice would greatly affect radio D.J. banter, to be sure, and I’m afraid the ladies of “The View” would be out of jobs. Wouldn’t it be worth it, to be able to complete a sentence again?

My third wish would be “like” the end of “like” the overuse of “like” the word “like.” The producers of the movie “Valley Girl” and the 1980s generation are to blame for the birth and proliferation of this sentence filler--our kids can’t “like” help it. They deserve some time to wean themselves off it. If today’s kids can’t kick the habit after, say, age 18, I wish to have the ability to turn their “likes” into dog barks. That would stop the nonsense.

Or, maybe I’m “like” totally off base here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Never Hit a Snow Porcupine

While in a dimly-lit parking lot the other night, my daughter Krista screams, “Mom, it’s a Porcupine!!” We drove over to get a closer look. Porcupines are not uncommon in our part of Wisconsin (although I’ve never seen one out in the winter).

“No, it’s just a dirty little snow-pile off someone’s car,” I said, amused.

Snow Porcupines may not be the exact technical term for those “Dirty Packages” of snow that accumulate right behind your tires and are EVERYWHERE now. Following a cruel cold, the slightly warmer temperatures create a short Snow Porcupine season, when every car and truck has multiple “creatures” to drop. Driving is hazardous as cars embarrassingly and unexpectedly release their animals in streets and on highways.

They come in two species:
“Mushy” Snow Porcupines – which cause your car to skid, but then might be crushed flat, or...
“Rock” Snow Porcupines –Essentially solid ice and will mess you and your car’s suspension up. They can ricochet off your tire, unscathed, spin and attack another car like a wild Chinese star. “OOOO! OY-YA!” they scream.

Usually, all 4 of my Snow Porcupines stay clinging, upside down under my car (sloth-like) until we get in our garage. It is there you hear the “hawash” noise at some later point, like they’ve signaled play-time to one another. They usually drop in such a place as to interfere with my garage door sensor so the door won’t go down. Then I have to shoo them away with a shovel or a broom.

My husband, Fred, would rather have the Snow Porcupines removed from my car prior to parking. They are tough little intruders and can break your toe, especially if you kick at the “Rock” variety. My son Jon, accidentally dented his car trying to kick one off—and the quilled snow pest remained.

There must be a solution to the dangerous spiky snow-pile varmints. Maybe we need periodic placement of warming grates that would blow warm air up under the car, like the city subway exhaust blew-up Marilyn Monroe’s dress. After a few moments, the Porcupines would shrink, Wicked-Witch-of-the-West-like and fall harmlessly down the grate.

Or…I suppose I could get the car washed. They hate warm water and soap.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Giant Exer-Ball Anxiety

“Daddy says no more air will go in” my daughter, Krista told me last night, after my husband Fred re-inflated my giant Exer-Ball. He has explained to me why it needs to be frequently pumped-up a few times now…and I still don’t get it. Where does the air go if there’s no leak?

I asked Fred to get the ball ready for me because I’m trying to burn a few extra calories in my sedentary life. Sitting on an Exer-Ball at my desk (I’m on it now) will accomplish this while I do my work and writing from home. They’re comfortable, to be sure, but I get the constant, nagging feeling that…it’s gonna BLOW!

At what point are you completely sure that the closer-upper is secure? What pressure will it take to shoot the plug out like a bullet? I am a lone, unsupervised, un-gated goat waiting for the wolf to come…I know it’s gonna happen, I just don’t know when. I, therefore, cannot relax. In this world of uncertainties, there is one “for-sure” …at some point…this ball will burst.

Sitting on an Exer-Ball is supposed to be good for core muscles, since you have to use them to keep the ball stable. It’s also good for your posture. However, the stress of knowing the ball is going to “Kaplow” eventually, makes me tense, negating all possible good health benefits.

You’re supposed to move around on it and roll back and forth too. But I’m worried that any friction WHATSOEVER will create a weakened, soft spot and thus, cause my collapse to the floor and subsequent concussion:

”What happened, lady?”

“My giant Exer-Ball exploded.”

“Hey Joe, we have another Exer-Ball incident. Bring the back-board.”

Bouncing, although recommended—is out of the question.

Every time I find myself engrossed in my work and forget for a moment that I’m on a “time bomb-ball,” I snap out of it and tense up again. Furthermore, the getting-off-it maneuver makes me feel like an oaf. There’s the “Roll it Back” step followed by a “Wide-Straddle” move and finally, the dreaded “Oomph Push up and Off.” I’m can only imagine how comical I look just sitting on it, but the vision of my dismount would surely land me on some You Tube memorable moments reel. No cameras allowed.

Not only am I afraid of it exploding, I’m worried about it shooting out from under me so fast and unexpectedly that I would “drop it like it’s hot” and break a hip. Hips do get broken at my age.

Some would say, “Is it worth it, Heidi?” All that fear, anxiety, comparing myself to farm animals and oafs—what’s next?

Super gluing the plug—that’s what’s next…followed by duct tape.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Good Owner Gets Unlucky Pets

Historically, I don’t acquire pets with good luck.

At age 6, my brother, Jeff and I each had little turtles. He named his James T. Kirk and mine was Lt. Uhura. They were doing fine until Jim Kirk climbed on Lt. Uhura’s back. When we woke up the next morning, she was dead. We renamed Jim Kirk—“Killer.” “Killer” escaped two days later—he’s still on the loose.

Our Mom bought us a “make-it-all-better” parakeet we named Gideon. Gideon died of consumption…consumption of the plastic wrap we put around the cage to prevent the bird from throwing bird seed all over the floor. She also “consumed” the plastic “twist-ums’ Mom used to tie the cage door shut.

Years later when I had kids, we adopted a hamster from friends who could no longer keep him. My son David renamed him Elmer. Hamsters are NO fun, because they sleep all day. Elmer and I spent our nights together--he in his clear plastic exercise ball, I on my exer-cycle. Evidently, Elmer was a VERY old hamster and probably had no business running inside a ball--he was probably running for his life. Day 3—dead.

My daughter wanted fish for her birthday. We got 2 moly-type goldfish from Walmart. Within a week, the fish developed giant, red spots on their heads and turned black.

“MOM! Their BRAINS are coming out!” Krista cried.

“That’s impossible “

Our Pet Cemetery is getting pretty full.

So it took many, many years to get up the nerve to get a dog. I was imagining all the work, discipline, and, with my track record, a Humane Society Investigation. But we adopted Jasmine Buttercup Ruby, a “marked down” 12-week-old puppy anyway, and prayed she had better luck.

At 6 months, we had her in obedience school and the trainer asked if anyone had a female dog.


“Because there’s a female dog in here that’s gone into heat,” she pointed to the floor.

Jasmine had gone into early heat, and at this point no vet would perform the “operation” until she was over “it” (16 - 21 days). Scrunch-faced, I purchased dog sanitary pads, and a special pair of doggie panties to hold the pad in place. The panties were denim with a bandana ruffle around the tail (think: Daisy Duke with hairier legs). She reacted to the indignity of it, tail firmly pushed between her legs, clawing, whining, and biting (not unlike some women I know when they’re in heat). She kept pulling at the denim contraption, and we’d find white stuffing all over the place.

And she smelled.

Since then, she’s had hot spots which require parts of her to be shorn like a sheep, a ragweed allergy, and recently, she’s been biting at all 4 of her feet. Do dogs get Athlete’s Paw?

We’re over the hump, though—she’s 2 1/2, which means she’s made it past the dead-zone. I’m keeping this one alive….if it kills me!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I AM DOG--hear me “Woof”

Dear Arfie,

They say owners and their dogs begin to look alike in time. Although my earlobes ARE hanging lower than last year, I see no beginnings of a tail, enlarged tongue or canines. I have noticed some starling behavior similarities, however. Since you're a dog, maybe you can help me…

There is always a little liquid medicine at the bottom of that deep, little plastic cup that I can never get out. I take this kind of medicine twice a day. Without thinking, I’ve been lapping the last few drops out with my tongue--it’s highly efficient, actually. Yesterday, after I was done, I looked sideways and noticed that Jasmine, our golden retriever, was staring at me. She shook her head in a knowing, disgusted manner. I am dog.

Jasmine has a need to “go” in her own spot. She’ll take an entire walk sometimes, cross-legged until she gets home, then zips across the lawn to “Poo-field,” circles around her exact area and relieves herself. I think it’s kind of compulsive.

“You do the same thing,” my husband, Fred pointed out recently.


“You hold it in till you get home so you can go in your own spot.”

Good GOD—he’s right! I DO like my own bathroom (especially our new toilet) and will wait until I get home in almost all cases. So far, though I haven’t been circling it. Should I be worried? Am I dog?

Last night, I had an itch behind my ear and I got my right leg up and tried to scratch it with my toenails (o.k.—that didn’t really happen). But I HAVE been doing a lot of shedding lately. The difference between Jasmine’s shedding and mine is that hers is limited to the floor—mine is EVERYWHERE! I have a feeling in my bones that I’ll end up wearing Lunch Lady hair-nets. Did I just say “bones?” See what I mean?

If all this points to some human/canine DNA melt—is there hope for me?


The Shaggy Housewife


Dear Shaggy Housewife,

First of all… are YOU my mother?

Don’t fight the process. If the next step is nose blackening, followed by an enhanced sense of smell—embrace it. Also, I’d definitely be on the look-out for that tail.

As for advice---have you tried a vacuum or a good, metal hand-rake for the excess shedding?


“Dear Arfie”

Friday, January 2, 2009

Air Exchange

(I’m allowed one serious blog a year, aren’t I?)

For a while now, I’ve been recovering from a ravaging lung fungus called Blastomycosis. I always thought of myself as a seasoned adult, wise to the world. In the past few months, I wasn’t prepared for the realization of how much I had yet to learn about life. Take a walk, will you, in my shoes and through my eyes?

Normally, I am a strong female. But when I was fungus-filled in the hospital, taking mega-doses of pain medication, I was weak. As soon I was lucid and off morphine, I was very frightened to realize that during that time span, I was unable to care. The drugs take away your pain, but they also take away your consciousness and free-will. I remember the room swirling, my heavy eyelids drooping, barely able to stay awake long enough to hold my little daughter or converse with my worried husband--thinking I might die…and not being able to fight for my own life. Lesson 1: Sometimes you need to feel the pain.

Some drugs, however, don’t make you apathetic and work to fight the enemy within. Medicines that work against lung funguses are harsh and cause other things to happen inside. I now have dry (like a reptile) skin, flatulence (like-- don't invite me over) and massive, yet temporary, hair loss. All these conditions I accept. Prior to my illness, I thought that losing hair due to chemo therapy was a terrible thing---it is to some, but—SURPRISE--for this lifesaving drug, one that has returning my lungs to near-normal and given me a chance to live again, I say, “Out, damn hair!” In exchange for the air that I breathe, my hairs (especially the grey ones) are a minimal offering. Lesson 2: Yet another nudge that “looks” are superficial.

I am not a scientist, doctor or researcher, but thank God some super-intelligent people are. I owe my life to doctors clever enough to diagnose and treat what ailed me. I bow to those who create and test medicines. I must have said 100 times in the past how much I dislike doctors--I’m always second guessing them and double-checking the Internet for my symptoms. Lesson 3: There ARE people who know more than you do--trust them!

I have also learned that air ROCKS! Air is fantastic!! When you can’t breath and you’re coughing till you pee, air is the most delicious thing in the world. It doesn’t need to be “Fresh Spring” flavored either— just plain air is sweet enough. I inhale deeply about 50 times a day now… just because I can. Lesson 4: This is an easy one…the best things in life are free.

There are dozens of people who helped my family. Some cooked meals, gave up vacation days, cleaned, made sure my daughter got off to school with her hair brushed and some who checked on me every day. I got many get well cards; each one I genuinely appreciated. While I was a thoughtful person before all this—now, quadrupled is my empathy towards others in need. From now on I will offer to help anyone I know is sick. I will also be brave and ask sick people, “How are you doing?” and not be afraid of bringing up an awkward subject. Most people want to tell their story—I know I did. I am in awe, truly, of those with guts enough to tackle the most treacherous treatments for the most treacherous diseases—it takes more courage than I ever realized. Lesson 5: Don’t ask, “Should I help?”…just help.

I will not let a disease beat me down again. I have new awareness of anti-bodies, good cholesterol and free-radicals, all of which can help arm my body against anything. I need to eat food that helps my body be strong. This food will not always taste great to me. Instead of dieting or making a lifestyle change to look better, I will forever more think of eating properly and nutritiously as building up a defense against an unknown, unexpected fight. I don’t know why I got sick, but if it ever happens again, I’ll have a body full of tiny army men, prepared to kill. Lesson 6: Eat your spinach!

All these lessons I’ve heard before. A few, I’ve even lived before. You still have room to grown into an even better person—I did. Take a deep breath and ready yourself for the challenge.