Thursday, September 08, 2016
As I write these words, I'm sipping my first Starbucks pumpkin spice latte of the year while watching the first Thursday night NFL game of the season, the Denver Broncos v. Carolina Panthers.
My fall calendar lights up again with activities next week after a long summer sojourn... Living Vine bible study and small groups, Homework House volunteering to neighborhood kids, two book clubs.
Our kitchen is brimming with fall organic produce for heartier meals... tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, carrots, potatoes, sweet bell peppers, onions, herbs, and early apples.
My writing calendar is full, too, with an active book project, blogs, and an inspiring conference in San Luis Obispo in a few weeks.
And today is my beloved son's birthday.
I feel blessed and deeply grateful for a fresh, creative start to a new, different season in my life.
Welcome, fall! I've been waiting for your warm glories...
Thursday, August 25, 2016
Autograph books were a fad in Victorian-era America, from about 1850 through the 1880s. Until replaced by yearbooks. Telephones. The internet. And Facebook...
Per Wikipedia, autograph books originated in Europe in the Middle Ages to record family genealogy, and among college students. "Traditionally they were exchanged among friends, colleagues, and classmates to fill with poems, drawings, personal messages, small pieces of verse, and other mementos. Their modern derivations include yearbooks, friendship books, and guest books."
In fact, Princeton University archives house a collection of "219 autograph books from 192 members of classes between 1825 and 1884. The books were used to collect not only the autographs of classmates, but also good wishes, bits of favorite verse, letters of farewell, or reminiscences of shared events during undergraduate years."
I appreciate my great-grandmother's Autograph Book for the extraordinary genealogy record she later, at age 71, listed in it in 1933.
But even more, I'm charmed by the eloquent, sweet, serious, clever, often funny autographs collected in the early 1880s from family and friends by 19-year-old Jessie Gibson of farming community Sigel, Kansas.
And it strikes me how much civility and graciousness Americans have lost in the last 150 years, from Victorian-era autographs books to Facebook today.
For your enjoyment, a small sampling...
(In the photo, from left are Charles Hutchison (1858-1941), son Alpha (1884-1962), daughter Marie, my grandmother (1897-1987), daughter Gertrude (1886-1962), Jessie Gibson Hutchison (1862-1952), daughter Clara (1888-1975).)
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Men certainly suffer physical exam indignities. But I doubt any man in a medical office was treated with the condescension I met this morning. Ever.
Privacy was not the problem. Heavens, I've given birth three times. Once a mother, few women think twice about a bit of breast-flashing in a medical setting. No, privacy's not the issue.
The problem was the attitude of the energetic radiology tech who rushed through what's probably a boring drill for her. Older woman. Healthy patient. Routine exam. Blah blah blah.
She raced down the hallway, oblivious that I'm a slow walker, given my wobbly right hip. When she noticed me lagging behind her track-star pace, she coaxed me sedately as though I was not comprehending her "OK, turn right. Now it's the fourth door on your right. See? This door..."
She directed me to the usual chair encircled by a hospital curtain, but cautioned, "Don't sit down. It's hard to stand back up again!" Huh? I sat down, removed red tank-top and pink bra, then donned the requisite ugly front-opening half-gown.
I stepped to the digital radiology equipment (see above), and started to lean in exactly as I've done yearly since the medical group went digital. The tech rushed over... "No sweetie, not like that. Just follow me. Drop your arms. I'll show you..." Sweetie?
I go limp, and let her contort my arms and chest into awkward picture-friendly positions. And then it happened. Once.Twice. Two more times for lateral views.
She affixed my breast between the two mega-slides, then ZAP, she auto-closed the slides. For good measure, I assume, she then manually twisted knobs twice (or more?) to tighten the vise with the power of a weight-lifter.
Electricity coursed through my system. Shocked, I briefly yelped. Never before have I experienced intense pain at a mammogram. This pain was searing. I told her it was too tight. Her response? "Be quiet. You need to hold still." Uh, what? "Look how red my breast is," I nicely complained about my mottled strawberry-red skin. "Happens to everyone," she quipped, not bothering to look.
She rapidly repeated her process three more times. Never letting up the unnecessary pressure. Never listening or responding to me. In fact, the last two, it seemed she clamped that vise down a tad harder, if that was physically possible. But maybe my breasts were so sore by that time, the torture felt more acute. Intimidated, I stayed quiet.
Lest you think I'm a whiner. I've been told by the best that my pain tolerance is pretty high (except for childbirth, of course). A respected orthopedic surgeon once lectured me at length that I need to be more aware of pain. That being too mind-over-matter coupled with obliviousness to pain is not a formula for good health.
I sat in the curtained chair to clothe. Done with her tasks, the radiology tech shouted to me, "Do you know how to get to the lobby? Turn left out of the door, then left at the corner." She abruptly exited another door, slamming it hard in her hurried wake.
I am grateful beyond measure for good medical care. I am grateful for the technical skills of this radiology tech. I am grateful that almost without exception, I have dealt with medical professionals who treat patients with respect and reasonable sensitivity.
Today, though, I experienced the mammogram from hell. This mammogram was painful and more than a little humiliating, and in only 20 minutes.
I finally understand why many women detest, and often wrongly avoid, mammograms. Hard to imagine that men are treated with the same indifference or condescension as shown to me in this simple medical test.
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Just returned from a refreshing weeklong vacation on the big Island with Ron, of course. (See my window for ritual morning coffee, at right.) Ready to return to my blogging roots.
I haven't written at The Crazy Woman ("TCW") for two years. Been busy, growing and expanding, experiencing highs and lows of this life. More about that later... I lost four years of TCW writings, from 2010 to 2014, including a few deeply poignant pieces. I have high hopes of still salvaging the posts from a bungled download. But writing, like life, must carry on...
The Crazy Woman was my first blog, and remains the blog I love best. It's personal, not political or professional or bound for big-time publishing. It's my musings. It's my blog, my page, my thoughts.
I started TCW in 2003 when I first heard of blogging, in the same year my oldest daughter, Trisha, married. In the year that the U.S. started the Iraq War, and changed everything in this country.
Much has changed for me, too, especially in the last four years. Trisha is no longer married, but living the life she always wanted in New York City. Successful woman, that one, especially at marketing. Can scare up a terrific job faster than anyone I've ever known.
My parents both passed away earlier this year, of separate but similar causes. Married 67 years, they were part of each other in every way. Theirs was a marriage full of joy, fun, and sadness, misunderstandings and too much illness. But always, family and commitment.
As for our other adult children, Kevin and lovely wife Lauren, fashion and design guru, live in Berkeley with two cats. Kevin continues to be a star in marketing for a major database corporation. Lucky guy takes BART into The City, and works two blocks from the Giants ballpark. Ryan (and kids) reside near us here in Orange County, and labors mightily in the software field. We feel blessed beyond words to see them often, and be part of their lives.
Yours, mine, and then there's ours... Andrea, our only kid still a twentysomething, lives in greater Washington D.C. Astonishing that she graduated three years ago from that college in Connecticut. She works at a health-related think tank funded, in part, by the Gates Foundation;. is finishing a post-bac pre-med program at University of Maryland; and plans to apply next spring to medical schools. Lots of her friends live in D.C. and New York, so you can imagine, we don't see her much.
Here's the thing. Our kids have their own lives. "Cat's in the Cradle" and all that jazz... they don't need us much anymore. We are finding our way again. I am finding my way again. Still crazy after all these years, I'm pleased to report.
That's what I will be writing about now at The Crazy Woman. Finding my way, post-parenting and post-parents. Check back often. I'd love to share this journey with you.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Sunday, February 07, 2010
After a candlelit dinner at home last night to celebrate our two decades of marriage, I gave Ron one of those attractive, designed-for-a-man Hallmark cards.
The trendy blue card looked oddly stark, though, and short on heartfelt sentiment, so I covered the inside with a list of things I love about him.
Things he does. Things I admire. Things we do and are together. Things he does for me and for our family. Small things. Big things. Thoughtful things.
My list brought rare tears to Ron's eyes.
Likewise, he selected a pretty, poetic card for me that he signed "You are my everything."
Sure, we've had our disagreements. Moments of angry frustration. Times when either or both felt disappointed or smothered or bewildered. But we never doubted that we belonged together.
Meeting with us in his small church office, the weary, middle-aged pastor reported results of our premarital tests with a deep sigh, "Well, I have good news and bad news...
"The bad news is that you two are very, very different. The good news is that you know it. And you're fine with it."
Indeed, we do know it. And we're fine with it. Just fine.
Friday, February 05, 2010
What makes you happy?
That's the subject of a puzzling new book, The Happiness Project, by a youngish woman who embarks on an ambitious quest to seek out tasks that make her "happy."
(She concludes that cleaning closets, "acting energetic," and exercising are on her happiness short-list. In reality, what also makes her happy is writing at length about herself doing tasks. But I digress... )
The question is a serious one these days for people mired in the busy rat-race of the world. But the question is not:
- What makes you content?
- What gives you peace?
- What brings you joy?
The question is... What makes you happy? The dictionary here on my desk defines happy as "feeling or showing pleasure," which, to me, implies a temporary condition. A fleeting feeling of bliss, far more temporary than, say, contentment, joy, or certainly, peace.
I've fought blood pressure battles for over decade, and have taken mild medication for most of that time. At my doctor's behest, I bought a good-quality blood pressure wrist monitor (see photo above) five or so years ago, and have used it sporadically... sometimes diligently, sometimes forgetting it altogether for months at a stretch.
While I feel great these days, and less excitable as the years drift by, blood pressure is again, and always, an issue. And my doctor is rightly peeved that the monitor has recently gathered dust.
I dusted it off last week, and bought new batteries for it. And like the author of the The Happiness Project, I've started a project ot studying what makes me happy... feeling pleasure, relaxed, devoid of stress... via measuring my blood pressure at all times of day and night, in a variety of circumstances.
Here's what I've observed via blood pressure reading, thus far, that makes me happy:
- Reading interesting books when the house is quiet.
- Writing for personal pleasure, usually not about politics.
- Cooking creatively for someone who enjoys it.
- Doing things for my family that makes them feel listened to, supported, and/or loved.
- Listening to most praise music and many kinds of jazz.
- Sitting on the couch with Ron later at night, talking, laughing, watching dumb TV shows or baseball scores, winding down from the day.
- Hugs. Hugging. (And other acts of affection, of course.)
(My blood pressure falls, too, while I'm eating. Seriously... I measured it. No wonder I like eating too much... This pleasure is more of a problem, than positive attribute, in my family.)
Cleaning closets or any other part of the house, garage or yard will never be on my bliss list, although our house is tidy and well-organized. Nor will exercising or crafting/sewing or most shopping . Or hanging out with unkind folks or those who take themselves far too seriously.
Now, none of my "happiness" factors are particularly original. Frankly, my inner critic finds them embarrassing, more than a little mawkish and oh-so Lifetime-ish. But like my talents and flaws, my green-gold eyes and milky skin, my arthritic knees and chubby thighs and big feet... they're mine. All mine. Given to me by an infinitely gracious God.
Contentment, though, is not a perpetual state of bliss, but rather, a tension between taking care of one's responsibilites within community and world, and savoring moments of happiness that allow us to refuel to face our stressful, imperfect world. And, of course, contentment isn't possible without an ever-growing relationship with our God...
My advice to anyone else confused about "What makes me happy?" Get a blood pressure monitor. Like a polygraph test, it's a truth teller. And truth detector.