Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Once A Year

Flu shot.  Check.

Mammogram.  Check.

Every.  Year.

* * * * * * * * * *
Until three years ago I'd never had a flu shot.  Then Ken landed in the ICU with pneumonia in July 2009.  Now we each get a flu shot every year, he so he doesn't get the flu and me so I don't get it and bring it home.  I don't remember the last time I had the has been decades.  I have no intention of getting the flu, but my daughter the doctor says I need to get the vaccine to be sure.  This year I intend to head back into the classroom, so I need to be doubly sure.

Today at 2:55 I was administered this year's flu vaccine.  It takes minutes and my insurance covers it, so that's not a problem.  It's just that I trust my body to fight off viruses, so I feel resistance when people tell me my own immune system may not be able to protect me.  It's no longer up to me to trust my system; today I had a flu shot.

* * * * * * * * * *
I put off getting my first mammogram as long as I could, and by the time I succumbed I was several years past 40.  Then I was convinced to have a baseline mammogram, probably by some article I read or some guest on "Oprah."  It has become a yearly ritual because that's the standard.

Every year I ask the technician when I can stop having a yearly mammogram.  Every year I am told that there is no end in sight. 

I am now seven years post menopause.  I am obsessed with facial moisturizer so my face doesn't dry up and blow away.  I use progesterone cream daily to counteract my lack of estrogen, which I use sparingly but gratefully so I can enjoy marital relations with my husband because we still like each other and sex is a good thing that keeps us connected.

None of that buys me any advantage in regards to a yearly mammogram.  Women don't get a pass, regardless of their age or health history.  We need a mammogram every year for the purposes of early detection.  Period.

Today at 3:45 I had my yearly mammogram.  The technician said she got four good pictures.  I will have the report in a week.  There is every reason to believe that the news will be good, as it has been every other year.  As much as I don't think I will ever get breast cancer I will continue to get a mammogram every year because the alternative to early detection is inconceivable.  I have a husband, three grown children, a career to restart, and a lot of living still to do.

So many things feel out of my control lately, and it seems silly to take comfort in a shot and an x-ray.  But there it least for another year.          

Monday, September 24, 2012

Last Week In September

We are off to a good start this last week of the ninth month of 2012.

Four of us went to Boston yesterday.  My daughter bought tickets to a Red Sox game for Ken's January birthday.  At the time we had no idea that this would be the least winningest season the Sox have had in 15 years.  I was looking forward to the trip regardless of the team's record, and it was made all the better that T could join us, which worked out well because he stayed in Boston to fly out to Seattle today. 

While T dropped off his luggage with a friend, three of us had lunch at Thorntons Grille after more than three long years without this jewel in a Fenway neighborhood.  In January of 2009 Thorntons Grille and a row of adjoining small businesses were completely destroyed by fire.  My son sent me a link to the news article.  We were all very sad.  This restaurant was our favorite place to eat when we visited the guys in Boston and one of their go-to places for a meal with friends.  We watched with anticipation as plans to rebuild evolved; the surrounding community was adamant that the restaurants and shops needed to be rebuilt as they were, to reflect the character of the neighborhood.  It took two years and many hearings, but community members won and plans were developed. 

This summer Thorntons Grille reopened.  It is as good as it ever was, atmosphere and food.  Yeah!

The day was gorgeous.  We had walked the two miles from the bus station to the restaurant.  Under a clear blue sky we then walked over to Fenway Park for a 1:35 p.m. game.

The ballpark is 100 years old this year.  It has been several years since I've been to Fenway but nothing has changed.  The wooden seats painted dark green are as close as possible to the row in front and the one behind, so you quickly get to know your neighbors.  The green posts supporting the upper tiers may obstruct a portion of your view of the field, unless the fans sitting next to you leave early and you move down a few seats.  Kids of all ages eat cotton candy and popcorn. The coffee is made by Dunkin' Donuts, fresh and hot.

We had a wonderful time.  It was a bonus that it was a great game and the Red Sox won.  Afterward we all walked up to see the "red seat," a regular seat painted red to commemorate a phenomenal homerun that Ted Williams hit in 1946 against Detroit.  I hadn't seen it before, and it was fun to be in the ballpark as people made their way out of the stands.  Families with children were filling the left field grandstand so the kids could run the bases on the field, a real treat for the youngest fans.

T walked with us to the subway station, he headed back to his friend's apartment while we headed to South Station to catch a bus home.  We all wished him luck for his Thursday interview in Seattle with the company that designed the "greenest" commercial building in the world.

It was a good day and a good start to this last week in September.  I have an interview on Friday for a teaching job I don't know much about, other than it's in a middle school with a good reputation and a philosophy of education that I embrace.

It may turn out to be too good to be true, but I have all week to imagine the best case scenario for T and me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Great Outdoors

We have had some problems with the outdoors encroaching on the quality of our lives indoors.  Yesterday I attempted to find yet another solution to each of the two most aggravating frustrations.

Ants.  I have tried everything I can think of to keep ants out of the house in early spring.  For some reason they think our abode is a good place to warm their cold bodies before the ground thaws.   I placed dry bait traps in a dozen locations, sticky tape at baseboards and door jambs, and diatomaceous earth [ground shells] around the perimeter of the house.  Still they preferred overcoming those obstacles to staying outside where they belong.

So I called in the big guns ~ in May I called the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service.  I don't know if it's because our university system started as an agricultural school or because we are largely a rural state, but we have an excellent resource in our state for every thing you can imagine that has to do with inside a household of any size or outside on a piece of property of any type.

I was referred to the expert on ants.  It only took a few tries before I got the expert on the phone.  He had concrete suggestions:  place one certain type of wet bait in strategic areas in the house and treat the ground outside with a specific chemical.  I found the bait at Home Depot, but the chemical ingredient was harder to come by.  I finally found a product online that contains the chemical, so I ordered it and a sprayer with which to apply it.

Then I boosted my confidence so I would feel brave enough to tackle the task.  I read through all the directions on how to mix the product with water and the precautions to take in what I wear and how I handle the liquid.  I did further research online about the chemical, its effects and dangers.

I waited for the perfect conditions and yesterday was the day ~ sunny, warm, and calm.

It only took me an hour to figure out how to put together the pressurized sprayer and do a trial run with water.  Then it took me two hours to spray the perimeter of the house, far longer than necessary I'm sure but I was intentional and cautious.

Now I wait to see if this magic product works....

I came inside to clean up and start dinner, when I heard barking right outside the room where my son was using his computer.  I threw on my shoes and raced outside to shoo the neighbor's boxer out of our yard.

This has been a problem for many months.  It was one thing when there was only one dog next door who periodically thought our property was an extension of his own.  Then the neighbors got a puppy that was part chow, and as she grew her temperament grew increasingly hostile...toward our own yard.  I have spoken to the neighbors about the problem, which got dangerous when the chow raced at and nipped my daughter's dog's leg earlier this year while she was still recovering from surgery.  I called again to tell the neighbors that they needed to keep their dogs out of our yard.

After a brief respite, the visits from next door resumed.  Before we went on vacation I called a town council member to ask about the town's policy.  She still hasn't gotten back to me....

After I shooed the boxer away yesterday, he came back with the chow by his side.  Enough was enough.  I called the animal control officer to see what my standing is, and it's strong.  The law is that an owner is required to keep their animal under their control at all times.  He encouraged me to give him a call the next time either of the dogs is running loose, for our protection as well as the dogs' safety.

I agree but I can't do that without giving the neighbors a heads up.  I gathered myself and walked over to the neighbor's house, where both dogs came at me in their driveway, barking and growling.  I stopped and waited for the owners to call the dogs back, and they went until they decided it was more interesting to escort me to where the owners were standing.  I was more convinced than ever that we need to stop the dogs from coming onto our property.

My knees knocked and my voice shook, but I told the nice young couple next door that their dogs must stay on their own property.  The next time I see them out of their yard I am going to file a complaint.  The consequences are not dire [a verbal warning the first time, a written warning second time, a summons the third time] but I made it clear that "I'm sorry" will no longer suffice.

As I write this I see a theme of waiting until enough is enough.  Confrontation, whether with ants, dogs, or neighbors is not comfortable for me.  I wait and wait until I can no longer ignore a situation. 

I don't know why this is true because when my kids were growing up I was a crusader on their behalf, whether to advocate for them with others or to protect them from themselves.  As a classroom teacher, I deal efficiently and effectively with issues that affect students.

This is obviously something I need to think more about.  I want to feel entitled to stand up for myself.

This is as good a time to start as any.    

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Shift Change

The past week I have thought a lot about when we first bought this house. We started house hunting on a lark, and I have witnesses who will verify that I said I would never move from the house in Augusta. Our younger son was in his first year of college and our house was finally the right size again. When Ken and I started taking weekend jaunts to check out what was on the market we didn't mention it to T because we didn't think anything would come of what was just a reason to get out of the house in January.

I will never forget the phone call from our surprised first-year college student. "You're moving?!" My older son had spilled the beans. I assured him that we were just looking and no decisions had been made.

When we made the offer on this place, T was my first call. I promised him that he would always have a room here. I've always felt good about that and glad that he has felt comfortable coming and going.

So it was bittersweet when I picked him up at the bus station on Tuesday. I know his first choice is to find a job in Seattle. Those plans haven't settled out yet, and it made sense for him to come home to regroup. He will continue to apply to companies in Seattle and Boston. I told him that the right thing will come along.

I believe that because I have seen that happen again and again for each one of my children.

I chuckled at the irony of how many square feet of living space we have in this house as I dismantled my sewing room. We have lots more "room" but the same number of rooms we had for almost three decades in a much smaller house. The space here is living space, not storage or places-to-put-stuff space. Over the last five years we have spread out to fill every corner and closet, which included my taking over T's room for my sewing room when he moved to Seattle a year ago.

It took me a full day to inventory fabric I had stored in several places across two rooms and another day to clear off the daybed that is a holding bay for mending, ironing, and projects in progress. This led to sorting through two closets....

My goal is to be prepared for any eventuality. I want things to work out in the very best way for my son. I also want him to enjoy being home while we enjoy having him around. It was easy to talk about how he will continue to look for work in Seattle, while I secretly hoped that proximity would work in the east coast's favor. I promised myself that I would be supportive of whatever happens....

Which is why I smiled and asked questions this evening when he shared that he has an interview in Seattle two weeks from today. He will fly out and spend a week, which allows time for any other interviews he may be able to put in place.

In the meantime we are comparing job hunting strategies and watching West Wing on DVD.

I feel privileged to have whatever time we have together. That is where I will keep my focus.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Back Online

My desktop is back online. [The problem was McAfee, which has been removed from this computer and I will have removed from my laptop as well. My smart children have been telling me forever to use Microsoft's anti-virus but I was slow to listen.]

The first thing I want to do is visit blogs and leave comments. If I don't get to yours this morning, I will be by this evening.

I now realize that I cannot be someone who lives only with a laptop. I miss sitting at a keyboard and viewing a full-sized monitor.

My routine is to check in with email, facebook, and blogs throughout the day. Our desktop is in the center of the house, so it's easy to take a moment to check in. My phone hardly rings during the day, so technology is my connection.

I am back in the stream of connection just in time.

I am slipping into the place where I question the decisions I have made that brought me to this "middle of nowhere" place once again, not that I can go back or that I would do anything differently if I could.

It's all my own doing, moving from job to job and going back to school again and again. I chuckle when I compile transcripts for applications because I only send those for completed degrees ~ I leave out the two business classes I took in 2001 and the 13 credits I earned when I started a doctoral program in 2002 before I decided that I didn't want to be an administrator in a school or school system.

I am floating, waiting, listening and watching for a sign of what to do next.

In the meantime I submit applications, cook good things to eat, clean and declutter rooms and closets, finish sewing projects and start new ones.

Back to "start" I go, an all too familiar place that holds something new every time.