Saturday, September 22, 2012

3620 It's the Pitts

Saturday, September 22, 2012

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch,
you must first create the universe.
-- Carl Sagan --


When I heard that Leonard Pitts, Jr., had a new novel out, I leapt to buy it.  I didn't know he wrote fiction.  [Hmmm.  Spellcheck doesn't like "leapt".  That's a perfectly good word!]  I also bought two other of his books that I hadn't known existed.  [So much for not expanding the book collection....]

I have adored Pitts for decades.  I first read his nationally syndicated column in a Washington newspaper**, and then when I moved to NY was pleased to find it in the local rag, the "(town) Freeman".  The man always managed to speak my thoughts.  When the local paper was acquired by some big conservative conglomerate and Pitts' column was replaced by that of some rabble-rousing Rush Limbaugh wannabe who went off in half-cocked indignation with no research and little respect for facts, I was unhappy.  The internet was fairly new then, so Pitts sort of dropped out of my sight.  I'd almost forgotten him.

In the meantime, he'd been awarded the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, and had written a few books.  Mr. Pitts, I am very pleased to meet you again. 

The new book is Freeman (absolutely no relationship to that local paper!).  I'm about 2/3 of the way through it now.  It is well written and absorbing, pretty much what I expected of Leonard Pitts.  You don't want to put it down - and that's a problem, because it's in no way a romance or fairy tale.  It's brutal.  It's painful.  I'm afraid that by the time I finish this I will hate all southerners, and the entire southern half of the US.  The author has subtlety made me aware that for a large part of that population, the old attitudes haven't changed in the past 150 years, and I hate them for that.  His characters explain why they feel that way, which may be an excuse immediately after the Civil War, when the story takes place, but it's no longer an excuse.  Stupidity is the only remaining excuse.

As I said, it's well written and absorbing.  The speech patterns and verbal reticence of the educated northerners is annoyingly stilted, but if Pitts says that's the way they communicated back then, I'll accept it.


** Correction.  He didn't start writing his social commentary column until the mid-nineties, so I would not have discovered him in the Washington paper.  I was in New York by then.

Friday, September 21, 2012

3619 Getting better

Friday, September 21, 2012

Most people who believe in Hell feel sure it is not their final destination.
Anyone who believes in Hell, I find, also believes in hateful ways of avoiding it.
Fear of Hell tends to make women into victims, men into bullies,
and everyone into line-toeing robots.
-- Gillian Kendall --


I mentioned that I had refused another kidney test because I didn't think it was worth the pain and danger.  The battery of tests I'd had since the infection and attack in early 2011 all said the same thing.  The stone isn't growing, there are no anomalies, and the kidneys seem to be functioning. 

But there was more.  For the past few years my hair had been thinning, my fingernails had thick vertical (lengthwise) ridges and would split lengthwise along the ridges, and my blood pressure (historically so low I was ineligible to give blood) was too high (150s over low 80s).  I had assumed that was all due to aging.

Apparently not.

Since we stomped the kidney infection (which I now know I must have had for at least two years) my fingernails have strengthened, they're no longer splitting, and the ridges are slowly disappearing, my hair is thickening enough that I'm thinking of growing it long again, and my blood pressure is lower (120 to 128 over 67 to 73, not as low as it had been, but good enough for an old bat).  Even my toenails are celebrating.  The previously ingrown nail has flattened out.

In short, things look good.

The only bad part is that I've gained weight.  Back to measuring servings again, I guess, and ice cream or a donut only once a week.


I post links every so often.  I suspect folks rarely follow them.  Please do go to this link.  I'm begging.  This is something politicians need to read.  Please pass it on.  It's short, an easy read, just a list.  Please do go.  Please pass it on.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

3618 More things that jerk my chain

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry.
-- Thomas Jefferson --


Hey lady, if I can see the underside of your breast, that V-neck is too low.


Some guy on the radio was saying that Islamists are trying to make Sharia blasphemy laws international, and that this is a very wrong thing, very bad, because it conflicts with the cultures of other countries.

How can that be bad when using armies to internationalize democracy and our theories on human rights, regardless of the culture of the other countries, is "good"?

Goose/gander?  Pot/kettle?  Is something inherently good and should be forced on others because we like it and think others should like it, too, and is something bad just because we don't like it and don't want it forced on us?  Is that really the criteria?  How are they not the same degree of good/bad?

I don't understand.


How come whenever I see women's shoe commercials on TV, there's always a good half inch of space between the back of the model's heel and the back of the shoe?  Those shoes don't fit!  They're a least two sizes too big!

Then again, I see a lot of women on the street with their toes hanging over the front of open-toed shoes and sandals.  Those shoes are at least a size or two too small.

I guess at least that goes with the current fashion of wearing clothing a size or two too small.  Hey lady, when you have horizontal wrinkles across the front and back of your skirt, and it creeps up your legs when you walk, that skirt is just plain TOO TIGHT!  It doesn't fit you!


Get off my lawn!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

3617 Buttons

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Weak desires produce weak results, just as a small fire produces little heat.


I went to the country house this past weekend, and again was overwhelmed.  I took Hal, the little car, so I couldn't bring back much, mostly kitchen stuff, like my electric wok, a large and a small electric grill, the huge electric griddle, a few dishes.  I also brought back two large jars of buttons:

Yeah, I collect buttons.

I put a regular teacup there to show scale. The larger jar is 11 inches tall and 10 inches in diameter. There are three or four more jars about the size of the smaller one still upriver.

Looking into the larger jar:
My grandmother used to keep me busy when I was a toddler by having me sort her buttons. She had about two shoeboxes worth, in a drawer in her treadle sewing machine (the machine I learned to sew on). She'd dump the buttons out on the kitchen table and have me sort them into bowls by color. Next time, she'd want them sorted by material (wood, metal, plastic, leather, pearl, etc.). Next time by shape (round, square, animal, oval, toggle, etc.).   Next time by number of holes (one, two, four).  When I was all done, she'd pick out one button ("There it is, that's the one I was looking for.  Thank you.") and then dump all the bowls together into the drawer.

I LOVED LOVED LOVED sorting buttons.   I'd be quiet and happy for hours!  Some were so beautiful.  Every time I sorted buttons, she'd let me keep the one I liked best to add to my own collection.  Those buttons were the start of my adult collection, planning toward my own grandchild.

I think my collecting got out of hand because I was disappointed in the button pickings these days.  Gramma's buttons were so diverse.  Many shapes, many materials.  These days, you get a choice of round or round, plastic or plastic.  So I search auctions and yard sales for buttons, and have to buy a bag of fifty plain ones ($3) to get the two duck-shaped ones and the one metal one.  I never throw out old clothing without cutting off the buttons.  One of the things I like about Coldwater Creek is that they use nice buttons, and always include extras - which go straight into the jar.  I've been known to pay a dollar for a tattered vintage dress or jacket at Goodwill just for the nifty buttons on it.

Ok, so maybe I'm a hoarder?  But my collections are in categories!  And they're sorted!  And neatly stored! It's just that there's so darn many....
porcelain owls
Staffordshire dogs
stone balls
... oh dear.
I guess there's a lot of categories, too.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

3616 Proud

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The eternal pessimist: One who feels bad when he feels good for fear
that he’d feel worse if he felt better.
-- In The Misremembered Man, Christina McKenna --


I am very proud of myself.

I still have a lingering fear of male anger, left over from my childhood.  It's not a problem when the male expressing anger has no control over me, or if the likelihood of my being beaten is low.  I can then give as good as I get and snarl back.  But as the potential for that male to injure me goes up, so does my fear, and I can turn into a quivering puppy.

I saw my urologist's anger in June of last year, when I questioned the wisdom of "blasting" the kidney stone when I have fragile capillaries.  He was furious.  He obviously doesn't like to be challenged.  I was frightened, because he has a lot of control over what happens to me.

I haven't seen him in six months.  At my last appointment, May 8, 2012, as I was heading out the door he wrote a scrip for another test.  This one involved an xray or scan or whatever with a radioactive contrast, another IV.  I tried to question him about the necessity, what were we looking for, but he was brusque and simply said, "The condition is progressing" and went in to the next patient.   He wanted to see me again in six months.

I didn't want to do that test.  Not after what I went through with the IVP.  I never want to go through that again, especially if it isn't necessary.  I've had a gazillion tests and xrays and CT scans and everything, and they all say the same thing - the stone isn't growing, my 1.5 kidneys are working fine, there are no lumps or cysts in them - what exactly is "progressing"?  And if he's so concerned about "progression", then why schedule my next appointment for six months away?

I decided not to go for that test.

Last Tuesday was that six-month appointment.  My hands were shaking and I couldn't stop them.  He looked through my file and asked why I hadn't got that test.  I told him I chose not to, because it would be extremely difficult and painful for me, that I understand that we do need to keep an eye on things, but that I felt we could do that with blood tests, ordinary xrays, and ultrasounds, and if those showed any indication of something to worry about, then we'd go further.

You have no idea how much courage that required.

(I didn't mention another concern - the second chamber in my left kidney isn't draining, so if we fill it with radioactive juice that won't be flushed out easily, um, isn't that a problem?  I was remembering the nurses telling me that even if Jay had been able to kill his tumor, the treatments would have damaged him so much, he wouldn't live much longer anyway.  I don't want to chance damaging the kidney further with tests.)

The urologist didn't get mad!  In fact, he seemed pleased and amused (as he was scribbling copious notes into my file).  There are a couple of ways to interpret his reaction, but I think I'll just take it and run.  The way I'd like to interpret it is that he worries about malpractice, and I just signaled that I'm unlikely to sue, and have given him a defense if I do.  (The other is that maybe he's relishing a future opportunity to say "I told you so.")  He made no effort to convince me that the test was necessary.

My next appointment with him is in January, and I'm to get a blood test and urinalysis between now and then.  That I can handle.