Friday, March 31, 2006

It's so much fun to grow old!

This week has certainly been interesting. My follow up with the ENT was fairly good. I am on a two week recall. Ugh. But I may be released after that. Things are looking better. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I don’t think it’s a train.

The next day I got back to the dentist to have my permanent crown put on. They put the temporary on in November, and I got lost in the shuffle somehow. That is amazing because my dentist is really good and has a crack staff. With the holidays and Dad’s death, it was really easy for me to forget about calling. It was one of those Gone With the Wind things. You know - "I’ll think about that tomorrow."

I finally called last week, and they got me in yesterday. Imagine my shock when they said they hoped it still fit. Because the temporary had been there so long, there may have been some shifting. I almost died! This tooth is the last molar on the top jaw. When they were taking the impressions, I kept gagging - especially when the compound began seeping down my throat! The good news is that it still fit and is now firmly in place.

I have terrible teeth. I always have. When I was about ten, I had an abscessed tooth that had to be pulled. These days, it would have been treated. There were two in rooms near mine yesterday that were being treated. The dentist I had then was really horrible. He believed that the deciduous teeth (baby teeth) had no roots. He drilled cavities with no numbing. I have been wary of dentists to this day.

My granddaughter, Lady Bug, came across the same type of dentist two years ago. He was a pediatric dentist who should have known better. She had (and still has thanks to him) some horrible cavities. He drilled without numbing. She will not tolerate a dentist now. I don’t know what my daughter is going to do.

I digressed, forgive me. Back to the main point here. I am going to be the lucky owner of six, yes count ‘em, six new crowns next month. He is going to crown all six of my upper front teeth. You would think I’m going to be in the movies now! I guess I would rather have teeth that are mostly mine instead of a partial or full plate. My dad had full dentures top and bottom. I really don’t want that, but gee. As it is, my teeth are fracturing and breaking. I'm sure my feelings about dentists had something to do with it. My dentist has wanted to crown four of them for years.

I do like this dentist, and probably if our insurance (such as it is) had been like it is now all the time, I would have been seeing him the whole time. But it wasn't. We had to go to a large group practice, and I hated them.

Wish me luck on April 20. I will be in the chair most of the day.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Hunidity and ears

I have been fighting with my ears since Thanksgiving. The battle continues to rage. I have fungus in my ears. It is driving me absolutely crazy! It began with my right ear being completely occluded. I could not hear a thing. I let it go until after Christmas thinking it might clear up, but by then I thought it was so infected that the eardrum had burst. Since that was the time that my dad was so seriously ill, I got an appointment with my family doctor. I knew I could get in easily.

When I saw Dr Snake Oil, he said that I Didn’t have an infection, but a fungal infection. Being the superior one to diagnosis, I just knew he was wrong, but I accepted the ear drops and the antibiotics (no infection though???), and went on my way. He told me to come back in a week, and they would suction out the remains. I was not coming back. I felt he should have suctioned first, then treat.

I let a a couple of weeks elapse, and went to the ENT specialist, Dr. Renown Doctor 2004. He said it was fungus, but he suctioned first. Things were great - for a while. Two days before I was to go back, the ear occluded again. Back to square one. I could not hear a thing.

Back I go to Dr. Renown. He suctions again, but this time gives me pills for killing fungal infections. That ear clears up. I have a follow up with another physician in the same group. My right ear is clear. Yea!!

But, he decides to check the left ear. Guess what. Two small pieces of fungus. This doctor removes them by suctioning them out. He showed me what it looked like. They look like Rhizopus - common bread mold.

I guess this is the joy of living in a swamp. Although our rainfall has been sparse, there is still plenty of humidity. So, as I sit here, I am treating the left ear which last week was completely occluded, was suctioned, and I am back on all the meds - again. I get to go back Thursday.

Want to take odds on this coming diagnosis?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

School days

I have many memories of my twenty-nine years of teaching. A good many of them are pleasant memories. I know I was able to make a difference in many of my student’s lives. My philosophy was that teaching the child to be a responsible person was far more important that teaching them the steps of mitosis (cell division). Learning to take responsibility for one’s actions will take a person much further in life. I also learned that the responsible student became the successful student. It was a win/win situation.
As the years progressed however, the state standardized testing took over the schools. We were teaching the test - only. I found myself teaching reading in my science classes. I was teaching math, which wasn’t a very big stretch since we did use so much of it. But teaching the test did more devastating things than take away from the science curriculum. The message with this test was that if the child did not do well on the test, it was the teacher’s fault. The parent and child held no responsibility. It was the student.
Along these lines, the administration also changed. At one curriculum meeting I attended, I was shocked to listen to one of the new administrators debunking the "bell curve" to replace it with the ‘j curve." Most of the students would make "A’s" and "B’s" with very few (read no) failures. Her rationale was something like this: this is the generation who will be in charge when I am retired, and I want them to be able to handle the job."
What? They are functionally illiterate, but they feel good about themselves because they never failed. It seems the administration forgot how you get a good self image. It isn’t bestowed on you like a title. You have to work to get it. If a teacher "gave" more than 5% "F’s," they were called into the principal’s office and asked what they were going to do to solve the problem. So you rigged grades. I understand that now the teachers cannot give a grade less than 50. If no work was turned in, the student gets a 50. How would that fly in your workplace?
Dealing with some of the parents was quite interesting. I understand wanting to be supportive of your child. I certainly was, but some of them were a little misguided. One of the more memorable things that I experienced happened to my best friend about ten years ago. We had a fire drill. This leads to organized chaos. The students just see it as a chance to be out of class, not a serious learning situation. D was bringing her class back into the building. One boy picked up a handful of gravel and threw it at his classmates. D called his father who said he would talk to the boy. The next day, D had a message to call the father. He told her "Mrs. X, you didn’t see what you thought you saw. I spoke with my son, and he denies doing that. He never lies to me." I always thought I would like to sell that man some swamp land!
Good teachers are there to try to make their students successful, both in the subject and in life. They are the ones to champion successes that student makes more than anyone else. Sometimes the teacher knows the student better than anyone else. There is so much written about poor teachers now the good ones are not allowed to teach their students so they will learn. There is a lot of rhetoric about learning styles and the like, but what the students is getting is a "cookie cutter" curriculum - and they better fit it.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Things to ponder

First. Things are going to be very nasty with my son in law’s family. For years, M was the only grandchild. She was doted on. She could do no wrong. Even though they have seen the other side of M, the side that lies and manipulates, now they are reverting back to the perfect child image of her. S’s sister called M, and M turned on my daughter. She blames my daughter for everything. That family easily jumps on that bandwagon also. Oh my. K doesn’t need all of this.

Second. My dad left me property at a lake near San Antonio. It needs work! S and K have voiced an interest in it, but they have some questions about the building restrictions. They were supposed to look into them, but haven’t. I got a phone call from a potentially interested buyer this morning. Something else to ponder. I just don’t know if I am willing to sell this property. Dad built the place - almost from scratch. There is so much of him there.

Third. With our upcoming trip that is in the planning stages, I got to thinking about having to kennel Simone. She has only been with us since December. I’m afraid she will think she is being abandoned. Again. That is the problem with rescue dogs. We would be leaving her for a week. When she had to stay at the vet’s office overnight, she was not happy. I can only imagine how she will react.

Thanks for listening. I really have such simple problems. I should be happy these are at the top of my list!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Traveling with a 36 year old kid

Our children and their cousins are very close in age. The girls are three months apart, and the boys about two weeks apart. When each pair reached five, my in laws took them either to D*isneyland or D*sneyworld. It was a trip that my children really enjoyed.

Lady Bug is now five, and we wanted to continue the tradition by going to D*isneyland. One small problem. She will not stay apart from her parents. She has never spent a night with us unless her parents were also with her.

She does have a severe separation anxiety. School seems fine, but the prospect of going to bed without her parents being around is a no go. In a way, that isn’t bad for me. There’s not many times I get called on for overnight baby sitting. The only time I did was at their house, and Lady Bug was fine.

It seems that all six of us will be going on this trip. K and S want a vacation, so it is deemed this is the proper place. It should be fun because we can see V’s family while we are there.

I remarked to my husband last night that we are actually going with three children: Lady Bug, Monkey Boy, and S! His family didn’t take vacations when he was growing up. This will be a first for him too.

It should be fun! I am really looking forward to it!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Difficult time

My son in law had his heart broken yesterday. His daughter went to visit her mom in San Antonio for Spring Break. She called on Friday stating she wanted to spend one more day with her mom because they were going to see a friend of her mother’s who now lives in this general area. That started K and me to think. She must want to move back to her mom’s

Yesterday morning, she called and said she wanted to "talk" to S. We all had a really strong feeling then. K called me and asked if I could keep the other two kids if things became heated. That can happen regularly between M’s mom and S. Apparently, M stated her case with as much sense as she is capable of - and that’s not much - because the whole thing took place without any fighting. She packed up her clothes and is gone.

S feels she doesn’t love him. This is probably true. She only came here because she made up things that were supposed to be happening at her mom’s house because she didn’t want to move to California with her mother and step father two years ago. So S and K went to court to get custody of her. It wasn’t pretty. And it wasn’t cheap. They thought they were protecting her from abuse.

When M went to her mother’s last Spring Break, she pulled the same stunt, but K told her she had to stay through the school year. Custody was still joint, and that was the deal they made with M. When M went to her mother’s for the summer visit, she was miserable, so more money went to the attorney to get full custody. We have suddenly time warped back a year.

Part of this may be due to the fact M has chosen girls who could have been cast in "Me*n Girls." They are a bunch of snippy little teenagers. M loves drama and wants to be in the middle of it, so she causes it. She could not understand why when she spoke poorly of one of the group to another girl in the group, it would come back to M. They finally left such terrible messages on her cell phone, and I think this was a good part of the reason M chose to go back to San Antonio.

The poor girl has been through some counseling with a psychologist, but she really needs a psychiatrist. I have read the research about teen brains not being complete. I know there is much growth that must happen, but in the five years I have been retired from teaching that age group, they couldn’t have change that much. M needs serious help.

At least this time even her mother has said this is it. There will be no changing again. There are six siblings involved. M’s 4 siblings with her mother are old enough for her bouncing back and forth to bother them. My grandchildren really don’t feel it as strongly.

I wish her the best.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Now you are family!

I’m going to let you in on a secret that only my family knows. I have resorted to wearing a wig.

When I was a child, I had thick, wavy hair. I am one of those unfortunate women who lose their hair as they age. My hair is quite thin now, and I think it never looks good. Every time I would get a haircut, the beautician would tell me how good it looked. It didn’t.

I used to have her highlight my hair in a vain attempt to cover the gray. Then the home highlight kits came out. Since I was retired, I could save some money. I still had to get it cut though. That was $42 a pop. I know, some of you pay lots more, but my hair never looked good..

I decided it was time to try a hair piece. I ordered one. When it came, I decided that there was no way for me to "blend" it in partially because of the style, but the color was all wrong. It resembled a dead rat on my head!
Then they advertised wigs - two for the price on one. Well, OK, let’s try that. When they were delivered, I thought one was way too dark while the other was too light. I put the darker one on my head. I had hair! I was really afraid to go anywhere. It would be so obvious I was wearing a wig, but I got so many heartfelt complements. Even my sister in law didn’t know it was a wig, but she really liked it. When I get the complements I have to stifle the desire to blurt out "I must let you wear it sometime."

One of my problems now is that summer is coming. Summer in Houston, Texas. Hot summer. I was lucky enough to inherit the trait of a sweaty head from my mother. This is not good.. Heat, humidity, and a wig equals sweat! I’m not sure how I am going to handle this because I have taken to cutting my own hair. And I cut it short. Does. Not. Look. Good. Alone.

I have to go to the dentist soon. I was supposed to get my permanent crown in December. They have not called, and things have been busy here. I also am worried about the wig. The crown to be put in is all the way in the back of my mouth on the upper jaw. To get to it, my head gets moved around - a lot!

It ought to be especially fun and interesting when I make an appointment with the dermatologist! I want to have a complete skin scan since my mother died from melanoma. I will be a vision. No makeup and no wig. Such is the life of this grandmother!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Mothers and daughters

The mother/daughter relationship is something of a wonder. Some mothers and daughters fight like tigers all through their lives. Others become best friends. I’m not sure why the relationships develop the way they do.
My relationship to my own mother was more adversarial than friendly. Being an only child is really a problem. I never wanted to be an only child, but I had no control over that decision! My cousin recently told me that my mother would give me anything I wanted. I don’t quite remember it that way. Now don’t get me wrong - I did have a number of things. It was my aunt who really spoiled me. She would buy the most expensive dresses and toys.
My mother never let an opportunity slip my without reminding me about how much she did for me. In other words, she was a master at putting me on a tremendous guilt trip. That does wonders for your self confidence. It was well gee, she is doing all of these things for me, and I am such a lout I don’t deserve it. I finally simply stopped listening.
She also thought everyone in the world did things better than I. This extended into adulthood. When we bought our first house, it was like so many others in the Houston area with no curbs because there were bar ditches for drainage. I overheard her speaking to the aunt who also lived in Houston when they were visiting. She was incensed that I didn’t have a house with curbs! But this was par for the course.
We had horses at the time. Sugar was technically mine, and Wendy was G’s. Which horse do you think she thought was better? Bingo! It was Wendy. Another bad choice by me. See, I can’t do anything right.
I observe relationships like mine all around. Some are much worse. I think putting 200 miles between us also helped. I was 22 when she died. She never got to see grandchildren, and I often wonder how she would have reacted. I’ll never know, but I’ll bet someone else would have better children.
I vowed I would never have that type of relationship with my children. I never put them on a single guilt trip. They knew I did things for them because I wanted to. They never asked to be in my life, I did. I never compared them to others where they would be in an unfavorable light. If I were to compare them, it would be to point out their better points.
My daughter and I are truly friends today. I value our relationship. We live within a mile of each other, and we spend most weekends together. We have our little candle and craft "business" together. We occasionally make a local craft show and make a few pennies. We generally talk at least once a day. I treasure this relationship, and I wish all mothers and daughters could have what we have.
My relationship with my son is also good, but since he had married it has changed a bit. We still have good conversations, but not as often. We are diametrically opposites when it comes to politics, so we just listen politely. I miss the closeness we once had, but he has another relationship to work on. That is the important one.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Ride 'em cowboy

We were given tickets to the rodeo yesterday. I love going, but G often doesn’t want to go. Last year, B anc C had tickets and invited us. I realize it was a night performance, but G didn’t go. Needless to say, I was surprised when he said he would go.
The weather was typical for Houston. Hot and muggy. That’s not rodeo weather however. It should be cold and wet!
He decided that we would drive ourselves however - which turned out to be a very good idea. It seems K and S got into a huge argument. Had we ridden with them, we would have gotten there for the bull riding segment. We left the house at 1:30 and then took the Park and Ride to the Park. Since the Astrodome has been "decommissioned" we had no idea where things were. Lets just say the Reliant complex is huge! We got off the shuttle and began walking. We went into the old Arena thinking they would have the vendors there. That was another surprise. When we used to go to the stock show all the time, G was never interested. There wasn’t much going on, so we decided to take the tram to the stadium.
Our tickets were on the club level. It was G’s only time in the stadium. He was fairly impressed. We got to take an elevator up. That was great. Last year I went up an outside escalator that seemed to go up three floors. I am so afraid of heights! This year while the club was beautiful and luxurious, when we opened the door to the seats the steps were so steep! It almost sent me back into the club! We were about the only ones in the seats, and I could look straight down. Oh boy!
The rodeo was really good. We enjoyed it. The concert was outstanding. K finally found us just before the concert. Just at its end, they left to avoid traffic. We stayed. We were to take the bus. But there’s the rub. We don’t know the grounds. We looked at a map and realized that the bus tents were all the way across the complex. The line for the trams was a mile long, so no tram for us. OK. Go around the Dome then veer right. I wanted to turn right after leaving the stadium. G said left. About the time we got to the food court, I remarked that I thought we took the long way. That ticked G off - surprise. When it is hinted he is wrong, that is his reaction. Anyway, after a 30 second sit on a bench, and two blisters on my feet we made it to the tent. Our busses were at the far end. Oh agony.
Anyway we made it to a bus right away. It was nice and cool on the bus. What a relief. K called me and said they were 10 minutes from home. She got quite a kick that we were still on the bus - not moving yet. I told her I got to see some beautiful palominos, the entire rodeo, and the entire concert. The highlight, however, was as we were sitting there, G admitted I was probably right and we did, in fact, take the long way!

Friday, March 03, 2006

But it was so tempting!

I’m glad I just sat on the check I got from the mortuary in San Antonio. I knew it was only about half of what I asked to be returned. I also decided not to fight it, but simply had not gone to the bank with it. Yesterday I got another check. It was for the amount I had asked for along with a short letter from the general manager with whom I had spoken.
It would be so very easy to simply take both checks to the bank. I could rationalize I deserve all the money. They put me through such hell. I will always remember the funeral with shame, but that makes no difference. They are due the money I didn’t ask for. They did perform those services.
I am not trying to sound like someone who is so perfect and holier than thou. I really believe this entire country has gotten into the all for me syndrome. If someone makes a mistake - especially with money - in our favor we act like that is just too bad for them. There are those who if a clerk gives them too much change simply pocket it. I know the clerk should be much more careful, but mistakes do happen. At the end of their shift, this clerk will have to make up the deficit out of their own pocket.
I have tried to teach my children and now my grandchildren that you need to treat people as you want to be treated. Capitalizing on a mistake is not the way to live. I guess that’s the premise in the hit show "My Name is Earl." I won’t call it karma, but there is a certain good feeling knowing you didn’t hurt someone else by taking what is really not yours. And yes, it was so tempting!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


I have yet another ear infection. It has been recurring for a couple of months now. It began during the holidays, and then with my dad getting so ill I had no time for an appointment to have anything done about it.

I had another infection about two years ago. It was so serious that my eardrum ruptured. I thought I just had gotten water in my ear. Having had a swimming pool for years, I knew one remedy for water in the ear is alcohol. So I proceeded to pour alcohol into the ear. I learned a new equation. Ruptured ear drum + alcohol = PAIN! Imagine if you will, rubbing alcohol on what amounts to raw flesh.

At least this year I did not choose that route. What I finally decided to do was to go to my family physician. I knew I had a ruptured ear drum, and I told my doctor. Usually he will listen to me when I self diagnose. We have had a 30 year relationship. This time he was sure my ear was just full of fungus, so he treated accordingly. I left with the instructions to return the next week, and he would suction the gunk then. That was not the treatment I wanted, nor was it the treatment that I needed.

As time went on, the ear cleared up - sort of. Last week the ear finally became completely occluded. I could hear NOTHING. I called the specialist. I was amazed to get an appointment for the next afternoon. The first thing he did was to suction. What blessed relief! I could hear, and the right side of my head no longer felt numb. I was in heaven - until Monday night. When I put the drops of antibiotics in my ear, it became occluded again!
I called yesterday with great hopes of being able to get in today. It is so annoying to constantly say "huh?". I have an appointment for Friday. And as fate would have it, the ear drained overnight. This is par for the course for me!

Well, this has turned into a really silly post. Oh well, this is my life these days! I don't know if I can stand the excitement.