Monday, September 2, 2019

Plumb Tickler

  The plumbing fixtures in our shared family house are 114 years old.
  We have the same plumber we have had since 1953.  I suspect by now we are dealing with the grandsons of the original plumber.

  To fix our many plumbing ills, the plumber must wait in a ferry lineup.  Sometimes for hours.  

  This spring, when the water was turned back on, the bar sink leaked.  We called in our reliable plumber.  We were in Virginia at the time. We asked for an estimate. He declined to give one.  Too many unknowns.  When we arrived in mid-August we pursued the issue.  A man, who said he had been working on our pipes for 30 years, in fact had apprenticed on our pipes, came.  He said our plumbing was legendary on the island.  Everyone else had bit the bullet and upgraded.  Our plumbing belonged in a museum, he said with affection.  Our leaking copper sink has a wooden box attached underneath.  That combined with old lead dissolving pipes means it will take two days or "five to six thousand dollars" to repair. Unless of course they run into something unexpected.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

What Lurks Beneath....

   When I was a child, ticks were mere annoyances.  They were ever so nicer than mosquitoes.  We would pluck them off, or out, with little concern. While the adults had cocktails, the children would gather the dogs for their nightly rummage.  Ticks were dropped in glasses of soap detergent.  (I had one in my ear once which wasn’t fun, but no one dreamt that Rocky Mountain Fever was a real possibility.)
   One of my true pleasures in life is walking the paths and beaches of Chappaquiddick Island.  My family bought a house there in 1953.  When people talk of ‘a sense of place’ I know what they mean.
  Now, Ticks have become more than an annoyance.  They are smaller and fiercer than their predecessors. They carry life altering diseases. Before I walk, I spray myself with toxic fumes. The mosquitoes always manage to find the one vulnerable spot, so I have no doubt the ticks will as well. Last year and again this year, I have random, itchy, fluid filled bites all over my legs. Last year I saw a doctor who was unable to identify them.  This year, I went to the local chat site and found I was not alone.  Others had been bit.
   Some believe them to be tick larvae bites. ( Chappaquiddick has an explosion of  tiny lone star ticks.)  Someone thought the bites were from chiggers which was oddly more comforting than tick larvae bites. Someone else posited that we don’t have chiggers on Chappy.  All of the afflicted hope that larvae bites don’t spread the disease.  I mean, what are the odds?


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

On Injured Reserve, Again

Cloaked as a sheik, Sam tried to fool us, to escape unseen into the night. Today he is scheduled for his second knee repair in eight months. Sam is my son's dog, who is living with us for two years.
   I do love Sam.  When we took Sam in last summer he was a dynamo, requiring more than an hour of exercise a day to be just rambunctious.  He raided the garbage, humped every person, dog or pillow within his reach, and whined through the octaves for hours at a time.  But even with all that,  he is a better dog than he was seven years ago (see "Run, Roo, Run" from 2012 blogs).
   His last surgical recovery was a very long slog for all of us. Twelve weeks of confinement, two months of limited exercise.  When he blew out his other knee a month later, we keened.  We vowed no more expensive surgery.  But Sam is a runner and a jumper. To see him hobbled and dispirited broke our resolve.
   Also, daily CBD oil has made him sweeter, less anxious.  He hasn't raided the garbage or humped any one or thing in a long while.  His argumentative vocal sessions are shorter. 
    We took Sam in to the vet hospital this morning.  Other dogs on the surgical docket were there before us.  Sam commenced baying and wouldn't stop.  I had never heard him bay before.  I suspect he was trying to incite a canine revolt but his intended conspirators were lily-livered.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Next Door to The Great Beyond

                                     "Color Echoes" © 2011 Cindy Packard Richmond

   In regards to old age, my father used to say "After 70, it's all maintenance."
   It is disheartening  that so many people aren't making it to 70. Reunion bulletins bring distressing news.  The best athletes in my high school class are dead.  Three of my boyfriends from college are gone.
    A dear friend called on Thanksgiving 2018 to say she had neuro-endrochinal cancer in her liver, legs and lungs.  She was crippled with pain and didn't know if she would do chemotherapy or "mosey on down the road".  She opted for the brutal chemo.  Her doctor at the Mayo Clinic promised to tell her  when treatment was pointless.
   At the end of January, he told her she had a month get her affairs in order, that her death would not be painful, that she would fade away in her own bed.   We spoke the advantages of knowing when and where Death would come.  There is a certain solace in facing the inevitable.
    Two weeks before her expected death, the doctor called.  He had been at a medical conference.  He wanted to try an experimental, small cell lung cancer trial.
    A week later, she said  I should expect her to visit this summer.  I thought she was delusional.
    Two months later she was not in remission.  She is cured.  The cancer is dead.  The only caveat, she has to take $400 dollars of pills a day for three years.
    I saw her last week.  She is fit as a fiddle (whatever that means).  Her doctor has written  up her case for medical journals. She is the only Mayo Clinic patient to have beaten this form of cancer.
    Would that cancer miracles weren't so rare.  But I am damned grateful for this one.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Perilous Packard

  I tend to trip, stumble and fall.  Often.  A back surgery 30 years ago left me with a partially numb leg and foot. The upshot is that I have no foot reflex.  Nature walks, with their tree roots and stumble stones, are fraught with danger.  When walking, I must keep my eyes on the ground or I will trip.    Do you know how hard it is for an artist to look down and ignore what is all around her?

Last week in the woods I looked up to see an eagle my husband had spotted, and went splat.  Usually I feel myself tripping and brace myself.  This time I didn't.  First thing I felt was my face hitting a rock.  I heard my nose break. Five stitches, four hours in the ER and stacks of gauze later, I emerged.  For days I was so purty, with streaks of purple, yellow and green, festooning my face.

Peril swept beyond me to those I love.  My husband, who walks 5 miles a day and maintains a healthy diet, hurt his foot.  He was horrified when the doctor diagnosed gout.  He wouldn't be surprised if I developed gout, I am apparently more"the sort." Think Ruebens.  Turns out it isn't mere gout. The doctor reconsidered and ordered an MRI and blood tests.   My husband has taken care of me during long bouts of recovery, so I try to be sunny and helpful.

Added to this ghoulish mix  my son's dog Sam.  I have come to love Sam, even though last week he took a bag of Cosco Coconut Clusters from the top shelf and ate it all.  We nursed Sam through a torn ACL surgery for 3 long months this fall.  It was more difficult than nursing a human who had the capacity to reason. This week Sam blew out the other knee.

My husband refers to us as the disabled and disfigured.  Apparently, Jeopardy is in the House of Packard.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Open Concept Living

   A woman gave me a new excuse as to why she couldn't buy my art.  "I love your work, but we live in an open concept house.  There just aren't any walls for art."
    She had me there.  I watch HGTV late at night.  It appears everyone wants open-concept living. Parents say they want to be able to watch their children as they cook.  The thrill of watching as walls are demolished 24/7 might be an addiction.  I do love it when something nasty falls out of the wall.
     When are these buyers going to realize they have been had.  I suspect, as soon as  their children become teenagers.
    My house is of an old 1970's-concept.  Apparently, if the trend continues, we will never be able to sell it.  We couldn't tear down walls without losing a bathroom and a staircase.  In fact, we added a french door to separate the living room from the family room. When my kids reached adolescence and seemed to be everywhere all at once, I craved solitude. A room of her own, a la Virginia Woolf.
     I might come to regret the demise of Open-Concept.  Building walls can't be as visceral an act as smashing walls.  Unless of course, it is on a border.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Hark the Herald...

                                 "Hark the Herald" © 2004 Cindy Packard Richmond

My husband and I lay in bed this morning talking about death.  We used to joke that it was a race to the finish to see who won the "non compos mentis"sweepstakes, leaving the other to deal with the mess.  I would sooner die than be left.  Yes, I am a coward.

So many of our friends are in grips of cancer, dementia or other horrors. So, are we  the lucky ones, the ones that got away.   No. We are a small island in a sea of despair. The waves are lapping at our shore.  Deep in our cells, nuggets of cancer (him) or dementia (me) are  biding their time.

  How does one die "peacefully" without the prelude of months of pain.