Grocery Store Sushi

The week before my oncology appointment I went for a CT scan that my oncologist had ordered for me to ensure I was still cancer-free.  This is because I can no longer get a mammogram since there isn’t anything to squeeze, squish or flatten. 

Last year I got a PET CT scan, which is different than just a plain old CT scan.  For a PET scan, you are injected with a ‘radioactive’ sugar solution that cancer cells are apparently attracted to.  After all, who doesn’t like candy?  The results show up in color and if you have any cancer cells lurking around inside your body, the sugar stuff lights up like a 150,000 lumen LED flashlight. 

My oncologist didn’t think he could get insurance approval for another PET CT scan this year because they’re very expensive, so he submitted a request for a regular CT scan instead.  The cheaper CT scan is in black and white and grey tones.  Besides scanning my whole torso, I get an injection of iodine, which will highlight my veins and arteries plus I get to swallow some kind of yummy barium solution that will show potential cancer growth in my digestive tract plus maybe whatever I had for dinner the night before.

Now normally, drinking a little barium would probably not be a problem.  Especially delicious, room-temperature, mystery flavored barium.  But Bill and I had grocery store sushi for lunch the day before my scan and my digestive system was not happy the next morning.  Although I must admit, as a colon cleanse, grocery store sushi seems to be pretty effective.

By the time I showed up for my noon appointment I was hoping that the sushi had pretty much flushed itself out, so to speak.  I was given a tall plastic tumbler of mochachino flavored liquid chalk and instructed to sip the concoction slowly over the course of an hour. 

I sat back with my tablet, prepared to play some mind-numbing Spider Solitaire as I occasionally slurped through the straw and waited for the barium to saturate my innards. 

Unfortunately, ten minutes into my sixty minute sipping time I had to make a dash to the bathroom as my system made one more valiant attempt to empty itself out.  I was hoping the barium hadn’t made it that far south yet because I really, really didn’t want to replace it by drinking more than the original 16 ounces I was already working on. 

I didn’t encounter anyone afterwards as I snuck back to my chair to wait for the remaining fifty minutes to pass.  I continued to fiddle with my tablet and suck nonchalantly on the straw as though nothing had happened. 

When the time came for the scan, they injected me with the iodine, which traveled like a warm bath throughout my body, and then moved me back and forth through the big CT Stargate-like scanner hole several times.

Everything went off without a hitch and they sent the results to my doctor in time for my appointment the following week. 

As he reviewed my blood tests and the results of the CT scan with me, my doctor paused momentarily and asked, “How in the world did you managed to get your digestive tract so clear.” 

“Grocery store sushi,” I told him.  “Works every time.”


Deflated

Our friends, Ken and Mary Lou stopped by for a visit on their drive home from Las Vegas the last week in September.  Ken played in a national senior softball tournament there and, like the previous September when he played in the same tournament in Vegas, they stayed with us for a couple of nights on their drive back to Texas.

Mary Lou reads my blog every time I post a story.  She especially likes the stories about my mother, who seems to still be hanging around the house even though she passed away on Labor Day in 2016. 

Every once in a while Mom does something to let us know she’s still keeping tabs on us.  For example, during last year’s visit, Mary Lou announced at breakfast the morning after their first night here, that either the Number Bed in the guest room was broken or Mom had messed around with the number setting.  Mary Lou claimed she had it inflated to the perfect number when she went to sleep but it was as flat as a pancake when she woke up.

This had never happened before (or since) and Bill sleeps on that side of the guest room bed at least three times a week to escape my snoring.  And occasionally, I sleep in there on the opposite side of the bed to escape Bill’s snoring.  Plus our granddaughters have slept on the bed when they come for a sleepover at Nana and Papa’s or they piled onto the guest room bed just to relax and watch TV while the grown-ups talk in the living room.

So I had a little talk with Mom and the second night she seemed to leave Mary Lou alone because the bed stayed pumped up all night.

I guess that explained Mary Lou’s greeting after not seeing us for a year.  I opened the front door and she bound in, gave me a hug and, instead of saying hello, she yelled at the ceiling and into my left ear, “Leave my bed alone, Mom!”

And did Mom listen to this edict?  Sort of.  She left Mary Lou alone and deflated Ken’s side of the bed instead.  Only this time she made it permanent.

As they prepared to hit the road at 6 AM on the third day, they mentioned that Ken’s side of the bed was pretty much completely deflated.  After they were gone, Bill and I stripped the bed and stared at the sunken right side.  We both felt terrible that poor Ken had spent the night sleeping in a pit and we decided to test the bed.  We pumped up both sides of the bed to 60 and then waited for a couple of hours to see if the number setting stayed.  The left side held the air; the right side plummeted to 10 and resembled a well-used hammock. 

After almost twenty years, it was time to replacement our old Number Bed.  We never discovered where the leak was coming from.  The next day we bought a new bed and made sure to get a brand that didn’t require air pressure to provide a good night’s sleep. 

Hopefully, this one will be Mom-proof.


More Fun at Lab Land

I had an appointment with my oncologist at the end of the week and he wanted my blood again.  So I drove to the lab at Cigna to donate a vile or two or, as it turned out, six.  When I walked in I got pretty excited because the waiting area was totally empty.  Russ, one of the check-in techs waved at me as I approached and called out, “I can help you over here.”

I gave him my lab order, and after answering a couple of questions, he enter all the information the phlebotomist would need to draw my blood.  Convinced my name would be called at any moment by one of the phlebotomists, I took a seat in the loneliest waiting room in town and waited expectantly. 

Silly me.

After waiting ten minutes, a man approached and Russ called out, “I can help you over here.”  He was signed in and quickly taken back for X-rays. 

After waiting fifteen minutes, a lady approached and Russ called out, “I can help you over here.”  She was quickly taken back for a mammogram. 

After twenty minutes had slowly ticked by, a third person wandered in.  As she looked around at the empty room, Russ called out once again, “I can help you over here.”  She looked startled and glanced around, trying to place the location of the mysterious voice.  Russ waved at her and she wandered over to his station.  Her check-in process went something like this…

“Your birth date?” Russ asked.

“September 23rd,” she replied.

“Today’s your birthday?”

“No, today’s September 23rd.  My birthday is April 27th.”

“Oh, okay.  What year?”

“2022.”

“No, what year were you born?” he asked a little louder.

“Oh. 1950.”

“And you’re Doris?”

“Dr. Allen,” she said.

“I’m sorry, what?”

“That’s my doctor.  You asked me who my doctor is.  He wants me to get bloodwork done.”

“Yes, I see that,” Russ said with a sigh.  “But you’re Doris, right?”

“No, Lewinsky.  Doris Lewinsky.”

“Okay, got it.  Doris Lewinsky.  Have you been fasting, Doris?” Russ continued.

“Last week.”

“What about last week?”

“I was here last week.”

“But have you been FASTING?” he enunciated loudly.

“I don’t know who that is.”

“Did you EAT anything today?”

“Yes.  No eating.”

Russ let out an explosive exhale, finished entering the information into his terminal and finally said, “You can take a seat, Doris.  It’ll be a few minutes.”

“For bloodwork, right?” she asked.

“Yes, for bloodwork.”

“Okay, just making sure I’m not getting other stuff done.  I was just here last week you know.”


Tumbling Tumbleweed

“Hi there,” I responded when my BFF Mary Lou’s caller ID showed up on my phone last week.  Mary Lou lives in a Sun City community, north of Austin, Texas. 

She responded to my greeting with, “Have I talked to you since I fell down?”

“No,” I replied, “I don’t think so.  When did you fall down?  And, did you break anything?”

“Well, let me just tell you about it,” she replied, taking a deep breath before launching into her story.  “I went outside on my porch to get the paper but it wasn’t there yet.  And then I dropped my house keys in a shrub next to the porch.  So I leaned down to get them and… .  Did you know that if you try to pick something up that’s 18 inches lower than your feet, you’ll just fall right over?  Just like that, right over.  Well, that’s what happened.”

“You fell ov…?” I started to ask.

“Right into the bush.  And there I was, stuck, with my body  in the bush and one foot on the porch and my other leg in the air.  Plus, I only had on my robe and underpants.  Can you imagine?  I was stuck in a bush with my legs sticking up and my robe down around my waist and Ken wasn’t home and if I yelled no one would hear me and I left my phone in the house.  Plus we were getting something from UPS but he wasn’t here yet, and he even if he showed up he wouldn’t be able to pick me up anyway, and all he’d see when he got here was me, upside down in a bush with my underwear showing.  Plus no one would stop when they drove by.”

“You mean people just kept on going?  That’s terrible.”

“They probably thought I was some kind of Halloween display,” she grumbled.

I was trying not to laugh at both the sight of Mary Lou upside down in a bush and the 911 conversation she would have had if she’d somehow managed to make a call.  At the same time, I felt bad that my friend was put in this humiliating and helpless position and worried she might have really hurt herself this time.  Mary Lou tends to fall down on a regular basis.  She took a big spill off her bike last year, she’s gone down in her house on more than one occasion and has fallen out of her car.  Good thing she’s bouncy.

“Oh my God,” I exclaimed as she took a breath.  “How’d you ever get out?”

“Well, I sort of fell out.  But really, really slow.  I aimed my legs away from the brick porch pillars and kind of tumbled over the bush and down the little hill where it’s planted next to the side of the porch and I just rolled out on the ground.  Which is all rocks, by the way.  Our whole yard is rock landscaping because that’s the stupid Sun City HOA rule here.  And the rocks are hard and they hurt!  And now I’m sore everywhere.”

“So is anything broken?  Are you okay?  Did you find your keys?”

“Yes and nothing’s broken.  I’m just black and blue and yellow all over my body.  I’ll probably still have bruises when we get to your house the end of next week.  I’m never going to bend over to pick stuff up.  In fact, I’m never going to bend over again at all.  Ever!  Ken can do all the bending down and picking up.  And I’m never going to go anywhere without my cellphone.”

“And wearing clothes when you go outside might be a good idea too,” I added.


Campaign Promises

Olivia is in the sixth grade, her last year of elementary school.  Her sister Morgan is three years behind her in the third grade.   That means this is the last time they’ll be together in the same school until Olivia’s senior year in high school.  It’s sad because Olivia will be losing her campaign manager and biggest fan.  Last year, Olivia ran for 5th grade treasurer and lost, but not by much and definitely not due to her little sister’s undying love, persistent lobbying, and passionate support.

This year Olivia is running for office once again.  It’s for 6th grade Spirit Secretary.  She and Morgan made a campaign video that will be shown in Olivia’s class on election day.  We got to see it when Jamie emails us a copy. 

It touts Olivia’s great qualities, like enthusiasm, caring and pride in her school.  When asked by Morgan, who is acting as an interviewer in the video, why she wants to be Spirit Secretary, Olivia’s animated response is that she’s “a hard worker, honest, and helpful,” and she promises to be “the best secretary ever and to make the Spirit Carnival the greatest ever!”

Now, as far as campaign ads go, I could watch this one all day long.  In less than 30 seconds it tells me that this little person is thoughtful, well-spoken and is obviously proud of her school.  She’s got my vote. 

It’s a stark contrast to all the ‘professional’ political campaign ads that have been clogging up the airways all year spouting misinformation, misleading and out-of-context claims, not to mention outright lies. 

Olivia and Morgan’s little video is a wonderful breath of fresh air, like the scent of springtime flowers and clean mountain streams; pure, unfiltered and natural.  Unlike the stench of toxic waste dumping grounds and methane-infused landfills that this election year’s political ads bring to mind. 

I can’t wait for November 8 to come and go.  Especially go.  Can you tell?


Pomp and Circumstance

We were watching Queen Elizabeth’s funeral procession in London.  The pageantry surrounding this event has been breathtakingly beautiful and an amazing tribute to the Queen.  From the one mile walk to Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, Scotland after arriving from her Balmoral estate to her procession in London as it made its way to Westminster Abbey, the choreographed display was incredible.

While her coffin was being placed on the raise dais in the middle of Westminster Hall, Bill turned to me and said, “I hope you’re taking notes.”

“Notes?” I asked, looking at him.

 “Yup.  I want me one of those.”

“A lead-lined coffin?”

“No, the whole parade thingy,” he replied.  “You know, with horses and guys in fuzzy hats and people carrying me around on their shoulders.”

“Okey dokey.  And where would you like to be placed for viewing since my ancestral castle is probably not available?”

He thought for a moment before answering, “In the bowling alley.”

“The Bell Rec Center bowling alley?  Why?  You don’t even like bowling.”

“I know, but the floor is smooth and shiny, the lighting is good, and there’s plenty of room for people to come and view me.”

“How about this,” I offered.  “We’ll get you cremated because it’s already paid for it and I’ll put your urn outside on top of your Weber for a week so people can ‘view you’ sitting up there on top of the grill stuff you loved.”

“Sounds like a plan, hon,” he responded with a grin.


Stinky Potatoes

Bill discovered a new potato recipe.  First, he fried diced four slices of bacon then diced it.  Then he cut a couple of medium red potatoes into bite-sized cubes, browned them with onions in butter and the leftover bacon fat, added the diced bacon, a can of cut green beans, some seasonings and a few drops of hot sauce.  It was amazing.  Even company worthy, which is Bill’s ultimate food rating.  He served it with sauteed pork chops coated with a sweet spice rub and the requisite applesauce.  It was a perfect Sunday dinner… on a Friday.

The next morning I got up at 6:30, planning to wander into the kitchen in search of my first cup of coffee.  Bill was already up and almost ran me over in front of our bedroom doorway before he noticed me standing there.  “Morning,” he said with a smile as he slipped past me and went into our bedroom, where he continued spewing Febreze.

“What are you doing?” I asked, watching him liberally douse the carpet and our bedspread before aiming at the ceiling and squirting Febreze throughout the room as he moved backward again, out into the hall.

“Getting rid of last night’s dinner.”

“Didn’t we do that when we ate everything?” I asked.

“Yes.  But the smell is still here,” he said, slipping past me and going into the guest bedroom across the hall to continue squirting Clean Linen-scented Febreze everywhere.

“You’re going to need a five gallon jug of that stuff at the rate you’re going,” I commented as I tried to move away from the deodorizer fog that was slowly enveloping me.

“Very funny.  The whole house smells like potatoes and I want to get rid of it,” he replied as he thoroughly misted the guest room carpet and comforter.

“Maybe it’s the onions and bacon.  I don’t think potatoes smell that much,” I commented over my shoulder as I walked barefoot down the hall toward the kitchen, sticking to the floor where the Febreze had settled.  Oh well, at least my feet would be odor free and smell like Clean Linen.

“Whatever!” he yelled.  “All I know is it smells like last night’s dinner and I want it to be gone.”

“How about we cook something stinkier for dinner tonight?  Like cabbage,” I yelled back.  “You like cooked cabbage and that would overpower it.”

“Yeah, but you hate cooked cabbage,” he said, coming back into the kitchen and putting the Febreze away underneath the sink.

“I know, but you love it.  I’ll make stuffed cabbage and you can eat the cabbage and I’ll just eat the stuff.”

“No, it’s a bad idea,” he replied as he poured me a cup of coffee.

“Why is it a bad idea?”

“Because cooked cabbage smells really, really bad.”

“Okay then.  How about we make something that smells really good.  Like cookies?”

“Hmmm,” he muttered.  “Now that’s a smell I can live with.”

“Too bad they don’t make eau de Tollhouse perfume.  I’d wear it for you every day,” I said, leaning over and giving him a peek on the cheek.


Semi?

Our president, Joe Biden, gave a speech recently.  No, not the one where he yelled at us from the entrance to Dante’s Inferno, also known as Independence Hall in Philadelphia.  This one was a few days earlier in Maryland when he called the people who voted for Trump “semi-fascists.”

Now, I’m not sure exactly what a “semi” fascist is.  Is it a person who’s just a sort of fascist because they can’t quite commit all the way to being a full blown fascist?  Maybe it’s like semi-chocolate.  You think it’s going to be sweet and yummy but it ends up being bitter and leaving a bad taste in your mouth.  Or maybe it’s like al dente?  Something that sounds fancy and appealing but in reality is simply a pot of semi-cooked noodles. 

I’ll admit it, I voted for Donald Trump.  Not because I’m an ultra-MAGA ‘Trumpster,’ which is another term of endearment from our president.  I’m not.  In fact, there’s plenty about him that irritates me more than a little bit.  I chose to vote for him because I liked his Make America Great Again vision for our country much better than Hillary Clinton’s vison of… oh, that’s right, she really didn’t have one.  I guess all those deplorables got in the way and blocked her vision.  Plus, the thought of listening to her screech for four years just hurt my head. 

But getting back to the whole semi-fascist thing.  It bothers me that the President of the United States is accusing 75 million Americans, who happen to be republican voters, of being something that is a very, very bad thing to be, whether it’s partially or wholly fascist. 

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Fascism is:  a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

I honestly don’t ever recall thinking, “Oh, gee, maybe having a ‘dictatorial leader’ and a ‘centralized, autocratic government’ would be a good thing.”  Not even a little bit.  Although for the last year and a half it feels more and more like that’s the direction in which we’re being pushed by this administration, tech moguls, financial institutions and big business.  ESG anyone?

And I don’t recall any of our congressional representatives calling for ‘severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.’  Well, except for maybe Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  And also Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Cori Bush, and Jamaal Bowman.  Oh, and let’s not forget Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell, Elizabeth Warren, Dick Durbin, Amy Klobuchar, Jerry Nadler, Raphael Warnock, and Cory Booker.  Then there’s our House and Senate leaders, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, along with our VP, Kamala Harris. 

But wait.  They’re not republicans.  They’re all democrats. 

Or maybe they’re just semi-democrats.


Walmart

Do not ever, ever go to Walmart on a weekend.  You know the sites that show ‘Shoppers of Walmart?’  Well, many of those people show up on Saturday and Sunday.  And, in addition to the ones still wearing beachwear, their pjs, or worse, many are rude, belligerent or simply braindead.  And they all wait until the weekend to go to the store.

We pulled into the Super Walmart parking lot and turned down a one-way lane and waited with our left turn signal blinking while someone backed their SUV out of a primo parking spot.  It was close to the front of the store, near a cart return and, as an added bonus, under a nice shady tree.  The folks finally left and as we started our left turn into the spot, a crazy lady in an old PT Cruiser, going the wrong way, almost T-boned us trying to steal it away.  I gave her the finger.  She reciprocated and continued driving the wrong way to the lane’s exit. 

We were not off to a good start.

We went into the store and I spotted a ‘mini-cart’ sitting all alone inside the big entryway into the store.  It was quite a find since Walmart seems to have only two or three of these small carts on hand.  I headed towards it and, just as I put my hand on the handle, a rather large, middle-aged woman approached from inside the store and decided the cart belonged to her.  She had on a pair of beat up, dirty purple slippers, pink foam curlers in her hair, and she was wearing a snug, neon pink sundress that only accentuated her rolls of flab.  She carried several pharmacy bags in one hand as she latched onto the front of the little cart, threw the bags in and yanked it away from me.  She gave me a sneer and waddle away while I stared daggers at her retreating back and muttered “bitch” under my breath as Bill steered me towards a regular big cart.

We probably should have thrown in the towel then, but we didn’t.  We figured we only had seven items on our list so it should be a quick in and out.  But no, it was not to be so.

Every aisle we attempted to go down was clogged with shoppers and their carts.  Many were swimming upstream against the normal traffic flow, like salmon struggling to get to their spawning grounds.  In this case it was a struggle to get to the Oreos in the cookie aisle.

Shoppers blocked the canned vegetable aisle, abandoned carts blocked the bread aisle, a large woman on an electric scooter was parked across the entrance to the Mexican/Italian food aisle, a mom and her three kids clogged up the soft drink aisle, and a large man driving an electric grocery cart parked himself diagonally in the liquor aisle. 

But finally we had everything on our little list except a new cooler.  We made our way back to sporting goods where we found a man examining four different sized coolers spread haphazardly across the floor.  We wound our way through the cooler maze, found one that fit our needs perfectly, then headed quickly toward the front of the store and checkout.

Since self-checkout was packed and spilling into the main walkway, we went in search of a cashier.  We found the one and only cashier that was opened at the other end of the store.  We were maybe fourteenth in line.  If we didn’t need the cooler for our trip to the mountains we would have walked out.  But then, a miracle happened.  A manager open another lane, to which everyone in line made a dash towards.  Except us.  We waited for the stampede to go by and ended up being third in line.

As I placed our items on the conveyer belt, I noticed that Trent, our teenage cashier, was trying to weigh a head of lettuce for the woman checking out ahead of us.  She was too busy texting to notice what Trent was doing.  Her thumbs flew as she wandered toward the nail salon.  When he couldn’t get a price, Trent grabbed the phone and pressed the intercom button.  “Produce, call line 15.”  Ten fun-filled minutes later, Trent learned that you don’t weigh lettuce, you scan the barcode on the wrapping. 

Arghhh!


Pose ‘Ems

Last weekend we went to eight-year-old Morgan’s first soccer game of the season.  They lost.  Badly.  And then we all went for lunch at a nearby restaurant to celebrate how great she played and also Bill’s birthday.  While Jamie, Bill, Olivia and Ryan were talking to each other at one end of the table, eight-year-old Morgan, who was sitting next to me, looked up and said,  “Nana?”

“What sweetie?”

“Do you know what a pose ‘em is?”

“Like an animal?  A possum?”

“No, Nana,” she giggled.  “Not an animal.”

“Then I guess I’m not sure what it is,” I replied.  “Tell me what it’s for.”

“Well if you need something you write it on a pose ‘em and stick it on yourself so you’ll ‘member it.”

“Remember the pose ‘em?”

“No.  Remember the thing.  Like if you wanted to give me five dollars you could put it on a pose ‘em and stick it on yourself and then you would see it and remember,” she answered with a smile.

“Oh, okay,” I nodded, the lightbulb going off over my head.  “Now I know what you mean.  You’re talking about Post Its.  Those little yellow and pink and green square things that you can write on.”

“Yup, pose ‘ems.  Do you have any?”

“I have some at home.”

“Not in your purse?”

“Nope.  Why?”

“I was going to write a remember and stick it on you.”

“Oh, well, sorry, but I don’t have any Post Its with me.”

“That’s okay,” she said as she began digging through her backpack-style purse.  “I have some.” 

After a minute, she withdrew her hand and there was a bright purple Post It square stuck to her finger.  She gave me a big smile as she wiggled the note at me and sat back down.  “Here you go,” she said, giggling some more while sticking the two inch by two inch square on my arm.  I glance down at it and read, Give Morgan 5$

“And when am I supposed to remember to do this?” I asked, trying not to smile.

“Well, I guess now would be good,” she said with a grin.

“But I don’t have five dollars.  I only have four ones and a ten dollar bill.”

“That’s okay, Nana,” she said as she dug a pen out of her purse. “I can change it to say ten dollars.”

“But it wouldn’t be fair to Olivia if I gave you ten dollars and I only had four left for her.  How about I give you both two dollars?”

“Oh, don’t worry,” she replied, removing another purple Post It from her purse and waving it in front of my nose.  “I made another pose ‘em for Papa to remember to give Olivia five dollars.  But I can change it to ten dollars too.”

“Well, I guess you’ve got it covered, sweetie,” I said, giving her a hug.

“I know.  Pose ‘ems are the best!”