Friday, November 7, 2008

Her perfume smells like burning leaves...

I love fall. I love the colors, the crispness of the air, the depth of light. There's a different quality to the light in fall. It's mellow. More golden.
I especially love the scent of the leaves. That sweet, sharp smell that's especially strong after rain. I wish someone would bottle that and turn it into a perfume.

But this time of year also means that the colder weather is coming. Try as I might, I just cannot get used to it. I have been in KY now for most of my life, and while I can handle the cold better than I did when we first came here (from Florida, in the middle of January. To say it was a shocking difference is an understatement), I have never fully adjusted. It doesn't help that when the temperature starts to drop, my joints all ache. My hips have always given me trouble, but as I get older, they get worse. I can now accurately predict rain because my hips start to hurt about two days before an impending storm. Screw the weather channel. I don't need them. I've got my very own storm tracking devices!

It's not even winter and our bed is already heaped with every spare blanket we own. There is a regular comforter, a fleece blanket, a down alternative microfiber comforter, a cotton blanket, and a little fleece throw for my side of the bed. Currently, my fiance is sleeping on top of all the other covers but underneath my little throw. It doesn't cover him very well. He's twice my size, so his legs and chest stick out. He is also, might I add, on my side of the bed. This will not do. I see cold feet against bare shins in his future. That's my other problem with the cooler weather. My hands and feet go icy and don't thaw out again until spring. Thick socks and gloves don't help much. I can have on insulated wool boot socks and my toes still feel like stubby icicles.

I don't look forward to scraping ice off my windshield, or being able to see my breath, or having to wear layers of clothing every time I venture out the front door. I hate how dreary everything gets after this season of wild color and melting light. The fields turn brown and gray and the trees become ghosts of themselves. Crows replace the goldfinches and indigo buntings. There is some sort of stark beauty to it all. Sometimes I love it. Mostly I wish it were over.

Monday, November 3, 2008


I've had more sessions than I care to count with the student dentists. Each appointment consists of some new torture. I've had so many x-rays taken that whenever I brush my teeth, I look in the mirror and can clearly picture each blue-white phantom of roots and pulp. I know what each of my fillings look like, where the cavities are, and the empty gap where my molar used to be.

They took molds the week after the x-ray session, which was one of the more unpleasant experiences. I have never had dental molds taken before. The paste tasted like mint and windex, and it crept towards the back of my throat like some terrible swamp-dwelling blob. If the molding process was unpleasant, the removal of the molds were even worse. It felt like my teeth were getting pulled out as slowly as possible.

Last week's session was the mounting of the freshly made replicas. This involved a device that measured the angle of my jaw. It had two extensions that hooked into my ears and a metal plate covered with impression gel that I had to bite down on. They tightened the plate with a vice handle. I felt like they should have been wearing robes and asking me if I had consorted with the devil while they did it. After yanking the metal plate out of my mouth, they took the plaster replicas of my teeth and gums and mounted them to the whole contraption. It was rather creepy looking, to say the least, like a prop from a horror movie.

I have a break from them until the 21st, which is when they'll start working in earnest. I'm afraid of what else they have in store for me.

The cost of it all is rather daunting, but it's not something I can ignore any longer. I'd rather not get to the point where I need root canals (though one tooth might already be there). We have set a limit on Christmas this year, which is something I was already panning on doing, especially after my insurance company sent me a letter telling me my premium was going up. Not by much, but enough to make me wince a little.

But my jewelry sales have picked up somewhat for the holidays, and I've got a roof over my head and enough to cover my bills, so I'm thankful for that. I can live without new shoes for a while, and even with a limit on christmas I can get some pretty good gifts for everyone (I am the queen of bargains).

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fixing a Hole

Today found me once more in the dentist's chair. Since I had my wisdom teeth removed I have not been experiencing the terrible tooth aches, ear aches, head aches, and neck pain that I'd been having off and on for the past few years. I was rather optimistic about the remainder of my dental work. My previous visit to this particular dentist had not yielded much beyond instructions to get my wisdom teeth and molar removed and then come back so he could get a better look at the rest of my teeth.

Unfortunately for me he peered at my x-rays and muttered various ominous sounding dental gibberish to his assistant. Then he informed me that I need 3 crowns. My stomach started to sink as I mentally calculated what that might cost me. When his assistant brought in the estimate I felt downright ill. $2,150 for what I need done. Ouch. That hurt almost as badly as those toothaches did. She told me that I'd get a $177 discount if I paid it all in full right then and there. Sadly, I do not have that much money just laying around waiting for me to throw it at my impossibly young dentist. My wisdom teeth, car insurance, and glasses all hit me within the same month. Hear that sound? That's not my wallet begging for mercy..that's my wallet begging on the street corner for any scrap that someone might throw.

Ah well. There is one small mercy in that I'll be having the crowns done at different times and so I can space them a few months apart. Give myself a little time to scrape together the money. Perhaps my jewelry sales will pick up enough to help me out a little more.

In the meantime I'm making a voodoo doll of my dentist.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Eye of the beholder

Yesterday I had an eye exam. I get one every year. I used to have them whenever I could be bothered to remember, but when you get engaged to an Optician you can't get away with that kind of thing anymore. Every year I resist getting a new eye exam, and every year he drags me kicking and screaming to the eye doctor. I'm also not allowed to clean my glasses on my shirt. Apparently it's bad for the lenses. Hmph.

This time I was pleased to learn that my prescription has barely changed. I have some minor change in my left eye. Usually my eyes get steadily worse each year. Perhaps they are finally levelling out.

My eye doctor was pointing out various things on the Optomap scan, telling me how this nerve or that random blob with some impossible to pronounce name looked fine. Then he told me that I have some "thinning" in my right eye, but not to worry because while it is rare, it isn't abnormal. I wanted to ask how something could be rare but not abnormal, because if it were normal, it wouldn't be rare, right? But I figured he's a good eye doctor, and if it's nothing to be concerned about I won't worry about it.

But I want to know why I can't have something rare happen that's actually worthwhile. Winning the lottery? Rare. Finding a diamond mine in my back yard? Pretty much impossible. Discovering a priceless artifact in my basement/attic/tool shed? Nope, sorry. Nothing but mice to be found there. Coming home to discover Orlando Bloom naked in my living room? Fate has other plans and he remains stubbornly clothed and located thousands of miles away with no knowledge of my existence.

Thinning of the eye? Yeah, that's the one I get. My sheer awesomeness is a wonder to behold.

Oh well. It could be a far worse kind of rare. At least this rare is the "nothing to worry about" kind, as opposed to the "limited chance of survival" kind.

It ended up costing just over $600 for the exam, my contacts, new glasses, and prescription sunglasses. That's after my fiance's discount, too. Ah, eyes and teeth..what expensive things they are.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Hello, Onstar?

Yesterday afternoon I went to my bank to straighten out an error and also do my Secret Shop. Yes, that's right..I'm a secret shopper for my bank. Who would have thought that banks actually used such things? Every month they send me a postcard with my super secret instructions and a warning to Not Tell Anyone At The Bank that I am shopping them. Oh, and this post card will self destruct in 3..2..1...

My shop this time was for their loan department. I hate loan shops. I did one last year that only served to piss me off. I had saved a substantial amount of money towards a new car. Over half the cost of it, in fact. I decided to ask about a loan for the remaining amount. Imagine my surprise when the person who was helping me told me that I needed to get a loan for the entire amount of the car and roll the cash into a CD. When I told him I would rather not do that, he told me to have my father call him to discuss what I should do with my money.

Uh...'scuse me? My father? The man who has never been on my bank account, and hadn't contributed a single penny towards the amount I'd saved? Why on earth would I want him to call my bank to discuss my money?

Needless to say, the loan department did not get a good report that time. The gentleman who worked with me is no longer employed there. I doubt I was the cause of his dismissal, but I'm guessing my report was at least a contributing factor. The bank also did not get my loan. I put the majority of the money into the car, paid the insurance with the rest, and financed the remaining balance with the dealership, who offered me a far better interest rate than the bank ever could have.

But I digress.

After my loan shop yesterday (which went much better), I got into my car and pulled out my pen to jot down the required details. Except I dropped my pen between my seat and the center console of the car. Naturally, I reached down to get it.

Fun fact: Saturn Ions have a center console that is encased in plastic, as most cars do. The casing does not reach all the way to the floor of the car, but leaves a gap. The edge of the casing is also rather sharp.

My fingers got stuck under the edge. Not "oops, just let me pull that free" stuck..I'm talking STUCK stuck. The kind of stuck that is usually preceeded by "Hey y'all, watch this!" and then involves a horde of firemen armed with grease and saws to get free from.

I tugged, trying to free myself from the casing. Alas, this only served to get my hand stuck even more and it cut into my knuckles. Now I was starting to get concerned. There I was, trapped by my car, in my car, with my knuckles slowly starting to bleed. I tugged a few more times before deciding that was in fact a really bad idea and wasn't helping at all. I debated moving the seat forward, but had a mental image of my fingers getting severed (unlikely, but I do have a vivid imagination) by the force of the seat pressing against the plastic as it slid forward.

Then I started to imagine what I'd do if I couldn't get myself unstuck. My fiance was working until 9:00. My cell phone was out of reach in my purse, which was in the back seat. I thought about the call I'd have to place to OnStar. "Uh, hello, OnStar? Yeah..I'm..uh...stuck in my car. Yeah, my hand is trapped between the seat and the console. Uh...could you..uh...send someone to free me?? and then promise you're not going to hang up from this call and share the story with all of your co-workers?"

Thankfully common sense prevailed and I reached my left hand down into the gap and pushed in the plastic until I managed to work my right hand free. It hurt like hell, and I lost some more skin, but at last I was finally free without having to call OnStar for assistance. But I do wonder what they would have done..sent firemen? the police? That would have been just great..stuck in the parking lot of my bank while they had to free my hand because I dropped my stupid pen.

The pen is still down there. I'm not going after it. It wasn't that good of a pen anyways.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

In which I make plans to lose my wisdom.

Yesterday I had my appointment with the oral surgeon. I wasn't there to get my teeth removed just yet. It was just a consultation. I sat there surrounded by nervous teenagers and a man whose wife was having dental implants put in. He kept taking phone calls in the lobby, obviously not realizing we could hear him clearly through the walls. Apparently his co-worker is an asshole and his boss doesn't care. Also, he likes playing on the office sports team, but hates that the guy from Accounting is such a sore loser and has to one-up everyone.

They had the world's most uncomfortable chairs in the waiting room. For an office that requires long periods of waiting, you would think they would perhaps get better chairs. But these were tiny wooden ones with thin fabric seats and oddly curving backs that forced you to sit awkwardly as some edge or corner dug into whatever unfortunate piece of flesh came into contact with it. I spent my hour shifting and then shifting again in a vain attempt to find a comfortable position. Apparently such a thing did not exist when it came to the chairs.

They were running behind by an hour. I kept eyeing the clock, wondering if their horrible chairs were part of some mental trick. By the time they call you back, you're practically relieved to be standing and moving around again. Doesn't matter if they're about to yank bits of you out one by one and charge you thousands for it. Anything to get away from the chairs.

The oral surgeon told me that they would take all of the wisdom teeth and the molar in one go. He quoted me a price that was less than I was expecting (I was thinking around $3, total cost will be $1200), which was a relief. He spent perhaps 10 minutes explaining the process, briefing my Fiance on the aftercare, and prodding at my teeth. I scheduled my appointment for August 12th. So long, teeth..I can't say I'll miss them. I'll miss my molar, probably. But the wisdom teeth have been constant trouble. I'll also miss that $1200. I never got the chance to know it.

I suppose when I'm all healed I can go back to my impossibly young dentist and let him fill those two pesky cavities. I would say that after that I am swearing off dentists for a while, but doing just that is what brought me here in the first place. Let my soon to be absent molar serve as a reminder to everyone..don't ignore your teeth. They tend to pack their bags and go off in a huff if you do, leaving a gaping hole behind them.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

In which I learn that wisdom teeth don't actually grant you any wisdom at all.

Thursday afternoon found me sitting in a dentist's chair for the first time in six years. A constant toothache had finally driven me to make a long overdue appointment. Now, there I sat, berating myself for years of neglect as my teeth throbbed. I could feel it through my neck and up into my temple, a constant drumming of pain.

My dentist looked young. Too young to know what he was doing. But I have to keep reminding myself that I am 27 years old, now. Dentists and doctors are starting to look closer to me in age. My first reaction when he walked into the room was "Oh, god, he's 12 years old." Then I realized that he was probably not much older than me.

He pointed to various things on the X-Rays, prodded around in my mouth, and then delivered his verdict. My wisdom teeth had to go. One had actually killed the molar it was pushing against, so the molar was declared to be a loss as well. Other than that I have two cavities. One shallow, one possibly in need of a root canal, but he "had his fingers crossed" on it. He gave me two prescriptions. One for Vicodin, and one for an antibiotic.

I left his office with mixed feelings. On one hand, I was happy to hear that my teeth are not as bad as I had feared. On the other, I cannot delay having my wisdom teeth removed any longer. I have no dental insurance and I know it will cost a small fortune. I also feel regretful that my molar has to go as well. But I let it go too long, and my tooth is the price for foolishness.

I took a Vicodin when I got home, as his probing had sent my toothache into a full blown frenzy. It felt like demons were hammering spikes through my jaw. My gums were raw and swollen.

Vicodin is interesting. Within half an hour my head was swimming. My bones and muscles felt as though they had turned to liquid and were rolling through my skin like the tide. I couldn't walk without falling and my thoughts fuzzy and slow. Eventually my fiance forced me to lay down so that I wouldn't hurt myself. I stayed in bed and watched my arms, halfway expecting to see the skin drag back and forth in time with the swirling feeling inside it.

The next morning I felt terrible. It took hours for the fog to clear from my brain. I was groggy and slow and every bit of food I ate wanted to come right back up. Luckily I was able to keep my breakfast down.

I think I'd rather live with the pain until the antibiotics calm the inflammation down. I'm saving the vicodin for when I have my wisdom teeth out and don't give a damn if I'm groggy the next day.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Final Voyage of Blackbeard.

Last friday I came home to find my pet hamster collapsed in the entrance to his favorite tunnel. He was an old hamster. He was balding, and what fur wasn't gone was turning from black to gray. He didn't run on his wheel anymore. He hardly ate. I knew he would be dying soon, so it wasn't a huge shock, but it was still sad. I lifted him from the cage and discovered that he was still alive, but barely. So I wrapped him in a wash cloth and stroked his head until he passed, and then I sat down and cried.

I have had other hamsters over the years, and their lifespans have always been heartbreakingly short. Blackbeard lived the longest, at nearly 4 years old. They were a sort of symbol for me, of a freedom finally gained.

When I was a child, I always wanted a rodent of some sort. A hamster or a mouse. My mother has never cared for them, and never let me have one, which I accepted. I figured I'd get one when I was old enough to make my own choices.

When I was 21 I became involved with a man who was verbally, emotionally, and borderline physically abusive. He told me that if I ever did get such a pet, he would kill it. I believed him. He'd quite calmly threatened to kill me before, and while I wasn't certain that he'd actually kill me, I was quite certain that he was crazy enough to kill a pet I loved. I stayed with him for a year, and finally tore myself free when I grew up enough to realize that I didn't have to take the abuse, and that such things were not normal, and that I certainly deserved better than him. Leaving him was a huge relief. Every outburst he'd had was more violent than the last, and I have no doubt that if I had stayed, he would have become full blown physically abusive towards me.

One of the first things I did after leaving him was buy myself a hamster. My sister took me to the pet store, and I bought myself a russian dwarf hamster. I named him Rasputin. It turned out to be accurate, since he was quite possibly the most evil little creature in the world. He was mean. He bit me every chance he got. He attacked anything I put into his cage until he'd collapse into an exhausted, panting heap in his wheel. He peed in his food dish. I had to handle him with gloves because he'd bite me as hard as he could.

Still, I loved him for all of his meanness. It was a way of moving beyond that hellish year..a sign of freedom. I could have a pet without fearing someone would kill it. I could do the things I wanted. I could be myself. Rasputin lived for three years. The only time I touched him bare handed was when I wrapped him up after he had died.

I also had Attila, who lived for just a few months after I adopted him. I think there must have been something wrong with him from the start. He never seemed to gain much weight or grow, but was active to the point of seeming manic.

Now that Blackbeard is gone as well, I am without a hamster for the first time in over five years. It's odd not hearing him in his cage. Sometimes when I'm alone in the house I think I hear the rattle of the wheel or the rustle of bedding. But it's just my imagination, or the house settling, or maybe the wind outside. I buried him in the back yard under an oak tree, with a pile of pink creek rock on top of his grave to keep the foxes from digging him up.

I may get another one eventually..I don't know. Whether I do or don't, I will always be grateful for how those furry little bright-eyed creatures played a part in the healing process. Rasputin, Attila, and Blackbeard all helped me move beyond the abuse, and the emotional issues I had afterwards. I am with someone now who treats me far better. Life became good again. I am no longer the same scared person that I was. Pets can be many things, regardless of their shape or size..companions, helpers, supporters, and friends.

I thank them for all of those things.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Snakes On A Shelf

Tuesday evening I came home and spent most of the night working on the computer. At around 9:30, I heard a crash from somewhere behind me. I turned around just in time to see several books and a large black snake falling down behind the bed.

Wait a minute..snake??

It seems that our sudden hot weather has sent the snakes in search of cool, dark enviroments to hide out in. Our air conditioned bedroom provided too great a temptation for the scaly home invader to resist. I located the snake (behind the headboard) and got my future father-in-law to help me catch it.

15 minutes later, the snake was relocated to the woods behind our house. That was the end of it..or so I thought.

At 12:41 in the morning, my fiance and I were both soundly asleep when the sound of falling books jerked us both awake. My fiance turned on the light to reveal the same snake on the same bookshelf. It had knocked all but two of my books off the shelf and was preparing to make a final descent onto the bed. My side of the bed, I might add, and Mr. Snake was hanging a mere foot away from my chest.

The snake was removed once more. My fiance spread around moth balls, which are apparently supposed to keep them away. We still have no idea how the snake managed to get into our bedroom. There must be a gap or a hole somewhere. I'm betting it's where a hole was drilled for the satellite dish cables.

I made myself a snake talisman yesterday night, out of copper and snakeskin jasper. I'm going to hang it on the wall by the shelf the snake seems to like so much.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Twisting and Turning

I've been experimenting with wire these days. There is something soothing about working it. Twisting and bending it into shape, Hammering it flat, adding texture, then puzzling the pieces together.

I've been on a Goddess kick. I love the shape of them. Making them is both frustrating and satisfying. I have destroyed my fingernails, several pieces of skin, and have bruised my thumbs. It's important to make sure that one's thumb isn't under the path of the hammer.

This one was my first:


And then I made one for a hair stick:


Experimented in sterling:


Spirals and stones:


I decided to take a break from goddesses and try something different:


But couldn't resist going back for a tiny one in Iolite and sterling:


I have more wire coming in tomorrow. I've blown through 50 feet of copper in just a few days. Those little things take a whole lot of wire. I have a few that I haven't assembled yet. I have a tin with little bodies and arms in it, waiting for me to take the time. I have eventual plans for a dragon, and some fairies. I also need to make necklace chains for the other ones.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

She Sells Sea Shells

Today while wandering the grounds of a local historic home, I caught a brief whiff of something dead. I started to walk away, but my curiosity (and too many hours of watching Forensic Files) kicked in and I simply had to go investigate. The stench was coming from an old basement foundation that's filled with waist-high plants. Visions of dead bodies skittered through my brain as I parted the weeds and peered into the dirt at the bottom of the foundation.

The dead thing did not show itself (puffs of bloody robin feathers gave me an inkling of what creature the smell was caused by), but as I was leaving the foundation I noticed something sparkling by my foot. Further investigation revealed that it was a shell fossil, still embedded in a chip of rock. Quite a nice shell fossil, in fact.

I decided that the proper thing to do would be to go to the Admin office of the home and offer the fossil to them, since I had found it on their grounds. In the admin office they gave me weird looks, talked amongst themselves, and then told me I could keep it. I'm happy because obviously I wanted the fossil, but figured it would be best to let them decide what to do with it. I don't mind being the weird rock lady. That's what I am, after all.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Shake, Rattle and Roll

Thursday night I went to bed early. I had odd dreams all tentacled aliens with tabby cat faces took over my place of employment and put us all on trial for crimes against the universe. Note to self: No more cheese before bed.

I hate not being able to sleep well at night. Especially on weeknights, when I know the alarm clock will be going off as soon as I finally manage to sleep for a solid hour. Just as I was finally starting to drift off, I was rudely awakened by the entire bed shaking. In my fuzzy-minded state, I thought it was my fiance, having convulsions and causing the bed to shake. Then I realized that it wasn't just the was the entire house that was shaking. Glasses clinked in the cabinets. Books started to shimmy towards the edges of the shelves. I could hear the goat bleating outside in panic.

I slapped my hand down on my fiance's arm and he leapt out of bed, trying to drag me out with him. The room was swaying, shaking, floor creaking, bed inching across the floor.

Then, it was suddenly over. Everything went silent. We stared at each other, wide eyed, trying to figure out what in the hell had just happened. It was 5:47 in the morning. We're close enough to a military base for our windows to sometimes rattle when they're firing weapons or flying jets overhead, but this went far beyond that. It slowly dawned on me that it must have been an earthquake. Not exactly something we're used to, here.

The morning news confirmed that it had indeed been a minor quake. No damage was done to our house, but a building downtown lost some of its facade, a road was damaged, and some statues and a fountain got knocked over. No one was hurt. No major damage done.

I think I'd rather dream about aliens, though.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rock On

Friday afternoon the weather happened to be on the verge of beautiful. The sun was shining but the wind was so strong that it felt like it could carry me away.

Since we'd had so much rain that week I decided to go rock hunting. Every time I think I've picked our yard clean, it will rain and expose more geodes, crinoids, and other fossils. This time I decided to dig around the pond, which is a place I have always avoided in the past. The pond is very large and deep, and the ground around it is soft and crumbly. When you can't swim, you tend to avoid any bodies of water larger than a bath. But I learned how to swim (or at least flail around and keep myself afloat) last summer, so the pond isn't much of a danger to me anymore.

The pond is set deeply into uneven ground, so it has banks that actually stretch up to 10 feet overhead around one side. That was the side I decided to poke around in. I climbed down the slope, clinging to exposed roots and slabs of stone until I was down by the water. The red bank rose overhead, streaked with veins of heavy gray clay. Already I could see fist-sized geodes stuck in the dirt.

I spent a good 20 minutes prying stones out and dropping them in a pile by my feet. By that point the wind had whipped my hair out of the ponytail I'd had it in, and my hands were far too muddy to do anything about it. My rain boots probably weighed ten pounds each from all the mud and clay that clung to them. But I had quite a haul..geodes and a slab of white stone that contained several shell fossils. I was getting ready to move on when I spotted a massive geode buried halfway up the bank. It was nearly the size of a watermelon. I couldn't pass that up.

Dirty, windblown, and weighed down with rocks and mud, I made my way to the fence and started dumping geodes over. A bucket would have been nice, but we have two horses and you can't enter that field with a bucket unless it contains feed. They will grab the bucket away from you if you dare go in there with an empty one.

A few days later, I went ahead and cracked open the big geode. This is what it contained:


It's very similar to the last large one I found, which my fiance had cut open for me with a diamond bladed saw.


This is the stone with fossilized shells in it. It's about the size of a small paving stone:




And the handful of Crinoids I also picked up:



All in all, a good day for rocks. I haven't cracked open the other geodes I found, yet. Some of them found other homes..I've been mailing off boxes of them to friends in other states. I think the postman must hate me by now.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Another Bullet Dodged

When I was 13 years old, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember the day she told me what it was, and what they would have to do to make her better. It was a summer day, hot and bright, and she was sitting in a lawn chair while I sat in the grass. I remember the light glaring off of my father's white t-shirt, blinding as he turned and walked away.

13 years later, the doctor found spots on the upper lobe of her right lung. So we all waited, fearful, as she underwent tests and scans and more appointments, and I spent my nights feeling restless and trapped, my mind going in circles. What if, what if..what if this is the last year? The last mother's day? Christmas? What will we do, with her gone? I reverted back to that 13 year old girl, sitting in the long grass, stomach twisting as my thoughts chased each other round and round. Mom put up her strong front, saying that whatever happened, she would deal with it as she had dealt with years of illness, and cancer, and other health problems that by now would have sent most people to their beds.

My fiance was my support system. When my sister called to make sure I was OK, I shuffled her off the phone quickly so she wouldn't hear my voice break, and then I sat down and cried. The doctor thought it was probably cancer, but was confident that he could remove it. But still, what if...

This past Monday, my sister took our mother to her final appointment, the one where they'd finally give her the results. I sat at work and tried to think of other things, of anything else, anything at all. I answered phones and replied to e-mails and moved like a robot through the day, watching the clock constantly, wondering if they'd told her yet.

At 2:45, my mother called me, voice joyful, my sister laughing in the back ground. No cancer. The spots had disappeared. The doctor talked of infections in her lungs that had probably caused the spots, and then had gone away when she had been on antibiotics for an infection in her finger. She still has other problems with her lungs caused by her autoimmune illness, but nothing so bad as cancer.

We can all breathe, now. Another bullet dodged. My mind can finally rest and my stomach can unclench. Mom can stop making arrangements in her head, planning what would happen at the end. Finally, this year is looking up.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Something Itchy This Way Comes..

I can tell by the pricking of my blotchy red thumbs.

The rash turned to hives. Big, red, splotchy hives. All over. In places that hives have no business being. I spent the entire weekend taking oatmeal baths and coating every square inch of skin with cortisone cream. Today I am finally free and clear. Stupid amoxicillin. Stupid strep throat. Stupid allergic reaction.

My fiance threatened to duct tape oven mitts to my hands. I spent a great deal of time furiously scratching whenever he was out of the room. Unfortunately the redness of my skin betrayed's hard to hide that you've been clawing your skin to bits when there are white lines everywhere that you've scratched.

But now I can finally lay off the benadryl and cortisone, shave my legs, and no longer smell faintly of oatmeal. Interesting fact: When you have a pet goat, and you smell like oatmeal, it's a Bad Idea to go into the pasture. Nothing like being chased around by a small goat who thinks that you must be hiding something edible somewhere on your person.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Rashes, rashes..

Last week I had strep throat for the first time in my life. Mine was fairly mild, and my doctor prescribed amoxicillin to treat it.
Six days into taking the pills, I broke out into a bright red head-to-toe rash. It started out on my arms and spread out from there, until eventually even my ears were a brilliant shade of red.

Feeling rather alarmed, I called my doctor. Turns out that I am allergic to amoxicillin. Oh what joy. I got to experience strep throat AND an allergic reaction to medication all in the course of a week! The strep throat is gone, but unfortunately I can't say the same for the rash. It has spread to everywhere but my face as of today. My feet are so bad that I can't even wear shoes (insert joke about being in kentucky and not wearing shoes here). I look diseased and I feel miserable. I'm fantasizing about household objects that could be used to rid myself of this rash. Cheese graters. Sand paper. Oh, it all sounds heavenly right about now. I think tonight I'll greet my fiance at the door with a belt sander and some benadryl laced wine. I haven't felt like this since an encounter with a poison ivy patch 15 years ago.

I'm hoping that it will clear up by Monday. I cannot miss another day of work. I can wear long sleeves and slacks to cover up my arms and legs, but I'm not sure what I'll do if my hands and feet are still bad. My office isn't casual enough for the gloves-and-bare-feet look.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sticks and Stones.

The weather this weekend was truly nice for the first time this year. I took advantage of the warmth and sunlight and went rock hunting.

I have always been a rock hound. When we lived in Florida, I spent my allowance on crystals from the little mall kiosks that sold jewelry and gemstones. When we moved here to Kentucky, I was delighted to discover that it was a literal treasure trove of fossils and other interesting rocks. I pried fist-sized stones that looked like brains from the creek and hoarded them like priceless jewels. When my father took a hammer and cracked one of them open, I was dismayed until he showed me that inside those bumpy, bubbly stones were hollow caves lined with crystals.

An addict was born. I'd go down to the creek on weekends and bring home bucketloads of them, then spend the afternoon happily whacking them with hammers until they broke open. My mother was frustrated by the mess I made..shards of rock, bits of crystal, hammer marks on the concrete..but I was hooked. I had boxes of them under my bed because I'd run out of shelf room for them all.

Now I live in an area where I can get them from my own back yard, and it shows. The porch railing is covered with cracked open geodes. There are piles of them in the yard. Yesterday I gathered enough to fill two five gallon buckets. Though not all of them are for me this time. I am sending some out to other people who would like the chance to crack open their own.

The crown jewel was a truly massive geode that had to be opened with a concrete saw. There was a four inch thick ring of solid quartz encasing a cave with mineral deposits. The minerals formed a bumpy, bubbly layer that looks like bubbles in oatmeal. I hardly ever find ones like that.

This is a small portion of my haul:


My other task for the weekend was to photograph the hair sticks I'd spent the previous weekend making:


I love hair sticks. Too bad my hair is too short for them at the moment. But I still enjoy making them, and I'm especially fond of this batch. I like the colors.

All in all it was a good weekend. When I get home tonight I have an appointment with a hammer, chisel, and a bucket full of stones.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sparrow Deathmatch.

Yesterday afternoon I decided to brave the cold and take advantage of the lovely sunlight that was filling the yard. It was just right for taking jewelry photographs, and with the upcoming bad weather there's no telling when I'll get another sunny day.

Outside in the junipers, four sparrows were engaged in battle. It's that time of year, when Spring is like an itch between your can feel it lurking there, driving you a little bit crazy, but still completely unreachable. All of the critters here have sensed it. The trees and bushes are full of fighting, singing, dancing birds. Robins are on the front lawn. When digging in the yard over the weekend I found pale earthworms in the dirt.

Oh, and the mud. The other sign that spring is coming is when the ground thaws and turns into a shoe-sucking mixture of wet clay, dirt, and puddles of standing water. There's nothing quite like the mud here. I've been slogging through the yard in galoshes.

But I did get my photographs, even though I had to beat a hasty retreat when the sparrows started fighting in the eaves above my head. The piece I was photographing is yet unfinished, just waiting for four beads to arrive from Thailand. It will be several weeks before it's done. Ah well. I can wait. But I shall leave you with a preview: