How old is that in dog years?

So I was reading an article over at Fab Over Fifty by a woman ho lies about her age to everyone, including her daughter. I wrote a comment that turned into a short essay….so I thought I’d post it for your enjoyment.


You can read the original article here: It’s My Birth Date & I’ll Lie If I Want To….
… here is my reply:
I think Ramona can lie about her age – that’s her business. Lying to her daughter – well, that’s her business too. Neither of the above are the same as my choices. Since Ramona has written about this, she has opened herself up to comments – a slew of which seem very harsh to me.

I LOVE how old I am – 44. I have always looked older than my age – which was really groovy until I was about 19. Still, I had a misdiagnosed heart ailment that nearly took my life at 40. The cardiologist told me they don’t usually find what was wrong with me til the autopsy…. I thank God everyday for the chance to see my kids grow up. Last weekend, I sang at the funeral for my dear sisterfriend Tracey who won’t get to do that; she was only 5 weeks older than I.

Anyway, my mother has always looked quite young and I have gotten really sick & tired of the thousands of times I was told we could be sisters. Made her feel great (though she is not vain at all) which is good, but I’ve never told her it always makes me feel like crap on a stick. I look lots like my dad who, in his 70’s, more & more resembles a troll. :o) Still, I am grateful that though I’m no great beauty, I am not disfigured either. As a musician, great beauty or disfigurement would be yet another obstacle to overcome.

Aging is a process of detachment for me, so for me, lying about my age would get in the way of that and – more importantly, get in the way of what I am trying to teach my kids (ages 24, 17 and almost 15): that your appearance is not very important in the grande scheme of things; your character is far more important. Of course you want to be clean and look well but not to become the plaything of fashion.


I’d much rather look like this….

Joan Rivers

…than look like this. I mean, heck! It sure is CHEAPER.


My daughter, the almost 15 year old, asked me about 6 months ago to stop coloring my hair BECAUSE she loves my silver. I’ve got a lot of it and I earned every one of those suckers. I have stopped coloring my hair because there is SO little I can do to please her these days (ages 14 & 15 for me were no joke).

I guess as long as there is some perceived benefit to being young, people will lie about it….but I wish they wouldn’t.

2 years out

I thought I’d give an update since it’s been a little more than 2 years since my open heart surgery. I had originally started writing this post six months after my heart surgery….but never finished it. The long & short of it is:

I’m fine!

I take some aspirin everyday as well as a beta blocker and I will probably have to take both of those for the rest of my life as a precaution, but other than that –  I’m really good. Blood pressure is fine, heart rate is good, no shortness of breath – menopause has been much harder to take than the aftermath of heart surgery!I just need to lose a bunch of weight, but that was true before the surgery.

One last thing – and especially if you are female – PLEASE get your heart checked!  Almost any pain ABOVE THE WAIST can be an indication of heart trouble, even when you are in your twenties!!!!!  By and large, doctors frequently misdiagnose heart trouble in women – the symptoms are different than for men and vary widely from woman to woman – or miss it all together, and studies have shown that docs are less likely to really listen to women, and especially women of color.  My doctors, who are GOOD doctors, told me for almost a YEAR that I had asthma and a small heart murmur – nothing to worry about.  If I had not keep coming back to them and telling them to look harder, I WOULD BE DEAD ALREADY.

Thank you to everyone who has asked about how I’m doing these days, and a very special surge of my gratitude goes out to everyone who has ever prayed for me.

Now that it isn’t quite so cold….

…I can stand to look at these pictures. 🙂

About 2 weeks ago, my mother was remembering about how up North (in New Hampshire and so on), the various schools and universities would do some kind of Winter Carnival.  Events in such contests would vary, but there were always snow sculptures….if there was snow to be had, and usually there was.  They’ve had a good bit of snow there in Virginia, so Mom made some of her own:

She issued a challenge to her grandkids to make some of their own, and one of the cousins in Richmond took her up on it.

The Force of Nature did one too, with the tiny little bit of snow we got about a week & a half ago, but I cannot seem to get the photos out of the camera…..

In Harbin, China, they have a marvelous Winter Festival, and I encourage you to look at their incredible (!) ice and snow sculptures!  Rather than post all the pictures here, I’ll give you a link or seven:

Snow & Ice Festival 1 Snow & Ice Festival 3 Snow & Ice Festival 5 Snow & Ice Festival 7

Snow & Ice Festival 2 Snow & Ice Festival 4 Snow & Ice Festival 6 Snow & Ice Festival 8

Here’s a link to a bunch of pictures of street snow sculpture (some of the comments are NSFW):

Street Snow Sculptures in Northern China


Sorry for the blog silence….

My ‘puter is still on the blink, still have no air conditioning, and somebody from China hacked my Paypal account.  But let me say this:



They caught it and I didn’t lose any money.  But I do have to change ALL of my passwords, which bums me out just a little.  I can’t even remember what some of the places I’ve put that password are(various sites and all).

On the heart/health tip, my cardiologist is happy with me, and I’m off the hated blood thinners.  Dr. “L” said that it was amazing that we even found what was wrong with me.  So I’m glad to be alive.  I still have a small hole in my side – the wound care clinic has been very kind to me, and daily naps are now optional rather than a necessity as they were before.

Can you say tomatoes?


Yup, I’ve got green tomatoes all over the place (I mean on my tomato plants!); I can hardly WAIT for them to ripen.  I’ve started harvesting the garlic, and am gonna get those effing peppers into the ground!  Ahhh gardening….

Just outside where I’m sitting, we have a covered patio and every year a few birds nest there.  This year we have a pair of  some kind of thrush that are raising their second batch of baby birds.

BabyBirdsScreaming(someone else’s picture; not “my” baby birds – the camera’s battery charger is still missing)

They make a LOT of noise!  But I enjoy hearing them anyway.  I think I’ve finally got Studmuffin trained to watch from a distance – we’ve had a couple of nesting pairs that abandoned their nests after he checked them out.  The pair of thrushes aren’t very big, but they’ve chased away several other nesting pairs of larger birds from nesting on our patio. It’s amazing to watch.

The blackberries and black raspberries are blooming, there’s grapes on the vine and OH!  I just heard some thunder, which hopefully means rain.

I’m still working on my toe-up Jaywalker socks.  There’s not much “give” in this stitch pattern so I have to make them much more fitted to my own feet than any other socks I’ve ever made.  I’ve finished one that will probably get frogged if the one I’m working on now fits better.  It’s kind of a fascinating experiment, and it’s a little too warm here at Chez Oney to work on anything larger.

And I actually cleaned up the stash a good bit and wonder of wonders!  made it possible to sew again.  I think I may cut out a pattern today – God willing and the creek don’t rise.  Anything to avoid fixing my computer…..

I received some FABULOUS handspun fron Sarah….but that deserves a post of its very own, so you’ll have to wait.  :o)

An update from the Studmuffin himself

The dear husband sent out a health update to some family members and I thought I’d  share it with you.  :o)

“We went to Nashville last Wednesday for Helen’s six week appointment with the surgeon.

Everything went well, they cleared her to drive again and took her off a couple of the medicines she was on.  We have to make another appointment with the cardiac doctor here in Huntsville for early June.  That doctor will decide when she gets to get off the remaining medicines.

She’s been going to a cardiac rehab facility at the Huntsville Hospital Wellness Center here in Huntsville.  She’ll go for 12 weeks total (we’ve done it for 3 weeks now), 3 days a week for an hour each day.  If she makes every session she’ll get a free month’s access to the Wellness Center.

Her wound is healing nicely.  We’ve got an appointment with the wound people during the second week of June, but I think that it may be completely closed up before then.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, believe me, that’s all the details you want to have.

School’s out on Wednesday, they had to do two days this week to make up for the closure during the Swine Flu pandemic, the pool opened over the weekend, and if the rains ever stops and the sun comes out again, we’ll be heading into summer.”

2 more things:
1.  Please say a lot of healing prayers for my cousin’s wife ,Shane.  She had a big operation last week and her recovery has been rather botched (imo) by the hospital.

2.  Go see the new Star Trek.  I’ve seen it twice and will probably go again….

StarTrek Movie Poster 2StarTrek_2009Movie

A southpaw story


I think I was 8 or 9 years old when I realized that there were men in this world that actually were right-handed.  I’ll never forget that moment of “Aha!” because I was watching The John Davidson Show one afternoon.  I loved watching shows like his and Mike Douglas’ – there’d be something interesting going on all the time: talking, then some music and then cooking and then some more talk – something for everyone.  Perhaps it was my innocence and now-hazy memories but it didn’t seem like everyone appeared on those shows to flack their latest project or product back then.  Anyway,  Davidson was singing.  I don’t remember the song at all but I remember what he was wearing (a beautiful cadet blue suit) and I suddenly noticed that he held the microphone in his right hand!  Wow! There are men who are right-handed??

All the men in my “family of origin” are lefties:  my dad, my 2 brothers, even my grandfather.  I say “even my grandfather” because my dad was adopted.  Growing up in a tiny town in the wilds of New Hampshire with a even tinier but close-knit Baha’i community, the other Baha’i kids were closer than my cousins, and Michael P., who was my age and in my class at school, was left-handed too.  I think my cousin Tom (or maybe Mike? Aunt Cyn, help me out) is a lefty – but I couldn’t swear to it.  So I think for me, guys being left-handed was just part of “the way it is” – like gravity and the sun coming up every morning.

As for me, I’m right-handed by default or “right-handed – mostly”.  I started out fairly ambidextrous, but over time and the fact this is a right-handed world, I’ve become more right-hand dominant.  Some folks are truly ambidextrous and can write with either hand – that isn’t me. I’ve never been able to write at all with my left. Then again, if you’ve seen my handwriting, you could make a good case that I cannot write at all with my right hand either!  But it is strange;  every now and again, I’ll go to write down something and I’ll pick up the pen in my left hand without thinking…

I think I must sort of gravitate towards left-handed people. Out of my three best girlfriends growing up, 2 are lefties. Out of my 4 best girlfriends now, 2 are lefties. My husband is one and so is his mother.  All of my children are right-handed and I regret (just a little) that we didn’t end up with at least 1 lefty.  I’m always noticing lefties out in the world because I know there are regular challenges for them since we’re so right-teous.  Heck, even orangutans are affected: I read a number of years ago that in the wild, orangutans are overwhelmingly left-handed, but raised in captivity, they are right-handed.  I don’t know if that is true, but it is believable to me, having observed lefties for so long up close and personal.

I’m a little comforted by the thought that my heart surgeon is left-handed. I noticed it when we met with him – he was taking notes with a beautiful fountain pen.  I was rather impressed by the fact that the left cuff of his superbly pressed shirt had no inkstains on it -not easy to do when writing with a ballpoint, much less a fountain pen.  I mentioned his left-handedness and I think he was a tiny bit surprised – perhaps his patients don’t notice that very often?  He said candidly that he does all of his surgeries with his right-hand because surgery is all right-handed (all the clamps and things), but it does “come in handy occasionally” to be a lefty.

It occurs to me that maybe he had to try just a bit harder to be a good surgeon because he’s a lefty, and perhaps that contributed to his becoming the chief of cardiac sugery at Vanderbilt.  I think about what it might be like to go through lots of years of schooling to be a doctor and then get to the actual slicing and dicing and find that one has to do it with the less dominant hand?  That’d be a shock and rather a significant disadvantage I would think.  Perhaps he’d figured that out years ago and it was no biggie to him.  If I had to suddenly play guitar for the rest of my life and every performance left-handed…. well, let’s just say it would be bad, and I would be more than a little unhappy about it –  and I’m not much of a guitarist in the first place.  I don’t know if I would’ve chosen a profession that would be all about my less dominant hand.  Still, I am happy that my surgeon didn’t let that deter him, and I’ve got no qualms about putting my heart into both of his skilled hands this coming Monday morning.  Even though he’ll be cutting and carving, sewing and stitching with his right hand, I think I feel a little better though, knowing he’s really a lefty.

At Last – Forward Motion!


I’ve finally got an appointment with a heart surgeon up at Vanderbilt on March 25th.  The waiting has been …. frustrating, so I’m rather happy today.


Of course, now I’m starting to get a little nervous about the surgery; I just want it to be OVER.  But mostly I’m happy.


Ain’t nothing going on but….

…restaurant reviews.  If’n yer from “Silicon Holler” and you like to go out to eat, Urbanspoon now has a place for Huntsvillians to review the area eateries.  That’s what I’ve been writing about instead of blogging.

On the heart surgery front, the surgeon has cancelled and rescheduled my appointment twice in as many weeks and now has cancelled and NOT rescheduled a new appoint because of “blah blah blah” not enough time to “blah blah blah”.  I’m starting to lose confidence in him, and am thinking of calling the cardiologist back and asking for another referral to a surgeon.  I don’t wanna be a pain but I first saw this guy almost 2 months ago (and then he was 2 hrs. late for the appointment…); how much time does he need to blah blah blah” already? Am I being too impatient?

By the way, No. 1 Son has a job at W**fle Haus on S. Parkway.  Yay!

There is knitting going on: socks, hats and so on.  I’m way behind on Ayyam-i-Ha this year…  Poopies.  It begins tonight so:

Happy Ayyam-i-ha

Sleep Apnea and the lack thereof

Last Wednesday I went to see the Pulmonary and Sleep Apnea guy, Dr. “S”.  First, you meet with their respiratory therapist and they test your breathing: lung capacity, strength and how well the gas exchange is happening between yer blood and yer lungs.  The respiratory therapist and I got on like a house on fire; it was wonderful to meet her and I hope I get to see her again.

I did all those tests, and then one has to fill out a ten page questionnaire about one’s sleeping habits.  FYI, I’m a fairly light sleeper and I’ve had insomnia since I was a little kid.  Then, Dr. S comes in.  He’s seen the readouts from the breathing tests and then he reads my questionnaire.  He told me about 5 or 6 times that my lungs are “great” or “really excellent”, and then he told me that he really *doesn’t* think I have sleep apnea (neither do I.  I mean I snore, but it’s a quiet little snore).  Usually people with sleep apnea are always falling asleep or are about to; I have trouble falling asleep even when I’m really tired.  He wouldn’t even do a sleep study on me he said, except that the surgeon asked for one.  I was really happy to hear that my lungs are so good.

So I go off to the scheduling person and the first available appointment is not for 2 weeks, but I take it.  Then I have to schedule a follow up appointment with Dr. S to talk about the results of the sleep study and that not until February 17th!  I sign up for that one too.

Dr. W, the surgeon, said that he’d meet with me after we got back the results of the breathing test and sleep study.  At that point, he’ll decide whether he’s gonna do the surgery or send me off to the guy in Nashville.  Grrr….

Now that I’m feeling better – since I’ve been talking ALL the medicines they’ve prescribed for me and I’m healed from the catheterization – and I’m no longer feeling like I’m gonna drop dead at any second, I do begin to wonder if the right hand knows what the left hand is doing.  Today, I will call and leave messages for the surgeon, the cardiologist and another therapist (on another issue) to find out if they really wanna wait until the end of February or early March to do this thing.  I was given to understand that I needed this sugery done rather soon – like by the end of January. Believe me, I’m not in a hurry to have any surgery EVER but if it truly needs to be done, let’s do it.  Tests are groovy, but let’s not waste time and my insurance company’s money.  There is still the nagging question about how this all has happened, but I want off this merry go round…..

The cardiac coffee grinder test

So here goes:

my fabulous and wonderful Knitters’ Coffeeswap 3 partner, Jennifer, sent me all kinds of wonderful stuff: coffee, coffee beans, a coffee mug, Noro Silk Garden yarn – just a fabulous haul of swag it was!  And a little after the main package arrived, she sent me:


This woman is a saint I tell you!  Thank you a million times over.

On the day the coffee grinder arrived, I was not at home but my homeschooled 12 year old, Ian, was.  Yes, it is AGAINST the LAW in Alabama to leave a school age child unsupervised during school hours; I was at the Heart Center having a cardiac stress test.  I’d asked Ian if he wished to come and bring a book, but he said no way, so I left him at home by himself.

For those of you who’ve not had the pleasure of undergoing this test; let me tell you about it.  You cannot have caffiene of any kind for 24 hours before the test and there’s other things yer supposed to do.  When you get to the testing place, you take off yer top and are given a way drafty hosptial gown to wear, then they stick an IV in yer arm.  Next, you get all the little sticky sensor pads all over yer chest, get hooked up to the machine and then you get on the treadmill.  Every 3 minutes the treadmill gets steeper and goes faster – all to get yer heart rate up.  When you are at the correct heart rate for the correct time, the attendant shoots radioactive dye into the IV which is them supposed to go into yer blood and wind up in yer heart.  You slow down on the treadmill, they take off most of the sensors, give you a snack and some water, and you go sit in another waiting room for about 40 minutes.  Then you get to go to another room where they strap you to a table with yer arms over yer head and take pictures for another 20 minutes.  Then you can go home. At least that’s how it’s supposed to go.

When they shot the dye into my IV, it stayed in my arm somehow instead of going into my bloodstream.  I could feel it burn and said so, and I thought the nurse practitioner was gonna have kittens!  She was SO upset (and looking for someone to blame unfortunately).  I told her I knew the IV was in right – it was just one of those things.  SO we rescheduled.

I had one errand to run – I’ve been doing all these swaps, and I had several packages ready for the Post Office and in the van with me, so I went and stood in line  at the Post Office.  It occurred to me that I should check on Ian and turn my cell phone back on.  Once it was back on (you have to turn it off at the Heart Center), I saw there had been a call from home.  I thought that was odd because Ian is not really a “phone person” , doesn’t usually call – especially when he’s at home by himself and in complete control of all tv remotes!  I saw that he had called about 15 minutes before I turned my phone on.  So I called him…..

He answered the phone, sobbing almost hysterically.  He told me that the letter carrier had brought the mail, including the package with the coffee grinder in it.  He knew that it was coming soon – Jennifer had told me to expect it.  This boy went and *opened my package* that was addressed to me (this is a BIG sin in my family of origin!), and of course wanted to…….

try it out.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr…..

Of course he had to find something to grind up.  What do we have a lot of?  Crushed red pepper flakes.  So he dumped those in and ground them up.  Of course he knew he had to clean it because I was coming home soon probably and he could tell me a story about how he just wanted to look at it or something.  So my darling middle child started blowing into the grinder chamber to remove the powder and some got –
INTO HIS EYE.  But of course.

He’d tried to wash it out, but his eye was swollen shut.   SO I told him to jump into a cool shower, direct the spray onto his face and stay there til I got home – my packages did not get mailed that day!

Epilogue:  His eye is fine; the coffee grinder is fine, and I did not punish him for it because I felt that 15 minutes with groung up hot peppers in yer eye is punishment enough.

Just another day at Chez Oney .  <<sigh>>

A test for stress part deux

Things have been cra – hey-hey -zee around here!  I traveled a really really long way from here to the west coast of Canada last weekend and back, sang my brains out and of course came back to a sick husband and then 2 out of three kids sick.  The first stress test I failed….or rather the radioactive dye failed to leave my arm and go into my heart so they could take pretty pictures of it.  So I had anutha one Tuesday – the day after I got back.  All went well, but I am tired!  I wasn’t jet-lagged going East to West, but West to East just kills me.

Am now knitting furiously tryna catch up with all my swaps…..

P.S.  Thanks, Jennifer, for reminding me that there are a few who actually do read my blatherings!  And the coffee grinder is SO cool….I promise to write the coffee grinder story tomorrow.

A test for stress

So tomorrow morning I’m having a stress test and an echocardiogram.  Woo hoo.  What fun.   I’m a little concerned about my heart; I’ve been having this kind of weird asthmatic thing going on…which evolved into bronchitis which I’m now *almost* over.  But it could be my heart.  I turn 39 next week, and I’m very overweight so I need to take care of some medical things right around now.  I remember reading in the local paper 3 or 4 years ago about a woman who dropped dead at 40 of a heart attack, and remember thinking, “That’s not gonna be me!”

I get regular exercise – I walk almost everyday, and now we have Dance Dance Revolution which I do several times a week. I eat way better than I did 20 years ago; I actually feel guilty eating junk food now.  I take many different supplements that have really helped my overall well being, so I know I’m not malnourished.    The EKG turned up a little anomaly which could be something or it could be nothing and the chest x-ray was aok.  Blood has been drawn – I don’t have the results yet.  I don’t now really think there’s anything wrong with my ticker, but I am happy to have the tests, and happy that I have medical insurance so that I can afford the tests.

My enormous, elderly and senile cat, Bluto, has a habit of sleeping in one place for 4 or 5 days and then relocating. In the 10 years that he has owned us, I’ve noticed that he rarely goes back to the same place, unless it’s on a bed (mine, usually).  However, we are now on Week 2 of Bluto’s hostile takeover of the dogs’ bed in a corner of our living room.  Bluto is king and the dogs know it.  Natasha will lie down next to the cat, and there have been some really cute cross-species grooming sessions that I would have put money on never happening, but Boris is completely cowed and at a loss of where to be since his place is occupied by the evil feline.

Knitting has taken over my life to the point that I’m almost uninterested in the seed catalogues that have started arriving in anticipation of spring. This is fairly unusual, but I do think it is partly a reaction to the “Amazing Crunchfest 2007” that was my garden this summer.  I haven’t even had any desire to go hang out at Bennett’s Nursery, and that’s unheard of for me.  Maybe this year, I’ll just plant flowers and knit MORE.

Off to Florida tomorrow, then back for a couple of days and then off to the “Great White North”!  I’m ready for a little fun.