Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Choosing a Surgeon

Managed care has made it difficult to find specialists when you need them. Sometimes insurance limits your options to just a handful of practitioners, so how do you choose a good one?

Look for a surgeon with good focus. The ability to concentrate is essential.

It takes a very steady hand.

It takes a very steady hand.

They get bonus points if they’re ambidextrous.

Gloves are encouraged but not required

Gloves are encouraged but not required

A willingness to really get in there and dig around is a plus. Operate big or go home, I say. Surgery ain’t for sissies.

Ignore the red light on the dude's nose. That's just a spleen. Or a liver. Or something non-essential.

Ignore the red light on the dude’s nose. That’s just a spleen. Or a liver. Or something non-essential.

This scalpel jockey is for hire.


You could do worse.

With a bit of luck, you won’t hear what I heard at the end of this particular operation.

“This poor fellow’s dead.”

Sorry about that, little buddy. I’m pretty sure it’s not because you yanked out his heart with both hands.

Lost in Translation: Preschooler Edition

I am the master of languages. Need an interpreter for your family? I’m your gal. Spouse speaking Greek? I am at your service. Confused about what your meteorologist is trying to tell you? Allow me. Unsure what those pesky labels mean? I can clear things up. Today, I’m here to help you better understand your preschooler.

At the table:

“I’m full.” – I have a more pressing engagement. Like sticking Legos up my nose.

“I don’t like this.” – It’s not a hot dog or peanut butter sandwich.

“I’m ready for dessert! I ate all my dinner.” I gave it to the dog when you weren’t looking. Ready for some cake?

Getting Dressed:

“This shirt is too small for me. You need to give it to a baby.” It doesn’t have Spiderman on it. It has Bob the Builder, and I will look like a dweeb.

“This shirt fits me just right!” Even though it’s three sizes too small and is compressing my rib cage so hard you can see my heart beat from across the room. It has Spiderman on it. Spiderman!

Out and about:

I want to walk myself. No stroller.”  – I have just enough energy to last until we are equidistant from any exit.”

“I’m ready to go home and take a nap, Mommy.”  – I just broke something.

“Sharing is fun!” – Ah, I see that you have ice cream.

At Home: 

“When is Daddy getting home?” I need to ask for something I know you won’t let me have.

“I’m your big helper!” – I just scrubbed the toilet with your toothbrush.

“I’m not doing anything.” I hope you have good insurance.


“I need a drink of water!” I need to make sure everybody’s fun stopped when my light went out.

“Can I sleep in your bed?”  – I just peed in mine.

'nuff said.

’nuff said.

Guess what?!! Today is release day for The Big Reap!  Buy The Collector series now, thank me later.

How To Meet A Fellow Blogger In Real Life

A few weeks ago, I got the most exciting email from Emily at The Waiting. Maybe you know her. She’s been Freshly Pressed a time or three. Anyway, she said she was coming to my town and wondered if we could meet. Um, yeah! So exciting. I’ve never met up with a fellow blogger in person before. So many feelings! Would she like me? Would we find lots to talk about? Would she murder me with chopsticks and stuff me in the trunk of her car? Like being in high school all over again.

Anyway, the lead up was pretty eventful for me.

2 weeks out: Awaken in the middle of the night with the sudden notion that I am actually scheduled to work the night she is in town. It was just a dream, little champ. You work the week before. Go back to sleep.

Ten days out: Where to eat? In this mid-sized town, there are surprisingly few good, local eateries that are easy for a non-native to find. Do we go for small-chain Indian food, or the hipster sandwich joint?

One week out:  Awaken in the middle of the night and ponder what to wear. Something classy, of course. So, Cookie Monster T-shirt or Slytherin Quidditch? This is a question to be settled closer to the event, after consulting a star chart, the Psychic Friends network, and the dirty clothes hamper.

Two days out: Awaken in the middle of the night and remember that one reason I blog is because I am socially awkward and not so good with humans.

The Big Day: 

10am – I have a few hours. With artfully applied sunscreen and a bit of luck, I can even up this farmer’s tan.

11am – I’ve never posted a picture with my regular face before.How will Emily recognize me if I’m not doing this:

Or if I’m dressed as anyone other than Professor Trelawney?



The answer? MoonPies.

4:30 PM : The tire is flat. This is not good. It’s just flat on the bottom, though, the rest of it is still nice and round. Maybe it’s not the worst.

5:00 PM – Tire is going to take two hours to fix. There is no wi-fi here, and therefore no way to contact Emily to tell her I may be late.

5:05 PM – Minor melt-down in the Wal-mart automotive department. People snap a couple of pictures for the People of Wal-Mart website but otherwise just step over me and go on about their business.

6:00 PM – Car is rolled out of the bay. And around the store. And up the block. And I think possibly to the next town over.

6:15 PM – Keys are dumped on the counter and I pay for my two new tires. Because husband likes to buy them in twos. They’re best in twos. I try to use the same logic whenever I buy snakes, but he doesn’t fall for it.

6:45 PM – I’m on my way! I’m on my way! I’m on my way! The restaurant serves hipster with a side of pretension, which is great because I’m starving.

6:46 PM – Crap. I forgot to brush my teeth. Oh, well. I eat a pile of mints. I also forgot to brush my hair. I hope keys work okay in a pinch.

7:00 PM – Butterflies are apparently carniverous and are consuming me from the inside out. Will I be interesting enough? Will I find something to talk about besides the mating habits of Dwarf Malagasy tortoise species? Will I be in the right place? Will she recognize me? Is there toilet paper stuck to the bottom of my shoe? Is my skirt tucked into my waistband? I’m not wearing a skirt. Why am I not wearing a skirt? I look like I’ve been sitting in a Wal-mart automotive department.

7:15 PM – There she is! I would recognize her anywhere! And she’s smiling. And not in the laughing-at-me-on-the-inside kind of way!

And it was great. We met, we talked, we ate, we talked. The food was good, the company even better. I’m happy to say that Emily is just as wonderful, open, gracious and witty as she is on her blog. It’s always wonderful when art imitates life. If you ever get a chance to meet her, I recommend it.

And if you’re in my neck of the woods, look me up. I’m relatively harmless, and I’ll bring Moonpies!

It was the best!

It was the best!

It’s All In How You Look At It

I’ve been in a terrible mood.

A to-do list looms over my shoulder that contains such minor tasks as learning a new computer operating system well enough to teach it to others. The job I was hoping for has been shelved for a few months. I spent ungodly amounts of money yesterday registering Squish for preschool and buying kids’ clothes for fall and two pairs of glasses, one for me and one for Girl-child. (Oh, yeah. I also learned I need bifocals. I was hoping my vision issues were just because my arms were too short.) After wrangling a Squish through a consignment sale, two vision appointments, and a grocery trip, we went to the car to discover our tire was flat. Two more hours of Squish-wrangling and another large chunk of change, and I was feeling kind of sorry for myself.

I did have a delightful dinner with the most wonderful person. It was the bright spot of my day. But when I returned home after 9:30pm, I discovered my kid who has a 7 o’clock bedtime was still wide awake. Daddy had let him stay up for a bit in the hopes he would sleep in. When does he ever sleep in?

When the kid’s feet hit the floor at 7:15 this morning, I was ready to run for the trees.  But then.


It’s funny how a perspective can shift when looking into those blue eyes.

I bet I was the only one in the world who got to have breakfast with Captain America.


Squish is ever the problem-solver. He was ready to fix the tire with some duct tape. That’s my boy.

My Fifteen Minutes

My husband and I are huge fans of Antiques Roadshow. They do their filming in the summer, traveling to venues all over the country. Every time we get notice that the show is filming within 200 miles of us, we try to win tickets. It’s a lottery. You fill out the online form, and if they pick your name, you’re IN! Or you can buy the tickets. For a $500 donation to your local station. *ahem*

Long story short (too late?), we won tickets. There might have been some joyous leaping about and a few high fives. A low moment followed soon after as we remembered that everything we own is crap. And the rules on the ticket are pretty explicit. If you want in, you have to bring something to appraise.

We agonized. We know our stuff is worthless, so the real challenge was to find things that were the least likely to embarrass us. Our decision was made, of course, as we were walking out the door, as all critical decisions should be. The most important requirement for us was that the items not be too heavy because the free parking is always at least half a mile from the door.

The setup was really amazing, and there were already tons of people there.

That is what is known in the business as a long line.

That is what is known in the business as a long line.

It was amazing to see what everyone else brought with them.  Click the images to enlarge.

No cameras were allowed on set, so I have to take you there in my imagination. The set itself was built of blue panels at the center of a giant pinwheel shape. There were openings every 20 feet or so, and three lines fed into each opening. We got tickets for each appraisal line we needed to be in. Since we like each other, my husband and I opted to stay in line together.

Our first stop was jewelry since I had a perfume ring handed down to me by my great-aunt. When I say “handed down,” I mean I swiped it from her jewelry box because no one else wanted it. It looks rather like this.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

When we were finally called for our appraisal, my stomach dropped to my shoes. I was terrified he was going to tell me my prized possession was Avon, circa 1982.  He didn’t, though. He was polite and told me it was a nice piece from the 1940’s with “probably a lot of sentimental value.” Translation: “What you have there is a gen-yoo-ine piece of crap. And the perfume stinks.” Value : under $20.

Next up, porcelain. The line was mercifully short. I brought a small collection of tea cups that same aunt had gathered on her jaunts around the world. Turns out, people don’t buy random tea cups anymore. He indicated that if I had a matching collection with a teapot, it might be worth something. Yes, and if a frog had wings, it wouldn’t bump its behind on the ground when it hopped, either. Having expected no better, I wasn’t terribly disappointed. We moved on.

We were left with only our stack of old books and a single comic book from Raiders of the Lost Ark. The lines for both Books and Collectibles were daunting, so we decided to split up. I took the books. And I waited. After about an hour, it was my turn. I brought up my beloved books.

Why are old books so pretty? Ever notice that?

Why are old books so pretty? Ever notice that?

The appraiser was one I see on TV every now and again. A friendly type to be sure. He looked at my books like I had just handed him a turd sandwich and opened them one by one. After a moment, he said “Looks like you picked them up at a library sale.” I admitted that a couple had come from a giveaway bin. He made excruciatingly painful eye contact and said “The free bin is pretty much where they belong.” I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t that. I knew my books were not worth anything. I had no idea they were worth nothing.  He went on to say “I can go over them one by one if you like…”

Please don't...

Please don’t…

I took my books and slinked off to join my husband in line.

We met the nicest people. The folks in front of us had an old gramophone. We chatted for a good hour and a half.  Actually, it was a great hour and a half. The best part of being there was talking to people and seeing what everybody brought, guessing who was going to be on TV when the show premieres (again, a hint: not me). I even got a peek at one of the Keno brothers! They wouldn’t let us take pictures, so my rendition will have to do:

keno twin

I feel that I have captured the essence of unidentified Keno twin

Finally, it was our turn at the table. The appraisers were super-busy and were doing all kinds of research on the items that were brought in, so we had to wait a little bit more. Our gramophone friends found out their player was worth $500. The lady in front of us was told that her silver is a national treasure and was worth $10-15,000. The guy at the next table had a pair of Muhammad Ali’s autographed shoes and was signing the pre-filming paperwork. With each appraisal, my husband’s whimper grew louder. How do you follow up Muhammad Ali’s shoes with a comic book?

With an apologetic smile, he presented his book. The appraiser slid her glasses down her nose and told him the book wasn’t exactly old enough to be an antique. Time to go, honey!

Walk of shame, With my shoebox. Turns out if I dropped it, the stuff wouldn't be worth much less than it already is.

Walk of shame, With my shoebox. Turns out if I dropped it, the stuff wouldn’t be worth much less than it already is.

Was our time at Antiques Roadshow mortifying? You betcha! Would we do it again? In a heartbeat. I haven’t laughed that hard in I don’t know when, and the line about the free-bin was priceless. We’re getting a lot of mileage out of it. But we’d take some different stuff.

Let's do this again sometime. After the scars heal.

Let’s do this again sometime. After the scars heal.


If there’s enough interest, I may do a giveaway of my appraised books. They were worthless before. Now they have provenance.

Today, I Remembered

I hit a rough patch a bit ago and kind of ran off the road..  You may have visited that particular ditch in your travels as well, the place where things that would ordinarily slide off like water from a duck’s back instead bring you to your knees, and even the chocolate doesn’t taste good anymore.  I won’t bore you with details, but at the beginning of this week, watching my plans and efforts crumble to dust, I wondered why I bother at all. It was a low point. But not today. Today, I remembered.

Today, Phyllis came to visit my camp and pooped on the floor, and I remembered how to laugh.

Phyllis the Polish hen. She never stopped talking.

Phyllis the Polish hen. I can’t look at her without smiling.

Today, my new friends met my old friends, and I remembered why I love them both.

Rex, meet campers. Campers, meet Rex. Want to go to a movie?

Rex, meet campers. Campers, meet Rex. Want to go to a movie?

Today, an elephant played me a harmonica tune, and I remembered how to sing.

I don't even care that I have to clean the harmonica.

I don’t even care that I have to clean the harmonica.

Today, an otter caught a snack, and I remembered there is wonder in the world.

I wonder how she bends like that.

I wonder how she bends like that.

Today, there was a splash pad and ice cream, and I remembered how sweet life is.

July 11 splash pad 013

July 11 splash pad 033

Today the water stopped, and I remembered I can make my own magic. Someone reminded me. Thanks for that, little buddy!

July 11 splash pad 029

Today, I remembered why I love what I do. Today was a blessing.

The Savvy Consumer: I Want My Money Back

I like comfort. I like for life to be easy, and if there’s a product on the market that can make that happen for me, I am all over it. There is such thing as getting my hopes up too high, though. I recently had my heart broken.

My mother-in-law bought me these. I heart her.Watch the video. It’s amazing, even if I can’t get the sound to work. It will be the most enlightening 58 seconds of your life.

Awesome, right? All the tennis for my IJ friends. And barbeques. And sunbathing. What’s not to love?

They promised to keep me the coolest. They lied. No matter how I wear them, I can never be as cool as this:

Trying to be this cool is too lofty a goal. I give up.

Trying to be this cool is too lofty a goal. I give up.

Don’t buy these. The bar is set too high.

My Eyes Are Opened.

It’s all fun and games until you realize it’s all a sham.

It started out great, everything all new and exciting. It’s easy to have your head turned when someone is so attentive. It was like they went out of their way to really get to know me, what I like, what I love, what I hate. No cue was too subtle. If in a conversation I casually mentioned my dog,  they’d surprise me with all kinds of stuff they knew about dogs. When they knew I was an adventurous eater and loved saagwala, they were eager to and show me some other amazing restaurants I had never even heard of. They introduced me to people. It was really kind of sweet. No one had ever tried harder to please me, to know me, to expand my horizons. No one.

After nearly five years together, I swear we were like an old married couple. Some days it seemed like they could just read my mind. I came to count on them, to assume that they were as invested as I was. After so much time, it was painful to discover that it was all a lie. I only thought they knew me. Turns out, they don’t know me at all.

Gmail, I’m talking to you. Quit sending MoonPie Mike’s blog to spam. If after all this time you think that’s not something I want to read, you will never really know me.

The Ultimate Betrayal

Relationships can be hard enough, trusting your heart won’t be broken, and knowing that it just might be.

You know how it is. You’re late to the game. Everyone is talking about the cool kid in town, and you kind of wish you could hang out with them, too. But you’re uncertain. Your friend finally  introduces you and is just sure it’s a match made in heaven, but you hang back a little. You reserve judgment, guarding your heart. And then as things gradually unfold, you realize they are perfect for you. They are witty, smart, sophisticated. They’re a little uptight at times, but that is part of their charm.

Little by little, with every laugh and tender moment you share, they become a part of you, and you let down your guard. Before you know it, they have laid claim to a piece of your heart, and you let them have it gladly.

After a couple of years, there is no longer a question of trust. You know with every fiber of your being that they will never let you down. And then they do. That awful moment where everything good is gone. They’ve killed it once and for all, and for no real reason that you can determine.

That happened to me, and it hurts. I am still reeling.

Downton Abbey, you call that a Christmas special? How did I not see this coming? I may never be the same.