Oscar, the Oven Mitt

I love names. I give names to everything – my car, my cat, my kids, spiders, clothes, and oven mitts. Actually, it’s my Mom’s doing. She started it.

When we were growing up, Mom acquired an oven mitt in the shape of an alligator (or a crocodile – I can’t tell them apart), and we were fascinated with “him.” We worried endlessly about how he would survive going into the hot oven to grab something with his teeth. Mom named him Oscar. Oscar was like a Mighty Crock who could withstand innumerous dunkings into the fires of hell, er, the oven. He was singed, and once even caught fire upon which my Dad heroically put out the fire by throwing Oscar into the dishwater and nearly drowning him. Once he actually made it into the laundry and all the little singed parts became little frayed holes. But he still managed to be the chief pot holder in the family, and the only one with a name.

We had a George, too, who was really all our hoodies for camping – only they weren’t called hoodies back in the cold age of camp fires, marshmallows, and ghost stories. They were plain old sweatshirts with hoods and pockets in the front. We each had an identical shirt and they were only used for camping – so at the end of the summer, Mom would make a show of putting the smallest hoodie into the next hoodie, into the next, until finally Dad’s sweatshirt was enveloping the whole family of hoodies. It looked like a torso and sat in the back of the closet. She named him George.

This was handy other times of the year because if we heard creeks or groans from the house, we all chalked it up to . . . . . . George.

And of course, spiders have names. According to my mother. They are all Fred. Fred lives outside – at least that is where he belongs. So she carefully picks Fred up with a tissue and puts him outside where he belongs. All of my siblings and I learned this very valuable skill very early in our lives. Spiders – all named Fred – belong outside as God intended.

However, if the spider happens to be a Black Widow – then all rules about Fred go right out the window – I mean to say – the Black Widow doesn’t get the same privileges as Fred. The Black Widow is killed by Mom at least 150 times until she is absolutely positive that there is no more Black Widow at all, not a single molecule.

So – I was dating a guy I considered pretty macho and we were sitting on the couch watching a movie when a centipede started marching along the wall behind the television. I thought nothing of it – a cousin of Fred – and grabbed a tissue and gently lifted the centipede and put “her” outside where she belonged. I turned back and here is macho man, with his knees up to his chest, looking like some monster had slithered along the floor under his feet. What? You don’t put your little critters out where they belong?

Anyway – Oscar grew old and frayed and finally was relegated to the back of the drawer of old towels and cleaning rags – the nursing home of oven mitts. I still put Fred out where he belongs.



And so it begins. . .

I was blithely going through my day, the normal humdrum of filing, typing, cataloging, typing, time entry, bla bla, more typing, and arrived home to the mail:

A packet starting with the ominous "The Journey of Transplant Evaluation."

O boy.

It's several pages and forms to fill out to start the process of being evaluated to be placed on a kidney transplant list.

I'm half excited about this. Actually I feel too good to really be considered for a transplant. I'll probably go along like I do in sports - and be the last one on the list. Who knows? Evidently my doctor sent my name in to the transplant center - and also to social security. Did you know that I might be able to get Medicaid?

I'm half overwhelmed, too. I'll meet with a team of people - the transplant surgeon, transplant nurse coordinator, social worker, and dietitian. I'll have all kinds of tests done: dental, colonoscopy (well, I've kind of been looking for an excuse to have one done, other than having it done just because I'm "old"), EKG, ECG, Ultrasound, cardiology, vascular, CT, besides draining me of my blood for chemistries, serologies, microbiologies, and cancer markers. Heck, once I pass all of these tests with flying colors, I should be able to live totally free of kidneys - who needs a kidney when everything else is working so well! Well, maybe not.

But what if I fail these tests or it shows something else.

Anyway - here I go, off into the dark world of medical tests on every single cell in my body.

It beats dialysis any day!



Take Me Out of the Ball Game

I have found my household glued to the TV lately, watching the Mariners’ games. I’m not a real enthusiast. I only know that my presence is a hindrance to winning games, whether I am watching in the bleachers, or totally at a distance from the hidey-hole of my living room. And I have mystical, magical powers of doom.

If I leave the room, the team scores. If I stay, the other team will get a three-base hit and run. Never fails. So I try to occupy myself elsewhere and give the Mariners a fair chance. :)

All this baseball drama has brought memories of the one summer I was on a softball team for the City. I won’t say when because I think I’d get tarred and feathered. You see, I have the same effect if I am actually on the team. Worse.

I could not hit a ball to save my soul. I couldn’t catch a ball either. Or throw. But I’d try, try, try!!!!

Once, I was thrown the ball to 2nd base, where the runner was flying down from 1st. I just closed my eyes tight and held out the ball towards the runner and, damn! if she didn’t run smack into it with her left boob. She said she was going to go around again and try for the right – so at least they (the boobs) would be even.

I was a terrible but extremely earnest player. I never did make it to a base – so no need to worry about stealing 2nd or 3rd – I never got to 1st.

The legend of my lack of prowess got to be so bad, that BOTH teams would root for me. I caught a ball, playing shortstop. I mean, I actually caught a fly ball. I’m hopping up and down and shouting, “I caught it! I caught it!” and then realized that every one on both sides is doing the same thing. All jumping up and down and screaming “She caught the ball! She honestly caught the ball!” The game stopped so we could all regroup. Even the people on the bases stood still instead of running for all they were worth. Oh, maybe you can’t do that if I caught the fly ball. What do I know. . . .


When we got to the finals and there were several teams playing, I showed up, loyally and diligently, in my uniform, with my mitt, ready to Play Ball. The coach met me at my car and told me he was benching me right off the get go. No hard feelings – we just needed to have all players actually hitting the ball and catching it. You know, we’d like to actually win a game here.



Joys of Camping

This is for Cindy, who thinks camping is for the birds, in response to my post on Camping at http://jeaniespokane.blogspot.com/2008/07/time-to-go-camping.html.

Ten reasons you can enjoy camping:

1. You can throw your dirty dishes in the campfire with no guilt. (Well, paper plates, unless you are a true camper phobic and have to bring along your good China – then have your sons wash the dishes for you – in a kettle of water they drew from the lake and heated up over the open fire).
2. You can stay up as long as you like and tell ghost stories around the campfire after the sun goes down – no need for tv, radio, or books
3. If it rains during the day – you get to do jigsaw puzzles with your kids
4. If you go camping with your mom, you get to go to bed before the sun sets because she doesn’t like sitting outside in the dark by herself
5. If you go camping with your dad, you get to get up first thing in the morning because the fish are jumping, the fire is going, the eggs are frying, the cold fresh air is invigorating, nature is calling.
6. Those little black thingies in your eggs – that’s just pepper. Really.
7. You can lay in the sun and have absolutely nothing to do but bake (bring sun screen).
8. You can prove your warrior strength by standing over your children so horseflies as big as basketballs don’t carry them away.
9. You experience the Zen of sleeping on the hard ground and waking up energized and ready for a dawn swim in the icy cold river.
10. You love building a fire with twigs you and everyone else gathered when you first set up camp, after you found a fairly flat piece of ground, raked away the rocks, tree limbs, and pinecones, set up the tent, pounded the stakes in the ground so the tent wouldn’t blow away, and if it is really windy, you built a windbreak just for the fire. The fire never goes out because you feed it and feed it and feed it and feed it.

Camping is just so much FUN!!!




Age is all from perspective, I have decided. This weekend alone I have witnessed the whole continuum. I stopped and chatted with a man I didn’t know, who was on oxygen. He started telling me about the ailments of old age. He said, “You turn 60, and it’s all downhill from there, in a rush! You turn around and there’s another birthday. And then another. And another! All downhill from 60.” And when I told him I just turned 60, he remarked that I look good for my age and maybe that downhill race won’t happen to me.

Then a little friend came over. She’s 11, almost 12, going on know-it-all 30. She saw my birthday cards and upon asking how old I was, her mouth turned into a perfect O and stunned silence for about 30 seconds. The usually chatter silenced in speechlessness.

Just now a young mother with two toddlers in a stroller came by and stopped to talk to me. I’ve never seen them before and they both readily told me “I’m four.” (Twins) They told me their names and asked me for mine. And then chatted nonstop about their adventures in the playground and that they have to go home now because they were sopping wet from jumping around in puddles. And treated me like I was a playmate or at least a doting aunt with an ear for listening. Age meant nothing to them. I still hear the cheerful humming as they both sang “Bye Jeanie” in unison and went on their way.

From young whippersnapper to ancient crone to best pal in 24 hours.