Thursday, 31 January 2008

Urban Legends That Should Die

Below is an email I received recently from a relative. I'm sure she meant well, but she is misinformed. I check a lot of emails on now because so much misinformation is spread through the cyber universe. I checked this one out too. My first clue was the name of the hospital. It's Johns Hopkins. Some of it might be just good sense, like having a good diet. But a lot of it is plain malarkey. And it could be dangerous too.




Cancer Update from John Hopkins
1. Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer cells do not
show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few
billion. When doctors tell cancer patients that there are no more cancer
cells in their bodies after treatment, it just means the tests are
unable to detect the cancer cells because they have not reached the
detectable size.
2. Cancer cells occur between 6 to more than 10 times in a person's
3. When the person's immune system is strong the cancer cells will be
destroyed and prevented
from multiplying and forming tumors.
4. When a person has cancer it indicates the person has multiple
nutritional deficiencies. These
could be due to genetic, environmental, food and lifestyle factors.
5. To overcome the multiple nutritional deficiencies, changing diet and
including supplements will strengthen the immune system.
6. Chemotherapy involves poisoning the rapidly-growing cancer cells and
also destroys rapidly-growing healthy cells in the bone marrow,
gastro-intestinal tract etc, and can cause organ damage, like liver,
kidneys, heart, lungs etc.
7. Radiation while destroying cancer cells also burns, scars and damages
healthy cells, tissues and organs.
8. Initial treatment with chemotherapy and radiation will often reduce
tumor size. However prolonged use of chemotherapy and radiation do not
result in more tumor destruction.
9 When the body has too much toxic burden from chemotherapy and
radiation the immune system is either compromised or destroyed, hence
the person can succumb to various kinds of i nfections and
10. Chemotherapy and radiation can cause cancer cells to mutate and
become resistant and difficult to destroy. Surgery can also cause cancer
cells to spread to other sites.
11. An effective way to battle cancer is to starve the cancer cells by
not feeding it with the foods it needs to multiply.
a. Sugar is a cancer-feeder. By cutting off sugar it cuts off one
important food supply to the cancer cells. Sugar substitutes like
NutraSweet, Equal,Spoonful, etc are made with Aspartame and it is
harmful. A better natural substitute would be Manuka honey or molasses
but only in very small amounts. Table salt has a chemical added to make
it white in color. Better alternative is Bragg's aminos or sea salt.
b. Milk causes the body to produce mucus, especially in the
gastro-intestinal tract. Cancer feeds on mucus. By cutting off milk and
substituting with unsweetened soya milk cancer cells are being starved.
c. Cancer cells thrive in an acid environment. A meat-based diet is
acidic and it is best to eat fish, and a little chicken rather than beef
or pork. Meat also contains livestock antibiotics, growth hormones and
parasites, which are all harmful, especially to people with cancer.
d. A diet made of 80% fresh vegetables and juice, whole grains,seeds,
nuts and a little fruits help put the body into an alkaline
environment.About 20% can be from cooked food including beans. Fresh
vegetable juices provide live enzymes that are easily absorbed and reach
down to cellular levels within 15 minutes to nourish and enhance growth
of healthy cells. To obtain live enzymes for building healthy cells try
and drink fresh vegetable juice (most vegetables including bean
sprouts)and eat some raw vegetables 2 or 3 times a d ay. Enzymes are
destroyed at
temperatures of 104 degrees F (40 degrees C).
e. Avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate, which have high caffeine. Green tea
is a better alternative and has cancer-fighting properties. Water-best
to drink purified water, or filtered, to avoid known toxins and heavy
metals in tap water. Distilled water is acidic, avoid it.
12. Meat protein is difficult to digest and requires a lot of digestive
enzymes. Undigested meat remaining in the intestines become putrified
and leads to more toxic buildup.
13. Cancer cell walls have a tough protein covering. By refraining from
or eat ing less meat it frees more enzymes to attack the protein walls
of cancer cells and allows the body's killer cells to destroy the cancer
14. Some supplements build up the immune system (IP6,
Flor-ssence,Essiac, anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, EFAs etc.) to
enable the body's own killer cells to destroy cancer cells. Other
supplements like vitamin E are known to cause apoptosis, or programmed
cell death, the body's normal method of disposing of damaged, unwanted,
or unneeded cells.
15. Cancer is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. A proactive and
positive spirit will help the cancer warrior be a survivor. Anger,
unforgiveness and bitterness put the body into a stressful and acidic
environment. Learn to have a loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax
and enjoy life.
16. Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Exercising
daily, and deep breathing help to get more oxygen down to the cellular
level. Oxygen therapy is another means employed to destroy cancer cells.

1. No plastic containers in micro.
2. No water bottles in freezer.
3. No plastic wrap in microwave.

Johns Hopkins has recently sent this out in its newsletters. This
information is being circulated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as
Dioxin chemicals causes cancer, especially breast cancer.
Dioxins are highly poisonous to the cells of our bodies.
Don't freeze your plastic bottles with water in them as this releases
dioxins from the plastic.
Recently, Dr. Edward Fujimoto, Wellness Program Manager at Castle
Hospital , was on a TV program to explain this health hazard. He talked
about dioxi ns and how bad they are for us.. He said that we should not
be heating our food in the microwave using plastic containers.
This especially applies to foods that contain fat. He said that the
combination of fat, high heat, and plastics releases dioxin into the
food and ultimately into the cells of the body. In stead, he recommends
using glass, such as Corning Ware, Pyrex or ceramic containers for
heating food. You get the same results, only without the dioxin. So such
things as TV dinners, instant ramen and soups, etc., should be removed
from the container and heated in something else.
Paper isn't bad but you don't know what is in the paper. It's just safer
to use tempered glass, Corning Ware, etc. He reminded us that a while
ago some of the fast food restaurants moved away from the foam contain
ers to paper. The dioxin problem is one of the reasons.
Also, he pointed out that plastic wrap, such as Saran, is just as
dangerous when placed over foods to be cooked in the mi crowave. As the
food is nuked, the high heat causes poisonous toxins to actually melt
out of the plastic wrap and drip into the food. Cover food with a paper
towel instead.

Please, all of you, take the time to research these emails before sending them on. "Dr. Edward Fujimoto" isn't even a medical doctor!

Let's fight against the urban legends.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Let's Look at the Big Picture

Here is the man I'd like to see elected the next U.S. president. His detractors, the Billary camp, like to play up his lack of experience as a weakness.

I don't see that as weakness. I see it as a strength. He is a fresh face with fresh ideas. He can be a symbol of a new USA, one committed to better international relations, a greener lifestyle, a healthcare system that doesn't discriminate against the working poor, and any other ideal. Whether he expresses those ideals at the moment is not an issue. It's time the Democrat Party and the US got a clean slate and started to look at issues from a new perspective. To do this, they need a fresh face fronting this movement. Obama is the man.

I've never been a Hillary fan. I liked Bill, thought he was one of the best presidents in modern times -- above the waist. But the Clintons like to play down and dirty. They'll feel your pain but stab someone else in the back. I don't think modern politics has room for that anymore. The issues should take over, and race and gender and experience or lack thereof should take a back seat.

Now, I'll step down from my soapbox and fill you in on the latest in the As the Idiots Turn saga.

First, the cast:

Wakeup: that would be me
Edna*: Friend I made when our daughters became friends at school. Her husband is chairman of the tennis club we belong to.
Mildred*: Friend I've known for the best part of 10 years. Our children are very good friends. I help her out a lot; she sometimes helps me out. We're going skiing at the same resort, but separately.
Gladys: Friend of Mildred's. Mortal enemy of Edna's since she spread a rumour round another tennis club and attributed it to Edna. Edna fell out with a mutual friend because of this rumour. Gladys has glommed on to Mildred bigtime and their families are going skiing together.

*not their real names

So last night Mildred and I went for a drink because we'd both had stressful days and realised we weren't going to make salsa class again. We chatted about my new favourite subject, dogs, a lot because Jake had just shown what a star he is at obedience training.

Mildred then goes all concerned and says, "Are you and Edna going to be all right because you're going skiing with Gladys and me?"

I decided to take the opportunity to tell Mildred that the feud between Edna and Gladys has nothing to do with me and has nothing to with her. I said they both need to draw a line under it and move on or they will never be happy, and that we would be doing our friends a favour telling them that rather than listening to their moans and rants about each other.

Then, Mildred said Gladys was surprised I was going with them skiing because I'm friends with Edna. And she added that people at the tennis club expressed surprise as well that I was going with them.

"How did these people at the tennis club find out where I'm going skiing? Why do they care where I'm going skiing? What business is it of theirs?" I asked in a somewhat vociferous manner. "They need to get a life."

Well, Mildred was immediately on the back foot. As you may recall from a few posts ago, Edna told me another friend told her Gladys was ranting on about me going. I wanted to not believe it, but Mildred pretty much confirmed it without saying it in so many words.

I continued: "These women want to draw everyone into their poisonous feud, and I'm not having it. It's nothing to do with me. They need to grow up. You and I have been friends for 10 years, Mildred, before either of these women entered our lives. I don't want their feud, and I don't care how it started or who started it, affecting our friendship."

Here's Mildred's reply: "I told Gladys that you would be hanging out with your friend who's coming as well anyway so she doesn't need to worry."

Worry? What does she think I'll do, push her off a cliff?

Here's what I wish Mildred had said: "I told Gladys that you and I have been friends for the best part of 10 years and our kids are best friends. Wakeup asked me if I minded her coming along and I said no, so get over it."

I don't like to be labeled or judged by people who barely know me, yet that's exactly what's going on. I don't know how this holiday will turn out. It's awfully expensive to go and have a bad time. I do know I don't ever want to be in a lifeboat with any of these woman. I would be shark bait for sure.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Fun Monday III in which I reveal my inner slob

In this Fun Monday, hosted by AOJ and the Lurchers, we are asked to show our bedside tables and drawers. I'm not showing anybody my drawers, but I'll show you the mess I see on first awakening.

I put Vaseline on my lips every night before I go to bed and lotion on my hands. I then check I've set the alarm about a thousand times (I have forgotten to do this from time to time). The picture is of my husband and two children and was taken about seven or eight years ago. I have other photos of the kids on my dressing table.

The jewelry box is one of two. I asked for a big jewelry box one Christmas but got two smaller ones instead. I use this one for the jewelry I wear most often. As you can see, it's an overflowing mess. Every once in a while I go through it and tidy it up.

Next to my side of the bed is a big pile of books. Some I've already read and need to put in the bookshelf. Some I plan to read at some future date. Some I'm reading now (the doorstopper Until I Find You by John Irving is holding me up at the moment).

I also have a handy piece of furniture called a "chair-robe." I use this to pile all my clothes on before I go to bed. Dirty clothes go in the clothes bin, obviously. But some aren't dirty and are therefore wearable again. Rather than waste wardrobe space with them, I pile them on the chair-robe. On the top currently is the new swimsuit I bought to take with me when I go skiing. It fits me very well and was a bargain at £9.

So there it is. My boudoir. I really should tidy it up, but I spend TOO MUCH TIME blogging.

Friday, 25 January 2008

It's A Cyst

I can't begin to tell you what the last few days have felt like. Since I spoke to my mother on Tuesday, I have been preparing myself for the worst and thinking through what happens next. I'd decided that I would have to go out to Wyoming, my sister and brother being very unlikely to do so and not really the best candidates anyway. My sister would have volunteered one of her children, also not a very good idea.

My mother called last night with the news. It's a cyst, they decided. Her doctor should be calling her today or next week with more detailed information. I don't understand all the biology of this. How do you suddenly develop cysts at the age of 82? But I'm not looking a gifthorse in the mouth or breast (to use a cliche).

I have viewed this as a dress rehearsal for what could possibly happen in the future. My husband and I discussed what to do, who should stay with the children, etc. We'd ask his parents to come and stay, and I think they would. My very dear friend L. also said she would have our children and the dog, if need be.

So I can move on to worry about more mundane matters, like my upcoming ski holiday. The kids and I (hubby won't go) are going to a resort in Italy recommended by another friend who is also going with some other friends of hers. There's a snag. I am friends with a woman who is a mortal enemy of my friend's friend. They each say very unkind things about each other to me and my friend. I don't repeat what I hear from either side because I don't want to fuel the flames. However, I am caught dead in the middle, and it looks like I might lose my skiing friend because of this. This is the friend who invited us to hers for New Year's, then accepted an invitation from her friend who is also going skiing. My other friend has repeated to me something the friend's friend apparently said about me to another woman. Do I trust this information? Should I care?

Ay Yi Yi. Maybe I should dump all three.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

The Sunday Phone Call

You ever get news that leaves a lump in your throat and a sick feeling in your stomach? With both my parents in their 80s now, I dread it all the time. But I -- and they -- have been fortunate in their good health and good minds.

But the Sunday phone call with my mother left a small lump in my throat.

"I had a mammogram, and they called and said they wanted me to come back in for another one," she said in between news of my stepfather's latest fall and other family gossip.

Why do they want to do that? I queried.

"I don't know. Maybe it was blurry," she replied.

Or maybe there was a shadow, I added.

She was supposed to go yesterday, and I said I'd call her today. She didn't go yesterday because it was snowing and 4 degrees below 0 where she lives (Wyoming). Her doctor's office called her today to say they'd found a "nodule" on her right breast and what did she want to do about it. She said she didn't know why she'd been called back in and she'd have to think about it. She's going on Thursday (weather permitting, I assume) for another mammogram and a sonogram.

I felt the lump in my throat rising and the sick feeling in my stomach growing. It's inevitable that I will lose my parents, that they will die of something at some time, probably sooner rather than later. But not this way, I pray. I want them to go the way their mothers went -- quickly, with little pain.

It's very early in the diagnostic process. The biopsy will follow the mammogram and sonogram, no doubt. And then what? I don't know. This is uncharted territory for me. I know people who have had breast cancer. I have a friend whose mother died of it. I have another friend who's had it twice. Pixie has had it. It's not that uncommon, I suppose. But I think for each woman who has had it, it's an uncommon experience.

My mind is already racing ahead, wondering if I should visit at Easter instead of the summer. But I must stay in the here and now. And right here, right now I have a lump in my throat and a sick feeling in my stomach.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Fun Monday II

In this, my second Fun Monday, I show a very dark photo of the view out my front door. It was taken at 8:15-ish this morning. It's very dark but it would be at any time because we haven't had any sunlight for about a decade, it seems. La Nina has generously sent loads of cloud and rain our way. Though we live near the sea and shouldn't be suffering from flooding, I fear we will be.

I'm also just getting used to my new digital camera so am not familiar with all the gadgets that come with it. Hey, I'm just thrilled the photo is on the page. What you can't see are some of the shrubs: a rhododendron and some azaleas that are quite nice in the spring, forsythia that will be blooming soon, I hope, two butterfly bushes in need of a chop (one purple, one white), some fuschia, a dogwood. I've never been entirely happy with the planting -- a leftover from the previous owner -- but have never done much about it. Maybe this year. If the rain ever stops.

Ahhhgggghhhh!! It's a monsoon now. Honestly, how are we supposed to be able to do anything in this weather? They closed the carpark at the park yesterday because it was too muddy. My son's football match was cancelled because it was too muddy.

Anyway, sorry the photo isn't better, but it's a start. Look forward to more photos, probably of Jake.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Memories of a cookbook

My mother frequently asks me if I want something or other that belongs to her. She's been doing this for more than a decade as she clears out her possessions in anticipation of her death, which will come sooner or later. In the latest phone call she offered me three things, a yearbook, a pin, or a cookbook. I chose the cookbook. It came in my birthday package.

This is no ordinary cookbook. This is the "Cross Creek Cookery" cookbook, written by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, who also wrote "The Yearling." Have any of you ever seen that classic with Gregory Peck (I wanted to marry that man when I was about 7 or 8 after seeing The Yearling and To Kill A Mockingbird) and Jane Wyman (I always hated those cheekbones, which Hilary Clinton seems to have inherited)?

"Cross Creek Cookery" used to live on the bookshelf above my parents' bed, which says a lot about my mother's cooking. But perhaps that's because it's not so much a cookbook as a book about a life of cooking. Much like MFK Fisher's "The Art of Eating," which I also own. "Cross Creek Cookery" was published in 1942, and very much reflects the Florida of that time. Still very swampy and wild, as were the recipes.

My mother or someone circled several of them: Florida Soft Shell Turtle (Cooter) Soup; Poke Weed, Cross Creek; Swamp Cabbage (Hearts of Palm); Orange Lake Frog Legs; Turtles and Gophers; Coot Liver and Gizzard Pilau. Now I can tell you that my mother never once cooked Cooter, Gopher, Frogs Legs, Swamp Cabbage or Poke Weed. So she must have been amused by the exotic sound of these recipes. There are also recipes for more mundane dishes: Chili Con Carne, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Ginger Snaps.

But it's the tales behind the recipes that are most riveting. How she would shoot ducks every year when in season and the embarrassment of serving duck breast to one professor (perhaps at the University of Florida which was close to her house) who thought very highly of himself. When he had to spit out the lead shot from the duck breast, she could hardly contain herself. How she once hired a manservant named Godfrey from Ocala who fancied himself an intellectual (I think Ocala intellectual is an oxymoron). Godfrey was quite happy to serve Roast Wild Duck but not collard greens and corn bread. He quit when cows broke into Rawling's land and started to eat her oranges.

MFK Fisher's "The Art of Eating" also is full of anecdotes and reminiscences. The two also write about a different sort of cooking, when everything was freshly laid or shot or caught or picked. When supermarkets didn't exist and you either grew and raised your own or went to markets to buy fresh ingredients. No ready meals. No fast food. The preparation and cooking of the meals are as important as the eating. I feel an empathy with these women, not that I come from a culinary background like theirs. But I can appreciate good food and the preparation that goes into it. And I do like to eat.

All I can add is that Nigella Lawson can't write -- or cook -- a patch on these women.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

I've got a tummy ache

Well, I feel completely wiped out. I finally caught the gastric flu that's been going around. I have spent the last two days desperately trying to keep food in my system and to stop shivering non-stop. Poor Jake didn't even get a walk yesterday. I will attempt one today though my tummy is still feeling a bit iffy.

Part of the problem with being ill, I find, is that the world goes on even though you don't want to. Children still need to be fed and taken to school. Bathrooms still need cleaning and -- in our case -- carefully disinfecting because the daughter of a friend stayed at our house last night. Dogs need walking, though Jake was pretty good about not going out yesterday. I was going to ask my daughter to take him, but then she got the bug too. My son got home too late from cross-country training to take him.

The other problem with being ill for me is that I have been awakened in the night by either violent shivering or bad stomach cramps. First I lie in bed wondering what medication to take, then I finally convince myself to get up and take it, then I go back to bed, feeling better but oh so wide awake.

And then to occupy myself I start to think of all my baggage. You know, all the relationships that aren't quite what I'd like them to be, all the snubs, all the friendships that have gone awry. And then I go straight back to sleep. NOT!

Last night I mentally composed a list of said baggage under the following categories: In-laws, Family, Friends, Acquaintances. This was joined by Fears and Worries. Then I asked myself why I was able to remember so many of these, but hardly any of the successes and joys in my life. Are they fewer and farther between? But does that not mean then that they count for more? Because if the measure of my life is the relationship shortcomings and fears and worries, then how do I manage to get out of bed every morning?

As I argued with myself, I found sleep finally coming on. And I had some very interesting dreams. In one I explained to a woman I no longer speak to (or rather she no longer speaks to me) why I decided that socializing with her and the rest of her crowd was not a good thing for me. And she seemed to understand. In another dream I flew to Canada on my own and found myself in the ski resort we've visited for the past five years. Without any Canadian money or way to contact my husband. I somehow got a car that I was trying to drive while in the back seat. When I realised this was a near-impossible task, I had to maneuver the car over to the side of the road, also not easy. I managed to get where I was going eventually and was greeted by my husband and children, a nice surprise since my husband has resolutely refused to go skiing with us for about the last eight years. I know there's loads of hidden meaning in this dream. Trying to drive while in the back seat and not getting anywhere. On my own with no resources. My husband unexpectedly showing up. I'll try to think about this next time I can't get to sleep.

There have been many times I've wished I was a different sort of a person, the sort who isn't bothered by people letting me down, the sort who plows gamely through life, celebrating each and every little nugget of sunshine. The sort my daughter actually is. How I envy her ability to shrug off the snubs and putdowns from people. How I envy her innate confidence. Although I come across to people as a confident person, it is a confidence that has been earned through age and experience.

My son, poor soul, is more like me. I went to his Parents Evening at school last week. The overriding theme of the evening was that he needs to work harder and pay more attention and be more vocal, except in Religious Studies, where he apparently is the life of the party. If he doesn't understand something, he needs to ask someone, preferably the teacher, to explain it further. One of my fears is that, having worked so hard to get him into this school, he will then flounder and sink to the bottom. So we (and I feel it is partly my responsibility) will double our efforts to improve his performance. It wasn't an all-round bad evening. He is doing surprisingly well in maths, which he always struggled with in primary school. He's quite strong in history and shows promise in English. Sciences are very weak at the moment, but then I always struggled in them also.

But here's the little nugget of sunshine: He came second in his cross-country race on Saturday. Each time he runs, he gets a better result. My husband was so overcome with pride when he called me (he goes to each and every race) he was practically in tears.

Enough about me. I am going to attempt a walk with Jakie (I'm tempted to bring poop bags for myself). Wish me luck!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Fun Monday No. 1

This is my first Fun Monday post. Several blog pals participate in this and I always wondered how to join the club. Finally figured it out. So the task for this week is to write about a website that has changed our lives, that we can't live without, that deserves a MacArthur Genius grant.

This required a bit of thought. But then it was so obvious. Anyone who's read my blog will know I've mentioned this website a few times in the past. It's of course.

At first I used it just for books. Then I discovered I could do all my Christmas and birthday shopping with it. Brilliant! Genius! And so easy. Some items can be gift-wrapped for you too. And if they forget to do it, as they did this last Christmas, they email to tell you and refund your money.

Its British cousin,, isn't quite as comprehensive, but is coming along.

Have any of you read about the founder of amazon? Jeff Bezos started it in 1994 under the name Cadabra, according to Wikipedia, but changed it because it sounded too much like cadaver. Unlike many internet companies of its ilk, it followed a slow-growth formula, not expecting a profit for four or five years. It actually made a profit for the first time in 2002. Jeff Bezos was named Time Magazine's Person of the Year in 1999. He revolutionized not only book shopping, but on-line shopping. And since shopping, like it or not, is something we all have to do from time to time, isn't it great that it can be so easy?

I also have to add that I have never had a negative experience in any way with Amazon. If deliveries will be delayed they tell you. They tell you when items have been shipped and approximate date for delivery. If only everything in life worked as well.

I went away after writing this and realised I hadn't said how Amazon has changed my life. I have quite a large family in the U.S. spread out from Wyoming to Florida. Although I don't buy for everyone, I do buy for my parents, stepparents, brother, sister, stepbrother, his wife, their four children, all my sister's grandchildren, and my stepsister's two children. That's a lot of presents, and the time involved in shopping for the presents and the cost of sending them overseas just kept getting higher and higher. Then a couple of years ago I thought I'd see about buying over the internet. I started with Amazon because I thought I'd buy a few books. Then I saw all the affiliates and realised I could do everyone. They make it very easy for me. They save all the addresses I have presents shipped to so I don't have to keep looking them up. Also, with the exchange rate as it is, it makes it a lot cheaper too.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

7 Unusual Facts You Probably Could Live a Lifetime Without

Rob Clack, a new (to me) blogger has tagged me to write seven unusual facts about myself. Given that I am almost too honest in this blog, I don't know if there's much left to tell about myself, but I shall try. Rob has had a far more unusual life than me by the way, so I feel quite out of my depth.

Fact 1: I had tuberculosis as a child apparently. For several years my sister, who also had it, and I had annual chest X-rays. My mother always told me that if I smoked, the scar tissue would open up and I would get TB again. The last time I had a chest X-ray, as an adult, I mentioned the scar tissue and was told there was no scar tissue. I did smoke briefly as a teen-ager, but I think my mother's brainwashing did the trick. But what happened to the scar tissue? Was there ever any scar tissue?

Fact 2: Still on the medical front, I had a severe allergic reaction when I was 25 to the antibiotic Macrodantin. At least I think it was Macrodantin. The only way to know for sure is to take Macrodantin again, and I don't ever want to endure a severe allergic reaction again. It started with a swollen knuckle on my right hand and an itchy spot on the inside of my left knee. By evening my hands had swollen to three times their size and I itched all over. By the end of the week I was swollen from the top of my head to the soles of my feet. I had several injections of adrenalin and Benadryl. When I went to the emergency room the first night the admitting nurse thought my boyfriend had beaten me up. The other nurses apparently hadn't seen an allergic reaction before and gathered round me poking my skin, which hurt a lot.

Fact 3: I inherited my dad's teeth. He has a gap the size of the Mississippi in the front. Mine was the size of the Suwannee but I was quite self-conscious about it and wore braces for 15 months to get rid of it. It's gone, but other smaller gaps opened up later. My teeth also are slightly discolored because I was given tetracycline when I was 4 (maybe for the TB?).

Fact 4: My feet grew half a size when I was pregnant with my daughter. I buy size 6 shoes in the UK and size 8 in the US, but I'm actually more like a 5 3/4 UK and 7 3/4 US.

Fact 5: Perhaps I shouldn't admit to this one. What the hay. When I was 17 I kissed soccer player Rodney Marsh. He was playing for the Tampa Bay Rowdys at the time. My friend was a big fan and had found out when his plane was landing. We rushed over to Tampa Airport and waited by the gate, which you could do in those days. A newspaper photographer came up to me and said he'd take my picture if I kissed Rodney. I did, and he did. Then he (the photographer, not Rodney, who was with his wife) tried to ask me out. I declined.

Fact 6: When I worked at a newspaper, I was given an opportunity to start my own special sports section, despite knowing not very much about sports. The special section never saw the light of day but I stayed in sports for a couple of years, much to the consternation of my fellow journalists and first husband. What I learned is that men value sports a lot, far more than they should be valued, and that sports, despite what these men think (and it is men only) is not rocket science.

Fact 7: When I was 9, I developed several nervous habits because I was moved to a private school and was academically behind everyone else (I was also a year younger). I would wake at 4 a.m. to finish homework I'd failed to complete the night before. I bit my nails. I bounced my knees all the time. And I started to pull my hair out -- literally. I had a bald spot the size of a silver dollar or £2 coin before too long. It was vanity that made me stop finally. People were starting to comment on the bald spot if I didn't manage to cover it with the rest of my hair. So I stopped all the nervous habits quite quickly.

Now to complete this I must tag seven people. They are Swearing Mother, softinthehead, j., aoj and the lurchers, -ann, queeny, and pantheist mom. I would like to get to know each of these bloggers better.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Happy Birthday to Me (and Kaycie too)

Yep, I've made it to 48. Hard to believe. I have a busy day planned: hour-long walk with Jake (he needs it or he's impossible in the evening -- actually, he's impossible in the evening anyway), gym (haven't been in a few weeks), lunch with friend, dinner with kids, drinks with friends. No diet today.

Last year I did nothing for my birthday and I felt awful. Not even a glass of wine. And of course hubby was down in London. This year will be different, I decided. I have to take care of myself. I planned to go out with my kids, then my friends called up and asked to take me out. How great is that?

Thinking back to previous birthdays, I've had some real duds. I'm so fortunate in my life now. I just have to remind myself of that from time to time. My daughter got up early and made me a piece of toast and glass of orange juice. Then we went up to my room, got my son up, and opened my presents -- boxing gloves among them. Gotta get out that aggression somehow!

A big kiss to all of you, especially Kaycie and others who were born on this day. We share our birthday (but not our bank account) with Elvis and David Bowie.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Jake's New Year's Resolutions

Hi, I'm Jake. I'm giving my owner a break today because she's worn out from walking me and feeding me and bathing me and playing with me. That's because I'm a 5-month-old Border Collie who's full of energy and likes to have tasks. Since my owner doesn't believe in making New Year's Resolutions, I figured I'd do a few instead.

1. Finish the job I've started on chewing the wicker chairs into tiny sticks. I've started on three of the chairs and only have three more to go.

2. Finish digging the hole I've started by the garage. I should be in China by the end of the year with any luck. My owners filled in my last hole and I've had to start all over again.

3. Continue to gobble up all the goodies the cats leave for me outside including fur balls, feces, and dead mice. They're so kind and thoughtful.

4. But that doesn't mean I'll stop chasing the cats. It keeps them fit. So I'll be their personal trainer for 2008. And it'll help keep me fit too.

5. Continue to explore the rest of the house, particularly upstairs. I love stairs.

6. Keep convincing my owners that I need nice, long walks, especially in the park where I get to meet other dogs and run through the heather (my personal favourite). I also plan to climb to the top of the big rock and jump off. Right now, my owners won't let me go to the top.

7. Convince my owners that I need freshly cooked chicken and rice EACH AND EVERY DAY or I won't eat. I hate that dry stuff they give me even though it says on the bag that it's really good for puppies.

8. Sit on the leather couch every day and watch the football with my owner's son. I love football. I can't wait to play again.

9. Teach my owner how to walk with me. Right now she thinks she should be in charge but I know differently.

10. Continue to be myself.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Mothers, Don't Let Your Daughters Marry An Alcoholic

Update on Jake: I took him to the vet this morning. She thinks he may have eaten something rotten on one of our walks. He had a bit of a temperature so she gave him an antibiotic injection and she said to feed him chicken and rice and give him Immodium if he persisted with the diarrhea. He has perked up no end since then. Thanks for your advice, laurie and kaycie and everyone else.

Now onto the end of the boyfriend saga. I broke up with PB after I met someone else, yet another reporter at work. This was his immortal pickup line: "I like your shoes."

To me he looked like John Lennon. His house was Party Central, which I liked and he didn't. Almost immediately after we got together, he closed down Party Central. But he kept on drinking. And drinking. And drinking. And sometimes took some drugs too. We moved in together fairly quickly to a two-bedroom unheated, un-air-conditioned house. I loved that house. It had the most fantastic back yard, full of azaleas, dogwoods, and other shrubs and trees. I loved the domesticity. I wanted to entertain and party. Ex, as he will be known, wanted to drink. I would get home at night to find he'd drunk an entire bottle of scotch. On his own. He started coming home in the day for a beer. I was concerned but he shrugged it off. His parents drank like this too, he said.

One night after work a bunch of us ended up in a bar. I was drinking Wild Turkey on the rocks. Ex was just drinking. Some of the women and I got up to dance. Ex wasn't happy about it and tried to drag me off the dance floor. I threw my drink at him. He grabbed my wrists and dragged me out the front door. I was terrified. I didn't know what he was going to do. He got me out in the parking lot. I was screaming at him to let go. He wouldn't and said we were going home. The owner of the bar told me she was going to call the police if I didn't shut up. I somehow managed to calm down and told him I had to go back inside to get my purse. He let go and I ran inside and into the bathroom. Our friends knew nothing of what had happened till they saw me crying. One went out to drive Ex home but he insisted on walking. When he got home, he filled the bath up and got in fully clothed. I went home with another colleague and stayed at her house that night. The next morning I heard her whispering on the phone to my boss that Ex had hit me. He did not hit me, though he did leave bruises on my wrists. I went home that day. Ex said he was going to quit drinking. Which he did for two days. He said he had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from covering the Sunshine Skyway Bridge collapse a few years earlier. My boss, a Machiavellian bitch who disguised herself as a human being, thought I should leave him. Maybe I should have, but I didn't have the strength to do it yet. My career suffered as a result.

Everything was fine with Ex as long as I didn't do better than him at work or anywhere else. Eventually, I got a job interview at a major city daily, quite an accomplishment for a 25-year-old. Ex was beside himself with jealousy. We'd just gotten engaged that Christmas, and he obviously felt threatened and insulted that I got a week-long tryout and he got a postcard saying no thanks. I stayed at a friend's apartment that week. Ex took to phoning and saying nothing and hanging up or abusing my friend on the phone. I wasn't in the best frame of mind that week. Needless to say, I didn't get the job.

With my tail firmly between my legs, I decided to start planning the wedding. We went to premarital counselling even. And I'd already been seeing a counsellor to convince myself to marry this man. We planned the wedding for April, just four months later. The big day arrived bright and early with a wakeup call from my cat, who'd had diarrhea all over himself. I had awakened from a dream about nuclear holocaust. As the day went on, the skies blackened. Ex cut himself badly while shaving. I took two tranquillizers and have very little memory of the actual ceremony. Ex managed to alienate and insult most of my family. My sister managed to alienate the wife of Ex's best friend. This would have bothered me more if I actually liked the best friend.

A month later I was sleeping in the spare room because Ex and I had had an argument. At the time, I thought this wasn't right. We were still in the honeymoon phase. Ah yes, the honeymoon. Not very exciting. Ex got drunk each and every day and couldn't perform in the bedroom.

Not long after that, Ex had what he thought was a heart attack. He was rushed to the hospital from work. A very nice lady from work called and told me because she thought I'd want to know. I sort of rushed to the hospital. Ex had not had a heart attack (he was only 29), but every nurse and doctor he saw told him to stop smoking. He didn't. But he did quit drinking.

And the next month we were on our way to New York and new jobs, courtesy of my contacts. Ex and I hardly saw each other. He worked days. I worked nights and weekends. When I say nights, I mean I went in at 5 p.m. and got home at 7 a.m. I did this for 10 months, my health was terrible, and I hated my life. Ex, on the other hand, was having a superb time flirting with his boss and getting all the kudos he thought he was worth. I would call him sometimes during the day because I was lonely. He told me not to call him at work. Eventually, I moved to the Sunday magazine, becoming editor. Ex wasn't happy because this meant that he worked for me part of the time. He made my life so miserable about it I lost weight and finally went to the Editor to see if we could get him off the magazine rotation. The Editor informed me that he thought my request was unprofessional, and that if I couldn't cope with the pressure then maybe I shouldn't be in the job. I went back to Ex and told him if he was unhappy he could go talk to the Editor. He never did, the spineless bastard.

Ex never seemed to want me to go with him to visit his parents. One time he went and came back with a shiny, new pickup truck. He never consulted with me about this. His high school 10-year reunion came up. He said he wanted to go on his own. Fine by me. I went out with the girls to NYC and had a blast.

And yet somehow I still brainwashed myself into believing I was happy and loved this man. Then many things happened to change this.

I had offered to have one of my nephews visit me for a week. I paid his way, but my sister never actually confirmed the arrival day. I assumed it was the next day. The actual day was one of the worst days in my career. I somehow had forgotten about a deadline. Anyone in journalism knows that's a huge no-no. I had to work my tail off to get an entire section ready in one day. I had just gotten a new car, which Ex and I had argued bitterly over (remember the pickup truck?). Ex came up to me at the exact wrong moment and asked for the keys so he could show it to a friend. I rolled my eyes. Ex had a fit. I got home that night and the phone rang. It was my sister asking how my nephew was. He comes tomorrow, I said. I put him on a plane today, she said. I panicked and phoned the airport security and was hysterical. Ex actually drove out and found him -- safe -- and brought him home. Then Ex told me he wanted a divorce. I cried. I said let's get counselling. He said he'd had enough. I said let's sleep on it. The next morning I got out the yellow pages and made an appointment with a marriage counsellor. Ex refused to go, so I went on my own and continued to go for a year. I talked about everything but my relationship with Ex. Then one day the counsellor asked me about him. Suddenly, I had the worst stomach cramps and had to go to the bathroom immediately. I never talked about Ex.

Then, in 1990, the year I turned 30, more things happened. One was that Ex got chosen to go to a prestigious seminar, which pissed me off no end. He was gone a week. I went out one night after work for a drink with colleagues. One was a photographer, who flirted heavily with me. And started to hang around my office. And call me at home. In one week, I lost about 10 pounds.

Ex came back all happy to see me, but I wasn't happy to see him. Finally, after two weeks I told him I didn't want to be married anymore. He didn't take it well. He threatened to kill himself. I asked him to come to counselling with me. He did, and said I had a lot of problems with my dad that I needed to work through and he thought it would be best if we separated while I did this and he'd made up a list dividing our possessions. I was dumbfounded. We went out for a meal afterwards but I couldn't stop crying so we went home, me to the spare room.

I waited till Ex moved out before sleeping with the photographer. What a disappointment. I have to say it was the worst sex of my life. I'd built this guy up into something he clearly wasn't. He deserves no more words.

I decided to stay single and alone till I worked out what I wanted from a man and found that man. No alcoholics or smokers. No egomaniacs. And absolutely never again anyone from work. Though I did try to get together with one or two. Fortunately, they declined. Ex managed to continue to behave badly until the day I flew out of the country. I have never heard from him since. I do not ever want to hear from him again. While I can muster up fond feelings for PB, RB, and CB, my heart and mind grow cold at the mention of Ex.

I'm sure he doesn't have many kind words for me either. It was long ago and only eight years from start to finish. But I do feel I wasted most of my 20s on this man. Thank God he's not been around for my 30s and 40s.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Boyfriends Yet Again

One reason I broke up with College Boyfriend is because I met someone else. This someone was a photographer at work (hereafter referred to as PB). PB got a mutual friend to take me over to his apartment after work one night for a beer and a joint. I loved the apartment. It was full of plants and funky stuff. And I liked PB. He was funny. The mutual friend left me there alone with PB. PB kept leaving the room and walking back in. He told me later he was really nervous. I spent the night and discovered that we had a sexual chemistry I had never experienced before or since.

PB was no Adonis. In fact he was the opposite. Maybe 5'9'', with a pot belly and scrawny legs, a beard (remember, I was still into facial hair), and braces (yep!). He was nine years older than me. But I was besotted. And he seemed to be with me.

The next morning he gave me his bathrobe to wear as he cooked us an omelette for breakfast. Then the phone rang. He took it into his bedroom, shut the door, and was in there for about 45 minutes. I would have left but my clothes were in there and I didn't want to disturb him. I should have. It was his ex-girlfriend wanting to get back together. So he drove me home and that was the end of that.

I started to see a guy from the composing room. Then on a visit to my dad's, I got bold and called someone I knew from the college newspaper. He'd been the editor, and I was totally in awe of him. But he had a girlfriend, and I had a boyfriend. I didn't know if he'd be interested in me anyway. But I took a chance. He was now a reporter at one of the Tampa papers and destined for really big things. We met for a drink. He was still seeing his girlfriend. A week later, he wasn't. He started to visit me every other weekend. And I started to visit my dad a lot more and of course go out with Reporter Boyfriend. He was gorgeous. Tall, blonde, blue eyes. Intelligent. Ambitious. And he liked ME!

But. There's always a but. It was magical with RB. I still think of him every time I hear the Police song "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic." RB didn't seem interested in meeting my family. He'd pick me up from my dad's, but got out of there as quickly as possible. And I never met his mother. Our relationship was kept on one level. I was happy with that for a while. We were young, starting out in our careers. We were having a really good time. But I always wondered why he liked me.

Then PB broke up again with the ex/not-ex girlfriend. He was about to go to Guatemala for a couple of months. When he got back, we resumed our relationship. It was a strange relationship, also only on one level. We only went out once on a date, to see "Chariots of Fire." The rest of the time we met up after work or at parties or when mutual friends invited us both to their house. I was always in arguments with myself about why I was with him. He seemed obsessive about his privacy. But sexual chemistry can be a strong thing.

I kept seeing both RB and PB, RB more regularly because PB kept finding other women to go out with. I wanted to fall in love with one of them and wanted one of them to fall in love with me. Because PB was playing hard to get, I think I overvalued the relationship. It brought out the competitive streak in me. PB knew about RB, but I didn't think RB knew about PB. I moved to a condo with a roommate. PB actually helped me move, but RB spent my first weekend there with me. In retrospect I should have known something was up. RB was distant all weekend. Then the phone rang. It was a girl we'd both known at the college newspaper. Why was she calling me? How did she get my number? She boldly asked me if I was seeing PB, and I stupidly said yes. Even more stupidly, I let RB talk to her after that. She obviously told him, though he never said a word about it. In fact he didn't really talk to me at all after that. He left the next morning. I knew I'd hurt him. I felt terrible about it. But I thought he'd call. He never did. And I didn't call him.

Instead, I decided to concentrate on PB. We did seem to grow closer. When someone tried to break into the condo one night, I fled to PB's. And stayed. I only went back to the condo to collect the cats and pack my things. I didn't feel safe there anymore. Someone had forced open a window and cut the screen on the porch. To this day I believe it was my roommate's weirdo boyfriend.

PB was wonderful. He emptied some drawers for my things. He gave me a key. He waited up for me to get home from work. But he was moving on to bigger and better things too. He was about to go to Washington to work on the start-up newspaper, USA Today. He didn't know if he'd be there permanently or not. In the meantime I could look after his apartment. It rained the day he left, and I cried. But he seemed to be dedicated to me. He called frequently, even when I was on deadline one night to tell me not to get upset if I called him and a woman answered. She was only a friend. That was a Thursday. I called him on Sunday. Have you ever called a man and got the distinct impression you'd interrupted something intimate? I did and I had.

I was furious. I shouted "Fuck you," then slammed the phone down. Then I disconnected it and left it that way for about a week. If anyone needed to get in touch with me, they could call me at work or come see me. PB had only been away for 4 or 6 weeks max. I'd made plans to visit him a few weeks later. I couldn't get a refund on my ticket so contacted a former teacher and asked if I could stay with him if necessary. PB sweettalked me into staying with him, then went off on an assignment while I was there and left me with no food or money. He did leave behind a stale bottle of champagne (left over from the other woman?) in his roach-ridden Stay-Free-Mini-Pad. Some colleagues of his took pity on me and took me out one night. I met up with my former teacher the next night. Then PB returned. I was angry still but it had turned into a cold, hard anger.

I flew back to Fort Myers and proceeded to pick up and bring back to PB's apartment an array of men. I slept with them in PB's antique bed. I let them shower in PB's bathroom and wear his bathrobe. I cooked for them in PB's kitchen. I knew there was no future with PB and was just biding my time. I never called him again. He got very nervous about his possessions and asked a neighbour to check in on me. Then he made a very big mistake. He helped me get another job. I moved to Tallahassee and broke up with him. For I had met my next boyfriend. PB actually cried when I broke up with him. He told me he loved me. I told him he was too late.

PB was not yet out of my life completely. But there was a new man on the horizon, also a reporter. And if I'd made mistakes with men in the past, they were nothing compared to this one. I married this one. PB called me repeatedly before the wedding urging me not to go through with it. Well, why should I listen to PB? Why indeed. These two men shared a birthday, Nov. 8. And RB's birthday was Nov. 6. My dad's is Nov. 10. Get the picture?

I have Googled both RB and PB. RB did go on to bigger and better things. He's married and has children. I wish him well and I am still very sorry I hurt him, though he probably got over it long ago. PB married a psychiatrist he met at the LA Olympics in 1984. They had a daughter. They went through a rocky patch at the same time my first marriage fell apart. One friend thought we should get in contact again. Another cautioned against revisiting the past. I don't know if PB is still married. I do know he lives in San Francisco now. I have considered emailing him, but to what purpose? I think he would wonder if I wanted to get back together with him. So I observe from afar. And remember.

Season's Greetings

In one week I turn 48. My new best friend, the mother of the little boy who lives next door, told my son she couldn't believe that was my age. She thought I was 10 years younger. Well, I am. On the inside.

For Christmas I got a digital camera. So watch out for pictures of Jake once I figure it out. Speaking of Jake, he had a fantastic Christmas. Turkey. Toys. Long walks every day. But on Saturday we noticed he wasn't eating as much. Then he started collapsing in a heap after every walk. Then this morning he didn't want to come out of his puppy crate to say good morning to me. Not like him at all. I did a bit of on-line sleuthing to try to figure out what was wrong. Nothing conclusive. He perked up a bit so we took him on our annual New Year's Day walk. He seemed OK, though he did sit down once or twice briefly. This boy normally never sits down. When we got home, I filled his Kong with some cheese. He ate it. I filled it again. He ate it. I gave him some bread, which he took greedily from my hand. Then I made some mashed potato and put it in his bowl. He didn't touch it. I put it in his Kong. Wouldn't even sniff it. Finally, I put some on a teaspoon. He licked it off. I put some more on. He licked that. But nothing else since. He did seem to come round and was more like Mad Jake for about half an hour. He's back to lying down, though he's complaining because I won't let him go out and dig up the garden again. I think I'll call the vet tomorrow regardless and see if I can get him an appointment.

We were pretty much Billy No-Mates over the Christmas/New Year period, which actually turned out to be a good thing. It meant we didn't catch all the bugs going around. We played games as a family. I fell asleep in front of the TV. Other than food shopping, I have gone to no stores whatsoever. Hubby and I have gone on long walks most days (except days I had to cook) and explored parts of our area we've never been to before. Still, I was a bit peeved at a couple of people who messed up my plans. I am a Capricorn. I don't like my plans to be messed up. Realising that people will always mess up my plans is one of my life lessons to learn, and it's a hard one. I try not to disappoint others, to do what I say I'm going to do, to be reliable and steadfast. Yet I seem to surround myself with others who aren't like that at all. There must be a reason.

Because I've been so remiss as a blogger, I'm going to write two posts today. The second will be more on the boyfriends.