Wednesday, July 31, 2013

$600 bought me two hours with Tomas de Torquemada

If I asked you what your favourite thing in the world was, (and you were honest) you'd say feeling really really good, and sex, or chocolate, or booze, or marijuana or laying on a beach somewhere naked, with somebody you also really really like, also naked, with a big box of chocolate and some booze and a joint, and that would be your favourite thing in the world. 

I could walk up and down Stephen Ave Mall asking every person I met what their favourite thing was, and though most of them would lie and say, "A good book, or dinner with my boyfriend, or a weekend skiing in Louise," you and I would both know that's a load of cobblers.

One thing no one is going to say is that their absolutely favourite thing is spending the afternoon in the dentist's chair, having what was supposed to be a "small cavity which would probably not even require any freezing to fix" turn into a spelunker's dream which leaves the dentist crying to his assistant. "Look Madge! There's an unexplored cavern 150 yards to the right in this molar! Hand me the jack-hammer! NO! Not the small one, I want that big mother! The one with the 10 HP Briggs and Stratton engine!"  

So yesterday afternoon was not marked "FAVOURITE DAY! on my calendar, nor did it have a happy face on it. Most people go to the dentist, get a needle, are the recepients of some unpleasant but not dreadfully uncomfortable burring and buzzing and poking about, and leave the office numb from nose to chin, drooling and unable to do more than eat soup for supper.

I have the genetic misfortune to be totally immune to the effect of local anesthesia. I don't "freeze". So for the last 10 years I've had IV sedation for dental procedures. This has always worked a treat. I go in, they check my vitals, put me on a cardiac, blood pressure and oxygen monitor, start an IV, and once the sedation kicks in I am off in some timeless dimension, quite possibly naked with a box of booze and a bottle of chocolate. I don't know. But it costs $600 a pop so the dream better be good. I awaken, a bit woozy, dental work done, and I'm off to eat soup for supper.

Yesterday I had no reason to expect anything different. This is a new dentist for me, but he's as careful as your old granny and sweet as candy. He's Latin. Tall, heavy-set, dark-skinned and curly-haired and I'm just thinking all I need is that medication and I don't care if he is young enough to be my son. It's my damn fantasy and if I want to lie on a beach and eat chocolate with my dentist that's between me and my drugs.

The first clue that this might not go as well as might be expected was that the anesthesiologist couldn't find a vein that would hold a butterfly needle - which is hardly thicker than a hair. Finally after wrapping my arm and hand in hot wet towels for a few minutes they try the underside of my forearm, find a vein and start the IV.

All is in readiness for dream land. Dr. Sugar gives the okay for the first level of sedation to kick in. But dream land eludes me. Through my complaints that I am feeling every rotation of the damn drill and dig of the pick he keeps reassuring me that I won't remember a thing tomorrow. He is terrified that he will over sedate me, so he doesn't give me enough sedation.

"Tomorrow you will think back and say it was painless. Why, you've even been sleeping," he said.  No. What I was doing was what I've had to do all my life when I had dental work, wall my mind off to the pain and meditate. Until I was in my 50s I had no idea that having dental work wasn't akin to a information gathering session with the Spanish Inquisition. I didn't realize that it didn't hurt everyone the same way it hurt me.

Over the space of an hour the "wee cavity" is drilled right back to my jaw bone, reamed out, done whatever to. He keeps giving me hits of lidocaine (or water) same thing. He complains that my mouth is too small to get the needle deep enough in the gum.

He finishes the tooth, then says, "Uh Oh. It's bleeding from up in there somewhere, so he tears out the just completed filling looking for the "bleeder",  seals it, fills the tooth again, scrapes the edges, smooths the surfaces. Pronounces it done. Moves on to tooth number two, a wisdom tooth which had been capped years ago and had simply sheared off one day.

"This one's gonna hurt," he said, "and I've used up almost all the lidocaine." But to my immense relief it was only a root tip left and it popped right out. He filled the cavity with a foam that stops bleeding, stitched it, and yes I felt that damn needle go in and come out for every stitch. 

And finally I was done. They took the IV out, peeled off the layers of tape, and brought in a walker I did not need. I paid the bill, instructed them to which pharmacy to FAX my prescription, arranged for a follow-up visit, went out and bought sushi and pie from the hospital's excellent deli, and caught a cab home.

But, you can be assured that if ever Dr. Sugar does another procedure on me we will be after a long and emphatic conversation about how much sedation I require. For $600 I want two hours on the beach, not two hours with Tomas de Torquemada.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

Four Steps to Dealing With Discomfort

How do you calm yourself? Most of us cannot magically (or otherwise) retreat to a rock in a lovely green lake where solitude and peace can envelope us.

Oh, we can go on "retreat" but life is still out there when we return. Real solitude is hard to come by for the average person, and even worse, stress and solitude rarely simply drop conveniently into the same time slot, so that you can use your hour of solitude to deal with stress.

Now it gets personal. I'm not calling the feeling "stress", but irritation, which is a stepping stone to resentment, which rapidly devolves to stress and even anger.

I woke up with a migraine. The right half of my head was entertaining the percussion section of the Boston Symphony. Even with my eyes closed I could see an artery pulsing in my right eye. The cats were pummeling the bedroom door and squalling. I wanted to go back to sleep but my close personal friend, Ms. Bladder, said "No I don't believe we will be doing that."

As I opened the bedroom door and stumbled out the cats raced for their respective food dishes and waited, all appetite and expectation. Both their dishes have dried and crusted food from last night caked around the edges, where kitty mouths have trouble reaching.

With my bladder screeching, NOW NOW, NOW I scraped the bowls out into the garbage, washed each with the brush and soap, rinsed them, and opened the fridge to find no cat food. Off to the pantry, where I got a can for each (one eats only tuna, one eats only chicken). The cats wound around my feet, the older one nuzzling me, the little one threatening to tear my legs off. I fed each one, and headed for the bathroom, noting that my husband was in his chair in the living room, oblivious, playing a computer game.

The irritation I woke with turned to resentment. He's waiting for his coffee. He's waiting for me to make it, pour it, sweeten it, put in the cream and cinnamon in it and carry it to him. Yesterday he held the cup and waved his arms around while he complained about some ad which irritated him on the TV, and in the process he slopped coffee all over the floor. I tossed him a towel to pick it up with and while he was picking the one puddle of coffee off the floor with his left hand he spilled more coffee with his right, because he hadn't put the cup down. The floor is now a great bloody mess, and I know mopping it later will give me another migraine. Thinking about it now resentment begins to stir… 

At once I realize that I need to calm down:  

1) I reassured myself that this will pass. The migraine (and the irritation which accompanies my migraines) will respond to the medication I took moments earlier. I just need to be patient and avoid expressing my irritation until the pills take effect. (I am not always successful at this. It takes a good deal of work.)

2)  I remind myself that my husband is perfectly willing to make the coffee but he makes it too weak for my taste. I make it strong and dilute his with a bit of hot water, so I prefer to make it myself. So I cannot justify my irritation that he has not made coffee.  (Makes "loco" sign around own ear here.)  And accidents happen, with coffee and other things. You don't upset yourself by attaching blame to accidents, you simply clean them up and go on.

3) While I cannot meditate for an hour, I can drop into a single moment of silence which serves to calm me.  And while the feeling of irritation remains, it does not need to be acted on, or imposed on others.

4) I take responsibility: While it's important not to let others destroy my inner peace, it's just as important to take control of my own feelings and not let them destroy my inner peace. Speaking in irritation only increases the level of irritation, and creates anger and discord. Controlling one's speech muscles and speaking to others in peaceful and positive ways increases your feelings of well-being and happiness.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Do not let the behaviour of others destroy your inner peace

The Dalai Lama has said, " Do not let the behaviour of others destroy your inner peace."

That's great advice, but how does one put it into practice? What are the actual mental "tools" used to maintain inner peace in less-than-peaceful situations?

I hate conflict. I just want everyone to be nice and get along. I also sit on the condo board for our building, which has 186 units. People come in a steady stream to my door with questions and problems, this leaks, that's broken, a light needs replacing in a stairwell. Sometimes they simply come because they want to talk  and that's okay too.

But there's one woman who is often at my door. She is loud, aggressive, and frequently gets into arguments with other owners because she's always poking her nose where it has no business being. I cringe when I hear her knock on my door. Sometimes it is a building issue that she feels is a looming emergency, like a loose eaves trough or a mark on the carpet. If I do not put my foot down and absolutely refuse I will be dragged to examine this threat, as if it were a two-alarm fire.

Usually she is reporting on someone else's "unacceptable" behaviour, like propping their door open on a hot day (she does not approve), or "warning" me that she saw a Black person come into the building! Since we have several immigrant African families who live in the building she has to remain on extreme alert at all times. I have made my views on her racism clear, and as soon as she brings race, ethnicity or religion into it I terminate the conversation.

Tonight she knocked on the door in an explosive mood (no pun intended). A resident in one of the ground floor units had guests, and they set off some small fireworks. From her level of hysteria I thought he had done this right on the patio beneath her unit's balcony, but with closer questioning I learned that the fireworks had been taken across the parking lot and set off over the railroad tracks at least 100 feet away. There's a marsh between the tracks and the parking lot, which is a good 75 ft wide. With the flooding and the nightly rains we've had for the last six weeks the grass is waterlogged. You couldn't set fire to it with a blowtorch.

But nonetheless she challenged the two men with their children when they came back, telling them they couldn't set off fireworks, that they were going to burn the building down and in general giving them what-for. One of them told her to go back inside and mind her own business. She lit into him and unpleasant words were exchanged.

After all this she came banging on my door, wanting me to come and tell the men off, or perhaps chain them up and beat them, or what…. it was never clear exactly what I was supposed to do, except "be an expert in the city by-laws about fireworks".

So she launched into me, and the general uselessness of the condo board and then moved on to the classic nobody-loves-me-I hate-everybody tirade. I hugged her and told her I was sorry she was having such a hard time, but she stomped off down the hall waving her arms, crying, swearing and fuming.

I came in feeling like I'd been chewed up and spat out by a bear. I sat here with my heart pounding, sick to my stomach with anxiety. After a few minutes I thought this is stupid. Why should I let her problems dealing with other people her make me feel like this? So I did the following:

1) I acknowledged my anger at her for being so irrational and difficult to deal with

2) I acknowledged my fear that I may sometimes say the wrong things to her

3) Recognize that my initial reaction was to be upset, but it was essentially just a feeling and feelings come and go and are harmless

4) I drew a clear boundary between my emotions and hers and said to myself, I am not going to feel her emotions. This doesn't mean I don't have compassion for her. I wish she was able to deal with people more easily but she is absolutely convinced that she is the world's authority on everything, and she comes at anyone who disagrees like a pit bull.

5) Recognize that *I* decide how I react to her and in this case I decided that her argument and tantrum are not going to disturb my inner peace.

Once I recognized I was experiencing all this unpleasantness I used the tools I have learned over the years to interrupt my own cycle of negativity. The "escape" happened much more quickly than I was able to write it down.  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

KIVA Loan for July 2013

Our July KIVA loan goes to Erica Yamileth, a 27-year-old woman who lives in Comayagua Honduras. She has a great future as she is ambitious and a hard worker. She is an entrepreneur, shopkeeper and farmer. She is married with two children who are in school. Erica has completed primary education up to the sixth grade.

Together with her husband Erica grows corn, beans and rice as well as having a small grocery store which she keeps stocked with basic needs for her customers.

One of the challenges she faces in growing her crops is the high prices of agricultural equipment and supplies which promote the growth, quality and health of the plants. The inability to buy these necessary supplies reduces the yield of their fields, and reduces the profits which are left and the family does not benefit from Erica and her husband's hard work as much as they should.

Erica has asked for a loan which she will use to buy agricultural supplies for her crops, hoping this will give them a better harvest, a bigger yield of their crops and better profits. With increased profits she hopes to save enough to make some necessary improvements to her house, including whitewashing, which will prevent damp in the walls, and laying a tiled floor.

But the couple's real dream is to offer their children everything they need to enable them to graduate with university degrees which will give them better opportunities in the future.

We are happy to be able to lend a helping hand to Erica and her husband as they work toward a brighter future for their family.

I invite you to try a KIVA loan for free! Because we are long time lenders (Erica is the 49th person we have loaned $25-50) KIVA has extended this invitation. An anonymous donor is underwriting loans made by friends of lenders. By following this link you can make a free $25 KIVA loan, and we get $25 to loan to someone else like Erica. Now, who else has offered you free no-strings attached money? Please help us out by following the link and making a KIVA loan for free!   

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

On which side of my door did you place your umbrella?

I have a problem that a lot of people have. I sort of amble mindlessly along, mentally chewing over an event that happened 40 or 50 years in the past, or worrying about where the energy is going to come from to shop tomorrow.

Meanwhile the day slides by and by the time I'm ready to fold up and go to bed I wonder, "Where'd the day go?" And I stop and realize that I've been asleep (or more accurately mindless) much of the day.  My life is sliding through my fingers moment by moment and I'm not even aware of much of it.

There was a young monk who wanted to study with a widely revered teacher. He knew this teacher only accepted the most promising students so he studied the texts, memorized wise sayings and practiced looking impressively serene. Finally he gained an appointment for an interview with the master.

On the morning of his interview it was raining heavily. The young monk set out for the teacher's house carrying his umbrella. When he reached the teacher's house he removed his muddy shoes, closed his umbrella, adjusted his robes and rang the bell.

Once inside he sat where the attendant indicated and waited. After a while the teacher came in. The young monk jumped to his feet.

"So you want to study with me?" the teacher asked, looking out the window at the falling rain. "Have you prepared yourself? Are you ready to learn what I have to teach?"

"Oh yes," the young monk answered, "I have studied very hard."

"On which side of my door did you place your umbrella?" the teacher asked.

The young monk's thoughts flew back to the moment when he closed his umbrella and leaned it on the wall beside the door. He could not remember, his thoughts had not been on the umbrella, but only with the interview before him. "I do not remember," he said, "is where I placed my umbrella of importance?"

"Until you wake up and learn to pay absolute attention to every moment and what it holds I cannot teach you anything," the teacher answered.

The young monk went away and began learning to discipline his mind. It was seven years before he was capable of living entirely in the moment. But when he approached the teacher the second time, he was welcomed. He knew he had placed his umbrella on the right side of the door because he was awake when he did it.  

 This story came to mind a few days ago because I had taken my keys from their usual place  while getting ready to go out. I put them somewhere and then couldn't find them.

We looked at each other and, as so often is the case, we shared the same thought, and asked each other the same question. "On which side of the door did you place your umbrella?"

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Try Not to Catch the Eye of the T-Rex

Yesterday was one of those perfect days, warm, but not hot. Endless blue sky lifting from the horizon. Ian is off work this week, so I asked if we could go to Drumheller and visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. We'd been down when it first opened in 1985, but I was longing for a repeat visit.

So, about 11:30 yesterday morning we were on our way in my little red car, which had never seen a highway, and must have been confused by the lack of a fence of shops on either side of the road. Instead we rode through rolling fields of canola, patched with fields of wheat planted in precise rows your eye could follow as easily as lines stitched on leather. 

We stopped for lunch in Drumheller, whose outskirts sport all the bustle and big box stores and restaurants you see in any Canadian city, but whose older downtown with 1920s buildings was practically deserted. Craft shops, galleries, all the mom 'n pop shops that serve any tourist-centred town. 

The location of the Museum seems to be a secret. A single sign pointing vaguely that way --> was it. You drove down a neighbourhood street lined with houses on the edge of dilapidation, crossed bridges, wandered down an unmarked stretch of deserted road. I was convinced we were lost. Ian had been there several times and was confident that there was a museum at the end of this particular long and winding row. Of course he was right. There finally was a sign: 3.5 kms, 2.5 kms, turn-off ahead! 

They've hidden the thing down in the gully, which unbuilt-in looks like this, which is Horseshoe Canyon on the way to Drum. Glacial run-off and the Red Deer river have carved a deep rift in the land, and it's out of the sides of these pyramids of silt and rock that dinosaur bones erode. 

Inside the museum you step back in time, layer by layer. As we walked through the exhibits Ian remarked how the vertebrates were built to a basic plan, spine, ribcage, limbs, neck and skull, but what an astonishing variety of forms life has taken on that basic plan. 

The Dimetrodons were not dinosaurs but a pelycocsaur, and were probably more closely related to us than to the dinosaurs. They appeared in the late Paleozoic Era, about 280 million years ago, long before the dinosaurs evolved. Dimetrodon died out during in the Permian extinction 245 million years ago. 

Dimetrodon had mammal-like characteristics. They lived mainly in swampy areas. Unlike their fellow non-finned pelycosaurs, they warmed up early after sunrise, and cooled off more efficiently during the heat of the day. This efficient thermoregulation along with their large and powerful jaws gave them the advantage and allowed them to be the dominant carnivore of the era. 

An ancient alligator-like critter named Eryops also lived during the Permian period (roughly 270 million years ago), long before the dinosaurs evolved. It was an amphibian (related to today's frogs, newts and salamanders) and one of the larger animals of the era, about five feet long. Like many of today's frogs it lived in swamps, but unlike today's frogs it had lots of teeth! This meat-eater had a stout body with very wide ribs, a strong spine, four short, strong legs, a short tail, and a wide, elongated skull with many sharp teeth in strong jaws.

From slow and lumbering giants who ate plants and relied on sheer size for protection, to the massive and obviously predatory T-Rex this "zoo" of the long-since vanished is mind-boggling. From lumbering giants whose limbs dwarf today's human, to creatures who you'd find it hard to see without a magnifying glass the evolution of the forms of life on this planet as we know it today are almost incomprehensible. 

The hundreds, if not thousands, of generations it must have taken to produce the exquisitely frilled protective head shield of the Chasmosaurus span a time scale we cannot even begin to wrap our heads around. Natural selection, generation after generation, of animals who survived long enough to breed because they had a protective covering on that most vulnerable of places, the connection between spine and skull. With time the shield became ever larger, ever more imposing. They were big to begin with, rather like an enormous plated rhino, 5-8 m (16-26 feet) long and could weigh 3.5 tons. From finding fossils with preserved skin we know they were covered with bumpy, faceted projections. They laid eggs and raised their young while living in herds, like many larger mammals do today. 

The Stegosaurus was another big creature of the era, with an impressive row of alternating bony plates that ran the length of its spine. It grew up to 8-9 meters (30 feet) long and almost 3 meters tall (9 feet). However its brain was only the size of a walnut so it couldn't have been the brightest bulb in the chandelier. The rear legs were longer and straighter than the front, which sprawled to the sides. As you can see from the skeleton, its skull was long and narrow and was carried close to the ground. The plates were made of a spongy type of bone which was filled with blood vessels, so they may have been used as a sort of temperature regulating mechanism, or they may have been there to attract a mate. (Oh baby! I do like the look of your plates!) The spikes at the end of the tail were probably protective. Stegosaurus may not have been smart but they were strong and getting hit in the head with those spikes would have ruined most predator's day. 

We walked around and compared the pelvis and shallow hip sockets of the big plant eaters to the wash-tub size hip sockets of the predatory T-Rex. The plant eaters barely had hip sockets. It's obvious from the structure of the pelvis, hip and femur that their legs had a limited range of motion forward or backward, and speed would have hardly been possible. On the other hand the T-rex had a pelvis, hips and legs built for running. The femurs were bowed in opposition to the force the enormous muscles of the legs must have exerted on them when they ran. 

I'd never noticed this before but the T-rex has a retractable spur on its back feet, just like the spur on a rooster. If you've ever seen a rooster go after a cat or dog who has gotten into the hen yard, you can visualize how those spurs were used. The rooster doesn't have the advantage of a mouthful of teeth the size of a man's forearm, or forearms to grasp his unfortunate victim, but those spurs can still eviscerate a cat or small dog. Yeech, I don't even want to think of it. 

They say T-rex hunted in packs. I think I'd just have my heart attack and die before they reached me. There were parts of the Museum we didn't see because I have my limits, and some really neat areas were so difficult to photograph that I didn't get pictures. But it was a great day, not just because of the museum, but also because I got to spend several uninterrupted hours with my oldest son. If you get the chance, go see the museum. It's fabulous. It'll make you think. A motto on a pillar as you exit the building says, "The only constant is change."

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Zen Blooms in Fits and Starts

The three difficulties are:

1. to recognize your neurosis as neurosis, 
2. then not to do the habitual thing, but
 to do something different to interrupt
 the neurotic habit, and 
3. to make this practice a way of life.

Yesterday I was as neurotic as I get. I held a pity-party for one, threw the confetti and blew the paper horn. I wallowed in my misery, and then, having puked up my feelings on paper, I got up and vacuumed the wooly floor, cleaned off the counter, ran the dishwasher and made a decent meal for dinner.

And while I would love to understand the neurobiology of all this build-up of angst-pie, in my case it simply comes down to two elements. Pain and low serum potassium. Once I realized this and decided I was tired of feeling like crap I took a couple of pain pills and a dose of potassium. In about an hour my foul mood improved by 100% and I got up and enjoyed the rest of the day. 

Today I woke with a migraine, my body's customary response to vacuuming. However, pain pills with breakfast, along with a cup of strong coffee has pushed the perimeter back to barely noticeable.

The day began overcast and cool, but about 11:00 am the clouds cleared and it is gorgeous out there. I took my camera out to my garden in front for pictures. Gardening may be my "guilty" pleasure, but it's also nourishment to my soul.

The sedum mat I planted at the base of the tall stone in the zen garden has exceeded my wildest expectations. The sedums are blooming, tiny, pin-head (and smaller) sized blossoms that are breathtaking in their diversity of form and colour.

The hostas on the shady side of the walk are blooming, the stalks of lily-shaped flowers are lovely - translucent, but they hang like bells and it's very difficult to photograph them from underneath. The white astilbe continues to bloom while the pink ones have faded to green.

The rose bushes out front have just about finished their first flush of blooms. I need to take the shears out and deadhead them and the sage, to encourage a second flush of bloom. The mini-roses I planted last year are thriving and the ones in the tree well near the driveway have produced some gorgeous pink blossoms. 

So, here's the drill. It's a healing garden, in every way.

Friday, July 12, 2013

I Shudda Stay'd in Bed

Believe me I tried.  The sky was just beginning to lighten when Smokey patted me with five of his twenty or so claws and complained that he was hungry. I ignored him for as long as humanly possible, but I needed to pee anyway, and there's a pill I have to take early in the day. So I crawled out of bed and staggered, half-blind, toward the kitchen. My legs work like two of those rubber pencils from the jokes store first thing in the day, and my eyes would not open, so not only did I have no control over which direction I lurched, I couldn't open my eyes enough to see where I was going.

I was aided in this adventure by 20 pounds of complaining furball twining his way through my legs as if he were winding a Maypole. I caught a corner and grabbed it like a lover, waiting for my legs and brain to make more than a tenuous connection. 

Pill taken, and cat food spooned into respective dishes (Sal2 woke up, crawled off the bed and wanted his breakfast as well)  I headed for the bathroom. Smokey will not allow me to attend the ceremonies of the toilette unattended, and shouldered his way through the door just as I closed it. He put his front paws on my knees and gazed into my eyes. I felt like a half-empty bag of rice.

I did not want to bend over and pick up 20 pounds of cat from the floor for fear of subluxating a rib or three. The claws dug more deeply into my knees. He is not a jumper. I held my breath and reached for him, but he didn't want to be picked up under his front legs, so he stood down and leaned against me.

I scooped him into my lap, where he laid on his back and gazed at me with the rapt adoration described in romance novels. He patted my face and gently bit my eyebrows. My right hip rolled in the socket and sank under his weight. I can't handle his weight any longer so I rolled him off onto the floor, did the paperwork and washed my hands. He followed me back to the kitchen, where he  apparently now feels it's safe to eat the breakfast I'd given him earlier. 

I wanted to go back to sleep, but the cats were ready for a long conversation, quite possibly about quantum physics or comparative religions. I eyed the bedroom door. They know this game. They looked from me to the door. The little one has a slick coat, I could see his muscles shifting in anticipation of the run. They know that they can be back on the bed and feigning sleep before I even get to the door. I remembered the new container of catnip I bought yesterday while shopping and pulled it out. Their delighted distraction with the two small piles of 'nip I put on the kitchen floor gave me time to get into the bedroom and close the door.

The sun was shining through the slots in the blind when Smokey began his 10,000 steps routine, on the bedroom door. He's worn a track in the door, scratching to get in. Tony grumbled and cursed for a half hour or so and then got up and let the little bastards in. They had no intentions of sleeping. I was briefly awakened numerous times when I was used as a landing/launch pad as the cats chased each other off and on and around the bed. Some time later five claws patted my arm over and over, and I opened my eyes enough to see Smokey's turquoise eyes looking into mine.

Tony was gone, and the bedroom door was closed. Smokey wanted out of the bedroom, as he cannot be separated from his kitten! By this time I am ready to kill all three of them. I am not a morning person, even when I feel well and I do not feel well today so I am more like a "Don't wake me until 11:00 and don't talk to me until NOON!" person. I ran some necessary errands and grocery shopped yesterday. It was hot, I felt lousy and now I am exhausted and in pain from one end to the other.
Mama's Protector

Mike Tyson couldn't have felt worse after ten rounds. Despite being swept thoroughly yesterday my house looks like I'm running a contraband alpaca farm. It looks like there is wall-to-wall wool everywhere, but it's just Smokey's grey "down". I'm trying to clip him, but he will only tolerate four or five minutes of the clippers and there's a bear rug of hair to get through on that cat. I've never seen such a dense coat on an animal!  But he is such a sweet boy. He seems to have begun feeling like my protector. The kitten, playing with a straw this morning, tossed it in the air and in grabbing for it sunk his claws into my leg, peeling back a scimitar of skin. I yelped and Smokey ran in from the kitchen, all big eyes and concern, assessed the situation and then crawled into my lap to give me kisses, love nibbles and cuddles.

Lesson? Point? None. Just frustration at feeling like I have been mowed down by a steam roller, at never being able to catch up, or keep up, with all the tasks I need to do, when I look perfectly healthy. Because my strength and abilities vary so much from day to day people assume I'm untrustworthy or lazy. I feel guilt when I do anything I enjoy because I feel I should be using that energy to do something that needs doing, like scrub the tub or clean out the fridge.

On days like today I feel shame for being lazy and slothful, an idea drummed into my head by my mother and reinforced by accusations from sadistic physicians and careless remarks by family and friends. I'm usually okay with all of it, but there are days when I'm so tired it overwhelms me. 

As we are prone to say, "First world problems." I should be thankful to even be alive, pain or no. In any less developed part of the world I'd be a goner.  I'm reasonably certain I'll feel better emotionally in a couple of days, which seems like an eternity as I see the work I need to do pile higher and higher, but there's nowt to do but wait it out. And this too will pass.