Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day

As this is a holiday weekend and I am in the middle of prepping for our youngest child's  college graduation party I am recycling an old essay on Memorial Day. For my non-United States readers - Memorial Day is the day we dedicate to remembering those who have died in military service. Of course, it has also become a day to remember everyone who has passed. The day was originally named Decoration Day. All military graves were adorned with small flags. In our family we made yearly trips with trunkloads of flowers to place on family graves. But, because this is a little more serious essay than I normally post I would like to leave you with this: If you do an internet search for 'screaming dead comedian' you will, in fact, get information on Sam Kinison. Who is an odd choice of person to be thinking about at 7:05 AM on a Sunday when I should be dusting and vacuuming and running to the store...And, on that note I will leave you with:

                                                          Memorial Day

Marigolds, petunias and geraniums. That is the hierarchy, the rank, if you will of which flower goes on which grave. Marigolds are for the distant relatives, the ones that have been gone the longest. Petunias are for the next in line- cousins, step family and 'the baby graves'. Geraniums go to the top ranking relatives – parents, grandparents, the favorite Aunts and Uncles. They also go on the yet to be filled graves that belong to the double headstone relatives. The ones that plan to be buried next to their spouse (or favorite spouse in the case of one Aunt) but who may not be quite dead yet.

I learned this class system early in my childhood. Every May I would accompany my Mom on a tour of The Cemeteries. We would pack the trunk of the car with jugs of water, small garden shovels and flats of fresh flowering plants. East Cemetery was mostly Mom's relatives. The West Cemetery mostly Dad's. It was also the final resting place of those sad yet scary 'baby graves'. I always preferred the West Cemetery. It sat on the top of a large hill – nearly unheard of in the middle of Cornfield Illinois, and felt spacious and airy. The East Cemetery felt older, more enclosed with its large oak trees and winding gravel paths. Plus, from the top of the West Cemetery I could almost make out my grandparents farm and it was fun to see the place where I had many adventures from a different vantage point.

The Decoration Day ritual was an adventure when I was young. It became a chore when I grew older. When we had to drive ninety minutes to reach the cemeteries it was the definition of dread. Yet, as we began to divide up the flowers and dig the holes and soak them with water my attitude changed. Mom would tell the stories: this was the great great uncle from the Civil War, here was The Favorite Aunt's second husband, who ran out the back door when her first came in the front. Over that hill was the sweet great grandma, who's husband was murdered in a robbery. And here is the resting place of grandma's sister. She was never given the title of Aunt. A child who dies at the age of five because it took too long to acquire treatment for rabies earns a special place in history instead. One after another, the headstones would be anointed with history and flora. If Mom took too long to get to a favorite story we would ask. 'Now who did those babies belong too?' 'Which one of these guys died from a ruptured appendix?' Leftover flowers would go on some of the plain stones in 'Potter's Field' where the drunk was buried. Seriously, how can you not remember a guy named 'Commodore'.

The decorating needed to be done well in advance of the holiday so everyone could see that there were still living family around. But not too early – the flowers had to stay fresh. Heaven forbid we use those 'tacky' plastic flowers and don't get me started on the horrifying pictures which sprang into my overactive brain at the mention of 'grave blankets'. After walking gingerly around the stones, diligently placing the correct flower in its place we would stop and survey a large empty space on the eastern slope of the West Cemetery. There - enough empty grave sites for each of their immediate family. Here, it was noted, was where my Grandparents had saved us places.

It has been many years since I went on the grave decorating expedition. I do take the opportunity each year to share with our kids the stories these trips bring to mind. However, I have omitted the information regarding the available graves. Frankly, I prefer to take my chances with the seating arrangement for my eternal rest.

And also... I prefer daisies.

Memorial Day is also one of the most dangerous holidays on the road. PLEASE  WEAR YOUR SEATBELT AND DRIVE RESPONSIBLY! Don't let your holiday end like this: 
Amazingly everyone walked away alive with only a few broken ribs and a dinged up hand and knee. All drivers and passengers involved were wearing their seatbelts. They did, however, screw up the delicious dinner I was cooking.    

Monday, May 20, 2013

Beck and Call

I work at a job that requires me to be 'on-call' for a certain number of hours at various times of various days above the usual forty hours a week I regularly work. I have been doing this on-call thing for ten years now. That is not counting two years of on-call that I did about twenty-five years ago. So, I guess, technically I have been working an on-call job for twelve years. (Was that a lot of numbers? Well, get use to it. Number crunching is one of the many on-call past-times. But, we will get to that in a minute.)

For those of you who have never experienced on-call work, let's try a little experiment. Give a total stranger your cell phone number. For the next eight-ten-twelve hours, this person may randomly call you up, and then within one hour taser you. Randomly. No matter what you are doing. It is both exciting – you never know when it will happen, and painful – as you never know when the tasering will stop. Want to up the ante? Then let's make this an 11PM to 7AM gig. On a holiday. In the middle of an ice-storm tornado.

You will be surprised how quickly your spine curls up into your hairline when that phone rings. You will start making bargains with God and the Credit Card people over just how much you really need the extra cash. Of course there is a monetary payout for your pain. Usually time and a half with a two hour guarantee.

Which leads me to the numbers game or:

Thing I Like to Think About While I Am On-Call

  1. The Numbers Game: I like to convince myself just how much extra dough I will be making. Time and a half times, oh – ten hours. Looks great. But I don't really want to work that many hours and now I have been on-call for three hours and have not had to go in so lets times it by four. Ugh. Not so great.
(I keep this up until I start subtracting for taxes. By then I have given myself a migraine and am just too depressed to care. Oh, and NOW the phone rings and I have to go to work.)

  1. Bargains:  I make a deal with myself that rather than working extra I will just dye my own hair, paint my own toenails, repair the washer, perform my own dental extractions and weave and install new wall to wall carpet. Seems doable.
                          I make a deal with Chase Manhattan Bank that I will, indeed, pay them on time and not use their devil card again.

                          I make a deal with God that if he lets me stay home and not work I will clean the house from top to bottom, bake cookies for my family and perform three miracles that involve ending all wars, pestilence and hate.

    1. Avoidance: Now I have worked myself up into such a frenzy that I will do anything to avoid getting caught in the middle of something enjoyable only to have to stop and go to work. It looks something like this – Me. The Couch. The ScyFi Channel or any other network with really bad, free movies. Sometimes it also involves me just staring off into space thinking random thoughts such as:
        Things I was scared of as a child – The Iron Curtain, Iron Lungs, The Electric Chair.
        Jobs I could do which did not involve call – Diner Waitress, Fashion Designer, Diner Waitress.
        Things I am scared of now – The Phone, Bad things happening to my family and friends, Iron Lungs.
  1. Memory Games: Remember the first time I was on-call? It was so exciting. I was at the grocery store and had to hurry home with my groceries, leaving them for my husband to unload because I GOT CALLED IN!
        (Uh-uh. Took about one more time for that to lose its novelty and I was looking for ways to 'accidentally' break my pager.)

      Remember that time I worked an entire Thanksgiving?
        (My on-call buddy's husband brought us their turkey dinner for noon and my husband brought us ours for an evening meal. AND neither of them really complained that we had invited all our families to our respective homes for Thanksgiving only to be called in to work leaving the husbands with their Mother-in-laws and an entire turkey to cook.)

      Remember what it was like to NOT be on-call?
      Remember pagers?
By now I have either been called in and can relax and just do my job OR my call shift has ended and I can relax and not do my job. And thank Heaven because I really need to see how The Day After Tomorrow ends. Again.

(Before you get on me about complaining that I HAVE a job and one which pays time and a half – I do understand how lucky I am. Plus I get to see some amazingly ridiculous things people do to themselves which require a trip to the hospital after hours. But it never fails. Everyone always plans really fun things to do when I am on-call. And while cell-phones have made it much easier to stay within the one-hour return radius it is no fun to have to leave the party, grocery store, restaurant or beauty salon in the middle of an event. No matter how awesome it is to say, 'Sorry, gotta go. I am on-call.')

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Let's just call it a Garden Party....

You know how there is always one house in the neighborhood with all sorts of weird crap in the yard? Well, I am well on the way to owning that yard.

For the most recent gift giving event, one in which most women receive flowers or a nice piece of jewelry, I received a nearly three foot replica of an Easter Island Head. Which lights up.

I can't really complain. I hinted around that this was the one thing I truly wanted. Just like the garden gnome (Basil), the pink flamingos (Jake and Elwood), the tree face (Wilford), and the three foot tall otter:
He goes by many names. Today he is Frank SinOtter.

(The three foot tall otters, who only smokes candy cigarettes and claims he can quit any time he wants, is actually an indoor dweller, along with the mini-Easter Island heads and the Hear/See/Speak No Evil Monkey candle holders). Oh wait, lets not forget the zombie finger puppets.

I would never have purchased any of these things myself. I may have mentioned some of them a time or two...and in the case of the otter over a couple of years...But I figure if they are gifts then my family has no one to blame but themselves.

I did buy a vintage dashboard hula girl at a flea market but come on, she was vintage and only five bucks. Oh, and Napoleon and Marc Antony. But they were Mardi Gras decorations. Napoleon sort of looks like his troops turned their bayonets on him when he mentioned Waterloo. And poor Marc Antony has a hole which sort of resembles a battlefield tracheostomy, which he coyly hides with his Mardi Gras beads. It has been suggested that I throw them out but I can't. They have eyes. And if they still have eyes, then they just might still be alive.

Its like when I use to sew for pleasure, before I made sails for a maniacal, husband's boat. I made rag dolls. I would dress them, give them hair but never, ever did I paint on their eyes until they were completely finished. Once they can see me I figure its every man, woman and doll for themselves. I still have a have completed Santa doll who looks pleadingly at me from embroidered brown eyes, asking forlornly, "Where is my red velvet suit? Its freakin' cold down here in the basement in nothing but my muslin skin."

And that's why I can't get rid of the tiny dictator and the Roman gigolo. At least we have a large backyard so everyone can maintain their space and there is no worry that the tiny Frenchman will organize an assault.

But I digress. Each and everyone of these inhabitants have a name. Except Easter Island Head. At present, he is going by Cabeza:

Cabeza is the one on the left.

So, I am opening it up to you. Help me name Cabeza. Comment here, on Twitter, on Facebook. Because face it, he has eyes. He is going to be hanging around for a very long time...

Seriously, don't even think about stealing him, even Napoleon is a little afraid...

Monday, May 13, 2013

I'm Gonna Need a Moment.

Feeling a little land-locked and having some trouble getting down on faux computer paper just what I want to say today. First my doctor suggested I NOT stop my hormone replacement therapy as 'you have a lot going on right now'  then our youngest graduated college, which is so awesome in a Yay Her! Wow, I feel Old way. But I need to update so I present you with a visit from SQ Earl, my yard squirrel who now appears to be making a squirrelly fashion statement:

Um, dude, your tail bone is showing...

Is this a new squirrel fad or should I start a fund for Follicularly Challenged Rodents?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Common Denominator

I am from Illinois




My favorite meal is burgers and fries


                                 lamb stew

                                 chili dogs and mountain dew.

I run marathons

       ride on bike trails

      win body building contests.

I own five dogs

         one cat

         several chickens


I perform solo with a guitar

                with a drum corp

                 a mean Karaoke version of Tenacious D.

My favorite beverage is coffee

                                         craft beer


                                         RED BULL!!!

I live for Cardinal Baseball

              Blues Hockey

              Stiletto Heels.

I am single


        planning a wedding

        waiting for a new baby        

        raising a houseful of boys.

In my spare time I quilt
                                make jewelry
                                fight fires.

I drive a green Corvette

           a Harley

           a soccer mom van

           a private airplane.

I have a diploma

           an associates degree

           a bachelors degree

           a masters

           nearly a PhD.

What do the people on this list have in common?

Twenty-four hours a day, three hundred sixty five days a year, someone on that list is dressing a wound, treating a pain, monitoring a heartbeat, holding a hand. Every day someone on that list is learning something, teaching something and using their knowledge to help someone make it through another day.

Each person on this list is a Nurse.

And it is those very differences that, when pooled together for eight or ten or twelve hours at a time, make it possible for these people to provide the best care possible, to their patients and to one another.

Where do I, a land locked beach bum, fit on this list? Well, at one time or another over the past twenty nine years, I have worked with each of those people.

Because for the last twenty nine years I have been a Nurse.

Can you see yourself on this list? Do you have what it takes to join it?

Thank heaven we get to work in technicolor now!

And - In case you have some time on your hands check out the new page addition Its a living...