CIRCLING WINDOWS 10

CIRCLES WITHIN CIRCLES

I cannot blame Windows. It was me, or rather … me and a dysfunctional Malwarebytes plus two “disconnected” (but not really) hard drives … and being told I must become the administrator when I am the administrator.


What?


I got a message from Malwarebytes of a new update. Free. Just install it.

So I installed it and it deleted itself. Completely disappeared off my hard drive leaving a blank. It even removed its short-cut symbol on the desktop. I sighed. I have had trouble with this application before. Malwarebytes fixed it, but it took a week of back-and-forthing with the technical squad and I didn’t feel like it. Just not in the mood.

I tried backing up to see if I could recover the previous version, and I did, but it didn’t restore the broken application. It restored pieces of it, and it didn’t work. It just sat there. I tried one more restore, but that errored out. One of the more annoying problems with Windows operating systems is they never tell you why they are malfunctioning. They throw an error and leave you sitting there, staring at the screen saying WHAT? What was THAT?

So today, I tried to check the weather and all I got were ads that wouldn’t even let the program upload. I deleted what I could and realized … I needed Malwarebytes. That’s why I bought the program in the first place, to prevent this type of crap from happening. It isn’t viruses. It’s just garbage from advertisers.

I decided to restore Malwarebytes from scratch since I have the original receipt and key. This should have worked, but it told me it couldn’t complete, some kind of error. I could “continue and ignore” the error, but I got one of the Windows warnings that if I did that, terrible things might happen to my operating system. And I got another message telling me that the computer couldn’t find its hard drives.

What? WHAT?

So I diddled around and eventually, everything found everything else. Voila. No idea when they decided to disconnect, but I had a sneaking feeling that underneath all these other errors was that I needed to run the “network” function and connect everything to itself. Mind you, the computer was running fine, except for Malwarebytes, which wasn’t running at all.

I decided to delete Malwarebytes because it was listed as a program, but it wasn’t really and it didn’t work. It wouldn’t let me. It said I need to be an administrator. I am the administrator. I am the ONLY administrator. It is my computer. No one else has ever used it and when I look at my account, it clearly shows me as The Administrator.

I rebooted. I still couldn’t delete Malwarebytes because I needed to be an administrator. Eventually, it wouldn’t let me administrate and it wouldn’t let me out of the loop because I had to be an administrator before I could escape.

I rebooted.

At this point, I realized I could not become the administrator because I am, so it was asking me to do something I could not do because I am that thing and I was …

(Drum roll and trumpets, please …)

In a loop. The ultimate circle of hell for computer users. You can’t do it, whatever it is because you aren’t an administrator, but since you really are the administrator, you can’t become one because all those boxes are checked. Sometime around this point I discovered a previously broken piece of the application has been fixed. When I got this computer, the restore system would only let you restore the “C” drive. The “D” drive — which is huge and contains all my documents and pictures which is pretty much what lives on this computer — had to be backed up separately. Which I do anyway, so I didn’t care. But now, you can. So I added the “D” drive to the restore function and things began to roll along. Suddenly, I could create a restore point for both drives, something I haven’t been able to do since I got the computer.

I created one. Astonished that this event had occurred and being suspicious by nature, I did it a couple of times more, calling each restore point “testing 1” “testing 2” “testing 3” until I was finally convinced … it worked. Damn! Was it because I had done the networking thing and the computer finally knew it really has two hard drives?

I then tried to delete Malwarebytes again and it didn’t work. Again. It still wanted me to be an administrator, but by now, I realized this really wasn’t a Windows problem. It was a broken application.

Back to installing a new copy of Malwarebytes. When I got to the place where it told me if I clicked “Continue,” terrible, awful, dreadful and dire things would occur. Possibly making my computer stop working entirely. 

OH NO, NOT THAT!

“Screw it” I said … and clicked the (potentially) fatal link. The application rolled merrily along and installed itself flawlessly. It then scanned the drive, fixed everything, and set up a new — FUNCTIONAL — short-cut. I could have done all that stuff in the first place. But to be fair, I would not have known I needed to network the computer to explain to it that it really does have two hard drives. Nor would I have realized — miracle of miracles — I could set a restore point for both drives.

I suppose I ended up on the winning side of today’s “loop warfare.” You want to know about circles? Computers. Looping their digital lives through the circularity of binary heaven. If anyone wants to know why I haven’t been online today, I was in a circle. Me and my computer, doing the little loopy dance. But I won … I think.

BLACK & WHITE ANGLES AT THE AERODROME – TUSKEGEE AIRMEN

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Lines and Angles

I admit it. I took many of these pictures because I liked the angles. I knew I would do many of these in black & white. This has offered a perfect opportunity, so thank you so very much Cee!

MY WORLD TRAVELING DAYS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I traveled a lot during the 25 years with my first husband, Larry. After we had kids, we frequently took them with us. Larry, who was bipolar, was often manic when it came to traveling. One year, we took twelve trips in twelve months, often with two kids. Many of the trips were just weekend trips, but they all involved planning, packing, and logistics, which I handled. I was exhausted and drained by the end of that year.

Over the years we traveled a lot in the United States, mostly out west. In Europe, we traveled extensively in France and the UK, as well as a bit in Belgium, Holland, Germany, and Israel.

The California coast in the early years of marriage

It took me years and years to figure out how to plan a good trip. It was hard because Larry liked to move around a lot and cover a lot of territory. I liked to stay in a smaller area and cover it more slowly and in more in-depth. So we had to compromise. I learned that you have to be knowledgeable about your travel destinations to be able to tailor a trip. It takes a lot of research, all of which I did, for all of our numerous trips.

Outside of Paris before I had my kids

When we first started traveling in the UK and Europe, we over-scheduled ourselves. In America, you can cover a large geographical area and not find too many places you really want to explore. That’s not the case in Europe and the UK. Towns and sightseeing spots there are more numerous and are crammed more tightly together. The history there covers almost every square inch.

Yosemite, pregnant with my first child

I found that it was hard to cover too much actual territory and feel that you’d seen and done what you wanted to in the area, Plus, whenever we went overseas, we tried to spend a few days in London with our old and dear English friends, the Millers. After 1984, we also had a second set of close friends in London, American ex patriots named the Schiffers. We also saw them regularly on both sides of the Atlantic.

In 1984, for example, we took a long trip with our four-year old son, David. We visited London, of course, as well as several counties in the southwest of England. Then we went north to Yorkshire and Wales and over to Holland to visit the Schiffers, who were living there at the time.

When I travel, I always like to stay in charming B&B’s in the picturesque countryside. Some we stayed in were simple and some were manor homes on beautiful grounds that had been turned into B&B’s so that the families could afford to keep their homes. On this particular trip, we also thought that our son would find it fun to stay on a working farm for a few days. We did that — and got to watch a calf being born. Such an amazing experience!

Mother cow and newborn calf, 1984

On this trip I felt that we were running around too much and were missing many of the local attractions wherever we went. So I planned another trip in 1986 that I hoped would be smaller in scale. This time we were traveling with our six-year-old son and our one and a half-year old daughter. This trip covered only Devon in England, plus London and a few towns in Wales.

Unfortunately I didn’t realize how big Devon was, so we still ended up feeling rushed. But we got to do plenty of my favorite things in England — visiting magnificent National Trust estates with manicured gardens and grand manor houses. My idea of heaven.

We had the same learning curve in France. Though it was harder to rein Larry in here because he wanted to hit as many one, two and three Michelin star restaurants as possible. Need I say that our meals in France were always beyond words.

On one trip, in 1994 for our twentieth anniversary, we covered Paris, Burgundy, the Loire Valley and Provence. I fell in love with Provence. In particular, I fell in love with a B&B we stayed in which was run by an English woman. It was called Jas des Eydins. It was beautiful, peaceful and idyllic, but also warm and friendly. I took so many photos there that I ended up making a very large photo montage of photos just from this B&B.

When Larry and I went to France again two years later, in 1996, we had a considerably pared down itinerary. We traveled through Provence again and to the Dordogne region. I insisted that this time we spend an entire week at Jas des Eydins! We got to explore the incredible Luberon Valley in-depth this time. I was happy. That was one of the favorite places I’ve ever stayed in all my extensive travels.

One of the most memorable tourist spots there is a corkscrew museum at a vineyard in the wine country. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen an exhibit of pornographic corkscrews!

Pornographic corkscrews

We also traveled often in the American West. This is a totally different experience. Bear in mind that the entire UK is approximately the size of Wyoming OR Michigan OR Minnesota. So we could comfortably do a 4000 mile drive throughout the western United States and Canada in the same time we took to travel through a few small counties in England. In the summer of 1989, we took our four-year old and our nine-year old on a large loop that started in Salt Lake City Utah. We drove up through Idaho and Washington into Vancouver and across southwestern Canada to Banff. We reentered the U.S. in Montana, getting to the border crossing just minutes before it closed for the night. We then drove south through Wyoming and back to Salt Lake City.

We mostly saw natural sites, like Glacier National Park in Montana. We spent several days at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. We rode horses through the countryside, walked on a glacier, swam in a natural hot spring, and spent several days with friends at a National Bankruptcy Judge’s Conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

In the U.S, there can be long distances between points of interest. So though the distances were huge and we did a lot of driving, we saw most of what we had set out to see.

After 25 years, I burned out on traveling with Larry. Our last summer together, in 1998, I insisted we stay home and train the new puppy we had adopted. My mother was diagnosed with cancer that summer, so it turned out to have been a good decision to stay home.

I travel the world much less these days with Tom. In part, that’s because we spent six months of the year traveling locally on our boat. I’m happy these days puttering around Long Island Sound or up and down the Atlantic coast in New York and New England. It’s a different type of traveling. It takes less planning and it’s more relaxing. So I’m happy to leave by globe-trotting days behind.

VIEWS FROM THE KITCHEN

A KITCHEN WINDOW


I like shooting through windows and I have a lot of pictures to prove it. It’s the only place from which I can see birds in the yard in the winter, or the frozen trees in the woods during a storm.

It’s also the place from which I can take pictures without having to put my boots on. Not a small thing when the temps are well below zero (Fahrenheit) and the snow is up to my hips.

I like the light from the east side of the house. Kitchen, dining room, our bedroom and the deck all face east.

Another focus

Utensils by the window

The picture window in the living room faces west.

Only two small windows face north and south, but the way we are situated, all the action is east and west.

When I finished taking these pictures, the sun had made its way around to the other side of the house.

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017

LAUGHING ALONG WITH THE MUSIC – FROM NPR

WITTY – IF YOU FIND MUSIC FUNNY


This is one of those posts that requires you to have a passing familiarity with a variety of classical (by which I mean, not modern pop) music. If you played in the orchestra in high school, studied piano or bass or flute or violin, or have a secret passion for Chopin, Beethoven, Vivaldi … well, the list is a bit too long, but hopefully you get the idea. These are for you.

My favorite is BERLI-OS! With a Harold In Italy action figure in every box! And the Walking Dead Composers.

I hope I’m not the only one who could read the notes in Brahms …

FAMILY MEETINGS

Colbert did a piece on family meetings a few nights ago.

I looked at Garry. “We didn’t have family meetings. The closest thing we had were family fights. I bet you didn’t have family meetings, either.”

He looked at me. “You knew my parents. Can you imagine my mother having a ‘family’ meeting? It boggles the mind,” he commented.

I nodded. “I don’t think our generation had family meetings. The closest thing we had were probably large family get-togethers, during which we tried to keep hostilities from turning into violent shouting matches.”

Our parents told us what to do. We either did it, fought about it until we gave up — and then did it anyway — or said we would do it knowing we would really do the other thing. I don’t know about anyone else, but being sneaky was not considered “lying.” It was more like survival. Making it to adulthood with independence intact required a good deal of prevarication. If you only did what you were “allowed” to do, you would become a pathetic shadow of one or both of your parents.

Growing up meant developing individual opinions and direction. Our parents weren’t necessarily interested in our opinions. About anything. Being sneaky meant you could save the inevitable face-to-face confrontation for something really important.

So, no family meetings. No rational group discussions of what the family should do … or even what we personally could do. Instead of meetings, we had arguments, fights, low and high-level hostilities … and plenty of sneaking around.

Family meetings? Like me, mom, dad, Matt and Ann sitting together and logically — and politely with good humor — discussing our collective and individual futures? Not. Really.

YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP – KAFKA AND DIRECT TV – BY TOM CURLEY

The following story is true. The names have not been changed because I didn’t really get any of them anyway.

I’ve had Optimum cable as my TV, telephone and internet service for years. My cell phone provider was Verizon. I had no complaints. They all worked great.  Life was fine.

Then Ellin and I decided we should try to cut down some of our expenses. A friend who works for AT&T as a store sales representative told us to switch to AT&T and get Direct TV.

It would be great and we’d save money. I didn’t think we’d save that much but I’d had a Direct TV account for years. I only used it on my boat for six months each year. Spending the extra money for that account and Optimum was costing too much money, so I closed it.  I figured that now, if we had DirectTV for the whole house, I could also go back to getting it on the boat. That would be a plus

So, we did it. They said they would cover any cost for switching phones. Except they didn’t. They paid some. But not all. But okay, fine.

They set up our house for Direct TV.  I asked if they could switch the box on my boat that I had actually bought and owned for years  to our new account.  They said no, they can’t do that. Those boxes don’t work anymore.

“But”, I said, “it works just fine”. They said  it doesn’t matter.

“OK, can you send me a new box? It has to be Standard definition not an HD box because my antenna on the boat only gets SD channels.”

“No”, they said.  They don’t carry DirectTV standard boxes. THEIR OWN BOXES. I would have to buy one from a third-party. I said, “OK, where do I get one?” They said they had no idea. So I bought one from Amazon. Except that apparently, the company Amazon gets them from is either out of business or just doesn’t have any. So, now, my only option is to install a Dish Network box that does work that I do own. and pay extra money for six months every year. Just like I was doing before. Totally negating the reason I did all this to begin with.  These are “”first world problems” to be sure. But come on!

There goes the “saving a few bucks.”

At this point, I have spent about two hundred dollars more than I would have by switching  the phone carriers and I’m gaining nothing by switching to DirectTV.  I could just go back to the way things were. But I can’t. If I do I have to pay three or four hundred dollars in “Early Termination Fees”.

OK, fine. Live and learn. But I haven’t gotten to the good part . To quote Al Jolson. “You ain’t heard nothin’ yet.”

eli.com

I recently got a 4K TV. It’s amazing. After having it a few weeks I noticed that DirectTV had some 4K channels.

Cool. So I went to one and the TV said, “You don’t have a 4K TV”.

I said ” I most certainly do!” The TV ignored me. Even though it has some kind of voice activation feature, it’s not a very good listener. After doing a little research I found out that I need a “special 4K DirectTV box.”

The service is free. Or at least that’s what they say on their website. So, what the hell. I call them up, I order one and last Monday a technician came out and set it up. Fine. But then we started to notice that the audio kept cutting out. Just for a second. It did it every four minutes. It did it on every channel,  HD channels, 4K channel, recorded programs. Everywhere. And only on that box.

I did a quick Google search and found literally hundreds of thousands of complaints that the DirectTV 4K box is defective. The audio cuts out.

Notice where it says about 108,000 results

Many people also complained that it sometimes turns their TV off on its own and frequently just locks up and doesn’t work at all.

I didn’t have that problem. Until two days later when my TV would turn off and lock up about every five minutes. And every person complaining pointed out that no matter how many times they had their box switched out for a new one, none of them worked.

Did I mention the fact that for the privilege of getting the “FREE” 4K service, I was charged 160 dollars in fees? 99 dollars of that was to apparently buy the box that I would then have to pay a monthly fee to lease!

So, I called DirectTV back. Spending the half hour necessary to finally talk to a human. I was very calm. I explained that this box is defective. I wanted it removed and my old box replaced. I wanted my money refunded. I wanted any extensions on my contract removed. They said sure. They apologized profusely. It took about an hour but they told my money was refunded and my contract was not being extended.  They set up an appointment to have a technician come out Monday. Exactly one week later and switch out the boxes.

I haven’t gotten to the good part yet.

I get an automated call from DirectTV telling me the service tech is on his way! And the visit will take one hour and 15 minutes.  I chuckled. All he had to do was to plug to the box into the wall and into the TV.  Easy! Five minutes tops.

A nice man comes to the door. I hand him the 4K box and tell him where to put the new one.

But he can’t do it. The order was put in wrong. This is supposed to be a service call. I need an upgrade!

“It’s not an upgrade” I say. “I’m trading a 4K box for an HD box. If anything it’s a downgrade.

So he calls it in to get it changed. Did you know that DirectTV technicians have to go through the same voicemail automated hell that we all do to talk to one of their own supervisors?  You’d think they’d have a back door number or something to help those poor guys out.

When he finally  got a hold of someone and explained what was going on, he was informed that they could only make the exchange if I paid a 120 dollar fee for the “Upgrade”to replace the equipment. That until a week ago I ALREADY HAD!

The tech then told his boss. “I don’t think that’s going to happen”.  I spent the next ten minutes explaining the situation. I told the boss that on Friday, when I cancelled the service, I was ASSURED that everything was taken care of and that I would have no problems at all.  So of course, I got transferred to her supervisor.

someecards.com

I went  through the entire story AGAIN.

She transferred me to her supervisor.

And we did the dance again. This one said she could take care of me but for some reason it took her about 25 minutes to find this out. The “upgrade fee” would be waived. But to do that I had to pay 22 dollars from a credit card that would then be refunded to my DirectTV account.

At this point I was beaten. Sure, fine. Do it. Make the “upgrade.”

memegen

Another ten minutes go by. She keeps telling  me she’s almost there.

Almost there.

Almost there.

I just have to put in these two things and…..

I’m on hold. I’m hearing that horrible “on hold” Musak.  “Hello? Hello? You still there? Hello?” And this is what I hear. “Your call is important to us. Please stand by for the next available representative.”

The tech goes,” You gotta be kidding me.”

“Well all righty then” spectrumculture.com

So we wait.

For almost 30 minutes.

And we finally get a person. AND WE GO THROUGH THE WHOLE DANCE ALL OVER AGAIN.  After another 15 minutes of silence she says that they have to DROP SHIP A NEW BOX TO MY HOUSE!  It will take at least five days. And then a tech will have to come out and install it!!!!

But, I say, “He’s already here!!!! He is holding the box in his hand!!!!!”

“Sorry. That’s the only way we can do it.”

At this point I told them to forget the whole thing. I’ll keep the box. The tech and I shook hands and he left.

To sum up, in order to “save a few bucks” I now have no DirectTV on my boat and a 4K UHD receiver plugged into an old analog TV in my guest room that doesn’t even get HD. And I think I’m paying extra each month for the privilege of owning what is basically a paper weight.

My audio theater group performs a very funny piece called Till Death Do Us Not Part.”  You can click here to hear it. It’s about a guy calling the cable company to cancel his dead father’s cable account.  We tried to make it as absurd as possible. This real-life experience exposed levels of absurdity that even my twisted brain could not in a million years, ever conceive.  The shear incompetence and insanity of the DirectTV bureaucracy rivals that of the current President and his administration.

Franz Kafka is going. “Wow, they are seriously fucked up.”

jobsanger.blogspot.com

What have I learned from all of this?

When things are working just fine, leave them the hell alone. You are never ever ever going to save money by switching your cable or your phone company.

And when you want to “save a few bucks”? Just cut out a few coffees at Starbucks.

will-blog-for-food.com

 

 

THE BIG PICTURE WINDOW WITH DOGS

PICTURE WINDOW WITH DOGS


The big picture window in our living room is the central focus of the house. Not only does it give all of us a lovely panoramic view of the road and the woods, but it is a matter a pure fascination for all three dogs. They spend hours watching the world through that window.

Muzzles propped on the back of the sofa, they watch for all the important stuff — other dogs invading their territory. Trucks delivering stuff. UPS guys or anyone walking  plus any number of wild creatures passing by from bunnies and squirrels, to coyotes. The canines are ready to race down the stairs, out their door, and tell the world of their latest discovery.

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017

READY TO LAUNCH?

LAUNCH THE SHUTTLECRAFT!


“Captain,” as Tuvok stood tall and saluted Janeway. The tips of his pointy ears twitched slightly, one of the few tells of how intense his feelings were at this moment in time.

“Are the rest of the crew ready?” she asked him. She was asking him again, probably the dozenth time in the past hour, part of the reason Tuvok was getting … twitchy.

“Everyone is ready,” he assured her and wondered if she was really listening. He could see that she was more than a little excited. Her breathing was irregular and he could swear she was sweating right through her Starfleet uniform.

“I spoke to Paris and Tuvok. They think we can launch the shuttle craft and be on the surface in …” and she looked at her watch … “Under an hour.”

Chakotay had approached while they spoke and nodded his agreement. “I had Neelix pack special Voyager lunch packs for everyone. We added one of those purple “People Eater” drinks … with umbrellas. Let’s make this a real celebration.”

The planet below was big and blue and so earth-like as to bring tears to the eyes of many of the long-stranded crew. Not that any of them were willing to give up their endless trek through the Delta Quadrant to read Earth … but what could be the harm of a month … maybe two … on the rich surface of this beautiful planet. The air was right. It was bigger than earth, though the gravity wasn’t much different. Maybe a little bit, but no one cared.

It was a puzzle that no one lived on its surface. For any human-type species, it was ideal. Forests and oceans and mountains — and a sky as blue as a Robin’s Egg.

And thus, nearly the entire crew of voyager boarded their Shuttlecraft, lightly dressed in Starfleet’s casual best. They hit the surface with a quiet hissing sound and the party began. They spread their tepees in a spiral circle and built a fire at the heart. Twenty-fourth century technology made bathrooms and laundry facilities simple and efficient and these were located conveniently out of the way, but near enough in case too many people were drinking an over-abundance of tall purple drinks. With umbrellas.

They didn’t know about the radiation.

It wasn’t the type of radiation their sensors could ever register being half magical. Indeed, it was an ancient form of wizard technology, an effective version of pre-modern total destruction which had sunk Atlantis long before Earth’s modern “technical” revolution would again nearly accomplish the same task.

Humans are nothing if not inventive.

It would take more than a month before the crew realized that they had found their final resting place. But first, they were going to have one Hell of a party.

“Ready to launch?” asked Janeway.

“Ready!” announced Tuvok.

“Ready!” said Chakotay.

“Ready,” said they all announced with merriment they sailed forth to meet their doom.

With umbrella drinks.

NOT ORIGINAL ISSUE – CANCER ISN’T “A DISEASE”

Anyone who has had cancer, no matter how many years have passed, knows you are never “cured.” The best anyone can say is “so far, so good.” Cancer isn’t a “disease.” It is many diseases characterized by a common thread, that they are a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. But cancers are different for each organ they invade … which is why I doubt there will never be “a cure” for cancer. There may be a cure for this or that cancer, but a cure for all cancers? For every part of the body? Not likely.

Moreover, there is no test to tell you if  your body is free of cancer cells.

This is, of course, true of everyone from birth till death, but when you’ve had a run in with cancer, it stops being theoretical and morphs into something more sinister and personal. In 2010, I had a double mastectomy, losing both breasts to cancer. It wasn’t a prophylactic double mastectomy. I had cancer in both breasts. Two unrelated tumors at the same time. The odds against getting breast cancer in both breasts simultaneously are incredibly small. I seem to be one of the those people who manages to beat normal odds.

After the mastectomies, I got instant reconstruction. Two silicon implants replaced my breasts. They do not, as people imagine, look like real breasts. When you are in the tunnel through breast cancer to (hopefully) recovery, you find yourself answering weird questions. Like “how large do you want them to be?” Do you want nipples? Saline or silicon?

Beth Israel Hospital in Boston.

I went with smallish and no nipples (they require two extra surgeries and they are entirely for appearance), and silicon, which feels more “real” than saline. I suppose it’s all for appearance, really. It is the appearance of womanhood which matters when the original parts have been replaced. And yet, appearance matters more than we might think and in ways we never imagined.

Everything went well — or as well as these things ever go. I hoped I was done with cancer. Imagine my surprise when I realized there was something hard underneath the scar across my right implant. Flat, hard. My first reaction was “What the hell?” Could I get breast cancer without breasts?

I hit the Internet to discover it is probably scar tissue. Or (unlikely but not impossible) a very rare form of skin cancer that grows directly under the mastectomy scar. Rare isn’t impossible. Not in my world, so reluctantly, I made an appointment at the Dana-Farber. It is the only dedicated cancer facility in Worcester County and has been where I’ve done all my follow-up since the surgery.

I had my surgery and reconstruction at the Faulkner Hospital in Boston. My surgeon and plastic reconstruction surgeon were the best. Anywhere. Literally described by my local oncologist as “the dream team,” If you have breast cancer, this is as good as it gets and if life throws this at you, I strongly advise you to find the best surgeons, even if they aren’t convenient. This is something you want to get right the first time.

My oncologist thinks, as I do, that it’s nothing to get excited about, but we’ll watch it. I had been on an annual checkup, but now I’m back on a 3-month schedule. It may not be a big deal, but you don’t fool around with cancer. And you never, ever take for granted that you are fine, no matter what anyone tells you — including your doctors.


As all this was going on, I have been reading. Most of the books have been lackluster, but this one: Life and Other Near-Death Experiences: A Novel by Camille Pagan, grabbed me from the first page and kept me engaged to the end. I wished it wouldn’t end which is unusual for me to say, especially because it’s a book is about a young woman who discovers she has a rare, aggressive form of cancer while simultaneously discovering her marriage has come unglued. Literally, both things hitting her on the same day within a couple of hours.

life-and-other-near-death-experiences-coverWhat makes this book different from other books that deal with life and death, is it never takes the easy way out. There are no cheap, easy fixes for life’s ugly problems. It confronts real decisions people have to make and does so with humor, wit, and realism.

The main character of the story freaks out when her life falls apart. She doesn’t take it calmly. She completely loses it. She needs time to think — plus a huge amount of support from family and friends to face her new reality. It was the most realistic story about dealing with cancer I’ve read and it wasn’t depressing.

Not a light-hearted romp or a vale of tears, it reminded me that how we react to appalling news varies, but we all react. You cannot fail to be changed by facing death, especially when you know there’s no surety you’ll beat it.

Once you’ve had any medical crisis that will kill you left untreated and might kill you anyway, even with treatment, you never look at life the same way. You don’t take life as a given. None of us should take life for granted, but we do. Until we come upon our dark angel — and he’s holding our number.

What made this one special was its lack of sentimentality. No mawkishness. Not a cliché in sight … you I cannot tell you how grateful I was for that. I’ve had cancer. I have (had) (still have) (will have) heart disease. If there is a cliché about disease I haven’t heard, I’d be surprised.

This is a good book. I hope it will get some attention. It got lumped into the category of “humor” where it doesn’t exactly fit. I’m not sure where it would fit, so maybe humor is as good as any other placement. Occasionally, it made me laugh or at least chuckle in recognition.

Regardless, any book that can make you laugh in the face of death is worth a read.

WORLD SHARING AT THE END OF SEPTEMBER

End if September? How can that be? Didn’t the year start the day before yesterday? This whole spinning through space thing is totally out of control!

We are waiting for cooler weather to bring the fall … and bounce Hurricane Maria out to sea. No one is in the mood for torrential tropical rains and winds that knock the trees over. We don’t get a lot of hurricanes, so when we do get one, there’s a lot of damage. Most of our howling wind storms are in the winter when the trees are bare … which also means they are far less likely to blow over.

This time of year, though, a big oak with leaves is like a gigantic sail on a ship at sea. Being as oak trees are otherwise nothing like ships at sea, they do not run before the wind. They keel over. Sometimes, on ones house. Ouch.

Share Your World – September 25, 2017

What is your favorite outdoor activity?

Kayak on the Blackstone River

I take pictures.

In a car would you rather drive or be a passenger?

I am a passenger. I don’t necessarily like it, but that’s the way it is. First, because Garry would rather drive. He complains about driving all the time. About all the other slow drivers (slow drivers are the bane of his life), the bad drivers, the drivers who are texting and talking, etc. ad nauseum. He gets pale and nervous when I drive and that has always been true.

Now that he is the official driver more or less all the time, he acts as if he’d be happy if I drove. I know for a fact that he was never happy when I drove, not even a long time ago when the world was young.

He drives. I navigate. That’s the way it is.

If you could have three wishes granted for you alone, what would they be?

Affordable healthcare including medication for everyone in this country.

The new door, now red. You can still see the blue masking tape. I removed the tape, but I need to go take a new picture, too. Still haggling over what to do with the inside. White or color? Will an antique color be too dark? I have paint. I’m just not sure this is the right color. My son and husband are “pro antique green” and I’m still waddling around in “off white.” Film at 11.

Enough money to fix up the house to make it more comfortable and safer.

A repaved driveway would be a really good thing!

A hot air balloon vacation across Europe including first class airline tickets and very classy accommodations … and great food!

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?  

I sort of signed up for Tai Chi. My cardiologist really wants me to do something the makes me move a bit more. We shall see how it goes … or if it goes. I sign up for things, but as often as not, I don’t actually show up when the time comes.

ONE RED LEAF THROUGH THE WINDOW

WINDOWS – THE DAILY POST WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE


I didn’t think this photograph would work. Between the irregularities of the glass and the dirt, I expected mostly blur. Surprisingly, it came out pretty well. This is Autumn so far — our one, red maple leaf.

It rained a bit too. I thought it would cool things down, but instead, it increased the steaminess to the point of making the air too humid to breathe, even for Garry who normally prefers warm weather. He came in from outside, said “It’s horrible out there!”

Even the dogs don’t want to go out.

So, from inside the air-conditioned house, this is the single red leaf on my maple tree.

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017

RHYMING RANTS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I have some esoteric and useless talents. I’m great at arranging dried flowers. I can bake the most delicious traditional English desserts. (You’ve probably never heard of any of them except for Sticky Toffee Pudding). And I can write almost anything in verse. Pretty good verse, too.

I started my career in poetry when my first child was born in 1980. I started writing cute cards in verse ‘from’ my infant son to his Dad and grandparents on holidays and birthdays. It became a tradition. I branched out into humorous personalized poems about the ‘subject’ family member. I wrote a post heart surgery poem and Bar and Bat Mitzvah poems for my kids. I also wrote a wedding poem for my son and for Tom and me.

A poem I wrote for my first husband who loved wild ties

I have poems documenting our family’s life from 1980 to today. Sort of a family history in verse. I’ve copied all the poems and put them in folders for my kids to have.

I even started a business based on my poetic skills. I customized poems, sometimes in conjunction with a photo montage, for other people’s special events. If you talked to me for about twenty minutes about your friend or family member, I could personalize a poem about them that was spot on. People couldn’t believe that the person who wrote the poem didn’t even know the subject.

I got paying clients steadily for a year by word of mouth. Then it suddenly stopped. This was pre internet and I know nothing about marketing. I couldn’t afford to hire someone to do it for me. So the ‘business’ died.

But I kept writing my poems. I wrote a long one for Tom’s 60th birthday and had his commercial artist brother surround the poem with personalized drawings of Tom. It’s hanging in our front hallway.

Poem for tom with customized illustrations

Then my daughter challenged me to write her some relationship truths I’d learned and wanted to pass on to her. She said she’d read what I wrote if I made it ‘interesting’. So I did it in verse. I called it “Advise In Verse or Visa Versa”.

I loved the idea of writing mini essays in verse. So I started writing them and called them “Rhyming Rants: Witty and Terse Essays in Verse”. I’ve written six so far. As I said, they’re useless, but I think they’re fun.

So here is one of my favorite Rhyming Rants, this one on parenting. Enjoy!


 THE PITFALLS OF PARENTING

by

 Ellin Curley

                                                 

In most child-rearing books, for good reason, I confess,

The parent experience gets very little press.

The focus is on the child – she’s what it’s all about –

Not parents who may be plagued by fear and by doubt.

So here’s a new perspective for a parenting guide;

Viewing child development from the parents’ side.

The story starts when you meet your daughter or son

And your life journey together has just begun.

You know the side effects of sleep deprivation

But not those of serious ego deflation.

Now no one wants to know how you are anymore.

It’s all about the baby and it cuts to the core.

You must also accept, at this major junction,

A diminished level of mental function.

But repeat to yourself, so it’s easier to bear:

“An intelligent adult is still in me somewhere!”

Another low blow that will eat at your soul,

Is losing the illusion of being in control.

If you’re a night person but baby wakes at five

Learn to love the dawn if you want to survive.

If you’re spontaneous, give it up and don’t grouse

Cause now it takes an hour just to leave the house.

As infant turns to toddler, you reach another stage

And must learn to adapt to the rigors of this age.

The crushing fatigue from your perpetual motion

Makes you miss mere lack of sleep as the price of devotion.

On the mental side, non-stop toddler questions will show

Despite your education, how little you know.

So play “Jeopardy” for hours and trivia games,

Study how everything works, learn everything’s names.

This may give you some of the information you lacked

So your ego can survive relatively intact.

At age five or six comes a period of calm

When it’s not as wearing to be a Dad or Mom.

Children sleep through the night and feed and dress themselves

(Though they still can’t master putting toys back on shelves).

They can be fun and loving and do their own thing;

They think you’re the greatest but don’t need to cling.

The down side of this otherwise benign phase

Is you’re running around in an overscheduled daze.

You have to help with homework and projects till you’re numb;

Practice, lessons, play dates you must get them to and from.

Now you’ve finally hit your stride in the parenting role;

And then you enter the infamous “teen years” black hole.

You thought that, at last, you had rejoined humanity

But a teenager emerges to reclaim your sanity.

One day you’re living a relatively peaceful life;

The next, your days are filled with frustration and strife.

Your child is erratic, but always down on you;

You know nothing at all, in their oft expressed view.

They avoid you and can’t be bribed into talking,

They won’t go “en famille” without whining and balking.

So, of course, you feel rejected, hurt and confused;

Also angry at being so wrongfully abused.

You feel powerless, a failure, you’re in great pain;

You see all that you’ve worked for going down the drain.

But somehow, with time, you come out the other side.

Your teens grow into people you can look at with pride.

Your “adults” respect you (you’re not dumb anymore)

And spending time with you is no longer a chore.

But speaking of chores – you’re doing them again;

Their laundry and meals; how did this happen and when?

Adult kids bring companionship and less angst, it’s true,

But you still worry, cry or cheer, whatever they do.

This time around though you must not “interfere”

So you don’t say things directly, you can’t “tell”, you just “steer”.

But then you get grandkids and your ego again soars.

You are doted on and worshipped – by their kids, not yours.

Your past is in perspective and your future is clear

You’ve now come full circle in your parenting career.

You watch your kids as parents and see their kids grow

Knowing bits of yourself will live on, when you go.

Enjoy these years with family, of sharing and giving,

Cause soon they’ll be selling you on assisted living.

Have fun being stubborn and saying “No!” to every pitch –

It’s your turn to drive them crazy – payback’s a bitch!