ABOUT THOSE ANTS …

AND STILL MORE ANTS!

I was dreading going into the kitchen this morning.

It will be five more days — five very long days — until the pest control people can get the job done. Until next Thursday, we will continue to have ants.

They haven’t left the premises. But not as bad as yesterday because very little is as bad as yesterday.

Gibbs is not bothered by bugs. I don’t think he even notices the ants.

I got up early to make sure the dogs had enough water and turn the coffee on … and see how many ants had returned to the kitchen. I was pleased that there were some — small bunches and single wanderers — and more of the little sugar ants than carpenter ants today, but at least it wasn’t like yesterday.

Yesterday, it was me standing alone against the crawling hordes. This wasn’t nearly as bad. I cleaned up and went back for another hour or two of sleep.

I hate ants. I’ve probably mentioned that before.

He would like to order some special treats, if only I’d leave the credit card next to the computer!

At around 11, when I know it’s get up or have Duke knock the door open and leap onto the bed, I gave Garry a shake and we got up. He hit the kitchen first. I’m sure he was filled with fear of what he might find. Not so bad … at least not compared to yesterday. Anything was better than yesterday. He killed some, and then I arrived and killed some more.

“Die you little bastards” I cry, but they don’t hear me.

Ants are single-purpose insects. It turns out these ants — the carpenter ants — kill other insects so in theory, I should welcome them.

I don’t.

Otherwise, they build monuments. They walk in lock step and build hills full of ants and more ants and if they had the world to themselves, they would fill it completely with nothing but more and more ants. Some cartoon I read said if you weighed all the ants on earth, they would weigh more than all the people on earth.

Think about that.

The Duke is alert and watching for danger … mainly for the neighbors. Ants are not on his list.

Doesn’t that give you a big pause for thought? There are a lot of ants on this earth and about half of them seem to be living in my backyard having (it would appear) built a monumental hill next to the foot of the deck.

This house is old and it has a lot of damp areas of wood. The ants like damp wood. Short of stripping the house and essentially rebuilding it — we are going to have to live with an old house and its bugs.

There are trillions of ants and one of you. They are there, watching you and waiting.

Have a fabulous holiday weekend.

SQUARING THE CIRCLE OF THE ENGINE IN AN OLD AIRCRAFT

Circles and squares in squares. What could be simpler?

Seeking squares and circles for the month of March! From the fabulous Becky B, this is the last day of the challenge. We made it! Squares and circles every day for the whole month of March!

How amazing is that?

The following picture is the propeller and engine in a World War II fighter aircraft. It is round in a square … and to me, there’s something special about this.

Propeller and engine in an old aircraft

Squaring the SQUAREs IN MARCH

NAVIGATIONALLY-CHALLENGED: MOSES IN THE DESERT

So, THE WAY THEY TELL IT, God wanted to get rid of all those who had experienced slavery. To accomplish this task, he made the twelve tribes walk around the Sinai wilderness for forty years.


Forty years? Seriously?

That area isn’t all that big. To keep walking for that long, they had to have crossed their own paths repeatedly. Didn’t anyone shout out: “Hey, Moses. I’m pretty sure we’ve been here before. Hey, Levi, haven’t we been here before? Look, there’s where we put the tents. I think there are a few poles left over …”

If the idea was to get rid of the “slave mentality,” why couldn’t they just make a camp and hang out until the time was up? Stop walking. Play guitars. Sing some songs. Play cards.

Why did they have to keep walking? Was there a fitness or exercise requirement? Was it like jail where you have this hour or two a day during which you have to keep walking and walking and walking? Why does the idea of walking in circles for 40 years make me laugh hysterically?

Garry says we have this same conversation every year, immediately following our ritual viewing of “The Ten Commandments.” It must be pretty funny, because I’m still laughing.

And because this never stops making me laugh, please enjoy this little video of “Life with the Twelve Tribes.” I’m sorry I can’t embed the video, but it’s worth a few minutes of your time to give this a look. Not only is it funny, but it is oddly timely in this strange period in which we are living.


http://videocloud.aish.com/movies/Google%20Exodus.mp4

Happy whatever you celebrate!

ALONE AND IN SOLITUDE

BEING ALONE

I’m not sure that “alone” and solitude mean the same thing. Technically, they are synonyms but the concept of “alone” implies loneliness while solitude implies a choice to remain without company. Solitude speaks of private time while alone implies the absence of people.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Maybe it’s the choice that makes the difference?


ALONE – adjective & adverb

1. Having no one else present; on one’s own.
“she was alone that evening”
Synonyms: by oneself, on one’s own, all alone, solitary, single, singly, solo, solus.

2. Indicating that something is confined to the specified subject or recipient.
“we agreed to set up such a test for him alone”
Synonyms: only, solely, just.


Photo: Garry Armstrong

One dog alone, guarding us all!


SOLITUDE: noun
1. The state or situation of being alone. “She savored her few hours of freedom and solitude.”
Synonyms: loneliness, solitariness, isolation, seclusion, sequestration, withdrawal, privacy, peace. “She savored her solitude.”

A lonely or uninhabited place.
Plural noun: solitudes
Synonyms: wilderness, rural area, wilds, backwoods.


Garry shooting

Photo: Garry Armstrong –

One blossom

TILTED – A PHOTO A WEEK CHALLENGE

A Photo a Week Challenge: Tilted

Sometimes, the way things line up is funny. Yesterday I was at the Dana-Farber. They have a long air shaft which makes great geometric pictures, so I took a bunch. All of them are tilted.

I’m usually a very straight shooter, but in this case, the tilt is quite the thing.

Tilted air shaft 1

Tilted air shaft 2

Tilted and mirrored

To be fair, it’s impossible to create a straight shot down the air shaft. To do that, you’d have to be suspended in the middle of the shaft at the top.

ONE ANT, TWO ANTS, THREE ANTS, TEN MILLION ANTS

ONE ANT, TWO ANTS, THREE ANTS, MORE …

Yesterday, I saw an ant. Just one ant. He climbed onto my computer screen. Yuck.

I said  to Garry”I guess it really IS spring. There’s an ant on my computer.”

Mental marker. Call D&T Pest Control. They fixed us last year. They will fix us this year. Decent prices and if there’s another problem, they come back and do it again, free.


D & T Pest and Termite Control, Inc.  
5 Stars (from everyone, no less)
21 Google reviews
Pest control service in Bellingham, Massachusetts
7 Judy Lane, Bellingham, MA 02019
Hours: Open 24 hours
Phone: (508) 966-4470


This morning I went into the kitchen and there were a million ants. Everywhere. In every drawer and cabinet. On the floor. Not in any of the food because every single food item in this house is in a sealed container. Been here before. Between the mice and the ants, I’m a serious sealer-upper of all food stuffs. I wash every item as soon as it gets used.

Where did they come from? Yesterday, ONE ant. Today — the world is covered in big black (no wings, so not termites) ants. Carpenter ants, probably. They are the big black ones, but I also saw a good number of little sugar ants. Where there’s one, the others can’t be far behind.

Garry and I ripped the kitchen apart. Finally threw away ALL those old Dunkin’ Donut cups and containers from who knows when that that gathered under the sink. Washed, sprayed, washed, sprayed. Hauled trash.

Then washed, vacuumed, sprayed, washed and sprayed more.

And then called D&T and said I had a serious ant emergency and how could so many ants show up when there was just ONE yesterday? I must have had that desperate sound in my voice. I had been invaded.

“Who knows?” she said.

I think they came up from a hill in the backyard and are coming in under the French doors and the kitchen door because they are definitely centered in the kitchen. I found a bunch in the dining room and we haven’t even used that room for months.

Although we have mostly cleared them out for the moment, I don’t doubt they will be back in three heartbeats.

And, it’s pouring rain. They want us and the dogs OUT of the house for at least four hours. On a normal day, no problem. Dogs go into yard, we take cameras and take pictures of the dam, but we were …

BETRAYED!

In this weather, I can’t in any conscience put the dogs outside. So we are going to have to set up a date for the first day it isn’t raining, hopefully tomorrow.

It has been beautiful for the past two days. Why is it cold and raining today? Why us? Why are the heavens falling on us when we need dry?

Meanwhile, the nice lady from UMass Memorial called . Just to find out how I’m doing. They’ve been doing that lately. It was a bad day for that call. I was not in a happy mood. I have been spraying and cleaning and spraying and tossing trash for hours and I am NOT feeling polite. Or even civil. So she got the sharper side of my tongue. Not that the hospital didn’t deserve it, but this was the wrong day to try to have a normal conversation with me. There were ANTS EVERYWHERE.

I hate ants.

Ants. I hate the ants. They have followed us from Charles River Park in Boston to Beacon Hill. From Beacon Hill, they came to join us in Roxbury. And then, they showed up here. Worse than ever.

I hate bugs. I really hate bugs. No one hates bugs MORE than I do and in recent years, I have been plagued by these nasty things. I actually took some kind of sick pleasure is squashing these little bastards and hearing their thorax go crunch. It is unworthy of me.

I apologize.

The ants are just being ants. But I am just being human.

Cochlear Implant Update – By Jan Wilberg

One of the most thoughtful pieces of writing on this subject and particularly relevant in this household. Few people really understand how much lack of hearing removes you from “real life.” Garry once commented that even if you are blind, you can still communicate, but when you are deaf — you lose the ability to communicate and that’s a massive personal loss.

Red's Wrap

I wear this thing on my head. Looking at it now in the photo, it strikes me as enormous, a contraption. I wonder why people don’t just stop in their tracks and ask me what it is. But they never do. It’s like seeing someone with an artificial leg and wanting to inquire about how it works but being compelled to ignore it. What artificial leg? I didn’t see an artificial leg, did you?

This is the receiver (behind my ear) that captures sound that travels through the wire to the round thing (which is actually a magnet) and transmits the signals through my skull to a twin round thing inside my head which then sends the signals along several wires to 22 electrodes hanging out in my cochlea. The electrodes recreate the function of the nerves in my cochlea, sending the sound signals to my brain to be made…

View original post 725 more words

THE BARRYMORES: AMERICA’S ROYAL FAMILY OF ACTORS

This week, we tuned into Drew Barrymore’s latest show on Netflix. It’s called “The Santa Clarita Diet.” She has, in this story, become a zombie. It’s funny because she’s a very suburban and rather bouncy zombie. She certainly dresses a lot better than any other zombie I’ve seen on the screen.

If you are a huge fan of blood, gore, and massive quantities of vomit, this might be the right show for you.

Garry commented that “It’s probably a matter of personal taste.” That was his way of saying “Ew, disgusting, yuck, I’ll never watch it again.” She’s a Barrymore, so he’s being polite. She has a heritage. If anyone in the movie world could be considered royalty, Drew Barrymore has got to be “it.” Regardless, I don’t think I’ll be watching this show ever. I’m pretty sure this could have been a witty, entertaining show without the massive quantities of vomit, blood, and torn out internal organs.

Probably we’re a bit old-fashioned, but all that stuff does is turn my stomach.

For a few years, Drew Barrymore was working on Turner Classic movies with Robert Osborne, discussing and introducing classic movies. It was a treat listening to her observations. She should know, after all.

Drew Barrymore by David Shankbone

She was on Colbert last week, too. Her face has changed in recent years. Now, she really looks like a Barrymore.

John Barrymore as Hamlet, 1922
John Barrymore as Hamlet, 1922

That’s no small thing because she is this generation’s only representative of what is the longest running act in show business.

Several families have two or three generations of actors and a couple of families have three or more generations of directors. Only one has been on stage and screen for more than 100 years, the royal family of stage and screen, the Barrymores.

As of this writing, Drew Barrymore is her generation’s only working actor. John Drew, Diana, Drew, and John Blyth are the only descendants of John Barrymore who became actors.

Garry and I were trying to guess how many acting dynasties include at least three generations, in which at least one family member in each generation has done something noteworthy as an actor. Not as a director, producer, or writer. Only actors.

dynasties_01

Define “noteworthy” please!

It started when we noticed a Capra listed as a crew member of an NCIS episode. Garry wondered if this was a fourth generation of Capras. There was a Frank Capra I, II and III, so it seemed likely to be members of the same family. The Capras are directors. No actors, so they don’t count for the purposes of this post.

Reality shows do not count. Non-speaking and cameo roles do not count, nor does work as a TV announcer, talk show host, or sportscaster. Mere celebrity does not count. Only acting.

The Barrymore genealogy is complicated because it is extensive. There have many marriages and a slew of children. Most of the men in the family are named John, which doesn’t make it easier to follow the trail.

Other acting families are even more confusing. Actors marry each other, divorce frequently, and have children by many partners. They adopt and raise children from former marriages and from spouses’ former relationships. It’s hard to keep track and sometimes, relationships intertwine to such a degree it’s impossible to say to which family a particular person belongs. Not unlike European royal families.

If you count only acting families — and only family members who have had a real acting careers — the number of entries in the field are manageable. You’ll quite a few 2-generation families. A handful of 3-generation families.

Only one family has four generations of working actors.

The Barrymore family.

Barrymore family tree graphic
A very simplified Barrymore family tree

Drew Barrymore is the family’s current representative.There are many other family members, but none are acting, as of this writing. It doesn’t mean they or their offspring won’t enter the family business in the future. It’s quite a legacy. Talk about family pressure.

If you want to see the other families, or at least most of them, you can look them up. Google “multi-generational acting families“. Wikipedia has a good write-up, but omits significant British families.

This link takes you to an alphabetical list of show business families. The intricacies of the marriages, divorces and resulting complex relationships will make your head spin.

The Barrymore family reigns. No other family comes near the prominence or longevity of this family of actors.

Wikipedia’s entry on the Barrymores includes actors and non-actors. There are quite a few family members who are not in show business. The acting family members are shown in blue.

NOT FRANTIC – THE ONGOING MEDICAL MESS

NOT FRANTIC

The past few weeks have been intense. I lose track of time. Retirement tends to make our days and weeks run into each other seamlessly. It can be difficult to remember when something happened — whether it was yesterday or a week ago.

I generally don’t mind the streaming life we lead. It’s peaceful and I’ve grown fond of our quiet life in the country.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

The medical stuff, though, has lent a level of pressure and complexity that has made me more alert. The first was the realization that the hospital we supposedly depend on is a genuine, card-carrying mess. It’s not just me saying so, either. The Internet is full of upset people who have registered complaints and never had them addressed. Nurses assure us that the hospital is “atrocious,” which isn’t the word you want used to describe your primary medical facility. This wouldn’t be such a big deal for me because I have my cardiologist and oncologist at other facilities. I am graced by Blue Cross’s PPO for Medicare patients which lets us use any doctor and hospital.

While I’ve been getting aggravated about my own little issue, I’ve been getting more worried about Garry’s cochlear implant. We have only seen the doctor at UMass. There is more I don’t know about this procedure than I ought.

There are many ways to do it. I haven’t done my homework. Meanwhile, putting Garry in the hands of the people at UMass? If I can’t trust them to take a simple message, why would I want to put my beloved into their hands?


Hospitals aren’t about doctors. The people who run hospitals are receptionists, office managers, nurse’s aides, and nurses. You don’t see doctors much. They come, perform surgery, drop by to tell you you’re fine (or not fine or will be fine), but they are rarely visible on a hospital floor. All  your daily business will be managed by the underpaid, overworked, and often foreign-language-speaking minimum-wage workers who slouch your way when you press that “I need help” button.


I’ve been overdosed with medication to which I’m allergic despite my urgent warnings. Found myself with no functioning lungs and a stopped heart — information that was conveniently never written into my records. Hallucinating from morphine, to which I am allergic.  Fed food guaranteed to kill me if I was foolish enough to eat it.

Why?

Because nurse’s aides in most big hospitals don’t speak or read English. The doctor’s messages are meaningless to them. They have no idea what they are doing because no one trained them. And some of them just don’t care. All they want it a paycheck and to get off their tired feet.

They are greatly overworked and deeply underpaid. What do their bosses expect will happen? Are you really going to get top quality service from these downtrodden people?

Only at Beth Israel were real nurses attending me. Everywhere else, my interactions were with aides and orderlies and occasional a receptionist at a desk somewhere. Conversations were with rude, short-tempered women (sometimes men) who followed “rules” that could kill you because the human mouthing “the rules” didn’t care if you lived or died. The rules were the important part. They were trained to follow the rules. If something went wrong, well, no one can blame them. They followed the rules. They did what they were supposed to do. If there was collateral damage — like a few deaths here and there — oh well. Oops.


No hospital will ever be better than its lowest paid, most exhausted worker. If you can’t improve the quality of your staff with intelligent training, your hospital will always be a horror show for patients.


I should be frantic and would be, but my Blue Cross Plan gives me choices. My alternatives will be less convenient, but at least we will feel safe.

Safe seems the place to be.

TWO BY TWO – SUNRISE-SUNSET

Photo Challenge – Rise and Set

For this week’s photo challenge, explore the vibrant, hopeful colors of your favorite sunrise or sunset.

Other than from the direction, you can’t tell if the sun is coming up or setting. I’ve done all the checking I can and in fact, the light is the same. It depends on the season of the year, but the coloring is identical otherwise.

And yet we are fascinated by the coming and going of the sun. Even when I was a child, I used to stand outside and watch the sky, sometimes for a full hour from late afternoon until final darkness, watching the delicate changes in the sky and the clouds and the way the light filtered through the trees.

I have not yet lost my wonder.


The rising sun in the mountains in October

A gull at sunrise

Sunset in Douglas

Sunset through clouds

HARD DAY WITH CROCUSES

Yesterday was a long day. Between the telephone all morning trying to arrange a simple doctor’s visit — then going off to find out if I have cancer again (if you’ve had it once, you always wonder if it will come back), I was well and truly done by the time I got home.

I know I must be improving, though. A year ago, a day like today and I’d be barely able to crawl into bed. Now, I can manage to put together dinner, even eat dinner. I’m tired, but I’m still human. It may not seem like much to you, but it’s a big deal for me.

Garry thought I should write to the hospital and tell them it had a few issues it needed to address. It’s the only big hospital in the county and it is important not only to us, but to every family in the area. It’s not like Boston where you have 20 good hospitals at your doorstep.

I agreed with him in principle, but quickly discovered UMass doesn’t actually have an area were you can comment about “customer service” issues. The internet is full of complaints they’ve yet to answer. There are a lot of people upset about it. It’s infuriating to have just one really good local hospital and so many problems. There’s no reason for it, either.

They have a serious communication problem.

So I wrote to the head of the hospital and its PR consultant. I casually mentioned Garry and they casually called me back in less than half an hour. I’m pretty sure I’ll get to see a neurologist. Pretty sure. Not positive, but at least I feel I have a better grip on it.

Between UMass Memorial, Dana-Farber, and a trip to the grocery, we came home beat. I believe this was a productive day, but I am exhausted. Every part of me hurts.

I’m going to need a long sleep to get myself glued together again.

The best news of the day? We have flowers. Crocuses and the shoots of day lilies to come. And it was warm enough to go out in a light jacket. Spring really is coming, finally. I have proof!

SHARING THE WORLD AS WE STROLL INTO SPRING

Share Your World – March 26, 2018

It is already a week past the Vernal Equinox and it’s still surprisingly cold here. Not mid-winter cold, though and in the middle of the day, you can feel the sun.

With the change of time, we are also getting a more normal sunset. I always feel better on DST than the rest of the year. It feels “natural” and the arrival of the light in the morning feels right. Full dark at 7 in the morning always feels “off.”

What is your favorite color of hair? You can name your hair color or a color that you just like.

And the answer is — I never thought about it. I have liked natural blond hair, however rarely I see it. I had a good friend who had the most amazing blond hair in the world. Then one day, she chopped it off, I suppose because she wearied of the amount of care very long hair requires. I understood the motive, but I mourned the amazing hair and it’s many intermixing colors.

I like dark hair too. Natural hair with natural highlights. You don’t see a lot of natural anything in hair these days. No one seems happy with whatever nature bestowed on them. I liked my hair well enough, even though it was never the same color two weeks in a row. It was very dark brown when I was a kid, but lightened up to a dark amber brown — what some hairdressers called dark blond but to me was brown with lighter highlights. Then it began to go gray.

It didn’t go gray evenly or elegantly. Just patches of battleship gray here and there. So much for natural! For the next 40 years (I went gray when I was still in my 20s) I dyed it back to what had once been my color.

Then, I had some serious life and death surgery and when I came home, my hair was not gray — it was snow-white. You hear that such a thing is possible in books, but to have it happen to you is more than a little startling. I gave up dying my hair. The difference between white and even light brown was too abrupt and I always looked a bit skunkish, with white streaks here and there along my scalp.

Since going white, my hair has reverted to a bit brown in some areas (yes, you can revert to brown from white — hair is a moving target) and darker gray in others, but it’s mostly white. I gave up dying it a long time ago. I am pleasantly surprised at how many older actresses have done the same. Probably for the same reason.

It’s nearly impossible to maintain another color when your hair is white. The contrast is intense and you would have to keep retouching it every few days to keep from showing white stripes.  White is not a bad color either Highly reflective and interesting. And, should you get the urge to change to some other color in the spectrum, it’s easy when the base color is white.

List at least 5 things that you are good at.

Writing. Taking pictures. Figuring out how to pay bills when we have no money. Thinking really weird thoughts. Writing the weird thoughts down, then blogging them. Because no one has enough weird ideas of their own. They need mine, too!

What is your favorite animal or type of animal? (pets, dolphins, stuffed, wild cats, etc)

I’m pretty fond of dogs, but I also love horses, cats, birds and ferrets. If it’s friendly and furry, I probably like it.

Which doesn’t mean I want to have them in the house. I think we have enough life here already.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  

The news made me howl. It has gotten so ridiculous, I can choose to laugh or I can spend my life ranting and raging about it. Laughter is better for one’s soul and a lot easier on the people around you!

MAKING A DOCTOR’S APPOINTMENT AT UMASS MEMORIAL

MORNING QUARTET

I was having a dream about how I hadn’t yet managed to see a doctor about whatever it was that happened to me a few weeks ago. Two weeks? Three?

For the past few weeks, they’ve been researching my Pacemaker. Apparently my telling them that I can’t have an MRI because it would suck the Pacemaker out of my chest leaving me bleeding and quite probably, dead as the proverbial door nail.

What make door nails deader than other things? Has anyone done any research on this issue? No? Well, isn’t it about time?

The Front Door at UMass Memorial where they said I didn’t have an appointment

Meanwhile, back at the doctor and hospital, apparently a mere patient with the implant can’t say “No, don’t do that, it will kill me.” There are all these privacy laws in place, so mere information from the original source — me — is inadequate to stop the progress of grinding towards this very expensive test that I don’t merely not need, but which would end my life.

It took almost a week of research by the doctor’s nurse to track down my device and note that it cannot be allowed anywhere near those big magnets. She called the manufacturer, but privacy laws forbade them from saying anything about it. That I had the information was apparently irrelevant. Calling my cardiologist — again — was a no go. Privacy laws.

Meanwhile, I got a call from the MRI people to schedule an appointment. I had already had this same discussion with the nurse and said “No, no, no MRI no, not ever” but UMass Memorial does not give up easily.

So I said “I can’t have an MRI. I have a Pacemaker. A metal one. NO MRI. Never ever.”

“When did you get the Pacemaker?”

“Four years ago,” I replied.

“Oh,” she said.

That was the end of that call. Next I heard from the nurse who said she was really sorry about that call from the MRI group, but she had explained it, really she had and I said I believed her, really I did.

Yesterday I got a bundle of papers from Blue Cross to announce that they were happy to pay the gazillion dollars it would cost for the MRI that I can’t have because — y’know — it would kill me.

Valet parking at UMass Memorial — where they said I didn’t have an appointment

I sighed. Put the papers on the kitchen counter and went on with my day, pretending nothing had happened. It was too stupid and I just couldn’t deal with more stupidity. Especially medical stupidity.

But all night, I dreamed that I was trying to just talk to a doctor to see if anything even needed to be done for this “issue,” whatever it is. I think it’s related to my migraines  — a complicated, advanced version of the aura you get before a migraine. If you get migraines — with auras — you know what I mean. It affects your sight and makes you dizzy, sometimes nauseated … and occasionally gives every evidence of your having a stroke. But it isn’t a stroke. It just looks like one.

Another view of UMass Memorial — where they still said I didn’t have an appointment

It goes away without a trace and no amount of testing or tracking will find any evidence that it happened. Moreover, there are a dozen other things it could also be, all of which leave nothing in their wake. They happen, they scare the pants off you and yours — and vanish.

And may — or may not — ever occur again.

More parking lots at (you guessed it) UMass Memorial

This has happened a few times through my 71 years. For a while, after  one or another surgery when I was terribly thin — emaciated — it happened fairly often. Good thing I weighed so little since strong men had to haul my butt upstairs until I came to. Since the cancer and heart surgery, the worst part has been occasional dizziness, but none of those screaming seizures.

I had one, though, a few weeks ago for no apparent reason. Although I don’t think it was important and still don’t think it was medically significant, my doctor thinks I should at least have a chat with a neurologist. I agreed to the chat because how big a deal should it be to see a doctor and talk a bit?

After last night’s dream, I took a deep breath and called the nurse at my doctor’s office who assured me that they shouldn’t be sending me paperwork agreeing to the MRI I can’t have and she would call the hospital and make sure a doctor — or nurse, but anyone someone medical — would call me. Soon.

I hung up. That was the second call.

The phone rang. It was the MRI group trying to set up another appointment. I said “NO MRI I HAVE A METAL PACEMAKER” and she said “Then how about an EEG?” I breathed again. Deeply. Slowly. Counting.

More views of the excessive amount of snow on the grounds of UMass Memorial

The next thing she did was ask me why I didn’t show up at my March 15th appointment. That was the one I went to where they sent us home because they said there was no appointment or maybe the nurse had screwed up the paperwork, but one way or the other, we went home.

I said “We were there. We were told there WAS no appointment and they sent us home.”

“That’s impossible,” she said.

“Would you like to see the photographs I took of the hospital? And the receipt for the parking? Would you like signed papers from my husband and I attesting to having been there and being turned away as not having an appointment?”

She said that couldn’t be because things like that don’t happen at UMass Memorial. Breathe, Marilyn. Breathe.

“I would like to talk to a doctor before I make any other arrangements. Let’s see if I even need testing.” So she connected me to the Neurology Department. They asked me my name. “Marilyn Armstrong,” I said.

She said “You don’t have to be hostile!”

The trip home from that missing appointment

I said I wasn’t being hostile. That was my name. She asked me for my last name again and I said “Armstrong.” Silence. “I still need your last name,” she said and I said (louder) “Armstrong,” so she hung up. Still breathing slowly I called again. Asked for neurology. Gave my name. Was questioned (again) about how come I never showed up for my March 15th appointment. Said I had but was told there was no appointment. Was assured that couldn’t have happened. Whatever.

“Be that as it may,” said I, “I would like to talk to a doctor. Or a nurse. Or a nurse practitioner. Or even a receptionist.” She asked me where I’d like to be seen and I said Worcester, so she connected me to the Bolton office which is 50 miles northwest of here and nowhere near Worcester.

I hung up and called back. Determination is my middle name. The remnants of the blizzard from two days before March 15 when I didn’t have an appointment

I told her — this time — that a doctor was supposed to call me this morning, but instead I heard from the testing department about setting up an MRI or some other test, but before we set up tests, can I — pause, pause, breathe in, breathe out — please talk to a medical person. So we can decide if I need testing.

She said a doctor would call and I said “Well, I’m off to the Oncologist today, so if no one calls soon, it will have to be tomorrow . I repeated my phone number, name, date of birth and reminded her that this was the ONLY telephone number I have and it is NOT a cell phone. Try to deal with the concept of it not being a cell phone. In other words, please don’t text me.

After which I hung up and couldn’t find my new blue jeans. I gave up on that and wore the blue pants I bought months ago and forgot I owned. Went to get coffee and an English muffin with raspberry jelly.

And then I wrote this post.

How many calls was that? I’m pretty sure it was four, a basic quartet, but it gets difficult to count what with the transfers, hang ups, and calling back.

Lovely view of beautiful glass building at UMass Memorial.

Garry thought I sounded cranky so I explained and he said “Oh,” and offered to refill my cup. I still have to go to the oncologist and hope I still don’t have cancer.

It’s noon. So many more things could yet happen today. Maybe I should call off the doctor and go back to bed.

Nah. Let’s get it done already. Deferring the event will just make it even more complicated.