Friday, November 28, 2008

A Thankful Day

Happy Day after Thanksgiving! I had a rather odd but pleasant day. My women’s choir, the St. James Women’s Schola, (picture from last Christmas!) sings every year for the Thanksgiving morning Mass. This is a lovely event and the Cathedral is usually packed. When we arrived for practice – quelle horreur – at least five sopranos – were not there, including all of the four big guns. One was in the hospital, another was ill and had no voice, another was caring for her mother. I’m not sure about the fourth, but at any rate, she was not there. You must understand that this choir has about 22 members, so five is a huge bunch. Unfortunately, we were singing a newish chant, and it was rather difficult, I thought. It was all pretty unnerving. My friend Paul (obviously not a regular member, seeing as he is a guy) had been called in to do the solo bits, and of course he was brilliant. The rest of the rehearsal was unsettling. Jim, our director, bore it all very well, especially given that we were fairly awful, it seemed to me. Usually, the alto section is the focus of his attention, but this time, it was not so, as the sopranos were not hitting their high notes. Several altos were temporarily promoted to sopranos. Then, at the actual service – a miracle - it all went well, and the music was splendid as usual. Preise den Herrn!
Since I am a nurse, I am obliged to work a certain number of holidays, and it was my turn for Thanksgiving. Actually, don’t tell anyone, but I enjoy working on Thanksgiving. We get paid time and a half, get a free dinner, and everyone is usually in a good mood. Odd you might think, since they are working instead of being home eating, but so it is. Maybe that’s a sign that we love our jobs. No, I’m not being sarcastic. I think most of my colleagues really do love their jobs. I do, anyway. This evening, my patients were all nice, none were having crises, and all was going smoothly. The fly in the ointment was that half way through the shift I was going to have to float to another floor. Then they said I could go home if I wanted to. At first I said I didn’t, but then realized that I was not going to have my tasks finished on time to rush off to another unit, since I had just gotten an admission and he needed many things, including wound care. I didn’t want to leave all this for the next nurse, so I said I would go home, thinking I could then get all my stuff done. This patient had a gross abscess on his neck, and I had to irrigate it and put on a new dressing. I saved this for last, fortunately. I had on gown and gloves naturally, but didn’t feel that I needed a face mask. However, when I irrigated it, squirting saline into the wound, it all shot back – all over me, including in my eyes and mouth, which must have been open as it usually is – me being such a loquacious type. Yeeeeech!! I washed my face several times, getting my lab coat all wet, and reported to the nursing supervisor. I then had to go to the ER for labs and a better eye washout, etc. In the manner of emergency rooms (and me being a non-emergency), what amounted to 15 minutes of actual work, took about three hours. The fly in this ointment was that I had left my book upstairs in my backpack. About two hours into the process, I crept off and got it. This improved things immensely. By the time I actually left, it was my usual departure time, so I got paid for the whole eight hours after all. Also – they always draw labs on the patient as well as the victim, and this patient did not have any terrible diseases. Just whatever was making his neck abscess. Ugh! I don’t even want to think what that might have been. This picture, actually beach debris in Hawaii, represents some awful gram positive cocci which might have been lurking in that neck.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sad day coming

Our little Michael is ailing, and is probably soon to visit the Rainbow Bridge. Here are pictures of him as a baby, a youth, and an oldster. In the baby picture, he is watching his mom cook - a lifetime preoccupation with him,and in the youth picture he is doing the same from the porch to which he has probably been exiled for being too helpful. In the oldster picture, he is politely waiting for Maria the dominatrix to finish licking the bowl so he can get in a taste or two. As you can see, his preoccupation with food has been a lifelong trait, and I knew he was quite ill when he didn't care about his breakfast.
Michael is fifteen, which I used to think was a Methuselah in cat terms, but now it seems quite youthful compared to the ages of my aunts’ cats at their demises. We will miss him very much, as he is a most singular and loving kitty.
PS. I had to change the picture from yesterday, because Rachael informs me that the cat in the photo was actually Maria.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A disasterous day

I was in bed reading or knitting recently, when I heard a shriek from Rachael’s room, and then frantic the dismayed chitter-chatter of Rachael and her friend Lillian as they talked on the phone. Some disaster has occured, I thought. Maybe one of their celebrity heroines had gotten arrested for drugs, or eloped with someone unsuitable. But no! It was way worse. Mother’s Cookies was going out of business! When she was little, Rebecca always ate these dreadful frosted animals when we visited Grandma Rossi, and she loved them. Since she only got them at Grandma R’s house, they are closely associated with her memory. Now, Rachael has inherited this odd gustatory trait, and loves them as well. I love to see them, since they remind me of Grandma Rossi and baby Rebecca, but for some reason, I find them rather revolting. My dear Uncle Robert, on the other hand, always had some Mother’s Vanilla Sandwich cookies on standby and I think of him whenever I see them. So all in all, these cookies, none of which I like to eat, are severely nostalgic, and will be sadly missed, by both eaters of them and non-eaters alike.
You would definitely hear a shriek of dismay from me if the genuine and absolutely delicious animals in the other package were to disappear. They - with a glass of milk - are one of life’s true pleasures.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A busy day with a funky dinner

Today was my sainted auntie’s birthday, but we couldn’t have the real party today because the real cook was working. In the morning she (my auntie, not the real cook) and I took Poor Michael to the vet who showed me how to hydrate him. My auntie had done this (more accurately, she had Rebecca do it) for her ancient cat who is no more, and at that time, I had thought it was ridiculous. Now that it is Michael, seen here in Dakki's lap, it seems not so ridiculous at all. Michael is pretty feisty when you try to do anything to him (i.e, trim his nails) that he thinks needn’t be done, so I am not at all confident about how this will play out. Will report on my success or lack thereof. Then we went to the bank, to deposit a check into Tom’s account, and I asked for a balance, which, when given, showed that my estate business STILL had not been taken care of. I said, “Grrrrr,” and the teller man said why didn’t I have Janet help me. I said I was sure she couldn’t, because someone in Texas was supposed to be working on it and I didn't have any of the paperwork. But he thought I should give it a try. Janet was the intelligent woman who replaced the dingbat who originally was supposed to be dealing with my estate troubles. The one who hung up on me when I told her that the higher office said she had not filled out the forms properly. I told Janet of my trials, and how I cried the last time I talked to the Texas folk, and that I didn’t want to talk to them again. She talked to them, had it all fixed in five minutes. What a relief! Or it will be when this transaction actually takes place – in up to two weeks, she said. Since it was Dakki’s birthday, I decided to invite her for dinner, and fix a busy day meal. We had Protein Loaf – which, as you can tell from the name, is a relic of my youth, but good. It has cauliflower, onions, cashews, cheese, and eggs, and is pretty yummy. And lemon pudding cake for dessert. Fast, easy, tasty. Our friend Julie came for the impromptu meal, and expertly prepared the green beans (also delicious,) as I was in a bit of a frenzy, since the meal-in-minutes was taking more minutes than I had anticipated.
Here we are sitting down to our meal, and here is the meal. The Protein Loaf does not look that appealing, but it is really quite good. While doing the dishes, I dropped a glass on my toe. You can see my injury here, if you are interested in such things.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A tacky day

This picture was on our refrigerator for years, but when we painted the kitchen, it seemed to disappear. I serendipitously found it a few days ago, and was mighty happy, because it represented a happy memory. Years ago, Rebecca found a party book at one of her favorite stores, the Goodwill. The book was from the fifties, and had several party theme suggestions, most of them rather silly, I would imagine. A couple of them appealed to us though. One was a pink party, which we gave in the form of an afternoon tea for our lady friends. We made a pink sandwiches, a pink salad, and a pink cake, which as I seem to recall, was a Lady Baltimore cake and a flop, but most of the food was good, and the company was excellent. This party was at least 15 years ago, and I still remember it as a fun day. Another suggestion was a “bad taste party.” Our guests were instructed to wear tasteless clothes, and our party decorations were selected for their awfulness. Most of our guests wore their normal clothes, but Rebecca, Samos, and I found some delightful thrift store outfits. We had made very clear in our invitations what the dress code was, and afterwards pondered what it might mean that our friends wore their usual attire. What do you think?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A work day

My friend Laura told me I needed to update, and I see that she is right. It has been a day or two. I have been working, working, working, and the day I wasn’t working, I was working. My actual job has been rather horrendous lately, with my patients suddenly going downhill and needing to be saved, always a time consuming (although rather exciting) process. Happily, this evening was different from the two previous. My patients were all calm, pleasant, and healthy, relatively speaking. There was one patient who seemed to be having DT’s, and I said a little prayer of thanks that she was not mine. Actually, she had been mine the previous time I worked and initially, I was a disappointed not to get her back. I was quickly cured of that. She and her roommate were fighting like Tomcats on a fence – yowling insults back and forth until we had to move one to a different room. My patients, on the other hand, were all lovely, and one of them was watching The Wizard of Oz, so I gave him extra special attention because, not only was he a great guy, but I love the Wizard of Oz and had just been thinking I should watch it – having not seen it for a few years. In my youth, it was an annual event, despite the fact that the flying monkeys terrified me. I missed them this evening. The man pointed out that the Munchkin Coroner was about to sing that the witch was undeniably, reliably dead, and that the Lollipop kids were coming, and later that I had missed they monkeys. He seemed to know the movie by heart. Fortunately, I managed to be in his room when the water was thrown on the witch and she melted away, lamenting her beautiful wickedness. We were both delighted at her comeuppance.
These pictures are relevant in that one was taken on my way to work, and the other on the way home - or waiting for the bus which is sort of on the way home. In case you can’t recognize that black blob, it’s the bus coming up the hill – a most happy sight after a hard days night. Click here to see the same scene in the daylight.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A multi-Birthday day

The fabulous autumn birthday event took place this afternoon and evening. Since so many folk in my family were born in September, October, or November, it would be too much to have a party for each. So we have a big gala festivity to celebrate about ten birthdays at once. If one, like me, is incapable of stinting on the cake and ice cream, but hoping not to “take on flesh,” as they say somewhere, this is probably a good idea, as it is no doubt better to go to one party than ten, diet-wise, at least. As to the cake, it had a little accident on its way to the table. My aunt wears her reading glasses on a string, and somehow, the glasses got entangled in the cake, turning them into Spectacular Edible Birthday Spectacles. She wondered if she should try to return the frosting to the cake, but we assured her that it would not be necessary. Here are pictures of Aunt Pauline, the glasses, the cake, and some of the happy celebrants. I have eaten far too much and am feeling a bit ill. Perhaps I should have some chamomile tea like Peter Rabbit did after his unfortunate adventure in the vegetable garden.

A quizzical day

You Should Be a Teacher

You are patient, optimistic, and good at explaining things.

You work well with all types of people, and you are a good role model.

Success and positive outcomes are extremely important to you.

You are both a good leader and instructor. People look up to and depend on you.
You do best when you:
- Can see the results of your work
- Are able to teach someone a new skill
You would also be a good nurse or non fiction writer.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A leafy day

All week long, I planned to dig up a little area of my garden today – to prepare a spot for spring flowers, and to plant some bulbs there. I woke up, had my morning tea, decided that the Saturday NYT crossword was probably too hard, slouched out of bed and realized that – hurrah! – it was pouring rain, and I would be unable to garden! I went shopping at my favorite grocery store, and got in the line of my favorite checkout lady. She was complaining that she was not getting her lunch break, and this made me feel better because I thought nursing was the only job where one never got lunch breaks. I got home with my purchases and, quel horreur! The sun was shining brilliantly. The thought of digging up mud had really minimal appeal, so I used my guilt-free procrastination technique and opted to do some other previously-procrastinated-about but way-less-horrible task. I would rake leaves. Here is a picture of me surveying the monumental project. Last year, my fytophobe neighbor had, just after threatening to cut down Rebecca’s cherry tree, put her raked up leaves in my yard so I would deal with them for her. In a fit of rage, I threw them back in her yard, and have felt rather bad about this since. So this year, I picked up her little piles of leaves along with mine. She, true to form, came out to commune with me while I was doing the leaves, and said she would help me. This meant that she would watch me and be sure I got ALL her leaves. However, her rake was much better than mine, so it all worked out and was worth it for an increase in neighborly relations.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Beginning the day

Rebecca and I were chatting with friends, and she said that her favorite bit of the day was in the morning with her first cup of tea. I realized that this is very true. It is such a contented moment, sitting there, back in my cozy bed, after having given Margaret her breakfast and walkies while the teakettle comes to a boil, having made the tea and collected the newspaper; relaxing with the editorials, the comics, and finally the crossword puzzle, the wonderful warmth and comfort of a hearty cup of hot milky tea, and the promise that a new day brings. Rebecca refers her tea pale and wimpy, but I want mine thick enough so that a mouse could run across it -- strong, dark, and yummy. By the third or fourth cuppa, one begins to feel the need for a little something to complement it, and what better than an English muffin? The Eng muffies are equally perfect accompaniments for that second great moment of the day – when one returns to bed with the final cup of tea – after the day has run its course, and either (hopefully) fulfilled the promise of the early morning, or proved an ordeal to be gotten through. This time, the cuppa and the wonderfully versatile muffin are accompanied by one’s novel and knitting, rather than the newspaper. There you have it! Life sandwiched in between delightful cups of Lapsang or Earl Grey.
The three toppings shown are Zergut, a zesty spread of sweet peppers; an ersatz Nutella; and a Becca-made tomato marmalade – my favorite. We recently went to our favorite food import store, to get more Nutella, and there was a sign next to an empty shelf which said, “Life is nothing without Nutella.” But they were out and there was no Nutella. An potentially ominous situation!

A joyous day

I am sooooo happy! I was worried about working on Election Night, as I feared making a spectacle of myself if the Other Persons won. Well, they didn’t win and I made a spectacle of myself anyway. When the happy moment came, I was in the room of a sleeping patient whose family told me they would have liked to vote for Sarah Palin for President, and were sad that was not an option. Yikes! These people were very nice, but, I fear, not politically astute. Fortunately, they went home early on. Anyhow, as I went about my job, I kept glimpsing these state returns on my patient's TV's, and they were all red. I was so upset and worried, and when ABC announced that, “Obama is the President-elect!” I started to cry, and could not stop. When I left the room, still crying, a woman came out of a room at the other end of the hall. She was a large, comfortable African woman whom I had not met, but her father’s nurse told me the day before that they were from Africa, and members of the same tribe as Obama’s father, and that the woman had cried with joy when her father was able to vote on a special hospital emergency ballot. I made a happy sign to her, and we rushed down the hall and collapsed into each others’ arms, both in sobbing for joy. One of our nurses, also from the same tribe, and who had greeted me earlier with “Yes, We Can!” joined the heap of sobbing women, and we had wonderful three way hugs. Everyone was jubilant, and I was glad that I was at work after all, and able to share this wonderful moment in our history with my co-workers. On the midnight bus ride home, I saw streets blocked off – filled with people celebrating the end of our national nightmare. Halleluia!!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A mysterious day

The Requiem was as wonderful as anything could be - as wonderful as Christmas even. Every year I get shivers when Mozart’s marvelous opening chords play. To hear it in its intended context, the Mass for the Dead, and to actually participate - it seems as though I am unbelievably blest. And it was so solemn - even the gospel was chanted. I felt the spirits of Tom and my father there, and felt enveloped in them and the music. My mother, on the other hand, really didn’t like this sort of thing – a long sitting in one place (unless it was a bridge table) and with such a crowd of people, so she probably remained in heaven doing whatever they do there - in her case, maybe bidding five hearts and eating those little mints and nuts they have at card parties. But Tom and my dad were definitely present. And having my little Rachael there singing was yet another gift. You can see her in the lowest row of the choir.
These pictures are courtesy of my friend Maria, and you can see her full album here.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A uniformly uniform day

My job has decided that we all should be wearing uniform uniforms because patients can better distinguish what our roles are if we all have the same attire. My thought on this is, if they can’t read the huge RN sign beneath our nametags, they probably are not going to grasp the color-coding system either. Also, “patients want color!” they tell us, so we will all be wearing Prussian blue and gray – a very cheery color selection, don’t you think? We had to go and try them on and make our style selection, which I put off doing till the very last minute. I had heard from my coworkers how horrible and cheap the uniforms were, but I was nonetheless totally unprepared for the reality. They are made of plastic material, which, with the frequent washings needed, will be ragged in no time at all. There were various styles of pants and tops in the same colors, but only one dress – white, of course. Since I always wear dresses or skirts to work, that was it for me. My boss, ever the optimist, said, “You will like the dress! It is really cute.” So I thought it might be okay. It was obviously a lot more cute to someone who would never have to wear it. In fact, when I saw what I would be wearing every day for the next several years, I was flummoxed. It was a trip down memory lane, reminding me of the housecoats my mother-in-law bought for about $5 at Woolworth’s many years ago. Or of what the waitresses at The Doghouse might have worn. I am not excited about this new epoch at my job. My mother-in-law, God rest her soul, was a remarkably wonderful woman but not a fashion icon. She is shown here in one of her house dresses – at least it is not white – making noodles for soup. Yummy! Her soup would be a comfort in the sartorially grim days to come.
Addendum: Looking at the picture of Grandma Rossi, I realize that the dress she is wearing is actually nice, and would be an okay nurse dress, and that I cannot find the picture of her in the exact dress (with - shudder - a zipper front) that will be our uniform. That picture is around here somewhere, though.