Sunday, October 31, 2010

Come With Me, If You Dare....

I thought today would be an excellent time to give you a tour of my den/workplace/sanctuary. It's like this all year round, but takes on special meaning for me in the Fall. Here, then, is my Halloween Room!

We start with the door. I found these “clings” last year at a near-by shop called “The Brass Lantern.” In the center of the door is a mail carrier painted by a great New England artist who sells on E-Bay.

Next, the closet wall. Over my printer I have 6 mourning icons – cemetery scenes embroidered with human hair, in memory of loved ones who have died. Most are from the mid-1800's. One is slightly older.

On my printer top are some photos, my clock, and an interesting goth girl statue that greatly reminded me of an old friend. Hummm.

Above my computer is an original Pauline Campanelli titled “Candy Corn.” Pauline, I miss you!

To the left of my desk is my writing desk, done by the same artist that did my mail carrier.

On the “deck” wall, we start with my dolls. Most are Donna Marion originals. Here, under Pauline's portrait, are several, along with some Halloween bowls, Jim Shore's " Grim Reaper” and even part of my 5 x great grandfather's headstone!

On the opposite side of my deck door, I have a high boy, given to me by Gary. This holds various dolls, boxes, a beautiful stain glass lamp from my Jen and Lars (orange, of course), and flying overhead – two witches on brooms.

The next wall features my bench and more Donna Marion.  First is Crystal, then comes Jewel. Jewel reminded me of Pauline, and the way she use to do her make-up and hair. The last is named “Peg.” It's hard to see, but she does have a peg leg and a cane. On her lap is “Rotten Rufus,” made especially for me by Donna.

Finally we come to the book cases. These hold my books and a plethora of Halloween goodies. On top are my paper mache pumpkins, both antique and reproduction. On the small round table is a great witch figurine, as well as a topzie-turvy doll. One side is a bride, and the other – a widow.

Behind me is a cedar chest that belonged to my grandfather. Here is the box where I keep my wands and some of my athames.

So, there you have it – my domain. Enjoy, and have a happy and safe Samhain!

P.S. Even Rufus sleeps on Halloween pillows in the den...and, oh yes! He's the hottest dog in town wearing this year's costume!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

S.O.S. !!

It's no secret; when it comes to writing, I'm an old fashion gal. For years, in and out of college, I hand wrote everything, and then typed it up on a 1896 Underwood. Finally, around 1995, my nephew bought me a computer, so I could use it as a word processor.

Thereafter, I wrote everything longhand and then typed it into my computer.

I haven't evolved much since the 90's. Things like this blog I can compose in my trusty Office Writer, but major projects still start with pen and ink, as did the majority of my correspondence. That is, until e-mail.
People are not really speaking English on e-mail, are they? Are these users a bunch of x-military folks? A former college friend, who joined the Navy, always sent me letters that were mostly alphabetical soup. I knew what a CO and a PX was, but after that it was all Greek to me.

I REALIZE e-mailers aren't the first to use their own brand of short hand. Way before secretarial pools and stenographers, there were native Americans and smoke signals. Maybe my ancestors were just as bad as folks using e-mail today.

(Our clan smoke signal) “Being attacked by enemy tribe, can you send mighty warriors?” (notice OUR clan always used complete sentences. That's an Irish Indian for ya!)

(Their clan smoke signal) “ROTFLOL” (“rolling on tepee floor, laughing out loud”).

Well, if you can't beat them, join them. So...

BTW: Congrats to my fellow Broomstix founders on the official cover of their forthcoming YA book, “Sirenz.” The sub-title is “The devil is in the retail.” I gave them that. Yep! And, I am also in the book, as a non-consequential walk-on character named Katharine. She's a tarot reader. She's also so marginal she may be edited out by now, or re-named Esmeralda.

It's YA, but a regular A would also enjoy it. When it comes out, read it. I did – three times in manuscript form.

P.S. As to my foot.. surgery will be mid-November. There is no way, three years after having Charcot, that the bone can be eased into place. The doctor intends to excise the ulcer, clear out all the scar tissue around the bones in my ankle, fuse them and then set them into an external fixative device. Rods will be passed through the leg bones to hold everything in place. I'll be in this for three months. It's going to be a major process, with high risk and no guarantees, but if it works, I may be able to have a a normal foot. If it doesn't, well...

My current doctor said “Hey you could get your life back from before the Charcot. You could wind up with a whole new foot!”
“Yeah...made of plastic!”
“Don't laugh! Don't say that! I don't want to hear that!” and he covered his ears and left the room. Guess he doesn't have much truck with that famous Irish Lanape dark humor.

I DID find out one interesting fact. The doc in Bensalem said that my foot is totally dislocated from my ankle. In other words: TABACTTFB (The ankle bone ain't connected to the foot bone). The only things holding my foot onto my leg are muscle and ligaments.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Next to Godliness...NOT!

Without a doubt, it's Samhain-tide.

Things are disappearing, only to reappear elsewhere. Folks are coming down with mystery colds, sinus drips, and sleeping problems. There are electrical, computer and mechanical failures. Yep, it's October, and my poor foot has not been spared. I mentioned in my last blog that surgery was certain, but I insisted that it take place after November 1st.

Now, surgery is not so certain for – behold! - my doctors have found a specialist in the wilds of Bensalem, PA. They had attended a conference at which this podiatrist/surgeon had slides, and graphics, (and black and white glossy photos with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back describing each one) that looked remarkably like my deformed ankle.

So, this coming Thursday, it's off to Bensalem to see what miracles this hoof healer can pull out of his satchel. He's had specialized training in Russia for a form of “external fixation” for Charcot foot, inclusive of ulcers.

“What does that mean?”: I asked my doctors, in complete innocence.
“Oh, it's cool. He builds a scaffolding around the foot, ankle and leg in order to lengthen the leg, and slowly eases the tarsal bone back into place. If that happens, the ulcer can heal on its own. Or, if it doesn't, you're in better shape to close it surgically. And ... it's weight bearing!”

I went home and made the appointment, giddy at the prospect of no bone cutting and no wheelie stool! Then, the light started to dawn. External “fixation”? in “fixed in place”? By what, exactly? This past Friday, I got my answer during my usual wound care visit.

“How is it fixed? With pins and rods.”
“That go ...into the bone?”
“That's right – but it's weight bearing!”
“Yeah, yeah, sure, but there are pins and rods into the bone? If I have to walk on it, what kind of protection is there for my foot?”
“You could wrap it in gauze...”
“It's November. It's raining. I'm at my sister's house for Thanksgiving wearing a boot and gauze?”
“And how do you shower attached to this thing?”
“Yeah, you know – water raining down on you from an overhead nozzle thingee?”
“You don't.”
“I – don't? What am I suppose to do?”
“Sponge baths? I'm not really sure.”

So, there it is: the hygiene dilemma. Without total immersion, or even sorta immersion, how does one keep the blow flies at bay? Yes, yes, I know - bath wipes, “Wet Ones”, soap-water-washcloth, “Psssssst” instant spray shampoo ( do they still make that?). Let's face facts – that's not going to bring home the bacon. How do I keep from smelling like bacon? A few ideas did come to mind. (Thanks to my nephew Keith for the strangest photo session we'll ever have).

There's nothing like the smell of Gain
FABREZE: It comes in original, lavender, apple mango tango, and a crap load of other scents. It does a pretty good job of keeping fabrics fresh and the air clean, so I could spritz closets, pillows, couch, desk chair, and various and sundry blankets and linens. Spray enough of this stuff and it could set up its own atmosphere in which my own bathing failure may be a mere blip on the environmental radar.

Flower over-power!
AIR FRESHNERS: Dangle a couple of these babies on your person and the hint of stale sweat would be a blessed relief. Talk about your crowd clearer – five more minutes with the new “magnolia” fresheners and both my nephew and I would have succumbed. (The little black tree wasn't so bad, but what kind of a scent is “black ice”?)

Nice effect, Keith!

SCENTED CANDLES: OK, these can work. Scented wax can fill the house and mask a plethora of unwanted odors, but you run the risk of burning down your home. You can try carrying a few around with you, like a pale reflection of Brigit, Goddess of Fire, but nothing in the house will get accomplished unless you don't mind singed paperwork, smoldering towels, and shih tzu hot wax treatments.

Even Rufus turns upwind!

When all else fails, SECULSION: The hallway is where Rufus stays when I'm out of the house. Well, actually it's the hallway, kitchen, bedroom and den. His reward for keeping to the back of the house is a nice slice of cheese. Should I start smelling like a Rufus treat, it may be time to separate me from polite society. Thankfully, I don't know anyone in polite society. My friends will just have to stay on the opposite side of the gate, burning sticks of incense to the new incarnation of the Earth Goddess. Trust me, after three months of “external fixation” nothing's gonna be “earthier” than I.

So, there you have it: my Samhain with a capital “S”.
Just ducky.
I'll keep you all posted. Perhaps “Dr. Deformity” has some ideas of his own. (Please, Old Ones, if you love me! Kat doesn't want to be a cootie-head.)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Going To The Dogs...

Things are looking down at the Clark household. Apparently, I'm going to need surgery for the ulcer after all. It will involve removing bone, grafting bone and welding the entire thing together with metal plates and screws. The risks are high. (If I hear one more word about amputation I'm going to gnaw the foot off myself!) Recovery time will take weeks – and I have to remain non-weight bearing.

Last time I faced this non-weight bearing situation, I propelled myself through the house on a wheelie stool. Well, wheelies, don't fail me now!

Time spent mending can be very lonely. Thankfully I have friends and family to check on me, a new manuscript to work on, and my one constant companion: Satan in a fur suit.

My Rufus came to me 6 years and 20 lbs ago (his 20 lbs, not mine!) My sister was bound and determined that I should have a shih tzu (my Chow LuLu had died the week before), and I was bound and determined to get a female. We traveled to Amish country to the only breeder who had weened pups, and sat down in the greeting room to interview for my new dog.

Out came the females. One look at me, and they uniformly ran and hid behind my buddy Claude. I felt like I had a sign over my head that blinked “dog eater” in Chinese. With a sigh, I asked the breeder if there were any males.

“You wanted a female,” she said.
“I want the right dog,” I replied.
While shaking her head, she scooped up the girls and disappeared. Moments later, she returned and held out a male, who apparently read the sign over my head and started to whine. Then... she held out a little pup who took one look at me and started to wag his tail and pump his little legs. The moment she set him on the carpet, he zoomed up to me like a wind up toy, jumped in my lap and kissed my chin.

Enter into my life one Rufus T. Firefly Clark.

Objects in photo may be less innocent than they appear

We have been inseparable ever since. Honestly. He sits against my butt on the couch, sleeps against my butt at night, HAS to come into the bathroom with me's like I've sewn a shih tzu to my ass. He learned early on that Mama falls asleep on the couch. Zippers are easy to open and Velcro is a joke. Open the right things in Mama's pocketbook and you can find her green paper collection. It makes nice confetti!!
(They say that shih tzus are the souls of monks not holy enough for Paradise. I think my little tzu use to rob the temple treasury.)

Is this all you got?

Although I thought this dog was dumb as a box of rocks for wanting to come home with me, nothing could be farther from the truth. One of the first associations he made was “Do trick – get cheese.” It was only a matter of weeks before he mastered shake, speak, sit up, and high five. ( I TOLD you he gained 20 lbs!).

Then came the biggest trick of all. I wanted him to say “Mama.” It took a while. He can only whisper it, but he definitely says “Mama.”
“Who loves you?”
Who do YOU love?”
“Who gives you cheese?”
I make him work for it.

Of course, he now uses it as a question and a criticism – just like a kid. If I drop something heavy and startle him, I get a loud “MAMA!”
“OK OK! Sorry I scared you!”
If he wants to go outside, he now taps on the door with his two front feet. “Mama?”
“Yes – you can go outside.”
...and when I had to board him for a week last year, the first night back in our own bed, he curled up against my neck, licked my cheek, and whispered “Mama” before falling asleep.

How could you NOT give him cheese?

The Rufie and Mama

So now – he will have the run of the house, and me, for over a month. It won't be long before he figures out I won't be able to catch him. Four wheels don't equal two legs in the shih tzu Olympics. However, I still hold the upper hand.

Rufus can't open the refrigerator door.

I can easily become “the Cheese Nazi.” (“So.. who's yer Mama now, Puppy Boy?”)

Surgery is in the beginning of November. I wasn't going to chance something like this during Samhain Season.

Wish me luck.