Saturday, July 29, 2006

War Stories

So long, boys, you can take my place,
I got my papers, I got my pay,
So pack my bags and I'll be on my way,
to Yellow River.....
("Yellow River", 1970, Christie)

Ah, I can see that I'm moody again if I'm singing War Songs like "Yellow River". That song always did bring tears to my eyes. Maybe I'm melancholy because an Old Friend and I spent the day telling War Stories. (However, I have no idea what caused my mood yesterday when I was singing an old Burger King jingle.)

Anyway, I had coffee with an Old Friend. She's a Road Nurse like me but is now running her own company. Lucky stiff--she put in her years on the streets and has finally achieved that nirvana state that every hard-working Road Nurse dreams of: laying down the stethoscope and working the desk job. I was surprised to receive her sudden phone call because I hadn't seen her in awhile. Small towns being as they are, I figured that she must have "heard something" about me taking a sabbatical from my job. But I was less than 48 hours into the sabbatical and was somewhat surprised that the gossip had spread that quickly, since her small town is 40 miles away from my small town. Let's see....I think that there's an old algebra problem that can assist in solving this issue....

"If gossip leaving Small Town A is traveling on the Interstate towards Small Town B at 32 miles an hour, and some even better gossip from Small Town B is traveling up the Interstate towards Small Town A at 45 miles an hour-- and Lutie-June Hodgkins skips a WMU meeting on Wednesday night--- but Elsie Mae Troodle makes an extra trip to Walmart because she forgot to buy "Nilla" Vanilla Wafers for her banana puddin'... At WHAT POINT does the gossip meet on the Interstate? (Assuming, of course, that only 30 % of the population of truckers chose Meat Loaf Day at one of the 2 truck stop cafes on the Interstate.)

Well, the correct answer is "FAST", of course! Around here it's approximately 20 miles per day, so my Old Friend was right on time in calling me to inquire about "what was I doing?" on my sabbatical.

"Come down for coffee! We can talk about old times!" she lured. And so I went. We settled into the leather chairs of her cushy office for a nice little chat and some coffee. I knew the real reason she wanted to see me, of course--it had something to do with employment-- but we danced around awhile at first.

Not having seen each other for a long time called for a discussion of old times and mutual acquaintances. We also discussed our amazement that we, ourselves, are "still standing"-- as this particular field of employment has been known to chew up and spit out less hardy souls. Personally, many of us believe that one has to be slightly crazy (okay, maybe a lot crazy) to enter this field in the first place. To survive it on a daily basis requires even more lunacy.

And most people are in no doubt about the state of my own mental health because I entered this field after years of working in Emergency Rooms--which is a definite sign of clinical insanity in itself.

So we talked and chatted for hours, reminiscing and laughing about our job and all the other Road Nurses we've known, worked with, or simply heard about. Which then progressed into the inevitable War Stories about certain Road Nurses...the memorable ones...those whose adventures became part of The Legend and Lore of Road Nurses.....

Although I firmly believe that it definitely takes a "strong personality" to function as a Road Nurse in any state of the country-- since this is a job whereby a nurse has to be a jack-of-all-trades with the ability to make decisions independently in sometimes very strange and unusual circumstances-- there's definitely another factor about it here. Because, after all, this is Texas. And I've got to say that I've practiced my profession just about everywhere, but the population here in Texas is just completely different than in any of the other states that I've ever nursed in. The people here simply haven't changed very much since the days of Mr. Bowie and Mr. Houston.

People here still call ladies or women older than them "Ma'am". People here still say the blessing before they eat their meal-- even if they're in McDonalds. And the bootlegger is the most important guy in town. (Except for the preacher, of course, but that's a given--and I hear he's the bootlegger's best customer...)

I've heard of many a local court-room drama in which a criminal who was attempting a plea-bargain would rather betray his own grandmother before he'd give up the name of his bootlegger--no matter HOW MUCH jail time it would save him.

("But Your Honor! If I tell on my bootlegger he'll never sell to me again! And then what would I do???")

(And of course the Judge and the District Attorney completely understand, and so they don't hold it against him in the plea bargain-- because they're also among the bootlegger's best customers and they would never give his name up either....)

What was I talking about? Oh yes, Texas!

Yes, this is Texas. There are still shoot-outs, cowboys, sheriffs, posses, and hound dogs called "Ole Blue" here. People here still "Swing Your Pardner!"

Thus, Road Nursing around here can be an interesting business. And I've known some interesting Road Nurses, a variety of characters who chose to take on this lifestyle with their own particular brand of Texan-ness. And sometimes you just have to admire some of them....those whose unique skills and abilities live on in Road Nurse Lore for generations....

Many of their stories are told and retold, whispered about with awe... in hushed tones.....

Legendary Texan Road Nurses..... Jenny-Lou: Who was on a traffic-jammed Interstate one day, spotted a suicidal pregnant woman on an overpass who was trying to climb over the railings to jump to her death--and actually pulled over on an Interstate. She clawed her way up the steep embankment to the overpass, climbed onto the walkway, and talked the woman into not jumping until the police could arrive and take over the situation. The whole episode was on the news that night and her best friend saw it and thought: "Oh that's where she was. I wondered why she didn't answer her cell phone." Sally-Ann: Who once went on a visit to a patient's home which was so filthy and infested with vermin that cockroaches and ants actually crawled up her legs while she was performing wound care for her patient. When she was finished with the visit, she simply drove to a Walmart, bought new clothes and soap, stripped nekkid in the bathroom to clean up and change clothing, threw her roach and ant-infested clothing into the trash bin-- and continued on her way..... Jo-Jo: Who always went on her patient visits in a huge pick-up truck sporting a gunrack (with shot-guns) and a big sign which declared: "In Texas We Don't Call 911"... Marve-Ann: Who was once in a car accident in dangerous gang territory in a large Texan city, her vehicle having been rammed accidentally by some drunk, gun-toting gang members who had run a red light. She got out of her car to exchange insurance information. And she lived.

Lynnie-Jane: Who was married to a tattoo-covered biker man, and whose desk in the office sported a framed 8 X 10 picture of him waving a machete while sitting on a motorcycle painted with coffins and skeletons ---and she was never once offended when her boss would turn that picture face-down during office inspections by the big shots.

Wendy Sue: Who once got lost in a corn field. She kept taking various wrong turns which always returned her to the exact same starting point. Every time she turned a corner and realized that she was right back to where she had started from it spooked her. Finally, she became so frightened that she started bawling and called the office on her cell phone. A secretary answered and Wendy Sue exclaimed: "Oh Lord, I think I'm in the 'Children of the Corn' movie!" To which the non-plussed secretary replied: "Just keep going straight until you get to a town. If there's a bunch of kids and no adults there, you're screwed. Otherwise, you definitely need to take a few days off from work."

Lu-Lu: Who knew the exact location of every single convenience store bathroom in the State of Texas. One day she accidentally dropped her beeper into the toilet at the filthiest bathroom of them all. And she reached in to retrieve it. She cleaned it off, dried it off, clipped it back onto her belt-- and it beeped. And her first thought was "Thank God it still works--Lynnie Jane is going to beep me when it's time to meet for a drink at Chili's." Ellie-Jo: Who couldn't stop nagging a stubborn patient about taking their medicine so that they could avoid medical problems. She nagged and nagged yet the patient still wouldn't listen to her. When that patient finally DID get into a problem and was rushed to the Emergency Room by ambulance-- Ellie Jo then drove 15 miles to the hospital, strode into the Emergency Room, entered that patient's cubicle and declared: "I told you so." Puddin'-Malloy: Who once desperately four-wheeled it during a rainstorm through miles of cow pastures, dodging wet cows, fording rain-swollen creeks, getting stuck repeatedly in the mud, and then finally slogged it through one last muddy field to reach the ranch house. When she triumphantly climbed down out of her vehicle she was confronted by an angry rancher in overalls who yelled: "You jest ran over Maw's garden!" To which she replied strongly: "I'm your nurse and I'm here to draw your blood!"

To which the rancher replied (as any self-respecting Texan would) to her accidental use of the gun-fight challenging use of the word "draw": "DRAW? What are you gonna do--shoot me? I'd like to see you try."

To which (as the legend is told) Puddin' then took a Clint Eastwood-like stance, gripped her nurse pack at her hip like a six-shooter pistol, gritted her eyes, spit, and then yelled: "FINE! Now if you'll just let me come in outta this rain to get your blood, it would certainly MAKE MY DAY!"

(I'm not sure about the spitting part. It's part of the legend-- but Road Nurses have been known to exaggerate for effect. However, it was a Texan nurse after all, and one never knows.....)

Sugar James: Who always had a terrible fear of insects. One day she knocked on the door of a farmer's house, but as the farmer opened the door to let her in, suddenly the largest bumble-bee Sugar'd ever seen swooped down near her head. They say she broke the local record for the 100-yard dash as she tore ass away from that bumble-bee. For ever afterward, the only thing that farmer would say to her, every time she ever went to see him, was: "Nurse, you shore can move....."


Dandy-Lee WinBaker: Who could do the "Cotton Eye Joe" dance better than anybody in the State of Texas-- but always stubbornly refused to yell "Bull Shit!" at the right times during the dance, yelling "Bull Puckey!" instead. (But this abhorent behavior was tolerated because her mother is from South Carolina, and it is a well known fact that no True Lady in South Carolina has ever said the word "Bull Shit" in her entire life.) (And also Dandy-Lee was afraid that if her mother had ever heard that she'd said it in public she'd have driven the entire distance from South Carolina to Texas to whup her butt.)

The list goes on and on.....

What was I talking about?

Oh yes, my coffee chat with my Old Friend.

After we chatted awhile, soon enough the real topic for her invitation came up. There was no dilly-dallying around once she got to it because we both knew she wanted me to come work for her company. And we both knew that I was looking for a lower stress level these days, having become somewhat exhausted with the frantic and soul-sapping pace of my current company.

She simply stated: "I'll give you $2.00 more per hour than you're already making-- and you only have to take on-call every 4 weeks."

As I considered this inviting proposal, she threw in the clincher: "And just think, you'll be back in your same old territory which means that you could hang out and have your secret gossip-breaks at Taco Bell with your buddies from your old company just like you used to do."

"I'll take it," I said. And the deal was done.

As I was leaving town to return home, I congratulated myself on the fact that since I'd only been in the "downtown" area on this trip, I had not had to encounter any nasty bulls or livestock.

I pulled into a local drugstore to buy a Pepsi for the return drive back up the Interstate. And then a large truck towing a livestock trailer pulled into the drugstore's parking lot right next to me.....

Cannon fire lingers in my mind,

I'm so glad that I'm still alive,

And I've been gone for such a long time

from Yellow River....

Yellow River, Yellow River,

is in my mind and in my eyes,

Yellow River, Yellow River,

is in my blood, it's the place I love......

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Thursday, July 27, 2006

An Announcement from The Message Goat

(tap tap tap on the microphone.....) ("Is this dang new microphone working? Why can't we just do this where we used to, the old way, in the back pasture? I can't abide this alfalfa hay....) (No, I can't take a cell phone call from Nanny-Goat right now--I told her never to to call me at work...") (I'm ON? Well, why didn't you tell...") Ahem. Ladies and Gentlemen, I have an announcement to make about The Bohemian Knitter. As you all know, The Bohemian Knitter recently took a sabbatical from her usual job. She had great plans on having time to do her laundry and color her roots. Anyway, it seems that there has been an interesting new development.... (suddenly, there's heard some loud shouting coming from the back of the pasture, near the Chipmunks Gallery, from a cow wearing a white T-shirt!....) "STOP THE SOY CAMPAIGN! STOP THE SOY CAMPAIGN! SEND OUR COWS BACK TO THE DAIRY!!!! STOP THE SOY CAMPAIGN!!! HAVEN'T ENOUGH COWS BEEN PUT OUT OF WORK BY THIS EVIL EMPIRE???" "Er....I'll...aaah....just wait a moment here until the..." "STOP THE SOY CAMPAIGN!!! IT'S TIME TO GET MILK!!! GET MILK! GET MILK! GET MILK! "Er...okay, I'll just continue when the order has been established when the...uh...Donkey Patrol can please remove" (shouting from the protesting cow fades away into the distance as the Donkey Patrol escorts the cow out of the pasture and away from the meeting....)

GET MILK! GET MILK! GET MILK! Get Milk!........

(Order is restored.)

Okay, thank you, Donkey Patrol. Anyway, as I was saying. I have an announcement to make about Bohemian Knitter. As you all know, Bohemian Knitter had recently taken on a new assignment in a new territory. She loves her new territory, her patients there, and all of her contacts in the Organization of Animals community there. She was very reluctant to take the sabbatical because she is rather a work-a-holic who loves the wide open spaces and freedom of the road in the Wild Wild West. However, due to recent events, she became exhausted, worn out, and needed a break to take a breather and re-evaluate her stress level.

And although Bohemian Knitter loves to pieces all her many friends in her current company, Bohemian Knitter's current company management has recently made budget cut-backs, slashing staffing, causing continual over-working of employees-- which then stretched many of their available Road Nurses to the breaking points....

And, thus, Road Nurse was using this sabbatical to re-evaluate her stress level....

Anyway, this morning there came a new development. This morning she received an unexpected telephone call about 10 am from one of her Old Friends, a Fellow Road Nurse of Legend and Lore. This Old Friend of hers asked Bohemian Knitter how she was doing on her sabbatical. (As you know from before, these types of phone calls are sometimes made during times of Road Nurse shortages in the cut-throat world of Road Nursing.) And um....Bohemian Knitter's exact reply was something to the effect of: "Dang it! I thought I was going to sneak away and do my laundry and my roots! You can't even fart around here without everybody knowing which way the....." Oh, no, that's not right-- I meant that she replied: "Oh, why, I am having my nice sabbatical, Old Friend, Fellow Road Nurse of Legend and Lore." Anyway, Bohemian Knitter's Old Friend, Fellow Road Nurse of Legend and Lore, runs another Road Nurse company---and its headquarters are located in Bohemian Knitter's old territory, the one she was working in before she transferred to her new assignment. (You know, the territory which contains that place where the Bull-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named almost mauled her in the dirt at the Rickenbocker Ranch!.....) Bohemian Knitter's Old Friend, Fellow Road Nurse of Legend and Lore, asked if Bohemian Knitter would come "have coffee with her tomorrow morning"..... This is a significant development in the current Wild Wild West Situation. Thus, I would like to put all the animals on alert should we see Bohemian Knitter's Jeep coming down the Interstate. Please don't aggravate her or do anything to piss her off in her current mood--as there may be something cooking in terms of Bohemian Knitter returning to her old territory.

Because who knows what goes on in Bohemian Knitter's head?

(As a matter of fact, who the hell knows what goes on in ANY of those crazy Road Nurses' heads????)

All we know is that we miss Bohemian Knitter and want her to return to her original territory where most of us are located. Which would also mean that we could then again amuse ourselves once again by messing with her head and causing her to get into a flap on a daily basis again. Remember how fun that was?

Hah! I'll NEVER forget the time she slipped and sat in that cow pie when she tried to kick BoDidley-the-Dog for biting that stupid calf! Remember what a scream that was?-- Hee Hee!! Oh, er....I mean, I miss Bohemian Knitter very much and I hope that she has a fun time having coffee with her Old Friend, Fellow Road Nurse of Legend and Lore.... That is all. I will make further announcements as new developments occur.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Bombardiers & Birdhouses

I blaze with a deep southern magic. The bombardiers taxi at noon. There is screaming and grief in the mansions and the moon is a heron on fire. Man wonders but God decides When to kill the Prince of Tides...... (Pat Conroy, "The Prince of Tides")
I remember that in my first posting to this blog that I had quoted part of Pat Conroy's poem-- and that I had promised to tell you some other day what happens when "the bombardiers taxi at noon".
And I guess now is a good time to tell... But FIRST and foremost, I need to tell you that words just absolutely cannot express my humble gratitude and thankfulness to you, my readers-- each and every one of you--for your wonderful support and prayers. Simply saying "thank you" seems so inadequate for the magnitude and depth of how grateful I am for your support-- and how overwhelmed with joy I felt when I finally got released from the psychiatric hospital and was able to read your comments--which I read over and over, every one of them (and I bawled like a baby.)

You kind and generous people were constantly in my thoughts while I was there--and those thoughts of you sustained me in my darkest hours. And they gave me a flicker of hope... Because hope is something that dies a slow, painful death in many an alcoholic who is trying to stay sober when they, again, take that drink--knowing that they are poisoning not only their body but their very soul.

You are angels on earth--and please know that I love you with all my heart. In my ongoing efforts to stay sober you, too, will be in my daily prayers. I not only thank God daily for you-- but I will pray, too, that you may also gain relief from your own troubles in daily life.

Yes, troubles in life....

I came out of the hospital with my usual attitude--which is that I tend to hide my misery by trying to laugh about circumstances. Because if I wasn't able to laugh about something bad, I'd be crying....

And let me tell you, it was a real stretch this time to find a way to laugh....

But like good ole Douglas MacArthur, I went in saying "I shall return"--and by golly I did return.

Although there's an old saying that "every cloud has a silver lining", it's pretty difficult to see any silver linings when they haul you into a looney bin. And yes, they put me into the psychotic ward first. They took away all my belongings, especially sharp objects, and handed me back just a few pairs of sweatpants and shirts, with the explanation that they didn't want me to "have anything I could hurt myself with". They even took away my shoelaces. Now, what I wanted to know was this-- how in the hell could I hurt myself with stupid shoelaces? They aren't long enough to hang yourself with......

dang me, dang me.... (Oh no no no!!! Not the Dang Me song again! Good Lord, I thought, had it been a premonition?!! Let me change the subject quickly.....) Anyway, once in the psychotic ward of the looney bin I immediately thought "somebody get me out of here!" Of all the wards to put me on, I mean, couldn't they have put me on the mood disorder ward where the patients are being treated for depression? I am not ridiculing psychotic mental disease by any means-- but I felt that I was certainly coherent and not hallucinating or anything. So why in the Sam Hill did they put me on the psychotic ward? I wasn't hallucinating....I swear.....

Okay, may possibly have been related to the fact that I kept closing my eyes tightly and clicking my heels together, chanting over and over:

there's no place like home there's no place like home......

But it didn't work. After several unsuccessful tries I opened my eyes-- and upon finding myself still in the psychotic ward I stated to the startled doctor who was trying to examine me: "Dang it, I'm still here. It must not work with sneakers. Where is Glenda The Good Witch when you need her? Sheesh."

So there I found myself, in a ward with some very psychotic people. I felt like I was in the bizarro world of Pee-Wee Herman's Playhouse-- only there was no nice Chairy nor any good-looking Cowboys to look at. In fact, the day room's benches were rather uncomfortable and the only cowboy I noticed was an old man wearing cowboy boots who wouldn't talk but would constantly make the Woody Woodpecker noise:

"Uh uh uh UH UH,
uh uh uh UH UH,

God, there were times when I thought that if he made that Woody Woodpecker noise ONE MORE TIME that I WOULD become psychotic.... I began to mill around the day room like the others, wandering around waiting to see the doctor, waiting for meal time, waiting to get my blood drawn, waiting for anything to break the monotony, boredom, and the misery of detoxing from alcohol. Detoxing from alcohol addiction is no picnic--let me tell you that the medicines that they give you for the withdrawal may save you from the risk of seizures and the worst of the DT's, but it still doesn't take away the miserable symptoms of feeling like you're going to crawl right out of your skin and run screaming down the street like a madwoman.

But soon enough, I simply accepted my surroundings and began to think of the day room's plastic benches as nice Chairy's that I could talk to. (They had no choice--they HAD to listen.) And I found that if I squinted in just the right way while looking at the male patients, I could almost imagine them looking like Pee-Wee Herman's Playhouse Cowboy (as long as they didn't make the Woody Woodpecker noise....)

there's no place like home there's no place like home.....

Most of the other patients were actively psychotic, saying the most off-the-wall things you can imagine. One girl kept asking me if I was "trying to kill her".

I repeatedly told her that I was definitely NOT trying to kill her. She replied: "Yes you are or I wouldn't still be here."

I replied: "Guess you didn't have any Ruby Slippers either."

And she said: "Nope, just some old Hushpuppies."

When they finally moved me to the mood disorder ward, I was actually sorry to go. I had begun to like my buddies on the psychotic ward. They accepted me completely. They never once looked at me strangely or questioned my sanity--which happens a lot in my "real life" outside the hospital! (Hmmm.......)

When I got to the mood disorder ward I was allowed to go to the therapy groups. I read the schedule they gave me and was gratified to see that there was an "Arts & Crafts" therapy group, thank God. Being a knitter, you can imagine that anything remotely related to creating anything with color would definitely be appealing. Especially when most of your day is spent wandering aimlessly in the halls of your ward or else going to "serious" groups and listening to counselors beating your alcoholic sins into your head.

Because the "serious" therapy groups were rough. The first day, I went to one where we had to go around the room and introduce ourselves and tell everybody else "why we were there". I felt very shameful and humble when I mumbled my own introduction: "Um...yes...I'm Bohemian Knitter and I'm here to withdraw from alcohol addiction."

Then the guy next to me said: "I'm Mr. So-and-So and I'm here because I murdered my neighbor."


there's no place like home there's no place like home.....

Finally, I was allowed to go to the Arts & Crafts therapy group. Now, let me just tell you an aside here: I have been in alcohol treatment centers and psychiatric hospitals many times before in my life. And I have always made it a habit to give the stuff I make in Arts & Crafts group to my mother.

I mean, being a knitter, I tend to like to give away the things I make, be it a knitted garment or something from the Arts & Crafts group from the looney bin. And let me tell you-- as many times as I've been in treatment centers or psychiatric hospitals--I could decorate an ENTIRE house with the things I've made. You name it, I've made it in an Arts & Crafts therapy group...

So finally I got to line up with everybody else to go to the Arts & Crafts room. .

just follow the Yellow-Brick Road

just follow the Yellow-Brick Road....

Once there, the counselor informed us that we would be making "bead bracelets and necklaces".

Being the smart-aleck that I am, I could not RESIST asking: "Why in the hell is it okay to string beads onto a leather necklace here but yet I cannot have my stupid shoelaces? What if someone hangs themself on their beaded necklace, huh? Did you ever think about that? Huh? I mean, the logic here just doesn't make sense..."

I would have continued this soliloquy but she interrupted me, looked at me evenly and replied: "Will you please sit down and cooperate or you will not be allowed to come to Arts & Crafts Therapy anymore."

I sat down and shutted up.

She started passing out the beading supplies and I couldn't help myself--I had to say something again. Although I did change my verbalization to a more polite tone, I figured that if my hard-earned insurance dollars were paying about two zillion dollars a day for this then I wanted to have SOME choices for my money's worth!

"I'm sorry," I told her, "No can do. I have already made my mother about 1,000 beaded necklaces and bracelets when I was in other looney bins. Could I please have something else to make--something I haven't already made for her?"

The counselor sighed and rolled her eyes, replying: "Alright. How about painting these little mosaic plaques?" I looked at what she was pointing at. They were little plastic plaques with pictures of giraffes or dragon-flies on them--they were supposed to resemble stained glass once you got them painted. Hardly! I thought.

"Nope," I stated evenly. "My mother is a bonafide artist--and she works with REAL mosaics and stained glass--and she'd rather die a thousand deaths than hang up a fake plastic one. Please, isn't there something else?"

Now the counselor was starting to get a little exasperated with me. I was clearly upsetting her desired order of things in her Arts & Crafts group and I'm sure she was about to throw me out altogether.

Sighing pointedly, she exclaimed: "Now listen here. It's not like we're Hobby Lobby here! The only other thing I've got is these little wooden birdhouses that you could put together and paint."

"Yes!" I cried exuberantly, "That's perfect! My mother COLLECTS birdhouses! Lemme make one of those!"

And so I did. I made my mother a birdhouse.

For days I worked on this dumb little birdhouse. But it's hard to do when you're on medication which makes you see double and the psychotic patient next to you keeps reaching for something, accidentally brushing against your freshly-painted birdhouse, smearing your paint job. But dang it, I made that stupid birdhouse.

Now, I wouldn't call it "high art" but it's a birdhouse, okay? And since there's not much excitement when you're in a looney bin, I was rather pleased that I had actually "made something".

As I sat there admiring my finished birdhouse, the patient sitting next to me remarked: "You should have made a belfry."

But I had a quick retort. "For your information," I replied acidly, leveling what I thought was a "steely cold glare" at the wise-en-heimer, "but my mother does NOT collect belfries."

He couldn't think of a good reply and kept silent. Hah, I thought. Fixed his little red wagon.

* * * * * *


"People say I'm the life of the party

Because I tell a joke or two,

Although I might be laughing loud and hearty

Deep inside I'm blue...

So take a good look at my face--

You'll see my smile looks out of place--

If you look closer, it's easy to trace

the tracks of my tears........"

(Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, "The Tracks of My Tears")

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Unscheduled message from the Message Goat.....

Ahem: I must make a sad announcement here. And I won't try to candy-coat it nor play down the seriousness of it. But The Bohemian Knitter has unfortunately "relapsed" in her disease of alcoholism and chronic depression. And thus, she is at this moment engaged into gaining entry into a "treatment facility" in order to help her get off the alcohol that is her deadly enemy--and also to find relief from the depression. Her exact words were: "These dratted diseases are going to kill me." But I do believe that The Bohemian Knitter is a stubborn sort---I've seen her knocked down before with this disease. She always got up and kept plugging onwards, trying desperately to stay sober. She asked me to ask you guys for your prayers in this current set-back.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Old Nightmares....and Why I Bought the Jeep

Home sweet home... Alas, but I'm going through a melancholy period here. Perhaps it was the dentist, or perhaps it was the subsequent vsits to a doctor for other issues (which I won't bore you with), but suddenly things have caught up with me. And when I get into this "melancholy" mood, I start reflecting on the past. That behavior may or may not be healthy, depending upon the reflection. For example, I realized that I always talk only about my present-day assignments. And with that realization also comes my feelings of just how lucky that I am to work where I work these days--versus some of the other work territories that I've worked. (As an aside here--remind me also, some day, to tell you of my years in emergency rooms--but for now I'll only talk of my experiences as a Road Nurse.... )

I don't know if I've admitted it here before, but Texas is not only my home-- but it is also my refuge. I have come here to escape the past..... but the past has a nasty way of haunting one's dreams....

I do love Texas. My father was born near here and my mother was raised in a "neighbor state", Louisiana. My father was a true Texan Gentleman and my mother is a beautiful Southern Lady.

Texans are my people, and now I'm here for good. But it was a long time coming because I haven't always lived or worked here. There were the other times..... I have been married a couple of times and my ex-husbands' jobs (one worked for IBM and the other worked in construction) took us all over the country-- and so I've lived and worked in many other states of the United States. As for being married multiple times--well, as a little twist on that old country western song: "All my ex'es DON'T live in Texas".....heh heh... After my latest divorce I decided to finally come home and settle near my mother, here in Texas.

In the last couple of days I've had some time to reflect on the awesome natural beauty of this area. Of course I'm prejudiced because it's my home-- but I'd still like to mention that on those days when I slow down enough to take a few minutes out of my manic routine to look at my lovely surroundings and the gorgeous scenery-- it really does make my heart sing, especially when I think back on the jobs I mentioned above in other territories--where there no such luxuries... For example, today, while driving through the countryside I watched while on several farms the spring colts "were running" with their buddies, scampering up and down through the pastures as their mothers grazed and watched nearby. Just happy-go-lucky colts as beautiful as they come, i.e. ponies, thoroughbreds, or Arabian babies---although I prefer those gorgeous paint ponies. Anyway, I love to watch them. I love to watch the young spring colts actually kick up their heels--kind of like the way donkeys do--simply because they're having fun while cavorting out in the tall Texas grasses.

To me, there is nothing more precious than to catch a glimpse of a young horse running through the green Texan pastures--running in the wind, the sun shining off its coat, with its mane and tail flying wildly-- racing with one or two of it's buddies.... And if I'm fortunate enough to catch a sight of those magical paint ponies running in the wind together..... aaah....then I have been truly fortunate to have seen what I consider a Postcard From God. I am always grateful for such sightings in my travelings--and I watch for them. The wildlands of Texas have many beautiful creatures to behold besides the horses, including the various types of cows, the sheep..... ducklings following mother ducks...calves following their mothers....raccoons and armadillos hiding in road ditches. There's also the shy deer, with their baby fawns, cautiously feeding in woodland thickets. And plenty of chipmunks and squirrels scampering away from my Jeep. And yes....I'll allow that even the baby donkeys can be cute.

I've even come to love the menu at my new drive-in--it's pretty graphic-- and you can pay right there while a car-hop comes to bring you your food:

But lest I get too maudlin or melancholy here, I will go ahead here and tell you about some of my former, less fun, experiences that I endured as a Road Nurse in other states. Those times I mentioned above when I worked in other areas.... Once upon a time, I worked in the Kansas City area for years.

Kansas City is a town where the state line runs right down through the middle of the city. On one side there's Kansas and on the other side there's Missouri. The thing about being a Road Nurse there was that you had to be very flexible---and I mean veeeery flexible. And extremely street-wise. And very cautious....and I mean veeeery cautious. Because one minute you would be assigned to see patients in the very dangerous inner city, but the next minute you could be way out in the corn fields (on either side of the state line) into the farm lands. Going out into the cornfields to see patients was nothing, because that was considered safe--but the inner city was a WHOLE DIFFERENT STORY ENTIRELY.....

And the whole reason I bought the Jeep was because of one of my experiences in the inner city of Kansas City. Kansas City is a wonderful town and I truly loved it-- but unfortunately there is a "dangerous inner city" area there---very dangerous. The area I'm talking about is mostly located on the east side of town, and its "gang territory" stretches for miles and miles to the east, across the state line, all the way to Independence, Missouri.

And I spent about 4 years being a Road Nurse there. And I'm proud to say that I lived to tell the tale....

To be honest, Road Nurses there had to be pretty brave (veeery brave) and resourceful to boot. You had to be able to "check the scene out" when you arrived at a location to make a patient visit. And if the scene on the street "didn't look right" or your instincts caused you to get goose bumps, then you'd best not do the visit and come again some other time. More than one time my company's nurses experienced some "close calls". We received frequent lectures from the police about how to get more "street smart". (Actually, one of those cops who talked to us made the statement: "You'd have to be a damn idiot to go in there.") Alghough we were always grateful for the cops' lectures, we knew that we STILL had to get in there to see our patients!! There was simply no choice. We Road Nurses knew about the dangerous areas-- and so the way we used to deal with the situation was this: we simply performed our patient visits only during certain hours--the time frame which we figured that the local "criminals" were asleep---which was between the hours of about 11 am and 2pm.

That's a pretty narrow window for getting your patient visits in for the day but we abided by that rule religiously. And if you were on-call and a call came to go to that area at night---fuhgetaboutit (or in a slightly more polite phrase: forget about it) because you wouldn't even consider going into there at night. But even following these prudent behaviors didn't always save us from danger.... One day I was in east Kansas City seeing an elderly couple of patients who I was very fond of. They had once given me a kitten from a stray cat's litter--who had deposited her babies under their own hedge. (I named her "Little Baby" and my ex-husband still has her-- and he frequently puts her up to the phone to talk to me every now and then for "visitation rights".)

Anyway, the bad incident occurred after I had finished the visit on the patients-- and I was in the process of walking through their front yard while waving goodbye at them as they stood on their front porch waving goodbye at me in return.

I was heading for my current vehicle at the time, an Isuzu SUV. (The Isuzu SUV didn't have four wheel drive. But it was such a big SUV with impressive snow and mud tires that I had bought it anyway, figuring that I wouldn't really need 4-wheel drive.)

Anyway, there I was, strolling away from my patients towards my Isuzu, turning around to "wave goodbye" at them as they stood on their house's porch. At that exact same moment, a female mail carrier was just coming up their walkway to put their mail into their mailbox. All of a sudden we heard screeching tires and a car-engine gunning--

and then the shots rang out,

practically bursting my ear drums.

It was a drive-by shooting.

Someone in that vehicle had leveled a double-barrelled shotgun out of the vehicle's window and fired it off in the direction of the house next door to my patients' house--but they missed!

And do you want to know how I know that they missed? Because you know how when a double-barreled shotgun is discharged that there's those little puffs of smoke that come out of the shotgun's barrells? Well that shotgun had been fired from such a close distance to my head that the little puffs of smoke wafted through the air at my eye level-- not 6 inches from my head. If the shooter had been "off" his mark by just about six more inches--well they say here in Texas, I'd be a daisy!!! When the shots rang out, my poor patients hit the deck and flattened themselves on their porch---and that poor lady mail carrier dropped her mail bag, scattering letters and mail everywhere--and she took off, and I never knew where she ran to. To this day I have no idea what happened to her. I've always wondered WHEN she ever came back to get her mailbag. (Or IF she ever came back...) I don't blame her for getting out of there, though---because that was a terribly dangerous neighborhood. I wouldn't stick around after a shooting, either. Because there's always the chance that the shooters will come back and "check" to see if their target has been eliminated. When this happened, it shocked and traumatized me. I'd always known that I was working in a dangerous place but dang it--I didn't imagine that someone could be such a dang bad shot that they'd accidentally shoot ME, my patients, or an innocent mail carrier in whatever dispute they had with somebody else. For God's sakes, I don't understand the concept of inner city drive-by shooters "missing their marks" and shooting innocent bystanders. Because I'M FROM TEXAS--WE ARE ALL GOOD SHOTS AND USUALLY DON'T MISS!

....Oh heck----and durn it and sigh..... and yes, I realized my gaffe as soon as I typed it......Okay, yes, some of us have "missed" on occasion...... Yep, I admit that I definitely and totally left myself open about this one will try and go on with my story anyway, as gracefully as I can.... (...trying to slink out of the above paragraphs quietly and humbly....) (and being VERY glad that he doesn't read my blog.....)

Anyway, when Texans get into a dispute, they usually settle it by a good ole fashioned, fair, fist fight.....

So anyway here's this yay-hoo criminal shooting blindly out his car window, narrowly missing killing some poor innocent Road Nurse, a mail lady, and my poor patients waving at me on their porch. What kind of animal goes around blindly shooting out car windows? And I ALSO don't believe in drive-by shooters shooting their intended "targets", either---I don't believe in violence in any shape or form---I don't want anybody shot! Why can't people just get along with each other? I just don't understand street violence and I never will. This episode haunts me. It frightened me badly. I wondered what it would be like to live in a neighborhood where you had to worry about drive-by shootings all day long, right in your own front yard? And another thing that makes me mad---Because GEEZ-OH-MAN, Mr. Criminal, I was just there trying my best to take care of people in YOUR neighborhood. I was there to HELP.

Sheesh, if you kill me--then who's going to take care of your sick people? I mean, REALLY? Yes, I was indignant. But it frightened me greatly and I jumped into my Isuzu and tore ass to my own town, kissing the ground when I got there. (Yes, I really did---I kissed the concrete of our house's drive-way.) But yeah, I do remember those years that I worked the streets of Kansas City.

One night I was sitting there having dinner with my husband of those days and that show "Cops" came on the TV. And guess what neighborhood they were in that night? My Road Nurse territory! Which startled the heck out of us both. I almost dropped my fork right into my goulash (Hey, I make excellent goulash. I got the secret recipe from my mother, who got it from her mother.) (The secret is what you do to the celery--but I'm sworn to secrecy like the Chili Beans Dog, Duke, is....) And speaking of the TV, another morning I was having coffee with my husband while we watched the morning news--and they were showing yellow police "Crime Scene Tape" around certain buildings in our own apartment complex. I thought: "NOW WHAT?" (And we lived in what was supposedly to be a "safe" neighborhood.) Anyway--back to the reason I bought the Jeep. I bought it because one winter (and Kansas has some extremely ROUGH winters) I got stuck in a ten-foot patch of ice and snow right in front of the same patients' house where I'd almost been shot in that drive-by shooting. And the nervous hour I spent waiting for a tow-truck to come rescue me convinced me--I needed a Jeep. And so I bought one. I bought one which came with a brochure that said: "General Patton drove this same Jeep through World War II". So I figured that any vehicle that could drive through northern Africa and Europe during World War II must be a halfway decent vehicle for going over/under/around obstacles-- no matter WHAT the weather was--even including ten-foot patches of ice. And I bought the Monster Jeep--and it has extras---it has a 4-wheel drive system that will "shift on the fly" while you're still driving. It has a completely separate electrical system just for ice storms in order to power the back windsheild's defroster and its fog lights in the front. I have totally equipped this Jeep for home health nursing on all terrain and "my daily routine". It even has tow hooks.

On the inside I've got dashboard cellphone holders, coffee cup holders, CD disk holders, file-folders for my patients, cellphone charger cables, ear phones for the IPod, a cord to charge the the Jeep's battery if needed, an ice scraper----this thing isn't just a Jeep--it's like a small tank. It even has floor drains in it so that if I ever have to go over water and some of it gets into the interior--the water will simply drain out. This Jeep is a Monster and has never failed me. Never. (Heck, I've even towed other people out of icy ditches with it myself.) But I don't regret the times I worked in east Kansas City. I loved my patients there. It wasn't their fault that some of the neighborhoods were rough. I remember this one family that had a teeny tiny little chihuahua dog which would perch on my shoulder like a bird while I'd examine his owner. But Kansas City was dangerous on a daily basis there. A Road Nurse there had to be prepared to go into homes where there may be drug or gun dealings going on. And when you knew that, you'd just have to go into the home with a singleminded purpose, showing them that your only interest was to take care of the patient-- and then you would do it--all the while MINDING YOUR OWN BUSINESS and turning your head away from whatever illegal activity was going on--and that was it. There were days when I went into slums and was tending patients who lived in or next to drug houses where there were "pawners". The "pawners" were drug dealers who accepted goods that were worth money in exchange for drugs. It was always so strange to me to be tending a patient in a poverty-stricken slum--while I watched a parade of rich looking lawyers, doctors, or other business people come in and out of pawners' homes to exchange home appliances or other things for drugs. I mean, there I'd be, tending a sick patient in a filthy back room of a tenement apartment (where people were so poor that they barely had enough food to eat and the children were barefooted in the winter snow)---and there'd be rich guys arriving in Mercedes, wearing suits, coming in carrying microwave ovens and blenders to trade for drugs! I remember thinking: "Man, if I was that guy's wife and I came home to find my damn microwave oven or Mr. Coffee Machine gone, I'd snatch him BALD." Oh, gosh, those days were a trip. Eventually you'd get into the "routine of it". Many of your patients' families would try their best to "protect" you. I'd call them prior to my visit and let them know I was coming-- and they'd stand guard at the front door to make sure I made it into their front door safely. They'd station somebody's kid at my vehicle to protect it while I was inside making my visit. Then someone would always escort me back to my vehicle to make sure I made it out of there safely.

Anyway, these are just some ramblings I have in my head--reflections of the days in the inner city. And so I'm very glad that I'm in the place I'm in, now. Somehow, it almost makes facing mean bulls a little less frightening.... And so for now, I keep saying (like Dorothy did) "There's no place like home...there's no place like home".........

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Country Dentist, The Brownie Sundae, and The Birthday Sunday...

It's amazing what I can accomplish when I have time off from work to "clean up" this place. I'm ashamed to say that I am still "unpacking" boxes from when I moved here last October..... and I have finally found things that I thought that I'd lost forever.... For one thing, I finally unpacked a box which actually contains the folder which holds all my pattern designs that I used to sell. (Oh...THAT's where they were.....) Seeing as how we're stuck in summer weather, I thought I'd show a pic here of a summer poncho I designed awhile ago, using cotton yarn, modeled by a buddy of mine. It can be knitted with yarn suited for winter wear also. (I sewed a row of seed pearls onto the collar edge but you can't see them in this pic--and there is a row of crochet along the top of the collar area):

I'd give anything if I could just continue to knit and fiddle around with pattern designs this week but ...AAARGHH.....alas--I had to go back to work....and I'm on-call again! "Dang me, dang me....." ----but NO, I WILL NOT EVEN GO THERE. The last durn time that song got stuck in my head it took three days to get it out. I finally got it out of my consciousness by forcing myself to sing the "Oompa-Loompa" song from the original "Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory" movie--which was no picnic in itself. And to make matters worse this week---I didn't make my "goal" of not bawling while at the dentist, although I wish I could tell you that I did. But...well... I confess--I did end up bawling in public again, sigh....right in the dreaded dentist's chair. I couldn't help it--I was scared to death. Mumsy took me--just as she's taken me to about a zillion other medical appointments. Poor thing had to drive forever to take me because the appointment was in the town where I live, and then she waited for me during the appointment so that she could shepherd me home afterwards, figuring I'd be in a state of shock. (I was very grateful because I've never been brave about medical appointments--and a dentist appointment is the absolute WORST.) This dentist is definitely a country dentist. But I chose him because of the recommendations of my buddies at work. I knew they wouldn't fail me. That's how things are done out here in the "country" ---because, unlike people in the "big city", people out in the country here rarely "look in the yellow pages". Besides, even if you did try to look in the yellow pages for something around here you wouldn't have much luck because our yellow pages are only about 25 pages long--and nobody of any importance puts their business addresses or numbers in there anyway-- because of course everybody knows where everybody else is! If you want to know where somebody is around here you just ask your next door neighbor (or a stranger on the street) and they'll say something like: "Oh, they're yonder by the grocery store about a half a block down to the left of the Tire Place." Our yellow pages usually consist only of entries like the Water Company, The Electric Company, and maybe a couple of Bail-Bondsmen... Yep, word-of-mouth is the way things are done out here. Things are just very different here than in the "big city"--and sure enough, my whole dentist experience truly was completely different from any "big city" dentist experience I'd ever had---because, remember, this is Hicktown USA.... For one thing, he's one of the only three dentists in my town. The miniscule town where I live rivals the teensy size of the town that I work in-- but at least in my own town we've got a "movie rental store", a Walmart, and a couple more fast food places. (Although I think that it's a crying shame that here in this town they decided to combine the Taco Bell with the Kentucky Fried Chicken into ONE drive-thru--can you imagine?--although I will admit that it is sometimes convenient to order a Chimichanga at the same time as ordering a Little Bucket Parfait....) (But still.....there's something WRONG with that.....) We do have a Dairy Queen here, dammit I can't go there anymore because of a temper tantrum I threw there one day. But if you will hear me out, I think you'll agree with me that I was "in the right". There I was in the Jeep,waiting in the drive-thru window at the Dairy Queen, minding my own business while they prepared my order of a hamburger, onion rings, and a "Brownie Crumble Sundae"-- ...when I witnessed with my own eyeballs the girl making my Brownie Crumble Sundae was using her bare hands to put the brownie crumbles onto my ice-cream sundae--oh yes she did!!! She had reached right into the big jar of brownie crumbles with her bare hand, grabbed a big handfull, and then sprinkled them all over my sundae! I was mortified and.... well... I'm a little ashamed to say that I hollered at her. But I had to holler to be heard all the way through my Jeep window, past the noise of the other vehicles idling in the drive-thru-lane, through the tiny Dairy Queen drive-thru window, and then past the rumblings of that huge ice cream machine that Dairy Queen's always got right there by the cash register. So here I was hollering at her through the Jeep's window like a madwoman, saying: "Well, I DECLARE!--You're not actually PUTTING those brownie crumbles onto my ice cream with your bare hands, are you? THAT IS Pure-Dee GROSS! You should use a scooper or something!" Now understand, the cars behind me in the drive-thru lane couldn't care less about my Brownie Crumble Sundae. They, like most cars waiting in drive-thru lanes, wanted me to just shut up, get my food, and hurry up and get out of their way so that they could get their food orders--never suspecting that their Brownie Crumble Sundaes would be made bare-handedly by someone that they didn't know. The whole sight of that girl dangling that handfull of brownie crumbles over my ice cream irked me so much that I decided to leave without it---so I angrily rolled up my window, put the Jeep into gear, and then "peeled rubber" out of that drive-thru lane, screeching the Jeep tires with what I hoped exhibited an "indignant pull-out"-- all while the Dairy Queen girl stared at me in amazement, still holding my sundae in one hand and brownie crumbles in the other hand. (I'm not really sure how to "indignantly pull out of a drive-thru" but I definitely made a wholehearted effort--but I'm also a little glad that the cops weren't around because I think I went "Out" the "In" lane of the whole Dairy Queen complex as I was making my grand exit.) Really, I don't think I was unreasonable about the issue. Now, I'm not accusing her of poor hygiene or anything--but I just think that it was yikky what she did. Would you want someone making your Dairy Queen Brownie Crumble Sundae with their bare hands? I don't think so! (Don't you think she should have used some sort of little scooper or something? Really!!!) (And I've never gone back there since.....) (Oh....excuse me... I got sidetracked. Back to the dentist visit.... ) Meanwhile, back at the Dentist's Office: His office is on a street next to a farm supply store which has a huge, life-sized model of a COW---yes a COW--over it's door. That dang cow is so big that you can see it all the way over to Highway 98 in the fog. In fact, when I called the dentist's office to to ask for directions the nurse simply replied: "We're next door to the big Cow" and I knew exactly where she meant. I mean, I do happen to like "truth in advertising" and everything, but that Cow makes me a little nervous. It's so lifelike that I don't want to walk under it, if you know what I mean. Not wanting to walk under something which manufactures cow-pies is kind of like the same common sense reflex that tells you that you never want to walk directly behind an asshole donkey, or you never want to bend over in front of a ram goat, or you don't yell "Shut the Hell Up!" at bulls who are bellowing at you and stomping in the dirt, or....well, you get the picture...... Anyway, I arrived at my appointment with the dentist and there were two other people also entering into the waiting room, an elderly cowboy and his cowgirl lady. He was dressed to the "cowboy nines" in 'gator cowboy boots, a lovely silver-studded belt adorned with a huge, silver rodeo "prize" belt-buckle, and a Stetson cowboy hat-- which he had reverently removed due to the presence of ladies. And he actually wore spurs on his boots! That completely surprised me because I thought, shoot, he looks too old to be rodeo'ing at his age! I wondered if he wasn't afraid of cutting people with those spurs--but I was impressed all the same. I wondered if he was a famous rodeo star who had retired in my town and just couldn't stop wearing the old jingle-jangles..... He was definitely a gentleman because he had politely held the door open for my mother and me to enter the waiting room. His lady companion was dressed in similar western clothing: "Cruel Girl" blue jeans, a western shirt, high-heeled cowgirl boots, and her blonde hair teased up into a cute, bouffant "flip" held back on one side with a cute red, white & blue glitter hair-clip. But she wasn't wearing spurs. He led her up to the check-in desk, waited while she checked in, and then escorted her back to their chairs to wait. Then I went up to the check-in desk to check in and the receptionist just waved me in, saying knowingly: "Yes, we know who you are, sugar." Well, hummph, I thought. What did that mean?--that dental phobics get some sort of bad reputation or something? But I sat down to wait my turn, my mother sitting next to me in front of the waiting room's tropical fish aquarium. I settled in to be bored by waiting. And at first I thought the two elderly cowboy people were not going to talk. But then.....the elderly cowgirl started talking to the elderly cowboy and I couldn't help overhearing.... In fact, the whole time we were waiting in that waiting room the two conversed about their church's gossip. Yahoo, I thought deliciously! Spurs AND Gossip! And I do love good gossip! And being the gossip hound that I am, I am ashamed to admit here that I failed miserably in my token attempt to try not to eavesdrop. But dang it, church gossip in a small town is usually pretty GOOD GOSSIP. I mean, some of the craziest things I've ever heard have happened in local church congregations. And being that this was a very small dental office, it was hard not to hear them conversing.... She chatted on and on to her escort, in a very pretty Texan drawl, telling him all about her church friends and her church's gossip. I became enthralled. I didn't want to be found out so I pretended to become very interested in the aquarium behind my mother's head-- but I was really leaning over just a little so I could hear their gossip all the better. (Plus, I was fascinated with looking at the guy's spurs. ) My mother would have wanted to strangle me for the rudeness of eavesdropping-- but I deflected her attention by telling her that every single fish in that aquarium was staring at her--and when she turned to look behind her to see if that was true, indeed they were!--which is very strange for fish behavior, but then, my mother is a very beautiful lady to look at. She started tapping on the glass of the aquarium and talking sweetly to the fish..... so I went back to my eavesdropping. I REALLY started to get interested when the lady got to the point of her story about her church preacher's recent declaration of an event that he had apparently invented called "Birthday Sunday". She recounted all the details about how this preacher had just "irritated the heck out of her" by declaring to the church's members that on one Sunday of each month that he would ask the entire congregation of people present that anybody who'd had a birthday in that past month to please "stand up and receive birthday wishes". She complained to her companion: "Well, don't you just KNOW, but I had already told that ole Pastor Buddy-Joe that I was most certainly NOT gonna EVAH stand up and announce mah age! As I live and breathe, a True Lady NEVAH tells her age-- and a Real Gentleman wouldn't ask it! And dang it--I just flat ain't evah gonna tell. Because if you tell it just once--even just once---then you can nevah lie about again!" Her cowboy companion considered this for a minute. Then he said: "But why would you ever lie about anything in church, for goodness' sakes? Girl, you ain't 'sposed to lie on the Lord's Day and you dang well know it! You can lie on any other day of the week but not on Sunday. It says so in the Bible, right there in the Book of Leviticus somewheres." But she was not to be swayed and had a quick retort: "Well I'll have you know, sir, that I happen to know the Book of Leviticus well--and there happens to be in there a few certain important rule loop-holes where the Lord most certainly DOES NOT require A True Lady to be forced to do certain things on ANY day of the week! Especially about her being forced to tell her age, dang it!" Now, this definitely got my attention--not because I have been lying about my age, but because my own mother is FOREVER quoting "rules" of behavior to me about one thing or another from the Book of Leviticus when she thinks I've done wrong! I started to realize that maybe I definitely needed to bone up on my Sunday School education and re-read the Book of Leviticus--to learn for myself just what IS or ISN'T a "rule" or a "loophole for True Ladies". For example, could it be true that there are truly behavioral loop-holes for True Ladies? Because if so, then I just may find out that not only is it legal for a lady to lie about her age, then it just might be perfectly legal for someone to holler at Dairy Queen girls who use their bare hands to put brownie crumbles onto your Brownie Crumble Sundae.....and also that it just may not be such a terrible thing to eavesdrop on elderly rodeo cowboys and cowgirls in dentist offices' waiting rooms.....and who knows what ELSE!!?? HEY, you know what? I pondered----Just maybe....just MAYBE...maybe I'm not NEARLY as sinful as I think I am! This thought was exciting my brain with a whole realm of possibilities (especially the lying issue)--(although I will admit here that I thought it might be prudent to first find out the "qualifications" for being a True Lady) --and I will admit that some mildly guilty thoughts about my behavior in the dentist office's waiting room did enter my mind-- But I will stand my ground here about one thing---that about telling my mother that every single fish in that aquarium was staring at her---because that was no lie---they were staring at her. (You can ask her if you don't believe me.) Anyway, the lady kept on telling the story about the Birthday Sunday in her church. And it was starting to get really interesting because she went on to exclaim: "And would you buh-leeve it, but when Pastor Buddy-Joe put out the call for the birthday people to stand up--and of course I wouldn't stand up as one of the birthday people--then...well then... that ole Pastor Buddy-Joe went right up to that dad-blame podium and announced right in front of the entire congregation that "somebody in here isn't standing up like they should be"--- and I just wanted to snatch him BALD!" ...and right then the nurse came to call the lady back for her appointment. "Go get 'er, girl!" her man told her with a playful slap on her butt. She just laughed and sashayed away, swinging her hips, her cowgirl boots clicking on the floor. I envied her bravery...and was sorry I wouldn't get to hear the rest of the Birthday Sunday story. Drat. Because I had really wanted to hear whether or not she had ever gotten her chance to "snatch him bald". Just then another nurse came and called for me. "Oh, BLESS YOUR HEART!" my mom exclaimed sympathetically. Dismally, I followed the nurse to my doom. The cowboy simply remarked: "Are there any Reader's Digests in that basket over there? I always read the Reader's Digests whenever I wait in waiting rooms." I watched him walk over to a big basket of reading materials and sure enough, there were a bunch of Reader's Digests in there. As he settled in his chair to read and I followed my nurse, I found myself wishing to High Heavens that I were the one sitting there reading a Reader's Digest while someone else was heading towards my inevitable date with a root canal..... So the nurse took me (well, maybe she had to shove me a little) back to the Dentist's Dungeon, and sure enough--she stuck me in THE CHAIR....aaaargh..... and then she placed that durn BIB on me. I was so nervous that I placed a death grip on the chair arms and held on for dear life. I wanted to run screaming from the room, bib trailing behind me---but it was not to be. I was trapped. Sure enough, tears started to form in my eyes. (Lord but how I wish that for just ONE TIME in my life that I wouldn't start bawling at times like this in public--it's just plain undignified.) The dentist came in, took one look at me and smiled. Noticing my death grip on the chair arms, he teased: "Are you strapped in good enough, my dear?" "Oh, Doctor Rick!" the nurse chided. "The poor little thing's nervous as a cat." But then she said the magical words: "Sweetie, are you going to need the laughing gas?" DANG! I'd forgotten about the laughing gas! Oh Glory Glory Hallelujah, but suddenly there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I enthusiastically told the nurse that YES I would need the laughing gas-- and so she obligingly stuck that laughing gas nose-gadget mask thing onto my nose--- and turned it on. And soon enough I was feeling slightly tingly and fact, I started calming down. Oh thank goodness, I thought, breathing the laughing gas in and and out..... in and out.... And then.....I started feeling well...a little friendlier. And talkative. In fact, I started feeling a LOT more friendly and talkative. Hey! Suddenly I was happy to be there! What nice people these were, the nurses, the other patients, the dentist, the fish in the aquarium, the Cow next door...... I vaguely heard the dentist ask me if I was ready and I slurred: "Sure, Doc!" And I have no idea what happened after that. Later..... The next thing I remember is the nurse, trying not to giggle, taking that stupid bib off for me as I tried to wobble my way out of that room and....well.....she seemed to be acting a little strangely, working her face into all sorts of contortions in order to try not to laugh for some reason--but I COULD TELL that she did really want to laugh! And then I started getting a bad feeling about things.... And so I asked her: "Why are you laughing? Did I do something wrong?" Then she finally allowed herself to laugh out loud. (Now I was REALLY starting to get worried.) I kept gazing at her with what I hoped was a "steely questioning look" and then she finally took a deep breath and said: "Well, when we gave you the laughing gas you kind of got a little er.....loopy, there". "So?" I replied belligerently ( starting to get even more worried now)...... She continued: "You actually told the dentist that he would look good in a Stetson hat!" With that she burst into a complete laughing fit and I had to wait a minute till she could compose herself. Miserably, I asked her to continue--I simply HAD to know what else I'd done--and so I asked her plainly: "Okay, what else did I do?" and then listened as she went on: "Well, anyway, Dr. Rick, he just started working on ya-- but then he had to stop for a few minutes one time so he could get another piece of equipment he wanted out of the tray....and then....and then you started mumbling something under your breath---and so we listened real close to hear what it was that you wanted to say--- but you were singing!" Oh Lord Have Mercy On My Soul, I thought. "Er.....just exactly what WAS I singing?" I asked quietly, wishing the ground would just open up and swallow me. She giggled some more and said: "It sounded just like you were singing that old country song about naughty cowboys! You know the one--that song that goes 'I got spurs that jingle, jangle, jingle'--and it made Dr. Rick go into a fit of laughing! He actually couldn't work for a minute because he was laughing so hard! But you finally quit singing when I cranked up that laughing gas a little more!" Um....I went to go pay my co-payment and meet the welcoming arms of my mother, finally getting to leave the dreaded dentist's office--yet unfortunately wearing a raging, embarassed blush on my face-- and also ruefully wishing to the High Heavens that I HADN'T been able to finally get the "Dang Me Song" out of my head that had plagued me previously afterall.....

....and do you want to know what the worst and most humiliating part about it is? It's that I've actually got to go back there in three weeks for the required "second procedure" of a root canal---that second appointment where they stick that crown thing onto your tooth.......

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JINGLE, JANGLE, JINGLE (Frank Loesser / Joseph Lilley) (Yippee yay! There’ll be no wedding bells for today.... ) I got spurs that jingle, jangle, jingle As I go riding merrily along And they sing, "Oh, ain't you glad you're single" And that song ain't so very far from wrong Oh, Lillie Belle Oh, Lillie Belle Though I may have done some foolin' This is why I never fell I got spurs that jingle, jangle, jingle As I go ridin' merrily along And they sing, "Oh, ain't you glad you're single" And that song ain't so very far from wrong Oh, Mary Ann Oh, Mary Ann Though we done some moonlight walkin' This is why I up and ran I got spurs that jingle, jangle, jingle As I go ridin' merrily along And they sing, "Oh, ain't you glad you're single" And that song ain't so very far from wrong So I'll jingle on along.........