June 29, 2006

My Worry Present

Finally, I can post about the new bird family that came into view just when I was ready to pull my hair out a couple of weeks ago.

One morning, Ed got up for work and looked out the bedroom window to see a carelessly put-together bird nest resting on our air conditioner ledge (we didn't have the a/c in the window yet). At that time, there wasn't much that could cheer me or help me to keep things in proper perspective as I awaited test results from a recent biopsy. This, however, was exactly what I needed to give me focus!

We watched mother Mourning Dove as she came and left again and again with tiny twigs and bits of yard nature - preparing a cozy bed for her little-ones-to-be.

I wish I could figure out how to make the photos larger but right now - between Blogger and a busy schedule, I just cannot take the time. The photo above, taken through the window and screen, is mother dove resting gently on her eggs.

After a few days, the two eggs hatched and papa dove looks down on the new babies with great pride. In the world of Mourning Doves, the male replaces the female in the early morning after she calls out to him, and he stays in the nest all day long until she relieves him after dark. Aren't the babies just the cutest things you've ever seen? They really brought me great comfort and joy.

It was such fun to watch the babies being fed! The parent bird would nudge the babies and each of them would stick their bill inside mom (or dad's) to receive the dove's nourishment. The "food" is stored in a little sac inside the parent bird's throat. It's has a rich milky consistency but is not "milk" as we know it. The babies really have to reach pretty far to get to this sac, and they sure were polite to one another as they took turns.

They grew so quickly it was hard to believe! In no time, they were barely able to fit beneath the parent dove without a wing or a leg sticking out. We set up our video cam at the window so as not to disturb the little family as they hung out together doing bird things all day. We really captured some amazing and clear footage of feedings, nudgings, play among the babies and even a poop or two!

At first the parent is extra careful to keep the nest spotless - removing poops as soon as they are deposited by the young ones. It's so cool how quickly the babies learn to point their little butts out at the edge of the nest so as not to sit back down on the turds. I know you'll think I'm strange here, but I found this whole practice rather amazing and even a bit cute!

The birds (all of them) really came to trust Ed, SJ and I as we peered out at them quietly in the early mornings and again in the afternoons. But loud noises upset the parent birds and they would tense up and look into the window at us. The babies became a tad more cautious as they got bigger and older. I would have thought it might have happened the other way around.

The babies left the nest after about 9 days and we caught their virgin flight on video! The father dove nudged them then flew to a close by branch. The smaller of the two "kids" following shortly after and then the larger one finally took off. They didn't travel far as the huge Maple tree just outside our window provided a very cool landing and launching practice pad.

Finally, they were all out of sight one day, then back the next, then gone for good within two weeks of hatching. Wow.

You know, this entire experience for me was new and refreshing; it would have been even if I weren't under such extreme pressure at the time. Having grown up in the big city, I never had the opportunity to see birds up so close, let alone watch newborn babies waking, sleeping, eating and pooping.

This was such a rare treat and the spiritual side of me just knows that the timing was all part of a grand plan to calm my heart during a messy ordeal. It hadda be.

I think everyone deserves a worry present.

Have a happy weekend!

"There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before" Robert Lynd (1879-1949)


I'm probably not alone in this, but I'm about ready to leave Blogger at this point due to the many outages and malfunctions they are experiencing lately. It seems there have been more lately than ever before.

I have disengaged the word verification function for now because when I tried leaving comments on others' blogs and noticed it's not working (nothing shows up in the box), I tested my own and realized it too has joined the party.

I'm really aggravated with this and the other various issues Blogger has been having lately, but for now I'll suck it up and just complain - LOUDLY.

A new post will follow as soon as the photo upload lets me successfully create something decent.

June 22, 2006

Uh Oh. It's a Thought-Filled Thursday

~ I don’t understand the “Hidden Driveway” signs you sometimes see along winding roads. It just doesn’t seem like this should be my problem. It would make more sense to me if they put a sign at the end of the hidden driveway that reads “Remember … You Have a Hidden Driveway - Use Extra Caution Exiting and Entering.”

~ Deer Crossing signs are also pretty useless. Whether you hit a deer while you’re driving 15 miles per hour or 35 miles per hour, either your car or the deer are getting hurt … and what are we supposed to do? Stop and wait to see if a deer runs out? Seems to me if you’re in the country (as opposed to the city), you should probably assume there’s wildlife around. Something may run out. You may hit it … it’s really a crap shoot.

~ I like when people change around their template and re-decorate their blog. It’s fun to see what they come up with and what sort of background and font they choose. The Outpost has been the same since its birth. I wonder what, if anything, that says about me.

~ I used to hate it when I was following someone’s directions, took a wrong road, and had to make a k-turn in someone’s driveway. The homeowner would glare out their window at me like I was a potential serial killer. I used to say to myself “You snob. Don’t worry, you don’t have company.”

Now I am one of those people who look out the window the second I hear a car go up the road or (gasp) stop in front of our house. If they have the audacity to use my driveway to turn in, I say to myself, “You ass. What – are you lost? Can’t you read directions?”

~ I understand that motor vehicle laws differ according to state, but for the love of zippers on jeans, can’t we all get it together on the whole “right turn on red” issue? NY: no turn on red unless there’s a sign that says you can. NJ: right turn on red ALWAYS unless there is a sign that says not to. CT: right turn on red ALWAYS unless there is a sign that says not to. Why must it be a guessing game? (same thing applies to who has the right of way in traffic circles)

~ I once had a friend who would always order new and different foods wherever we dined. Many times she would scrunch her nose after tasting her food. I would look at her across my standard steak and potato or baked ziti and just shrug my shoulders. I purposely wouldn’t give her any of my food. She thought I was being mean and selfish, I just thought she was being consistently stupid. The friendship didn’t last very long.

~ An odd thought occurred to me the other day. I have worked many, many jobs, usually complaining about them in one way or another immediately after leaving (which was why I worked many, many jobs) … Yet I’ve written more about former jobs than most other topics … and usually on a positive slant. Go figure.

~ Speaking of former jobs, my last position at the aquarium was reservation clerk, but we sometimes had to help out in other departments when needed. One of the “extra duties” that I found fascinating was standing guard at an 18 foot model of the Titanic, just to make sure no one got too close to the glass casing (it was a million dollar exhibit). I’ve always been VERY interested in all-things Titanic, and since I knew I’d be asked to perform this task on several occasions, I read up on many facts so that I could inform people as they stood and stared.

The single most interesting fact I learned was that, had the ship simply stayed on course and hit the iceberg head on, it might have endured some minor damage and would have jostled the passengers a bit, but the hull would have stayed intact and it surely would not have sunk. The strongest section of a ship such as that is the pointed edge of the bow.

Iceberg Shmiceberg. Attempting the turn is ultimately what did her in.

~ Child protection laws differ from state to state too. I understand this on some level, but I found out years ago that in the State of Connecticut, there is absolutely no regulation as to how old children must be in order to be legally left home alone. A woman in our neighborhood was going to a third-shift job, night after night, leaving her seven and five year-old children in the house alone.

When someone reported this to the police, they said it was an example of poor parenting but that she was not breaking any law unless the children were being abused in some way.

I still find this rather discomforting.

~ A second thought on having worked so many jobs … Somewhere along my trip into adulthood, I was given to believe that life is too short to spent a third of it doing something you hate for the sake of a buck. As I got older, I realized you have to put up with a certain amount of shit in the workplace and I became more patient.

My point here is this. I often grumble about Blogger’s inability to keep things flowing without constant interruption (i.e. picture uploading, commenting, and sometimes even posting). Now, I’m not even getting paid to blog yet I have no intention of leaving.

Does this mean by the time I’m 65 I’ll be willing to work at one of those places on “Dirty Jobs” just for the heck of it? And I'll like it? Jeeziz, I hope not.

~ I couldn’t get my baby bird post up and running yet. We mislaid the USB cord for our new digital camera. It’s found now, but since this post was just about complete, I figured I’d publish it for now.

By the way, in this house, we now have about eight USB cords for various attachments. Only two of the eight have the same size connector. (will someone tell me why USB stands for "Universal Serial Bus" when there's nothing universal about them?)

Many moments have been wasted (by all three of us) trying to connect something that just doesn’t fit the receiving end. You’d think by now we would be clever enough to label the USBs.

Like I said, “You’d think.”

"Be careful of your thoughts, they may become words at any moment" Ira Gassen

June 15, 2006

Embarrassed, Glued and Back to Normal

Things that went down over the past couple of weeks:

~ It’s amazing how when you walk through the doors of a hospital for any sort of testing, like magic, any part of your body that used to be “private” instantly becomes a) topic of conversation, b) available for inspection by anyone who happens into an examining room at the time, c) pretty much CO-OWNED by the doctor, surgeon or radiologist during your stay.

~ Doctors tend to leave out minor procedural details even when you’re a person who asks a billion questions beforehand – like “Oh and we’ll be leaving a small stainless steel clip inside your breast to sort of mark the spot where we’ve performed your biopsy.” After a long audible gasp I asked, “Will I now set off metal detectors?” and “What if my body rejects it?” I was told, “You read too much. The first won’t happen and the second is impossible – you’re not getting a new liver.”

~ I used to think the most embarrassing test in the world was the sigmoidoscopy. During this process, you have to lie on your stomach with ass in the air while something equivalent to a fire hose is inserted into a place where it shouldn’t be. Pictures are taken with a tiny camera attachment and then you get to climb off the table, dress and go home just knowing that every person you run into could tell what you’ve just been through. Now? I’m not sure if that’s the worst test on the embarrassing-scale.

For my biopsy, I was escorted into a dimly lit examining room with the air conditioning turned to “Arctic” and was told to climb onto a table that is high up in the air (you need stairs to get on it) and then stick your boob through a hole in the table. You must assume this position while they jack up the table another foot or so, and then lay perfectly still for the next two hours while someone beneath you pushes computer buttons on a machine that inserts a small rod and scoops the bad things out of your embarrassingly dangling appendage. I deserved that run-on sentence; I truly earned it.

~ It was quite weird to have the doctor and her assistants working BENEATH me the entire time; hearing them talk amongst themselves as though they were in a wine cellar.

~ Throughout the process, you are continually receiving local anesthetic because it seems to wear off rather quickly. This feels just like the sting of an angry white-faced hornet – each time! I was asked beforehand if I’d like something to help keep me mellow and I said no. Knowing what I know now, I wish they would have just knocked me out completely.

By the way, if you think the numbing medicine eliminates feeling, you’re wrong. Oh it cancels pain, but I felt as though they were roto-rootering directly through to my back every time the machine clicked on.

~ They now use a substance called “skin glue” in place of sutures (for small incisions). I like this stuff, though I did get a little nervous that it might not hold together too well. I was wrong, and now my little battle wound (scar) will be quite minimal.

~ It’s probably not a good idea to plan a two-plus hour road trip in torrential rain and traffic right after your biopsy. We had to have my daughter to the airport in Queens by six the following morning and we thought it far better to just get a room in the area the night before than to travel on very little sleep in the middle of the night. I was still a bit shell shocked for our drive, but had the wonderful and caring company of Ed and SJ along the way, so all went well.

~ This was to be SJ’s first-ever flight and vacation away from the roost all by herself. She was meeting a friend who attends college in Savannah, GA and the two were driving back up the coast together. Not only did I have enough on my mind without knowing my test results yet, but I also have a “thing” about flying in general and this was the last thing I really wanted to see SJ do that particular weekend; especially for her first time, and especially alone.

~ A dense fog set in overnight and it was so bad that her flight was held up for two hours … the worst bit was that we didn’t get this news till she already got to her gate, so we couldn’t even wait with her. She had to sit there and anticipate amidst a group of strangers. The good news is that she is much like me when it comes to chit-chat. She became friendly with a young couple traveling with their twins. Yay SJ. All went well after take-off, but again, I was a bag of nerves till I heard she had landed in Georgia.

~ Because I knew I was having a bad, bad week already, I had decided I’d try to quit smoking. A week before my biopsy, I kicked off this great crusade and I must admit I surprised even me. I did an excellent job till suppertime, so I allowed myself one reward-cigarette after we ate each evening. I even tested myself a few nights and waited an hour or more before lighting up. This is a pretty good attempt for one who was smoking over a pack a day.

I really thought I had it licked until the drive to Queens that afternoon. When the rain was coming down in buckets and my lidocaine was finally wearing off for good, I caved in. The thing is, I know I will be able to do this once I set my mind to it … but clearly my mind was busy with other things that week. I haven’t tried since but I will.

Ed asked why in the world I would try to quit during such stressful times. I explained my special logic, which is rarely obvious. You see, I figured not knowing whether or not I might have cancer, and not knowing whether or not it might be the last week I spend with my child (yes, I’m THAT dramatic about flying), this was to be the single most stressful week of my life. Since I was already pushing it to the limit … why not get rid of it all at once; look it in the face (the stress) and say “Come on fucker, BRING IT.”

Oh how I wish I could have done a better job of it, but all things considered … I was pretty happy with my attempt. It would have been so cool to be able to say “Yeah man, look at me! I quit smoking during the single most stressful week of my life!” Instead I’ll just blog about how nice it would have been like a wannabe.

~ A very amazing thing happened during the week I had to wait for my results. A mourning dove decided to roost on our air conditioner ledge just outside the bedroom window. It was like National Geographic and Animal Planet every time I looked outside – I swear. What a show. We were able to see her sitting on her eggs, then her babies, then watch them as they ate (ew) and pooped and flew off for their very first time. I have photos and even a video clip which I’ll share in my next post.

The whole bird thing was like a special present just for me because I’d had a rough time of it. When I tell you that it worked on my mind like a tab of vicodin, I mean it. It was truly marvelous!

**I should mention here that the type of biopsy I had is called a stereotactic core needle biopsy. There are other types but they told me this was the best for my case. If anyone ever needs to have this procedure performed and they ask if you'd like to have sedation - say yes.**

"No quote this time ... this post is long enough!" Weary Hag

June 09, 2006

Clean as a Whistle !

And there is much rejoicing …

All is good and right with my world again, thanks to a clean report from the doctors. In a word, “Yay!” It wasn’t until they actually used the “B” word (benign) that I donned my internal party hat and allowed my heart to dance a little jig of relief.

It’s really been an interesting, if exhausting couple of weeks around here. I do believe I’ve now run the full gamut of emotions in about fifteen day’s time. There was bitterness turned to extreme spirituality; sadness turned to angst; nostalgia turned to rage; disbelief turned to resolve; fright turned to unusual calm; and acceptance turned to fierce determination.

I’m many things today, but mostly thankful and elated!

I’ve said this before but cannot say it enough. I truly appreciate the warm and sincere wishes and the strong positive vibes sent my way from all who took the time via comments and emails. These have helped me to get over many a rough spot during this ugly journey I had to make. It’s amazing how a few kind words can raise the spirit via the Internet – truly amazing.

I have lots to say now; many happy little stories to tell and even some scary experiences to pass along. Mostly, I really want to catch up on visiting blogs and leaving my humble footprint in the form of comments along the way. I won’t get into much detail here about the procedure I had or about some other minor trials I’ve had in the past few weeks, but I’ll be back with a more in-depth report over the next week or so as I catch up on reading your posts.

Thanks again for the patience, the friendships, the caring and the time it took for you to stop in, read and stop back again to check on me!

Ain’t life somethin’ else?

Sincerely, Hag

"Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship" Buddha