Thursday, July 29, 2010

Eye Can't See You

Today I went to Bella Vision on South Congress Avenue for an eye exam with a new optometrist, Dr. Li. It’s been about three years since I’ve had my eyes checked, and my glasses are pretty much on their last leg. It doesn’t help that I treat them like bad stepchildren, swinging them around by the earpiece, throwing them in the same pocket of my purse as my nail file, and sitting on them.

Dr. Li was a very personable Asian woman, who I liked instantly. Her four children and the assistant’s child were all there in the office, although you wouldn’t know it; They entertained themselves so well. The office was very nice, and the only thing bothering me was the heat. The examination room wasn’t as cool as I might have liked, either, and as I’ve noted before, my internal thermometer is way off.

As Dr. Li began my exam, I was surprised to discover that my old glasses were still providing me with 20/20 vision. We talked about using a different type of bifocal – one just for computer work and reading.

Pulling the phoroptor, or refractor, close to my face, Dr. Li began flipping lenses back and forth as I stared ahead at the eye chart. “Is it better with #1 or #2?...#3 or #4?” If you’ve ever had an eye exam, you know the drill. After awhile, I realized everything I was seeing was fuzzy. “Is it better with #6 or #7?”, Dr Li asked. “I really can’t tell a difference”, I replied, “they both look cloudy to me.”

I was fixin’ to get worried, envisioning some quick-creeping cataracts, when suddenly an idea popped into my mind. “I think the lens is fogged up.”, I said. Dr. Li seemed surprised, but wiped the lens with a special cloth. “Perfect!” I exclaimed. A few minutes later, the same problem happened again.

While dabbing away at the perspiration on my forehead, I explained to Dr. Li that I was going through some “changes” and my internal thermostat wasn’t working quite right. I told her that although my face was cool to the touch, I was burning up and sweating profusely all over my face and forehead. I admitted embarrassingly, that I must be the one creating the fog on the lenses.

I was so grateful to return to my car and crank up the air conditioner to high when my appointment was over. This has become the constant concern in my life….being cool enough. Come to think of it, I had that same concern when I was a teenager! And, just like then, I never do feel cool enough.

“What fun is it being cool if you can’t wear a sombrero?” –Calvin & Hobbes

“Don’t think of it as getting hot flashes, think of it as your inner child playing with matches.” –Unknown

I think my inner child’s favorite toy is a Barbie I can relate to:

Hot Flash Barbie
Press Barbie's bellybutton and watch her face turn beet red while tiny drops of perspiration appear on her forehead. Comes with hand-held fan and tiny tissues.

Keep Your Cool, Y'all!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Brilliant Time of Life

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” -- Thomas A. Edison

If perspiration is what makes up 99% of genius, then I am downright, off-the-charts brilliant! Even though this has been a relatively mild Texas summer, you wouldn’t know it by looking at me. I have evolved over this past year into a seriously sweaty drip!

I’ve always been a perspiring sort, with beads of sweat accumulating on my upper lip, but after hitting the age of 50, it feels like I’ve found my Inner Faucet instead of my Inner Child. And, the faucet must be broken, too, because I can’t seem to turn it off.

Here I sit in my room with the temperature at 70 degrees and a box fan blowing full blast on me, and, I still have to swipe at my forehead, chin or upper lip every few minutes. What seems clear to me is that this heavy duty waterworks has nothing to do with summer. I appear to have slipped into the Menopause Zone.

Although I technically do not fully qualify as menopausal, I do have the majority of menopausal symptoms. And, most notable are the hot flashes.

Now, for all I know, I may not have had a true hot flash yet. After all, I thought I was in heavy labor when I was pregnant with my son. Yet, the doctors sent me home from the hospital three times, telling me not to come back until I couldn’t hardly walk. But, didn’t they understand? It hurt!! When the heavy labor finally did settle upon me, I suddenly understood that the pain before then had been a cake walk.

Nevertheless, my internal thermometer is definitely off. My thoughtful, patient husband bought me a small, battery-operated, personal fan to help. Although the little buzzing noise tends to draw attention, it’s worth it for some cooling relief. When not actively pointed at my face, the little fan serves to entertain fussy children. A genius must have thought of this little device!

I’m just hoping this brilliant time of life passes for me without any casualties to me or anyone else in my sweaty wake.

Stay Cool, Y’all!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Back at the Ranch

Last year on the 4th of July, our neighborhood lit up like a Chinese firecracker. Living in East Austin, whether we’re being re-gentrified or not, one has to wonder whether the snap, crackle and pops are truly fireworks or someone’s .357 magnum going off. To ensure a better night’s sleep, Gene and I headed to the Double M Ranch to celebrate a quiet Independence Day.

The Double M Ranch belongs to my parents, Max and Glenda, who are vacationing in Idaho. It’s a lovely 300+ acre spread in Central Texas, near Fort Hood, the largest Army base in the world. And, this year, the weather was cooler than normal for July. That is to say, it was in the mid-80s the day we arrived.

With an unusual amount of rain during the latter part of June, the pastures and grass were bright green. Near the Low Water Crossing, families were wading and fishing in the Cow House Creek. The canopy of large oak and pecan trees shaded the road like a tunnel, inviting us to the Promised Land.

I noticed the neighbors at the turnoff in the house that used to be an old mill had lots of family or friends visiting. So did the neighbors at the Low Water Crossing. Everyone was gathered together to celebrate Independence Day, the day that symbolizes Freedom for our country.

After unpacking and resting for bit, Gene and I headed into town for dinner. I drove us by the house where my grandparents had lived while they were alive. I hadn’t been to the house in quite awhile and was amazed at how small it was.

The neighborhood was all built up, and it was hard to tell just where the dirt road circle used to be. That’s the road I took when I ran away at the ripe old age of five.

All the relatives were at Grandmother and Grandad’s house that evening. I’d probably been scolded for something I did. So, I packed a can of candy in a suitcase and announced with conviction to my sister, Cameron, and my cousin, Kimberly, that I was running away.

Cameron and Kimberly begged me not to leave. They followed behind me on the circle, and when I’d gone about 100 feet, I opened my suitcase and sat down in it. Kimberly and Cameron ran crying back to the house, telling my grandfather what I was doing. Grandad, with his twinkling blue eyes, followed the girls to my location, which was easily seen from the house.

Grandad said sweetly, “Grayson, I hear you’re running away.” Sitting inside my opened suitcase, I defiantly crossed my arms in front of my chest, set my chin and turned my head to the side, replying, “Yes, I am!” He rubbed his chin for moment and then said, “Well, if you’re gonna run away, you oughta do it on a full stomach. Your grandmother just fried up some chicken. Why don’t you come eat some dinner before you leave?” The logic was undeniable, so I got up, repacked my suitcase, and my grandfather carried it back to the house, as we all returned for some homemade fried chicken and I forgot all about my getaway.

After that precious memory flashed by, Gene and I drove over to the local dive on Main Street for a fried catfish dinner.

We talked with Barbara, the waitress who would certainly give Flo, from the old TV series “Alice”, a run for her money. Barbara knows my parents by name and once she remembered meeting me several times before, we chatted all about my folks and the neighbors before heading back to the ranch to rest and relax.

On Sunday, Gene noticed a baby mockingbird sitting in the grass. After having a little bird die in my hands recently, you might think I would’ve steered clear of this little feathered fellow, but I couldn’t. The little guy wasn’t injured, he simply wasn’t experienced enough to stay in the air. I knew that if we left him in the grass, he’d end up as some critter’s foie gras. So, I nestled the tiny bird in one of my mother’s Williams-Sonoma dish towels, which are nice and soft (don’t worry, Mom, I washed it), and put him on top of the barbeque grill on the back porch. We could see that the nest was near the roof, but we couldn’t reach it. Gene and I hoped for the best. The next morning, our little friend was gone. Hopefully, he spread his wings and flew away. I don't even want to think about the alternative.

Freedom For All, Y'all!