Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I Need More Hours!

This semester has started off at full throttle and as a result I've been having to neglect almost everything fun. I'm even behind on the Beer Diary! The empty bottles are stacking up.

I just read the most horrible student poem I've seen in years. There's no way I can put even an intact line from it up on this site, but I'll give you some hints. He uses these words in it:


I made Scott read it and he threw it down and said "I feel dirty just touching this!" We're workshopping it in class on Wednesday, and there is no way on this spinning planet that the poet's classmates are going to get through his reading of it without convulsing. And not in the way he'd like.

Years ago I had to deal with this same scenario. A bad-ass looking guy who was 6-foot-5 wrote this poem about "her pink blossom bloomed under my fingers." I had to rush in and save him from complete humiliation when the class veered off into an uncontrollable hyena-laughfest.

This new guy? He's on his own. The other guy was trying most earnestly to write beautiful romantic poetry. This guy just wants attention. So be it.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Positive News from the Neurosurgeon

First, he's a real person. He's kind and attentive and funny and engaging and has an impeccable reputation. In other words, the opposite of Dr. Surly Got-My-Degree-From-Heehaw-Online-College we saw 2 weeks back.

The good doctor's advice: No surgery for mom just yet. He suggested that she wait a month and come back to him, to see how much better she was feeling, and his guess is that Mom is about halfway there. His own mother had compression fractures in some vertebrae awhile back and she was in agony. She couldn't have surgery because of all the other health complications she had. And even she healed completely from the back pain in 4 months. So, we'll see. And we'll pray.

(We did find out that of the three compression fractures, only one is a new injury. Thus, the other two would not be candidates for the cement-injection surgery anyway.)

Another other-end-of-the-spectrum experience at this doctor's office: We got into an exam room ten minutes early, and the doctor entered the room five minutes later.

AND, while we were in the waiting room, a patient of his had come out, a pretty blond in her 40s, turned to all of us in the waiting room and said "Just so you know, Dr. _____ is the best surgeon there is. I had 9-hour back surgery, with rods and pins and the whole works, and I have not had a single problem since."

I've never seen anyone do that before. It was just more confirmation that we had come to the right guy.

We got to ask all our questions, we got to go into another room with him and see the MRI results for ourselves, and my mom was so comfortable with this surgeon that she had to tell him her favorite joke before we left.

"She's going to do stand-up in the Catskills one day," I told the doctor.

When he first entered the room and saw my mom and looked down at her information sheet, he said "You are one good lookin' 88-year-old!" My sister said "Everybody says that, but she never believes it."

I wish I could put a photo of my mom here. She is beautiful. Perfect, peachy skin and an electric smile. I am so grateful for her.

And thank God for talented doctors with abundant smarts and personality.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I See Lint People

This particular lint is from some fuzzy purple socks I have, though it photographed as blue. I saw it on the floor near the dryer and it wasn't an "it" but a "him." A one-legged man with a fast-moving thought bubble coming out of his head as he tries to catch it.

I have seen lint people before.

Beer Diary, Bottle #5

January 15, 2011

Beer: Shiner Bock. This is Scott's "everyday" beer and one of his go-to favorites. Which explains why 18 of the 54 bottles of beer he got for Christmas (I still can't believe how classy we are) are Shiner Bock. In case most of the rest of the stuff I bought him resided at Suckington Manor, I wanted to make sure he had good fallback beer.

Beer Accompaniment: While waiting for the wings to bake, Scott was in one room of the house watching the Steelers game, and I was in another watching college basketball. The most noticeable accompaniment of the beer was the series of blood curdling screams coming from Scott's room. I never noticed before how much he can sound like Sam Kinison.




I sat laughing my fool head off in the other room, unable to concentrate on the game. Then I got back into the basketball action for awhile and was yelling my own protests: "Don't screw THIS up too!" while being driven into rabid-dog madness by the smell of the wings in the oven.

Then, Scott Kinison sounds burst into the air again:

"Get him! GET HIMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!" followed by just a lone, gutteral, choking, man-shriek.

And this during a game the Steelers ended up winning. During a losing game, I fear that Scott will turn inside out.

Anyway, he liked the beer.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Beer Diary, Bottle #4

Beer: Prairie Path Golden Ale, made by Two Brothers Brewing Company, Warrenville, Illinois

Beer Accompaniment: Scott's arrival home after working 9 days straight. I made him look away as I got out the mystery beer, poured it into a glass, then stuck it in front of his face all foamy and cold. Or, sort of cold. It was in our garage and not quite cold-cold.

Candy: Does it look enticing?

Scott: YEAH. YEAH it DOES!

He tastes it.

Scott: Oooh, it's good. I'm guzzling it.

Always the gentleman, he gives me my sip, which is just as bad as the last beer, and even worse, since it's not ice-cold.

Scott: ---crickets---

(Empty glass left on kitchen counter.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Beer Diary, Bottle #3

January 11

Beer: Red Seal Ale

Beer accompaniment: A long day at work for Scott. Beer used as a bit of a nightcap.

Scott's reaction: "It's good. I've had this one before somewhere along the line. You won't like it at all."

Candy's reaction (after a too-large sip): Runs around corner to kitchen. Gets out Trader Joe's Cherry Cider and drinks a giant gulp from the bottle.

That seal? He's bright red because he is embarrassed to represent such a putrid beverage.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bedside Manner

I took my mom to an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon on Friday.

Let's start with the fact that Mom's appointment was at 3:00. At 2:45 I call the office (a couple miles from her home), and say "My mom is in a lot of back pain and I don't want her to have to sit for a long period of time. Can you please tell me approximately how far behind the doctor is running today?"

"Not at all!" the receptionist tells me.

"Great! See you in a few minutes."

We fill out the paperwork in the waiting room. It is now 3:20. I go up to the receptionist. She's about 25 with long, wavy, stringy hair down past her butt. Her eyes have all the tenderness of olive pits.

"Hi," I say. "I called at 2:45 and was told the doctor was on time. When will my mother be getting in?"

"Probably immediately," responds Pit-Eyes. She gets up to go find out. Or at least I think that is the idea. I go back to Mom and make a cushion out of my rolled up furry coat and put that behind her now-miserable back.

3:30 p.m. Still in the waiting room. I go back up to the troll's window again.

"OK. It's now 'immediately' plus 10. When is she getting in?" I stare into her eyes and watch them transform from black pits into perhaps the entire olives, with fire shooting from them like evil red pimentos. She says nothing, but stands up, her entire body glaring at me somehow, and stomps off to the back hallway where, apparently, there are riches of information to be had.

I turn to the full waiting room, to the audience of patients that has watched the interaction. "Guess what?" I address them. "She can get as pissy as she likes, but she doesn't scare me." Widespread discomfort envelops the room as people look down at their magazines or feet or the drab carpet. My mom lets out a little laugh.

Still no response from Troll Hag. She has disappeared into the sacred hallways.

At last a nurse calls us back to a room. My mother is visibly in pain as she walks. We sit in that room until 3:55. I get up and enter the hallway. There are 2 nurses and the Troll. "You know," I say, really quietly. The kind of quiet that proclaims having been pushed too far. "I am baffled." I look at each of them. "HOW hard would it have been to say 'the doctor is an hour or so behind today.' Really. Could any of you explain that to me?"

The troll bursts into flame, one nurse walks away, and one says "The doctor will be with you next."

"I'll believe it when I see it," I say.

And then, here he comes. Shuffling into the room in his clogs. I know this will offend someone, but men in clogs? No. Doctors in clogs? Instant evisceration.

But let's overlook the footwear and look at the medicine practiced by Dr. Douche:

1. His nurse told me when I made the appointment that we should bring Mom's X-rays with us. During his time with us he says "I haven't looked at the X-rays." (This is the guy who is a potential candidate to do cement injections between my mom's compressed vertebrae.) Later in the appointment he says "When I saw the X-rays, they showed that T-5, 7, and 10 are compressed."

2. He orders a bone scan. (I've been told by those in the back-injection ranks not to let anyone touch my mother without first getting an MRI.) I ask him the difference between a bone scan and an MRI. This is approximately my third question overall. He lowers his head, sighs and sits there. You can see the thought bubble over his head: Is she really wasting my time like this? Already I know that there is no way I'm letting Sir Douche touch my mother. (No danger there, actually. He didn't examine her in any way.) But I decide to use him to get what I need. I ask him to order a bone scan and an MRI. "We're going to get a second opinion from Dr. Non-Douche, and he'll need an MRI." He writes us an order for both.

3. I ask him if, in the case that this procedure is not in the cards for my mom (if the compressions are old injuries that have been jarred by the fall, kyphoplasty is not an option), what other sorts of pain management might there be? He doesn't even look at us as he says "Well, sometimes a brace is used. But on old people they cut into the skin."

My mom jokingly says "Yeah. Those old people. You just need to shoot 'em."

I look at her and say "I'll just have her put down like a horse," and then look back at Massengil. He looks at us with a blank face. Nothing. As though his features have grown so bored with all this that they've melted and dripped onto his white coat. I take the order from his hand and pick up my purse and help my mom with her coat.

We walk to the car. Slowly.

"You realize," I say, "that we're never letting this douchebag touch you."

"How is it," Mom says, "that he didn't read the X-ray but he knows what it shows?"

"He's a liar. And he's a liar in clogs."

I will tell you now that after I made the appointment with this "doctor," I heard from a friend who said "I wouldn't take a dog to him." By that point I was already in town and there was nothing to lose by going. Maybe the shoddy reputation was a fluke. But no.

I am grateful, though. I'm grateful that the door so clearly shut on this option. I pray almost nonstop these days for guidance about how to help Mom, and it showed up like a mushroom cloud here.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Man Knows Me

These are the earrings Scott got me for Christmas. When I opened the little box, I loved them so much that I wanted to eat them. But that would lead to all sorts of unpleasant X-rays and the throwing around of words like "perforated" and "idiot wife."

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

2011 Beer Diary, Bottles #1 and #2

January 3

Beer: Scrimshaw
Named for the delicate engravings popularized by 19th century seafarers, Scrimshaw is a fresh tasting Pilsner.

Beer accompaniment: Dinner of fish (cod) and crappy purchased-in-a-moment-of-stupidity (by Candy) frozen creamed spinach and frozen baby lima beans in butter sauce. We did cook them, of course, but they still sucked. The fish was good.

Scott's reaction: "This is an excellent beer. Goes really well with the fish."

Candy's reaction to one small sip: "Oh. Puke."

January 5

Beer: Too Cream Stout
Made with milk sugar which gives this beer a nice creamy mouth feel which mingles with hints of chocolate and roasty flavors. Dark as the "bubblin' crude" that spurted up when Jed Clampitt shot into the ground.

Beer accompaniment: Dinner of very spicy chicken, a fantastic salad with red and green romaine lettuce, craisins, sliced almonds, and homemade dressing (Scott's very light blend of: orange juice, olive oil, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper), and a doctored up ramekin serving of that nasty creamed spinach from night before last. Scott added bread crumbs and parmesan and baked it. It covered up 34% of the suckiness, but there was just really no saving it.

Scott's reaction: "That's a pretty good stout."

Candy's reaction to one small sip: "Oh noooooo!" (gack sounds in back of throat) "That is coffee mixed with horse piss. How can you drink horse piss?! 'Creamy mouth feel'... my @$$!"


After 26 days without being able to go see my dad because of her back pain, Mom got to go for a short visit yesterday. My sister drove her to Shiny Meadows and they sat with Dad for about half an hour.

My expectation was this: He would see Mom and say "Where ya been?" This is his usual question. I kept telling Mom that he has no concept of time passing anymore, and when he saw her, there would be no way for his brain to register that she'd been away for almost a month.

Being apart for that long, for them, is almost obscene. It hasn't happened since 1944. I had fantasies about Dad seeing Mom walk into Shiny Meadows and reaching his arms out to her, or saying "I missed you." I wouldn't actually want that, since it would mean he had been shaken by her absence. And the realization of that would chew into Mom like a trap on a fox's leg. So I let the daydreams go.

But here is the way of Alzheimer's:

Candy: Mom, what did he say when he saw you?

Mom: Nothing.

Candy: He didn't say "Where ya been?"

Mom: No. He didn't say anything.

I know he still takes comfort in her presence. I know he senses that she is important to him. It is just such a long trip, that distance from his quiet, perplexed face that has nothing more to say, to the core of him, where his love for my mom, unaware of illness or the passing of years, or the confinement of a wheelchair, is a meteor shower blazing across the black night.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The 2011 Beer Diary, Part 1

Scott doesn't like to buy beer for himself. A guilty extravagance, this occasional six-pack of Shiner Bock.

I like to buy him beer. He rarely drinks more than a beer a week, Mr. Health-Conscious-and-Disciplined. So I like to try to freak him out by giving him a bunch of beers at once. This behavior is in my blood. When our beloved cat, Hankie, was alive, he had a collection of 6 tiny catnip mice. Black, red, white, yellow, made of felt, stuffed with the nectar of the tabbies, and about the size of black olives. Without fail, Hankie would swat all the mousies to a dark hiding place under the couch, so far back they were unfetchable. I'd eventually get a yardstick and FWACK them all out into the daylight again, all in their little gray fur coats, the finest dustbunny fur money could buy. After blowing their luxurious coats off, I'd make a big production out of cupping them all in my hands and say "Watch, Hankie!" and toss them all into the air at once. I took great delight in watching him hop and jerk and pounce and finally settle on one deserving mouse to sink his teeth into. Until I gathered up the other five and threw them in the air again.

I'm not suggesting that Scott is that easily fooled. Also, he would be able to retrieve the mice from under the couch.

But I do like to bombard him with lots of beer choices. This started a couple years ago in Phoenix. At Christmastime I went to a gourmet grocery store and bought him ten beers, all different, all uppity and microbrew-ish. I had no idea what I was buying, but I knew not to get anything "flavored" with caramel or cinnamon-y crap. The guys working at the grocery store were eager to point out their favorite choices. I took the beers home, wrapped them all separately, and put them in the refrigerator. It became a beer grab-bag. Each one was a surprise and Scott would describe the taste to me. If he managed to talk me into taking a sip, he got the same reaction: gagging sounds and a teeth-grinding grimace as though I'd just downed a Drano slurpee.

This year I decided on a treasure hunt. I wrote out obnoxious rhyming clues, forcing Scott to search for the next clue and the next one. A clue inside the crock pot. A clue taped to the butt of my elliptical. They were all leading to the hidden treasure: 54 bottles of beer. It was meant to be symbolic: one for each week of the year (plus two because I couldn't help it). There are about 35 brands. I did repeat some that looked extra good. (As though beer could ever be good.)

The final written clue: "This is the last clue that you must ponder. Just go to the place where the main verb is 'launder.'"

That's right. All 54 beers were inside the washer.

I know what you're thinking. Candy is so classy. She probably makes hors d'oeuvres with celery and Cheez Wiz. And wears halter tops. And has appeared on "Cops."

Nah, that's for Valentine's Day.