Anyone who has been reading my blog for the last year knows I went through a buttload of eye surgery and problems. I’m glad to report that a few permanent changes aside, the affected eye is doing good. Translated, that means it sees pretty well most of the time. Occasionally it hurts and I’ll get a day where it’s achy or feels like there’s a grain of sand in it. The rods and cones that make your eye adjust to different levels of light are significantly damaged. So, for example, when I come inside on a bright day it’s a bit like walking into a black wall. I’m trying to learn to give my eye time to adjust to changing light levels, but sometimes it catches me off guard and I get frustrated. Especially if I’m moving from room to room looking for something. But considering what I went through I’m relieved that I have any vision at all. I dodged a bullet there.
While trapped in the continuous loop of repeated eye surgery, I was forced to post-pone a couple of the preventive tests that the average woman will routinely endure to assure optimal health. Let me just say one thing now and get it off my chest: Men, you have NO idea. None. About any of it. And I’m pretty sure there isn’t a woman alive who, in the midst of a mammogram or PAP test isn’t thinking the same thing. I know women are supposed to get used to having their bodies poked, prodded and palpated by complete strangers, but really, who does? So guys, next time you break out into a cold sweat at the thought of a five second prostate exam just know that no woman alive feels you or cares. Get over it.
Last week, like any well-trained middle-age woman, I went for my slightly overdue mammogram. I’ve been going to the same imaging office since I started this yearly pilgrimage eight years ago. I went somewhere else the first time and was totally and thoroughly traumatized. I mean, who created this torture anyhow? The radiology tech was young, impatient and rough, and it took everything in my power not to kick her in the shins. I promised not to come back and didn’t. Instead, I found an office with a slightly older than middle-age tech. Having been though a mammogram or two herself, Cindy is compassionate, professional and very good at her job. I’ve been going there ever since.
Over the years a few things have changed. For one, x-ray images are now digital, which means they’re “processed” in the same room where they’re taken, and it takes a lot less time to know if you’re done and can be off on your merry way. What hasn’t changed is how the images are taken. The patient steps up to a machine with two small, square plates that close together like a vice. One by one each breast is then stretched out and placed on the lower plate as the tech moves the coordinating arm and shoulder either into or out of the way. The idea is to get not only a picture of the breast, but as much of the surrounding chest wall as possible. This is not an easy feat to achieve, but try they must. Yes, its a little weird to have to watch a stranger manipulate your private parts. It’s not like you can look away. I mean, it’s easier to accomplish the job if you cooperate and …. well, gee … they’re right there under your chin! Sheesh! When the tech finally has your body contorted into the right position she steps on a foot petal that lowers the top plate toward the lower plate and literally flattens your breast between the two plates like a pancake. Yes, it fucking hurts. And if that’s not enough indignity for you to endure, she then has to take a second view from a different angle. This time you turn sideways and step toward the machine so it can squeeze your breast from side to side instead of from top to bottom. Good times, not. Then you get to repeat the whole procedure for the other breast.
The other thing that hasn’t changed is that the tech can’t tell you anything about the x-ray. Now I’m not idiot; I worked in dentistry long enough to know that the person developing the x-ray can probably read it just about as well as the radiologist. Especially someone like Cindy, who’s been taking mammograms since the beginning of time. But her opinion isn’t worth diddly squat and by law, she’s not allowed to share it. But, that doesn’t mean every woman won’t ask. I did. I always do. And she kindly and compassionately deflects. It’s a game every woman probably plays to break the tension. Otherwise it feels a little too much like going to see a palm reader who pours over your hand, then smiles and says, “Thank you very much” and dismisses you without ever telling you what she saw. So we make small talk and babble about the hot weather while I try pretend the whole procedure is really quite routine. Actually, it’s not. There’s nothing routine about getting your breasts manhandled and smashed, then not knowing the results for a week or more. However, once the test is done and I’ve left the office I’ve never worried about the results. I don’t have any real reason to be concerned and I’m usually just so glad to have it over that I tend to put the whole experience behind me for another year. I’ve always gotten a letter in the mail about a week later telling me everything is hunky-dory and they’ll send a reminder to schedule an appointment in a year. It’s kind of like going to the dentist only it’s booby recall.
So now I’ve crossed one thing off my “to do” list and in two weeks when I go to see my doctor for my semi-annual PAP test (another wildly enjoyable event) I can say I had my mammogram done. Dr. C will be so pleased. And I was pleased too, until yesterday when I came inside from riding and found a message on my answering machine. It was the message no woman ever wants to get: the hospital asking me to call and speak to Lesley in radiology. Shit. Your mind just kind of wigs out. You have to call, but you don’t want to call. Finally the suspense is killing me so I dialed back and asked for Lesley, who, after the initial pleasantries says I need to come to the hospital to have “more views” taken. “Why?” I ask. Lesley can’t say. “Right” I think, “you’re scaring the crap out of me, but you can’t say why.” Makes no sense whatsoever. Leslie patiently went on to explain that this is not uncommon and it happens a lot. “What … so this is some kind of breast lottery and my number just got picked?” There’s a small pause in the conversation while Leslie thinks about that. “No” she says finally. “Sometimes the breasts are dense (as in stupid?) or sometimes the radiologist wants a different view.” (Ding! Ding! Ding! Red flag alert! I’m not fooled! How many different ways can you squeeze a breast? I’m guessing that means they think they see something and they want to clarify! ) Leslie didn’t know what my specific case was, but those were the two reasons she gave to help alleviate my fears. (Not!) I scheduled an appointment. They could see me the very next day and oh, by the way, the radiologist will read the films right then and there so I’ll know what’s going on before I leave. Nice touch.
I really don’t have any reason to be worried. Thing is, I’m sure plenty of women thought the same thing and were wrong. But worry never made anything better, so I’ll put on my big girl panties and get myself over to the hospital today to have my boobs assaulted. Again. After all, how much fun can a girl stand?
It looks like it might be another a soggy, foggy Christmas this year.
Morning Fog lifts off a swamp.
Waiting for hay on a foggy morning.
I love this picture of Hazer. It’s technically not a great photo, but it has a haunting quality to it that I like. I think it captures Hazer’s personality well; the distant, detached aloofness I’ve struggled to embrace his entire life.
Having a new puppy has made me look back at all the oddness I’ve lived through with Hazer. I suppose when you’re caught up in the moment you can’t really see things with the same clarity that you do with hindsight. I’ve always had a strong suspicion that Hazer was …. well, not quite all there. He’s bright, make no mistake about that, but his inner compass appears to be slightly damaged. I tried giving him lots of structure, but that didn’t help. We did all kinds of classes and training together. He quickly mastered just about any task you asked of him, but he hated the stress of being off the farm. It took several years, but I finally came to the realization that he was simply a great farm dog and trying to mold Hazer into anything more was going to be an exercise in frustration.
Hazer isn’t an easy or even a particularly fun dog to live with. He’s insecure, vocal and somewhat pushy. We don’t feed into his neurosis, but oftentimes his “stuff” encroaches on our daily lives. Most of all, Hazer doesn’t want anybody to have any fun. Ever. He’s an extremely serious dog whose sense of humor borders on bizarre. Needless to say, having a new puppy throws a monkey wrench into Hazer’s neat, structured world and he’s not too sure he likes that. Every chance he can get he tries to squash the “fun” out of Gus. Fortunately, Gus doesn’t take Hazer’s stiff upper lip too seriously; he just runs off and makes his own fun elsewhere! But that bugs Hazer too.
With all his faults and his fondness for making life difficult, you’d think I’d love Hazer a little less than my other dogs. I don’t. Hazer frustrates and challenges me daily, but I can’t look at him without feeling my heart melt just a little. And I can’t explain why. Hazer’s very precious to me, perhaps because he’s so darn hard to love. Although my emotions range from love to hate and every nuance in-between, Hazer will always have a firm grasp on my heart. He’s my “special” boy.
Grape tomatoes ripen in the morning fog.
I’m actually starting to get waves of ripe cherry and grape tomatoes, but for awhile I didn’t think I would get any. The weather this summer has been abominable. We’ve had five weeks of record-breaking heat and humidity and a good amount of rain. By that I mean to say that I have clumps of mushrooms growing in my yard. Anything that doesn’t thrive in the wet, hot humidity is starting to rot and flowers and veggies that have long since gone by are turning into a slimy black mess. I’ve tried my best to keep up with the chore of cleaning and clearing up beds that have stopped flowering or producing, but it’s kind of hard to get the job done in this heat, humidity and rain. The last few weeks I’ve been in an almost perpetual state of wet-to-the-knees and I think I’m going to develop a nasty case of foot rot if this nonsense keeps up. (Just kidding …. sorta) Needless to say, it hasn’t been the best of summers for anything, unless you’re crazy enough to count taking pictures in the fog a big plus! (Yes!)
My gladiolas have finally bloomed. I shot this in early morning fog, which has been very heavy lately. I didn’t think I’d like the green glads, but now that they’ve blossomed I think they look better than they did in the picture on the bulb bag. I bought a handful of glad bulbs pretty late in the spring and the color selection was limited to red, pink and green. That wouldn’t have been my first choice, but planting glads was a bit of an after thought. Next year I’m going to try to get better colors and make sure I plant them earlier. It’s been years since I’ve grown gladiolas and I’d forgotten how much I like them.
It was another foggy morning … good for shooting webs. I didn’t have a lot of time to explore options today because I had things to do and Gus was waiting to come back out and go burn off a little energy. I took a few photos, then set my camera and tripod aside. The whole time I was shooting the horses were patiently grazing in the side pasture by the barn, but as I approached them I suddenly spotted a HUGE web suspended between the two strands of electric fence! I quickly retrieved my camera and struggled to find a place that would support the tripod and allow a decent shot. While I was doing this the horses continued to munch grass directly behind the web, which was so light-sensitive that if Dharla moved away from the fence the web just vanished into the fog. Naturally, almost as soon as I had things set up both horses got board and started to wander off, so I picked a couple of handfuls of green grass and tossed it over the fence. I hoped that would entice at least one of the horses to come back, preferably Dharla since she’s the darker of the two horses. It worked, and I was able to get a few interesting shots of the web with Dharla in the background for contrast.
Things are starting to get super busy, but there’s nothing like a few weeks with daily temps in the 90’s to sap your energy. I’ve done my best just to soldier through it, but word has it that the next few days are going to be even hotter. Looks like morning and evening hose duty is going to be mandatory. I’ve planted several shrubs out by the new barn and if I don’t spend a good chunk of every day watering them, they’re going to fry. I’m hoping they’ll take, and by this time next summer I won’t have to do a thing with them.
We still have some decisions to make about the stain for the barn. We both want something that will look as natural and barn-y as possible. We already have a red barn, so we’re not looking to repeat that hue. Ideally, I’d like the barn to look like it’s always been here, but who would think there’d be so many different shades and tones of “natural” to pick from? And let’s not forget about several kinds of opacity. Good grief! I’m not good at making that kind of decision and I always end up second guessing my choice until the project is done. However, we can’t stain with the temperatures this high, so I’ll have a little reprieve to torture myself with the final decision.
More exciting news and changes to come soon, but in the mean time I think I’m going to need a catcher’s mitt … like the spider web I shot one foggy morning this week.
Bach Concerto for Violin, Strings & Contunuo in A Minor by Pinchis Zukerman & English Chamber Orchestra
This is how I’ve been feeling lately: Hanging on by a thread. Hung out to dry. On the fence.
Yup, this picture fits my mood well.
If you stare at the clothes pin on the far right you can see how the world looks through my right eye. No biggie, I’ve got two eyes, right? Well, we’re not made to work that way. My right eye is my dominant eye, meaning, the image that gets sent from my left eye doesn’t travel to my brain as quickly as the image from my right eye. So my brain tries to focus on a fuzzy image first. Several nanoseconds later it stutters and goes, “Oh, that’s right. Wrong eye!” Then it picks up the somewhat clearer image on the left. But unless I close my right eye, the final image remains off balance. What my left eye sees is in focus, like the clothes pin in the very middle of the picture. What the right eye sees is dull and blurry, like the pin on the right. So if you stare at the pin in between the two, you’ll get a pretty good idea of what I see all the time; a messed up slightly in-focus, slightly out of focus view of the world!
Needless to say, I haven’t been taking very many pictures. In some ways I’m OK with that, but in others its very frustrating. The longer my camera sits unused the harder it is to retain the fluency to use it when I’m ready to shoot again. So every now and then I push myself to get out and try to shoot something. I’ve pretty much come to rely on using live view, which limits my ability to take pictures of anything that could move suddenly, like horses and dogs. I try to stick with flowers and things of that sort. More often than not, I’ve found myself saying thank goodness for my Macro lens.
OK, enough of the violins for now ….