Friday, February 20, 2009

Happy Birthday, Merrick

Merrick, today you are six! Your mother never thought she'd have children. There's evidence of this somewhere, a wedding video replete with martinis and cigarettes, in which she swears off children like fleas. Three months later? Pregnant. Once she had one, she knew she needed a bundle of children, a pack. Not that she necessarily enjoyed children so much. Just that your mother recognized her own intensity demanded distribution among many rather than laser-like focus on one.

Because of -- well, big busy beautiful Life with complications -- your conception was delayed until your mother saw the big 4-0 bearing down, fast. Later, your parents decided, for the first time, not to find out which gender was brewing.

But one night, your mother got up to use the bathroom for the 200 millionth time. She looked out the window. Brittle snow and a bright moon, a black northern night. And as she turned from the window, she knew you were a boy. She felt you.

When you finally arrived (9 lbs and 11 ounces of you!), your parents simply threw you into the mix. One of the pack. So there was a lot of this:

You proved to be durable, of flexible purpose.

Usurped from her place as the youngest, your sister observed: "Merrick's head looks like a big chunk of meatloaf. He's a meatloaf head."

Mama asked: "How do you feel about your baby brother?"

Scarlett: "I half love him and half hate him."

Mama: "Have you ever seen meatloaf?"

Scarlett: "I have now. Meatloaf Head."

Meatloaf Head, your big sister's Love Half soon swelled to a Love Whole.

But the name stuck. Meatloaf Head or MLH for short. You also received no small amount of affection from your big brother.

Those big kids touched the moon! Later bedtimes! Books they could read without Mama! The freedom to stand up and grab a glass! They could perform miracles like making Barney appear on the television, cut shapes from paper, and make Grandma's voice come through the telephone. Their powers were magical, enviable.

So there was also a whole lot of this:

You are all about catching up. Keeping up. But sweetie, you stand alone in your love for our puppies. Here you are with the regal Thurston. The family misses you, gentle friend.

Your brothers and sisters came without the Zap Tingle Itch Ow! Skin with which you were born. Shorts? One pair will do, those with the perfectly worn elastic and tag long cut off. Shirt sleeves must fall 4 exacting inches below the shoulder with a neckline soft and pristine. You now need 20 minutes to put on your shoes because of that dreadful sock seam. The sock seam is Evil Incarnate. And it hurts your skin.

You loved motorcycles early, and still do. You got your first ride on a real motorcycle when you were three (ssshhh! don't tell Child Protection!). It was just 5 miles an hour and one block long, but still--you had arrived.

Even though you scream "Don't say that!" when she does: you are the Matron's sweet baby. You know that book, Love You Forever? Every night she sneaks into your room and stare. How lucky did she get ?

And when she can't get through that book without weeping? Scarlett steps in. "Here, Mama. Let me read that for you." Thanks, darling. Only makes her cry harder.

Merrick, you love weaponry, dogs and cats, stuffed animals and spicy rice and tofu. You are always good for a cuddle. You are a good friend and are lucky enough to share your brother's wicked sense of humor. Here, you decided that getting tied to a tree would be a really good time.

If your Ninja Turtle Sword is on the third floor and you're in the basement, your legs will hurt and tummy churn and certainly, your Mama will retrieve it? You have a way with balls and sport, batting like a 10 year-old, making basket after basket and catching Daddy's hard balls.

You play with this dog like you were one of the breed. Don't be. Remember, we're talking about Satan's Familiar.

Even though you can't read yet, you can slide down the stairs on your belly and will volunteer to be buried alive.

And you put on footie pajamas-- the minute you get home from school, every day! She figures you're a Coach Potato in training. You wear each pair until the toes are frayed and failing.

Six years on this planet! A wink and eternity. Happy birthday, babe.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Six Years Ago at this Very Moment

The Matron was hugely pregnant. And forty. And 8 days past the baby's due date. Let us just pause and digest that!

Friends, she was also crabby.

How crabby? After her last appointment with the midwife (sorry, Mary, that cervix is closed tight), the Matron went right to her local corner store and purchased a pack of cigarettes.

She thought she'd smoke it out. Being an ex-smoker gave her the wisdom necessary to create this very fine theory.

Please don't yell at her for baby abuse. Because just half a cigarette felled the mother herself. All those years of cleaner living must've given her back her senses. She fell to the ground, hacking.

Since that didn't work and she wasn't in the mood for vodka, she picked up the phone and called her acupuncturist, Bill. Because she suffers from not one, but two inter-related autoimmune diseases (some people have all the luck!), she used acupuncture to buoy the body during the pregnancy.

Matron: "Bill! I am totally completely desperate. You know all those points you don't prick because they will induce labor?"

Bill: "Yes?"

Matron: "PRICK THEM NOW! Please!"

Bill: "Darling, I am in Houston but I hop on my plane in half an hour. I'll meet you in my office at 4:00. I'll use electricity of wish. We'll zap that creature right out, promise!!"

He was giddy.

He hooked up the Matron and lit her like a Christmas tree. Her body was covered in shining needles. When the treatment was over, he said this: "You should go into labor within 24 hours."

Matron: "I better!" Boy, was she crabby.

Merrick? Even better! He was born 12 hours later. Thanks, Bill!

Tomorrow, she celebrates her baby! Her great big old six-year old. Sniffle!

Humane Society, Her Foot

The Matron was sad to hear that the local Humane Society 'rescued' 130 cats from a house and promptly killed them. She guesses the real shocker is that the two events--the rescue and the slaughter--were nearly the same day.

Sniffle. And rant. The link has all that and more.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Second Opinion!

Remember the deft professional that was the Matron's Ob-Gyn? Sorry for linkage, but background is the only road to appreciation of post.

She got that second opinion. But before we go into the logistics surrounding the idiosyncratic bladder and its hysterical tendencies (much like its owner), let's first pause and consider why in the world anyone would want to BE an urologist?

If she had one centimeter of unexplored physical territory left before today's urology appointment, well, Conquest and Cartography did their business. My, my. The Matron now knows precisely how her uterus jiggles over bladder when she stands up and sits down. And more.

But this physician?

Matron: "So do I have a hysterectomy or the mesh hammock under the bladder or both or what?"

Doctor: "Surgery?"

Matron: "Well, the Ob-Gyn seems to think I'm headed right to the operating room.

Doctor: "That seems silly, don't you think?"

Matron: "Why, yes!"

Doctor: "I'm all about the path of least intervention."

Matron: "Really? So civilized!"

Doctor: "And I don't think you need surgery. Your main problem is that you feel the need to go all the time, right? No leakage just urge?"

Matron: "Right."

Doctor: "Physical therapy. Let's start with physical therapy."

Matron: "Excuse me? You can undergo physical therapy for the bladder?"

Doctor: "You bet. Same way toddlers learn continence. You feel and manage a muscle. You can learn to retrain that muscle. Turn it off."

Matron: "Please help me learn to live with this. I am going to see a physical therapist for my bladder."

Doctor: "You bet."

Friends, in a down economy? Buy stock in Depends. The Matron is living up to her name.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In Which the Matronly Ecosystem is HIGHLY Disturbed and Distressed!!

You see, the Matronly ecosystem is highly fragile.  This is code for:  humans, dogs, cats, frogs, fish, birds, gerbils, hamsters, hermit crabs and even caged small snakes can cohabitate with the  Matron.

Not long ago, however, as she was rambling through the half-finished, much lived-in basement, a shot of fur brushed past her!!  She told herself this was a GIANT mouse, even though said fur blur seemed more like a kitten than egg.  Still. Denial is a powerful tool that's served her well so far, and this was no exception.

Matron to John:  "We have mice.  I mean, really big Superman mice.  I just saw one in the basement and it's like, a rat-size."

John (knowing her well):  "Uh-oh.  That's probably a rat, then, not a mouse.  How big?"

Matron:  "It looked like a four month old kitten.  Only disgusting.  But it wasn't a rat."

John:  "Ummmmm."

Just when the Matron's very fine repression-denial-evasion skills had convinced her that this was a mouse in the house, she saw the creature scuttling across the floorboard again.  Actually, mice scuttle.  This thing lurched.  And it was undeniably as big as a kitten!

Two days later.

John:  "Mary, sit down.   It's about the basement."


John:  "No, it's a mole.   There's a mole living in the basement."

Little pause.

John:  "Maybe two.  And their offspring."

No! Moles are not on the list of creatures compatible with the Matron's Ecosystem!!!  Especially not by the laundry, the children's playroom, the best shower in the house!!!  

So the Matron must now wear boots and carry a bucket when she enters the very necessary basement.  You see, the plan is that the boots will bear the brunt of venomous Fang while she tosses the bucket over the vermin, locking it in until John - being male and all -- could let it outdoors.   Because she's a girl and can't do this.

She has trouble sleeping at night, imagining chaos in the netherlands.  Whole tribes, colonies, populating.  Can moles strategize and revolt?  How complex is their sentience?   The intrusion is disconserting. 

Think she's hysterical?  Scarlett won't leave her bedroom.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


In the good old days when Thurston was alive, it was not unusual to see both dogs strategically positioned near food.

These days, Satan's Familiar need not 'position' nor strategize as he simply hops on the table, at will.

Here is Jekyll, five years ago.

Here he is this morning, rounding the corner toward 16 years on this planet (in April).

Yesterday, the Matron's dear old friend took another downturn. He lost what remained of his vision.

He has also lost a whole host of other abilities, most of which have to do with Bodily Function. Currently, he is not convenient. He is messy. Plus, he favors this spot smack in the middle of the kitchen.

Yesterday, he had some kind of Inner Disturbance demanding that he pace frantically about while bumping into walls and dripping poop. This went on for a couple of hours. The Matron wiped and watched and when he walked into an open closet or tight corner and couldn't get out, she retrieved him.

When the Matron needed to tend to all other tasks during this time, Stryker took over.

Winter has fallen in so many ways. February is the cruelest month here. The snow is gray and embattled. So are the people, denied sun and heat for so long. Jekyll wears his winter in the 23 hours a day he is sleeping, in the legs that buckleand the snout that no longer tries to sniff a hand.

He can no longer go outside alone because he falls down hills and gets tangled in brush. Yesterday, he fell down the stairs he can no longer see.

So the Matron's family has made this commitment - when their old friend is awake, he will not be alone. They'll take turns on Jekyll duty, keeping him safe and clean. John is currently serving.

The Matron hopes her children are noticing how the elderly are treated in this household: with respect, kindness and care. She desires the same, some day. Where this old friend goes, she will follow -- with everyone else.

Death is back in their household. It is not here yet but has declared its presence in the midst of the black ice and sleeping roses. Dear, sweet dog friends! Give yours a little kiss on her behalf.