Monthly Archives: June 2010

Pineapple and berries do NOT enhance liquid chalk and colonoscopy cleansing

So there I was minding my own business when in came Nurse Christine with two cylinders bearing the suspicious wording, “BERRY FLAVORED”. Those two words immediately raise my “who-are-you-trying-to-fool antennae?”

My inner suspicions date back to my childhood when undergoing an upper/lower GI series. This involved drinking the dreaded liquid chalk. Believe me. The flavor and texture have not improved despite the fact that the equipment used for the testing has increased in cost by at least 10 times. This flummoxes me.

So okay…berry flavored liquid chalk. (A) I hate berry flavored things because they’re always fake, and (B) liquid chalk is not my beverage of choice. But hey, with the husband sitting across the room, barely raising his eyelids at my whining, I had little choice but to drink the stuff promising myself supper as soon as it was over with.

As luck would have it, supper arrived at the same time as the gurney prepared to transport me to the dungeon for yet another test. And of course, by the time I returned, the food was cold so I ordered soup and peanut butter toast. Dark chocolate was the real reward.

Pleased as punch that I’d made it through the chalky liquid, sleep came easily. Whoa….but what was that feeling of lead in my stomach when I woke up in the morning. The docs and nurses just grinned and suggested I drink lots of water and take lots of walks. In a gown that only half ties. Right.

Twenty-four hours later, Nurse Christine slithers into the room bearing a gallon jug of GoLightly, with a cheery little pineapple sticker on the side. Okay, the name alone was a suggestion that this was not going to be a fun night. I vaguely remember hearing the words “cholonoscopy cleansing” and seeing my husband’s sly grin. This is the man who has survived three cholonoscopys and is scheduled for his fourth.

Here were the basic problems, as I saw them: (a) I can’t drink that much liquid in four hours, and (b) I can’t drink pineapple flavored stuff. I have nothing against pineapple. I love fresh pineapple. I even like canned pineapple. But again, this was sure to be fake flavoring. I was beginning to sense a pattern.

But okay, just to be in the spirit of things, I took a big swig. All I can say is that stuff is simply wrong. Just plain old wrong. Huge. Big mistake. Six hours later I was still crossing my eyes and holding my nose. And promising myself that in a few days I will order the biggest, thickest chocolate malt I can locate. Well, that and pizza. Two things I rarely eat. But no more dilly dallying. I’m gonna eat what I want.

Camper portapots? Dick the Bruiser? Spike Jones? The real meaning behind those search terms…

I find it immensely amusing to see what search terms have led readers to my blog. Take “camper portapots” for example. I’m sure the last thing this person expected to pop up in his or her Google search was my blog. But find it he did and for some reason he actually opened it up. I thought that was kind of funny, but I’m probably the only person who cares. You probably think that’s pretty boring.

There are only two people I know who enjoy this kind of thing other than myself. My husband and Ryan Lowry. Like the buzzards hovering over the woods behind our house, the two of them are glued to the stats on the Bluffton Icon, our online news source.  Oh yeah, my brother and sister-in-law watch the stats on their blogs too. Does that mean we have big egos or are just easily entertained by simple things?

I prefer to think it’s the latter.

Here are some of the other search terms that have led readers to my blog. I wonder what they thought of it? I wish they’d make comments so I know who they are.

  • Coral Naylor Florida (C is my co-worker and she does NOT live in Florida, so apparently there are other Corals)
  • Tiny campers, fixed-up campers, vintage campers Craigslist (etc.)
  • creating room with skewed perspective (is this some kind of feng shui?)
  • Mary Pink Mary blog
  • hair cut short
  • how not to have a skewed up thinking
  • Scott Hamilton Schwachman diamond (?)
  • Scott Hamilton skate to Spike Jones (see a thread here?)
  • Spike Jone (sic) typewriter wong (sic) (??)
  • Dick the Bruiser vs. the Sheik story
  • Pete and Kim Suter, Shannon (Pete teaches at Bluffton University, where I work, and he and Kim own the Shannon Theater and Shirley’s Popcorn)
  • boredom in a small town (this is a recurring search term)

And of course, my all-time favorite….

  • Truckin bozo Dale Sommers

Okay, I understand where some of these terms come from and I understand why people would do searches with them. As for the others…gotta say I’m flummoxed. If you can figure it out, fill me in.

A wet sonnet for Dad…straight from the pool

My brother, Tom, and I celebrated Father’s Day today in the one way we’re sure our dad would have loved. Swimming. One of Dad’s favorite things to do. We took Tom’s daughter, Kendra, to the local pool, and chased each other around for awhile. We were going to teach her to play underwater tea party, just as Dad did with us, but we ran out of time and energy. I wonder why Dad never seemed to wear out of energy with us. Maybe he was younger.

Dad loved to swim and made sure we all learned to swim well. He was a college professor, so often went with us to the pool/quarry when we were younger. 

He was one of the few dads who spent time at the pool back then. The other dads must have been working, although a bunch of my friends’ dads taught at the college so had summers off, too. Maybe they didn’t like to swim.  

Dad would spend hours playing games with us, laying flat on the bottom of the pool so long, we were sure he couldn’t be breathing. We’d go down and tug and tug at him until he’d finally submerge, spewing water through the gap in his front teeth. We were so envious — he had his own built-in squirtgun.

One day, I was messing around on the ladder, trying to figure out if I could fit my big toe into one of the holes on the rung. Of course. It fit in perfectly. I just couldn’t get it out. There I was, hanging on for dear life, trying to figure out how to gracefully pull out my toe before Dad came over. I didn’t. He did.

He must have had infinite patience. As a scientist, he understood the reasoning behind my experiments. If I insert toe, what will happen? The old if…then. Rather than pointing out the stupidity of my experiment, he tried a few things before calling over Steve Sudermeister, the head guard. Apparently, they found a solution, because my 10 toes are intact. 

Later…when I was in high school, spending my days at the quarry (the pool was only for those who couldn’t swim)…I remember him showing up late afternoon in that faded blue suit and terry cloth cover-up. He’d dive off the low board and slowly, but steadily swim out to the ropes. Then he’d do laps, back and forth along the ropes, grinning at me when I waved.

Dad, today Tom and I swam laps for you during rest break. Slow and steady. Just like you taught us.

More adventures with Ike, the itinerant runner

An open door means only one thing to a Schnauzer — freedom and how can I get it? Oh, that’s two things. Whatever…for the past three months, we’ve successfully kept Ike from escaping. Of course, I could solve this problem with the training collar and remote zapper, but it intimidates me.
Welll…so much for keeping him successfully at bay. Recently, as a friend and I were heading out, another friend stopped by to chat. As we were temporarily distracted, Ike sniffed an opportunity. The three of us just stared, stunned, as a blur of fur and legs flew out the door, down the steps, and around the hedge to the neighbor’s yard. At this point, we agreed he’d have to find his own way back. No one was in the mood to chase.
As we drove off, he was trotting down the sidewalk toward the neighbors across the street. Grinning. We speculated briefly on where he’d be when we returned.
One hour later, we walked in the door. Guess who greeted us, tail wagging? Yep. The little brat had somehow returned to the fold. He’s  a smart little guy, but I know he didn’t let himself in because (a) we have no doggy door, and (b) he’s far too short to reach the doorknob.
A few minutes later, our neighbor across the street — our favorite dogsitters — stopped by to solve that mystery. Apparently, Ike had decided to stop in for a neighborly chat with them. He loves them and happily let Beth pick him up and scratch his ears. She returned him to our house. Well. Now the world knows we don’t lock our doors. But we have a guard dog, so don’t bother robbing us.
This saga doesn’t end here. Two days later, our neighbor to the east said that she went into her backyard, which is completely fenced in, to fetch their huge, lumbering lab, Thor. She found him chilling near the sandbox, Ike at his side. She thought maybe we’d decided Thor was bored and sent Ike over to play. The only thing we can figure is that while on his trek around the neighborhood, he wriggled under the fence to visit. Somehow, he wriggled back out.
This is not the end.  Another few days later, my mother says she stopped by to drop off a book. She knows she has to carefully open the door and shut it quickly to prevent another escape. But since we’d not answered our phone or the doorbell, she assumed we were out walking the dogs (Harvey, our Heinz57 who lives in Kent, was visiting). Ooops. Not a good assumption.
Ike managed to slither past and headed two houses east. Mother (she’s 88) thought she’d chase him. Don’t laugh. She was serious. Lucky for her, Ike decided to stop for a chat; the neighbor scooped him up and returned him to his prison.
We figure we’re lucky. Nine months ago, the little escapee would immediately head for Alger, his previous home. Now he just hangs out in the hood, where he’s well known.

Ramblings on why technology rules the roost

I wonder sometimes if it’s possible to have too many computers. Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s possible, and in our case, probable. But I try to rationalize this by reminding myself that we don’t have a tv in every room…in fact, we don’t have tv in any room. So technically, our technology is still on the limited side.

So…here it is only Wednesday and I have managed to conquer a new laptop at work and a new netbook at home. Both have Windows 7 operating system — which contrary to what our techies told us is not “just cosmetic” in its differences. Well, maybe it is cosmetic, but since I find cosmetics decidedly short of simple, it’s been a challenging week. Just figuring out how to recreate my signatures for e-mails took at least an hour.

Back to the home front. The husband recently traded his mini-Mac in for a super-duper Mac — actually, a business necessity. This presented a few problems. The old Photoshop and InDesign didn’t cooperate with the new system, which meant purchasing new versions. The new system also messed up the husband’s e-mail, and required some fancy footwork by daughter number 1 and Ryan, our Icon tech guy. Here’s a secret — my husband is Mr. Organization except when it comes to his e-mail and Facebook. Both flummox him. Don’t tell him I told you this.

Aaaanyway, just when the new Mac was up and running, the 10-year-old Macbook decided to kick the bucket. This, in itself, is nothing short of amazing in that Macbooks don’t usually last that long. Not willing to give in, the husband ordered a new battery. It arrived, was installed and Bingo! The Mac popped back to life…for 10 minutes. This meant that it was time to start considering the purchase of a new Macbook. Why? Because, otherwise, our marriage would become a short-distance commuter marriage because he would be in the basement working most of the time and the only time we’d see each other would be for a 30-minute supper break with Laverne and Shirley.

As it turns out, the Macbook comes with a complementary iPod Touch. The husband’s eyes crossed on that one. He can’t even manage my simple Nano, so clearly, this will be my toy. Sure hope the kid can come home soon to teach me how to use it.

In the middle of the Mac fiasco, I decided it was time to get myself a little netbook. After consultations with the university techs and a few friends, I chose an Acer that weighs less than 3 pounds. Fits in my purse. Perfect. In fact, it’s a perfect fit for my three fingers that aren’t working quite right now. The keyboard is so tiny that the fingers don’t need to stretch nearly as far.

Despite the fact that I’m feeling just a tad guilty about all of these techno purchases, I just realized something. While we don’t have a tv in every room, we just about have enough computers that we could watch all of our old favorite shows on hulu.com. In stereo. If only we could quit working long enough to watch.

Doc says stop running; feet say “WHAT”?

Runners are a strange breed. This I know for sure. I’ve been one for more than 30 years. Most people eye us with distrust, give us nasty looks as if we’ve ruined their day by just being there. Oddly, there are those who try to run us off the road. I’ve never understood this animosity.

For example, it was a frigid, snowy day. A day when no vehicles should be on the road. Feet are okay, if they’re clad in spikes. So there I was heading south on Main Street/Dixie Highway toward the bowling alley, my turnaround. A large truck approached me from the south. A dad and son. No seatbelts from my visual. But hey, if they want to take chances. I raised my hand to wave, when the driver raised his own hand in an angry fist-waving rampage. Ummmm…okay. Gee, did I do something wrong? I puzzled over that one all day.

So anyway, running. It’s been my thing since sophomore year of college. The first time I tried, one college roommate convinced the other two of us to trot around the old cinder track behind Hirschy Hall on the Bluffton College (excuse me, University) campus. My memory is that Emily informed Vicki and I that we would slowly traverse a lap at a time. When I developed a sideache, Em, the veteran, told me to run bent over. I’m sure this looked pretty stupid, but fortunately it was dark.

That was it until about six months later when I decided to try again. Somehow it got easier and I discovered it was kind of fun. Over the years, it became habit. From somewhere within me, a competitive urge popped up and I began races. I actually won a few. In fact, I’d have won one more except they somehow registered me as male. I actually got the trophy 20 years later. I don’t know if it took that long to compute, or if Dick Boehr just felt sorry for me and had one specially designed.

So…here it is almost 34 years later. Miles and miles behind me. Assorted injuries, temporary layoffs (i.e. two pregnancies and one knee surgery, two sacral stress fractures)…and even a few months of thinking I’d never run again. But oh…minutes at a time, we idiots build back up to some semblance of running.

So recently, thanks to an ongoing health problem, my doc looks at me suspiciously and says, “Are you still running.” Guiltily, I peek at my husband, who is glaring at me. Ulp. “Um…yesterday.” How far, says he, the expert? Um….3? How fast? Um…oh about, 28-29 minutes, maybe.

Stop now — you can start again when you’re stronger. Okay, this is not the order I wanted to hear. I wanted to think I could keep up my usual routine — that piece of me that has become as natural as brushing my teeth. But okay, for the sake of saving my energy for some tough times, I agree. Walk, he says. That’s okay.

The next day I find myself enjoying an early morning walk with a friend, who says she is more of a walker than a runner these days. In fact, she explains to me why runners don’t want to be known as walkers. There’s something, she says, about being known as a “runner”. It sets us apart, lets us continue to be the oddballs we like to be. It also allows us to eat just about anything we want…well, at least those who don’t have genetically high cholesterol.

As my walking feet fight my running brain, I remind myself that I’m doing this for a good reason. It’s all about energy. Saving it. Somehow, though, my brain hasn’t quite accepted that. It will. Someday. I hope.

History from five perspectives

It’s funny how family stories get told and retold in so many different versions that no one really remembers the truth. As daughter number 1 says, these variations may be “interpreted as you will”. She should know — she’s a direct descendant of two families who are masters at “remembering” events in colorful variations. For some reason, though, she thought only the Steiner relatives did this until my four brothers came through with their own memories of August 11, 1956.

I can’t speak much for the truth of any parts of this story since it so happens that it was the day I was born, and I can recount only what I’ve been told. This I know for sure: I was born at Bluffton Hospital and because we lived down the alley from the hospital, my dad — always one to avoid unnecessary use of a vehicle — carried my mother to the hospital after her water broke while she was hanging clothes on the line.

Okay, that might not be true. Maybe I just think she was hanging clothes on the line because that’s what moms did in those days — pregnant or not. 

I’m going to blame a recent revival of this story on my brother, John, the historian. He came across some records about our paternal grandmother, which led him to remember Aunt Dora and Uncle Dave, who lived next door on Kibler St. Somehow that reminded him of August 11, 1956 — more likely because it was the day before his eighth birthday, as opposed to the day of his baby sister’s birth.

Anyway, this perpetuated a series of e-mails between my brothers, my daughter, and me, followed by a brief comment from our mother. This is kind of how this went:

John (one day less than 8 years old on August 11, 1956): Aunt Dora’s and Uncle Dave’s alley is the one that Dad ran
down August 11, 1956 carrying Mother and Mary to the hospital. Still quite a vivid image in my mind it seems. Do any of the rest of you remember that?

Me (tongue-in-cheek): Yeah, I kinda remember being in a nice, warm, floaty place and all of a sudden, things got kind of bouncy and no longer fun.  You probably have a different visual of that day.

John: My visual is one of the back of Dad running with a horizontal-type package down the alley to the right of Uncle Dave’s house, but with the “package” at an angle, seeing only the back of Mother’s head and feet off to an angle, with me standing with Mary Naas on the other side of the alley from our house. Was this funny at the time, or only later? Then waiting for about 15-20 minutes and Dad coming back down the alley. Was this possible (that fast)?

James (age three in 1956): Mine is remarkably similar to John’s, except I was in the yard of the red brick house (our house).  I first thought Mother was sick, but when someone reminded me she was going to have a baby, I felt confused about how you could be “healthy” but need a doctor and a hospital.  I also seem to recall Dad coming back fairly quickly before disappearing again.  Was he checking on us kids, to be sure Mary Naas had us under control?

Me (tongue still firmly in cheek): Probably didn’t trust the four of you.

Tom (age two in 1956): I thought he had left me in charge, but I don’t recall a single thing.

Phil (at age nine, the eldest): All right, let me interrupt my busy day to clear this all up.  As I recall, we were on the porch swing initially, then probably ran around all over after Dad took off with Mother.  Elaine Naas was there too.  I’m sure Anna Mary was too, since we were still pretty young.  And the picture is still clear in my mind, as is that of Doctor Rodabaugh in his Ford Thunderbird flying down Kibler and squealing around the turn onto Harmon Road a few minutes later. 

The only trouble is I remember a 58 T-bird and even though he bought them as soon as they came out, that T-bird wasn’t around until a couple years later.  I guess that shows how clear my memory is.  I do remember a nice sunny day.
James: Thanks, Phil, for clearing things up.  Of course, Mary, you realize this means you’re not as old as you thought you were, and it also explains why I remember that day so well (I was 5 instead of 3). 

Lindsay (born in 1983 with a Pannabecker silver tongue in her mouth): It’s nice to know that my Pannabecker family has the same tendency towards story “variations” as my Steiner family. Interpret “variations” as you will…

Mother, who must have her own memory of that day, chose not to correct any of us, or even add her own variation, instead simply commented: I love to read the things you remember from when you were “young”.
 
It’s just too bad Dad and Doc Rodabaugh aren’t around to add their own two cents worth. Especially to clarify that question about the 1958 T-bird. Of course, knowing the two of them, we still wouldn’t know the real truth.

The barbecued dinner that wasn’t

Picture this. It’s Memorial Day and the annual parade route rolls right past your house. A slew of people will be walking past your house. What do you do? Half of the Steiners take advantage of the opportunity to market two of the bicycles ousted from the family stock. Within minutes they were snapped up. 

Now picture this. It’s 11:30 a.m. and the husband casually announces to daughter number one that the Legion is having a Harlan’s chicken bbq. Never one to turn down Harlan’s, she is in the car before words are out of his mouth.

Not wishing to rain on their proverbial parade, I kept my mouth shut (yes, I know…hard to believe). Actually, while I didn’t say what I was really thinking, I suggested they get three dinners since daughter number two had just passed Dayton  on her way from Cincy. I usually only eat some of the chicken from Dad’s share.

So off they went…as the unspoken thought again crossed my mind that we’ve been down this road before…no pre-purchased tickets can be a problem with a sell-out crowd of Harlan’s on Memorial Day. Sure enough, a few minutes later, daughter number one stormed into the house, bellowing, “He didn’t buy tickets.”

Trailing behind her was poor old dad, befuddled, embarrassed, eyes downcast. Turns out we could wait until 2 p.m. to pick up the leftover dinners, but apparently their stomachs didn’t agree with that idea.

Two pairs of eyes looked at me…somewhat hopefully. To which I answered, “Don’t look at me. I’m NOT grilling chicken today.” (A), our grill melted; and (B), I had other plans.

Says dad to irate daughter, “Let’s go buy a rotisserie chicken.” Ah, but she’s lived in the big city far too long. “The grocery here actually has them? And it’s open? You sure???”

So…off they sped again as I sent up a fervent prayer to the god of policemen who patrol Grove Street. Luck was on the Steiner side — the cops were either out to lunch or parked in one of the other local speed traps. Wait…did I say that?

And yes, the local grocery came through with one of those wonderful answers to those who don’t want to cook….a beautifully browned rotisserie chicken.

Daughter number two showed up just in time to help demolish the “it’s not Harlan’s but it’ll do in a pinch” chicken. She gave a brief howl of “Dad, you didn’t…not again?”

To which he responded, holding up the remains of the bike sale profits, “Thanks to my astute failure to purchase said tickets, we have successfully saved 75% of our profit.”

There’s always a skinflint in the bunch.