Monday, August 31, 2009

Suicide by Bag: Paper or Plastic?

The following story is one I just received from a friend.

I am back working at the suicide prevention hotlines and admissions to the psychiatric unit at our local facility. Although it is often a sad endeavor trying to keep the humblest of God's human creatures alive from day to day, there are some occasional bright spots.

The other night a couple of guys in their mid to late 50s came in. They were brothers, and one of them was bringing in the other for admission.

I asked the potential client/patient why he was there. He told me he had been thinking about killing himself and had planned, and even rehearsed, his method of suicide. This is very sad but true that suicidal people will rehearse killing themselves.

I asked the client what his plan was. After some elaborate detail during which he evaded my question, I finally asked, “How were you going to kill yourself? What were you going to do?”

He replied, “I planned to put a bag over my head.”

I responded with the only thing I could at that moment: “Was it going to be paper or plastic?”

Go ahead, you can laugh. Even the client and his brother laughed.

Sometimes in the tunnel of darkness, there are small lights and great lights. They can either be a train thundering in your direction or lightning bugs sent to amuse. I prefer the lightning bugs.

The man was admitted and is alive to this day.

copyright © 2009 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009


A male friend has always called cats “pussies.” For years I expressed my disgust of the term to him, and after 23 years, I laid down my sword and took his side.

One day I was in a hurry to get out the door and leave with my daughter. Part of the leaving ritual involves getting the cats to the lower level, because I don't trust Piercing, the long-haired cat, upstairs (though I do trust Tattoo, the short hair).

As I scurried about, looking for the cats, I said to Ivy, “Where are the pussies?”

She cocked her head, squinted her eyes at me, and replied, “I think they’re in our pants.”

And so goes life at the zoo.

copyright © 2009 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

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Internet Dating

Disclaimer: Internet dating has served a few of my friends. In fact, at least two of my guy friends have married their cyberlovers. One’s still in love, but the other gave his back.

I’ve always thought Internet dating was a freaky way to meet someone. I can imagine the headline: “Unsuspecting Girl Meets Clutter-Freak Psychopath via the Internet.” Considering I’m a mom, I am superselective about whom I drag home by the hair. And I probably wouldn’t knowingly date a guy who does iDating.

If by fat chance I were to meet someone, I’d probably be doing something I enjoy, such as eating in a decent restaurant, hiking, perusing in a bookstore, grocery shopping, socializing, shooting pool, singing, playing guitar, tasting wine, sitting in my hot tub, or writing.

As a matter of fact, I did meet someone, or something, in my tub and at the grocery store. More in upcoming stories.

But writing it was when I met my match.

In October 2008, I e-mailed a Neighborhood Watch update to about 66 neighbors in the area, many of whom I’ve never met but who have asked to be on my mailing list.

One kind person thanked me for my work and shared some insight about the neighborhood that I found valuable, so I e-mailed back, asking more questions. Well, that e-mail led to another and another, and we, quite innocently, started our relationship.

It turns out we had mutual friends and enemies, shared complementary problems, so we could help each other, and we encouraged each other as no one else would have. We have been open, honest, giving, sharing, and when we disagreed on a couple of issues, we recovered quickly.

It wasn’t until June 2009, when I needed professional advice on how to help a friend, that we finally spoke briefly on the phone.

But it’s as if we don’t want to break the spell, and we haven’t met in person. But I consider my iDating match Gayle a true friend, even if she isn’t a member of the opposite sex.

copyright © 2009 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Scotland Bomber Released

My hiking buddy asked me what I thought of releasing the convicted Lockerbie, Scotland, bomber, because he is terminally ill with prostate cancer. Although former Libyan secret service agent Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi has maintained his innocence, he was handed a life sentence for murdering 270 people around Christmastime 1988.

My thought? Release him from a jet at 27,000 feet over the Atlantic—100 feet for every person whose life was lost.

But what if he really wasn’t guilty?

copyright © 2009 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

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It’s so much fun to do things that are on the fringe, like wearing whipped cream, not wearing panties, and streaking. Most of us have stories from our high school or college years that would make our parents (or kids) cringe.

Streaking slid out of vogue soon after the song “The Streak” was released in 1974, yet even recently I’ve thought, What would the neighbors think if I dashed outside naked? Would they turn me in? Would they think I fell off my rocker? Would they even notice? It’s not that I’m as proud as I can be of my anatomy, as Ray Stevens sang. Frankly, I’m quite boyish in my appearance. The act would be for effect.

Naturism is a part of many cultures, even in a few spots in Colorado, where there are vacation spas and pools, such as Mountain Air Ranch and Orvis Hot Springs, where it’s clothing optional.

For years I had a recurring dream. I’d be changing from my gym uniform into street clothes in our junior high girls’ locker room when, all of a sudden, the bell would ring, girls would rush, and I’d end up sprinting to my next class, shall I say, without my books and normal looks. I was mortified and couldn’t find my way back to the locker room, so I’d dart aimlessly, overexposed, amid a gawking student body.

I’ve talked with others who have had almost the same dream. Fears. Or is it a desire to do something we’re not supposed to do?

Back in 1974 or ’75 my cousin Hope was having a slumber party. We girls started talking about streaking, and eventually devised a plan for one of us to streak. Being the odd one of the bunch and three years older than the others, they voted me Most Likely to Streak.

So, I slipped on horizontal-striped socks and a trench coat. Don’t think dirty old man, think, skinny blonde with legs up to her neck.

The plan: My cousin’s friends would accompany me to the designated Release Spot on seldom-traveled Trump Lake Road. When a designated girl would yell “Now!” I’d drop the coat, the girls would catch it, and they’d follow me, in case someone drove around the curve. That way they could cover me quickly.

What I didn’t know was that these clever little defectors had a different plan.

“Now!” someone yelled. I dropped my coat and started running. But their giggling voices were moving farther away. Rather than catching my coat and acting as my entourage, the little traitors ran with my coat in the opposite direction!

When I turned to see them running away from me, I gasped! Oh my gosh! What am I gonna do?!

Realizing I couldn’t catch them and not wanting to sprint in my birthday suit alone on the road, I decided to run for cover. Though I was closer to my aunt and uncle’s home, getting caught in this predicament was more punishment than I could handle, so I decided to run into the neighbors’ summer home.

I opened the side door, flew through the kitchen, and gasped again as I saw poor, sick, little Joe raising a spoon of Corn Flakes toward his mouth. His eyes grew as big as his bowl, he dropped his spoon, and I leaped into their bathroom. “Hi, Joe,” I cautiously peeped from behind the bathroom door.

A while after I heard him push in his chair and walk upstairs, I wrapped myself in a towel and headed back to my aunt and uncle’s—to devise a familial redress.

copyright © 2009 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Between a Wall and a Toilet

For years I’ve said, “I’d rather clean a toilet than paint.”

I’m not sure when my aversion to painting began, but it could have been when I painted my Nana’s house, the summer “Afternoon Delight” was released. Let’s see. I had just turned 17.

Being a singer who loved the outdoors, painting Nana’s large home emerald green while earning a little green seemed ideal. Enough space and trees separated her home from the neighbors, so I could belt out the high notes without any apologies.

The worst part of the two-week job was on the last day. And believe me, it wasn’t because I was sad to be almost done. I was exhausted, my arm ached, and I really started hating the color green, which for an ecologist-environmentalist is sacrilegious.

During the final days, I ascended and descended the ladder numerous times as I painted the trim white. Finally, at about 4:00 in the afternoon, I was delighted to be on the last side, a short one.

As I climbed the ladder and lifted the paint can up to set it on the fold-out tray, my aim was a negative attitude off. I hit the side of the tray causing the can to tip, slosh, then fall out of my grip. I watched in slow motion as white paint glopped all over my emerald green work. I screamed.

Painting is not just about coating a surface with a liquid. It’s also about preparation, gathering the needed materials, and cleanup.

The interior of our current house was looking shabby last year. I knew that touching up the white baseboards would perk up the place, but I had to tease myself into the job. First I got the can out and set it on the kitchen counter. Three weeks later it remained unopened, so I put it away. Three weeks after that, I went into the garage and shook the can, then put it back.

“How does Joanne do it?” I asked aloud. My former flatmate painted rooms all the time. Wild thing.

Finally I thought, Maybe I’m scared of big brushes! So I shook the can, cracked it open, slipped on latex gloves, and started painting baseboards with a small watercolor brush. Sure it took longer, but cleanup was a breeze.

Eventually, I graduated to using a small rag moistened with paint to complete the baseboard project. I felt empowered!

By Christmastime 2008, I bit the bullet. I hadn’t remodeled my daughter, Ivy’s, room in five years, so I decided to Africanize it. Bed, Bath & Beyond had a fabulous sheet and comforter ensemble, a friend donated African fabric and a vase, and another friend allowed me to enlarge and frame photos he shot in Africa. Ivy’s dad contributed a new ceiling-light cover, and all that was left to set the scene was paint.

On Christmas Eve I suggested terra cotta for the color, which Ivy and I decided should be on two adjacent walls. I spread most of the paint with a spongy applicator. Oh my gosh! It turned out beautifully. At night when she illumines her room, a warm glow flows into the hallway, creating a warm, inviting welcome.

I was on a roll, preparing mentally for my next project.

There were two special paints I’d purchased in 2005 to match my dining room furniture—cerulean and mauve. The plan: Atop the one tan wall, I’d use a rag to create a design with the cerulean. Once dry, I’d rag on the mauve, so the colors would bring out those in the chairs.

The plan never materialized. But as I lay in my bed one morning, I realized those colors would look good in my room too. After thinking about this for several months, I did it!

The result? Everyone who sees it is in awe. My real estate agent even said, “People pay thousands for work like this!”

I might have to start singing a new commode-free tune: Rubbing moist liquid on a bumpy or smooth surface can be an afternoon delight and create ecstatic results.

copyright © 2009 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

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Friday, August 7, 2009


What’s the first thing you think of when someone says, “I just turned 50”?

Maybe you wonder if they scheduled their colonoscopy. It’s the second stage in the rite of passage; the first is admitting that you actually are 50.

The week before my procedure, I brought up the topic to everyone I met. At a wine and music event, I sat at a table with folks who’d endured more than one colonoscopy. All of them said it’s no big deal. But the day before isn’t any fun.

So the day before “the day before,” I ate very little. And on Sunday when I was allowed nothing but clear liquids, it wasn’t much different from Fridays, when I generally don’t eat. Preparation C, for “cleanout,” also consisted of four tablets of “the worldwide no. 1 selling overnight laxative,” Dulcolax, which on me acted like pepper triggering a sneeze: It was not an overnight phenomenon. My neighbor’s advice of staying home and not going to the neighborhood potluck was sage.

A couple of hours after swallowing Dulcolax, I was directed to pour seven doses of MiraLax powder into 64 ounces of chartreuse-colored Gatorade. MiraLax is polyethylene glycol, a synthetic resin used as a solvent or wax. I’m guessing in this case, it’s not wax. In the drug facts, it reads, “Stop use and ask a doctor if you get diarrhea.”

Kind of ironic.

Because I’d consumed so much liquid already, I had little room for much else, yet after three hours, the Gatorade was gone, along with everything inside me.

The next morning at 4:30 I was back at the bottles—MiraLax and Gatorade. My tongue fell out of my face at 6:10 a.m. No more.

Showered and lighter, I floated next door to Bette’s for a lift to the gas blower. You know how some women have a husband to take them to doctors’ appointments? Well, I don’t need a husband—I have Bette.

In the waiting room, we waited. When nurse Kris called my name, we jumped up and went into a preparation room. “I’m scared,” I told Kris. “I’ve never had an IV before. Do I have to have drugs? Do you know how much to give me? I’m rather skinny. Have you lost anyone yet? Why would you want this job?”

Nurse Kris patiently answered my questions. “You don’t have to be sedated. Would you like to have the procedure done without drugs?” Her tone of voice and expression formed my reply.

“Maybe not,” I whimpered.

“And who’s this with you?”

“Bette. She’s my confidante, neighbor, and drives the short bus for me.”

“So is it all right if she hears all the bad news that the doctor might tell you?” she sort of asked.

“Oh yes, please. All the news from North Korea too.”

“Okay. Take off your clothes and put on this cute little gown that exposes your rear,” Kris sweetly ordered. “Be right back!”

While she was gone those two minutes, I said to Bette, “What do you suppose is behind these curtains?” I peeked around the side to find sliding glass doors, a hallway, and another room across the hall that looked like a laboratory. Suddenly I felt as if I were in a university hospital and a whole class planned to observe my procedure from the hallway, giggle, and make anatomically correct comments about my hemorrhoids.

Kris skipped back in, pulling me out of my nightmare. “Now lie back on the bed and relax.”


When nurse number two walked in, I realized they were ganging up on me for the kill. “This is Elizabeth,” Kris announced. “She’ll be inserting your IV and feeding tube.” I could picture the straitjacket with a chink cut out for my butt hole.

“Will it hurt? I think I hear my daughter calling me.”

“No, it’s nothin—”

“Ouch! How long will this hurt?” Elizabeth, pretending to be mute, strapped the needle hole to my arm with several rounds of tape. I was stuck now. “It still hurts,” I whined. I noticed the pleasure she took in using my body as an oversize pincushion. Bet she’s mad at her boyfriend.

Behind me, Kris kindly interrogated in rapid-fire succession. “When was the last time you ate solid food?”

“I think, a month ago.”

“When was your last drink of liquids?”

“I had a shot of tequila at 6:10 this morning.”

“Have you had any aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs in the past week?”

Drugs, that’s what I forgot. “No.”

“Have you any allergies?”

“Onions,” I said, “and men. That’s why I have Bette here.”

They liked that. “Do you have a family history of colon cancer?”

“My family’s full of it,” I honestly replied.

“Wheel ’er in!” Back flew the curtains, slide went the glass door, and whoosh went the gurney on which I rode.

“Never been on a gurney before!”

In the laboratory I met Gail, the drug-prep nurse. I suddenly felt like a character in Young Frankenstein. We chit-chatted about painful topics, probably to get me in the mood.

Then I felt something move inside of me. “I think I have to go to the bathroom,” I told her.

“We have a suction.”

“Oh? What are you doing with all those needles?” I hesitantly asked.

“I’m preparing your drugs.”

Then I heard someone waltz in behind me and slide over to the sink by the window. As she washed her hands, I asked, “Are you Sue the doctor?”

“Yes, I am!” the perky little 15-year-old blonde answered, then pranced over to me. As she sat down and looked at me, she asked, “So why are you here today?”

“I’m here for the interview. Did you clean those instruments?”

“Yes. And are you having any problems?”

“Well, I may have irritable bowel syndrome, because you know as we get older, we have fewer enzymes to digest— What are you doing with that needle?!”

“Oh, I’m just putting a little sedative in you,” the little bombshell said as she injected Versed and fentanyl in me.

“I’m really small, so you don’t have to put very much in,” I uneasily offered. “And I’ve been having pain right here, and I’m thinking maybe it’s my colon and not my left ovary and…” I crashed.

I faintly heard, “Can you roll over on your left side for me?” I grunted and rolled like a beached whale. I did feel a sharp pain when they turned on their gas blower.

“Bette!” I eeked when I awakened in the first room. “How long have I been here?”

“About 15 minutes.”

“Am I going to live?”


So I slipped on my sundress, opened the door, and in my Versed-induced hypnotic state said thank you to everyone and wiggled my butt to the car. I think.

copyright © 2009 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fresh Versus Bottled Water

Reading the local Gazette, I see that Colorado leads in fitness, yet our fitness seems to be physical, not mental. In some ways, we Coloradans are as clogged as a sluggish bowel.

If you’ve traveled to other places in the world, maybe you’ve tried their water. In Mexico, it tastes like tequila; in Germany, beer; in France, wine; in Scotland, scotch; in Iraq, trouble.

No matter where I’ve visited, I have never had water as good as it is in Colorado Springs. NestlĂ© must agree. They want to buy Chafee County Colorado’s water and bottle it under the Arrowhead label.

Bottled water. Why don’t people think before they do things?

Pour good, fresh water into an outgassing petroleum container and take a swig. Not quite the same, is it? It’s awful, empty, and tastes like (gasp) plastic. With the world’s thirst for oil and plastic, though, bottled water slides past gums like petrol through an Expedition.

After drinking the contaminated serving or two, many still throw bottles in the trash! Makes me want to slap someone. Hard.

According to the Gazette, the national average for recycling waste is 28.5 percent. Coloradans recycle only 12.5 percent of our waste. Laziness.

In general, American water is safe to drink from the tap. We’re running into leeching problems in the eastern states where the infrastructure is old, but we typically try to keep water flowing as purely as possible. That’s what our tax dollars are for. And when we run out of tax money, we just print more.

The recession has been such a blessing. People are finally buying less, so there will be less excess crap to fill.

People are opting for birth control, rather than bringing another person into the world who would need space, food, water, and all the ancillary junk humans accumulate. Sometimes people act like bowerbirds adorning their nests with colorful shells and feathers that will be discarded after the children have flown away.

Whatever happened to common sense?

I hope that bottled water is banned, unless there is honestly a reason to drink from a plastic bottle.

But I can’t imagine beer or wine mixed with the taste of plastic.

copyright © 2009 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

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