As Flat As A…

Today was mammogram day. It’s been a few years. I know for many women this procedure isn’t pleasant. I’ve always assumed that unpleasantness might have something to do with size of, or type of breast tissue being squeezed into a pancake shape. Other than the increasing pendulous nature of my 5 decades old breasts, I’ve never really found a mammogram to be unpleasant or painful.

It’s never really been difficult to make small talk either, while I stand nonchalantly waiting between images with my chest exposed, my blue cape casually swept back over my shoulders in something akin to a strong superhero about to lift off into the sky, while the breeze begins to pick up the edges of the material and lift me up and away.

Of course the eyes of the technician never go to my chest. They never dip below my chin, unless she is in the midst of lifting and settling and adjusting one breast after the other. This is the unwritten mammogram rule and my technician was extremely professional. Also, the tech today added a new word to my mammogram vocabulary: Smoothing. Smoothing involves making sure all of the flappy chicken skin on my arm is not going to interfere with the image of the breast while the more vertical image is taken. Ladies you know this one—your arm is allowed to drape casually over the machine in a friendly, but not too intimate hug while your breast is lifted up and over towards your sternum before being squished unnaturally while the nipple elongates toward the back of the machine.

I had to reason that since this was my first time with smoothing, my flappy arm tissue has only recently become a mammogram nuisance. I’m holding this as a positive. It encourages me that I have reached almost 60 and only now encountered this new feature.

As I was instructed to “hold very still” I let my mind wander back to my first few mammograms. I vaguely remember being self conscious enough back then to actually believe I needed to try to hold my stomach in so the muffin top would be less obvious over my jeans. Now the muffin top, and stomach, make a comfortable rest area for my breasts to sit upon as the technician and I chat. I was actually enjoying the freedom of being allowed to take my bra off for even a brief few minutes in the middle of the day. I consider that luxury.

Also, for the very first time ever, I was offered a deodarant pad when the images were finished. We all know that wearing lotions and deodarants during a mammogram are a big no-no, but never have I had an imaging center actually offer deodarant as they send you back to your cubicle to take off your superhero cape and strap your bra back on.

I left the clinic with a smile on my face, ready to tackle the rest of my day off, smelling like nothing more than the fabric softener on my clothing rather than armpit sweat. Did this post have a point? No, not really but as my days are generally pretty boring, mammogram day was a high point so I thought that I would share.

I will leave you with this: Don’t fear your mammograms ladies. Embrace them for the potential they offer you to accept your body in what ever form it takes. Chat up the technicians while you stand exposed because you just might brighten their day as well as your own. Lastly, wear your capes proudly, all the while knowing that you have a choice to face the world without post-mammogram underarm odor thanks to some convenient little packets of freshness.




Stick A Fork In Me…

Do some of you set down to tackle a post but then find yourself contemplating rather to actually post it? Perhaps you tuck it away in the drafts folder and sit on the idea for a few days, or months. Perhaps the post is controversial, or deeply personal, or maybe you just wonder if anyone will really be interested in reading about Great Uncle Fred’s prostate surgery.

This readers, is one of those posts. I have been stewing over this for some time. I need to write about the issue, the aftermath, and then let it go. I apologize in advance and caution you that if you don’t want to read another of my “post divorce” stories, stop now and move ahead with your day.

Not so long ago, in this post actually, I mentioned an issue that had been centered on the ex-spouse, because… aren’t all my real issues somehow related to him. The gory details include the fact that he was told that he was being laid off from his job of many years, likely right around Christmas. I was informed of this by him in a panicked phone call whereby he felt obliged to let me know that once the layoff occurred he was very uncertain about how he would provide our agreed upon alimony.

“Uh, how about getting another job…,” although I didn’t really say that to him.

I had to hear about how he was going to have to change his lifestyle, cut some things out -like his nearly $200 per month cable bill- and how he might just decide to retire. That idea apparently sent his CPA into near cardiac arrest and then into uncontrollable laughter and then into dismay when he realized that the ex truly didn’t understand why retirement at 60 wasn’t really an option.

I chose to keep my opinions to myself at that point, because really why bother. I did start planning however, and taking stock of my own finances. I was even able to find a bit of humor in the fact that the ex somehow assumed that I would just take his need to stop paying his court ordered alimony as a given. He truly seemed to believe that his only responsibility was to ask me to stop depending on the agreed upon amount we had set up every month. That readers is a hallmark characteristic of this man. Toss responsibility onto everyone else.

I’m sure he was caught wildly off guard when he learned that the only way to change a signed court order was to go back to court with a lawyer and attempt to get a judge to change or withdraw what was established in the divorce decree. As he chose to totally allow me to handle the entire divorce, (we filed an uncontested petition) and never had any intention of even showing up for the final hearing, I had little worry that a) he would even consider hiring a lawyer, because that meant paying someone, b) he would have no idea how to attempt any sort of changes himself, and c) he would find some means to continue the ordered payments while bemoaning his plight and the unfairness of it for the next 3 1/2 years.

His layoff notice was received in mid October. I saw him on Christmas day while the granddaughters opened gifts. I barely spoke to him and chose not to ask about the layoff, but assumed it was imminent or had already happened. He never brought the issue up to me.

In early January, in a conversation with my oldest daughter, I felt that it was important to mention that, given the fact that her dad was now not working, and had left me with the clear indication that somehow he needed our financial situation to change, she and I needed to have some discussions about my future as the granddaughters caregiver. Her reply to me, “I’m confused… did you not know that they rescinded his layoff?”

Clearly the answer to that question was no, I had no idea, even though he had apparently learned that his employment would continue somewhere back in November. Let me just stress here- I saw the man at Christmas. He said nothing to me. Nothing. No mention at all that the once looming unemployment was no longer an issue.

So I have sat with this news for the past two weeks. I have, just as I have done for so many years, even attempted to convince myself that perhaps he had just forgotten to mention that financially our world will not be turned upside down. In his initial rush to tell me just how his layoff would impact me by straining his ability to live comfortably he must have simply been so relieved to find he could keep his cable service that telling me just slipped his mind.

Old habits die hard readers, isn’t that what they say. Silly me to continue to find myself giving him the benefit of the doubt. Naive me to hold onto even a smidgen of hope that he would realize that I had no idea of everything that had transpired, that he might even manage a small apology for not telling me sooner. Stupid me to believe that perhaps he has come to understand that he must be responsible for his actions, or inaction.

I decided that in some way I had to end this, because I knew he wouldn’t. I sent this email to him last night, and yes…it is a bold lie…but I had to see how he would respond.

“Been wondering about your ongoing plans surrounding the layoff, as I assume that it has become official by now. I know you mentioned that you would likely be looking to use severance pay and unemployment for some time but would appreciate knowing how/when you anticipate changes and what you might be planning those to be–such as changes to the alimony order. 

I have been diligent about watching the amount of my spending since learning of the layoff, but quite frankly I depend upon the alimony amount each month, even with a part-time job. My hours from that are minimal. I need as much notice as possible (as will C and my ability to be with the girls)  if income considerations are to change with the process of a new court order assigning any changed amounts each month. Obviously this is something we need to discuss in person, but as I haven’t heard any updates I needed to touch base at least.”

This was the reply I got a short time ago:

“My layoff was rescinded.  I should be good.”

HE should be good. Isn’t that great to know. The best news ever. HE is gonna be fine. HE hasn’t had any worries since Thanksgiving when they stopped the layoff process. HE has known for 2 months that there were no more issues or concerns.

“I should be good.”

Four little words that have allowed me to finally let go of the silly, naive, stupid me who held onto that teeny, tiny smidgen of hope that a 60 year old man had any potential to learn even a minute amount of responsibility.

I. Am. Done.

The answer is clearly a resounding no.

Apartment Life

I haven’t lived in an apartment since roughly 1979. Back then I was young; a new dental assistant, relatively poor, and just happy that I didn’t have to live at home anymore. My paycheck covered the necessities and that’s about all.

In fact, funny story before I go on: My boss took the office (all 2 staff members plus himself) to San Francisco for a short weekend seminar. He paid for airline fees and hotel thankfully. I literally had $50 cash in my purse for the weekend. That was all my bank account could muster. The first night we had dinner in a fancier restaurant. I was panicked that I was going to have to pay for my dinner and that my wallet would be empty. I was trying to figure out how I could sneak seminar food back to my room to have something to eat until we left on Sunday. He (again thankfully) paid for that dinner, but I was still uncomfortable for the entire weekend wondering what else might come up that I would either have to find an excuse not to attend or how I could tactfully choose nothing more than an appetizer as my meal.

My situation is not quite that dire anymore. Now that the financial situation with my ex-husband has been controlled for the time being I can live in relative comfort with my income. That definitely has something to do with the fact that I purposefully chose to rent an older, semi-renovated but clearly older, apartment.

I have fixed this new home up quite nicely and everything, while being modestly priced and/or bargains and/or mine already, suits me and this place well. I have no real need for anything. However, and I am cautiously blaming this on the fact that I have been a home owner since 1983, I see projects surrounding me and it’s driving me crazy that I don’t own this place and cannot do anything legally to change my surroundings.

I don’t want to knock out walls or add an upstairs. Nothing like that. I am a fixer, and a doer and (yes, I am whining) when I see something that needs to be done I am used to doing it, within reason. Of course, the landlords will actually repair things that come up, like my kitchen sink that only allowed for a trickle of hot water. I got a brand new faucet when I reasonably asked what the problem might be and mentioned the things I had already tried to fix the issue.

I’m talking about those little projects, that when you own a home, you notice and say to yourself, “It’s time to update XYZ,” and then if the price to update XYZ is reasonable, you do it.

My current XYZ project, if I owed this home, would be to replace all the knobs and drawer pulls in my kitchen. They are original, I think, and without a doubt have seen better days. They’re some sort of coppery, brass-bronze devices that look a lot like a satellite dish. Most are chipped and water marked. No, I have not tried (yet) many of the do-it-yourself ways to clean copper, but that’s mostly because I’m not really sure what these things are made of and don’t want to make them worse. I also don’t really like these knobs either. This is where my homeowner wisdom kicks in and the local Lowe’s or Home Depot or even Amazon begins to whisper to me…”Just get some nice new knobs. The kitchen will look so much better, fresher. Go ahead…”

I have landlords that would likely give me the okay if I really did want to go ahead and change these things out. They would simply tell me to send the receipt along with my rent and deduct the cost of the knobs. They did that graciously and with (I suspect) much relief when I asked them about installing my own window screens last summer after moving in.

The real question though seems to be, “Where will all this lead?” I don’t own this home. I borrow it in a manner of speaking. Will I live here forever? If so, then it might be worth giving in to the voices. Is it wrong to want to put a little of myself and my own preferences into this home, especially when these wants are relatively minor? If I’m here even 3, 4 or 5 years it seems like the enjoyment of changing a few things still outweighs the legality of being a renter.

Obviously asking permission, instead of just doing, is something I am struggling with. I am also struggling to remember that this space is really not mine. I have to find a way to overcome the owner mentality of the past 30+ years.

Should I just be grateful that I have a home and stop fixating on changing things. It’s okay to tell me that I sound a bit spoiled, or to tell me to stop sulking and whining.

What would you do?

Blame It On the Dog

Cece Mae turned two in October. That’s her there sitting on Santa’s lap with big sister Gisella.


Cece has a strong personality. Cece has perfected the word NO! and the phrase I DON’T WANT TO! Cece clearly understands what we say to her. We know this because she can, when she chooses to, actually converse in long sentences and sometimes even paragraphs. We love Cece, but Cece will look directly at you and do exactly what you just told her not to do.

Cece has started down the long and arduous road of potty training. Her parents are having no more luck than I do, although I think they are resorting to bribery to get her to practice. She loves to read the potty book, but is she impressed enough with the baby in the book tossing aside his diaper, grinning from ear to ear as his proud parents applaud his obvious tinkle, tinkle, toot into the potty? Nope. Is she encouraged by wearing “big girl panties” rather than diapers? Nope.

Today grandma decided that we would be a bit more diligent about the practice. Pants came off, big girl panties came off, and Cece got to run around with a naked bottom to make things that much easier for getting onto the potty. Success? Nope.

Cece and I went downstairs for lunch. She gobbled up her taco salad and it became evident (to grandma anyway) the the squirmy bottom on the chair was feeling a certain urge. Climbing down off of her chair Cece ran off to the other room while grandma tossed dishes into the sink. My intention was to head Miss Cecelia into the potty. It was awfully quiet out in the front room and just as I turned I was sure that I noticed a tiny little naked bottom squatting down near the front window. In my head I uttered “oh crap” and out loud, using my grandma voice I had just started to say, “Cece…what are you…”

“Grandma, dog poop on the floor!”

“Cece Mae! Coco is outside. Did you poop on the floor?”

Entering the other room (which thankfully is not carpeted, I was greeted by both a spreading puddle of pee and also Cece’s “dog poop” gift.

After cleaning up I truly regretted not having taken a picture to send to mom and dad at work although I have no doubt that Cece will give me more opportunities for pictures before she finally accepts that the toilet is the place that big girls go potty.

And that it’s not very polite to blame the dog…


Perhaps I should subtitle this post Label Me A Nitwit…

You may, or you may not remember a post I wrote about my panic and terror as winter was approaching and I had the displeasure of trying to figure out how to use my baseboard heating system. Even if you don’t remember I’ve decided not to link the post. At this point it’s old news, and with a very recent discovery, I imagine should be completely irrelevant.

Before I reveal my amazing news I just want to assure every one of you that I really, really have tried to make this home as insulated as I could. I invested in my own weatherstripping and put new and thicker material all around my front door. I hung thermal curtains over the existing blinds. I got thick draft blockers for my doors and even my horrid single pane window frames. The non-carpeted floors seem to reflect the chilly outside temperatures. I’ve invested in various rugs and tried to place them strategically.  I have judiciously used my heaters, trying not to turn them on unless necessary. My two front windows get full sun on the days that it makes an appearance. If given the chance, that sun does a nice job of providing warmth during the day.

However, November around here was damp, dark and getting progressively colder. I layered socks. I layered clothing or used sweaters. I ran the heaters only as needed and not at all at night, even in my bedroom. My electric bill, while not extreme, did rise quite a bit between mid October and mid November. Since Thanksgiving it has been getting even colder. I have been feeling a sense of dread looming as the temps at night have been sitting below freezing and I can’t seem to keep these rooms heated.

A few days ago, as the temps dipped lower and my anxiety started growing I even resorted to attempts to keep the heat from the baseboard heaters from traveling right up under the curtains and out through those front windows.


Yes, that is blue painters tape holding the thermal curtains securely to the wall so that the heat cannot escape. Please don’t judge me. I felt as if I was running out of options.

Then today, as I was crawling around by the front door/dining room doing some crevice cleaning I was being blasted over and over by a persistent draft. Now I’ve stood near my front door since I placed the new weatherstripping. That made a huge difference. The landlord had already placed one of those rubber strips on the bottom of the door, both inside and outside, which also helped to block drafts from under the door. I really thought that the door situation was okay, until today when I crawled up to the door and placed my hand above the rubber strip, and above the metal plate that holds the rubber strip on. A gale force wind was blowing in and it felt like ice.

The rubber on the outside is not as tight as the rubber on the inside, which actually scrapes the floor as the door moves. Cold air was coming under the outside rubber and shooting it’s way up behind the attachment plate and directly into my house negating any heat the baseboards were putting out. Everything suddenly made sense, like why, when I sit on my couch, I always feel a cold draft on my neck. My neck is directly in line with the blasts of frigid air coming under the door.

Lacking the financial, or legal means to 1) place better weatherstripping on this old door, or 2) actually get a new, better door, I used what I had on hand and the results were instantaneous.


Notice dear readers that you can see the metal sill. You can see the gray rubber tucked nice and tight to the sill. You cannot see the metal band that holds the rubber onto the door. Why? It has now been sealed over with duct tape. Yes, it is tacky to look at but the gap that existed is now covered and that is more important to me than looks at this moment.

How do I know this is the answer? At this moment it is 32 degrees outside. I have one, and only one, baseboard heater turned on to a fairly low setting. My floors are warm. My feet aren’t cold. There is no draft swirling around my neck. My hands are warm. I am WARM with only one damn heater on!

A 4 foot by 1/4 inch gap has been the bane of my existence for the past month and all I needed was a little duct tape and Voila! Eureka! Holy Cow! Life is GOOD!

I will gladly live with some duct tape on my door.

A Divorce Aftermath Story

It’s coming up on 4 months post divorce. I can honestly say that I have no regrets about my decision to end my marriage. My life continues to be consistent in many ways, with a sprinkling of new challenges tossed in here and there. Some aspects sorted themselves out almost without thought. Others have taken a little bit of time and more energy to accomplish. Not ironically, they all focus to some degree on finances, because in this divorce, that was going to be the major change I had to face.

I remember trying to imagine, during one of many sleepless nights pre-divorce, just how I was going to pay for healthcare coverage. I’d done my homework. I knew, at that time, what coverage costs might be and the range in price was overwhelming. A light began to appear at the end of that dark tunnel when I was told that I could likely get healthcare coverage through the military system thanks to my ex-spouse’s service. I was almost giddy knowing that coverage would only cost me about $25 per month.

On August 3, I applied. This process means that I had to acquire my own individual ID card within the military system prior to even beginning coverage. I waited. Two weeks, then 1 month, then 6 weeks. I reapplied. I waited some more. I had a very compassionate customer service person call me, wondering if I had been given an answer somewhere around the 10 week mark. I believe he went to bat for me once more, sending the information a 3rd time.

This morning, my email, just short of 13 weeks after my initial application, I found out that I don’t qualify for continued coverage. The military has a specific system for determining how and if an ex-spouse might still have benefits. I came up 2 years short of the required number of years.

I wasn’t too surprised really. I had assumed at about 2 months in that a process taking this long couldn’t end in a positive way. In fact, just a few days ago, I actually sat down and begin researching plans and costs for healthcare coverage, being 90% sure that I was going to become one of the masses entering into the health insurance circus.

I found a plan, affordable enough with the tax credit that I will receive, although it is definitely well above the anticipated cost of military coverage. The deductible is high, but most of them are unless you can pay $800 per month for coverage. I am fortunate now. I don’t see a physician often. Routine checkups are the norm and then I go about my life. I will pay the $122 premium each month for preventative care because I want to have a clear picture of where my health is and monitor any issues. The key now is keeping myself healthy.

I will also readily admit that in many ways I had a laissez faire attitude when it came to paying attention to healthcare issues. It was easier… much easier, to assume that those problems wouldn’t be my problems. Sometimes we need a good whack to the side of our head to make us aware that those problems are everyone’s problems – regardless.