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Preview: just eat your cupcake

just eat your cupcake

(Do not feed the oyster) under neath the clouds. He'll suck you like a seagull into the Sound.

Updated: 2018-01-15T10:52:20.584-06:00


The last thought is always for Bing


Sighing. Looks like the blog creeps are back. Bing has called in the troops to put up more fire walls, etc. I suppose I should care more but the truth is that I am so tired of this meddling, this tampering, this sticking of fists in my blog that I hardly care anymore.

Life goes on. Children grow up. You retire and settle into a quieter life. There are fits and starts of disbelief (Trump as our president? God save us...) and times of pain. But interwoven into everything, good and bad, joyous and mean spirited....there she is.

The one who matters the most. The one who is at the beginning and end of every good story. Life goes on and so do we.

I don't really know what happens next. Let's throw the glitter in the air and see where it comes down. In the meantime, there is always and forever this:

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Home with the flu.


Home with the flu. SOOO glad I got that flu shot! It obviously didn't work. I had forgotten how one can feel freezing cold one second and steaming hot the next. And my hair? I looked better when I was bald. I look like Barbara Bush.

But, then I channel surf and find this and all of a sudden I'm 17 all over again and while I know in my head that Duckie is the best knees buckle over Andrew McCarthy.

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God, I miss being so young, so nubile, so ready for the world.

Another try


I am truly sorry that so many of your comments aren't posting. I do read them and post them, but they tend to be taken away within a day or so. Also, yes...several of my new posts were high jacked as well. Our nerd squad keeps giving me information that I do not want about a person whom I don't care to know much more about. I try to let Bing handle it. She's done most of the reading of everything dug up and I have been known to plug my ears and hum because, no, I do not want to know what new business this stalker has or what her political views are. Kind of a slippery tyrant, though, or so they tell me. I am urged to take the blog private. Trying to avoid that. We'll see. Mostly I am just bewildered that someone whom I could care less about seems obsessed with not only me, but my whole family and making my life as miserable as possible by signing me up for magazines that I have no interest in (hydroponic farming) and taunting me for having had cancer and yes, fucking up my blog and emails.  So, I will give this one more try and see what happens.THINGS THAT MAKE ME LAUGH....because I have done my share of crying in the last year and it is just easier.1) Our dog, Socks, is madly in love with a black poodle that has shown up a few times on our daily walks in the park. The weather has been unusually balmy for March, so I've been walking with him to the park daily and I swear he looks for her. I try to aid and abet as well as I can. I have noticed that the poodle (her name is Hazel) has an owner who walks her around 2 in the afternoon and I've been trying to show up around that time. The only problem is that Hazel's human is a tall, good looking man several years younger than me and I fear that he is realizing what we're up to, except that he thinks that perhaps it is ME interested in him and not Socks being interested in Hazel. He gives me these sweet pitying looks and I can just see him going home and telling his wife that there is this older woman in the park who has it bad for him. But, I swear Socks goes limp with love at the mere sight of Hazel. He sniffs her butt in a gentlemanly way and sticks his chest out when they walk side by side. He growls menacingly at other dogs who dare to cast an eye at Hazel. I've tried to talk to him about this as he's trying WAY too hard and it shows. If Hazel seemed to be amused by squirrels, Socks will try to look amused as well, even though he has never met a squirrel that he liked. When she makes these little whimpering noises when we say goodbye, I swear he pouts all the way home. WHY didn't I invite them home for a playdate? Well, because I don't KNOW this human, Socks and I can't be entertaining strange men in my house just so that you can prance around the back yard trying to impress Hazel with your skill at catching a frisbee.  And Hazel? Ah. I fear she is a femme fatale. I suspect that she has several other dogs on a string as well. Poor Socks. Oh, well. It happens to all of us at some time in our lives, yes?2) Watching the Republican Debates. This is fodder for SNL each and every time. And each and every time, Bing and I look over incredulously at each other. Seriously? Did the Donald just tell Ted Cruz to shut up? Did he just call Marco Rubio little Marco? Why can't anyone else see how he struts like a peacock? My god, he cracks himself up over and over again. Watching him with Jeb Bush was almost painful. Like Jeb was the bespectacled skinny kid on the playground and the Donald was the bully taking his lunch money over and over and over again. But what isn't funny? The way this creepy narcissist keeps winning primaries. I do admit to a sort of rubbernecking interest in watching those debates, though. Ted Cruz tries so hard to look as if he is above all of this, but then ends up with his chin quivering in fury as the king of liars struts around calling him one. And is it just me or does anyone else think that Ted Cruz is a closet queen? Every time I see him, I think to myself that this man is gay. Not that I care[...]

I suppose this will be funny one day


....or not. Probably not.

If you are getting email from me, it isn't from me. Bing received email yesterday from me, except it wasn't me. So, for now...I'm not sending out anything.

Received a virtual bouquet of flowers (forget me nots....ICK)....with a snide little note about cancer.

Have been signed up for magazines that I did not order. Magazines about cancer. Also, strangely, one about organic farming.

The blog seems better except that I seem to have no control over comments. But, just writing on it doesn't feel safe anymore. It feels....fingered.

We are keeping a sharp eye on everything. Bank accounts. All social media. I let Bing do all the talking with our techie nerd guys because I just get so creeped out if I hear too much.

I am spending my Winter days watching good movies, reading good books and writing copiously in notebooks and going in for last checkups. If I pass the final body scan in two weeks, I will be considered cancer free. But, the cost was great and I miss working. So...volunteering. This frees me up for those afternoon naps that I still seem to need. In my blood tests, I am dangerously low on Vitamin D and magnesium. So, taking these pills that look like they should be for horses, not humans....

Binge watching The Office again.

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I finished this book days ago, but am still carrying it around because I need to keep the characters close to me:

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I allow myself one movie per day to watch and have caught up on so many that I wanted to see but just didn't have the time:

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And looking forward to meeting up with Daryl again.....

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Basically, this is the new me:

"I'm lost. I've gone to look for myself. If I should return before I get back, please ask me to wait here..."  (author unknown)

And thinking these hard thoughts:

"And yet, even as she spoke, she knew that she didn't wish to come back, not to stay, not to live. She loved the little yellow cottage more than she loved any place on earth, but she was through with it except in her memories."  Maud Hart Lovelace.

And last but not least, some food for thought for all of us:

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Stay warm and safe out there.



Still workin' on it. Our nerd tech team tells me that "Wow, this dude is like...really obsessed not only with you, but with your whole family." No shit. Everything seems to be back to working okay except for some of my email and the blog. I sometimes get your emails to me on my iphone but never my laptop and then they fade away within a few minutes. And, I'm not even going into the worry about our bank accounts, etc. Ugh. Again, sorry. We'll see...

A Change is as Good as a Rest


The older I get, the harder it is to travel. Well, physically. Mentally, I am always up for a journey. But, physically? No.

Tomorrow we leave for Louisiana. In the car. I've not been okayed to fly by my oncologist, so we decided to make a road trip of it. Bing, me, a dog and so many gifts that there is barely room for luggage. Liv will stay with a friend and join us when school gets out.

Bing has planned a very slow journey. Just about four to five hours a day. She worries of tiring me. I've been thinking of books lately, of journeys.

Wild by Strayed. Into the Wild by Krakauer. One was a journey that ended well, the other, not so much. And then there's Walden. Thoreau used to fascinate me until I did some research on his dance with nature and realized that having his sister visit with cookies twice a week was not really roughing it. The shine went off that halo.

We won't be roughing it at all. Staying in really nice hotels. When I mention to Bing that this feels like a journey that I need and that I wish I could be more like Cheryl Strayed, she snorts. Says that she has just one word for me: insulin.

She's right. I'd never make it on a rough journey. God help me if there ever is a zombie apocalypse.
But, I've been housebound for so long that I am hungry to be away. Someplace warmer. Someplace where I will have easy access to beignets and coffee that has more chicory in it than most people can stand.

I'm eager to go. The laptop is not coming with me. Bing, of course, will bring hers. I do not think I could pry that thing out of her hands if I tried. So, no...we will in no way, shape or form be roughing it.

And we don't travel well together as a rule, so there's that. But, maybe this time will be different. I like to stop and see art museums. I even like casinos. She cannot stand art museums and the last time we went to a casino she asked me if I enjoyed throwing my hard earned money down the drain. She likes anything with music. I may be okay with that. As long as it isn't jazz, which she adores. So, you see the problem.

Still, I plan to see it as a journey and if all goes as planned, I will be driving home alone and let Bing and Liv fly back together after the new year when school and work come back into play.

All of you have a lovely holiday and a good start to the new year.

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Hey Good Lookin


I was sitting, minding my own business with the television on in the background and looked up when I heard a familiar song.

"Hey, good lookin'. Whatcha got cookin'? Hows about cookin' somethin' up with me?"

Hank Williams. Wow. I cannot remember the last time I thought of him. But, it all came back in a rush. My Da, coming in the kitchen laughing and twirling my Mother around as he sang to her about being good looking and wondering what she had cooking.

I think you had to be there.

Hard to imagine a man with an Irish brogue singing a country song, but that he did. And hearing that song, well....yes, it took me back.

I can't wait to see this:

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What I'm not thankful for


This is the first year in over a decade that we have skipped Thanksgiving at my sister's home and are having our own small dinner at home. Liv's Father is here, his old assistant and our good friend, Nirand is here. My old med school buddy, Vince is here with his partner, Thuan. And our next door neighbors, Linda and Sven are here. Well. they will be here in a few hours.The turkey is in the roaster in our brand spanking new oven. Stuffin is stuffed. Potatoes ready to be peeled and boiled. Rolls from here: allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">Pies baked and ready. Olive and pickles daintily arranged on plate by someone other than me, who is not talented at this kind of thing.5 bottles of Number 8 on this list: allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">Our one distraction: we are in the midst of an ice storm. This is so typical of the prairie. We had Indian Summer straight through the middle of November. And now the perky ass weather guy is cheerfully telling us that we are in for at least an inch of ice. This wouldn't be so bad if we lived in the newer part of our city where all the power lines are underground and the only trees are about two feet tall. No, we live in a very old part of the city where there are many, many power and cable lines above ground and an incredible amount of old oak trees. An inch of ice can easily mean a loss of power. But, fingers are crossed that when that does happen, we may all be too soused to notice. Well, hopefully not Liv. She can herd us all to bed.This year, I am deliberately NOT doing the going around the table thing and saying what we are thankful for. This was always done at my Sister's home and always ruined by my racist brother in law, who would say, "I'm grateful that none of my kin is married to a (rhymes with bigger)!" And then, he would guffaw while I sputtered around and protested that this was an AWFUL thing to say and shame on his stupid head, etc. etc. etc. Eventually, my Sister was able to get him to be less obnoxious when I threatened to not show up if he didn't stop. But, he still managed to get his digs in. ("I'm grateful that this is Obama's last term, that Muslim towel head.") My other sisters told me that they always warned their kids in the car on the way to our sister Patrice's house to ignore Uncle Bob. I almost always began singing "Pop, Goes the Weasel" halfway through his sentence, so that no one could hear it.Good times. Good times.No, this time, we have all agreed to share the worst thing that has happened to us this year and the winner gets to opt out of helping with clean up. I am so fucking smart. I mean, who is going to beat "Well, I was diagnosed with cancer this year....."? We also have a hat full of charade names of movies, books, songs or quotes in one of my big summer sunhats. And since every person at my table except Linda, Vince and me plays an instrument, there has been some practicing going on in our music parlor. Bing on piano. Liv on violin. Tinton and Nirand on guitar, Thuan on marimba, and Sven on drums. Bing has promised that she plans to sing "our song." allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> I know, I know....not very romantic. But, it is us. And I can't tell you how incredibly sexy she looks when she plays those opening bars of the song on her guitar (she'll be off piano for that one.) She does this thing with her shoulder. You can see the guy in the video do it, but she does it so much better.Liv and Tinton are also going to do a Lakota dance and song for us in full outfits. Liv will be reduced to shuffling along with her feet because the Lakota culture believes that Lakota women's feet are shackled to the earth. Tinton will do the full dance, h[...]

Dear Ronald McDonald.


Dear Ronald McDonald.I have a bone to pick with you. This is prairie speak for: You screwed up, son and we need to talk.I am recovering from breast cancer and have the common complaint of a poor appetite. This happens to chemotherapy patients because well, putting poisons into your body kind of fucks up everything inside of it, including your appetite. It's different for everyone. Some of us can't eat anything yellow. Others don't tolerate the smell of eggs well. For almost all of us, a LOT of food has a metallic taste to it. This supposedly goes away in time. I'm still waiting.What is universal for all of us, I have discovered, is that there is usually one or two foods that we not only tolerate but CRAVE. It's kind of like being really fucked up pregnant. Except instead of morning sickness you puke pretty much all day long. We need a lot of naps and we cry a lot. Or suck it up. Whatever.Anyway, for some strange reason, no matter how sick I was with chemotherapy, I could almost always eat an egg mcmuffin with sausage breakfast meal. Crazy, huh? The smell of a cooking hamburger could make me vomit profusely for hours (remember Bing? That was SO fun!), but hey...take me to Mickey D's after chemo and I was one happy eater.So, I was THRILLED when you started serving breakfast ALL DAY LONG! I could have my sausage egg mcmuffin meal whenever I wished! Wow. Well, goodie. I could use my "make a wish" on something else! (Just kidding, Ronald, I am actually in my 50's...WAY too old for that foundation...but, you know what? I believe EVERYONE who endures cancer should get a wish. You might want to pour some more millions into that foundation to include ALL of us....just an idea...)Ok. We have a McDonald's that is just a few blocks away from our house but we dislike it because the employees are slow and don't seem to give a damn if we sit in the drive thru all day long. Their speakers also suck, so you end up screaming your order and looking very, very foolish while the disembodied voice on the other end keeps saying, "Um, could you please say again? I can't hear you." I don't know, Ronnie. Maybe they're just messin' with us. Could be. Anyway.Instead, we go to the McDonald's a few miles away. My wife, Bing, who is really big on research, found out that this place seemed to be the fastest and their employees seemed pretty efficient.Ok. I have to cop to something. Before chemo, we weren't McDonald's partakers. Bing (wife) compares your food to um....something bad. Our daughter, Liv, is a coffee addict and gets her goodies from Starbucks or Scooters when she can afford them. We hadn't been to McDonalds EVER that I could remember before I got cancer. But, then, well....suddenly a memory of a sausage egg mcmuffin resurfaced in my chemo fogged brain and it sounded....edible. Bing was thrilled. She would have made ANY food on the planet for me by that time. I was losing weight dramatically and very anemic. If I wanted to eat at McDonalds, boy howdy, that is where we would go.So, things were fine for a while. I don't know if you hang much at the McDonald's on 72nd St; I don't recall seeing your bright red hair anywhere, but I was usually riding shotgun and only partially awake, so excuse me if I missed you.But, anyway, I think this place underwent new management or something because suddenly a once easy process became difficult.First, your automatic registers went out a lot. This meant that the cashiers in the drive thru actually had to be able to COUNT OUT change.Ronald, it was a staggering shock to me to see just how many of our youth today DO NOT KNOW HOW TO COUNT BACK CHANGE MANUALLY. They are great at punching in what you give them and having their electronic friend tell them that if I give them a 20 dollar bill, two dimes, and a penny for a meal that is 5.21$, this means that I get 15.00$ back. But, if they do not have [...]

Pernicious suitor


One meets the most interesting people at Whole Foods.I admit that I love shopping there. Whoever thunk up their marketing strategy was a genius.Make people feel healthy the second they set foot in the store. The smell should be soothing and safe. Even if they buy chocolate bars, they should feel as if they are buying SPECIAL chocolate. Make sure that every person ends up buying something outrageously expensive that they had no intention of purchasing when they came in....I am continually seduced by Whole Foods. And that's okay. Yesterday, I came out with a 2016 calendar of Japanese Woodblocks. It cost sixteen bucks. We always have a calendar in the kitchen, but it is often one that is given away free by our car insurance guy. Last year, Liv got Bing a Walking Dead calendar for Christmas, so we were able to watch zombies eating people's guts while we cooked.This year, we will look at delicate Japanese woodblocks.But, I often run into interesting people when I am there. Yesterday was no different. I was meandering around the orange juice. They must have 12 different kinds and I was caught in the headlights of the orangey-ness of those bottles and cartons. I heard a soft utterance of my name from behind me:Maria? Maria Lastname? Can that be you?"I turned on my heel and had a split second of thinking that familiar thought: I know you but I have no idea what your name is or how we know each other....The gentleman was tall and about my age, with a greying beard, neatly cut and light blue eyes. He wore a fedora, a dark blue pullover sweater and old jeans. Chucks on his feet.I blinked once. And then, he said, "Beatrice?"And it all came back. This was Padric. From college. A Drama major to my English one. We had known each other for a very short time. Maybe....what? 35 years ago? At least. He was still good looking in that rogue way. In that way that had made him so popular with the college girls. He had played Benedick to my Beatrice in a college production of Much Ado About Nothing years and years ago.I decided to dazzle him with my uncanny ability to remember lines from poems, songs, books and plays."I had rather hear a dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me," I said, and tossed my head, although unfortunately I had no hair to toss. He bowed to me. "I am loved of all ladies," he said.I laughed. "Oh, yes," I said, dryly. "You surely were."We hugged. He pointed to my inch long hair. "Are you making a statement here of some kind?"I shrugged. "It's called, 'Hair growing back after chemotherapy.'"He blushed, just a little."Ah. Well, you look as if you've come neatly out the other side of things," he said.I thought about lifting my tee shirt to reveal my oozy radiation burns, but decided to let him have his illusions."I suppose so," I said."I'm glad. The world was always so much more fun with you in it," he said. I smiled as prettily as I could with a near bald head, a stinging chest and a tee shirt that said As if Jesus would ever own a gun and vote Republican with ratty jeans and sneakers.We agreed to partake of some coffee. He also sprung for a pumpkin scone, which I thought was a nice touch. We caught up.When I knew him, he had been the crazily popular drama major guy who never dated anyone seriously. He usually got the lead roles in all the drama productions (Mister Roberts, Romeo and Juliet, The Glass Menagerie, The Hot L Baltimore.) He planned to move to New York when he graduated and star on Broadway. He and I once spent a blurry night of making out and dancing after the closing night of Much Ado About Nothing. I could not remember much after that since I stopped auditioning for plays after that one and buckled down to prepare for med school.Now, it seems he was a banker. Nearing retirement. Married. A daughter. A wife who taught drama at a city college. He had gotten a[...]

Saying goodbye to the roses


It's hard for me every year, but this year it seems doubly so. The first frost. Late for the prairie. In general, we usually get a frost at the beginning of October. This year, it is almost three weeks late. I slide into my outdoor jacket, an old military jacket that is a little too big but perfect for a woman with seeping burns all over her chest. My loose tee shirt, the one that says Pope Francis says relax on it, chafes a little against me and I wince, but carry on. I am so sick of this running around the house topless waiting for these damned burns to heal.Once out in the cold, clean prairie air, I begin to shiver but know that work will help that. So, I get to it. I lug all the bags of mulch out of the garage and pour them around my perennials. I gingerly lift the rain barrel to see if it holds any water. Not much. I lift it off, dump it out, close up the spouts and lug it back to the garage to be stored.Now, the hardest part. I grab my yard scissors and twine and walk towards my sad shrunken pink, yellow and red rose ladies. A few whites. I tear off the remaining dead bud heads and put them in a yard bag. If I leave them on the ground, it will encourage disease. I gently gather the stalks together and round twine around them as gently as I can and then snip it shut. This will keep the howling winds from tearing at them during blizzards. My roses look like I feel and that is what is breaks me in the end.They are bedraggled and shorn of their beauty. Bony looking now with twine holding their long stems together. Once lush and long and thorny legged with soft as silk petals forming that perfect oval, they are raw looking. Sad.I hug them each in turn. I haven't gone daft just yet. I don't name my bushes, but I have come to love my roses. They are elegant and stately, easily the classiest in my yard. The queens who look fondly down at the perked up daisies and bachelor's buttons, the in-your-face howdy do of the sunflowers and the shy peeking violets and lilies. Their flowers have graced my dinner table numerous times. They can be vain, I think. They do not enjoy a good thunderstorm, end up looking like angry prom queens caught in the heavy rain without a man's coat over their heads to shelter them. And they can be finicky. They have to be pruned punctually or repay you by refusing to bloom. They are sometimes plagued by black spots and/or aphids and I heal them with a good spray of milk (in the's less embarrassing, I think, for them that way....) I whisper to them now that I am just going to get their feet nice and warm for the Winter. I grab my bag of wood chips and stack them around each bush at least a foot high.I stand up and sigh. I've done all I can to help them through the Winter. It's time for them to go to sleep now and forget their ugly stalky Winter look.I circle the bushes carefully, checking again to see that they are well ready and then I can't help it, my throat closes as I try to tell them that I will see them on one fine Spring day soon. That I will come out and free them from their bindings and wake them up gently and then they will reward me with first one small bud and then two and then three and then seven and then twenty and then on one late Spring day, I will look over from my gardening and smile hugely to see them in their proper glory.But, for now, this is what they must deal with. Best to go to sleep. To sleep, perchance to dream.I only turn around once as I head back to the gardening shed. And blow a kiss.And then everything is properly put up and I go inside to make some green tea and sit down cuddled up in a blanket. Can't go topless until I warm a bit. I pick up my book and read for a while. But, I'm feeling melancholy and sad. This time of year, while beautiful in many ways, is difficult. I tell myself that[...]

Topless on the Prairie and then Glenn has to go and die


I've been walking around topless for days.I was a model radiation patient. 5 1/2 weeks and everyone was amazed at how well I was doing. I had some burning, peeling and blistering, but nothing too serious....until my last day. And then my skin just fell apart.Within 24 hours, I looked like my chest had been blowtorched.I was in the kind of pain that makes one go a little mad. I went in to see my radiology oncologist and he took one look at me and blanched."Good lord!" he said. "How long has it looked like THAT?"I told him three days. He immediately prescribed a soaking astringent to be applied every 3 hours and some silver cream to be applied twice daily. And sleeping pills. And topless. I was to go topless as often as possible. Well. This would have been okey dokey with me in the SUMMER, but now that the trees are turning red and gold and the highs are in the 50's....with our house boiler only set on 68, going topless sounded....shivery.But...hey...I've puked my guts out and shit my ass off with chemotherapy, so this doll doesn't topple off the shelf easily. I could do this.And I have. I am s l o w l y healing. The good news? No infection. I was warned to watch carefully for green, foul smelling pus. I was also warned that my burns would seep. With pus. All part of the healing process."If you have to wear a shirt, wear something old," the oncology nurse advised me.She didn't tell me that the silver cream, while effective, smelled like rotting fruit. So, not only do I walk around looking like a zombie from the waist up, but I smell like one, too.I am not good with blood and less with pus. Which is why I chose psychiatry instead of surgery. When I look down, I am revolted.So much so, that Bing has been the one to soak the paper towels in the astringent when she's home and place them dripping on my burned-to-a-crisp chest. I am always surprised that they don't sizzle when they touch my skin. They go on cold and within a minute are hot because my chest is like a stove. Put a pan of soup on there and it will be boiling in under five minutes....My routine has been to wait until Bing and Liv leave for the day and then to go topless all day long with short jaunts to the library to return or get books and to get pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks. Um...fully dressed. I saw my oncologist yesterday. It had been one week. He was pleased."You are slowly but surely healing!" he said.I retorted that this process was WAY too slow for my taste. He smiled."You should, hopefully, be able to return to a fairly normal life by Thanksgiving," he said. He meant this kindly, I know this. But, all I could think was that I had another month of walking around topless and when I did wear a shirt? Smeary when I took it off. Nights are the worse. I wear a nightshirt to bed and often wake up at night with it STUCK to me and have to painfully pull it off my chest.I'd post a photo, but even though I have lost most of my vanity to cancer, I think I need to keep the world from seeing this part of me.The good news was that The Walking Dead is back. But, the last episode upset me so much that for the first time, I burst into tears watching a television show.Glenn died! My Glenn! The moral compass and heart of the show! How DARE they kill off Glenn? I would be sad to see Michonne or Maggie go....but GLENN? God, NO! The only worse thing would be to lose Daryl. And WHY couldn't he die with pomp and circumstance? NO. He got to die falling off of a dumpster. And because of that dumbass, Nicholas? Bing and I sat in disbelief and immediately went into action, trying to think how this couldn't be real. Maybe coward ass Nicholas was on top of Glenn and it was his um....entrails that the mob could be seen munching on? We finally decided that if the show was going to pull [...]

I feel like I'm living in a Dickinson poem


My days are so quiet. For some reason, I find this almost impossible to adjust to. I went from being a woman with cancer who was trying to work full time to a retired woman who has finished treatment for cancer.I am noticing ducks. I go to the pond daily to bring cracked corn to the ducks. At first, none of them knew me, so kept their distance. Little by little, the braver ones came to nosh on the small piles of cracked corn that I would make in the grass next to my bench.I love the way they walk. Or waddle, I guess. Mostly ducks. Some geese. The ducklings are terribly shy and have yet to venture near me but the bigger ones now see me walking (or waddling, I guess!) with my cane and bag of cracked corn and they have begun to meet me halfway. They are polite, like I am the guest who always brings Godiva chocolates. They push each other to be closest to me, actually to the cracked corn.I settle into my bench and reach down with the empty yogurt cup to scoop up the cracked corn. There is rustling and shuttling as they strive to reach the goodies but still stay out of touching range of me. I make three piles and they lower their heads, the baby ducklings watching from the water, one or two larger ducks standing resentful guard, wondering why they are stuck babysitting instead of cracked corn gorging.There is a pecking order. I see that. I grew up on a farm and we had chickens so I am familiar with pecking orders. The biggest duck with the dark ring around his neck looks up casually at the smaller one trying to look invisible as she meanders up to the corn. With a sharp grunt he nips at her underbelly and she walks away, pretending that really she had no interest, what's the fuss? I watch keenly, my fingers ache to touch their smooth heads, but I don't dare.I sometimes sit for an hour on that bench, reading or writing. The ducks stay with me even after the corn is gone, being polite, not wanting to eat and run. They sit within a foot of me, settle down and even doze a little if the sun is out.Sometimes, I go to a different park, the one closer to our home so that I can take Socks with me. We walk slowly, noting the difference in the tree colors as the days get cooler. I sit on a bench and Socks sits companionably with me, his head on my foot. We are lazy.At home, I go outside a lot and water the remaining hardier flowers, the roses who look like bedraggled transvestites after a night of partying. The mint that I won't pick until right before the first freeze, their tang will be charged the longer I wait. The sunflowers that have lost their deep golden colors and now are just a pale yellow, their dark centers devoid of seeds, either pecked out by birds or Liv's intrepid fingers. I watch the birds taking their baths in our deep blue birdbath. The lusty bluejays who are the garden bullies, they don't take turns. When they swoop down, the other birds leave like Tony Soprano has just shown up. The cardinals enjoy the birdbath in the early morning hours, the females waiting patiently while their mates splash and canter and make noise. Then, daintily, they step in and, with precision and care, clean themselves, careful to avoid the splashes of their racous mates. The robins are more evolved, it's a free-for-all, males and females. They all perch around the rim of the birdbath and then one will jump in followed by one or two more. They will clean and splash and jump a little, like humans putting their first foot into that cold pool water, exclaim a bit, telling the others that my, it's chilly in here today! And then, they take their turns sitting while others have a turn. Unless a bluejay comes....and then, well....the party is over. Time to get back to reinforcing their nests, working on their wings, getting re[...]

Singing in my sleep


Slowly, but surely...making my way back. Still very tired, even though I am no longer a worker bee and I sleep an extraordinary amount of the day.

A few nights ago, I awakened to Bing gently shaking me.

"Hon, you were singing in your sleep..." what?

Apparently, I was softly singing the song, "Ain't Even Done with the Night" in my sleep.

I sat up, confused. I barely know that song. Or just barely remember it. I remember it came out....right when I started med school. A John Mellencamp song, or as we called him back then: John Cougar.

The next day, Bing asked me to sing it and of course, I couldn't. Could only remember some of the lyrics. But, she said that I was singing them verbatim in my sleep. Almost the whole song before she awakened me. And um....okay....humming that sweet little guitar riff that opens the song and slides around all through it.

Do. Do do do, do do do.

I wonder what else is up there in my brain pan that I can't access in my waking life? Poems? Snatches of books? Medical jargon?

Last night, I was in the living room, halfheartedly reading and I head it....those guitar licks. I got up to find Bing, sitting in a chair on the sunporch, strumming her guitar and singing this:

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Of course, I couldn't sing along because I DID NOT know all the lyrics.....

She should wait until I fall asleep. I could probably recite the Gettysburg address or T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock...

Life is funny, yes?

"What would you think about Christmas in New Orleans this year?"


Oh, Bing. How did you know? There is nothing I would rather do.Hopefully, chemo and radiation will be OVER.Beignets  and coffee with chicory from Lizette in the morning. Wearing clothes for 60 degree weather instead of 0 degrees....Sitting on the porch in rockers or swaying in the porch swing while we chat lazily ("make the veiller")with Uncle Henri and Aunt Eugenie. Nephew Rene coming up to see if Liv wants to go fishing with him on Lake Borgne to go catch a mashwarohn (catfish...) Looking out over Lake Ponchartrain. Uncle Henri telling Liv to "Watch for the caimon, boo!" (Alligator....)A fais do do. Doing the Lake Charles Slide. The Whiskey River Jitterbug.Walking up St. Charles Street. Picking out our future residence.Finding a little lagniappe in every day.Wearing a big hat and walking around The French Quarter. Paying WAY too much for a po' boy and some beer. Going into all the funky little shops. Buying some new tarot cards. Having my tarot cards read by a not-so-great reader, but that's okay. Finding that perfect little dress.Listening to Bing lapse into Cajun with her relatives:Alohrs pasDon't you be making a bahbin at me, pischouette! (Stop pouting...)Cho! Co! (Said every time something is exciting or newsy...)You and your Cunja eyes (A Cunja is a spell.)Wanna be my gaienne? (girlfriend)Why do ya wanna live so far up the bayou? (Anyplace north)Liv speaks French, but Uncle Henri and Aunt Eugenie tell her it is fancy pantsie French and by the time we leave, Liv is spouting Cajun right along with Bing while I am just beginning to catch on.The soft easy syllables of New Orleans flying all around me. The slower pace everywhere until it finally rubs off on me and I learn to meander around instead of walk briskly.The indescribable smell of the old sugar cane plantation that Uncle Henri and Aunt Eugenie live on. The feeling that that old main house has seen SO much, good and bad. Walking at night, by myself, I go all shivery with it but I am totally beguiled by it at the same time. Pulled in, HARD.The way Bing's eyes go all soft and tender as soon as she steps off the plane on to her home state, her home city, her family.I can't think of a more wonderful place to spend Christmas.YES! I say this to Bing. Tell her to write Aunt Eugenie right away. Does she have room for 3 Christmas guests?Bing laughs. OF COURSE SHE DOES. She'll have that fais do do planned within days! Are you sure we want to skip Chicago or not have it here like we usually do?My arms are around her neck. NO. I want to GO. I want to plan to GO. I want to dream about going. I want to think of a time when I don't have a port embedded in my skin, when I'm not weekly hooked up to one IV or another.I want to wear a bright yellow dress on Christmas and go for a long walk where I do NOT get tired and there is NO snow.I want to eat so much gumbo and etouffee and I'll even try blood sausage, I will. I want to be full of beignets and coffee.I want to close my eyes and hear those soft trills of New Orleans and the gritty balloos in The French Quarter.I want. I want. I want.We text Liv to see if she is up for Christmas in New Orleans. She is.I can't wait. Something to dream about. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">Wrap me up and send me to New Orleans. Soon. [...]



Crazy mad in love with a three part show on The History Channel.

DO NOT MISS. I kinda sorta knew my country's history. characters come alive. And I would have loved to meet Sam Adams.....

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The Monday after

2015-01-05T07:16:40.094-06:00 the hardest day.

The Monday after you break up with someone (not me...but...I remember it...)

The Monday after a two week vacation and you have to go back to work.

The Monday after a three day weekend.

And now....the Monday after New Year's.

I've been off since Wednesday afternoon and while I managed to catch a nasty chest cold, at least I was home. Relaxing in sweat pants all day long. Reading. Sipping peach tea. Or green. Or mugwort. Or peppermint. Watching really stupid television. I mean, I didn't know that Kathie Lee Gifford was still even around.

It snowed and I didn't have to think about driving Liv to school or getting to work. I just hung out. I don't care how much you try to tell me how pretty it is. It is not. Pretty. I. DETEST. SNOW. I almost hate the cold weather as much as snow. I mean, why do I do this to myself every year? Why do I sit shivering in my drafty Victorian house while the temp outside hovers at -10 degrees? You go outside and I'm not kidding, it HURTS to take a breath. You can feel the air freezing your insides all the way down. Every year, Bing and I look at each other and shake our heads. WHY ARE WE HERE ON THIS GODFORSAKEN PRAIRIE?

And then, Spring comes and we feel all superior to those who don't have seasons because there is nothing like that feeling of going outside and taking that first sweetly pleasant breath of fresh Spring air and realizing that spring has sprung. At last.

But, in the meantime, it is early January and there are three more months of this shit to get through.

And it's the first Monday after the holidays. Bing was grumpy this morning. It was too cold for her to even run with dangerous wind chills predicted all week. And back to work.

Liv practically had to be driven out of bed with threats of me muttering that I should have asked Santa for a cattle prod instead of a french press.

And I'm sitting here shivering in my wool skirt and cashmere sweater with a jacket and tights. Ankle boots. A big furry coat to be slugged on soon. A hat to make my hair smash weirdly against my head all day long no matter how I try to fluff it back up in the freezing cold employee bathroom. And my lungs ache from this cold. I'm shoving the air in and out like a recalcitrant steam engine.

The Monday after...

Holy Shit


We watch The Voice at my house. Mostly because I like to drool over Pharrell Williams' (smart boys and girls give me the shivers) incredibly smooth voice and ideas and well, because Gwen Stefani is just freakin' hot.

But, I keep getting introduced to new music and this is good for me. (Or as I told Liv last night, "You youngsters sure got some good things goin' on..." This made her laugh. She likes it when I go all old school and say words like youngsters or even better...younguns...)

Seriously though, how did I miss this:

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Or this!

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Am I the only one who could just eat Chris Jamison with a spoon?

Or this one? Taylor John Williams taking on Swift? And I actually LIKE his version better.

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Another smart boy...they slay me. They really do. I told Liv that he was EXACTLY the sort of guy I would have snagged at a party in college. She gave me her look. That You're my MOTHER look.

Yup....youse youngsters shore got it goin on, dudes.

And I get this crazy feeling that you are all SO much smarter than the rest of us......

Let's talk about Darren Wilson


....or not. Most people I know feel very strongly one way or the other.I, on the other hand, have been biding my time. It seemed foolish to jump to one conclusion or another without knowing the facts, doing some extensive reading from both angles.So, I did. I've read the transcripts. All of them. I've read as much as I could stomach, trying diligently to stay away from those who seemed very pro Wilson or very anti Wilson. I for a middle ground.Our country is very clear on legalities. Yet, so many of the eyewitness accounts directly differ from each other. The coroner report is clear. No, Michael Brown was not shot in the back.I've read many accounts where this young man was described as a gentle giant. But, I saw with my own eyes the video where he robbed a store and then very openly bullied the small Asian owner. This seems a strange juxtaposition, but I suspect that most people have two sides. Also, I agree with Pharrell Williams in his Ebony interview that we might want to question too why Michael Brown felt it was acceptable to treat the store owner this way. Maybe he was a gentle giant in other areas of his life, but he was not a gentle giant in this area.And, I think about things that my wife has told me about her first hand glimpse of what the black experience is like, in real life. A few weeks ago, she took three of her students to a local furniture store (a major one in our've heard of the name) to buy some new computer equipment with grant money that they had won. This was during the school day. The students all had permission from their teachers and parents. All three students were honor students. Good kids. All three had black skin. After they got into the store, she left them in one aisle as she veered to an aisle over to check out something else. And then she heard it."What do you BOYS want?"  A clerk had approached her students. One of the students tried to explain the part that they were looking for, even used the word sir when speaking to the clerk. The clerk cut him off, waved his hand the next aisle over and put his finger up and pointed at their faces.Keep in mind that I'm WATCHING you. Keep that in mind. You hear me?"Bing had seen enough. She went over to the clerk (or as she called him, "this two bit pip squeak who was strutting like he thought he was hot shit"....) and asked him if there was a problem. That these were her students, that they were helping her look for a computer part and what right did he have to speak to them in that tone? The guy immediately backed off and began stammering that he was in charge of this section of the store and, and, and, and...Bing interrupted him. Told him that she wanted to speak to his supervisor, please and his store would not be getting her business today. After the guy slunk off to get his supervisor, the three students all implored to her to just buy the part here. It was cheaper, they said, and it wasn't like there was going to be a difference in how they were treated anywhere else. As long as she was with them, all would be fine, but if she left them alone, well....all kinds of bad stuff could happen to them.Long story short, Bing told the supervisor what happened, who apologized and offered them an even better discount on their equipment and assured her that his clerk would undergo a thorough "talking to." Bing declined the discount and noted that as they left, walking through the exit doors, the supervisor and the clerk were standing together laughing. Apparently, that was him being talked to. They bought their equipment at Radio Shack[...]

Best coffee in the world


I am a coffee addict. The family rule is that whoever hits the kitchen first in the morning starts the coffee. It is nearly always Bing since she gets up early to jog with Socks every day.

I have my first cup when I am downstairs after my shower, fully dressed and checking everything in my briefcase. Bing has usually left for work already, coffee to go in hand. Liv sips her coffee while she goes over her homework. We rarely speak. We just breathe in the smell and taste and wake up.

Then we drain the pot by each of us filling a to-go cup with more coffee.

When I get to work, I have at least two more cups in the morning.

And then...I'm cut off for the day.

I spend the rest of the day drinking either mugwort, horsetail or green tea.

But...this...this is the nectar of the GODS.

I don't know how other people get going in the morning....

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It has to be Kicking Horse and has to be a blend called Kick Ass.

Try it and join me here in paradise.

Thank you to the gentleman at Blick Art store...


I don't think you have any idea how much I needed that today.That look. And that slow, well, well, well smile.You don't know me but my name is Maria and I am not a graceful ager. I am now nearly 57 and for the first 45 years of my life, I pretty much got away with murder because I was one of those really good looking people. Once I hit 45, though, well...overnight, I just sort of aged into my real skin. My 45 year old skin and looks. It's true. I look at photos of myself when I was 44 and I was still a looker and then ones where I am 45 and I suddenly look...welll....about 45 years old.My hair, always shiny and bouncy, even if it was sort of a mousey brown was suddenly kind of dry and lifeless. My skin, always peaches and cream (my college nickname from friends was the milkmaid because I had this gorgeous skin) was suddenly as dry as rice paper.My breasts drooped. A lot. And I didn't have much to begin with, they were never my biggest seller...were suddenly like little half filled balloons that would fall into my armpits when I laid down instead of staying nicely puffed.My hands, which I tended (and still tend to) let fly around when I spoke, were supple and pretty and always colored with a pretty polish. Now, stringy looking veins started to appear and my knuckles looked strangely crinkly.The hardest for me was losing my eyes. I developed advanced crow's feet seemingly overnight and my eyelashes, once so long that they would occasionally knock against my glasses, were now sparse and had a major loss of curl.I did not go gently into that good night of the last ten years. I had to be pulled kicking and screaming and I would embarrass myself sometimes by trying to wile myself out of a speeding ticket or get a price reduction on a store product and it wouldn't work!Well, sheeeeeiiiiiiiitttttt.I began to notice that when I got on a crowded elevator, walked into a room, or a store, I no longer got appreciative glances from (mostly) men. In fact, I was mostly ignored. There is actually a syndrome for this called the middle aged woman syndrome. It basically is that once you reach a certain age, you sort of become invisible.I didn't like that much. I LIKED being given the once-over. I would never admit that to anyone, but secretly...I DID. Very much. And it just wasn't happening anymore.So, you I looked through all the wonderful sketch books, trying to find the perfect one for my daughter, who loves sketching, I wasn't aware of anyone watching me. Because no one ever does. I mean it! I could stick four sketch books in the waistband of my skirt and walk brazenly out the door and no one would notice!Except that I heard a little movement next to me and then looked up into your face and you were smiling at me, an older, very attractive man (in a sort of Brian Williams way) in a suit and tie. I have expected you to say, "May I help you find something, ma'am?" because I have been called ma'am for years now. But, you didn't. Instead, you smiled and we had a little discussion about why I found this sketchbook more attractive than that one.And you listened, smiling, with YOUR crow's feet crinkling in your warm blue eyes. And then, you asked me how old my daughter was and I said 15 and you said that your daughter was 18 and that you kind of remembered 15 as being a difficult year."They leave you for a year or so," you said. "But then, when they are 17, they come back. They know they'll be off to college soon and suddenly they realize that they love you and don't relish leaving you."I laughed a[...]

Needed a laugh...


I actually love Taylor Swift.  I listen to her cds when I want to go into the past.

Which, admittedly, isn't often.

But, it's been a long week of feeling like I'm being picked on. My hairdresser tells me that my hair is beginning to thin. Doctor's reports are not great. AGAIN.

A teenage boy at Target smirked at me as I stood before some lipsticks. His look seemed to say that all the lipstick in the world wouldn't help.

A co-worker told me that I act like my opinion is the only smart one. (We were arguing about the ebola virus....she's in favor of shutting down our borders....WHAT?)

At my child's school conference, a teacher took me for the GRANDMA.

A librarian told me that I always check out such high brow literature. But, she said it like I was showing off or something.

I feel in my bones like I just don't fit in. Anywhere.

And this song made me sing out loud.

So, here's to all of us who don't fit the molds....

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Lucky me


Guess who I get to see on October 30th?

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David Sedaris is the best. I once laughed so hard when I was reading an essay of his in The New Yorker that I was hooting. On an airplane. The woman next to me and the people across the aisle kept glancing over at me and I was truly helpless with laughter.

We all need this, especially in the world today. Especially now.

Failures in "keeping that love alive."


I was at a luncheon with several colleagues. There were about 8 of us. We all are in the same profession and all meet three times a year. We've been doing it for over a decade. I can't remember how it started, I think maybe all of us were at the same in-city seminar and we all got kind of disgusted with how the men in our profession monopolized the across table dialogue (and it seemed mostly just to metaphorically compare dicks), so we all made a pact to meet every four months at a restaurant for drinks, dinner and conversation.I like these women. Well, most of them. There are a few that I'm not crazy about, but I respect their work. We're all in a demanding profession and it's good to throw around ideas, compare notes, share stories and then...just talk.After we had exhausted work talk, the discussion moved to other topics. Kids. Hair. Politics. Vacations. Spouses or lack of.One woman whom I don't know all that well told us that she and her husband went on a "blind date" the previous evening. We all kind of stared at her. Someone asked how one goes about going on a blind date with a man that you've been married to for ten years.She smiled. "I wear a wig, dress up in a fuck me dress and pretend to be someone else. We meet at a bar and he picks me up."Everyone laughed and wanted to hear more. She went on to say how sometimes having two kids under the age of 8 kind of wears and tears at their love life and that they both decided that they wanted to find a way to "keep that love alive."I asked her if it had worked, this charade."I was dubious at first," she admitted. "But, then I have to admit that we both started to really get into it and now we do it about once a month and it really keeps things fresh," she said.I nodded. I get it. I can see how that would work.Well, for some couples. I just can't see this working with Bing and me.For one, if you are a long time reader of my blog, you might remember my spectacular failure at phone sex when Bing was away in Africa for a Summer. If not, to make a long story short: Bing, who was missing me a lot at the time, tried to initiate phone sex by coyly asking me in a sexy voice what I wearing as we spoke over the phone. Me, being me, well...I was clueless. I wondered why her voice was so weird and then I looked down at myself and said something to the tune that I was wearing that old Gin Blossoms t-shirt of hers, the one with the spaghetti stain on it that we could never get out? And jean shorts.Finally, she had to EXPLAIN to me that she had been trying to have phone sex with me and I tried to comply and failed miserably because I just can't say, "Oh, baby, I'm wearing my black teddy and sitting here missing you so much that I can hardly sit still...."When I was in college, I acted in plays. You'd think I could've pulled this shit off. But, I just...couldn't. It felt forced and stupid to my own ears. I was this close to bursting out laughing because I felt so silly. And Bing and I admitted that perhaps I was just a poor candidate for this sort of thing.We did have a wonderful time when she came home though. I showed her in spades how much I had missed her...But then the next time she went on a trip, she and I were talking and she wistfully asked me if I still had that red bra and panty set that I used to wear all the time but now that we'd been together for a few years, never wore anymore. Nope. Just the plain white Hanes For Her.I was dumbfounded. I could barely re[...]

Maria makes amends to the rose garden


I knew that they would be less forgiving than my vegetable garden or the herb garden. The beets and cucumbers understood and forgave without thought. The rosemary just laughed and showed me how she had overrun nearly all the basil and thyme. Only the lemon verbena and lavender had fought her back. I had carefully weeded and pruned. Did what I could to cut the rosemary back, smiling as I realized that I would now have ample bottles of rosemary to hand out to everyone for Christmas this year. Rosemary chicken for everyone, all the time! I could sneak it into stews and knead it into breads. It would be my rosemary year.But, the rose garden was less in the mood to forgive. The bushes sat hunched together, entwined and unhappy, scratching out at each other and anyone and anything that got in their way. They had bloomed beautifully in early June but without me there all Summer to deadhead and cut off the suckers, to infuse the soil around their bases with fragrant wood chips from the lumberyard mixed with our grass clippings, they had been without nutrients and protection for their tender roots and had faltered in some places and overgrown in others.I slipped on my dreaded garden gloves after it became very clear that yes, those roses were just fine about scratching me. Hard. I hummed to them as I worked, and then when I ran out out of Irish lullabies, I just spoke in my softest, sweetest voice.I am so sorry. I didn't mean to neglect you. It was just...I was so ill and unable to tend to you. I AM sorry. Very sorry. And Liv wasn't here to help, she was in North Carolina on a dig with her Father. And you know Bing, she tries. But, well....okay...she TRIES...but she doesn't really know what you need and she is a poor listener when I try to explain. The good news is that the bugs didn't get you! The bad news is that yes, I see. Too much water. And you haven't been mulched properly so your roots are not happy. Again, I'm sorry. Please. Let me fix this. I can fix this!And I tried. So very hard.I clipped and deadheaded until I had a garbage can nearly filled. I saved all the usable rose petals. They could go into my sachet bags that I make every year filled with lavender and lemon verbena. Rose petals are also good in bath salts. As I got down to the underbellies of the other roses, I had to swallow hard and admit that I had been wrong about bugs. I started seeing holes in some of the roses and then yes...a spider mite. I crushed it with my good fingers.And earwig. Several house crickets and what was THAT? I put the specimen in a bag to check online. I would find out that it was a hoplia beetle. I had never seen one before.So, a trip inside to call Liv's Lakota grandmother, to ask how to deal with these bugs. She answered the phone immediately, as I knew she would. She always, always gets to the phone on the first ring and she only has her land line, so I have no idea how she seems to just know when a call is coming.  Although she consented to a computer for the SOLE purpose, she said, of staying in touch with Tinton and Liv, she has refused a cell phone. Sheer nuisance, is what she called it. So, she had answers. I knew she would. I got right to business. Ina, as she likes me to call her, does not suffer fools or wordy people well. She doesn't do small talk. She calls me takuya, calls Liv takoja and Liv calls her kunsi."Ina," I told her, "I am having trouble with my ros[...]