As You Well Know

By Leslie

Medicine – and medical learning – is a matter of intense study, learning what is new, and sometimes discarding old incorrect ideas. As a professor of medicine, I practiced medicine, performed clinical research, but my greatest love was to teach. There is a lot of repetition, which is good, in medicine, and I often felt my major job was to remind my students, interns and residents of what they already knew, but perhaps had buried within the deep recesses of their minds. Unwittingly, I fell into the habit of prefacing my “reminders,” i.e. “factoids,” with the phrase, “as you well know.”

Well, it turned out that many felt they did not well know, in fact, they never knew this piece of information. So in jest, at one year-end “graduation” ceremony for the residents, I received a gift – a gift which I cherish to this day – a t-shirt emblazoned with the phrase one the front, “as you well know” and — in the back, “NOT.”

I would be the recipient of other items of appreciation from other years of graduating students and residents – like the tape recorder, to record what I had previously said – when I had interrupted myself from a train of thought (as I interrupt everyone else, incorrigibly) – but the T-shirt remains the pièce de résistance!

September 2018

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Cat Attitudes

By Sally

To update you, I have three cats – one was mine originally that I got from the humane shelter, a blue tabby, Frankie. Two I acquired from my friend who got married and her husband likes cats but is allergic to them. So, yes I took them into my home. There is YoYo, a small black & white, very friendly, and Brandy, a big red.

Each day is an experience with them. Even though I’ve had them for almost three years now, Frankie is still doing his territory thing, like, “This is my cat box; you can’t use it.” But they do, which makes Frankie more determined to make other rules, also which they don’t keep. And, oh yes, they have made their rules too. There’s a line to get to the food (even though there are 2 food servers), and naturally Frankie is at the end of the line.

As humans, we all have things that set us off in little miffs. So do my cats. Frankie hates it when I tell him to be nice when he’s playing very rough, and I get the look of a mad cat when he hears that. He shows his “I don’t want to be nice” attitude. He thinks he owns the house and makes the rules. And he won’t look at me when I remind him it’s my house and I make the rules.

This morning Frankie trapped YoYo in the bathroom, as I sat and watched. Brandy got up and walked into the bathroom and plopped himself between Frankie and YoYo, like a dare. “You leave my Friend alone.”

After a bit, YoYo decided she wanted out of the bathroom, still guarded by Frankie. Brandy tried to stop her, actually holding up and waving her paws at her. But YoYo decided she was going for it, and did her cute two-foot leap and went over Brandy and kind of bounced off Frankie!

Well, that set Frankie off, and the chase was on again. Only this time YoYo turned to Frankie and stopped him in his tracks, telling him, “I’m not taking this anymore.”

After that they soon settled down. The morning excitement was over. Once again the house became quiet and all went to sleep.

August 2018

Ah, Fall!

By Leslie

Welcome autumn; after a long, hot summer we have earned these mornings of cool, crisp air – doors and windows ajar, the sounds of birds wafting through.

As a child my father would take my brother and me on fall walks to collect the ever-changing colorful leaves from trees, especially maples that adorned New York parks and streets. My mother, on the other hand, never liked fall, as it signified death and dying to her. I have mixed feelings – sharing hers, but relishing the temperatures that tell us that life in the desert is still a life worth living.

Perhaps Albert Camus described the best way to envision fall. He said: “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”

Rejoice, fall is here!

September 2017

The Ideas We Get

By Sally

As I was enjoying my coffee and cookies this morning, a cookie went down the wrong way. I started to cough and tried to cough up the cookie. But nothing was working.

While coughing my head off (so to speak) I noticed one of my cats (Big Red) was sitting in front of me watching my problem. “I’m going to teach you the Heimlich Maneuver,” I thought. Then, realizing it would be kind of hard since her paws weren’t long enough to get around me and she doesn’t weigh enough to jump on my back and make any difference, I had a great idea – teach her to dial 911.

Sure, I thought. Then when she got through, how would she communicate? Meow, meow MEOW!! Hmm, maybe I could teach her to meow in Morse Code – like mew – mew – mew – meow – meow – meow – mew – mew – mew.

Then, I thought that would be a really difficult thing to do, especially since she doesn’t meow very loud to begin with.

By this time the cookie in my throat had moved down and disintegrated, so all my educational thoughts of teaching the cat had left my great idea hanging from the ceiling without a trace of reincarnation. So, putting that thought into the “do not revive” bucket, I went about my day, forgetting about teaching the cat anything — at least for now.

July 2018

Ice Cream

By Kat

Ice cream is the joy and the bane of my life. There are few experiences more sensual than the cool, soft, creaminess sliding over my tongue, tasting of cherries or caramel or peanut butter or sweet chocolate. The pleasure is almost sacred. Letting it lay on my tongue until, finally, it glides down, spreading the joy to my very soul.

My words spill onto paper today to day farewell, to release its hold. Alas, my love of the silky smoothness is more than love; each time I choose to savor this palate-pleasure more than a few times in a given week, it becomes addiction. I will purchase ice cream on every grocery trip, sometimes stopping between trips solely for ice cream. And, slowly the pounds pile on, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 25 . . . until the mirror and the fit of my clothing reveal the damage done by months of indulgence.

It’s time to stop. The doctor’s office scale and my physical discomfort tell me I am 15 pounds over the weight at which I am most comfortable.

My blood pressure is up. I fear the results of blood work – currently being tested for sugar, cholesterol – all the numbers internists insist on reviewing. Now willpower builds, even as the nearly-last luxuriously lingual liquid languishes in my mouth. Quitting is a process.

I allow a few days or a week of binging on my favorites. And then, just stop. It helps to know that, after a while, I will not suffer the cravings, no longer put ice cream on my store list, and, mostly will not miss it. Soon I will return to the near-Paleo diet that helps me hang onto better health. For now, truly living in the moment, I will savor each offering for a few more days.

July 2018

Strange Meeting

By Sally

When I was shopping at Fry’s I was slowly going along the aisle watching the item directories to see if there was anything I was forgetting (even though I had my list, sometimes it’s missing something).

As I started down the aisle alongside the meat counter, I had a front to front encounter with a man also going along slowly. But as we looked at each other, I noticed his eyes – even though he was neatly dressed with a nicely combed white beard, I couldn’t help looking into his eyes.

They were large – wide open – more of partly closed – just naturally that way. His face had a peaceful appearance, pleasant to look at, but his eyes showed some sadness – sorrow – like loneliness.

The odd thing was we both stood face to face, just looking at each other. It probably wasn’t any more than a minute, but it seemed like more. We didn’t speak, but went on our way.

I came up around the veggie area and got a side salad at the deli counter, picked up some pastry bites at the bakery and headed toward the checkout counter. As I approached the first through aisle, coming up from the back of the store, there again the pleasant man and I met face to face. And, yes, once again we just looked at each other – in our eyes – not saying a word or even a smile from either one of us. After a moment we moved on.

When I got home and relaxed, I kept thinking of this man for some reason. I don’t know why. His face stayed in my thoughts – nice thoughts – and I pondered on the sadness in his eyes.

I asked the Lord as I got ready to say my nightly prayers about the man and started to talk to God about my encounter. After a while I felt at ease and went to bed.

After thought, usually when you meet someone like that, you pardon yourself and go around that person and they do the same. But this was different!

July 2018

Come Rain or Shine

By Leslie

Last weekend Tucson received a wondrous gift, the gift of rain. Depending upon your locality, you could have received as “little” at 7/8” (our house), or as “much” as 2 ½” (my editorial assistant’s location on Tucson’s far east side). But, a little or a lot, I just couldn’t repress the happiness the rain bestowed upon my entire being. I have the opposite of “SAD,” seasonal affective disorder. In contrast to my husband, I get depressed by day after day of blazing sun. He argues that sun is necessary for photosynthesis and life. I argue that nothing, no nothing, can survive without water. So perhaps we need both.

The rain reminds me of “rainy day” fun that I had as youngster growing up in New York City – endless games of Monopoly and Scrabble, endless cups of hot chocolate. The same could be said of snow days. Well, those days have come and gone. But who’s to say that we can’t have “sunny day” fun?! The games are still extant (and believe it or not, not only on computers) and well, we can forego the hot chocolate and replace it with lemonade . . . or even, if you can find it – cream soda!

June 2018