A Bigger Hole in My Head

Sunday the 5th I sat inside watching my neighbors shoveling their driveways every couple of hours to keep on top of the snow storm. I kept telling myself that I should be out there doing the same thing – but myself didn’t want to. Myself decided to sit around in my bathrobe all day and rely on my 4×4 truck to get me out of the driveway on Monday. Later that day, I received a notification from my employer that the office would be closed on Monday. Woo-hoo, 3-day weekend. That evening I got a call from the dermatologist’s receptionist stating that the office would be opened on Monday and asking if I would be able to keep my appointment. I said “I’m going to try.” This was the appointment to remove the basal cell carcinoma from my scalp.

So Monday at 12:30 I left the house to make the 20 minute drive to the doctor’s office. My appointment wasn’t until 1:40, but I wanted to give myself plenty of time. Getting down the driveway was easy until I was stopped by the large wall of snow that the street plow made. But, I pulled forward a little, put it in 4-wheel drive low instead of high and hit the gas pedal. I made it through without hitting my neighbor’s mailbox across the street – yay! I love my Truck.

The drive was easy, just slow going. The frozen tundra (usually referred to as streets) was bumpy and hard. I could have gone faster than I did, but it felt like my insides were being jarred loose. I arrived at 1:10 to find a note on the door saying they were closed for lunch and would return at 1:00. There was another patient sitting in the parking lot (in his vehicle, of course). About 1:20 the doctor, nurse and receptionist pulled in and let us in. They said the only place they could find that was open was the Cheesecake Factory and they only had one chef working, so it took quite a while to get lunch.

Since they only had the two of us scheduled for that afternoon, it was only a few minutes before I was ushered in and given a local anesthetic on my head. Doctor made a circle with the needle and said the needle punctures would be the worst part of the procedure. I told him it didn’t hurt much at all – the most painful shot I ever received was in the heel of my foot. He agreed that that is one of the most painful spots to receive a shot. Then I sat and snoozed while the anesthetic took effect.

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Busy morning.  I dropped Andre off at the groomer’s at 8:45 am for his nine o’clock appointment.   Then to Jiffy Lube for an oil change and checkup.  Then to the UPS Store to ship a Christmas present back to Amazon.  Then the gas station and the bank.  I arrived home at 10:03.  Boy, you can get a lot done if you start early before the sleepy heads leave their houses.

While I was at Jiffy Lube, a gentleman in the waiting room asked about my truck.  I told him it’s a 2002 with only 65,000 miles because I only use it to pull my horse trailer and to get through the snow (I don’t even have to shovel my driveway when I drive my truck, because it has 4-wheel drive.  He asked if it was Heavy Duty, to which I replied yes, with the extra towing package.  Told him it isn’t a diesel so the gas mileage is really bad.  He said it was a really nice truck and asked if I wanted to sell it, he knows someone looking for a truck.  I said I shouldn’t because I’d have to turn around and buy another one.  Thing is I would love to have a new truck with options like a USB port and navigation, etc., but I just can’t justify the cost.  I mean, I’ve had this truck for 11 years and hardly drive it – it’s not that I don’t like it – I love my truck – it’s because of the cost of gas.

Heard from a co-worker yesterday that Ford is changing its F150 to aluminum.  Said they will shave 700 pounds off the truck and increase the highway gas mileage to 30 mpg (shave about 5 miles per gallon).  Seems odd to me, because a truck is usually used for work like hauling, towing, etc.  Aluminum would dent easily, wouldn’t it?  Another co-worker said that Billy Bob’s gal would jump up to sit on the hood and put a big dent in it.  I replied that I took offense to that – you don’t have to be a hillbilly redneck to own a truck.

So I looked it up on the internet.  I didn’t know that Humvees were aluminum and that Alcoa makes aluminum blast shields for battlefield-bound vehicles.  Or that most of the products now sold by Jaguar and Audi use aluminum-intensive designs.  Or that Land Rover, the British manufacturer known for its go-anywhere sport-utility vehicles, adopted an aluminum body and frame for its Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, saving as much as 800 pounds in the process.  And Land Rover claims that the new vehicles have improved their legendary off-road capabilities.

Very interesting.  Wow – what is even more interesting is that I am talking about TRUCKS.  My how people can change.  I used to drive a little sports car.  Unfortunately I had to sell it because Paul didn’t fit in it and we needed the money for a down payment on our first house.  Oops, getting off subject here.


A Hole in My Head

I was never a sun worshiper.  Laying around sweating to get a tan wasn’t my thing.  So I was very surprised the first time I was diagnosed with skin cancer at age 27.  Luckily, it wasn’t Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.  My skin cancer was Basal Cell Carcinoma. BCCs are slow-growing.  The doctor told me it was probably from sun exposure when I was a child.  When I was little, not as much was known about skin cancer.  Blue, green or gray eyed, fair-complexioned children are more at risk, but all children should wear sun screen and hats when playing in the sun.

My first BCC was on my back and grew quite large.  I had always had a mole there.  I used to rub it subconsciously, like people who play with their hair.  One day I noticed that it was larger than it used to be so I asked my gynecologist to look at it during my normal yearly exam.  He said I should see a dermatologist and recommended one.  I called the next day to make an appointment, but the recommended doctor was on vacation.  The receptionist asked who had recommended me and I replied “My gynecologist.”  She said the associate could see me and she was female so I would probably feel more comfortable any way.  I mentioned to Paul later what the receptionist had said and added “Why would she think I would be more comfortable with a woman?”  Paul said, “Think about it, Sharon.  Your gynecologist recommended you.”  I was so naïve in my younger years.

When I arrived, I explained to the dermatologist that I had the mole for as long as I could remember, but that it was larger than it used to be.  She looked at it and said, “I want to remove that; do you have time?”  I said “Today?”  She said “Yes, we really need to get it analyzed.”  So, I agreed and she removed the entire mole in the office and sent it for a biopsy.  I was familiar with Melanoma and moles because I had a sister-in-law who died five years after having a mole removed.  The Melanoma had spread to her brain.  I expressed my concern to the doctor and she said I shouldn’t worry, it was probably a more common, less dangerous form of skin cancer or nothing at all.

A couple of weeks later, I was visiting my mom at her house when I was surprised by a call from the doctor.  She said she had called my house and Paul told her where I was and gave her the number (no cell phones back then).  She said the cancer was basal cell and that she had gotten all of it, but I needed to come back in so she could examine me all over for any other suspicious moles or lesions.  Wasn’t that nice of her to call on a Friday night.  Now remember, she had told me on that day not to worry, it was probably nothing.  When I arrived for my follow-up and checked in, the receptionist said “Dr. *** was so excited when she got the results of the biopsy, she was so worried.”  After a thorough exam, she even used a hair dryer to blow my hair so she could see my scalp, I was pronounced suspicious spot free.

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Keep a Clean House

Last summer there were some break-ins in the neighborhood so I called ADT Home Security and had an alarm system put in.  The first couple of weeks I kept forgetting about it and setting it off myself (man, is it loud!).  About 1:10 pm on a Wednesday, I received a call from ADT reporting that the front door alarm was compromised.  They asked me how I wanted to handle it.

I wasn’t prepared for this question.  I assumed they would automatically send the police.  What the heck could I do from work?  Even if I could make it home quickly, I didn’t want to surprise a burglar.  I said, “Well, I am at work and by the time I get home the burglars will probably be done.”  She said, “Do you want me to dispatch the police?”  I said “I guess I could call a neighbor, but you probably should call the police instead.”

After I hung up with her, I did call my next-door neighbor and told her about the alarm and asked if there were any strange vehicles in my driveway.  She said no.  I told her I might not have latched the door securely and the wind might have blown it open, “Is it windy out today?”  My neighbor replied “No, not really.”  She did walk over to look and said my door was open “but, I’m not going in there.”  I told her I totally understood and the police were on the way.

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Family · Life


My mom had a bit of a sixth sense.  She always said if she dreamed about someone three times in a row, something was wrong.  I witnessed this one time, but that isn’t my story to tell.  I remember when my Aunt Edna died.  This was my mom’s sister, the sister who finished raising her after my grandmother died.  I stopped by the house one evening after work and my mom told me that Edna had passed.  She told me that the night before (around three I think she said) she had been awakened by something.  She got up and looked all around the house to make sure there was nothing wrong.  She even went out on the porch to check.  She went back to bed, noting the time.  The next day she received a call that Edna had died the same time my mother had been awakened.

Another time while asleep, she heard her sister Thelma tell her “Gladys, he’s dead.”  She again awoke and noted the time.  My Aunt Thelma took care of her brother-in-law for years because of his poor health.  The next day Aunt Thelma called my mom to tell her that her brother-in-law had passed away the night before.  You guessed it, same time.

There were probably other times that either my mom never mentioned or that I have forgotten.  I don’t know if I inherited this sixth sense or not.  I don’t think so. I don’t know about my siblings, oddly, it’s never come up.

Years ago, when my mom’s health started failing, we moved her in with us.  It was then that I realized that she was suffering from Dementia or Alzheimer’s.  She would have memory lapses and seemed unable to comprehend the passing of time.  One evening after everyone had gone to bed, I sat up watching TV.  My mom came out of her room and asked me if I saw someone come out of her room.  I said, “No, why?”  She said that a little old man had come into her room and sat on her bed.  She had also seen a small girl with a bloody face.  I assured her that I saw no one and said it must have been a dream.  She went back to bed.  A little while later she came out again.  This time very perturbed.  She said “You must have seen him this time.”  I told her I hadn’t and she eventually went back to bed.  I’m sure she thought I was lying.  Since one of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s is hallucinations, I chalked it up to that.

Now, from what I’ve read about ghosts, they apparently either attach themselves to a place, an object or a person.  I don’t know if the little old man came with my mom and decided to stay behind or if he had always been here, but after we moved Mom into a nursing home, I started to hear noises around the house.  Knocks and creaks that seemed to be more than just the house settling or the wind.  I also heard footsteps and sounds like the back door opening and closing.  My son said he heard the noises too, but my husband insisted it was nothing.  He didn’t believe in ghosts.

Once when I was home from work because of an injury, I laid down in the guest room (where my mom had stayed) to take a nap.  Why I chose this bed instead of my own, I don’t know.  I had with me our small Dusky Conure Parrot named Gus.  (It’s his picture you see on this website.)  Gus would sleep with me during my naps (in case you’re wondering, birds don’t poo while they sleep).  I should point out that Gus adored my son.  He was constantly seeking him out.  Any time he thought he heard my son, he would squawk and look for him.  Before falling asleep, I heard the back door open and close and someone step on the trash can to raise the lid.  And Gus heard it too!!  He ran to the edge of the bed, looked out the bedroom door and waited for my son to walk by. No one.  I had to take Gus to the back door to prove to him that my son was not home.

There was a period of time when I slept in the guest room because of my husband’s snoring.  It was after dreaming that I was being chased by a gang of motorcyclists and realizing that the vroom, vroom, vroom of the motors was my husband’s snores.

One night while sleeping I heard someone come into the room and lean on the bed.  I thought it was my Paul coming in to get me up, but when I rolled over, I was alone.  There were a couple of other nights when I felt someone sit on the bed beside me.  I joked that it was the ‘little old man’ Mom had seen and tried to brush it off, but the fourth time was just too much.  I remember being awakened by jingling, like the coat hangers in the closet bumping each.  Just about the time I was awake enough to think “what is that,” I felt someone climb into bed with me.  I felt him get on his hands and knees on the bed, climb over me and lay down.  I felt his hip and then his shoulder hit the bed as he lay down.  I immediately jumped up and left the room.  As I was heading for our room, I realized that the alarm clock in that room would start going off at 6:00, so I went back in to turn it off, turning on the lights first, of course.  I said out loud “You’re dead – go toward the light.”  He stopped sitting on the bed after that and the footsteps and other noises lessened.  I moved back into my room after that and my husband got help for his snoring.

Quite some time later, my son was out one evening and my husband and I were watching TV in the basement.  At one point Paul yelled upstairs, “Is that you, son?”  No response.  I looked at Paul and said “You heard footsteps, didn’t you.”  He had to admit that he had.  And still later, I was off on a weekend horse riding trip and when I returned on Sunday, Paul told me that he had felt someone climb into bed with him on Saturday night.  He thought that I had come back early, but when he looked over – no one.  Even so, he still insisted that ghosts don’t exist.

So you’re probably wondering if I’ve ever heard or felt Paul’s ghost.  Shortly after his passing, after crying myself to sleep, I awoke around 3 am to go to the bathroom.  When I returned to bed, I felt someone tug on the blanket near my foot.  The alarm clock light dimmed and the fan slowed down almost to a stop.  It only lasted a couple of seconds.  I think it was Paul letting me know that he was still here with me. I hear knocks in my bedroom regularly, and in other places in the house.  It is so common that my dog, Andre, doesn’t pay attention any more.  My sister has heard him a couple of times.  We both sleep in my king-sized bed when she visits, and on one visit she thought she heard me walk around the foot of the bed.  She said “Are you up?”  I replied, “No, I’m right here.”  Another time she thought she heard Paul’s voice.  Maybe she has inherited some of Mom’s sixth sense.

The existence of ghosts hasn’t been proven – some believe and some don’t.  I am a believer.  My son told me that I shouldn’t want Paul’s ghost to remain because then he isn’t in heaven.  I’ve pondered this for a while now.  I heard an opinion that when we die, our body returns to the earth, our soul goes to heaven and our spirit remains behind.  Another opinion is that spirits can come back and visit from the other side. I only know that it gives me comfort to think that Paul is still around, looking out for me in death as he did in life.

Family · Life

Little Brothers

Little Brothers


My husband’s sister is a vegetarian.  She was long before it was popular.  She didn’t stop eating meat for health reasons, but rather because she is an animal lover.  At first she continued to eat fowl and fish, but a few years ago she stopped eating anything that “had a face.”  She still eats dairy, but she’ll only eat eggs from free-roaming chickens.

Apparently it’s okay to eat a soon-to-be chicken as long as the hen wasn’t penned up when she laid it. To me, it’s still cradle-robbing and the chickens know it.  Have you ever gone into a chicken coop to gather eggs?  I have, and it was verrry scarrry.  It was dark and dusty.  The chickens were sitting on their nests staring at me angrily, clucking under their breath.  I gingerly reached up and stuck my hand under a chicken.  She squawked and flapped her wings and I ran for the house.  We had oatmeal for breakfast that morning.

I  know my sister-in-law eats cheese and milk, but I’ve never asked her about that.  If the chickens have to be free-roaming, then one would assume the cows would have to be hand-milked.  I can’t imagine it would be okay to drink milk from an “assembly-line” cow whose teats have been hooked up to some big mechanical sucking device.  All I know is, she puts Half-n-Half in her coffee and I just buy it straight off the shelf at the supermarket.

As long as I’ve known her, she has always had two dogs.  This past year her beloved beagle-mix died and now she only has one, Tulip Jane.  She used to feed her dogs dog food made with meat because it was “only natural”; but, alas, poor Tulip Jane is now on a vegetarian diet too.  Sister-in-law assured us that “Tulip likes it!” as she set the bowl in front of her. I guess it’s possible that Tulip always eats very slowly and tentatively, but I couldn’t help wondering if she’d be gulping down Dog Chow or Alpo.

At Thanksgiving, sister-in-law donates money to save a turkey from certain death and presents us all with a picture.  Sorry, but each year the turkey looks just like the one from last year.  Guess I’m a cynic, but I can see some con man making a tidy little profit here.  So far it hasn’t discouraged the rest of us from enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving meal. We are sensitive enough to slice the turkey in the kitchen before taking it to the table so sister-in-law doesn’t have to look at the dead carcass.

One Thanksgiving a few years ago, after dinner my husband and I, his parents, his sister, and her boyfriend were sitting in the living room talking.  (My son was smart; he went off  to watch TV.) Somehow the conversation turned to salmon and how it looks totally different before it’s cooked. Sister-in-law interjected that she couldn’t understand how we could all claim to be animal lovers and still eat meat.  I started to point out that we don’t eat dogs and cats, but my husband beat me to the punch and said, “Oh, that reminds me of a joke!  It’s about a 2-legged pig.”   I grabbed his arm and hissed under my breath “Don’t do it”, but there was no stopping him.  He continued:

A man was driving down a country road when he came to a farm with a 2-legged pig in the front yard.  Being curious he stopped and asked the farmer what had happened to the pig. The farmer replied, “Well sir that is one special pig.  One day my son fell in the creek and that pig busted through the pen and jumped in the creek and pulled Johnny to safety.”  “Is that how he lost his legs?,” asked the man.

“Nope.  But after that, we let him sleep in the house at night.  Well sir, one night our house caught on fire and that pig managed to wake us all up just in time.  He saved us all.”  “Is that how he lost his legs?,” asked the man.

“Nope,” said the farmer, “but you can’t eat a special pig like that all at once.”

My husband sat there with a devilish grin on his face waiting for the reaction.  His mom and dad scolded him, I groaned, boyfriend chuckled. Then all eyes focused on sister-in-law. She jumped up and stormed out of the house (saying something unprintable under her breath).   My husband apologized to the boyfriend, since he had an hour-long drive home with her ahead of him.  Boyfriend just chuckled and said that it would be okay, at least he’d have some peace and quiet.  I have no way of knowing what transpired on the trip home, but not too long after that sister-in-law and boyfriend broke up.

Little brothers!

Andre · Life

Andre the mouser

Guess what?  I found another mouse today.  Or rather, it found me.  I was in the living room vacuuming and he came running from under a chair, saw me and ran back.  He kept circling this way as I yelled for Andre.  Andre came running and the chase was on.

Andre chased him constantly, sometimes grabbing him and then dropping him.  But he never lost the scent.  When he had him, I tried to coax him to the back door to take him out, but I think he was having too much fun.  I think all dogs need a job to do.  Usually Andre’s job is keeping me warm at night, barking at other dogs when we are on a walk and occasionally chasing a cat or squirrel out of the yard.  He is always so proud of himself when he does his job.  I can now add mouser to his job description.

The mouse ran under the curio cabinet and Andre couldn’t get to him.  But he kept circling and waiting.  Finally the mouse ventured out and Andre got him again.  My coaxing to the back door didn’t work.  Andre dropped the mouse, who by now was tired and probably injured.  I put on a work glove and grabbed him and threw him out in the back yard.  But Andre wouldn’t give up.  He insisted on going out and looking for him.  Luckily for me he didn’t find him; I really didn’t want him to eat him – YUK!

So after much praise and a treat, Andre is now nestled on my lap while I write this story.  Who says poodles are foo-foo dogs!!


The mouse

I’ve been cleaning out closets and pantries today.  I pitched some really, really old sugar and flour.  I don’t know how long it lasts, but, since I don’t cook any more, there was no sense in holding on to it.

Last month a noticed a mouse run from my laundry room into the kitchen, so I bought a couple of traps and caught it the next night.  Everyone told me there wouldn’t be just one, but I’ve had the trap out for weeks and haven’t caught another.  We’ve never had mice before, guess it was the drought that brought them in.  Anyway,  there was another mouse.

When I started to remove the trash bag from the can, sugar and coffee grounds started coming out, so I moved it back over the can and saw the other booger in the bottom of the can.  I put the trash bag and hauled the whole thing out to the large trash can and dumped it all in and shut the lid.  Hopefully the little thing is still in there when the trash man comes on Wednesday.

So after cleaning up the mess on the floor, I’m now taking a break.  Whew.  At least I didn’t scream like a little girl and run away.  Very proud of myself.

Family · Life

Out of the Mouths of Babes

(I wrote this back in 2000)

Our son left last month for his second year of college.  His freshman year we took him down and helped him move in.  This year he loaded up the woody wagon and drove off by himself.  {sigh}   A couple of nights later my husband got out the cassette recording that we made when our son was  three.  We listened to him singing about the peanut on the railroad tracks, hip hop bunny, and his ABC’s.  He only got stuck once ‑ not remembering the letters ‑ stuck like a broken record.  His L‑M‑N‑O came out L‑M‑minow‑minow‑minow‑P.  Ah, the memories.

When I was a young mother, I decided that I wouldn’t use baby talk or silly words when talking to my son. For instance, I’ve heard people use phrases like, “Look what hers got.”  (Is “hers” a contraction?  Should there be an apostrophe because it is short for “her has”?)  My philosophy…. why teach your children bad habits that some poor teacher is going to have to undo later?  Or that is going to embarrass the hell out of them when they are in the lunch line at school and order a “sodie”. (I’m speaking from experience here.)

I also wanted to be very open and honest with my son.  I wanted him to be able to come to me with any question and be assured that he would get a straight answer.  (You see where this is going, right?)

When he turned two I enrolled him in day‑care.  At one time, there were quite a few “teachers” there that were in the “family way.”  And being curious like most children are, one day came the question.  But his question wasn’t how the baby got in, he wanted to know how the baby would get out.   So I told my 3‑year‑old that women had a place that men didn’t have, especially for the baby to come out, called a vagina.  He asked, “Where is the vagina, Mommy?”  I said simply that it was between the woman’s legs.  Okay….. pretty easy…. I hadn’t avoided the question and I had kept it simple, right?   I learned a valuable lesson a few days later – when you give a child a new word he will be dying to use it!

Later in the week I received a call from the day‑care administrator.  She said, “Mrs. Serguta, one of the mothers is pretty upset because your son told her daughter that she had a pretty vagina.”  After taking a few moments to compose myself I replied, “H‑h‑h‑ow….”  Miss Vickie explained that the boys’ bathroom was out‑of‑order so the boys were using the girls’ room.  Unfortunately, my son went in while it was occupied.  I apologized and said I would talk to him about it.

I immediately called my husband.  I explained to Paul what had happened and told him how mortified I was.  My husband has a different way of looking at things than I do.  His response was “She’s upset?  We should be upset.  What is her daughter doing showing our son her vagina.”  I then explained to Paul about the bathroom situation.  So, he said the day‑care workers should be more careful….end of crisis.  So much for getting any help from my husband.

That evening I had to try to explain to our son that, although vagina is not a bad word, most people don’t like to hear it used.  In the future when I had talks with him, I made sure I pointed out that he wasn’t to say anything to the other children, it was to be our secret.  Let their parents have the pleasure.


A Loaded Gun

Many years ago, Paul and I went looking for a replacement car for him.  It was his turn for a new vehicle and since he was 6 foot 6 inches tall, his options were pretty limited.  One of the car dealers was having a promotion for interest-free financing.  Paul liked the Buick LaSabre and fit in it, so we decided to buy one.  It was the last day for the promotion and the place was very busy.  After picking out the car and filling out the paperwork, we had to wait to see the finance guy.  There were a lot of people waiting to see him too.  I went to the ladies’ room once, but we waited long enough that I had to go a second time.  Unfortunately, I turned right instead of left and wound up in the men’s room, face-to-face with a gentleman who was exiting. We were both pretty startled and after apologizing, I retreated to the ladies’ room.

Naturally I told Paul what had happened and we had a little chuckle.  Finally it was our turn and as we approached the finance guy’s office, I recognized him from the men’s room.  I grabbed Paul’s arm and told him and added, “Don’t say anything!”.  Well, that was a mistake.  I should have known not to give Paul ammunition.  The finance guy stood up and introduced himself to Paul with a handshake.  Paul said, “I’m Paul” turned and looked at me and added, ” and you’ve already met my wife, Sharon.”  We all laughed, but I was so embarrassed.

Looking back, Paul did a good thing, otherwise the finance guy and I would have been awfully uncomfortable during the financing process.  Knowing Paul, that was probably his intention – that and a good laugh.