Thursday, May 25, 2017

Hair Tales #2

Originally published in anthology of Southeastern Kansas stories....

I was stunned one summer day in the 1950s when my dad came home looking like a stranger. He had gone by the barber shop after work. Instead his wavy dark hair combed back from his forehead, he sported a new flat top haircut. I thought he had ruined his hair, turning  his once soft locks into stubble that looked like a curry comb for a horse. I had to search his face for days to make sure he was the right daddy.

It was all the more strange because Mom and Dad had issues over hair-hers. He never wanted her to cut her hair short, but in Kansas summers before air conditioning, she chopped her hair short to endure the sweat of cooking, cleaning, and childrearing.  Every summer, she would go to the beauty shop and come home with a fresh bob. Dad would sneer and make some snide comment about her trading curls for summer hair, and she would snip back with a barbed reply making the air tense for a few days.

So it was only natural that I wanted long hair to keep the peace which wasn’t exactly how it worked. When my hair got very long, my mom brushed way too hard saying she had to get the “rats” out. When she tired of the job or my whining, she would tromp me to the beauty shop for a Buster Brown cut. How I hated those! I did not like getting or wearing them either one. Sitting still while the lady cut my bangs was torture; feeling the snips of hair dust my eyelashes and nose was worse. Mother wanted those bangs straight as a bobby pin across my forehead, and it often took a several tries to get them right.

In grade school, I convinced Mom to let me have a Toni home permanent. That was hours of smelly, painful business, but I could endure the suffering if she would take the time. She would roll those tiny plastic perm curlers so tight my scalp felt like a trapper had staked a hide out to dry. Then there was that stinky solution that stole my breath under the towel protecting my eyes from certain blindness. Once timed, then neutralized, then rolled into pin curls all over my head, dried, and finally combed out into a bushel of curls, we both were exhausted.

In high school I got say over my own hair. It was the 60’s and straight hair was in. Keeping ends trimmed was the challenge unless you had natural curls. Then you ironed your hair…or slept with cans on your head! I don’t know who first learned that empty orange juice cans from the frozen food section could be rolled with wet hair, but once it dried, hair was straightened with just a little flip on the ends. No head in cans would go under the plastic cap of hair dryers of those days, so a night’s sleep for drying was the only solution. I use the term sleep loosely as cans on your head could hurt, not to mention the angle they put your neck in for the night. Ah, but suffering for beauty’s sake seemed worth it.

     Once I got long hair, I never wanted to give it up again. In the early 80’s I did exchange the long and straight for long and super curly. My beautician convinced me that it would be easier to have Brillo pad tight coils. Then you just washed the hair, picked it out, and let it air dry. What could be easier while raising kids? It looked good but must have be my version of the flat top for my boys. When I came home, one cried and ran to his bedroom saying I wasn’t his mommy anymore.

When my babies were born, I loved their soft swirls of fine hair, and while other mom’s couldn’t wait for their little boys’ first haircut, I dreaded it. I postponed that first clip, enjoying a more European length until they were at least four. When my first grader came home from school one day, he headed for the bathroom to comb his hair. Odd I thought as I fixed his snack. Soon he came out with a beaming smile and new part plastered down with water. “Look, Mom, now I have President Jimmy Carter hair!” And so he did.



Monday, May 22, 2017

Hair Tales, #1

Hair loss with chemo did not rock my boat. I took it well. I just wanted to live, bald or not. My wig was delightful looking I thought. But as hair comes in now, it bothers me. I am not crazy about the color, but I can live with it…or color in time I have left. I don’t like the feel of it, feels fuzzy. But mostly when I look in the mirror I just do not see the me I know.

As a child, I had two modes of hair—ugly and painful. My mother either had my hair cut off into Buster Brown cuts or she did those old Toni perms. Oh, they smelled bad and I had to sit still for so long. But mostly then you had Saturday wash and pin curls which ended up tangled and Mother brushed the heck out of them pulling like each strand was a balking mule in harness. It hurt. In summer it was no choice, the hair was whacked off and horrid, deep seated bangs were chopped. If they were crooked, it was my fault because surely, I moved on the beautician!

When I was in eighth grade, we visited Mom’s cousin in Tulsa who had once done hair. My bangs were long and she offered to trim them. It was time for the summer chop, but dear Pat asked ME what I wanted. I explained I wanted t look like the rest of the 1962 girls. She shaped my bangs so beautifully, trimmed the ends of my almost shoulder length hair, and she rebutted my Mother’s urging for a chop. Pat said let the girl have her hair! So, from that day forward I never had short hair again!

There were times when my hair was midback. Others I kept it shorter but still long and straight like the times. I taught myself to pile it beautifully on top of my head as by high school tall, upswept hair was the rage Long hair cost more to have done at a beauty shop, and I had no money anyway. For my senior pictures, I did it myself and one older woman, a clothes horse and ritzy hair style gal, wanted to know where it was done she liked it so well. She could not believe I had done my own!

My Mother always wore her hair short and shorter, but that is another tale. I dreaded her trips to the beauty shop as she often did not like what they did. She would fume and recomb and be in a bad mood. My Granny told me often that she felt sorry for Mother’s dates with my Dad as he would sit on the couch waiting, waiting, waiting for Mother to stop seething and smoldering in front of a mirror over her uncooperative hair.

Cancer reduces you. It takes organs, hair, strength, cheer, blood health, and the ability to do for yourself. It is nice that people help and I am grateful for all the kindnesses and assistance I have received. Yet, it can often feel like you are a drawing and someone with a strong eraser is removing parts of you one line at a time, eliminating what makes you who you are. It makes you feel diminished, an abridged edition of who you once were.

On Friday my dear friend, Melissa, is going to look at my head and see if she can help me find myself!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

May Mini Trip

It storms and storms! Between rains we are trying to do some fun things, to escape from our truths and pretend life is full time glorious!
Melissa is a friend who used to do my hair and still cuts DH’s hair. I go with him so we can still visit.  This time she wanted a picture and it turned out well. I now have enough hair I might let her see if she can do anything positive with gray fuzz!!!! Maybe this week?

We ran up to see our son and his family this week. They are busy; we are busy, but it all meshed for a few hours of togetherness. We actually dodged rain, wind, and hail, but were not home long yesterday before the sirens went off. Ugly wall cloud hung over town trying to drop a twister. We made it through with nothing and more came at 8 last night. Escaped again. Tomorrow is to be nice so I am already looking forward to Sunday. Maybe the flowers can crawl out from under the tables again!
This is one of the best pictures of our oldest grandson I have ever taken. Our kids don’t do the Olan Mills type thing we did every month when our kids were small. But this is more like a portrait, snapped on their back deck. He is gangly eight and long toothed like eight year olds are. But here, the picture captures his sensitive side and show the charming fellow he can be!

Our son told us about the National Guard Military Museum that is east of Jefferson City. It is small but we found it worth the visit. Love finding these little nuggets of history tucked away in America’s countryside. It happened to hold some of our history as well in that DH worked on designing two of the planes in our early marriage, the F4 and F15.

F15 by McDonnell Douglas
Sherman Tank...great piece except it was overpowered by German tanks that were heavier.
This plate brought to American with German family who was fleeing Nazi Germany. The father later fought with American troops.
This was first recoiling canon...perfected by America. The recoil allow the carriage etc. to stay in place allowing for faster loading and aiming after firing.
We found my printer not working late last night. Do I need to tell you how technology puts me in a spin? Nothing we could do fixed it and again this morning. So, we replaced it. I would pay good money just to NOT have to change a thing. But alas, that is not life. Got to go with it. So now have it working and will hope worst of that tale is over!


F4 Phantom

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Happy Sunday

The rains have ceased until late in the coming week. We have slight water under our house for the first time in eons of time. The ground is just so soaked, it leaches out everywhere. But…sun is out and it has lifted everyone!  Somehow, bright sun seems to be message from God that things will go on one way or another.

The doctors have called and after this week’s biopsy fiasco, they want to meet with us on Thursday for a discussion. I can tell you that I am much more stressed by the thoughts of this than the biopsy.

Meanwhile, the flower fairy friends have been here this weekend. Look at the beauty, and I wish I could send you the sweet fragrance of the peonies. The scent spreads in my kitchen. I always have an ivy geranium each year, but this year did not feel like the hunt and plant. A friend filled this need and I have an ivy geranium once again.
The air is warm enough to have windows open so even lingering in the kitchen, I can hear the tinkling of the fountain. Yes, even after hearing rain, I still like the soothing sound of water falling over rocks.

I have brewed two kinds of tea today, have a book for deck time, feel no pain,  and a friend is stopping on her way through town today. I could ask for no more.

I hope you enjoy a bright day today and look eagerly to a new week.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Biospy, Anyone?

While the deck flowers are huddling under the picnic table and grill for protection and even a little warmth, the indoor plants seem to be thriving on the occasional furnace warmth added to the dampness of monsoon season here. This Cousin Sel plant has leaves the size of saucers right now, and the spray of red trumpets cascading down the pot are a bright spot for sure.

This morning we left in more rain. The skies rained, thundered, and tossed lightning bolts all night long. While we were safe, I was awake thinking of all the people who were flooded, now getting more insult from Mother Nature. It rained all the way to Springfield, and we had allowed more time to get there. (Heard yesterday of someone who spend 8 ½ hours getting from Joplin to St. Louis due to water problems.)

We got to Springfield by 8 am and started the bloodletting procedures and readying for biopsy. Once prepared I waited another hour on whatever. Then they decided to use ultrasound instead of CAT to guide the camera and needles. Ah, then there was a problem. The two guys in the room could not see the lesions well enough. The doctor came in; he couldn’t see the lesions well enough and only route was through a vein that wasn’t worth the risk. He called the oncologist who said if it caused me risk and pain with maybe no good result, cancel the whole thing for now. I should have felt release from that poking, but I didn’t.

By the time we got back to the car I was chilled to the bone. It felt like late November instead of May. We got some breakfast sandwiches and headed home. Hubby was the driver both ways and by time we got home he was so exhausted as he did not sleep well night before either. He slept much of the afternoon; I dozed some.

I am relieved the lesions are so small and can only hope they grown very slowly. But still, it all makes me feel more on a precipice than ever. I am trying so hard to put a good spin on this for now. I know sun is to shine on Friday and the weekend so maybe that will help me get the grip to go forward again. Right now, the cold dampness bores into my spine and joints. I am listless.  I don’t want to move or think. But, oh yes, Miss Scarlett, tomorrow is another day!!!! I am going to fetch the flannel nightgown and get ready for it when it arrives!!!!