The Doctor is IN

Keen Observations on Life … Whether You Need Them or Not

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Early Voting Starts Today

Whether you vote on November 3, by absentee ballot, or by one-stop early voting–even if you and I cancel each other out at the poll–you need to VOTE. In North Carolina, early voting starts today (October 15) and runs through October 31. Check out the North Carolina State Board of Elections for information regarding where you can vote early, if that’s your jam.

Since I didn’t raise a lemming, and our son is awake, aware, and active, I thought I’d share a couple photos he captured over the last few months for WUNC of Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar; the 2020 Raleigh Women’s March, and moments from the Raleigh protests in May and in August. Vote for what’s happening in the world. Vote for what you want the future to look like. Vote your conscience. Vote because it’s your right, and your privilege. Just vote.



Locals Lunch: The Belted Goat

Last year, my mom and I started something called ‘Locals Breakfast.’ My goal was twofold–keep her from turning feral, and be welcomed a la Norm and Cliff. After nearly every Monday morning at the same restaurant, here are the results:

  • they never learned either of our names,
  • they did have coffee ready for me and a Coke for her, and
  • they did remember our orders: scrambled eggs with bacon, sliced tomatoes and whole wheat toast for me; scrambled eggs, grits and sausage for her.

Did it chap our asses that we remained anonymous? Sorta, but two outta three ain’t bad. Now that loyalty isn’t a goal and anonymity isn’t a bother, we’re switching it up to lunch in the new year, and rotating restaurants. Sometimes it’s just the two of us, sometimes we have extras.

This week, my mom, whose colleagues referred to her as ‘Rah-Rah’ for years, came loaded for bear (check out her outfit). I complimented her wardrobe and accoutrement selection and she said, “Well, nobody’s beat the crap out of me yet.” So, winning.

I thought it would be interesting to wrap up our weekly discussion. This week’s was pretty obvious.

Rah-Rah: “If Roe v. Wade is overturned, it will set us back 50 years. Women have worked so hard to get where we are, and it’s just being chipped away. One of the things that’s so disturbing about voters in America is that they would support this administration no matter what happens, in order to have Roe v. Wade overturned … it’s as if no other issues matter. While that’s such a difficult and private decision for a woman to make–I wish it was something no one ever had to make–what I do support is having the option of making that decision.”

Thanks to the strong women in the world. You keep it running.


A Nod to the Creators

I’ve been a writer for a long time. I started off at Nortel Networks in the late nineties before being sacked during the dot-com bust of the early millennium, and moved into the non-profit and then media worlds. Along the way I added graphic designer, photographer … and all the other things that are part of my interesting career. I’ve written white papers, grants, reports, essays, book reviews, newspaper and magazine articles, novels, children’s books, radio commercials, playbills, obituaries, and a daily advice column from the perspective of Basset hound Miss Fifi (one of my favorites). I pay attention to the finished product, yes, but I also pay attention to the creative process. I’ve been part of the creative process. And I give a nod to the creators.

Last month, I worked to revise and re-issue my first children’s book, Peggy Noodle, Hula Hoop Queen, which rolled off of copyright when its small indy publisher shuttered in 2016. It was both easy and difficult, challenging and rewarding, but ultimately satisfying. As a published author who is getting back in the game after a life- (and career-) altering trauma, I pay attention to the creators. The creators of the books, of the photographs, of the graphics, of the distribution … I pay attention to where I can submit my manuscripts and article ideas. When I read the news, both online and in print, I look at who wrote the story and provided the photos. Because it matters. The creators matter. There would be no content without them.

Today, the creator I honor is my son, who is an up-and-coming photographer kicking ass and taking names. It started last year with National Geographic, and brings us to today, with the moment in time he captured of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who kicked off a college tour of the Carolinas at UNC Chapel Hill on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019.

Read the bylines.

Know who’s creating the things you’re reading and sharing and enjoying. Know the things they’re creating are the result of hard work, practice, talent, and skill.

Go Peyton! Go creators!


Hey @Pintester: I Rocktopussed the Socktopus!

mochaFor the past week, we’ve been keeping our friends’ dog, Mocha. Holy hell, what a whirlwind. I don’t know how people with more than one dog do it.

Mocha’s a great little dog. Chipper, well-behaved, friendly, amicable. She’s invited back anytime she’d like to come back. But despite her awesomeness, our beagle Maggie May, could just not adjust to having to share her space. She’s an only dog, you see, and used to being the princess. When Mocha went home yesterday, we launched our Happy Maggie campaign to get her out of the funk.  I’m no stranger to parenting-through-bribery. I’ve got a 15-year-old son, after all. How do you think I’ve made it eight years without unloading the dishwasher? Bribery. Suck it, ethics.

When I saw Sonja’s invitation to join the Pintester Movement, I knew I could find a quick DIY or Craft to perk up the pooch, and following in her footsteps to make a Socktopus was my path to salvation. I used bribing helping Maggie to get past her melancholy with Kristofferson Mocha’s visit as my inspiration. I even found an old pair of striped holiday socks like the original Socktopus. And as an artist, I thought my chances of duplicating the perfect Socktopus for my grumpy girl were on the up and up. Sigh … have a look for yourself.


01As you can see, Maggie was unimpressed with my plan. “Stuff ’em back in the sock drawer,” she said.


02I started with a perfectly good pair of Christmas socks, an old-busted pair of white athletic socks we got at the bowling alley one day when we just had flip-flops, and some great naturally dyed orange jute twine I use for wrapping packages. I buried my sewing machine in the spare closet a couple of years ago once I didn’t need to make superhero and knight costumes for our son anymore. Who needs needle and thread when you can tie knots?


03I tied off eyeballs that I thought would be quirky and fun, but turned out to look more like Invader Zim’s crazy-ass eyes.


04Since there’s nothing I can do with one striped Christmas sock, I used it along with the reject bowling socks to stuff Socktopus’s head.


05See, I told you I didn’t need needle and thread. Just tie that jute twine tightly and bingo!




happy maggieLook at happy Maggie!

On a side note, yo … sitting with her and an afternoon nap made it all better. All is right with the world again.

Thanks Socktopus!


wrist_bandBONUS Badassery: this super-awesome wristband.



Five Truths About My First Kidney Stone

July has been a hell of a month so far. Last weekend, I discovered that I was passing a kidney stone. Monday (June 25) I went to the urologist who confirmed that yes, that searing, side-splitting feeling I was having on the left side was a pesky little pebble … akin to childbirth in the sensation of trying to suck a watermelon through a drinking straw.

The doctor prescribed me Hydrocodone for pain, FlowMax to pass the stone, and Dramamine for nausea. Here’s what I learned.

1.  The pain of the kidney stone was nothing compared to the severe concussion. That’s right, I said ‘concussion.’ Tuesday morning, around 4:15, I got up to go to the bathroom and could feel myself blacking out from the overwhelming nausea and pain. So I passed out, and fell—face-first—into the edge of the shower and hard tile floor. It hurt like a son of a bitch. I was out, totally unconscious, for about four and a half minutes. My husband said he thought I was dead. It totally cancelled out my kidney pain, though. If you drew a line down the center of my face, a la Harvey Two-Face, you’ll know where I hit. My left temple and cheekbone bore the brunt of the hit, though luckily nothing was broken. My face has been swollen and bruised, and I feel so bad with my husband because everyone has given him disdainful looks. I’ve got a greenish-brown bruise around my left forehead, cheekbone and eye like a Junior Birdman.

2.  FlowMax does not make you grow a prostate. Thank God. Despite your gender, when you have a kidney stone nowadays, you’re prescribed FlowMax. And since I don’t take any prescriptions on the regular, other than Z-packs every couple of years for a sinus infection, medicine affects me swiftly and surely. My husband, who also suffers from kidney stone clusters (bless his heart), always says he feels like his veins flow like garden hoses, but I didn’t have that sensation. My blood pressure was so extremely low, though, that I was dizzy and light-headed for the three nights (while I’m certain I passed the stone after the first dose, I took FlowMax another two nights to be sure). The mister thinks that I passed out Tuesday morning because I had actually passed the stone, and the pain did me in. Who knows. 

3.  A kidney stone and a concussion in the same week = CT scans of a great portion of your body. The urologist scanned from my waist to my hips on Monday. The neurologist scanned my brain on Friday. So far, I’m still rolling with only two arms, two legs, two eyes, two breasts, one brain … you get my drift. No gills sprouting on my neck; no latent rage and anger; no urge to mop. It’s a lot of radiation on the one hand; but like the ER doctor, who sent me to the neurologist, said: it’s not like you have these tests every month. When you need them, you need them. Thank you baby Jesus for health insurance, too. Just saying.

4.  800 mg of Ibuprofin + a hot bath worked better for me than the Hydrocodone. Man, the searing pain of the kidney stone as it moved from my kidney, scraping its way up and over the first curve, felt like I was being torn in half. It was unbearable. Almost. While waiting for my first CT scan to be read by the urologist, I waited at home for four hours of writhing-on-the-ground agony. They finally called in Hydrocodone, and my soul mate went to the pharmacy to pick it up. I took two immediately, which took the edge off the pain. Then, taking a note from the Way-Back machine when I was in labor with my son 14 years ago, I took a long, hot bath to ease my pain. The Hydrocodone took off the edge, but the bath helped the ache (I highly recommend it for stone sufferers). Five hours later I took two more Hydrocodone … but wasn’t able to stand long or eat anything because it made me so utterly nauseated. Then at bedtime I took one more Hydrocodone, plus a Dramamine and one FlowMax. Six hours later, the fall and concussion occurred and I never took another Hydrocodone or Dramamine. Since the narcotic was making me sick, removing it from my pain management regimen meant I no longer needed the Dramamine. Oh, and steady ice on my head has dramatically improved my pain, swelling and bruising. Didn’t take it all away, but really helped reduce them. I think I’ll maintain the KISS principle for pain management in the future: keep it simple stupid.

5.  This fucking concussion is taking forever to get better. Oops … pardon my French. I’ve got a head injury, you know. It sucks to be stuck at home, unable to drive, unable to stand the heat of the day, reliant on family and taking up their time. If I look up or raise my arms above my head, I get dizzy and my head pounds and I have to sit down. If I turn my head quickly from left to right, I get dizzy and have to sit down. I’m not slurring my words and I’m not making crazy-sounding statements anymore. It’s very obvious that I’m on the mend, but slowly. I’ve been THRILLED to go to Wal-Mart or Target because it means a change of venue, new stuff to look at, and a car ride! Yesterday (a full eight days post-fall) was the first day I was able to go three different places without visibly withering and swaying on my feet. We were out for about four hours, and went to Belks, Wal-Mart and BJs (summer camp supplies for the mini me). I kept a cup of cold water with me, and had to close my eyes in the car (my head is still too swollen to wear sunglasses, and the bright light bothers me), but I did it. It helps that yesterday was only 98 degrees, not 100+ like last week and the weekend. When we got home, though, I had to lay down and take a nap and ice my injury. I was dizzy as a goose when I got up, which is bad. But I had a nice long field trip, which was great.

They say that every head injury you get sort of compounds the one before it. This was my third concussion, though only this one and the one from my 6-year-old self, were severe and dangerous. My second one was the mild after-effect of an aggressive racquetball game and a ball to the soft spot. So use this as a cautionary tale: kidney stones are horrible. And they have the potential to lead to other weird shit.

  • If you can work through the pain with Ibuprofin or Motrin rather than a stronger narcotic, do it.
  • FlowMax is taken once a day, before you go to bed. Once you pass your stone, you can stop the flow.
  • If you need to get up to go to the bathroom, wake your partner and have them go with you.
  • My neurologist’s combined prescription for pain and passing regimen did NOT work for me (FlowMax + Hydrocodone + Dramamine), so I know that if I ever get another kidney stone I need to request different stuff.
  • If you have a head injury, ice it right away and as often as you can stand.
  • If you hit your head hard enough to be knocked out and you wake to violent vomiting, you need to go to the emergency room.

Kidney stones suck. But not as much as concussions.

PS. Thanks to the vigilant and supreme care from my husband, my son and my mother, I’ve been able to heal, to function, and to find a little humor in my situation. I have a head injury, you know. And the one upside to the week: since the heat makes me squirrelly and wobbly, I don’t have to take out the dog. SWEET!

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Big Brother IS Watching

Pay attention people: it turns out that Big Brother IS real. My husband mailed a couple of color toner cartridges back to our printer’s manufacturer, with no discernible identification. This morning, he got an e-mail:


Thank you for your recent toner cartridge return. The following cartridge(s) have been received and credited to your XXXXXX Rewards account …

I can’t help but look over my shoulder, wondering if Big Brother’s out there … And knowing that he reports in to Skynet.


An Enlightened View

Well I never thought I’d say this, but I agree with Dick Cheney.

I had to stop for a second and look behind me to make sure my karma wasn’t going to zap me in the ass. But it’s true: according to the Huffington Post, he made a righteous statement on Tuesday’s episode of The View.

“I think freedom means freedom for everybody,” said the former vice president, “and you ought to have the right to make whatever choice you want to make with respect to your own personal situation.”

At a time when the GOP touts a steady stream of less government on the one hand, while forcing its morals and stifling personal freedoms with the other, Cheney’s support of gay marriage is a sigh of relief (albeit a little disorienting).

I think it also goes to show you that experience and understanding encourages and enables tolerance and acceptance. His daughter is a lesbian, and is happily raising two children with her partner. The Cheney’s know the world hasn’t come to an end. Hellfire and brimstone are not pelting the world. Instead, they know that their daughter and her family are happy and healthy, and they have two wonderful grandchildren. Isn’t that every parent’s dream?

And go, Lynne Cheney, for saying: “Whatever Mary and Heather decide to do is up to Mary and Heather.”

But here’s a reality check, Mrs. Cheney: no, whatever Mary and Heather decide to do is not up to Mary and Heather. Your political party is doing its best to keep same-sex marriage from being a possibility for a huge population in our country. But by voicing your support, hopefully your kindred spirits will get the picture: get out of our homes and stop attacking the personal freedom of Americans.

PS. I’m disappointed to note that the NC General Assembly voted to make discrimination part of the NC Constitution, to add an amendment “to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.” I vote in every election, as my mother would say ‘from the dog catcher to the mayor.’ And I’ll be at the polls in May 2012 to vote NO on Amendment One (SB 514). Hope you will, too.


Marking this Hot Occasion

Since we just broke a 59-year old temperature record here in the wilds of central North Carolina–in the sleepy little town of Apex, to be exact–I thought that perhaps I should mark the occasion. Just about five minutes ago, temperatures reached 105.4⁰F, with a heat index of 116⁰F. Can you believe that?

I laughed at my son, who quoted my favorite Matthew Broderick line from
Biloxi Blues, “It’s hot … it’s Africa hot.”

“Now,” I said to him with complete sincerity, “we can say that it’s ‘Apex hot’.”

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Marky Mark Trumps Steely Dan … on the Morning Commute, Anyway

My Nissan Altima’s been giving me some lip lately. I call her Miss Gladys, and generally she’s a reliable ol’ gal … but her wheels are getting on my last nerve, and lately she’s been making sort of a metally-squeaky sound. Driving back and forth from the Apex suburbs to the Capital City (like Andy Griffith used to say), Raleigh, at 85 mph is not conducive to “metally-squeaky” anything.

So the mister’s been mixing it up with me lately, alternating cars so that some days I drive Miss Gladys and some days I drive his new Subaru Outback. Sue’s an automatic and not nearly as fun to drive as the zippy 5-speed manual Miss Gladys. Anyway, the four times I’ve driven Sue over the last two weeks have been lots of fun–Sue’s got a great sound system.

Sue’s enjoyed me, too. Normally the mister rolls with Dave Matthews Band or Steely Dan … but I like fun music I can sing to in the morning. Last week, the hit of the day was Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You’ve Been Gone.” My son hates when I sing that one, so I make sure to do it as loudly and as often as I can. Today, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch serenaded me with “Good Vibrations” … and you know what, I’ve felt them all day long.

Yo, it’s about that time … to break forth the rhythm and the rhyme. I’m getting mine, so get yours … want to see sweat coming out your pores.