Quitting Zyrtec

A long time ago, when I was single and had roommates, we had several cats. I had two to begin with, then took on a roommate who had two and then got a third, and then we got another roommate who had one cat. Yes, we had six cats in our three-bedroom bungalow.

For some reason, four of the six liked my bedroom best. I have always been mildly allergic to cats, but four of them hanging out in my room was just too much. I was itchy all the time, watery eyes, sneezing, etc. my doctor put me on Zyrtec (ceterizine). At the time it was prescription only, and it was a lifesaver for me!

Eventually, the herd thinned by way of roommates moving out and I was back to my own two cats. I tried stopping the Zyrtec, but got really bad itching, so I figured I had been overwhelmed with all the allergens and was more sensitive than I used to be. Thankfully, Zyrtec became an over the counter item you could buy at the local drug store and very affordable. I wasn’t terribly concerned and my doctor wasn’t either. She agreed that I could continue to take it due to my cat allergy.

Flash forward many years. I no longer have cats. They have gone the way of the big litter box in the sky and I don’t want to get another one because of my allergies. After my second cat passed away (at 20 years old, I may add), I waited a full month, cleaning and vacuuming diligently to remove all dander and hair, before I stopped taking Zyrtec.

After a few days, I was intensely itchy. Like, ants in your pants itchy. Someone put itching powder in my clothes itchy. My scalp itched. The insides of my elbows itched. The palms of my hands itched. The soles of my feet itched, no lie. I went back on the Zyrtec because I could not bear it! It didn’t seem right though, so I did something I rarely do, and that is consult Dr. Google. I don’t usually trust Dr. Google because there are a lot of people who are not medical professionals who are trying to advance their theory on X medicine or whatever. But, this time, I discovered that LOTS of people have had difficulty stopping Zyrtec. The general side effects are intense itching and an increase of congestion, among others.

It makes sense when you think about it. Zyrtec is a histamine blocker, meaning it stops you from sensing any histamines, and histamines are the things that make you itch, among other things. Doctors do not tend to recognize a withdrawal syndrome from Zyrtec for some reason. While it can happen with any allergy medication, it seems like the Zyrtec withdrawal is the worst. Many people online complained of these intense side effects after taking Zyrtec for a month, six months tops.

I took Zyrtec for 17 years.

Holy cow.

The cold turkey method would just not work! Zyrtec tablets are scored so you can cut them in half. While I considered doing that and then weaning myself off, I tried a slightly different method. I switched to a generic brand of Claritin (loratidine). I took this for about a week, then I changed to every other day for about a week. Then I stopped taking it.

Day 1 I was itchy, but nothing like the Zyrtec withdrawal itchiness. Day 2 it was less. Day 3 I noticed I was more congested but less itchy. It has been a week now that I haven’t taken either medicine, and I feel confident in saying that I don’t need to ever again! On the off chance I will be going somewhere that has cats or certain plants that bother me, I will perhaps try a non drowsy Benadryl and cortisone 10 for any itching on my skin. I don’t want to become dependent on a medicine again!

So, this is my experience with quitting Zyrtec. If you found this blog because you too are trying to quit Zyrtec, I can honestly say “I feel your pain, I know what you are going through!” Stick with it, though. If I can stop it after 17 years of use, you can do it too. I wish you all the best!

 

Parenting 70s style?

I understand that everyone’s experience is different, but I am getting a little tired of the proliferation of articles comparing childhood in the 70s to childhood today. Parenting blogs glorifying the disco decade and lamenting how horrible today’s kids are seem to be missing the point. The 70s were not some Garden of Eden for children, the same as children today are not all tiny megalomaniacs. If a contemporary parent allows their kids to slack on chores, dictate what the family does on the weekend, speak disrespectfully or demand expensive possessions, it’s not because the 70s were wonderful. It’s because the parent allows it, end of conversation. There were rude, entitled little assholes in the 70s, too.

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Super safe bike jump

Yes, my 70s childhood was great – we played outdoors, read books, made up games, rode bikes without helmets, and did our chores. With the exception of the bike helmet, my kid does the same things, plus she is smarter, has better opportunities, and can be expected to live a longer, healthier life. She can’t conceive of riding in a car without a seatbelt or attending a gathering where all the adults smoke in the house and around the kids.

The next time you are tempted to shout “This, right here!” after one of those “the 70s were wonderful” articles, just remember what we had to wear, disco music, there were 7 channels to watch, and Corinthian Leather hadn’t yet been exposed as plastic. We lived with the possibility of a Russian nuclear attack, soaring inflation and an evolution of the two income family as a requirement rather than an optional status. A cancer diagnosis was a death sentence, and gays and minorities were routinely discriminated against, harassed, and assaulted. It wasn’t a perfect world by any stretch. However, the values we learned in the 70s are no different from what parents today have the ability to teach their children, but in some cases, choose not to. It doesn’t have to do with the decade, but with individual parenting choices.

In 30 years, there will surely be articles lamenting the way midcentury children are being raised and comparing them with millennial children. Hindsight is not only human nature, it is also a romanticization of how things were. Let’s not fixate on how parenting happened circa 1975, but instead focus on what we parents can do today to raise our children to be good people. If that means letting them have the more expensive shoes or clothes, that’s your choice to make, but own it as YOUR CHOICE. Don’t blame trends, or parenting blogs, or even the good old days. You are the parent your child will blame while they are in therapy. You are the parent they will either emulate or do the opposite of when they are raising their own little people.

It is easy to get caught up in the parenting one-upmanship (and I guarantee our own parents struggled with these types of issues too, but they managed, even during the wasteland of no internet during the 70s and the yawning decades of no tech before that) but please, resist if $200 toddler sneakers aren’t the right choice for your family. Want them to appreciate their privileges? Make them work for them, volunteer at a shelter, mow the lawn, whatever is the right thing for your family. Choose to raise your kids with the values you want them to have. Just because you have internet doesn’t mean they get to use it 24/7/365. They will appreciate your efforts as adults when they are hearing from other parents about how spoiled and undisciplined, outspoken and rude children are becoming; they will have the secret weapon of good choices in their arsenal to raise your grandchildren to be good people.

Pattern Review: TV 447 1863 Sheer Dress

I have been sitting on this pattern for several years, all while sweltering in the summer heat. I purchased my fabric easily three years ago and have been wanting a sheer dress for probably five years. Summer in multiple layers of clothing is definitely more warm than it has to be! So, this past spring, I finally decided to just do it! I have researched various patterns available on the market, including some Big Three patterns, Peachtree Mercantile, and others, but I know that Truly Victorian makes beautiful, accurate, and easy to follow patterns, which is why I settled on this one.

Truly Victorian TV447 1863 Sheer Dress

Truly Victorian TV447 1863 Sheer Dress

I chose a lovely sheer cotton in blue and white stripes that I found on clearance at a chain store. I know of more than one person who has made a sheer of this fabric. Hopefully we won’t all be at the same event together!

Pretty pretty

Pretty pretty

The fabric is 54″ wide, but since at the time I didn’t know what pattern I would be using I purchased 10 yards. Lucky for me, this overestimation was a good one. The sleeves on this dress are full and wide, plus since my fabric was directional, I was able to cut the stripes going from shoulder to wrist. Anyway, before any of that, I calculated my measurements and pattern size following the instructions on the pattern. The thing about the TV patterns is they allow you to custom fit your garment before you even start sewing. And once you do that, you can easily make up a muslin for a better idea on fit.

Dark image of my muslin

Dark image of my muslin

Sorry this is not better quality, but almost all the mirrors in my house that are big enough are impacted by light diffusion. What I learned here is that the waist of the under bodice was a little too full but the bust was a pretty good fit. So I took in the darts a bit and retested it. I did not do this all by myself, by the way. I submitted my questions to the Civilian Civil War Closet group on Facebook for hints and help – there are clothing historians, professional seamstresses and experienced clothiers there who are willing to help for free. I just couldn’t overlook that knowledge base. I also asked my friend Shelley Peters for real world tips as she has made this pattern a lot. Had I needed it, the amazing Heather McNaughten at Truly Victorian would have helped too. As an aside, this just confirms for me that this community really wants its members to succeed!

Anyway, after the changes to the muslin, I traced that as my new under bodice pattern piece and went forth to sew! This is the first time I have made my own bias and bias piping, which was used on the neckline facing and armscyes. I found the instructions sufficient, but had used better instructions on a Simplicity costume pattern and did that instead. They just made a bit more sense to my thinking, the result is the same.

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Piped facing to finish the raw edges of the under bodice.

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Piped armscye

The construction of the garment is for the most part very easy. I found the TV method of inserting the sleeve into the armscye backwards to what I am used to so I just adapted and made notes on the pattern.

Hand buttonholes

Hand buttonholes

I sewed this in a combination of machine and hand sewing. My fabric was so very delicate that even though I have a high quality machine, it sometimes would bunch up in the feed dogs. I wound up hand sewing much of the finishing stitching, such as on the piped facings, and also hand sewed all the button holes. My reasoning here was twofold – I wanted historically accurate buttonholes and since the fabric was so delicate it was impossible for me to machine sew them to the standard I desired. I used silk thread for the buttonholes. The buttons are vintage shell buttons, much higher quality than the cheap flaked mother of pearl available these days. They were purchased through Farmhouse Fabrics.

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Sleeve band

For visual interest I cut the sleeve band on the bias. Maybe there is a chance of this stretching over time, but the band is so generous around the wrist that I don’t expect that to happen.

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Finished bodice

At this point, I went back to the Civilian Civil War Closet for help. The pattern does not include a collar pattern. I don’t care for my look without a collar, so I googled for tutorials. The best suggested laying the pattern pieces for the bodice front and back together as though they were sewn, then tracing the curve from center front to center back, next extending that to a simple collar width. I did that, but found mine to be fluttery and off. The amazing Liz Clark of the Sewing Academy helped me immensely with tips on how to correct this and redraft the collar. I’m delighted to say that I was successful!

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Finished collar

I added the fine tatted lace which I purchased at Farmhouse Fabrics.

Next, waistband finishing. Since my fabric is 54″ wide, I didn’t want to cut it down to  four 40″ panels to follow the TV skirt instructions. I retained the selvages as was done in historical garments, and used three panels instead of four. The skirt has a very deep pocket at the center left where the skirt pieces overlap with the waistband. Each panel was cut to the same length, but since your skirt front and skirt back are different lengths, there has to be a way to do this without cutting your fabric. Again, drawing on the Closet knowledge, I did as was suggested and folded over the waist edge of the fabric. This gave added stability to the fabric as well as achieving the lengths needed. The pattern instructions have you cut your fabric at the waist to the desired angle which will give you your length. I don’t recommend that on a sheer just because of the off chance of it tearing.

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Waist inside

You can see in this very amateurly photoshopped picture the angle of the folded-over fabric. This is center back where the skirt is a bit longer than in the front.

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Double box pleats

For the skirt attachment, the pattern gives you liberty to choose your preferred pleating or gathering method. Here I am showing you the double box pleats I used to pleat the skirt onto the waistband. Originally I had knife pleated the front and cartridge pleated the back, but I didn’t get enough fabric taken up in the front. So I went to the double box pleats in front and cartridge pleats in back. I’m quite happy with this look as it’s smooth and polished.

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Yes that hem is hand stitched

I wanted to make sure that the hem folded straight up so the lines didn’t go off kilter, so I ended up hand sewing the hem. I used a single thread and every fourth stitch went through all layers. Every 8th stitch was taken twice to keep the thread from coming undone if it were to break for any reason. If you kept up with my thinking on the skirt width, you will realize that’s a 178″ hem. It took me a couple hours to do it.

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Picture taken by an 8 year old

This is the finished dress, although it’s not the best picture of me lol. I’m looking down toward my daughter haha. Also, I realize that I must not have been laced as tightly in my corset as usual because I couldn’t fasten the waistband correctly. I wasn’t going to mess with it today and I’m certainly not taking the dress apart, so I’ll have to lace better next time.

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Side image

Here you can see the under sleeve just below my shoulder. This makes the dress very cool and airy. I had considered adding a silk stripe down the sleeve for interest, but I decided against it as it might weigh down the fabric. I may make a belt, as the silk I have is the exact color of the darkest stripe in the fabric.

You can also see the shadow of my petticoat under the skirt. I have an eyelet petticoat with two large pleats in it. This isn’t an historically accurate petticoat and someday I will make a plain cotton one, but for now this is quite pretty.

Overall I am thrilled with the result of the Truly Victorian TV447 Sheer Dress pattern. The instructions were easy, but true to the sewing techniques available to our ancestresses. It is not a pattern for a beginner, certainly, but if you have some knowledge of sewing, you can make this pattern truly customized to your preferences. If at times the instructions don’t make sense, just take them one sentence at a time. My mother told me when in doubt just do what the instructions say. These patterns will not take you down the wrong path, trust them and you will get something incredibly beautiful. And of course, email them, ask your friends who have made the pattern, or google for help. Truly Victorian patterns are very popular due to them being among the best on the market today, so lots of people make them! I am eager to wear this dress to one of our hottest events coming up soon, Huntington Beach Civil War Days.

Links & Resources

Truly Victorian

Farmhouse Fabrics

Civilian Civil War Closet

Sewing Academy

Huntington Beach Civil War Days

Fight Like A Girl

You know that feeling you get when you meet someone who just touches your heart? Many of us are fortunate to meet a few people like this in our lifetimes. A spouse, a bestie (<3 TH!!), a boon companion, someone who just gets you on many levels. The sensation of depending on that person for moral support, sharing hilarious moments, trading silly gifts and cards because you saw something at 9:37 p.m. at the drugstore while on a beer-and-tampon-run and you just had to get it. Sometimes the best part is their reaction to these random interjections into life. One of my favorite things to do when shopping with my bestie is to pick out inappropriate outfits and completely seriously ask her opinion, because I know every time she is going to laugh and roll her eyes at me.

Just imagine if you met a whole group of people like this. There are lots of places for moms to meet up – MOPS, church groups, PTA moms, sports moms, etc. and dads have lots of similar venues. The parents all bond over some shared aspect of life and from that, you build a group of friends you can count on to share life’s victories and sorrows, the mundane and the spectacular. Support from like minded people – whether it be at an AA meeting or friends from college – I believe, is crucial for humans to feel connected, balanced, and whole.

Now imagine that you met this wonderful group of people online. These days, it isn’t so far fetched as it used to be. When I was first on the internet, it seemed unlikely that I would actually connect with people in such a way as to think of them as *actual* people. They were user names that sometimes made me laugh and cry. Years later, I would meet the man of my dreams through an online dating website, so I knew there were real people behind those names and many of them were a lot like me – looking for connections in a society that can make it difficult to meaningfully connect with others.

When I was pregnant with Melody 9 years ago, I was looking for an online support group. After trying several that were highly recommended, I found one at an unlikely site – babyfit.com. I am not a health nut. I do not run marathons. I am not really the poster child for a super healthy adult, so a fitness website seemed like a stretch for like minded people. I took a chance though, and joined the due date club February 2007. Our early posts tracked our progress in our pregnancies. As we faced the challenges of gestational diabetes, scary ultrasounds, and hormonal mood swings, it became easy to talk about marital issues, personal triumphs at work, the achievements of older children, the fears of some of our military mamas…we bonded over the pregnancies, but became friends over everything else.

Years passed and we moved our group to Facebook. Suddenly those anonymous screen names became real names, real people, with lots of dimensions! We planned meet ups, talked on the phone, Skyped, texted….we became 2D friends. I have had the pleasure of meeting many of these women in person. They are more than just the women from my due date club. I check in on them daily, have daily conversations with many of them, dream of meeting many more. We are what I recently described as an “international group of crazy people” who love each other fiercely, madly, deeply and whole heartedly. For 9 years now, we have been a force of nature, 60-some women making our ways in life with the full knowledge that no matter what happens, we have 60-some girlfriends to back us up, prop us up and cheer us on. We have weathered the death of a child, ugly divorces, cheating husbands, and painful betrayals, but we continue to be strong somehow, bringing love and friendship every day.

This is getting long, I’ll try to get to the point, but it’s painful and I don’t really want to.

About two years ago, one of my friends was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Her name is Claire. At the time, she was given chemotherapy and radiation treatment. We pulled our jaws off the floor and united in supporting her. One of our husbands created a logo for our group. One of our women wrote an amazing poem about the strength of our bond. Many of us created quilt squares which were put together by another member, then shipped to England where Claire lives, and she was able to wrap herself in a virtual hug from all of us around the world as she struggled through the difficulties of her treatments. We fundraised so her family would not have to worry about groceries, clothing, holiday gifts, whatever. At that moment, we became the 60-woman family behind that small unit of 6 people in England. She named her tumor Mo and we all chanted “Mo is going down.” We changed our Facebook profile photos to our logo to show her visually how much we support her. And, after her treatments revealed that Mo was gone, caput, shrunk so small as to be undetectable, we rejoiced! Claire had done it and we had played a tiny part! The power of friendship carried us over into a sense of invincibility. We said “fight like a girl!” and she got that shit done!

Recently, however, she has been feeling pain in her back, lower abdomen, and other places. She’s been bugging her doctor about it and they finally set up a CT scan to see what is happening inside. It isn’t pretty. Mo is gone, yes, but his cousin is in her abdomen pressing on her kidneys, and his son is in her lymph nodes. Because of the placement of the mass in her abdomen, it is inoperable. Because cancer cells in the lymph nodes opens the door for the cells to travel through the whole body, the prognosis is grim. I have not seen my group go so shocked before. For a moment of stunned silence, there was a collectively stopped heart. It is hard to describe what that feels like when you realize it is happening in many time zones across the Earth.

And then, then this force of nature, this international group of crazy people, we all sprung into action. We have been brainstorming how we can help, because honestly when you live 5000 or more miles away, there is no popping over to help with the laundry or taking the kiddies out so Claire can rest, but it is in our very nature to want to help. We are all moms, you see, and we kiss skinned knees and soothe hurt feelings when friends say something mean. We decided that the way we can help right off the bat is to make it so the “Redfraggle” family (their cute nickname for themselves) can concentrate on being together, making memories that will last forever, and not have to worry financially. Do they want to take the kids out for ice cream at 11:30 Tuesday morning? So be it! Shall they go on a driving trip to their favorite place? Off you go. But we aren’t made of money either. If we all pitch in together, maybe we can make those memories easier to happen.

We have started a YouCaring page. YouCaring is different from GoFundMe or other crowdfunding sites because they only charge the processing fee (rather than other sites that take up to 10% of the donation amount in fees) and they allow international currency. Because we have people in France, England, Australia, South Africa, Japan, America and Canada, we really need an international program! :-) perhaps you might like to help a little bit, too. It doesn’t need to be much, that is the beauty of crowdfunding – if 100 people gave $5, pretty soon we’d have $500. I hope that this essay has not been so long you have stopped reading. It is very difficult to convey just how much this special lady means to our group, and to me personally. Her son and my daughter were born on the same day. We are the same age. We have had similar struggles in life but still manage to come out with a smile and a laugh for others. She is kind and caring, with a beautiful spirit that is uplifting and warm. She is my friend and not enough people in the world have had the opportunity to be blessed with meeting her.

If you feel so moved, please click the group logo below to jump over to the YouCaring site and make a donation. It will mean four children will have their mother with them a bit longer and a man will have the love of his life by his side at night. Thank you.

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Click to go to YouCaring

 

Arise Again – A Short Story

This story is something I wrote in high school – a 1986 creative writing class. The topic given was “all the people who drowned in a lake come back to life.” Being fond of gothic novels, I of course had to take it way over the top! Reading it again, I see where I could make changes, improvements and expand the story further, but I don’t think I will at this point. It was just a school assignment, after all.

It goes without saying that if you are looking for a quick and easy writing assignment to turn in for your period 3 English class…DON’T PLAGIARIZE. this story is copyright to me.

***

Arise Again

The lake was dark with starlight glinting off the surface. It was quiet in the wood except for the chirruping of a cricket and the rush of wind through the towering pines. Nobody saw the silent canoe as it glided over the broken glass surface of the water.

The canoe was empty to the sight of others, but in the bottom lay a figure, covered with moss and weeds. Several creepy creatures crawled across its pale skin. A baby snake slithered from among the tangled hair and made its way to the edge of the canoe. It fell into the water and swam away into the darkness. A spider spun a silken web from the bony fingers to the tattered clothing.

It reached the center of the lake and glided to a stop. The deepness of night absorbed all sounds of the water lapping against the sides of the boat. The moonlight shone on the paper-white skin of the body. Translucent eyelids glowed in the white light. They opened slowly and the eyes contemplated the design of the diamond stars. A tiny spider crawled across its cheek.

The body was of a young woman. Her tangled tresses had once been a golden brown and flowing. Her pale, white face had once been able to turn men’s heads. Her slender body had once been the pride of her life. But no more. Now the sallow features turned only the heads of insipid creatures, and only the wind turned in her path.

She sat up in the boat. Her dress had once been a frilly spring frock. It had faded, and then been soiled by the elements which had controlled her. The once-white lace lay tattered on her bosom, fluttering slightly in a chill wind. Clawlike white hands gripped the sides of the canoe. This girl had been at nature’s mercy for eleven years. Exactly to the day, eleven years ago, she had drowned in this lake, while her lover had watched, helpless.

The canoe began its eerie trip again. Across the lake it slid, into a darkened cove. At a small dock it halted. She climbed out of the boat, her movements causing the black water to ripple in never-ending circles.

Her worn shoes clacked on the wood of the dock. Her expressionless face stared straight ahead as she plodded up the path. The silent dark surrounded her as she wound through the noiseless trees which were the only audience of the passing.

Further up the worn path, she came to a fork, and stopped. One trail was well worn, while the other was barely discernible. As if in indecision, she stood for some minutes. Finally, she turned to the less worn path and continued her plodding trip. Her arms hung lifeless at the side, not even swaying with the normal rhythm of walk.

The corpselike walk went on until she came to a small, thick stand of trees. One large pine had an arrow carved into the trunk. It has once been deep but was now almost gone. She followed the direction of the arrow. Further into the thicket was a decaying cabin. It had once long ago been a summerhouse for some wealthy soul.

She walked up the decrepit steps and pushed open a sagging door. The hinges squeeked loudly in the silent copse. Her monotonous tread sounded heavily in the abandoned house. An eerie moan came from her throat as she called a name. “Robert,” came the keening cry. “Robert.” A name not heard here in ages.

The footsteps halted in the bedroom, where so many personal moments had been shared. A rotted patchwork quilt lay on a bed with equally rotted ropes. She lay down there and the sightless looking eyes closed.

***

One night later, a similar occurrence took place. A form of masculine stature could be seen emerging from the same lake. His features, equally as pale as the woman’s, had once also been good looking. His strong mouth was marred though by the absence of teeth. Once blue eyes were clouded over until no color showed.

He walked as had she, plodding along, staring ahead. As he walked, bits of moss and plant from the murky water fell off to mark his passing. His direction was unknown until he reached the tree with the arrow.

They met on the steps of the house. She stared blindly at him; he, at her. “Jason,” she said serenely. “Welcome home.”

His reply was quiet, almost sadly cheerful. “Thank you, Constance. It has been a long time.”

He had drowned also — one day after she. To the day, eleven years ago, he had downed in the lake, while his brother watched, helpless.

“Where is Robert?” he inquired.

***

Robert Anderson sat in his warm house. His wife was across the room, quietly knitting. But Robert felt cold. He had never felt colder in his whole life. Except that fateful weekend eleven years ago.

It hadn’t been his fault. Constance had wanted to go out that May morning. How beautiful she had looked. That silky brown hair had been held back by a bright yellow ribbon that matched her flounced gown. Her deep green eyes had laughed at some private joke. She wouldn’t tell him what it was, though he had asked several times. Those eyes he had loved. As green as the trees in early summer. Deep, almost pools of reflected light. Almost as deep as the lake.

She had stood up in the canoe, so far into the middle of the water. The boat rocked gently as she stood, swaying her from side to side. So provocative. So beautiful. A log hit the side of the canoe as she stood there, knocking her off balance. He had reached to grab her as she fell and bumped into her. His brother Jason had watched on the dock, so far away. She splashed into the water, her golden tresses spreading out, freed from the gay yellow ribbon. Her dress absorbed the water so fast; he couldn’t get ahold of her without risking his own life. He stood, inert, as she sank out of sight. He realized he held the ribbon in his hand.

Jason had seen. He had to explain it wasn’t his fault. Robert had never been so scared in his life. He had loved Constance, with all his heart. But he had been helpless to save her.

As he frantically rowed back to the short, he saw Jason stalk away, then begin to run. Robert assumed he was going to the cabin. It was such a run down shack. Nobody knew about it except Robert and Jason. They had found it when they were boys exploring the woods. Jason had claimed it for his own, and Robert didn’t really care. There was no way to restore it, so what was the use of keeping it. He never went there.

***

Jason ran down the path to the shack. Into the main room he flew. He had just purchased the ring the day before. He and Constance had declared their love but a week before. How many times had he brought her here? Jason couldn’t count them all. And it was all spoiled by his useless brother! Damn Robert! He would pay, if it meant the death of both of them.

The next day, Jason went to Robert’s small bungalow across the lake. He found him on the dock, staring into the murky water below. He turned as Jason approached.

“I loved her,” Robert said. “I really did.” He mourned her in each word he uttered.

Jason simply stared at him, disgusted. He had seen him push her into the lake. He had seen him watch her drown — let her drown. In pure hatred for his brother’s cowardice, Jason struck at him. Struck out at the demon that had stolen his lover. Robert saw the blow coming and side stepped it. Jason was carried forward by the momentum of his lash and stumbled on the rickety wood. His foot became entangled in a rope; it was secured to one of the posts supporting the dock. He continued his fall, into the water that had so recently dealt him such hurt. But that hurt was minute compared to the tragedy happening to him at that very moment.

His legs became ensnared by the safety rope and he was unable to kick his way to the surface. Robert stood petrified, seeing the disaster again. Jason was pulled under by his utter helplessness. His last thoughts were to be reunited with Constance and to wreak vengeance on Robert.

***

Robert Anderson slept. It was a dark, deep night. No sound escaped the silence. His dreams were plagued with memories of those awful days so long ago. Suddenly, he awoke. He didn’t know why. He rose from the warm bed and walked to the window. Looking down at the lake on that moonless night he could almost see those two people drowning, because of him. A movement on the dock attracted his attention. Two lovers stood in an embrace, as if it were their last. He looked away, and then back, curious as to who they were. They were gone.

Something drew him down the stairs, through the door, to the edge of the dock. Maybe it was the thought of missing Constance and Jason. He wasn’t sure. In his mind, he was reliving that disastrous last meeting with Jason. It had been on this very dock, eleven years ago. He turned as he had then. What he saw froze him in his steps.

Jason and Constance stood there on the dock. They held hands, reunited again. “Robert,” they said as one. “We have come to clear things up.”

Robert stared, transfixed, speechless as they spoke. “We were lovers,” Jason said flatly. “We were to be married,” mourned Constance. “You ruined it all, Robert. We have come to ruin your life.”

The frightful couple moved toward him. Robert backed away a step. He opened his mouth to scream, but the cry was stolen by the wind. No one heard.

***

The next morning, Robert Anderson was found dead on his dock. The doctor thought he had had a heart attack. But a young couple present knew otherwise. She wore a frilly spring frock. His good looks attracted much attention. But it was their ghastly grins as they walked away holding hands that gained the most attention of all.

The luck of good dentistry

Today I had to have two on-lays put in, much to the dismay of my pocketbook, but they got me to thinking. One of the fillings replaced was the very first filling I ever got, when I was six or eight years old. My dentist was Shigio Kishi DDS, in Fountain Valley. When I was growing up, it seemed like everyone went to to Dr. Kishi or his partner Craig Ota DDS at Westhaven Dental. The practice was right next to the Fountain Valley Twin theater where we saw Bambi and The Bad News Bears (the real one, with Jodi Foster). The center had a Market Basket grocery store and we often rode our bikes across Mile Square Park to go to appointments.

Later on in our dental adventures, everyone seemed to go to Dr. Benedaret just up the street. They probably had a nice referral program lol.

Anyway, my very first filling, an amalgam silver filling, the worst kind, had no decay under it. It had not fallen apart. It had not even stained the surrounding tooth surfaces. Believe it or not, this 38 year old filling would probably been fine, it was the crack in the tooth that necessitated the replacement. I can only credit this to the excellent work done all those years ago by Dr. Kishi, carried on by Dr. Ota, and now by Dr. Toorani, who bought into the practice some 15 years ago. My chart is so thick they scanned the majority of it because it was falling apart. I have been fortunate to have every teeth cleaning except one at this practice.  :-)

So, here’s to the luck of having good dentistry! So many of my friends were scarred by a negative dental experience as children, but I can honestly say that I never did – unless you count my disappointment when I realized the treasures in the treasure box were really just cheap trinkets. Melody still loves them, though, and we are continuing the positive experiences with her too. How many kids say “yay!” when you tell them they are going to the dentist?

iScrapbook Templates

Some of the fun stuff I do in all my spare time results in pictures. Haha, of course it does! I use iScrapbook to make beautiful photo books these days. I used to scrapbook with Creative Memories, back when it was all analog, cutting pieces of paper and sticking it to the page. There was something special about putting in all that time and creative energy to produce a beautiful keepsake of memories and times gone by. I still cherish all those albums I made, plus several my sister made for me. Yes, it is easy to make a quick memory book in iPhoto or on Shutterfly, but I was missing the creative aspect of designing pages. I never got the hang of Photoshop Elements for making scrapbooks, and then my husband found iScrapbook. It integrates seamlessly with iPhoto, plus I can use pretty much any clip art of graphics I choose to buy or find free on the web, in addition to beautiful kits sold at their website. I have really been enjoying my digiscrapping and am able to keep up with the photos much better than I did in the past! In fact, with photo sharing (since my whole family is on Macs of some type or another) I have access to family photos almost immediately, no waiting for a CD or prints.

All that being said, there are a few things I learned back in those simpler scrapbook days that have never left me. One consultant taught us how to make quilt blocks from the various papers. I used them for my cover pages or just inside the books. Today, I still love using quilt patterns in my photo books. Although iScrapbook has smart templates that make it easy to just start making pages, after using them for several years – and them not putting out any new ones in several years – I started creating my own smart templates. A smart template features placeholders for papers, photos and elements, resulting in a quick page that looks like you spent hours on it. I started out making really basic ones, 6 portrait photos; 9 square photos, things like that. But the quilts…they kept popping up in my mind.

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Once I got the hang of making templates, I really got into it! Not only did I learn to make the quilt pages back in the day, but also to use shapes to create other images.

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Then, I went back to some more standard types of pages, just with a new thought process. How can I make pages that aren’t boring?

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I especially love using some of the panorama iPhone images in my books. They are really wonderful because they show the whole environment.

The iScrapbook shapes and presets are limited at best. I can’t create some of the really new looks, simply because they haven’t gotten there yet. Hopefully the developer will continue to enhance and build this product, and possibly even add some new templates for those of us who use it a lot! I hope you might have found some inspiration from these templates. I was going online and looking at templates to get some of my ideas and I’m happy to share these with you.