What I Didn’t Blog About Last Summer

It’s officially fall now. I’d made my peace with summer’s demise weeks ago, so it always takes me by surprise to realize the season is just now “officially” changing. In looking back at summer 2014 once more, I realized there were several times I intended to blog about something but didn’t. Before I move on with autumn, I think I’ll tie up a few loose ends to the previous season.

Four Things I Didn’t Get Around to Blogging About Last Summer

They give the coolest rosettes at the Butler County Fair.

They give the coolest rosettes at the Butler County Fair.

1) Fair time. I’d intended to do a thorough post about the joy of county fairs and my renewed participation in 2014. I don’t know what made me decide I wanted to enter again; maybe it was the whole turning 60 thing or even the omigod-I-had-cancer-for-awhile-there thing. Either way, I was in a mood to try for ribbons.

When I was a kid, we went to a lot of fairs because of Grandpa’s harness racing. Usually it came down to the Big Four: Carthage (Hamilton County), Owensville (Clermont County), Lebanon (Warren County), and Hamilton (Butler County). I’ve competed at the first three fairs, although none as often as Hamilton County, going back to 1969. This year I got it into my head to also enter Butler County, since their competition is open to all. I thought it would be cool to have at least one blue ribbon from each of the four main fairs I relished as a child. Butler County was the only one I needed.

As it turned out, I not only won several blue ribbons at Butler County; I also got Best of Show in crocheting. So now I have rosettes from all but Clermont County, not something I was actually striving for, but it was very pleasing just the same. Will I enter again next year? I don’t know. All depends on how I feel and how much of a stash of exhibit material I have on hand in twelve months. (I also entered Warren County in 2014 and got several ribbons for needlework and antiques.)

Fair season 2014 represented another kind of triumph: Mom was able to attend and actually see three fairs. In 2013 we had to skip Warren County entirely and limit her visits to Butler County and Hamilton County because of all the problems she was having due to spinal stenosis. She still had to be careful (and she’s nearly 82 now, of course), but she saw the quilts, needlework, and cooking entries at all three fairs, which meant climbing that big hill at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds. We both made sure she rested on shady benches a lot, but it was a major improvement over a year ago.

J.Hooligan, all set to see the Monkees.

J.Hooligan, all set to see the Monkees.

2) The Monkees Concert. This was a Friday night early in June, when summer still felt as shiny green as the leaves on the trees. I went along with Diamondqueen and J.Hooligan to Riverbend’s Pavilion at Coney Island, still feeling vulnerable as I recovered from my surgery. The previous week I’d gone to Coney with Mom to attend Summerfair. I walked all over the grounds while Mom sat on her walker/seat and watched people pass. It was the most walking I’d done since getting out of the hospital weeks before, and I felt triumphant. Not only was my stamina returning, but it confirmed I’d be up to the Washington, D.C. vacation with Diamondqueen and the Hooligans in the near future.

I was excited about this concert. I hadn’t seen the Monkees live since the 1980s, and Michael Nesmith hadn’t been part of it all then. That June night was the first time I’d seen him live since July 28, 1967; I’ve become a bigger fan in the past 10 years than I was back in the day, based as much on his solo work as his Monkees hits. It was a real treat to hear and see him. (With Davy Jones already dead, and none of us getting any younger, it mattered to me to see the surviving members still rocking it while I had the chance.) Again, I had that same weird feeling of disbelief at the passing of time as I did back in the ’80s when I sat in the concert audience with teenaged Diamondqueen, who hadn’t even been a blip on the radar when I was a rabid teen Monkees fan myself. Now, I looked at 15-year-old J.Hooligan enjoying those songs, and it was just astonishing. I know I didn’t envision myself still going to Monkees concerts when I was 60, let alone sharing the experience with my adult sister and her ever-growing son. The night before in St. Louis, my adult niece had seen the show as well and had posted on Facebook that we would love the show. No, I didn’t foresee ANY of this when I was twelve.

3) My “complaint.” I had my last of three radiation treatments on June 30. I’d been cautioned about side effects such as fatigue and gastrointestinal distress, and I was mentally ready for them, although they never materialized. What I hadn’t anticipated (and, apparently, neither did my radiologist) was the month of misery July held in store for me.

Since my side effect manifested in a rather indelicate condition, I won’t go into graphic details no one wants to hear anyhow. I’ll just say that what started out as a little irritation exploded into full-blown agony over the following weeks. Going to the bathroom became a horridly painful nightmare (think pouring bleach on an open abrasion), and too much of the time I felt as if I was wearing a sharpened broomstick as a tampon.(Okay, I guess those are pretty graphic details after all. Sorry.)

The frustrating part was no one really knew exactly what was going on or if it was truly a side effect of radiation. My radiologist made me come back every week; at one point she prescribed topical Lanacane, which made the condition worse. I ran to my regular doctor thinking maybe I actually had a bad yeast infection; the oral medication didn’t make me worse, but it didn’t help, either. He also recommended Desitin ointment to seal out moisture and help the problem heal, but that DID make everything a lot worse, i.e, a feeling of swelling and painful inflammation.

I even buttonholed a Walgreen’s pharmacist, who graciously walked up and down the aisle of creams and compounds discussing my symptoms and making suggestions without a hint of self-consciousness. In the end he said it might help to take some over-the-counter pill that was supposed to decrease UT pain (even though the misery was external, not internal). All it did was turn my urine bright orange.

I’d tried different things on my own as well, with little or bad results. Evening Primrose Oil as a topical had been some help, but not enough. Finally I decided I had nothing to lose and went for a feminine itching version of Cortisone-10, maximum strength. Wonder of wonders, it actually helped and I slowly began to heal. It was early August before I reached a point that remotely resembled normal, and I’m still having some mild problems, but they’re nothing compared to those hellish weeks of July. My radiologist declared me adequately enough recovered that I don’t have to go back now until the end of February. Oh, spring will be coming again by then!

Daisy Duke,  already happily at home.

Daisy Duke, already happily at home.

4) Daisy Duke. When Diamondqueen’s beloved Frank had to be put down in May, she was more devastated and haunted than even Mom and I realized, and we knew how badly it had hit her. Diamondqueen was determined, though, to eventually rescue another dog to join the household. All through June and July she kept her eye out and sent us e-mails and posted on Facebook when she came across a possible candidate.

Finally, in late July, Diamondqueen found just the dog–a basset hound mix with golden fur and a long, droopy face. She fell in love, and this strange, sweet canine came home to stay. Diamondqueen, casting about for meaningful names, somehow decided on Daisy Duke. Now, this dog looks more like a Duke than a Daisy, but it wasn’t long before she had a collar the color of the General Lee, the car the Dukes of Hazzard drove, and a fancy name tag.

We’re not sure what’s mixed in with the basset, although Daisy’s coat suggests golden retriever. She’s the strangest dog I think I’ve ever seen. She has a long body on stubby little legs with huge feet, a big head out of proportion to the rest of her, and overly long fuzzy ears. That long face and those doleful eyes are irresistible, though, all the more because she’s actually a merry little cuss. St. Jimmi, my sister’s surviving dog, wasn’t sure how she felt about this interloper, but within weeks Daisy had her nipping and wrestling all over the place, something Jimmi never did before but seems to enjoy. Somehow Daisy was even getting away with sidling over and stealing Jimmi’s Nylabone right from under her nose, something that would have earned Frank a shrill bawling out if he’d even attempted it.

Well, an awful lot more than that happened in summer 2014, but those are some of the neglected highlights. Here’s hoping for a glorious autumn.

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