Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Doomsday dawned like an epiphany, with particular luminosity.  Sunlight radiated across grassy fields without malice, and the whole morning was dappled and symmetrically constructed, as if following the blueprint of perfect architecture.

Nature without flaw.  There seemed to be no perception of looming menace.  All was right with the world.  So we were persuaded by a pristine sky of indescribable hue to venture forth from our home, albeit with caution, and attend our grandkids’ soccer games. 

It was a leap of faith.  But we proceeded forward ready to retreat to safety at the slightest inaudible ripple of soft plosives in the air…or an Elvis sighting, whichever came first.  Both would be authentic harbingers of bad karma.  We resembled criminals on a “perp” walk, furtive, evasive, covert.  We tested the atmosphere by flicking our tongues, snakelike, for signs of impending catastrophe. 

With each tentative step, we were emboldened, until, with nostrils flared, we drove our car to the soccer field, determined that if we were going to be destroyed, we’d go down cheering!

Actually, we did experience the anticipated Rapture.  All our grandkids won their soccer games.  We were euphoric…and ready for translation.

What could possibly have gone wrong?  This apocalyptic prediction had been forecast for months.

Who didn’t get the memo?

Who was the Great Skeptic?

After all, this prophecy was based on sound Biblical calculation.  But the earth did not move under my feet, and the sky did not come tumbling down.  There was no perceptible shift in the planet’s tectonic plates.  I don’t get it. 

I do not want to appear doubtful, but could there have been the slightest mathematical mistake?  Perhaps a misapplication of the Pythagorean Principle, or faulty logarithms, causing the sum from the abacus to be shy a couple of foot pounds of pressure per second per second?  Or could it have been a simple misinterpretation of Nostradamus’ final quatrain? I hate when that happens.

Go figure.  But maybe we’d all be well advised to pay less heed to broadcasters with questionable credentials and more attention to other numbers…numbers we can rely on.

For example, some of our favorite calculations are the lab values that allow the Huntsman techs to hang a bulging bag of Gemcitabene like a bloated bladder from a metal tree to penetrate Dennis’ port directly into his lungs.  Now we’re talkin’ Rapture.

Unlike Oprah’s 283 favorite things, my favorite thing of the week was the number 35 – Dennis’ tumor marker.  For those more accustomed to basketball statistics than CA 19-9 calculations, that is well within the realm of normal.

I have decided I really don’t have time for the world to end right now.  There are too many important appointments on my day planner agenda.  Next week we go to Houston to consult with Dr. Wolff at M. D. Anderson.  Dennis will have more scans done.  Then our family will spend a week in California on the beaches and at Disneyland, where “It’s A Small World After All” is relentlessly, mercilessly, sadistically, piped to the furthest corner of the Magic Kingdom. In a perfect world, it would be blasted without interruption into the “Camping” ground of whoever “Herolded” this absurd rumor.

In addition, my schedule calls for completion of my correspondence course in quantum physics, and I simply must finish my thesis on the String Theory of the Universe.  I’m just too dang busy to be obliterated at the moment.

We did, however, receive the glorious news that there was an “invisible judgment,” lest any of us succumb to the temptation to doubt.  But the REAL date for the REAL apocalypse has been pushed back to October 21st.  Good.  That ought to give me time to complete my tasks.  I can’t wait. 


Friday, May 13, 2011

Luck Be a Lady Tonight

Last week, as we were clapping our hands because we were happy and we knew it, we blew it. Dennis developed a fever. Now, it’s policy that whenever this event occurs, we are to proceed directly to the ER…STAT!
Of course, we were reluctant because we were still clapping our hands and singing deranged ditties. But as his temperature was rising, he was obviously having a heat wave.

I, myself, was having a hot flash. Together we had a meltdown. So we went into commando mode and headed to the hospital.
Once there, we were sequestered in a small cubicle with no windows and no doors for six long, reaaallly long hours.
The nurses ran numerous tests on every quadrant of Dennis’ body trying to discover why he had the hots. He was poked, prodded, tested, invaded, x-rayed, and generally humiliated. It was a little like getting a mammogram and pap smear simultaneously.
He bore it stoically – up until they asked him to pee into a cup. PROBLEMO: There was no cup, and the restroom door was locked. He was sorely tempted to follow the example of our 5 grandsons and spray the specimen on the walls. But we were trying desperately to maintain a sense of decorum in spite of the circumstances, so he graciously opted to wait for the nurse to provide a suitable receptacle.
Ultimately, everything checked out OK. So, in spite of promises that the doctor would be in to see us shortly (he was a no-show), we gathered the shreds of our dignity and came home. Dennis is always grace under fire. He did not utter one expletive. Actually, he couldn’t get a cuss word in edgewise because I dominated the conversation with really creative harsh language. (I learned it at my mother’s knee.)
I can tell when Dennis is especially annoyed because he goes all Harpo Marx – without the air horn. When he’s feeling good, he’s more like the sphinx. Only someone who has lived with him this long can detect the varying degree of loquaciousness between the two.
Eventually, the fever passed, and he became his usually chatty self – like Harpo Marx WITH the air horn – but without the hair.
But hair is highly overrated. Take Donald Trump…please. He does not have a comb-over. More’s the pity. No, what he has is a severe comb-forward thrust, starting from the middle of his back, over the medulla oblongata, past the cerebellum, and down to the tip of his nose. Then he abruptly and inexplicably jerks the momentum of both strands 180 degrees in reverse with a savage switchback, making him look like a cross between Elvis Presley and Ace Ventura Pet Detective with male-pattern baldness impairment. The mane stays the same on the plain in the rain. I doubt it would shift even if he stood directly beneath a hovercraft. I wouldn’t exactly call him a “carnival barker,” but he does seem totally hostile to his own body. This hair ninja has been crowned “The Donald” – a noun of renown. Well, whatever works.
Dennis, on the other hand, is not defined by hair. And anointing him “The Dennis” just doesn’t seem right. What’s in a name anyway? Think of “Frodo,” “Quasimodo,” or “The Bieb.” I think of Dennis more as a verb than a noun – more action and being than object. I could totally advise someone to “Dennis up” in times of trial. He’s definitely qualified to be part of the elite Seal Team 6.
Today is Friday the 13th, and in spite of it all, I think I am the luckiest person in the world. The other day, my grandson, Josh, said I was cuter than baby ducks. WOW! Make room on the magazine cover, J Lo! Here comes Gram Ash. Cuter than baby ducks. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.
Postscript: We have had our will revised. We’re leaving the entire kingdom to Josh.

I confess I have been influenced by President Obama when he offed bin Laden. He announced that they “had enough intelligence to take action.” I, too, found enough intelligence to pronounce that Dennis’ fever was due to the cancer being blown up by powerful chemo drugs. Heat was released in the explosion. After careful research by Brodi, turns out I was right.
I have heard it said that the harder you work, the luckier you get. I agree. Perhaps luck is as much a gentleman as a lady.