Archive for May, 2013

Socialist Tomatoes?

Being a Democrat (and please don’t write and tell me all the reasons I shouldn’t be one) in Arizona is like being a Green Bay Packer fan–it can be a lot of fun, but you have to have some fortitude for the tough times. And sometimes you have to restrain yourself.

During the last election, for example, when our mostly-LDS neighborhood had Romney signs in almost all their front yards, I told Jeff I was going to get a large “Vote Obama” sign and post it in ours. I will give my husband great credit for allowing me to do pretty much what I want. But this time he said, “You are going to do no such thing, at least unless you want me to be looking for another job!” I could see the sense in that, and didn’t put up the sign.

This isn’t really  going to be a political commentary (aren’t you relieved?) but I wanted to set the scene for an odd conversation that I had recently. A friend, who is a true tomato pro, asked me what varieties I was going to grow this year. I listed three of the four types and concluded by mentioning a heritage seed I’m trying for the first time: the Paul Robeson Tomato. I’d gotten the seeds from Baker Creek Seed Company because it sounded as if the tomato would survive in our harsh climate conditions.

My friend stared at me. “Robeson? He was a socialist, you know.”

“And an amazing singer,” I countered, not exactly knowing how to reply to his remark. I didn’t know the first thing about Robeson’s political affiliation, actually, but did it matter? We were discussing seeds, after all.

“He went and performed in Russia, and I think he brought that type of seed back from there,” the tomato pro continued reproachfully. “Did you know that? Those are Russian seeds.”

“Um…” I replied. “How about that?”

“Well, I sure wouldn’t grow socialist tomatoes!”

There were lots of things I suppose I could have said. Several funny and totally unwise remarks that would have been about as appreciated as my Obama sign got as far as the backside of my lips, but I know my community and restrained myself. This is a warm, friendly, loving, and wonderful place. And it’s really, really conservative at odd moments. So–socialist tomatoes. There you have it. Who knew?



A Partner in Pain

It began last summer with laughter, really. Jeff said, “I keep getting these headaches whenever I bend over or lift anything heavy–guess I’m getting old.” But before long, neither of us was laughing. The headaches increased from just exertion-related to constant. By Christmastime, he had to retreat the bedroom by eight in the evening, in terrible pain. He couldn’t run or lift or chase the grandchildren.

Our local doctor said, “Let’s try an MRI,” and it showed the kind of news we didn’t want to hear: a spot on his skull (not, fortunately, on the brain itself). We were transferred to a neurosurgeon and the words ‘tumor’ and ‘surgery’ began to be used. More tests were required, and all showed the spot clearly. But questions remained unanswered. Was it cancer? Would the surgery relieve the headaches? What did the future look like?

ImageOn Apr. 2nd, the spot/lesion/tumor was removed. The lab report seemed to take forever to be returned. The good news? No cancer (thank you, Lord)! However, the headaches were still in place and still increasing in severity. Nausea was a constant, disabling presence.

The neurosurgeon felt out of his depth in the diagnosis of the problem–and admitted it, which we appreciated. He sent us to a neurologist in Phoenix earlier this week. The neurologist listened patiently to the recital of Jeff’s history, and at the end said, “There’s no doubt in my mind about what you have: an acute, hereditary form of migraine.” We looked at him with–I hope–polite skepticism, and he said, “I know you think I’m wrong, and you probably won’t believe it until I cure you–but I will cure you.”

He prescribed a migraine preventative medication and we felt hopeful. Could it be as simple as that? No, apparently not. It gave Jeff horrible hallucinations and panic attacks–and he still had headaches. But the doctor had another, milder medication in reserve and tried it instead. This is Jeff’s third day on it. He has no headache, no panic, no hallucinations. He can sneeze, laugh, or bend over without agony for the first time in months. Is this it? Is normal within range once again? We are encouraged to believe it. Certainly he looks normal and is working comfortably.

For all this time, since the surgery was scheduled, my time and my state of mind have been linked to each day’s progress or lack of it. When nothing felt certain, I couldn’t bear to blog. As the saying goes, an elephant lived in the center of our lives and with no certainty, I couldn’t either ignore it or write about it. Today I want to share good news with you instead of ongoing crisis. Things appear to be improving, and that means I can get back to observing the rich and wonderful life of our small town! Look for more blogs soon!