Friday, July 6, 2018

The Resident Journal

This is the current issue of The Resident Journal, minus the pictures. Chuck Baston, a Covenant Woods' resident, came up with the idea, and I was recruited to be the editor. The Resident Journal, a monthly - more or less - has been printing the work of Covenant Woods' residents since May 2015. This month's issue is a little thin, it is usually eight to twelve pages.

The Resident Journal
Covenant Woods, Columbus, Georgia
July 2018
By Kate Larkins

From Maine to California
We planted golden grain,
In rich and fertile valleys
And mountainous terrain.

Through drought and depression
We’ve tilled our native land.
We fought our wars, grieved our men,
And triumphed once again.

We fought off varmints, plagues and flood
And daily fight inflation.
We’ve filled the bins and stocked the shelves
To feed a hungry nation.

So bless us, Lord, this special day,
As we bow our heads in prayer.
We thank you for the guts it took
And the guts to hang in there.

The Resident Journal                            July 2018                                    Page  2
Dresser Tops
By Chuck Baston
The subject of this little essay is unusual and can use a bit of explanation before we get into its heart and soul. “Dresser” is that wonderful piece of furniture in the bedroom, whose spacious drawers hold hosiery and underwear, sweaters and shirts, and miscellaneous items galore. Unfortunately, it seldom has room for all we try to put in it.
Having taken care of the drawers, we come to the top of the dresser, which is our subject. Though you probably do it every day, now is a good time to look at what is displayed there. A survey of dresser tops, I’m sure, would find the greatest array of items ever conceived, everything from Indian scalps to false teeth.
What are we likely to find on a dresser top? Photographs are often the No. 1 dresser top item; pictures of loved ones, of those still with us and of those who have passed. There might be trinkets on the dresser that hold loving memories of family and friends. One of Aunt Tillie’s garters might be there, or grandpa’s old mustache cup. There might also be a hand mirror, a comb, a brush, a small mirrored jewelry tray, a small chest for jewelry or other keepsakes. And maybe some souvenirs from visits to Disney World, the Statue of Liberty, or Niagara Falls.
You see! Dresser tops can be very interesting and may provide insight into the personality and interests of its owner. It may hold a major clue to a personal trait the owner doesn’t want made public.
So, it pays to be careful what we display on the dresser. On the other hand, you see the items on your dresser every day and derive pleasure from them. Be sure the items on your dresser give you a smile every morning and each night before you turn out the light and enter your land of memories.
Happy dreams!!!

The Resident Journal                            July 2018                                    Page  3
Radiating Love
By Violet Hayes Conner
How amazing is Calvary Love! When transformed by Calvary Love, the heart undergoes miraculous changes.  One dies to self and discards the grave clothes of sorrow and the blemishes of unrighteousness.  A new person emerges with a new joy-filled heart, full of His ever-present redeeming Love.
His marvelous Love radiates into families, creating an awesome bonding. Friendships flourish when renewed hearts share in His Presence.  How amazing is this bonding and promoting love and goodwill among families and friends.  The heart greatly rejoices!
Radiating Love knows no bounds.  It flows from love-filled hearts clothed in flowing garments of praise.  Be adorned with His glorious praise and radiate the beauty of His mantle of Love!

The Resident Journal                            July 2018                                    Page  4
The Long, Hot Summer
By Tom Harris,
Day after day the high’s above ninety,
The humidity is one-forty-four.
I’d like to say with class and nicety
That I can’t take this stuff anymore.

But daily that darn heat-index rises,
And saps my respectful vocabulary
The heat kills the nice words, and my surmise is,
What’s left will draw the constabulary.

Yes. I do try to be understanding
Of Mother Nature’s mysterious ways.
Yet, on days when I’m out standing
In Sol’s searing, sultry, scorching rays,

It is difficult to keep a civil tongue,
And polite chatting is impossible.
Within seconds I’ve burst a lung,
Shouting words and phrases reprehensible.

As Grandma said, “It’s hotter than Hades.”
One moment outside and I am an ember,
I’m wishing hard for a day in the eighties,
Which maybe we’ll have in November.


Help! We need writers. If you have an essay, story or poem you’d like to share with your friends and neighbors, pass it along to Alisha, Annie, Penelope, Tom Harris, or drop it off at the front desk, or email it to If you have an idea and would like some help getting it on paper, please ask. We are always glad to help.

Monday, April 2, 2018


Alisha, the activities director, asked me to play Reader's Digest editor and condense an article on spring health tips she'd found on the web. She needed a few paragraphs for the monthly calendar. "Can you work your magic with this?" she asked, handing the printout to me. "Oh, baby, if it's magic you want, it's magic I've got," I said to myself. "Sure, when do you need it?" I said to Alisha.

The article was the usual list of suggestions for improving one's health: eating better, getting outside and enjoying the pleasant weather, exercising more. The last item, staying hydrated, isn't unusual in this type of article, but this time it grabbed my attention. "Don't be tempted by those cans of diet pop in the refrigerator," it said. In the second paragraph, it warned of the ill effects of "sugar-laden pop."

Pop? I grew up in the environs of Pittsburgh, where sugar-laden carbonated water is"pop". It wasn't until I went off to college in Buckhannon, WV that I realized not everyone went to the vending machine for a can of pop. The folks not from western Pennsylvania went to get a "soda". During the nearly forty years I lived in Ashtabula, "pop," as a synonym for "soft drink," all but disappeared from the thesaurus in my brain.

When "pop" popped up in the article, I jumped to the conclusion that it was the product of an organization located in the greater Pittsburgh area. I combed the article for some mention of the website it was taken from. Unfortunately, that information did not appear in the printout Alisha had given me. However, going through the article a second time all but eliminated the possibility of the piece coming out of Pittsburgh. Two dieticians were quoted several times each in the article; one was from somewhere in Alberta. the other from British Columbia. Those wily Canadians are speaking Pittsburghese, eh.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Tom, Urine Trouble Now

Back on February 27, I saw Dr. Verson, my neurologist, to discuss my Ocrevus experience. The doctor had all the details of my visit, a week earlier, to the John B. Amos Cancer Center for my first infusion of the first drug approved for the treatment of primary-progressive MS. I didn't get fully infused. About the time half of the Ocrevus had found its way into my veins, I got itchy and my blood pressure dropped. The nurses at the Amos Center called Dr. Verson, who told them to shut off the Ocrevus and keep an eye on me for an hour. Once the Ocrevus was stopped, I quickly got back to normal,

Before I left the Amos Center, a nurse told me Dr. Verson wanted me to call his office the following day. I did and made the appointment for the 27th. The doctor asked if I wanted to continue with the Ocrevus treatment. I did and made an appointment for Tuesday, March 6. In the back of my mind, such as it is, there lurked the thought that an infection might be lurking in my urinary tract. And as the sixth drew closer, the urine got cloudier.

When I saw Dr. Miller, my primary care guy, in the fall, he put a specimen jar in a sealed plastic bag so I could bring my urine with me when I go for blood work. On Monday, the fifth, I called his office, told them of my concerns, and asked if I peed into the cup at home Tuesday morning, could Russ then rush the sample to the lab. That was fine. Then I called the Amos Center and canceled the appointment for the sixth.

On Thursday, Dr. Miller's office called to tell me, yes, I had a UTI, and the doctor would send a prescription to the Publix Pharmacy in the Milgen Plaza. Friday morning, I got a call from a recorded voice, "Hello, this is your Publix Pharmacy in the Milgen Plaza. A member of your family has one prescription ready for pick up." Saturday morning, a member of my family - Russ - picked it up.

The instructions on the bottle read, "Take one pill twice a day." I considered asking Russ, once I've taken that one pill, how do I retrieve it in order to take it a second time? But he would have rolled his eyes, shaken his head, and said,"Oh, Dad," in a disgusted tone of voice. Instead, I took a pill and started doing the math. There were fourteen pills in the bottle, at two a day, that was a seven day supply. Ergo: the pills would last through the following Friday.

They did; right through Friday and the weekend and into this week. Now, I know I forget to do things once in a while, and I expected to find a pill or two left in the bottle after I took what should have been the last one Friday evening. After taking the "last pill," I looked in the bottle and counted six untaken pills. "That can't be," I said to myself. "Obviously, somebody at the Publix Pharmacy in the Milgen Plaza can't count." Monday evening, I went to get the last pill. I got the pill, but it wasn't the last one. After I took it, there were still three pills in the bottle. "Damn things must be reproducing," I thought.

Wednesday morning, I took what should have been the last one for the third time. Strangely enough, it was the last one. So, now the pills are gone, and, from what I can tell, so is the UTI. Monday, I'll call the Amos Center and get an appointment to finish what was started all those weeks ago.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Notes from the Home - February 21, 2018

I went to the Amos Cancer Center, Tuesday, to get my first infusion of Ocrevus. I left there not quite fully infused. Last year, Ocrevus became the first drug approved for treating primary-progressive Multiple Sclerosis. Late last summer, Dr. Verson ordered some blood work, which I thought was the first step toward getting the Ocrevus infusions. Whether I misunderstood, or someone dropped the ball, nothing happened. A few weeks ago, however, someone from his office called to set up an appointment for more blood work, this time to test for hepatitis B.

Two days after my encounter with the phlebotomist, a woman from the Cancer Center called to make an appointment for me to get the first infusion. We set the date for February 9. At 8:30 that morning, I phoned in my cancellation. I hadn't slept well, and my legs were weaker and wobblier than usual. Russ was going to provide transportation, and I was afraid he'd also have to give me a lift off the ground when I fell getting from the manual wheelchair into the car, and when I got out of the car at the Cancer Center. And getting there might be the easy part. The night before, I saw on a Facebook site of MSers who are getting Ocrevus that weak legs after an infusion aren't uncommon. Poor Russ, I thought, it might be easier for him to push me home than try to get me in and out of the car after the infusion.

Covenant Woods provides transportation to and from medical appointments on Tuesday and Wednesdays. My motorized chair fits nicely on the bus, too. But the Ocrevus infusions take several hours, and I needed to find out from Dennis, Covenant Woods' bus driver, the time I needed to be done in order to get a ride back to the Woods. "Four or four-thirty," he said. The following Tuesday, I called to reschedule the appointment. I gave her a quick explanation of my situation and told her I needed to be out of the Cancer Center by four. The best way to be sure they would finish with me by four-thirty would be to tell her I had to be out by four.

"Well, would Tuesday, February 20th, at 10:30 work?" she asked.

"Will I be done by four?"

"You'll be done by 2:30."

"OK, Tuesday the 20th at 10:30, right?"

"That's correct."

Dennis got me to the Cancer Center at the designated time. At 11:15 a young man, who will graduate from the Columbus State School of Nursing in the spring, stuck a needle in my arm, while the nurse supervising him complimented me on my excellent, easily accessible veins. Then another nurse hooked up a small bag of steroids to the IV and had me take a Benadryl and one other pill.

"We'll give that stuff a half hour to get into your system, then we'll start the Ocrevus," she said.

A few minutes before noon, the nurse was back and explained that the IV would start slowly and speed up at regular intervals. Doing a quick calculation in my otherwise empty head, I determined that between the IV and the hour afterward that they keep you for observation, I wasn't going to be out of there by four o'clock.

"If I'm not out of here before Dennis clocks out, I have no way to get home. This chair is nearly as big as my son's Aveo."

"You don't have to stay for the hour of observation," she said.

"This is the first time for me, and I know people sometimes do have difficulty after an infusion. I'd rather come back on a day when we can get an earlier start."

"What if we can get another ride for you?"

"That'll work for me, All I want is a way home."

"OK, I'll call some people and see what we can do."

A few minutes later she came back to tell me she had talked to Dennis, who told her 4:30 was the latest he could pick me up.

"As long as you get me out of here by 4:30, I'll stay."

"It's a deal," she said as she turned on the IV.

It all went well. I read some, slept some and read a little more. And I spent more than a few minutes looking at the IV bag to be sure the amount of Ocrevus in it was declining. At 1:45, my back started to itch. Not all of the back, just a streak below the shoulders, were my back met the chair. I couldn't scratch it, so I wiggled around as best I could to relieve the itching, The wiggling didn't produce the desired effect. And after ten minutes of it, I realized I was beginning to itch all over.

When a nurse came by, I told her about the itching. She lifted my shirt and looked at my stomach. "There are spots all over your stomach," she said and went to tell the other nurses. One of them called Dr. Verson's office.

"He said to turn it off and for us to keep you here for an hour to make sure you're OK," the nurse said when she came back. "And he wants you to call his office tomorrow to set up an appointment." I had difficulty processing what she said, I was getting woozy and felt as if I might pass out.

At 2:30, the Ocrevus stopped dripping into my bloodstream. Within minutes, I felt much better. For the next hour, I sat and watched the clock. Periodically a nurse came by to check the spots on my stomach. They were gone by three o'clock, and I was gone at 3:30.

I called Dr. Verson's office this morning, and I'll see him Friday at 9:30. When I called, the woman I talked to told me to come in at one on Friday. I then called Russ to make sure that would work for him. He said that was fine. Two minutes after talking to Russ, the phone rang. It was the woman from Dr. Verson's office. "He wants you to come in at 9:30," she said. Another Russ, and being an agreeable and flexible young man, he said he was fine with the new time. It will be interesting to hear what the doctor has to say.

*                    *                    *

I'm dropping things more frequently these days. It is frustrating, but picking up what I drop provides a little exercise and sometimes a sense of accomplishment and pride. Saturday, cottage cheese topped with some cherry tomatoes sounded like a good lunch. Getting the cottage cheese into the bowl was easy-peasy. And I had every reason to expect that getting the tomatoes on top of the cottage cheese would be just as easy. It was. But, as I picked up the container of unused tomatoes I dropped it. There were tomatoes everywhere, thousands of them, I tell you, thousands of them. 

OK, there were fifteen or twenty tomatoes on the carpet, but someone had to pick them, and that someone was me. With a steady hand on the joystick, I moved the wheelchair from tomato to tomato, reaching down and picking each one up. When I had them all back in the plastic container from which they had fallen, I surveyed the carpet, expecting to see a big red splotch, the remains of a tomato I'd unknowingly run over. But there were no splotches. I had cleaned up the mess without making a bigger mess in the process. Damn, I'm good.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

What Would Granddad Think?

I never knew either of my grandfathers; they both died before I came along. Nonetheless, I often find myself thinking about my dad’s father these days. My grandfather was an extraordinary letter writer, and the letters he wrote to Dad in 1942 and 1943 are a family treasure. Dad gave the letters to Nana, and no Harris family gathering was complete until the letters were brought out and a few of them read aloud.

In one letter he said he grew up taking one bath a week. Then, “your mother” insisted he take two baths a week. And now, “your mother and Jane” were telling him he should take a bath every day. In the middle of another letter a page is covered in ink. On the following page, in the style of a play-by-play announcer describing a running back moving from one spot in the house to another, he explains how the ink got on the paper. One of the letters is an essay on the fanny.

The letter I keep thinking about these days begins, “The headline in tonight’s Sun-Telegraph is ‘Allies pushed back 5 miles in North Africa.’” (That is not a direct quote; I don’t have a copy of the letter and I’m relying on my memory.) My grandfather then told Dad that had the Allies pushed the Germans back, it would have gone unmentioned in German papers. Or if it was, it would have called an Axis victory. I don’t remember if he used the term “strategic redeployment,” but that is what he was getting at. My grandfather went on to tell Dad that press freedom was one of the things we were fighting for. That we were stronger because of our freedoms, including freedom  of the press.

So I wonder: what would my grandfather say about the current president and his calls to silence those who disagree with him?

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Curmudgeon's Day

Monday is Curmudgeon's Day, and I plan to properly celebrate the occasion.

Oh, yes, I’ll be cantankerous,
Nasty, mean and rancorous.
My words will all be slanderous;
My attitude so awfully cancerous.
And I’ll be feeling rapturous.
Telling folks they look cadaverous.

A man shouldn’t act that way;
Is that what you’d like to say?
Well, it doesn’t matter anyway –
’Cause Monday is Curmudgeon’s Day.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

A Stormy Night

As I got dressed this morning, I noticed a drop of dried blood and a small scratch on my right shin. How did that happen? It wasn't there seven hours earlier, when I got out of my pants and into bed. "Must have scratched it during the night," I thought. But, how? There was nothing to scratch it on. Perhaps I had an itch and scratched it. Perhaps. Given my lack of agility, though, the effort required to reach my lower leg while lying in bed is unlikely to be forgotten in a hour or two.

Wait. There was that kiss. A few minutes after midnight, I was awakened by a gentle kiss on the cheek.

"Who are you?" I asked the lady seated on the edge of the bed.

"Stormy," she said.


"Stormy Daniels. My name has been all over the TV news and the Internet."

"You're not that Trumpian trollop everyone is talking about, are you?"

"Yes. Yes I am," she said.

"What are you doing here? Why are you in my apartment?"

"Let me show you," she said, getting out of her clothes and closer and closer to me.

And for the next two hours, Stormy did show me. A lingering kiss left me ready to bask in the afterglow. But Stormy couldn't stay.

"I guess you've heard, The Donald gave me a check in the six figures after our little tete-a-tete."

"Well, I can give you a check in the three figures, as long as two of them are to the right of the decimal," I said.

"That won't be necessary. I feel like I should pay you."


"You ever look at The Donald's hands? How small they are? Well, they say a man with small hands is small somewhere else, too."

"Are they?"

"It's always been the case with the men I've known, And I've known more than a few men," Stormy said.

"Where do I rank among the men you've known?"

"There might be one or two as good as you. But in my experience there are none better than you."

Obviously, my leg was scratched when Stormy and I were passionately rolling around on the bed. That's my story, anyway, and I'm sticking to it.

The Resident Journal

This is the current issue of The Resident Journal, minus the pictures. Chuck Baston, a Covenant Woods' resident, came up with the idea...