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Showing posts from June, 2010

Macho no more

Alas, I always thought "Machismo" was my middle name, but Cuddles apparently believes it's an assumed name, and not a particularly appropriate one. This morning, in my power wheelchair, pushing the walker before me, I made my way to the bedroom to put the wheelchair on the charger. I turned into the hallway, and there was Cuddles lying on the floor. She wasn't sleeping, mind you; she wasn't even, as Mother used to say, "resting her eyes;" she was just lying there, studying the decor and considering possible changes.

She watched the wheelchair, the walker and me approach and remained stubbornly, defiantly, absolutely still. The gap between us narrowed to a foot, to six inches, to an inch, and then the walker pressed gently against her midsection. Cuddles got to her feet, slowly, of course, and stretched. Putting her chin to the floor and extending her forelegs, she proudly raised her rump to let me know I was being just a little inconsiderate. Then she ar…
Of All the GullEverything is still this summer morning. The sky clear and the sun bright, but there is no wind to rustle the leaves. I’m in my car at Lake Shore Park, looking at the lake that barely ripples and watching an ore boat get smaller as it heads out on the open water. Eating a Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit from McDonald’s and listening to an appropriately mellow piece for string quartet on the radio, I begin to feel the heat and humidity, harbingers of the oppressive afternoon to come.A few gulls and a Canada goose or two mill around the beach, the grass and the parking lot. They are bored, listless creatures, each one lost in its thoughts. They ignore me and each other until, a few feet from my car, a goose picks up a wilted, sand-covered French fry. He holds it in his beak the way the tough guy in the old movies stood on the corner with a cigarette hanging from his lips. Two gulls see the punk and approach him. The goose flees on foot; the gulls go after him. The chase end…
On the Star Beacon editorial page yesterday, Tim Giago wrote of his wife's experience with MS and the relief she gets from Copaxone. Jackie Giago has been taking Copaxone for nearly eighteen years. "In some there is no improvement, and in others the effect is negative," Tim Giago wrote. "But with Jackie and many others, they are able to continue living an active life, work at full-time jobs and enjoy many of the activities they enjoyed prior to contracting the illness."

A couple years ago, Nancy and I volunteered to help with the MS Walk at Mentor High School. Nancy helped set up the cafeteria, and we folded T-shirts and then sat behind a table brimming with literature on MS. As we sat there - I was in my wheelchair - a number of women who appeared to be in their twenties or thirties, several with young children in tow, asked the date of my diagnosis. It turned out, all the women had been diagnosed long before I was. What a burden MS must be for a young mother …
Cuddles, it turns out, is a demanding little feline. Long about four o'clock yesterday afternoon, as I sat at the table and the sun streamed in behind me, Cuddles lurked beneath a nearby chair, intently staring at my wheelchair. Every muscle, every nerve, every instinct in her small body was now under the influence of a billion years of predatory evolution. Her prey: a fairy-like twinkling of sunlight, reflecting off my wheelchair and skittering across the floor or wall. As long as the wheelchair remained idle, however, there was no sparkling light, and her lithe body, exquisite musculature and razor-sharp instincts were as useless as any intellect greater than an eggplant during a Rush Limbaugh tirade.

Lying there a few feet from me, she sought to intimidate with her stare, attempting to bore holes through me with her beady little eyes. "Enough," I thought, and I powered up the wheelchair. Then I moved the joy stick, causing that electrical clicking noise the motor make…

Thoughts on Father's Day II

Playing BallThere was a little preview of spring Tuesday. The sun was shining, the temperature was in the 60s and the breeze was gentle. There was another harbinger of spring that afternoon: the fellow next door and his son were out with a bat and ball.It made me think of my dad. Long ago, during Eisenhower’s first term, he and I, and later my brother Ed, would get the bat and ball and walk to the playground at Bethel Memorial School. By the early 1960s, Dad was also playing ball with our younger brother Jim, but we had moved by then and the venue had changed.In any event, Dad pitched the ball, and I tried to hit it. Listening to the neighbor, I heard my dad. The fundamentals of hitting haven’t changed much. I watched as the guy next door stood behind his son and reached down to move young boy’s feet, so that when he stepped into the ball, he’d step toward the mound. “Get your bat up,” he said. “Get your bat up. That’s it.”Then the little boy took a few swings.“You’re taking your eye …

Thoughts on Father's Day I

Just a Word or TwoDad never said much. He wasn’t morose or bitter; he didn’t go off by himself to ignore the world. He just didn’t say much. That often frustrated the people around him. One fine summer day in the early 1960s, I remember Nana sitting at the head of the dining room table reminiscing. “We always told your father, if he wasn’t going to bring anything into the house, he better not take anything out,” she said.Years later, after Dad had retired and he and Mom moved to San Antonio, Mom talked about the early years of their marriage. She was the stay-at-home mom of three pre-schoolers, and Dad worked for the Bessemer and Lake Erie by day and went to law school at Duquesne by night. And in the summer, when he wasn’t going to school, he played softball several nights a week.“He’d leave the house at six-thirty in morning and not get home until almost ten that night,” Mom said. “‘How was your day,’ I’d ask. ‘Fine,’ he’d say. ‘What’s new,’ I’d ask. ‘Nothing much,’ he’d say. That w…

Herding the cat

Until Wednesday morning, the larger world for Cuddles, our cat of tender years, was the garage. Every once in a while, she would follow Nancy out there, where she would pretend to be content without us. It wasn't always possible to capture her and return her to the kitchen, but there were ways to entice her. Sometimes, the sound of dry cat food rattling in her dish would bring her back. If that didn't work, shunning her usually did. Cuddles, you see, has no problem ignoring us, but she will not be ignored.

On Wednesday, though, Cuddles, for the first time, walked out the front door into the cool morning air. Nancy, who was about to leave for work, attempted unsuccessfully to get the frisky feline back in the house. Needing to be on her way, however, Nancy called out the posse - Aaron. Cuddles huddled under the ramp for several minutes and then made a few quick forays into the neighbor's yard before Aaron snagged her and returned her to the safety of our humble home.

This wei…

My faux pas II

A few more thoughts on "faux:"

A Catholic priest who fathers a child has committed a faux pas, while a man who, in order to reduce his tax obligations, lists children he doesn't have on his tax return is a faux pa.

And, as if that wasn't enough, water running up hill is a flow pas.

My faux pas

For reasons unbeknown to me, and I suppose anyone else, the word 'faux' has been floating around in my mind all day. The result is nothing notable. But that won't stop me.

A girl whose boyfriend is a cad has a faux beau.

An empty boast is a faux crow.

Counterfeit cash is faux dough.

Snails made from a processed meat-like product are faux escargot.

In war games, the battle is between a couple of faux foes.

The aura of artificial light is a faux glow.

A woman working undercover on the vice squad is a faux ho.

A cup of decaf is faux joe.

The guy imitating one of the Three Stooges is a faux Moe.

The coy beauty kept her suitor guessing with a faux no.

His style was so similar to a certain 19th-Century poet that they called him a faux Poe.

To make the situation seem less horrendous, the BP spokesman issued a faux status quo.

Manufactured caviar is faux roe.

When putting up a false front, we give a faux show.

A quarterback who fakes a pass makes a faux throw.

Those who whine when there is nothin…

Bush league comment

Damn, these old people are starting to get on my nerves. Not the old folks of my acquaintance. Since falling in with Nancy, I have met quite a few bicyclers who are twenty years or more older than I and in better shape now than I was twenty years ago. Yesterday, I spent several hours with Gordon, a spry 84-year old, manning a water stop at the WOW Ride, a bicycle ride along the Western Reserve Greenway Trail. Gordon and I were at the midway point, where the riders who had opted for the sixty-mile ride turned around and headed back south.

Gordon would have been riding, but his friend had other obligations, and when you're eighty-four and have had a hip replacement and have occasional balance issues, it's best to have someone along for the ride. It worked out well for me, however. We didn't have much work to do, but such work as there was for us, Gordon did it. He helped Nancy get things set up and taken down, and in between, he saw to it that the water coolers were kept ful…
The writing class reconvened yesterday after a break of several weeks while Suzanne, our instructor, sojourned in the West. The class provided a perfect opportunity to begin my training in the arts of insufferably proud grandfatherhood. "Oh," I said, as we sat around the table. "How did that happen? How foolish of me; I seem to have inadvertently brought along the May/June issue of the Saturday Evening Post, the one with Russ' cartoon featured at the bottom of page 60... You'd like to see it? ...Are you sure? I mean, we just have so much to do... Do we have time? ...Well, if you insist, I'll pass it around."

They were all duly impressed. Suzanne went so far as to suggest that I might mention Russ' name if I submitted something to one of the magazines that has published his cartoons. I think she was joking about having Russ open doors for me, but I'm not sure.

The point of all this, which I have thus far so niftily avoided, has to do with the black…

Hose-R-We

Because I told the doctor that my feet have been swelling, he gave me a prescription for compression hose. I guess I thought compression hose was something that went in a car. "It needs an oil change, and, while you're at it, you better check the compression hose." Any way, I went to be fitted for them this morning, and despite the rain, I enjoyed myself. The woman who sized me up is Jim Reed's sister. Jim also has MS, and I met him a couple years ago when we were both swimming at the YMCA, and he got me involved in the local MS support group.

Confidentiality rules are necessary, of course, but they can be strange. The measuring this morning took about five minutes, but we spent almost a half hour talking about MS - I talked about my experiences, and she talked about Jim's. Then, as I was getting ready to leave, I told her to say 'hi' to Jim. She couldn't do that, she said, because she couldn't tell him that she saw me for the fitting, although she…

Poetic injustice

In the writing class I go to, I was once asked to write a limerick a day. A sampling of my efforts will demonstrate why the assignment was never renewed after the first week.
Half-baked limericks
Whoa, big fella
There was a shy guy named Harry,
Timid and so very wary
Of kissing a girl
Until he met Cheryl.
Who slapped him and said, “How dare he.”

A word to the wise
Joe thought that his verbosity
Denoted virtuosity.
But those who heard him
Always referred him
To comments on pomposity.

It happened one night
The sexy, sensuous Mable
Seduced the actor, Clark Gable.
But once in the bunk,
Said Clark, who was drunk,
“Frankly, my dear, I’m not able.”


Act of love
When hoping to be romantic
Harvey would try the dramatic.
Enjoying his flair
Madge entered his lair
And made him highly ecstatic.

Gas bag
To hear Limbaugh vituperate
Makes me ask what it was he ate.
Perhaps it’s the beans,
Or those collard greens
That make him rant and bloviate.

On the hook
There once was a girl named Sarah
Wh…

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

At the Cleveland Clinic yesterday, while waiting to be seen by Dr. McKee, who would refill my baclofen pump, Nancy and I fell into conversation with a former Plain Dealer reporter who now lives in Mexico. She has MS, and a couple years ago she got a buyout from the PD and went to Cancun to "live the lazy life and blog." Well, if she can do it, so can I. I can certainly be lazy with the best of them, and Ashtabula is every bit as exotic as Cancun, or nearly so.

I am a little worried about this venture. The people who offer advice to would-be writers often suggest keeping a journal. I've tried that few times and never had much success. After a few weeks of feverish scribbling, I inevitably turned into a person I wanted to avoid. You know, the guy you don't ask "How are you?" for fear he'll tell you at great length. My hope is, flinging this stuff into cyberspace where anyone can read it will keep me from whining to excess. Time will tell.