Showing posts from September, 2010

Clouds Over Cuddles

The sun did not shine on Ashtabula yesterday - not once, not at all. The dark clouds and drizzle conjured up visions of November, which can be a very depressing month, indeed. Cuddles was unaware of this for most of the day, her schedule being what it is. It was just a routine day for her. Up at 5:30 a.m., she prowled around the house, making sure all was in order and then nudged her bipedal housemates into consciousness; shortly after nine, satisfied that she had done all she could to keep the homo sapiens in her life from wasting the day, she retired to a chair, curled up and fell asleep. And there, except for an occasional foray to the basement to use the facilities, she remained.

Had everything proceeded as scheduled, sunlight would have streamed in through the glass in front door and the living room and dining room windows by 3:30. The late afternoon sunlight is Cuddles' cue to get up, stretch, groom, and get at it. This is the busiest part of her day, the part she spends chas…

Hurry back, DQ

On Sunday, the Dairy Queen will close for the season, a sure indication that "summer's almost gone and winter's coming on." It also means that after Sunday, Nancy and I won't be walk up there and hang out several evenings a week and be seen. Apparently, on a summer night, Route 20 between Route 11 and the mall attracts people from everywhere in Ashtabula County. Almost every time Nancy and I run into someone we haven't seen in a while, we are asked, "Was that you guys at the Dairy Queen the other night?" Yes, it was us.

Alas, the six months or so the Dairy Queen will be closed will transpire much more slowly than the six months or so it was open.

Awake in the Wee Hours

At 2:13 in the morning, the mind that is too busy to sleep wins its battle with the body that is too tired to stir. I lie awake and my mind frantically generates thoughts and ideas. Some are sentimental, some biting, some gentle, some serious, some wistful, some humorous, some poetic, some witty, some effervescent, and some maudlin. They are wonderful ideas, and for the next forty-five minutes, my mind churns out verses, sentences, paragraphs and pages of scintillating prose and poesy, rhymed and unrhymed, silly and profound.

Six hours from now, when I sit at the computer, the ideas will have lost their luster. The words that now sparkle with the liveliness of a cascading stream, and the words that flow with the languid beauty of a river on a summer’s day will later spread across the page like scum on a stagnant pond. I know this will happen. It always does. By three in the morning, when my mind begins to tire and the surge of ideas becomes a trickle, I wonder if there is a program tha…

Who was that masked man?

Nancy and I went to the rib burn-off at Lake Shore Park Saturday evening. The trouble with the lake shore in September is that it can sometimes feel like the lake shore in November. This year, however, it seemed more like the lake shore in June. It is a wonderful thing to get out on a pleasant day and hang out in a large crowd of locals, and I ran into several people I haven't seen in years.

Almost from the moment I began having trouble getting around, I noticed a marked improvement in human nature, at least in those humans not associated with FOX News. One day, when I was still using a walker, I went to the Post Office to mail a package. When I finished at the window and started out, a woman I didn't know gave up her spot in the lengthy line and held the door for me as I went into the lobby and then followed me and held the door to the outside as I left the building. Making my way out the doors, I had visions of the Harris family going into a restaurant. Walking through the pa…

Neurologists I Have Known

Katie is in the writing class I go to. She is eighty, give or take a year, and has Parkinson's Disease. Somewhere along the line, Katie had cancer, which is apparently acting up again. Suzanne, our instructor, has been accompanying Katie to her appointments. Last week in class, Suzanne mentioned something Katie had said about her neurologist having a rough bedside manner.

Until a few years ago, I took the attitude that since I was going to feel better in three days, anyway, why bother going to the doctor. So, I'm probably not the best judge of medical demeanor, but the neurologists I've since come to know do seem a little different. My first encounter with a neurologist came early in 2006, when I went to see Dr. Mellick at ACMC. He was a friendly guy with the kind of cynical sense of humor I enjoy, and he provided a running commentary as examined me. I wasn't quite sure if the purpose was to keep me informed or if he was just talking to himself, but as he went through t…

Start the Music

Whatever happened to elevator music? It seems to have become extinct, at least in public places, where elevator music performed its greatest service.Sure, the music was as bland as warmed over Cream of Wheat, as insipid as a Lifetime movie, but that was its great strength. Elevator music could be ignored. It asked to be ignored. Like one of those nettlesome tasks you really ought to do, but which no one will notice if you don't, it begged to be ignored.The accompaniment to the unpleasant but necessary, it was found in the places you didn't want to be, usually in a waiting room where you were biding your time until the doctor or dentist was ready to hurt you.Hugo Winterhalter, Andre Kostelanetz, Lawrence Welk, Enoch Light, Nelson Riddle and the rest were ideal waiting-room companions. If you wanted to read a magazine, work a crossword puzzle or share your medical history in all its nauseating detail with the stranger next to you, they didn't interfere. And if you wanted to …

Hum a few bars and I'll fake it

For whatever reason, I'm suffering from memories of Bethel Park. Part of the problem, of course, is that I can't remember. But with football season underway, my mind is awash in fight songs. Fight songs that I remember, by the way. For instance:

"On Bethel High,
On to victory.
Drive through your foe,
Show them all your might.
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Wave banners high,
We're all for thee.
Drive right on down the field
To victory!!!!"

And who among the Bobcat alumni can forget:

"Here's to the school of might,
Here's to the school of fight.
Here's to old West Virginia Wesleyan."

Why, I can even remember a couple lines of the West Virginia Wesleyan alma mater. Granted, part of the reason might be that sometime in the 1980s I heard Daffy Duck and a few others belting out the tune. Then, several days later, listening to Karl Haas's "Adventures in Good Music" - how's that for eclectic tastes: Looney Tunes and Karl Haas - I discovered that "Al…

Dad at Twilight

On warm summer evenings, Dad would get a folding chair and sit between the house and the willow tree, on the asphalted area by the garage, where it was always shady. But after few minutes, he’d go in the basement and get a ball, a bat and a couple baseball gloves, and yell upstairs for Ed, Jim and me to come out.It wasn’t often that the three of us immediately answered the call. But one of us would, and Dad tossed him a glove and a game of pepper commenced. Dad hit a ground ball across the driveway, which the son fielded and threw back and Dad stuck the bat out and hit the ball back. This continued without stop until the guy with the glove let one go through his legs or the guy with the bat failed to make contact.In time, the other two brothers came out, sometimes together, sometimes not. We wandered in and out of the game, playing for a while then going off somewhere and perhaps rejoining the game later, or perhaps not. There were also several kids in the neighborhood who sometimes j…

Thoughts of Thoughts

Thoughts of ThoughtsI want to write a triolet
And fill this vacant, empty page.
Pad, pen and coffee - I’m all set.
I want to write a triolet,
Too bad I’m not inspired yet
By thoughts too witty or so sage.
I want to write a triolet,
And fill this lonely, vacant page.You’d think I’d have at least one thought
That I could turn into a poem.
Really, unless my brain is shot,
You’d think I’d have at least one thought,
But all my thoughts have come to naught.
Perhaps my intellect is foam.
You’d think I’d have at least one thought
That I could turn into a poem.I’d like to write a triolet,
A witty verse that will delight.
But there’s a chance I might forget
I want to write a triolet.
I’ve not had one idea as yet,
Nor any thoughts on when I might.
I’d like to write a triolet,
A witty verse that will delight.

A wonderful weekend

Nancy and I spent a wonderful weekend along the banks - of all places - the Youghiogheny River. Nancy took part in a bike ride on the trail that follows the right-of-way of the late, lamented P&LE RR. It is part of a system of trails that make it possible to hop on a bicycle in Pittsburgh and peddle your way to Washington, DC. Friday evening we drove to Boston, PA, a little town not far from McKeesport which had heretofore escaped my notice. There's not much there, but there is a very nice bed and breakfast that Nancy found on-line for $49 a night.

Saturday morning, almost before the sun was up, Nancy started down the trail, putting in 63 miles and then setting up her tent. A little later, I set out in my wheelchair and explored about five miles of the trail. Although it probably wasn't so peaceful when the long coal trains rumbled through, the trail is a wonderful place to spend a few hours. There are spots that are just so unbelievably quiet; all you hear are the birds an…

Falling into fall

Twenty-six years ago, I spent part of the morning in an operating room at the Geneva hospital, watching as Bethany was delivered by Caesarean section. It was quite an experience. So was watching her grow up. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BETH!!!!

It's Labor Day, the traditional end of summer, so they say. And, at least this morning, we're experiencing a taste of traditional fall weather here in Ashtabula. Well, the truth is, we've been enjoying very pleasant weather for the past week - a welcome change from a summer when the term "summer-like weather" was used mostly in the pejorative sense.

The traditional start of fall has brought with it some reminders my traditional ineptitude. For example, I spent the morning putting together a submission to a magazine. This involved a series of mistakes, of course - doesn't everything - but after fumbling around for almost three hours, everything seemed to be in order, and I slipped my poor efforts into an envelope and sealed it. It wa…