Russ and Karen spent Christmas afternoon with the old man. Spending the afternoon with him was a wise choice; it gave the old man time to straighten up his apartment. The old man often blames Al, who has given him a couple chairs, several small tables and assorted other items, for creating the mess. But the old man spent two hours Christmas morning doing those things he should do for a couple minutes each day: finding a place for everything and putting everything in its place. The effort produced noticeable results.
“This is the most together your apartment has been since you got here,” Karen said, a little taken aback that there was adequate room for her, Russ and Molly, their dog.
While I was busy cleaning the apartment, Karen spent her morning baking a ham, mashing potatoes and cooking corn, with terrific results. And the time she spent at Fresh Market looking for a pecan pie was well spent. But better than the outstanding feast was the company. We sat at the table for several hours. That’s all. But in this age of whiz-bang, over-hyped hoopla, a few hours at the table with family or friends is heaven. Whether it was on Myrna Drive or Myrtle Avenue, most of the most pleasant moments came when everyone was gathered round the table and doing nothing more than talking about this or that.
Russ was kind enough to recall one of those moments. We were having dinner one evening, back when I was the chief cook. I don’t remember what I made, but Debbie said, “This is very good.” And Russell looked to me and said, “Look who made it.”
But I wasn’t quite so kind to Russell. He got some card tricks for Christmas and wanted to share them with his dad. There is a heckler in every audience, and I’m afraid the heckler was me. Well, Karen heckled, too. And Molly was more interested in sniffing around to find any crumbs that might have fallen on the floor. But Russ persevered, and I enjoyed the show.
Russ and Karen gave me The Gershwins and Me: A Personal History in Twelve Songs by Michael Feinstein. In a clear, plastic envelope glued on the inside of the back cover of the book there is a CD of the twelve songs. It would have been impolite to read the book while they were there, but playing the CD would provide some pleasant background music. So, I started to rip the plastic envelope from the book.
“Wait,” Russ said. “Let me do that.”
And I, in the role of the over-anxious son, waited while Russ, in the role of the ever-patient father, opened the envelope without damaging the book or the envelope. It’s a good thing Russ grew up, because I never have.
There was a little bit of the unexpected on Christmas day. It wasn’t totally unexpected by those in the meteorological community, but then many of us are prone not to expect what the meteorological community says we can expect. But though I knew there was a chance, I was surprised, nonetheless, to hear thunder and see lightning on Christmas. Perhaps a thunderstorm did occur once upon a Christmas in Bethel Park or Ashtabula, but I don’t remember it. However, Christmas thunderstorms must not be so rare in these parts. When I told Annie it was strange to eat Christmas dinner while it thundered, she shot me a where-have-you-been-all-your-life look. And last night, as I settled in to watch Jeopardy, a tornado watch for parts of Alabama crawled across the bottom of the screen.
For a while this morning, it was threatening to clear up, and I thought it would be a good time to go over to Piggly-Wiggly. But I couldn’t get there. For the last week or so, three mattresses have been leaning against the dumpster next to the path to strip mall. Yesterday or last night the wind knocked them down, and now they’re blocking the path. I told Johnny. But he’s the sole maintenance guy in attendance today, so my travels might be limited for a day or two. And, from the look of the sky, it’s going to be a while before I venture out again.
While on the subject of weather; how much I will need the furnace this winter, or if I will need it at all, remains to be seen. I did use it night we went to the CSU jazz concert, but only because I’d left the porch door open a crack when I left, and it was pretty cool by the time we got back. But when I remember to shut the door before the sun goes down, the room stays warm through the night. Even when it has gone down into the thirties at night, the room has stayed warm without any help from the furnace.
I called Mediacom again this morning to tell them about my Internet router that hasn’t been routing since Saturday. After several days of talking to computers, it was refreshing to speak to a flesh-and-blood being. This morning when I asked to speak to a technical representative, the computer told me the wait would be five minutes or less. That seemed reasonable, especially after several days of being told that I’d have to wait until hell froze over, or words to that effect.
As frustrating as human customer relations people can sometimes be, they are so much easier to deal with than their computerized colleagues. The man had me back on line in a matter of minutes. And unlike his computer colleague, he didn’t suggest that I go to mediacom.com to report that I couldn’t access the Internet.