Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Out on a Limerick Again

  Pound Foolish
   He said if she would lose a pound
   She’d look better when ungowned.
   That was an error
   And made her a terror,
   Unleashing her inner hellhound.
   Say Amen
   The TV preacher would expound
   With great vehemence to dumbfound
   With rantings hideous
   The dumb and piteous.
   Telling them they were all hell bound.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Notes from the Home - June 20, 2013

   Blaine was an Ash/Craft client, an older fellow. That is to say, he was much older than I was then, but not necessarily much older than I am now. Blaine was six-feet tall, give or take an inch, and lanky. He stood erect and strode purposefully everywhere he walked. A cantankerous coot, Blaine called me Tom Harrison, a name he spat out in the tone of an exasperated third-grade teacher reprimanding the class clown for the seventh time in the last five minutes.
   Blaine’s hair gave him an air of authority. It was thick, wavy and gloriously white. It was the hair of a highly respected retired judge, an elder statesman or a beloved English professor emeritus.  Then one day, Blaine came to work as bald as a cue ball.
   “What happened?”
   “I shaved my head.”
   “Because I wanted to.”
   Blaine’s supervisor got in touch with the people at the group home where he lived. “He insisted on shaving his head,” they told her. Why Blaine wanted to shave his head remains a mystery.
   Gloria got me thinking about Blaine. At dinner one evening, she said she liked my hair. She particularly likes a spot on the back of my head where the hair is practically white.
   “I wish my hair was like that,” she said. “Look, my hair is all gray, but it’s so drab. Your gray is really gray, and that white spot really stands out.”
   Gloria is in her early nineties, nearly thirty years older than I, and she is jealous because my hair is grayer and whiter than hers. Maybe I should shave my head.
   I had just stepped out of the shower Thursday afternoon, when someone came knocking at my door.
   “Who’s there?”
   “Ken from Convalescent Care.”
   “I’m going to need a few minutes to get dressed,” I said.
   And as I dressed, a profanity laced tirade echoed in the empty chamber that is my mind. “That (lengthy list of deleted expletives) idiot. Why in the hell didn’t he call and let me know he was coming? How (expletive deleted) inconsiderate is that?  Does he think I’ve nothing better to do than sit in this (expletive deleted) room all day in case some (expletive deleted) jerk happens to drop by?”
   Fifteen minutes later, I was, if not nattily attired, at least appropriately clad for receiving company, and Ken knocked again. I refrained from telling him the things I’d been saying about him, because he had come about my wheelchair. The wheelchair’s brains are in its joystick unit, and it has been malfunctioning from time to time. The last time Ken was here, I gave him my insurance information and Dr. McKee’s name and phone number at the Cleveland Clinic – it was Dr. McKee who prescribed the wheelchair in the first place. Ken said Dr. McKee had sent them a prescription for a new joy stick unit.
   “The problem is,” he said, “it’s going to cost you nine hundred dollars out of pocket. According to the insurance company, you haven’t used your insurance this year, so your cost will include all your deductible.”
   Au contraire,” I said, or words to that effect. “I went to the Emery Clinic in January to refill my baclofen tank, and it cost me over a grand because of the deductible. Let me see. Here it is, eleven hundred sixteen dollars; the check to the hospital is dated the first of March.”
   Ken said he’d get in touch with the insurance company and ask them to take another look.
   “And can you give me your phone number again?” he asked. “I know I had it, but I must have lost it. Otherwise, I would have let you know I was coming out here today.”
   I recited my phone number with all the politeness I could muster while thoughts of “You (expletive deleted) incompetent fool. You lost my (expletive deleted) phone number. That’s (expletive deleted). They ought to fire your sorry ass.”
   Ken and I traded niceties as he left. Then I resumed lambasting him with all the profane and obscene words in my vocabulary. When I was done, I felt better. But only for a moment. It came to me in a flash: in January, my medical insurer was Medical Mutual, but on April 1, when I went on Medicare, OPERS switched my medical insurance to Humana. And, no, I hadn’t used it yet. Who is the (expletive deleted) idiot now? And I had to call him and admit it.

Monday, June 17, 2013

You Say Armadillo

 Suzanne's assignment for us was to write something about Russell the Pink Armadillo. Why Russell the Pink Armadillo? I don't know. Then Mary, who taught English as a second language to Spanish speakers, pointed out that armadillo is a Spanish word, and in Spanish the double-l is pronounced as a long-e. Therefore, she said, it should be arma-dee-o.
  So, with thanks to Mary for the idea, and apologies to Ira Gershwin, here goes.  

   Russell and Darlene, two pink armadillos, sat quietly in a shady spot near the stream. It was their special place. They went there to hold paws, snuggle, dream of the future, listen to the stream babble and hear the birds sing.
   Darlene had suggested they meet that afternoon, and Russell had been looking forward to seeing her. It wasn’t the rendezvous he’d expected, however. Darlene was edgy, not her usual smiling, talkative self. He had tried to kiss her on the cheek, but she turned away. He wasn’t very good at small talk, and Darlene wasn’t helping. She was nervous, fidgety, visibly upset.
   “What’s the matter, honey?” Russell asked.
   “Nothing,” she said.
   “Nothing? Are you sure? You act like something is the matter?”
   “I’m fine. OK.”
   “Please tell me what the problem is,” Russell said. “Maybe I can help.”
   “You want to know what the problem is. I’ll tell you what the problem is: Things have come to a pretty pass, our romance is growing flat.”
   “What is that supposed to mean?”
    “It means,” Darlene said, “you like this and the other while I go for this and that.”
   “That’s the dumbest thing anybody ever said.”
   “Dumb or not, something must be done.”
    “And why must something be done?” Russell asked.
    “Because, you say armadillo, and I say arma-dee-o.”
   “And, let’s call the whole thing off,” Darlene said.
   “But oh!” Russell said. “If we call the whole thing off, then we must part.”
   “And oh! If we ever part, then that might break my heart.”
   “So?” Darlene said.
   “So we know we need each other, so we better call the calling off off.”
   “No,” Darlene said. “Let’s call the whole thing off.”
   Darlene turned to leave, and her cell phone rang.
   “Oh hi, Joe,” she said. “I’m on my way to your place now. Love you”
   “There’s a Joe who lives on the other side of that hill. Is that who you were talking to?”
   “I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, but he says ‘armadillo.’”
   “But happiness is just a guy named Joe,” Darlene said.

Notes from the Home - June 17, 2013

   My Father’s Day began on the Lake Erie shore. I got there from the Covenant Woods’ laundry room by reading Katie’s essay “A Day at the Beach.” Katie writes, “you hear the slap, slap of the wave on the shore.” I had to settle for the slap, slap of the washing machine, but that was alright.

   “The children are a delight,” she writes. “They scamper in and out of the waves, laughing and shrieking. They throw pebbles into the water with enthusiasm and an awkward overhand throw.”

   “The sun sinks lower in the west…The sun is bright over the water, long orange rays streak across the surface. Boats drift in and out of the streaks pulling some of it with them as they go.”

   Her piece sparked memories. As the washers went through their cycles, I thought about the quiet walks I took through Lake Shore Park. And I thought about the more raucous times, when we took Russ and Beth and let them spend the day in the lake.

   Katie’s essay is in Good Words Two, a compilation of the essays and poems our writing class presented at the reading of the same name last month. Don had them printed and bound, and Elaine sent a copy to me. The quiet of a Sunday morning provided the perfect accompaniment to the musings of a very talented bunch of scribblers. After being with that group for five years, I still can’t thank Mary enough for luring me into their company.


   Russ and Karen came over in the afternoon, bringing dinner with them. Pork chops cooked with sauerkraut and apples was the entrĂ©e. Very, very good.

   Russ’ time with Barnes & Noble came to an end Friday. B&N is downsizing, and his job was eliminated. They will, however, continue to pay him for a couple months, although he must agree not to go to work for Books-A-Million for at least a year.

   On a positive note, Russ did sell a cartoon to The American Legion Magazine. It came as a surprise. The magazine had told him it wasn’t interested in any of the cartoons in his latest submission. Then someone had a change of heart and decided one was worth keeping. That wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago when the rejected cartoons would have been put into the submitter’s SASE and returned. In these days of e-mail submissions, however, the stuff hangs around in the queue, and who knows.

   When Russ, Karen and Molly headed home, I went out for a lap or two around the Covenant Woods’ parking lots. In the lot behind C Building, a woman whom I don’t remember seeing before and who must have been here to visit someone – she looked too young to be a resident – was walking from her car toward the building. We said hello and talked for a few minutes about the weather, which at quarter after seven, with sun getting lower and the shadows longer, was very pleasant. Then she asked me if I was diabetic. When I told her no, she handed me a Snickers bar.

   “I’ve seen you riding around here before,” she said. “You’re a real inspiration.”

   I thought about telling her there’s nothing inspiring about cruising the parking lot in an electric wheelchair. The real inspiration is watching some of the older residents walking up and down the long hallways, forcing themselves to take a few more steps to get to a bench, where they can sit for a moment and rest before going on.

   “How are you?” I’ll ask.

   “I’m making it,” she’ll say, as she sits on the bench catching her breath.

   And she is. So many of the residents are, slowly, but with determination, making it. Now that's inspiring.

   But there was a Snickers at stake, and all I said was “thank you.”






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...