Notes from the Home - October 22, 2013



   It’s Monday again, and I am sure today will not top last Monday, which dawned breezy, cool and overcast. And it stayed that way. But it didn’t rain, and shortly after lunch I ventured out. One lap into my travels around Covenant Woods, I pulled up under some trees and called Beth. Much to my surprise and delight, she was home and had time to chat with the old man. Or perhaps she was taking advantage of an opportunity to procrastinate. Her project for the day, after all, was “I need to get this house clean.”
   She talked excitedly about Hayden, who was off visiting Grandma. The young man would be eager to help clean house, and Beth worried that she might not be able to keep up with him. A week or two ago, Hayden, in his rush to get from here to there, had fallen and split his lip. But he’s recovered and is again full of life and bubbling over with curiosity.
   MaKenna, who does not yet get underfoot, was home with Beth. Looks can be deceiving. “She’s a chunk,” Beth had often said of MaKenna. And from the pictures Beth has posted on Facebook and the videos she has sent along, I had to agree. MaKenna has a pudgy round face and appears to have the build of someone who will be able take care of herself should the need arise. A recent trip to the doctor for a check-up revealed, however, that MaKenna is merely average in size and weight. In all other things – especially things such as cuteness, intelligence and beauty of her smile – she is miles above the norm. So says Dr. Grandpa.
   Beth then talked about her latest dream. She wants to get into the canning business. It’s fall, and she’s been busy canning and making jams and jellies. Why not try and sell some of the bounty? Her mind is busy with thoughts of going to farmers’ markets, finding a merchant who will take her handiwork on consignment and taking orders via the Internet. If anyone can pull it off, Beth can.
   The half hour on the phone lifted my spirits, and it wasn’t long before they got another lift. Moments after I got back to the apartment, Debbie called and asked if I wanted to Skype with Hayden. My favorite grandson has graduated from sitting in the high chair to sitting at the table. The highlight of the twenty-minute Skype was being called “Grandpa.”
  
   I woke up early Saturday morning, really early, just after midnight early. I had gone to bed at quarter after nine, read for a few minutes, fell into a sound sleep and woke up a couple of hours later. After trying for an hour to get back to sleep, I got out of bed. It was the third straight morning I’d been up and about in the wee hours, and the first I couldn’t blame on the Boston Red Sox. Richie, my next-door neighbor, brought in Thursday and Friday by yelling “Here we go Red Sox!!! Here we go!!!” “Steelers,” I wanted to shout through the wall. “The name of the team in that cheer is ‘Steelers.’ Get it right.”  But the Red Sox got it right Saturday night, which I found out when Richie yelled, “Way to go Boston!! Here we go Red Sox!!! Here we go!!”
   There is no guarantee I won’t be a creature of the night Wednesday when the Red Sox and Cardinals play Game 1, but if I am up Richie won’t be the cause. He’s going to be out of town for a few days.
  
   The home’s formal name is Covenant Woods Retirement Community. There are times, however, when the place is more like a motel for transients. A month ago there were three men named Marvin among Covenant Woods’ two hundred residents. By the end of this month, there will be just one Marvin here.
   Gray and Margaret, who live in one of the duplexes, are going to move back to South Carolina in a week or two. They’ve been here a little over a year – Gray, Jr. lives in Columbus. Their home in South Carolina is just as they left it.
   “We weren’t sure what we wanted to do with our house, so we didn’t do anything with it,” Margaret said. “We gathered odds and ends to furnish our place here.”
   They are going back because Gray, who suffers from dementia, wants to go back, and the family feels he’d be more comfortable in a familiar place.
   Jean is moving to another retirement community in the Columbus area. At times Jean can be a tiresome old gossip. Most of the time, though, her acid tongue and biting wit are great fun. I wonder what she says about me. No I don’t. I’m better off not knowing.
  
   There was mail in the mailbox yesterday, a letter telling me that as the owner of a Hyundai I can save up to $427.96 on automobile insurance if I switch to Liberty Mutual. Now $428 is $428, but I do not now, nor have I ever, owned a Hyundai. I don’t even own a car. I gave Russ the Aveo when I got down here.
   Had the letter been addressed to “Resident” or “Postal Patron,” I could have dismissed it as just another example of private industry being every bit as wasteful as the government. But this letter was addressed to me, the salutation read “Dear Thomas Harris.” Even more disconcerting was the second letter in the envelope – also bearing the salutation “Dear Thomas Harris” – from Adam Davidson, Manager, Hyundai Motor Finance and part-time shill for Liberty Mutual, urging me to take advantage of the offer.
   With that, I set off for an afternoon in computerized-telephone-system hell, two of the most frustrating hours of my entire frustrating existence. I was able to speak to one homo sapien, a female employed by Liberty Mutual, who said “May I help you?” and “Oh, we get that information from Hyundai.” Hyundai apparently has a company policy that prohibits its employees from speaking on the telephone; a policy enforced a phalanx of computers. Desperate for the sound of a human voice, I asked a few people here if they knew anyone who worked for the local Hyundai dealership, someone who might know the top-secret phone number to people in Hyundai Motor Finance. No luck there, and all the numbers I found on the Internet took me through an endless computerized labyrinth of pressing this number or that number in order to get to another computer offering me other options that took me to other computers with other menus.
   This just occurred to me: Is there a link between computerized phone systems and gun violence? And is there a link between cell phone use and gun violence? Now, hear me out. In the old days, when company phones were answered by incompetent fools, a caller could vent his frustration by suggesting the callee perform a certain physically impossible act of a sexual nature. The 21st Century caller can say the same thing to the computer, but it is not the same, not even close. In the pre-cell phone days, the disgruntled caller could also slam the telephone’s receiver down into its cradle. You can slam your cell phone against the table, but then you have to clean the resulting mess and go buy another phone. Instead of relieving frustration, taking out your frustrations with the modern phone only creates more frustrations.
   But I digress. Unable to find a person at Hyundai, I turned to the Internet and did an on-line credit check. It was reassuring to discover that if I have a doppelganger out there, he didn’t take out a loan for his Hyundai in my name.
   That’s it for now. I’m going to go soak my fingers in acid before I write a letter to Mr. Adam Davidson and ask him where he got my name, why he’s handing it out willy-nilly, and then suggest he go perform a physically impossible act of a sexual nature.

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