Wednesday was the second anniversary of my arrival at Covenant Woods. In those two years nothing and no one has impressed me more than Russ. He is one cool, competent young man. From the moment he got behind the wheel of the Aveo on that cold, rainy morning in Ashtabula to drive me and the U Haul down here, I’ve been in awe. He hasn’t done anything spectacular, but the way he’s gone about the things he has done for me is special. Russ looks at the job that needs to be done, figures out how to do it, and he just does it.
Monday, he took me shopping for a new television. When we got back, Russ set about setting it up for me. He opened the box and pulled out its contents. Unlike his father, he placed the bags of small parts neatly on the table. I’ve always preferred to throw the small stuff carelessly aside and then spend ten or fifteen minutes trying to find it when one of the parts is needed. In order to work with the part I just found, I would carelessly toss aside the bag with its remaining parts and look for it again a few minutes later.
Eventually, a screwdriver was needed, and Russ’ father didn’t have one. Without complaint, without so much as even an “Oh, crap,” Russ said, “I’ve got to run home and get a screwdriver. I’ll be back in a couple minutes.” He did, he was, and the TV was up and going a moment later.
Besides helping his spastic father, Russ has been cranking out cartoons day after day. His credits include, but are not limited to, Readers’ Digest, Saturday Evening Post, The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review and Women’s World. That is spectacular. Not long ago, Russ sent a submission to a dairy publication. The magazine didn’t buy any of Russ’ cartoons, but editor returned them with a letter, saying that if Russ was interested they might throw some work his way. However, the editor told Russ the cows in his cartoons looked more like beef cattle, and he enclosed some pictures of dairy cows so Russ can practice Bossy’s portrait.
He came over this morning and said he’d sold two cartoons last week. One was to Women’s Day, a regular customer, and one to The New York Teacher. Russ contacted an editor at the New York Teacher a few weeks ago and was told that the magazine didn’t buy much from freelancers. Undeterred, Russ got a submission together, and the magazine bought one. How about that, freelance fans?
Stacey, one of the servers, was unusually reserved at dinner Tuesday. Al asked if anything was wrong. She said there had been a staff meeting earlier in the day and handed Al a sheet of paper. It was a copy of a page from a retirement home/nursing home trade publication. The gist of it was that staff should address the residents as Mr. or Mrs., unless given permission by the resident to use his or her first name. And under no circumstances should a staff person use words such as “honey,” “dear,” or “darling” when talking to a resident.
Mae came by a little later and Stacey showed her the paper. Mae read it carefully, scowled, tossed the paper toward the middle of the table and said, “Don’t worry. This was written by a Yankee. Everybody in the South is “Honey,” “Dear,” or “Darling.”
A few minutes later, Mae added, “In the South you can say anything you want about a person. You can say mean things and tell terrible lies about someone as long as when you’re through you say, ‘Bless her heart.’”
Al renewed acquaintances with a nurse he has known for many years when he went to the St. Francis Medical Center this week. After they talked for a few minutes, the woman asked him about his experiences Vietnam. She was interested because she had recently read The Ether Zone: U.S. Army Special Forces Detachment B-52, Project Delta, by Ray Morris. She told Al an Elton Park is mentioned several times in the book. Al is Alton Park, and she wondered if the author had misspelled Al’s name. Al didn’t know. But the book is now on its way to Covenant Woods; Amazon says it will arrive Thursday. We should know by next weekend if Al by another name is a famous man.
I am a little worried, however. The book description on Amazon contains the sentence: “This small unit of less than 100 U.S. Army Special Forces amassed a record for bravery that rivals few.” Shouldn’t it be: “. . . that few rival.”?
The other faux pas to catch my attention this week was a Facebook post by an old friend who shall remain nameless, because he saved me from countless mistakes over the years:
“NOT MEANT FOR YOUNG EARS!!! (Please, make sure your kiddos are around if you decide to play the link... very, very raw language)”