Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Notes from the Home - April 30, 2014

   A week ago, at three-thirty Tuesday morning I was up, dressed and wondering why Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday night I slept well and slept well into the following mornings. The extra time in the sack wouldn’t have mattered except I had laundry to do. To get the drop on the slug-a-beds who also have laundry, I like to get the washers agitating by six-thirty.
   Monday evening, as Jeopardy gave way to Wheel of Fortune, I said to myself, “Get thee to the laundry.” A brimming laundry basket on my lap, I pointed the buggy toward the laundry room, which I found to be delightfully deserted. By ten-fifteen, my clothes were washed, dried, folded, and put away.  I crawled into bed a few minutes later, certain I’d quickly fall asleep, which I did. But not for long. I awoke just before midnight, and the sandman, who must have been busy elsewhere, never returned. Which is why, in those most wee of the wee hours, I sat pondering why I slept so well when I had squandered the evenings, and hardly slept at all when I put the evening to good use.

   Karen and Russ had me over for Easter dinner. It was the first time I’ve been to their place since I moved down here. That’s because I couldn’t get into their old apartment. It was on the second floor, and the only way to get there was to climb the steps. I’m no good on steps. But their new place is on the first floor in a much more wheelchair-friendly apartment complex. Russ can push me around with the greatest of ease.
   Karen baked a ham, mashed some potatoes and prepared some vegetables. It was delicious. For dessert, there was ice cream atop a cookie bar topped with chocolate syrup. But the best part was just being able to spend a few hours at their place. I enjoyed myself immensely.

   While he was chauffeuring me about yesterday, Russ talked about moving and leaving the apartment complex where he and Karen have lived since they came south in 2001.
   “I worry about the woman who lives below us,” he said. “She has two dogs, and we walk them for her some times. And we give her a hand with some other things when she needs help. She’s getting up there. She must be in her sixties.”
   Her SIXTIES!!!! It’s wonderful that Russ helps the neighbor lady. And I’m in awe every time he tells me he has sold another cartoon to a national publication. But,  sixties – getting up there? I think not. My poor demented son. I don’t know where he got the idea that people my age are “up there.” Then again, maybe he got it while chauffeuring his old man around on a rainy Saturday morning.
   Russ called while I was at dinner the other day. He asked if I’d be doing anything at six-thirty. I wasn’t, and he came by to give me two magazines: the current issues of The Saturday Evening Post and The American Legion. The editors of both fine publications enhanced their products by including a T. Russell Harris cartoon in them.

   As I made my way around the Covenant Woods’ parking lot the other day, Angie, Jennelle’s daughter, came by in her car and stopped.
   “My mom said if I saw you to be sure to tell you she says hello,” she said. “She’s been having some problems and she’s moved in with me.”
   I was surprised to hear that Jennelle was moving, and even more surprised that she had asked Angie let me know she said hello. Most of our conversations where of the hi-how-are-you variety and occurred when we happened to show up at the mail boxes at the same time, which wasn’t often.
   As it happened, however, I had recently thought about Jennelle. There is a small plot for gardening – about fifteen feet long and five feet wide – behind the C Building parking lot. Last year, Jennelle, Angie and Pete, Jennelle’s gentleman caller, used half the area to grow peppers, tomatoes and a few other things. George, a resident here, had his garden in the other half. One recent sunny, warm, summer-like afternoon, I saw George hard at work out there, and wondered when Jennelle and her crew would start their gardening chores. Now I’m wondering if George is going to double the size of his garden or if another green-thumbed resident will use the space.

   One evening, after we finished the menus, Al said he had to run to the bathroom. Wednesday morning, he called to tell me about it. Fearing he wouldn’t make it to his room, Al used the public restroom down the hall from the dining room.  He went into a stall and saw the commode was plugged up “with shit all the way to the top.” Rather than move to another stall, Al found the plunger and got to work. The urge that sent him to the restroom became more urgent. He dropped his trousers, wrapped his left hand with toilet paper, wielded the plunger with his right hand, and used his left to catch . . . Well, let’s just say, Al’s bowels were working better than the Covenant Woods’ plumbing.

   While I was checking my mail and talking with Annie this morning, Avis came by and said she didn’t know my name. I told her and admitted I didn’t know hers either. Then she spent five minutes telling me what a pleasant fellow I am and commenting on my beautiful smile. Three or four other people have told me the same thing in the last month. “You always look so happy,” they’ll say. “You have the nicest smile, and you’re always smiling.”
   But the truth is I’m not all that happy these days. Maybe my constant frustration and occasional anger with my condition is connected with all the rainy days that have kept me inside so often this spring. Like Greg Kinnear’s character in As Good as it Gets, I have to change my thoughts.
   Ironically, the lousy weather has helped me get some new thoughts – the weather and sister-in-law Susan. Several years ago, when someone asked me about the weather and I said it was beautiful, Susan said, “You say that just like your brother Jim.” She went on to explain that the second syllable in beautiful is not “tee.” The word, she said, is pronounced byoo-tuh-ful, not byoo-tee-ful. Then, this otherwise fine lady from Birmingham, Alabama, had the temerity to instruct us in the pronunciation of Carnegie. “It is pronounced kahr-ni-gee, not Kahr-nay-gee.” As if anybody in western Pennsylvania, where Andrew made his fortune and where there is a town named for him, ever said, “Hey, yenz goin’ over kahr-ni-gee?”
   But Susan never mentioned anything about the devices on police cars, fire trucks, ambulances and other emergency vehicles that produce a loud sound to warn other drivers of their approach. Wednesday morning, the Muscogee County Emergency Warning System activated its warning device to alert citizens to the approach of bad weather. And all day long people were asking, “Did you hear the sigh-reens this morning?”
   Now I’m wondering what the folks in Dixie call the mythological temptresses who lured ship captains to their destruction. Do you think there was an Irene the Sigh-reen?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Mildred the Sought Sot

Besotted old Mildred drank ale
Then drove, was caught, needed bail
Lest prison her drinking curtail.
She asked for cash from boyfriend Dale,
Dashing off a pleasant email,
’Cause she was certain he’d not fail
To aid her. But his new gal, Gale,
Raised a storm of rain, wind and hail,
Said his male member she’d impale.
So Dale let Mildred stay in jail,
Where she ate salads made with kale,
But she couldn’t send any mail,
Take naps or file one finger’s nail.
Mildred was now so ashen, so pale,
She was no larger than a quail
And just as skinny as a rail.
In Mildred’s cell the air was stale,
And one day she left. Here’s the tale:
The true story I’ll now unveil –
Disguised behind a wedding veil,
Mildred let out a piercing wail
And ran til she found Dale at Yale,
And had him buy gems from jeweler Zale.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Notes from the Home - April 14, 2014

   My birthday came and went, and now my age matches the year of my high school graduation. In those heady days at BPHS we proclaimed “66 Forever!” This time around I’ll have to settle for “66 for 365 days.” But I have to wait until the weekend for my real gift. Russ and Karen are moving to their new apartment this week. By the weekend they will be settled in, or at least settled in enough to welcome visitors, and I have been invited to a birthday dinner at the new residence.
   Their current apartment is on the second floor, and the only way to get to it is to climb the stairs. The last time I was able to scale the stairway was 2006. The new apartment is on the first floor, and with a little help from my son, I'll be able to get in and spend a few hours with him and Karen.

   Summer must be on the way. Every morning, the first thing I do after I get dressed is to slide the porch door open. Today, for the first time in several months, I wasn’t greeted by a rush of cold or at the least some very cool air. Instead of just leaving the door open a crack, I opened it wide. Nothing beats the fresh morning air.
   When Mickey’s little hand was on the eight and his big hand was approaching the twelve, I went out into the fresh air without the benefit of a jacket. It was on the cool side, but not cool enough to bother going back in to don warmer attire.
   There was only a hint of a breeze; the sky was a mass of gray clouds. As I made my way around the building, I struck by how quiet it was for a Monday morning, it was as if the clouds were muffling the traffic noises  and the birds were sleeping in after a wild weekend of doing the things they do to in order to propagate their various species. Then Randy drove up.
   “Tom T. Hall,” he yelled.
   “You back on days?”
   “Hell no. Stupid sons of bitches. I’ve had it up to here,” he said, holding is right hand even with his eye brows. “They’ve got an old refrigerator and a couple water heaters they want hauled away, and I need the money.”
   Randy is less than elated to be working the graveyard shift as the security man.
   “They told me, maybe the middle of this week,” he said without enthusiasm. “Hell, they’ll probably have me work Wednesday night and start back on days Thursday.”
   I enjoy listening to Randy complain. He does it with such vigor, brio, √©lan and a wealth of words and phrases not appropriate for polite company. And he never complains the same way twice. He might complain about the same thing day after day, but each attack on the idiot or idiocy in question is fresh, fervent and flamboyant.

   As a fair city, Columbus isn’t fairing very well, at least in the view of According to the website, Columbus isn’t the least healthy city in the country, but it is No. 4. “Individuals in the Columbus metro area were among the nation’s most likely to suffer from recurring pain and a lack of energy,” the article said. And, “Only 68.2% said their health allowed them to take part in age-appropriate activities, one of the lowest rates in the nation.”
   The area did a little better in the most-miserable-cities ranking, placing seventh. “Columbus area residents were among the most depressed in the country. Roughly 24% said they had been told by a physician or nurse that they suffered from depression, one of the highest percentages in the country.”
   There wasn’t any information about past rankings. And for that reason, I am unable to say whether my arrival here helped or hindered the city.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Day in Spring

It is lovely, this day in spring,
With splendid sun and gentle breeze,
The flowers bloom, the birds all sing.
It is lovely, this day in spring,
And it is such a pleasant thing
To watch the squirrels dart up the trees.
It is lovely, this day in spring,
With splendid sun and gentle breeze.


Alisha, the activities director, asked me to play Reader's Digest editor and condense an article on spring health tips she'd found ...