Sunday, October 23, 2016

Notes from the Home - October 23, 2016

What is a man to complain about when he can't complain about the weather? If the folks at Weather.Com are right, I'll need to find something. A quick look at their prognostications indicates that the low tonight (Saturday, Oct. 22) will be 42, tomorrow's high 80, and the chance of precipitation is 0. That is also the forecast - more or less - until November 4th. For the next not-quite two weeks, we can expect, say the folks at Weather.Com, highs in the low 80s, lows in the 50s, and no more than a 10-percent chance of rain until the first Friday in

*                    *                    *

Georgia was coming in from her walk, as I was going out for my "walk." We talked about the almost-too-good-to-believe weather. She said fall was her favorite season and asked what mine is. I've always looked forward to spring more than fall. 

But fall is gaining fast. It has to do with the weather.  Along the banks of Lake Erie, where winter is winter, and the cold is unrelenting, the snow has to be shoveled almost daily, and TV shows are interrupted nightly by winter weather advisories, there really is nothing so rare as a day in spring. At least it seems that way when the forecast for St. Patrick's Day is another 2-to-4 inches of snow.

On the banks of the Chattahoochee River, however, where from the middle of May until early October, the weather folks tell us daily the high will be in the mid-90s and the low in the low-to-mid -70s, a crisp fall day is heaven. Not that spring isn't welcome here, but fall brings more relief, at least to a Yankee like me.

Once we dispensed with the weather, Georgia told me about the best vacation she ever had.

"Years ago, my husband and I bought a camping trailer, and we went up to Dahlonega [a town in north Georgia; it is the site of America's first gold rush]. Well, we were almost there when we got lost. We figured we were going in the right direction, and we were on a main road, so we decided to follow it until we saw a sign or something. Then the road went down to two lanes, and a few miles later, it went down to one. With the trailer, we couldn't turn around, so we kept going, hoping to find a place where we could turn around and go back.

"I spotted two tall posts. It was like they were the gateway to something. We went through and soon realized we were on top of a mountain. You could see for miles, and the view was beautiful. We took it all in before we started looking around for the way out. We saw a guy and asked him for directions. The guy said he worked there - the mountain was a garbage dump. We told him we felt stupid for getting lost like we did. He said, 'Don't worry about it. I've given directions out of here to eight other people today.'"

Georgia also told me about the pet skunk she had when she was in high school. It was the best pet she ever had. "And she was smart, too. Sometimes she followed me to school. There I was, and the skunk was right behind me. On those days, our principal kept the skunk in a cardboard box until it was time for me to go home."

Friday, October 21, 2016

Outside My Window

The view from my window is not majestic, but it is pretty on a sunny fall morning.

And, the shadows make a pattern on the porch.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Notes from the Home - October 15, 2016

I don't learn something new every day, but I did learn something new this week. On Monday, October 11, I posted a "Notes from the Home" diatribe that dealt with Brenda the Ill-Mannered Server, and Alice's Son the The Apparently Deaf Late Night TV Viewer. Tuesday morning, as I wandered through the parking lots, Amy, who is also a server, stopped on her way to the employee parking lot.

"How you doing?" she asked.

"OK, I guess. Haven't been getting much sleep, lately."

"I know. I read it," she said, giggling as she drove on.

"Read what?" I wondered. Amy didn't know anything about the blog; I didn't think she did, anyway. She never mentioned it if she did, not even one smart-ass comment about a blog post, ever. "Maybe she's just being a smart ass today," I thought. After all, Amy is a good-natured smart ass every day.

A half-hour later, as I was squandering another day, Alisha, the activity director called to ask if I would proofread a few things for her. I couldn't pass up a chance to be useful, and five minutes later I was in her office. Five minutes after that, Annie, the activities assistant, walked in.

"Tom, there you are. Your ears must be burning."


"Everybody is talking about you,"


"The stuff you wrote about Brenda."

Annie correctly interpreted my dazed and confused countenance. The folks in charge here at the old folks home have subscribed to a service which looks for any mention of this establishment on the Internet, she explained. When something is found, the link is emailed to every manager and every employee.

Suddenly, I was a celebrity, and everyone was reading my blog. Well, not everyone, but more people than usual. According to the information Blogspot provides, a piece titled "Trite On," which I posted in August 2010, has the most pageviews, eighty-eight, of the over three hundred items I've posted. In less than a week, the saga of the server has racked up eighty-three pageviews.

I would not have posted that screed had I known the entire staff would be invited to read it. The day before I started writing, I'd talked to Orwin, Brenda's supervisor, about the incident. But, the essay did get Roger, the general manager, involved. Brenda still works here. I've avoided her, but word is, she's more considerate, more pleasant, and less demeaning than she was.

No one is upset with me. I was talking to a few of the servers today, and told them I felt like I'd made an ugly scene. I'd prefer to be a little more discrete. "But it had to be done," one of them told me. "When we tell them about her, they think we're just being mean."

At least one resident thinks Brenda is easier to put up with now. Tony stopped me in the hall, Thursday. Normally, he's loud and jovial, but that day he was more subdued. "Tom, I didn't read what you wrote . . . but thank you . . . thank you."

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I noticed on Facebook today that Cathy and Linda, my erstwhile sisters-in-laws, are in Rome, looking forward to touring St. Peter's and the Colosseum. That brings back of the day Nancy and I set out on the same itinerary one day in late December 2007. We never made it to the Colosseum.

Our tour of the Vatican went smoothly. Because I was in a wheelchair, Nancy and I got to see more of Vatican than the others in our tour group. The route of the regular tour wasn't completely wheelchair accessible, and Nancy and I got to go down several hallways filled with sculptures and paintings that the other folks never saw.

The trouble began when it was time to leave the Vatican. I forget what it was, but there was something to see on the way out. Unfortunately, that way out wasn't wheelchair accessible. Our bus driver told Nancy and me how to get out and told us where to wait at a particular corner, and he would pick us up there. It might be a few minutes, though, because everyone else had to get back to the bus first. 

We waited on the corner for an hour. The bus never appeared, and we decided our only option was to walk back to the hotel. OK, Nancy would walk and push the wheelchair, I'd ride in comfort. 

Finding our way back wasn't difficult. All we had to do was find the right road, and once we did, it was a straight shot. The road, however, was like the road we told our kids we walked to school on: five miles long and uphill the whole way. There was so much traffic that at times, we moved faster that the cars. 

Along the way, a man jumped out of a car and helped Nancy push me for a short distance. Then he kissed Nancy on both cheeks before getting back in the car. He left us in front of what looked to be a hospital. He must have thought that was where we were headed. That would explain the weird looks he gave us when we passed the car he was in, which was caught in traffic.

It took two hours, but we finally made it back to the hotel, much to the amazement of everyone. The next day, we headed to Assisi. Back in Paris, on the first day of our tour, Franco, the tour guide, told Nancy and me, I would have to stay in the bus while everyone else toured Assisi. To get to Assisi, one had to go up a long, steep hill, and Franco didn't think Nancy would be able to get me up the hill. After hearing about our adventurous trip from the Vatican to the hotel, he thought she might be able to get me up the hill. She did.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Notes from the Home - October 9, 2016

"Life is good at Covenant Woods." That is what the folks who run Covenant Woods say about the place, anyway. For the last four-and-a-half years, I have been in agreement - on occasions,  even hearty agreement - with that motto. Not so, this last week.

Wednesday, I joined Mildred, Ethel, and Ruth for dinner. They are delightful ladies, wonderful dinner partners. Brenda was our server. She is seldom delightful, and she very often falls well short of pleasant.

After taking our orders, Brenda returned with three salads: one each for Mildred, Ethel and me. "May I have a salad?" Ruth asked. "You didn't order a salad," Brenda told her in the manner of an angry, impatient mother speaking to her recalcitrant three-year-old. A month or two ago, she spoke in the same demeaning tone to Anna. That night, when Brenda stopped to pickup some dirty dishes off our table, Ethel, who was too full to finish her dinner, asked for a to-go box. When Brenda returned with the requested box, Anna said, "Oh, can I have one, too?" "Why didn't you ask when I was here?" Brenda demanded in her demeaning, disrespectful manner. Ruth, who is ninety-six and doesn't hear well, said, "Huh?" Then Brenda repeated her question in the same tone of voice as she had asked it the first time.

Back to Wednesday: While she was distributing the plates with our dinners, Brenda got snippy with Ethel. Unable to keep my tongue, I told Brenda that she shouldn't speak to the residents in that manner. Brenda put her arm around Ethel and said, "You know I love you . . . blah . . . blah . . . blah . . ." When Brenda headed back to the kitchen, Ethel shook my hand and said, "Good job, Tom."

A few minutes later, Brenda was back and announced she was taking orders for dessert. "I'd like some butter pecan ice cream," I said. "You are still eating, sir. I'm taking dessert orders from those people who have finished eating." It was true, I was working on the last few bites. Ethel was too, but Brenda took her order. When Brenda returned with the desserts, she said, "What would you like for dessert, sir?" "Butter pecan ice cream." "I'm sorry, sir, we're out of butter pecan." I was tempted to look around to see if another server might be in the area, just to verify that there was no butter pecan. But it was Wednesday, and Mayfield Dairy delivers the ice cream on Thursdays. I know, because the yellow truck goes by my window every Thursday morning. So I asked for strawberry ice cream, instead.

Strange, isn't it. Brenda, who was so put out over having to go back and get a salad for Ruth, went out of her way to make sure she had to make a second trip in order to get my dessert. You don't suppose she was playing games, do you?

Alice is my new next-door neighbor. She moved into Leila's old apartment two weeks ago. With her long, thick, bleach-blond hair and her choice of clothing, Alice looks like someone out of a picture taken at Woodstock. That's not the problem.

When Leila lived here, I never heard her television. Since Alice arrived, I hear the television in that apartment quite a lot. Friday night, as I was getting ready to go to bed about ten o'clock, Alice's TV was very loud, and I could hear the voice of a man speaking louder than the TV. I called the desk, and someone came down to ask them to quiet down. I never heard the guy's voice again, but the TV volume remained the same until one o'clock in the morning.

Alice's TV was on Saturday night, but not nearly as loud, and I had no trouble sleeping. But Sunday . . . I took a hydroxyzine, hoping it would help me sleep. It did, eventually. I could hear Alice's TV when I got into bed. It sounded as if she was watching the Trump-Clinton debate. The night of the first debate, her TV went off about the time the debate was scheduled to end.

Not Sunday. The TV stayed on, and the volume never declined by even so much as a decibel. Around eleven o'clock, Richie, who is my other next-door neighbor turned on his TV. What a racket. Until nearly one-thirty in the morning, I was unable to sleep; Alice's TV to the right of me, and Richie's to the left. Once the TVs went off, about one-thirty, I slept until nearly eight o'clock Monday morning.

At noon, I saw Alice in the hall and asked her to turn the TV down at night. "That's my son. You'll have to tell him," she said. I told her it wasn't my job, but I could ask Roger to handle it. "Who's Roger?" she asked. I told her he is the general manager. "Go ahead," she said. I didn't tell Roger, but I did tell Teresa, who was working at the front desk, to give a heads-up to the person working security tonight. Teresa left him a note, and she left a note for Kerri, the business manager. According to Teresa, in cases like this, Kerri writes a note to the offending party to remind them to think about the comfort of others. Only time will tell.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Notes from the Home - October 7, 2016

Mary was walking her two rat terriers, Chipper and Misty, yesterday afternoon. That's not unusual, but Mary was in an unusually talkative mood. Her husband, who lived at an Alzheimer facility here in Columbus, died several months ago, and Mary has been busy getting ready to move to Dayton, Ohio, to be closer to her daughter and granddaughter. She is nervous about moving and worn out from all the preparation and packing. That probably explains why she talked about the things she did yesterday.

One of Mary's daughters lives in either Georgia or Alabama, but she isn't close enough to Columbus to regularly visit Mary. Her grandson lives closer and could easily drop by to see Mary from time to time. But Mary won't allow that.

"He's a thief," Mary said. "He's been in prison. He used to come see me once in a while, but every time he did, he took something. He'd visit, and a day or two later, I'd realize something was gone, that he'd taken it. So, I told him not to come back."

Mary didn't say if it was that grandson's father, but one of the husband of Mary's daughter, the one who lives down here, met an untimely end.

"The guy was very well off, but he played around a lot," Mary said. "My daughter finally left him and filed for divorce. While they were separated, one of his girl friends sneaked into his place while he was sleeping. She knew where he kept a gun, got it, went into the bedroom and shot him in the head. Killed him."

Mary was out with her dogs around nine o'clock this morning. "This getting ready to move stuff is wearing me out. As soon as I got back from dinner last night, I sat down in my recliner and fell asleep until eleven o'clock. Then I got in bed and didn't get up until a half-hour ago."

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Not long after talking with Mary yesterday, I noticed Avis standing near the edge of the drive and nervously looking at Bob, who was coming toward her, continually moving his cane from right to left and left to right, tapping the curb and pavement. "He said he wanted to go for a walk," Avis said.

Bob is totally blind. When I moved to Covenant Woods, in the spring of 2012, he and his wife lived in one of the duplexes. When they came to dinner, it was fascinating to watch Bob maneuver unassisted through the dining room. When I had been here a year or so, Bob's wife died. He moved up to an apartment in the B Building. What an inspiring sight it was to watch him walk through the hallways. He always knew exactly where he was.

Then Bob moved to a different facility. I don't know why he moved, but it didn't keep him away from Covenant Woods. He often came back for the dances and other goings on here. About two months ago he returned to Covenant Woods and now has an apartment in the C Building.

"Be careful, Bob, there's a storm sewer, here" Avis told him. Bob, still moving the cane back and forth, said, "Oh, there it is," and moved a step or two to his left. Avis told him that I was there, and we exchanged pleasantries.

"OK, Bob, we're going to go around the corner to the right here," Avis told him. And off they went.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Notes from the Home - October 5, 2016

Georgia was taking a walk as I cruised the Covenant Woods' parking lots Tuesday evening. She was walking because she's decided she needs the exercise.

"I used to live near a park. There was a path around it that was a half-mile loop. Every time I went around, I picked up a stone or leaf. Then I'd count them when I was done walking, so I'd know how far I'd walk. That was the only way I could do it; I could never remember how many times I went around. I walked five miles most days.

"I haven't done much walking the last few years, but the other night, Anna asked me if I wanted to walk. We walked in the buildings, all over the buildings. We walked up and down all the hallways in the C Building, and then we walked up and down all the halls in the B Building. We must have walked a couple miles. Have you ever seen Anna walk? She's no slowpoke; she keeps those little feet moving. I was beat, and Anna wanted to keep walking. She's ninety-seven, and I'm eighty. That's when I decided I need to do more walking.

"Do you ever watch Erris? She moves right along, too, doesn't she. And when you talk to her, she's so sharp. I hope I'm in that good of shape at 105. Erris and Anna are real inspirations for those of us who are still young.

"My mother was active all her life. She lived on a small farm, and when she was seventy, she decided she needed a tractor. So, she bought one. When the guy from Farmall delivered it, she asked him to show her how to work it. He said, he'd only been working at Farmall a days and wasn't familiar with the tractor. So, my mother, who was a small woman, asked him to help her get up on the tractor. He did, and Momma figured it out herself.

"The guy was so impressed, he came back the next day with a welder and a photographer. The welder put something together to make it easier for Momma to get on and off the tractor. The photographer took a bunch of pictures that ended up in Farmall's magazine. They did a three-page spread on her. Then, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer came out, and they did a two-page spread on her."

*          *          *

A two months ago, someone noticed water in the hallway near my apartment. The maintenance crew was called. They found the leak; it was coming from a pipe leading to my toilet. They didn't have any trouble fixing what had to be fixed. But to get at it, they had to knock a hole in the wall behind my toilet - it looks to be a yard long and two feet high. 

Before the wall could be repaired, the area around the hole had to dry. Once the wall dried, the job of repairing it fell to Randy. The morning he came to work on the wall, I was on the toilet. Randy said he'd be back in a few minutes. I told him to take his time; the old bowels don't move often, and when they do, they don't move quickly. Randy never returned to my apartment.

Apparently, my wall isn't the only task Randy has been ignoring. James, another member of the maintenance crew, told me this morning that Randy has been fired. I'll miss him. Randy complained a lot, but he didn't whine. He complained with enthusiasm and humor. Every time he spotted me, he'd yell, "Tom Teeeeee Hall!!!" Then he'd entertain me with stories of all the people who aren't nearly as knowledgeable as he, at least in his opinion.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Notes from the Home - October 3, 2016

Fall fell on Columbus last week. When I opened the sliding door Wednesday morning, cool air rushed in. After a long, hot summer, the mercury finally found its way to the low sixties. That is barely chilly by northeast Ohio standards, but this is my fifth fall in Columbus. I didn't hurriedly shut the sliding door, but I did dig out a long-sleeve shirt and replace the shorts l was wearing with long pants. The afternoons have been hot, but not as hot as they were a week ago. According to the ten-day forecast, sunny skies and cooler temperatures are here to stay, at least for ten days. On Monday, October 10, the friendly meteorologist tells us we can expect a high of 83, a low of 54, and cloudless skies. Hope he is right.

Cooler temperatures are not far away. Mildred said her sister and brother-in-law paid her a visit this weekend. "They called when they got back home and said they had to turn the heat for a bit," Mildred said. "Where do they live?" "Just over the border in South Carolina."

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Reminders that I am no longer as young as I once was pop up in the strangest places, like "The Born Loser", the comic strip. The other day, a boy asked his father if he could use the computer to do his homework. The father said he could, and the boy asked, "Did you have your own computer when you were in school?" "Yes," the father said. "It was called a calculator."  

Unless I missed something, there were no calculators when I was in high school. There were adding machines. They were big clunky things; you punched in a number and pulled a handle. If there was a long series of numbers, you kept punching them in and pulling the handle until you got all the numbers in. 

They were called adding machines because that was what they did - they added. They were useless for higher math, like subtraction, multiplication and division. And now after that comic strip, the adding machine seems like something out of bronze age. Damn that Gen-Xer cartoonist, making me feel old.


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