Showing posts from 2017

Hang in There, Mildred

Friday, I had dinner with Mildred, who lives across the hall from me, Georgia, and Ethel. The conversation turned to age: Mildred said she was 91. Ethel said she'd soon be 90. and Georgia said, "I'm the baby. I'm only 81." "At 69, I must be the bigger baby," I said. The thing is, they don't act their ages. Georgia and Ethel do have hearing problems. But they are both quick witted and have no problems following a conversation they can hear.

Saturday, Suzi took the fourth spot at the table, and Tony was just hanging out there, talking with the ladies. I went to the other side of the dining room to eat. Ten minutes later, Tony yelled, "Call 9-1-1." Mildred looked dazed, but from where I sat, she appeared to be telling Tony, the other ladies at the table, and Bev, who had rushed in from the desk in the lobby, that she didn't need 9-1-1. Mildred asked that someone call her son, Dan.

Once things settled down, I wandered over to check on …

A Day Spent Looking Back

Poor Daniel. Daniel is the PT assistant who has been visiting me twice a week for a month. This morning, he said August is nearly gone, and September and fall will soon be here. The mention of the seasons sparked memories, a flood of them. Daniel must have felt as if he were being swept away by the flood, as I talked about some of those memories. I'm sure I yakked more during today's session than I did during Daniel's other six visits combined.

The changing of the seasons is much more stunning up north. The leaves down here, I told Daniel, don't put on much of a show. The last few weeks of September and the first weeks of October are beautiful on the other side of the Mason-Dixon line. Any time was always a good time to visit Uncle Jim. But the best time for the drive to Pittsburgh to see him was in the fall.

From Ashtabula we'd head south on Ohio Route 11, always a relaxing experience. Route 11, a four-lane, divided highway, looks like an Interstate, except for t…

The Noisy Neighbor Blues

For three days, as the slogan goes, life was good at Covenant Woods. Last night, it returned to normal. Sunday evening, after making a couple laps around the building, I stopped in the lobby to talk to Tony, who is a resident here, and Bev, who was working at the desk. The conversation soon turned to the subject of my next-door neighbor and her son.

I had been living at Covenant Woods for four years when the woman moved in next door. Both Corrine and Leila, the previous occupants of that apartment, were quiet neighbors. Richie, who lives next door on the other side, had quieted down, too. The nearly constant, always loud, drunken revelries he and William so enjoyed, and which always took place in Richie's apartment, seemed to have become a thing of the past. Oh, they still had an occasional pre-party before heading to Covenant Woods' Friday afternoon Happy Hour, but they were seldom rowdy after the sun went down. And Richie must have moved his TV away from the wall we share. I…

The Heat is On

Notes from the Home - July, 16, 2017

The two laps around and through the Covenant Woods' parking lots and driveways on a hot July afternoon delivered more than expected. I eased the buggy out the door and on to the asphalt, where the temperature on a hot, sunny day is always twenty degrees higher than the surrounding area. A moment later, I saw a woman, a resident, coming in the opposite direction. We said "hello" and complained about the heat and humidity as we passed.

Not much of a conversation, but the woman spoke with a German accent, and that took me back to Myrna Drive in Bethel Park. It was a sunny, summer morning in 1975, I think. The occasion was a weekend celebration of Grandma's eightieth birthday, I think. In any event, Dad and I, and maybe brother Jim or brother Ed were at kitchen table. As we talked, Grandma wandered into the kitchen and began saying the nastiest things about Kaiser Willie.

Grandma was born in America, but her parents immigrated from Germany, and she grew up speaking both …

Attitude Problem

I am so lackadaisical.
And those few thoughts I have? Hairbrained.
An idiotic spectacle?
That's me, so lackadaisical
I'll scream and get hysterical,
Then claim my poor brain is strained.
I'm just so lackadaisical,
And my brain's filled with thoughts hairbrained.

Miss Parker's Wit and Wisdom

To bring life to an otherwise lifeless day, I hopped on the Internet and spent an hour with Dorothy Parker (1893-1967). The old girl had a lot to say, and she said it well. She brightened my day with observations such as these:

"Her big heart, as is so sadly often the case, did not inhabit a big bosom."

"What's the difference between an enzyme and a hormone? You can't hear an enzyme."

"The two most beautiful words in the English language are 'cheque enclosed.'"

"This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."

"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks."

"If all the girls attending the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn't be at all surprised."

"Tell him I'm too fucking busy - or vice versa."

"Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone."

"The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue."…

Notes from the Home - May 30, 2017

It has been anything but a quiet week in the old-folks home. Perhaps it was quiet in other areas of the establishment, but here in the apartment nestled between Richie's on one side and Alice's on the other, the peace was disturbed on several occasions.

In recent weeks, William has been spending more time in Richie's apartment than he has for well over a year. He pays his visits during the daylight hours, for which I am most grateful. There was a time, not all that long ago, when he was there nearly every night until midnight or later. I'm not one to begrudge a pair of buddies a few beers and a pleasant conversation. But on most days, Richie and William each had a few beers by 10 am and several more than just a few by the time they got together in Richie's place for a lengthy series of night caps.

It is challenge to make sense out of anything Richie or William say, but is never difficult to hear either of them. Richie is from somewhere in New England and has the ac…

A Septet of Triolets

It has been almost three months since I have written a word. Hoping to create a spark large enough to get me scribbling again, I consulted The Complete Works of T. Harris (a disorganized heap of papers and a few Word documents) and found, among other things, the triolets that follow.

 I wrote these seven ,and twenty or thirty others like them ,when I was a member of Suzanne Byerley's writing class at the Conneaut Community Center for the Arts and later the Kingsville Library. Suzanne introduced me to the triolet form. One week I wrote two or three that had an off-kilter animal theme, and Suzanne and the others in the class kept encouraging me to write more. Which I did.

The class was a wonderful experience. Suzanne was a terrific teacher, so very knowledgeable and so very encouraging. Every class began with Suzanne going through our offerings from the previous week. Her critiques were always a blend of gentle criticism for everything from silly mistakes to flagrant grammatical and…