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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Keeping up my courage



That little ‘lift’ when something good happens.

I woke up to a rather full mail box this morning. People saying “I notified” this group or that, but haven’t heard back yet, but I’ll be there. And my blank mind says “Who is that?” I call one of my co-hippies. “Oh, that’s……” And I still don’t know, because that’s the way my mind still is.

There’s a message board. No idea how I set that up. Here’s the first message:

Thank you for organizing this local event. We need a comprehensive, common sense strategy to combat gun violence once and for all. Enough is enough. And I firmly believe it will take effort from local communities, states and the nation as a whole to better protect our children. I am so very proud that an event such as this is taking place in our community and I am looking forward to standing with you all.

This is just to blow off a little steam. I need to go prepare in my head my remarks for the trustees tonight. But, I know the names of a lot of people who will stand on the curb with me, and I even know some of their faces.

How I love those faces.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Keppra, please



My head is spinning, literally, and almost actually.

Cast your mind back fifty or more years. How did demonstrations happen? I remember a constant sense of awareness. Walking to class, seeing an “activist” acquaintance. “Hey, man, the word is out…”, and so forth. We weren’t radical, we just were students who could walk into a group of acquaintances and find ourselves walking down the middle of a street, arms locked, chanting.

After my disappointing conversation with Laura last night, and another restless night, I went out to breakfast. Before I left, a flurry of texts with Deb, who was “in on it,” and Pam, who I hoped to recruit. I told them Hudson would be tough; we’d have to be out on the sidewalk, and where to park? I said I’d call the Peninsula police chief and ask his advice.

On the way to breakfast, I called one of the two trustees remaining from my tenure.  It came to me, what is more Mom and Apple Pie than a protest in the middle of Peninsula. He had no problem with 303 and Riverview, outside the town hall, except for visibility, and suggested a couple more conspicuous spots. But, at ten in the morning it’s not visibility. Traffic is gone. It’s media coverage.

I pitched protest to Lynn, over pancakes and bacon. She loves me dearly and turned me down flat. She could not bear the idea of her picture in the paper.

I called the other trustee. She was all for it, and will be there. We can park in the town hall, because it’s “the normal course of business.” 

I called the last trustee, who did not run for re-election, and is not for having his guns confiscated. He did agree magazines could be smaller, background checks better, assault rifles banned, and, yes, he would come after all. 

I called the police chief. He put it on their calendar, not a problem.

I began emailing the press. We have three newspapers of note. By the time I hit the last send, I heard from the first paper, in Hudson. “Didn’t you used to be in Boston? What’s this protest all about?” Like he hadn’t heard of the National School Walkout. It was an adversarial interview, to say the least. I said we were protesting nothing, we were standing for something. He said to take a picture and send it. I said send a reporter or miss it.

The Akron paper hopes to feature it in a local story of all the protests. I told her I was available to answer questions.

I was invited to attend tomorrow’s trustee meeting and pitch the Walk Out to the third paper, that covers our meetings, as well as our new Fiscal Officer, who takes the minutes and updates the web pages.

I posted on Facebook and Twitter.

I still have two weeks and a lot of local citizens to get involved.

And signs to have printed.



Monday, February 26, 2018

Attempting to fit in somewhere



This morning I drank over a quart (960 ml) of barium sulfate, tainted to resemble citrus, iodinated during the procedure, to facilitate a CT scan. I am so tired of all this fooling around; to quote Scarlett, “as God is my Witness, this is their last chance to figure out why my right side has become so weak. Frankly, I no longer give a damn.

In another event of interest today, it was cards with the Methodists. Nancy and I took every hand but the last and beat the Dickens out of the guys. Tomorrow, breakfast with Lynn. I hope to see if she and her husband will join the rag tag remnants of the National Walkout.

For this to be a student walk out, the students who want to be involved must present a respectful plan of safety to the Principal. I’ve checked with Laura almost daily for the last two weeks, and each report has been more disappointing than the previous. The two teachers who suggested they would sponsor the seventeen minutes seem to have faded from view.

Far more disappointing to me, Laura’s interest has waned, too. Disappeared is the better descriptor. I won’t do much beyond telling her I’m disappointed, in the event there is not last minute scrabbling on her part to put together the event.

I do have a band of old hippie adults who will stand on the public sidewalk, off school grounds, holding #ENOUGH signs at 10 am. Well, at the present it’s Deb and me. I figured I could put my group together in a minute, so it’s time to put my money where my mouth is and see who will be in on March 14th at 10 a.m.


Laura and I went to Deb and Steve’s, over the weekend. They’re the porcelain potters who closed their gallery in town and now work from their new studio in the back yard. Laura had not been there yet, and she was pleased as punch. And, she scored another half dozen eggs. Aren’t they pretty.


Well, this old hippie will keep you posted on how many protesters can be rounded up, and how much media will want to come. I wonder how much old hippie clothing will be involved.



Friday, February 23, 2018

One more in the books



Another good workout with Greg today. It's coming along. Even Greg had something to say. I walked while looking down, then up, then down. Down was OK, but up was iffy. Greg remarked when I was good at it, a bus probably wouldn’t catch me off guard. I responded I probably would not be on a bus again, but then had to stop and think, it has not been a year since the accident, and possibly eight months since I began rehab.

I began this essay intending to remark I’m making little of retirement. I just can’t settle on some alternative to employment. I went to lunch with Beth. I went to the quilt show with Ruth. I’ve read more than a few books, now that reading them seems the way to retrieve them. I should be angry about losing the books, and my education and my ability to retain information and form it into coherent thoughts, but I’m not.


I did cry over it a couple of nights last summer, but now it’s just resignation and trying to walk a straight line while looking up and looking down. I hold the rail, too.  The only constant left is 3:45 pm, when the high school bus drops the children.

Laura came in tonight with a prize; an EEG. The Hudson EMS sent a team to their health class today, and she was the only volunteer. It looks a decent EEG to me, speaking from looking at a lot of mine. Her oxygen was 100%. I never read more than 98%, and would have bet no one scores a hundred. And, unless a whole lot more changes, she and I appear to be the only two who will be outside her school on National School Walkout next month.


The books I’ve read have been fairly light weight. I’m almost through the last of three by hometown hero Dave Giffels. Then I have the Autobiography of Malcolm X to tackle. I know I read this book. Even more than Wuthering Heights or Middlemarch, I cannot put together one line of it. Somewhere in my Master’s Degree in American Literature lies the Autobiography. I’ll start it next week, I hope.

I had a haircut today, overdue, and picked up a new ring I’ve waited for. I think it looks like a tree of life. The other ring I had made this summer, when Keppra ganged up so badly on my dreams. I’d wake up and twist it. Nice, solid, twistable. I’m nearly done with the Keppra, two more weeks.


And I had my ears re-pierced today. It’s been eighteen years since my daughter’s wedding. I took out the earrings my other daughter admired and gave them to her. I wonder if she still has them. One was left, one was right. Very unusual. I haven’t worn earrings since. I felt nothing; the technician’s needle went right through the old piercing.

Now when I go to lunch with arty friends, I won’t be the only one without earrings.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A happy day

I spent the afternoon at a quilt show, with Ruth.
For the last ten days we've had rain.
For at least the next five, it will rain.
I may go out soon to photograph our state of floating away.
But, I went with Ruth to Lake FarmPark Quilt Show.


I turned in my ballot unmarked, at the end.
Here are all my favorites.



This quilt is called A Happy Day.
That's all. No further explanation.
I thought of Elephant Child's balloon fests.



This quilt is as good as it looks. For a minute it was Tolkien, to me.
Then I said "Oh, Joanne. Harry Potter."



Poppies, well done, are fine, any day.



I would call this one "View from a kitchen window."
Spring is coming.



Had I voted, this would have my Best of Everything vote.



And this one I picked for my mother.
She would have selected all these fabrics, especially the green.
She would have laid it out exactly as this quilter did.
She also would have hand pieced and quilted this quilt.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

National School Walkout


Laura went to school today, and her other agenda was to determine who of her teachers might join the National School Walkout on March 14th, and which of her friends. The answer tonight is two teachers who aren’t “afraid”, and three of her friends. So far. I know one of the teachers, and emailed to her the link to a national register of school walkouts.

In Ohio we’ve suffered nine incidents with twenty injuries and five fatalities, in the last thirty years. Guns are the second leading cause of death by injury in Ohio and in the nation. But guns don’t seem to be dominating the conversations I’m privy to. However, the Parkland shooting seems not to be fading from the news.

I hope the Parkland youngsters can sustain the momentum, to the ballot box. I hope enough parents and grandparents get behind them. They need applauded. They need financed. They need us at their rallies, holding signs and shouting. At their back.

These kids, and those of us who support them, are the reality that will change minds in America about gun laws. Let’s get behind this.


Monday, February 19, 2018

Nation mourns, Trump fumes


Ann called me today, to read the top of the fold headline from her very red home town newspaper, circulation a few thousand. I’m watching the next three years as chipping away. Sort of like the flakes around lambie, toad and Pig. That’s her headline, top of my page.

I pay attention to Wisconsin. I see it as the obverse of Ohio, and sometimes the perverse. I called Ann in January to tell her that in a special election to fill a state Senate seat vacancy in ultra conservative northern Wisconsin, the Democratic candidate took the seat in a district Trump won by 17 points. My ultra pessimistic little German friend called me today. With some hope.

Over the weekend I wrote out postcards to a couple dozen sports figures, pitching a public service denouncement of gun availability. They went in outbound today, but won’t move until tomorrow. I haven’t a lot of hope there, by the time they cards go through layers of player management, but here’s to one sticking.

I wrote to my friend, too. I spent twenty years working with him, to make this town a success for the artist/merchants and for the tourists who come every weekend. He and his husband are ex-pats now. I know many, many will relate to his answer:

Hi Joanne -

Nice to hear from you, but I’m not your guy.  I don’t have any connections to sports heroes, and I barely have a connection to the country anymore.

One of the reasons I left the US was to remove myself from the disastrous state of the union… and I doubt I will ever live in there again. If we tire of Mexico, Europe or South America will be next on the agenda.

Sorry to have become a pessimist — but I gave several decades to activism for the Just causes in the US… And now I recognize that life is short and time is fleeting. I’ve chosen to be a bit selfish these days, and I feel the gun issue is a lost cause.

Good luck with the effort — and I applaud you for trying.  I just don’t have it in me.

Un abrazo de Mexico –

How sad, all his talent is gone, left. Laura and I have an eye on the Women’s March organizers and the March 14th anniversary march in support of the Florida students. She says her GSA advisor would be on that in a heartbeat, and she will bring it up with her.

And, in the everything old is new again, Laura had a great visit with her sisters Saturday, and scored a twenty five year old sweater. Her mother, an exquisite knitter made this sweater for Becca. Then Hamilton wore it. Then Emily.





Saturday, February 17, 2018

Shut up and dribble


The Fox host, Ingraham, told LeBron James and Kevin Durant to “shut up and dribble” in response to their criticism of the president. I just backtracked to delete “snarkily,” as in “snarkily told…”, so I might  sound less snarky myself.

I’ve forgotten everything I know about baseball and paid attention to no other sport in my nearly seventy five years. I do pay attention to people, though, including LeBron James. If nothing else, he’s the hometown hero. More than that, I’ve watched him grow from an awkward teen phenomena to a poised and influential spokesman for his sport and for cultural divide issues.

I spent my day driving my car; I’m tired and about to go to bed. I dropped Laura off to see her sister’s new apartment. Bekka, my oldest grandchild, has completed her welding apprenticeship, has a job welding for a company with a Navy contract, and, (trumpet sound), her first apartment. Emily, currently known as Blake Lytle, was there too, so I left the three to their devices and went to take their aunt, always known as Beth, to lunch.

Complete aside to the narrative, but Blake was on hands and knees, pinning and basting pleats into many yards of Black Watch plaid. I was gobsmacked, so to speak. At her very age I did the same, and made my very own, authentic kilt, with leather straps and everything. I teased her about the pressing of the pleats she has facing her, to which she replied, “Grandma, I’ll take it to the cleaners to get pressed in!”


Bekka, Emily (aka Blake), Laura

After lunch I backtracked for Laura; we went shopping so we can forgo that tomorrow in favor of her helping out Kay. What is my point, you ask, of my generally less than five hundred word essays or complaints.

Simply this: those athletes have kids, just like the rest of us. My first thought—ask LeBron James to make a public statement about school shootings. “Just like Willie and Farm Aid,” I thought, merging onto I 90 toward Beth’s house.

Farm Aid! I shouted out loud. We’ll call it Kid Aid or School Aid or some other cool name some marketing person can think of, and I’ll ask if a stage full of athletes can make a pitch for congress to take back control of this country from the NRA, and ban the sale of semi-automatic weapons, plus background checks, etcetcetc.

My job for tomorrow is to compile a list of athletes and addresses, who I can begin mailing to next week, asking they find someone who can put together a public service ad. I have an artist friend from the old days who has gone on to bigger and better contacts. I'll call him. 

The beginning for me is the beginning. A list of who to contact and how to reach them. I’ll send the file to any one of you who would like it.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday, in review


I’ll take this backward. I went to town to sign and retrieve my tax return. I picked up the armload of mail on the way home.  I defied the weather when I left, in a sweater. Go ahead! Rain! Get colder! See if I care. It actually was snowing as I came up the steps, three or four hours later.

My phone rang. I could reach it, and did, fingers dropping a bill while fumbling for the house key. It was my drug insurer, and my opiod paid med denial is reversed. This is day fourteen of tooth sucking, bird flipping pain. I do wish an autoimmune disease on every person involved in the opiod crisis they made. Plus degenerative arthritis. It could bring about the resolution, that’s for sure.

Let me run with that one. A semi-automatic loosed on the halls of congress could bring about a solution to the excess of guns crisis. The best solution, though, is voters loosed on the halls of congress. Check your representative’s bank account.

I have three, two senators and a representative (from a blatantly gerrymandered district). Two have taken no money from the NRA. Nada. Zero. Zip. One is awash in a cool hundred plus grand. In the same order, two are Democrats, one a Republican. Listen to what your representatives have to say, and vote accordingly. In November, vote.

Today was gym, with Greg. He’s thirtyish, and vaguely recalls, from week to week, that I’m probably in pain. I generally don’t mention it, unless there is something I cannot do. The final routine today was a new stretch. Visualize: on my back. Left foot flat on the floor. Right ankle on left leg. Both hands around left thigh, fingers interlocked behind. Pull left leg to chest.

My fingers do not interlock, they barely meet. I can pull back my leg and suppress the moan of pain. I am pleased. We switch to same action, right leg. This is the totally trashed leg, but I’m game. Fingers do not interlock, they do not even meet.

“That’s OK,” Greg says. I can help. A firm hand on my knee sent my leg chest ward. Half the gym must have looked to see who yelled. I sat straight up. “Guess we’ll rack up that one,” says Greg. “Yea, I’m burned out!”


I’m becoming fluent in gym lingo. I can apply it. We are burned out with Congress. Time to rack up senators and representatives who won’t tackle the gun horror in our midst.  Vote in November, and November and November. Never overlook voting. This is your country. Voting is your duty, as well as your right.


The kid gym; moms can leave kids here. I am impressed with tykes zipping around the room.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

What to do, what to do


I don’t know.

Every bit of the current moral crisis comes down to individual responsibility.

We cannot legislate away guns, shootings, the NRA, a moment of silence. I did have a brief mental image of our legislators taking a knee.

I am too old to see the end of irresponsibility, selfishness,  or the sense of the greater good, social responsibility.

I was very young, holding my grandmother’s hand. Probably lifted up the steps of the trolley. We sat in the last row of seats. I heard my grandmother sharply say, “Mother, look to your child!” I don’t know what the child needed, but my grandmother refocused a parent’s attention.

Parent and child. The beginning. Personal responsibility. The middle. The social contract. The end.

Were we ever decent? I don’t know. A few ideological fellows founded a nation still out of control. Few voted. Many rebelled. Shay’s Rebellion of four thousand crushed, but the Constitutional Convention resulted.

The carnage we have experienced must end, or it will result in the confiscation of all guns, by the army of a dictator, to protect itself. That’s the next to the last worst scenario I can imagine. The number of endings I can put forth doesn’t matter.


Individual responsibility matters. It is the beginning. Parent, help your child. Neighbor, help your neighbor. Voter, exercise your right and responsibility. Legislators, open debate. America, figure this out.


I thought I would add my symbols of endurance, the lamb, the toad and piggy.



I certainly did not expect to find them crumbling, too, after the winter snow. Well, that's 29 years.



 Pictures when the flowers come up, and there will be nasturtiums for Pig.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Planning, planning


I feel like a chapter in Canterbury Tales. The director of an episode. I have two characters, some dates, a route and a destination shrine in mind. It came to me in the night, as I mentioned, and I believe in those dreams before dawn.

We will cross New York State by the southern route. I remember Watkins Glen and Buttermilk Falls from my childhood and adult years, so we will see those on the way east. Then cut north, through the beautiful towns of my art show days. Another tour of Saratoga Performing Arts Center is on my list of musts. I hope the magnificent architecture is intact.

Lake Champlain can only be crossed the first time by ferry, so we will do that. Mother would be so pleased, and my passengers will be, too.  Vermont is OK; I remember great shows at Manchester, the home of Robert Todd Lincoln. We need to drop way south and may do it that way.

Our middle destination is Portsmouth, New Hampshire. How I remember going with mom and her six grandchildren and the flapping chicken. One grandchild did not like lobster, but I cannot recall who it was. I remember taking a sightseeing boat out into the harbor and the ocean. The captain and the crew were distraught over hitting a lobster pot marker buoy. It seemed close to a criminal offense, in their panic.

The whole town of Portsmouth was a two day adventure, I recall. I also remember The Old Man of the Mountain, Franconia Notch, New Hampshire. But, the Old Man is gone now. Eons of weather sheared it from the mountain side. Probably no use trying to interest current teenagers in a memory half a century past.

I’m considering dropping way south to come home. Back in my day, all of New England oozed its history. I wonder if it does still, and would charm a modern teen. Concord to Lexington. Minute Men. I looked at a map to “re-locate” the route and thought it looked mighty similar to the Washington, DC beltway.

Then I remembered fourteen year old Caroline navigating me around with her GPS. Ruth reading off the route from Beth’s GPS on the way home. Laura and Victoria will do me equally as well. It’s just the details, now.



Beth and a Minute Man, 1976

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Provoked, irritated


Yesterday was day seven with no pain medication. Today is eight. I have a dear niece who posts on Facebook, Do not post your personal problems on Facebook, as they require personal solutions. But this isn’t Facebook, so I’ll mention it again, and hope it will be resolved tomorrow.

In case I am overlooking something, I looked up the appeals process again. It can take up to six months. I understand the first appeal, three months ago. I was new; maybe I could take something else in the insurer’s formulary. But I couldn’t, so Belbuca passed, in about five days. I don’t understand what has changed.


The entire weekend has been rain, but the weather very warm. Tomorrow, bright sunshine is forecast, but it will be cold again. No cards tomorrow, so it’s breakfast with Lynn. 

I went back to sewing charity quilt blocks for my sister.  I went to her studio for some reason a while ago, and she said, “You know, I only have three of your tops left to quilt.” That was a ‘shut my mouth (or yours)’ moment. I put together over five hundred tops, before I left off, donated the sewing machines. So, I’ve started again.


The window of the room I sew in overlooks my street. This picture is so typical of the people here. The man across the street is a car mechanic. The fellow in the black car needs a repair to be able to go to work tomorrow. What you probably cannot make out is the tarp rigged over the hood of the black car, so the two men can work on it in the pouring rain.

I re-read The Little Prince today. I try not to read books I know I have read in the time before the accident. I’m afraid of how they may make me feel. But, I could remember The Little Prince was a special sort of book, and I enjoyed having it unfold. There is no allegory here for me; but I found I remembered the Prince’s journey just as it was about to happen.

I’ve spent the day in my special chair that helps support my back. I’m beyond the point of relief by support of a chair, or by sending acetaminophen down in a steady stream. I am very sad that I see my primary care physician tomorrow afternoon, and she will find my blood pressure elevated, from the pain, and tell me it distresses her. And, it does.

A couple of hours ago I heard the cookerer making up a batch of biscuits in the stainless steel mixing bowl. I had no idea what would go with them, and come supper time it was chicken soup. With mushrooms, peas and corn. And an ice cube. It was good!




Saturday, February 10, 2018

Acid green box


I am older than penicillin, which affects my opinion on many things, including drugs.  This post is about Keppra, and now about withdrawing from Keppra. 

I know little about withdrawing from drugs. Many years ago I had a steady dose of some morphine drug for surgical pain, and quitting it was awful. I lay stiff as a board for several nights, wide awake.

The experience was the basis of my future aversion of narcotics for any pain. I’ve been through hip replacement surgery and a broken shoulder, among things, on over the counter analgesics, to avoid narcotics. I didn’t even fill the prescriptions. I probably saved a lot of money.

After more tests than the American taxpayer should pay for, the neurologist cleared me to quit Keppra over a month’s time. Though I have no trouble sleeping at night, the first night, I was still awake at midnight, three hours after bed. The second night was a bit  better.


The picture is of Keppra. I refilled the script recently, and asked the doctor’s office to prescribe enough for thirty days, in the event it might be discontinued. This being American medicine, they gave me ninety days. The few pills on the desk top are the number to get me off Keppra. The last sixty days (two pills a day) remain in the bottle.

And that is the last problem. Disposal. Most municipalities in Ohio now have some sort of program in place to collect back drugs, which generally are incinerated. The programs took off in fits and starts, but most now are permanent. In Cuyahoga Falls, down the road, the first attempts were designated collection days at specified police stations.

The line of people at the station I went to stretched around the block. The intelligent outcome of that first collection was the permanent installation of a drug collection box. This box is nearest my home, but simply is no fun. You are buzzed into the station, and the collection box is a pull down door in front of a glass window. Makes me feel suspect for doing the right thing.

The very first collection system in the area was put in place in the neighboring township of Bath.  I think it’s brilliant. It’s an old US postal box. The blue boxes that were on street corners; mail was deposited through a pull down door.


Bath installed an old blue box at the police station, repainted acid green. I take a nice, out of my way trip through the valley, to put unused drugs in the acid green box. But, I’ll wait until spring.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

A day off


Today I was determined to finish the sweater. Finish it, I’m telling you. I checked the properties of the first picture of it, taken Thursday, February 9 2017.


There was only the ribbing of one cuff left to do. Sixteen rows of knit two, purl two. I spent the day on it, on the whole. I finished pulling in the last of the ends before Laura came in.


I did take a call early in the day from the neurologist. Nine in the morning. I could have been in the shower, but wasn’t, and didn’t. The gist of call is, the new neurologist read the EEG done in his office, and was pleased to tell me my brain is as normal as can be, just like EEG several months ago. I can halve the Keppra every two weeks for a month and be done.

Oh, yes, and I can come back in a year. I asked if my cardiologist or any other of my doctors might know if I should see a neurologist. He thought they would know. “So, we’ll just leave it at that,” I said.

When I remembered to comb my hair this morning, I realized it’s time to stop fighting the part. I can’t recall ever using a part in my hair. Now I have a part that follows the scar in my skull. If that were the worst of it, I could smile and carry on.



On the other hand, we’re getting closer to spring. My little weather app says thirty eight tomorrow and chance of a frozen mix. 

Someone just told me Rand Paul threw a wrench into the gears of government, so I took a look at the feed. He has. Further down, I read there are Democratic bills introduced to block Trump's parade.

Now, I doubt my postcards were more than a pint of water over Niagara Falls, but I asked a lot of representatives and senators:

DO WE NEED CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL OF A PARADE?

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Serendipity

No school today


Five inches of snow


How fortunate


I need to leave shortly,
for the damn EEG


Now she's gone to clear out Cathy's car and drive.


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

College where the sun shines


Some mornings I hear Laura leave at 6:20, some days I don’t. Today I did, and turned down enough covers to see the some light in the grey sky. Went back to sleep until the alarm rang at 8:30. So much snow. I heard Laura shovel the deck and stairs, which I appreciated when I went out to survey the snow. I have some places to go today, and moved a lot of snow to begin the process. Now I’m typing, and drying out. Snow is as wet and cold as rain.

Stopped to take a picture

Ice

I woke up in the middle of the night, and turned my thoughts to vacation. We want to go somewhere. Anywhere, to quote Laura. Four corners, she suggested. She’s read about it. And, she’s sixteen and has been nowhere, except Wisconsin (which she likes very much!). And the National Mall, including the Jefferson Memorial. I feel badly. By sixteen I’d seen much of the country once. Laura has no idea how far it is to four corners.

So, in the night my hazy thoughts travelled the Finger Lakes, which could be a little boring for children, and wandered on to---Lake Champlain, and the ferry boat! Then what? What to do in New England? Strawberry----strawberry something. I’ll ask my daughter in the morning.

This morning I realized it must be Portsmouth, as that is the only harbor in New Hampshire and the place I remembered involved a port and so many things to see. I googled Portsmouth, and there it was. Strawberry Banke, and much of the rest of Portsmouth I recalled.

Victoria’s parents agreed she could come and hike and tour with Laura, and the more I put it together, the more I like heading east to New England. I could spend a lot of time there, and I hope the girls will be excited, too. Except for monster roller coasters at Halloween, Laura isn’t much interested in theme destinations, and Victoria sure isn’t.

I hope to do some short college visits too, this year. After cleaning the car this morning, I think I’ll be stressing college where the sun shines. 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Against the force


I know folks who have no drug regimen. I know those who take far more drugs a day than I do. I take six.

Synthroid—my thyroid crapped out years ago. A specialist follows the problem, does a fine job.

Simvistatin—I think every person over a certain age takes this drug, or one like it. We are the giant pool feeding the statistics for heart doctors united against strokes and heart attacks.

Diovan—Since before the stroke, I’ve taken a blood pressure med. The AMA or someone continues to lower the bar. In the beginning my doctor tried kind after kind of BP medication, and they turned my world around. Imagine dreaming you must make order of a chaotic warehouse that will be invaded by Black Friday type customers at 8 a.m., waking up in the dream, stark naked, to a screaming mass breaking down the door. That was the alpha blocker dream. Never mind the beta, etc. Unsettling dreams nightly. I yelled at my PC, she was throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what would stick. She slammed shut the chart (olden days) and icily said “Would you like a specialist?” My heart doctor is a great guy. Every doctor weighs you and takes blood pressure now. It’s part of the system. Last week my blood pressure was 90/60. “Wonderful!” said the tech. Patient said nothing. I worked hard to get here.

Lyrica—Fibromyalgia. It means your muscles hurt. Nerves are responsible. All the nerves in my spine, that has a broken vertebrae, a cadaver bone fusion and a long list of crushed discs, scream. Fibro is a mean one. No cure, just control. That’s decent, though the cost is obscene. Insurance! I’m getting to that.


Keppra—anti-seizure. This is my second newest bit of drug protocol. Doctors in the brain injury business are totally against seizures, and order Keppra. When I began recirculating among my real doctors, my old neurologist, from the stroke days, immediately cut the Keppra dose in half and ordered an EEG and a CT scan to see if I needed it at all. We both thought I was asymptomatic. I passed both. But, the neurologist quit the practice and went to a research university to do his Alzheimer research. His replacement raised my hackles by asking me to ask my other doctors why they were or were not doing various protocols. Not my job. I have no credentials to relay the information. I found a new neurologist. Like many of my doctors, the one I related to is in a different major hospital system here. They don’t share information with each other. If I were in charge, I’d bang heads together and solve that easy problem. Instead, I still must take Keppra. It promotes unspeakable dreams. The warnings include suicide, and if I can’t get all these guys on the same page, I may threaten it. Last EEG is Wednesday. The new neurologist intimated his next step is to read the EEG and tell me how to quit Keppra.

Belbuca—For years before the fractured skull, I used prescription NSAIDS to handle the residual pain and keep on walking. I saw a pain doctor on and off, to no avail. Narcotics literally wipe me out for hours; I wake up and can function on the residual four hours of pain relief. The pain fellow’s surgical procedure was a total bust. The NSAIDS were a contributor to the bleed from the skull fracture. I quit them. June, July, August at home, I was just a mess of pain, and finally went again to the pain doctor, with little hope. He offered a new sort of opiod. It had to go through a pre-authorization, rejection, doctor certification procedure. That took about five days. This is some authority’s scheme to end the opiod crisis in this country. The initial script was filled three times. New script, the procedure begins again. I did not know the preauthorization  began again, or I would have been sure it began sooner. My insurance company wants to override Belbuca with a four hour skin patch. Adhesive removes my skin; I would be an open wound using it. Belbuca dissolves in my cheek, in the time it takes me to take care of the cat and make breakfast. I am up to the doctor certification part of the giant dance on my new Belbuca script. Today is my third day without a pain med. I would like to stand in the road and scream What the Fuck is Wrong with you Fools?

I played cards today. I warned them I was pretty crabby, stand aside. Nancy and I beat the boys roundly!


Soon I can take some Lyrica and sleep for eight hours, until my spine wakes me to get up tomorrow. Then another sixteen hours of tears on my eyelashes. When I hurt this bad, I cannot stop them. Made it hard to see the cards, but I prevailed.



Sunday, February 4, 2018

A filler blog


I must leave in half an hour and retrieve Laura from a sleepover of young women who boycotted the annual Sadie Hawkins dance. She has not missed a high school dance since she started, and last year went with the young man Tom, I believe, compared to an undertaker. 

This year the little gang decided boys are not worth it, and didn’t go. At ten dollars a ticket, that’s sixty or seventy dollars not in the school’s social budget. Plus ten each for any boys left behind. It’s good to learn all the ways to protest things you want to complain of.

In the absence of the cook, I took my neighbor to dinner last night, to a family style restaurant. We were surprised by the number of young couples, suits, ties, short dresses, corsages. Of course, Sadie Hawkins. They were sweet to look at. 

There is a long hall to enter the restaurant, and on the way out it was lined with folks leaving a birthday party. The guests of honor seemed to be the very old couple using walkers. It was a slow exit, and Cathy and I just greeted and chatted with all the folks lining the hall. I could have been them; I took my cane for the long walk from the parking lot.

I finished off the evening falling into YouTube songs. I think I jumped in from some blog posting. It knows my preferences, of course, and the sidebar was lined with the good guys. I amused myself with Green Fields of France, by every group who ever sang it, and finished up with an hour of “The Highway Men.”

Remember Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson, bringing edge to country music. I always admired the way Cash put his power behind that group, to support strong music. I saw them in person a couple of times. I’ve seen Nelson since, in the Bob Dylan tours.  Willie would rip off his red bandanna and throw it into the audience at the end. A young friend always stood at the edge of the stage, but never scored a red bandanna.

Kitchen puttering this morning, I see my orchid is sending out another blossom shoot, which certainly will be in flower in March, as it has been for the last ten years. 


The windowsill is maxed.  Alberta's redbird and pie bird have been
there since we moved in, together with the butterfly and Marty Froelich's vase. The egg separator and the tea jar are new.

The snow is new. It began overnight, and we're in for some inches of it this week.



The flowers need a larger vase. I'll look for one next week.


Saturday, February 3, 2018

Middle teen news


Laura was sixteen in December. I thought, “Wow, half way through being a teen,” before I realized being a teenager starts at thirteen. Ah, well. At whatever point, Laura is an interesting person, learning.

Some time ago she announced she had changed her mind about spending her junior year abroad. For the longest time she would not tell me why, but one day blurted out the decision was the outcome of her mother “tangling” her in a conversation. No further explanation. I understand the problem with her mom.

But, Laura recognized what happened and knows how to deal with it. She picks her battles with her family carefully; this one was not worth her effort. I am pleased she saw the opportunity and went through all the hoops to present her application to the sponsoring group, and be accepted. The next time she will be able to say “I’m going!” to her mom, and go.

The current semester is drawing to a close and next semester’s courses being arranged. Ever the advance planner, Laura scheduled out her entire high school curriculum, two years ago, and put it under my desk pad. A week or so ago, she nonchalantly announced she would not be taking band next year, and probably not her senior year, either.

Band has been the pride of high school, starting with their mother. All four children loved band dominating their lives. Band camp. Marching band until Thanksgiving, before the reward of concert band. This time I was stunned, and asked what she was taking instead, and why she was quitting.

She’s quitting because she doesn’t like it. She doesn’t like it because it’s not where her friends are. I hadn’t much considered what the little gang of hers does. “But Meredith is in band,” I protested. “Yes, she plays the cymbals so she can be in marching band with me. I said I was quitting and she’s so glad. She can quit, too.”

Laura signed up for art and creative writing next semester. Plus the usual math, science, ASL. Fractional exponents are a thing of the past, mastered and gone. In chemistry, they’re making a solid of two liquids. “It’s called a precipitate. You have to add up…oh, never mind. I just do it!”

About this time last year I was making plans for vacations. Spring break. Washington DC. Walking around the National Mall and the homes of presidents. We know how that went. There will be no red buses this year!


I asked the parents of my favorite of the gang if Victoria could come on some short trips this summer. I can send the two of them off on some excursion and wait for them in the coffee shop, so to speak. Now I need to see if I can still book a cabin or lodge or B&B. I was thinking the Finger Lakes in New York. 

Went to lunch with Deb yesterday. She threw in New River Gorge and Hawk’s Nest State Park in West Virginia. Lots to do.


Lunch with Deb. I had Eggs Benedicts (quoting directly from the menu). I considered requesting an Egg Benedict, but thought What the heck. I can handle it. Here's an up close view. The eggs were perfect, the bacon good. I left behind the muffins and most of the delicious home fries. Next time, Egg Benedict for sure.


Thursday, February 1, 2018

A story about a life


Brian has been on my mind the last many days, and I don’t know why except perhaps his story needs writing. It happened a long time ago, like at least half the events in my life, now, at my first house, in Lake County.

Both my girls graduated high school, the oldest already in college and the youngest going in the fall. It came to me I would have no one to mow the grass or shovel the snow.  I wrote a letter to the college at the other end of the highway: Equal opportunity housing. A young man or woman was welcome to an empty bedroom, or even my whole basement, in exchange for mowing, shoveling and one more, taking the trash to the curb.

Apparently a startling offer to a community college in 1985, but eventually the coach called me. He had a baseball scholarship student who lived two counties away who could use a place to stay. Coach liked him and said if I was willing to meet them, he would send Brian and his parents around for an interview.

Nice parents, nice kid brother, nice young man; he moved into the basement in August. My only house rule, if you make a mess, clean it up. I came in from work one night and found him scrubbing up cat puke. I remonstrated that was above and beyond. But his mother had a rule, too. If you find a mess, clean it up.

Brian sat down in the living room one night to enjoy the Oreo double stuffs and a glass of milk occupying each hand on the broad arms of the chair. I began to laugh. “What’s so funny?” I pointed to a cat at one hand, taking a healthy bite of cookie. But he couldn’t move the other hand to set the glass of milk on the end table because another cat had its face deep in, drinking.

Another time there was a rather large earthquake, epicenter a few miles away. At work I listened to the sound of a freight train coming through my office for many seconds. When I got home Brian told me it had been the same, plus he got to watch those two cats disappear through a two inch space in the kitchen toe board—simultaneously.

Brian had a pretty little girlfriend from his home town, and they generally spent weekends at my house. By the second summer, though, she felt he wasn’t paying her enough attention. Maybe not. He liked baseball, but he loved soccer, and by then was playing in a league. And playing baseball and going to school.  She was so angry she took a summer job at Walt Disney World in Florida.

His best friend Al also had a little brother who adored his big brother. Al pitched on the college team, and was good enough to have an Orioles minor league scout coming to the next day’s game. Brian and he were going out for a celebratory beer the night before. “How do I look?” Brian asked, on his way to pick up Al. White painter pants, a red shirt, and green apple suspenders. He snapped a suspender. He looked good. After all, he had been dumped, and picking up a pretty girl in a bar was not out of the question.

I answered a knock on the door at six in the morning. Two police were there, to tell me Brian had been killed last night, at the railroad crossing. And, the other young man. “Did you tell his parents?” Yes, his home town police located them in the hospital, at the bedside of Brian’s grandfather. I knew his grandfather was gravely ill and I asked. “No, ma’m. We figure they both passed at the same time.”

I called coach; the boys had a game that day and Brian needed to be at the school in an hour to mark the field. Coach called me back after a while. The game, of course, was cancelled, and Al was not dead, but had grievous head trauma.

The accident was a little notice on the front page of the local paper. By seven the idle, the curious, the ghouls who drove cars were circling my block, looking at the house. I called my sister to come get me; we left for the day. The paper mentioned alcohol testing, but never came back to say alcohol was not a factor. I never believed it was, and eventually wrote a letter to the paper, telling them so, and wondering how Brian could make such a terrible mistake at a gated crossing.

Suddenly letters came to the house. “We didn’t see this accident, but when we crossed the tracks three, two, one hour previously, the gates were not working.” I turned them over to Brian’s parents; a wrongful death lawsuit was in the making. Not only was Brian dead, a railroad attorney was outside Al’s hospital door, “to take his statement,” from the first morning until barred by injunction from the hospital.

I suppose all railroads are powerful. A citizen who had to turn back because of the accident saw police taking pictures, which disappeared. The case was handled by a famous attorney, but dragged on and on.  In the end a firm was hired to reconstruct the accident. The railroad settled within days, I can only believe to avoid trial.

The gates were not working. The lights were not working.  The train was backing. By law, train conductors with lighted lanterns must continually walk both sides of a train backing through a crossing with no gates. The railroad could not produce these employees. The best guess is that Brian, not realizing the train was backing, thought the caboose had cleared the tracks. The gates were up, no flashing lights. He went across.

Coach gave me the team picture that had only recently been taken. I went to see Al when he was eventually released. “Do you have a picture of Brian?” He brought out his wallet with the obituary picture cut from the newspaper. “My best friend, and I don’t even have a picture.” I gave him one for his wallet and a five by ten. We cried.

His home town buddies hung out at my house most of the rest of the summer. I think of it as the summer of a memorial pile of flowers and stuffed animals at the scene, but these were real, heartbroken young men, and one young lady who quit her job in Florida. His parents never came to pick up the box or two of belongings we packed up, but I think his friends returned them.

My heart ached for all of us.

Brian’s parents and I stay in touch, by Christmas card.  They are retired, and the proud grandparents of several grandchildren. We mention meeting; we don’t. I came across pictures of the team,  and wondered if they ever got them. I couldn’t just mail that envelope, so I dropped his parents a note that I would mail it in another week, unless they said not to. They asked I sent it, and received a nice thank you note.

Brian’s mom’s Christmas cards tell me all his buddies went on to happy adult lives, as did Al. The most we could hope for of the pieces left.


Brian and the 1986 Lakers