Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Fiddlers Green

How many record collections have you had? Not genre, not artist. Material!

When I was in college, some of us had record players. Turntables. Friday night, Saturday, Sunday we’d wrap our arms around a record player and our newest album and meet. Student union. Some off-campus housing. We’d play all the records we brought, sitting around, singing along, doing some homework, and things.

Then life put us in cars, driving to work. No radio station knew my eclectic music list! Some Cash. Some Baez. Dylan. CCR. Blood, Sweat and Tears. I spent hours re-recording everything to eight track tapes. Then cassettes. I had kids by then, and remember them rewinding tapes with a Bic pen, or number 2 pencil, to save on their batteries.

Cassetts were my weaving music. I spent hours with a good beat in my ears and a shuttle flying. Perhaps that accounted for how fast I drove my van, too. It certainly contributed to my hearing aids these days. I used a good deal of volume in a van with no air conditioning and the windows down.

Compact discs. Then I retired from weaving and pretty much lost interest. I sold everything on E-Bay, in lots, some singly. Dr. Hook, “I got stoned and I missed it…” Remember that really obscure favorite of my brother, Mel? It went for an outrageous sum of money. And, I quit listening to music.

I switched to FM, listened to news, commentary, pledge drives.

For some reason this last year, a song comes to me, and comes out. To Laura’s dismay. “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a color TV?” My Irish folk repertoire. Ballad of St. Anne’s Reel.  It’s one of those heart ringers. Like Fiddler’s Green. “Happy wars, sad love songs,” Sheridan said. Especially now that I have nothing to do and all day to do it, I’ve turned over replacing my collection.

What an expense that would be, and I have so many other things to spend money on. Netflix, for instance. Then John posted a picture of a little grey stone on his kitchen windowsill, and said he simply told it what to play. I looked all over Amazon for the little grey stone, and couldn’t find it. I asked John, and he said a Mini something. I looked some more, and then it came to me. It’s a Google Mini something. Buy it from Google. I did. Fifty dollars. No kidding.

We plugged it in last night. We by-passed music lists for 9.99, and went straight to the action. I am so pleased. I gave it half a dozen suggestions this morning, and because it has no list, it bounces around genres and artists, playing songs it hopes suit. I don’t know what I’ve heard because the Mini whatever is filling the other room with song after song I remember and like.

In the inimitable Google fashion, it has gone picking and choosing from what it knows so far. At this moment it is playing Woodie Guthrie, Roll on Columbia, Roll on. I need to remember to throw another artist at it every time I go by.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Raining snow, snowing rain

Raining snow or snowing rain, it's all the same.  The weather does not add any joy to the proceedings. I plugged in my camera to charge for the super moon, and wonder what I'll find in the sky.

It's Monday, cards. Totally misjudging the amount of time needed to drop off the rent check and mail a letter, I arrived way early at the church, and spent a quarter hour driving around town, looking for a friendly picture.

Here is the candidate with the most potential. The sun will shine, the ivy will become bright and green, the wind chimes will ring and the bright umbrella will go back up. January is about gone; this picture could look much better in two more months.

And, we did laugh heartily for a couple of hours at cards. Peter and I each have card trouble. While he drones incessantly about my style, the real problem is the unending loss of fine motor control in my right hand. By the time I've sorted and spread my hand, the others have been waiting several minutes. Peter once had a similar problem, but he seems to have overcome. 

Last September one other member of our group made a lovely card holder for Peter. A length of lumber, trimmed out, sanded, with a groove to hold Peter's card hand. It was a hit. Over our holiday hiatus, the other member took the cardholder for his granddaughter to use. It was a hit with the four year old, too, and didn't come back.

Today there were two new holders on the table; one for Peter, one for me. Now I can arrange a hand as quickly as anyone. Quicker than Peter!

Last week Nancy and I dusted Peter and Greg at pinochle. No, come to think about it, we were a hundred or so points ahead at one point, and they pulled to within thirty points near the end. We stayed and played one last hand; had they made enough points they could have won the day. They didn't. Too bad.

Today, our turn to get weak cards. Nancy and I lost. But all four of us went home with aching ribs, because Greg also made a trump teller. For the first time in three years the eternal question "What's trump?" was greeted by laughter, or rude jeers. Greg also made:

The trump teller. What's trump? That hand, diamonds.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

My last cat

One can hope a four day old feral kitten, rescued from a parking lot in Pittsburgh, might have the grace to never mess up. But, that would be discounting the fact the kitten in question was feral and a long hair who now takes immense pride in appearance. And yes, it’s Toby, and yes, he is my responsibility because I made myself responsible, and no, you don’t need to see his picture again.

Yesterday I heard him depositing a hair ball, and I was not in good time to intervene and put him in a place I don’t care about hair balls. So, I removed the hair ball and associated stomach slime from my quilt, sighed, and put the quilt in the washer. It's hanging out on the kitchen table, drying.

That’s its third trip to the washer in three years I’ve lived here, so about average for upkeep. But the middle of winter and pouring rain outdoors is over the top. I don’t put quilts in the dryer and I get stomach acid off them as soon as possible. In short, we will be using the new TV trays tonight, and maybe tomorrow, too.

In other breaking news, my bookcase arrived, to be assembled by my personal assembler. I mostly kept my mouth shut, and completely gave up on telling her there is more force behind the hammer when a solid surface is under the object being pounded. We did score one mighty fine rubber mallet as part of the assembly tools included.

Laura’s Dutch oven arrived (box on Windsor chair), as did new tee-shirts. She is wearing hers already, but it has to be a lot warmer outside for me to go out in a short sleeve shirt the cold air can seep through.

Well, that’s my news, and at least it’s less depressing than any news feed. Have a nice weekend.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Strength and balance; strength and balance

I belong to a Lifestyles Gym, which is part of the great octopus system of Cleveland Clinic. Since they have added close to adequate handicapped parking, I like it much more. Long ago I wondered why youngsters who came to run miles on an indoor track parked in the front row and let the rest of us struggle from a half mile out.

In addition to belonging to the gym, I use a trainer. Dedicated folks show up and work out. Without a trainer, I wouldn’t do it. No interest, except my clinical one of mentally stepping back and observing “Oh, look, I can do that now!” Walk without falling, for example.

Kristen was my trainer for a year before the skull fracture and a year after. We worked on strength and balance. I cannot put together a description of loss of balance. Slip, don’t fall. That’s balance. 

I remember a favorite therapist telling me that walking is butt out, stomach in, shoulders back, chin up, eyes ahead, shift weight from side to side. And her with that three inch belt around me to keep me up. Or the first time I got up on a rocker board and nearly ripped off the therapist’s shirt, in spite of the belt.

And last, synapses. Connecting to the brain I can describe. Years ago my oldest daughter struggled with that beautiful run in Beethoven’s Für Elise. “Practice, practice, practice. Over and over and over. Your fingers and brain become one.” Regaining balance is regaining strength, and the connection to the brain.

Over our two years, Kristen earned her graduate degree in cardiopulmonary rehab, and moved on to a Lifestyles specialist unit. I have a new trainer, Greg. Kris and I were a little lazy toward the end. I don’t have Greg trained yet. And, he’s young enough to be a grandchild. But, I’ll make it.

One side
Kris was equipment oriented. Greg is prone to calisthenics. He reminds me of calisthenics classes in college, and I could hang from the top bar more than long enough for the instructor to demonstrate keeping arms at right angles, legs parallel to the floor and count down from one hundred, ninety nine, ninety eight…..

Two thirds the way to the other side
Both of them walk a lot. It’s a big gym. Kris liked the equipment style on one side and the pull down station a thousand feet away. Back and forth. I teased her she was getting in her steps. Greg likes the half wall on the same side and the pull down station on the other. It’s all the same. Walk, walk, walk. Work, work, work.

Friday is gym day. It was toward the end, and Greg had me doing planks. They’re what they sound like. Hands on something about knee high (I hope never again in my life to do this from the floor!), walk backward until tip toes only between life and death, lean on bent arms and become a plank, as in board.

One minute, walk back up, rest, repeat. Sets of three. On the third one Greg said “Just go until you burn out.” I was so startled I nearly lost it, and did stand up. “Burn out means until you can’t do it anymore.”

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Spare time

This has been a week of excessive spare time. There was little to do on Tuesday, nothing to do Wednesday, and breakfast with Lynn this morning. I have eight books in the house and have finished all but Hillary. Today I ordered a six shelf book case.  I also recorded recurring financial transactions today, and paid the Visa bill. And spent way over an hour with Lynn at breakfast.

Lynn has not been well. Her new kittens have not been well. They were neutered, and apparently didn’t take it well, though they spent so many days retching she thinks they contracted the “lurgy” at the vets. We spent ninety minutes discussing Molly and Toby, the new British shorthairs, and Laura. We certainly glossed over the world, just catching up. Life taken lightly when you have nothing to do, as neither of us does.

We did exchange cleaning tips before we left, in order for her to clean the bathrooms before the cleaning ladies came. I said the damn ring around the sink drain, and probably the tub drain, except I don’t wear gasses in the tub, irritates the snot out of me. I keep an old toothbrush in the toothbrush holder, just to scrub the grey from under the edges from time to time. “No, no, you need a toothpick for that,” Lynn said, on the way out.

In defense, I did spend an additional two hours today trying to stop a couple of recurring charges on the Visa statement, and then with Victor of a delightful accent, from Visa, filing a complaint to put a block on the charges. Time not wasted, as the sum of the charges is thirty five dollars.

Yesterday I had absolutely nothing to do. I decided to finish the last third of the last sleeve of the sweater I’ve been knitting for eighteen months. Not finishing a project is a chargeable offense, especially when I stumbled across the pattern for my fabulous short row yoke shaping sweater on the internet, also eighteen months ago, and have a bag of fabulous red wool to knit it, from Ruth, also for the last eighteen months.

About three o’clock yesterday I adjudicated I’d let another day go by. I did locate two socks with holes in the toes and darned the holes. They were different socks, one black, one blue (Dobby socks!), and I thought back to knitting them in 2003. The other exact pair have a total of three darns, one each to the toes and the bottom of one. I bravely started a new pair of socks last May or June. I take them to Laura’s dwindling therapy appointments, and am half through the heel of the first sock. It behooves me to repair the old.

Laura and I are talking vacation, and I need to text Caroline to see if she might want to go this summer. I can get them anywhere, some way, but cannot walk around, much. The two of them can get anywhere and back. I thought I’d suggest Finger Lakes and the lower tier to them (Watkins Glen, etal.

Then I thought of dangling Mt. Vernon, Monticello and Montpelier back out there. We did miss them last spring, and unlike the Jefferson Memorial and Starbucks, they couldn’t get there on their own, while they waited for Aunt Beth and Uncle Bill, aka Mom and Dad, to bail them from Washington DC.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Union of Tough Young Women

The high school sends a daily flyer to parents who subscribe, with information to know, such as what is currently in the lost and found. I find it useful for Laura’s several recurring groups we can’t seem to get on the calendar. Pen Club, GSA, among others. She has a paper from the former going to a national contest. We’ll see.

The following paragraph runs constantly, only the dates and topic change:

The Union of Young Republicans will meet on Wednesday (2/7), at 3:00 p.m. in A-105.  We will discuss the 2nd Amendment and other Constitutional Rights.  Come learn about traditional Conservative values and viewpoints.  All are welcome.   

I sat in the kitchen last night, watching Laura make biscuits, then chop veggies for a stew, and asked why there was no opposing Union of Democrats or Independents, Socialists, Communists. Without pausing from scraping biscuit dough from her fingers and cleaning up those utensils for the dishwasher, she launched in.

We have FemForum. We have ASL. We have GSL. Oh, do we have GSL. We have GirlUp. The big new knife she got for Christmas was working through celery and mushrooms, while chicken sizzled. (Note to self: get a Dutch Oven!).

We have the Pen Club and the Writing Club. What else? Oh, the Support Club. We do things. So, what are the Pups talking about this month? 

This town is blatantly Republican. The students are, too.  I asked Laura how she had come by so many friends. She didn’t know. They just were there. I thought about where they lived, and realized they were in the sliver of my township that’s in the Hudson District, and in old Hudson Township.

Laura asked what that was, where it had been.  I explained we went through the city to get to all of her friends, to the outskirts, old Hudson Township that was annexed.  Actually, the city fathers tried to name it The Village of Hudson. That didn’t get through the Ohio Legislature. It’s where there are no sidewalks.

What an interesting correlation to look into for a research paper.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Testing, testing, 1-2-3…

Long time ago I had a massive stroke. 2010. It was my introduction to a host of new medical devices. There was the transesophageal echocardiogram. All you get is a numbed throat while the camera goes down and looks at the heart for clots. On the other hand, you can squirm a bit and see the screen, too.

I had an internal bleed along the way, so there was a gastrointestinal endoscopy, which found nothing, down through my stomach.  I swallowed a camera to go the rest of the way. The last procedure before I was sprung from the hospital was an electroencephalogram, to check for a past seizure.

In 2010 the EEG was conducted with a gritty paste to enhance the electrode’s conduction. It took three shampoos to get the nastiness out of my hair. All these tests simply enhanced the skills of the operators; the source of the clot was never located, the source of the internal bleed not located, and no evidence ever of a seizure. My life returned to normal.

Then one day last March, the Red Bus sent me down the aisle and fractured my skull. Several times during the week I was kept unconscious in George Washington University Hospital I “dreamed” glass beads were falling and clicking against each other.  When my neurologist here at home scheduled a follow up EEG I realized the source of the clicking; it was the technician recording brain patterns with the mouse. And still, no seizure evidence.

Now I have a new neurologist. My old neurologist became so frustrated with the state of medicine he followed his dream and is doing research at OSU. I almost said he found medicine ‘seized up’, but I didn’t.

The new neurologist wants all tests done over. Old patient resists; all have been done in the last six months or so. “I won’t release you to drive,” says new neurologist. Old patient laughs. “You cannot quit Keppra,” says new neurologist. Old patient submits to new brain MRI. At the next office visit, new neurologist says brain MRI is pretty close to perfect, but he needs an EEG.

I’m obviously unhappy with this; my last EEG is still pretty hot off the press, and fine. No, he needs to see the recording. Knowing George Washington sent complete medical records to all and sundry, I told him to check with them. I know I kvetched here recently on learning he spent a month not getting the record.

On Monday, in the middle of a hot pinochle game with the Methodists, his assistant called me. There were no EEG’s at GWUH. Long pause. Several retorts came to mind. I considered the hopelessness of explaining glass beads, so I said “Now what?”

“Doctor would like you to come in for an EEG.”

It’s scheduled. I wonder how many more EEG’s I can have before Medicare cuts me off. I wonder who’s making the money, here while I have nightmares from Keppra.

Monday, January 22, 2018

More ancestry

Another company’s DNA results popped up on my morning email. 23 and Me. I used them to try and learn more about my father, past the tall and silent part. I knew my dad’s history basically from my mother, which was both his parents were Irish, from time immemorial.  His name was John Lindsay Lytle.

Dad’s mother’s people came from Cork in the time of the great mid nineteenth century famine. His father’s family was Ulstermen with deep Scottish roots. They emmigrated in the eighteenth century, and simply brought their talents over the ocean. The father of that Lytle family was a tailor and school teacher, his wife a physician.

I’ve a good deal of amateur genealogical research on both sides of my family. Mom was easy to trace. Her ancestors left draft records and farms in their wake. Dad was an enigma. Not his grandfather, not his aunts and uncles, but his parents. Or, why did his father, an Orangeman through and through, marry his mother, a short, round, red headed Cork Catholic, the oldest of going on a dozen siblings, and fifteen years his junior.

Five children and seven years later, the marriage fell apart. Mary had stories of moving too often, too many children, no money. George disappeared, but was discovered to be himself on his death, twenty years later, in Colorado. And the children lived lives of desperation and short rations, shuffled among relatives, in and out of the Children’s Home.  Dad joined the army the week after he turned seventeen.

I used to make up stories about my dad, based on his appearance. He was six and a half feet, far taller than the men from his mother’s family. He had coal black hair and brown eyes. All the other Irish men I knew from my grandmother’s family had red hair and blue eyes, and were more average height. I did meet a man from my grandfather’s side of the family, in my searches, and he was close to what I recalled as my dad’s height.

I called my dad a Black Irishman, simply because he more resembled what I read of those Irish than of the rest. The Irish who descended from survivors of the wreck of the Spanish Armada, King Phillip II’s  ill-fated attempt to invade England in the middle of the sixteenth century.

This DNA report throws in 30% French/Spanish DNA from my father. There’s the Spanish Armada. This DNA report also puts my ancestry having more Neanderthal genes than eighty plus percent of their clients.  This is a broad brush fact, but Neanderthal genes contribute height.  They also contribute endocrine disorders, alcoholism,  human papilloma virus cancers.  My family knows all three of those, well.

The 23 and Me report also says it can provide me with 1,080 first and second cousins all over the world.  I am very tempted to put my money down and see if I can contact my 15 cousins in Colorado. I still have not learned why my grandfather married my grandmother.

 1952, a year before my sister was born

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Dutch Oven Contest

This last week has been so overloaded. On the whole, I kept my mouth shut and carried on. I didn’t even write a post entitled One Year Anniversary, Government Shuts Down. Fun, but pointless. Since opening my mouth seems my best bit of ammunition, I carry on with phone calls to legislators that may seem pointless, but are part of the noise capturing attention. As much as my heart wants to march to protest, I know I physically cannot. So, I sponsor one for me and one more to fill out the crowd. The least I can do.

At the endocrinologists last week, I was in a civics metaphor. Walking back to the elevator, finger trailing the long wall because I won’t carry my cane, I became aware of a disturbance by the elevator. A young mother pushing a double long stroller of babies past a man standing in the middle of the hall. I wondered why she didn’t just stop and shift the stroller to make the turn. End of thought.

When I got to the spot, vacated by the irritated young mother, the man said to me, “Can you tell me where to find room 302.” It was the room I’d just left, so I launched into a “down this hall” explanation, before I looked up and full in his face.  In my defense, he was a massive fellow and it was a long way up. And, since I notice everything when I bother to, he was dressed in a fabulous leather overcoat, with appropriate vest and suit coat visible underneath, a lovely fedora, black gloves, a cane. And, the one eye I could see was white, like Laura’s favorite zombie movies.  

“It’s down this hall; can I walk with you?” I said, and turned back. “That would be so nice; my helper couldn’t come today.” I guess he could see a bit, like a macular degenerative person I know. I smiled to myself; cane and gloves in his left hand, he dragged his right index finger down his side of the hall. Then he said, “I hear you dragging a finger on the wall. A matched pair?”  I laughed and said no, my problem was balance.

I opened the office door, and there was the new sign in system I hate. Type your name into a key pad. I went to a window, shoved open the glass (just put a full palm on it and slide!) and said a man with a problem seeing was in the waiting room. All three of them were out like white on rice; apparently he is an old favorite. I left.

The young mother has crossed my mind this week. I’d hate to be in a car she is driving, unaware of her surroundings. Or, had she seen his disability and been repulsed? Or, had she seen his blackness, and been repelled? Or, was she just rude? I have too much time on my hands.

I retrieved Laura from her Polar Bear weekend a bit ago.  She is damp to the bone. They made shelters of tarps and slept out two nights. Tarps, ropes and rocks, I heard. They hiked. They sledded. They zip lined.  They drank a lot of cocoa. They ate pizza one night, from their summer earnings. The next night they had a Dutch oven contest. “The boys, the girls, the grown-ups.” Four boys, three girls, four grown-ups. One camp fire, three Dutch ovens, and their choice among ingredients of hamburger, many veggies to slice or dice, beans, spices, pastas.

She knew about the contest ahead of time, and told me she would tell her team she would be in charge. She made a chilie. The boys made a goulash. “They ruined it. I told them, ‘Your noodles are done, get them out of the water!’, but they didn’t listen to me.” The grown-ups made a chilie, too. “Who won the contest?”

“My team. But it wasn’t unanimous. One grown-up didn’t vote, because he didn’t want it to be unanimous.”

“How rude!” said I. “I thought so, too,” from the Polar Bear.

One of Laura's photos from a Polar Bear hike.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Joe Hill post. Resist and Organize.

Structural factors that facilitated the election of a man who demeaned almost every marginalized demographic in this country are being re-examined.  The Women’s March was an outpouring of grief and anger, and a large rock that sent waves of hard examined thought across this country. In the last year no boulder so large has been launched, but rocks and stones continue to resonate.

(I love adult magazines that so clearly state positions it takes me a morning to write up! Thank you Slate, Huff Post, etal. The papers I dropped ten bucks apiece to for subscriptions are pretty good, too. I really like digging down to the local papers through the national papers. Attributions done, on with the essay.)

This weekend is an anniversary march, and I made plans to put in an appearance. We started a small scheme, a friend and me, to get to Cleveland, deposit me somewhere obvious and appropriate and retrieve me when it was time to go home. My new opiod does not facilitate marching, but, by damn, I can stand in one place and yell for more than a few hours.

Near selecting an appropriate corner in Cleveland, I remembered my daughter is coming Saturday, for the morning. From Cleveland. But, her son’s rock climbing team practices out of Appalachian Outfitters, here in the township. The same ones sending Laura’s team out Polar Bearing this weekend. Or, life is involved. I’ve already sponsored someone to go to the march; I’ll sponsor another one and be one ahead. Perhaps my job is mouth and phone. I’m facile with both, and we know I have nothing but time.

The strongest tree of resistance that has grown from that nearly spontaneous march a year ago simply is that: Resist. All the branches are organized groups across this country that have formed to act on local issues, local politics, local elections Actually, issues with a capital ‘I’. Voting rights, pay and wage rights, women’s rights, religious rights, race rights, it’s going on.

It’s astounding to me to see the scope and memory of institutionalized discrimination, violence, bullying. My history predates sexual molestation at age 18; I remember coming out swinging at a fellow fifth grade classmate bullying my five year old, kindergarten brother. My seven year old brother, ever the quiet peacemaker, at my shoulder, had my back. I took Ray Curly down, and might have buried him in the mud, except Walt picked me up and gave Ray a hand up. This year the history of so much inequity has been thrown in our faces. Our creative minds and abilities are devices and schemes to move forward.

Now I need to call congressmen about DACA and CHIP. Hard to believe, isn’t it. Obama’s CHIP, that made me quit smoking because it was a costly cigarette tax, is on the block. All those CHIP monies to go toward reducing the income taxes of the one percent. We surely have a lot of work left to do. 

My brothers, Walt and Mel. I think I've nailed the ages here. I know that is Mel in kindergarten, and see how Mom has them in matching shirts for school pictures.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Lovely week detoured

I had a breakfast engagement this morning, with a friend. She had a one p.m. appointment, so we not only settled on 9:30 for breakfast, I set my alarm for 7:30.  My feet encountered cat, who waited impatiently for his spot in the agenda. Mr. Cat amuses me. He knew his bowl was empty; he knows nothing happens to the bowl until the tall person is dressed. Why doesn’t he leave some bits to the side and not have an empty bowl? Why can’t he sit by the bowl and wait? It’s not like I even have coffee before cat.

Lynn’s husband called at eight, so setting the alarm was a smart move. Lynn was sick all night and would not be at breakfast. Not good, and may she be well, soon. Another friend in town had a cold I last knew had taken possession of her chest. I have to stop and see her today, be sure she’s wearing wool socks and the cold is better.

This week, commencing with the snow days last Thursday and Friday, has been full of teen age girls occupying half the house and all of Laura’s bedroom. Meredith was long term; her mom is out of town on a business trip, until tonight. Mom is in for a surprise. Meredith tagged along for shopping, and looks over Laura’s shoulder at the cooking, but I doubt she’ll engage with those back at home.

Meredith also tagged along to the Venture Crew meeting last night. She left with a completed membership application for her mother to sign. In her defense, she was recruited on coming through the door. Crew wants three more members to rise in the qualifications standards. Don’t ask, I haven’t a clue. Some other adult with children drives Laura to half the meetings. The last I knew, they were practicing knots and building outdoor shelters in the basement of the Methodist church.

The operative word is shelter. Note, tent is not mentioned.

Last night the members discussed February elections (Laura volunteered to be secretary), and began reviewing requirements for this weekend’s Polar Bear camp out. “Meredith, I am so sorry,” I said to the teenage guest by me, with a sheaf of paperwork in her hand. “No, it’s OK. I love this stuff!”

I did know Polar Bear weekend was approaching, as if waking to sub zero every morning for a month were not enough. I checked Weather Channel yesterday, to see how miserable the weather might be and wonder if Laura’s enthusiasm might dwindle, after these several months of preparation.

Saturday and Sunday, forty degrees. Go figure.

From the Washington Post this morning: The 2018 election season kicked off Tuesday with an upset in rural Wisconsin, where Democrats flipped a state Senate seat that had been held by Republicans since the start of the century. 

Just one foot in front of the other. I think of Paul Ryon's pile of post cards on the end of his drive, and smile.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Living dissatisfied

This has been a rough and tumble year for this country. My life has settled into a comfortable routine that includes disseminating my political opinions at most opportunities. It’s nice to have a “grown up” conversation with a friend, or someone I recognize as a “dissenter”.

It’s satisfying to throw a politically disturbing thought into a group, friends, acquaintances or strangers. It’s over the top to foment heresy among the opposition. But then, my opportunities to drive my car up a twisting township road in an ice storm are limited. It’s about maintaining “the edge”, as well as potentially replacing weeds with crops in new minds.

The latest statement from the projection artist Robin Bell, and his mobile projector, is the Sunday headline. Shithole, emblazoned across the front of Trump’s DC hotel for profit. The dichotomy emphasizes Bell’s subsequent projection, “We are all responsible to stand up and end white supremacy.” A strongest average citizen sentiment this past week  is, Shitholians will be at the polls in November.

Descriptors of the worst presidents of all time include corrupt, inept, oblivious, irresponsible, criminal, ignorant. That last, GW, is not two decades old, and I thought the worst of my lifetime. That just was the wake up call. Ignorance is our crime, as is civil irresponsibility, complacency, silence.

Living dissatisfied is not a big job, not consuming. Mine resembles carrying a handout in a breast pocket and using it if opportunity arises. Except, I carry issues and opinions. My arena is the place I see the most people, the gym. Trump is a big help; he makes it easy for me to keep up a conversation.

My former trainer, now a certified cardiopulmonary rehab specialist at a different Cleveland Clinic facility, is a former Republican. I did have the advantage of her undivided attention for an hour a week for the last two years. Had I tried the same tactic with my late brother, for instance, he would have left the room. Pick your battles. After the November general election my trainer flashed her I Voted sticker, grinned, and said “You would be proud of me.” ‘Nuff said.

Another ground is right here in my trailer park. I have neighbors. I see people at the mailboxes, in the office. I am more than happy to give an explanation of health care changes if the opportunity presents. That’s coals to Newcastle here, however. The object is instilling the importance of voting, especially by mail. It all starts with registration.

Jen Hoffman has a lengthy gratitude list this week. It will keep me busy. I may even borrow Laura’s sparkle pens. Resist.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Another snow storm

It snowed and snowed and snowed all night. Company came and went, for we have plans to keep.

Some almost slept on the sofa, warm, and drying out. Some did sleep, stayed all night.

I woke to a text from Kay: Any suggestions on thawing the frozen door to the mail box? I replied with Emma’s hot rice in a sock.  Think, we could live in Hawaii and not need that tip.

I sent out the advance this morning, my Rangers, with snow shovels and brushes, to get us on the road. Laura was glad of the help, and Meredith just liked shoveling snow. We went out to lay in supplies for the rest of the long weekend.

Tomorrow there will be Victoria, too.  We are going to see Lady Day, then find a new restaurant for dinner. Then more teen age screams and laughter from the other end.

Wandering the grocery while  the girls shopped. This display is amazing. I cannot imagine my mother buying a pickled egg she could make at home. But the peaches! As a three year old, I would be made to repack every jar. Peaches spiral up the jar, round side facing. Everyone knows that! On the other hand, when did you last see a glass quart jar of canned peaches?

Checking out.

Leave a car for fifteen minutes, to go in and shop!

A stand of pampas grass we pass. Snowy feathers.

Out throwing snowballs.

Friday, January 12, 2018

No such thing as a free lunch

I hear Roku in the living room. Miss Big Savings over Cable TV worked hard for her streaming, avoiding that great resource, information from those who know. Every time I questioned her on a price, a reason, alternatives, she consulted her phone and asked google. She is terrified service providers will learn she doesn’t know something. I know children must get over this reluctance to get on with life; however, I won’t overlook lack of facts.

In the course of installing Roku, I cancelled TV service and limited streaming to no more than ten dollars a month, the price differential of TV versus Roku. That meant downgrading Roku to $7.99 basic, not the $10.99 service selected. I could go on, but I had Laura in information overload, and quit when I had to explain “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

Our second ice storm of the week is in progress. School was cancelled again today, the fourth time since the new year commenced. I have no problem with that; whether on city sidewalks or township berms, little kids need to walk home from their school bus stop, and it takes too much experience and chutzpah for them to navigate ice.

Earlier this week I had the much anticipated follow up appointment with the new neurologist. Together with his new MRI of my brain plus the record of all images from George Washington, which I signed a release for him to obtain, I expected him to second my opinion that I never had a seizure, probably never would, and could discontinue Keppra. I read the new MRI report, that basically said nothing evident except capillaries are getting old.

I left early. I could take the interstate, overshoot my target and backtrack a few miles, or take the valley road, always a pleasure. I’ve explained my valley roads, down the hill, over the river, up the hill. Except, these roads all are balanced on ridges, for want of real hill sides and interstate quality bridges when they were built, back in the day they were named for the farm on the property.

It was raining, temps were dropping. I expected slippery conditions and was prepared. At the bottom of Steels Corner Road, two cars were in collision heaps on each side of the T. On Akron Peninsula Road, four more cars were in separate collision heaps at Bath Road. Crossing the river at Bath, cars were off on the berm. I couldn’t tell why.

I started up Yellow Creek Road. Big trouble abounded, no turning back. This road’s ridge is in terrible trouble, little room remains for road as the ridge tumbles straight down to the creek. Cars off to every side, but courteously had their noses far enough into the ditches to have their backsides off the road.

Up, up the hill, until we closed in on the Yellow Creek/Revere intersection. The road uphill was closed; workers were throwing salt by hand on the intersection, and we were detoured up Revere road. The operative word is “up”; Revere is still uphill until the Market Street intersection. The little train kept chugging up. Everyone left ample room for the potential disaster. The car ahead of me nosedived into the ditch. We kept moving. A car well ahead lost traction and stopped.

The car behind took the left hand lane to pass it. The downhill traffic wisely stopped and the little train kept on climbing through the ice. I eased around, never changing pressure on the accelerator. The tires were turning, looking for purchase, but not sliding. They grew hotter and hotter; I didn’t flinch. The Land Rover ahead had cleared the top, the big truck behind was closer and closer, but not stupid. My little car kept on until….tires caught, slipped, caught, slipped, caught, caught, caught.

The new neurologist had not received the George Washington images. “I even called them myself. You cannot quit Keppra until I see them.” I got another signed release from him and took the freeway home.

I called GW to learn the protocol for obtaining the images. The options were to deliver the release in person or to mail it. In thirty days I will receive the images. I wonder if doctors have a secret handshake.

My back door, the morning I saw the new neurologist.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Rising from the ashes

We have a local author, David Giffels, who has published several national books, and remains local. We all know him, at least by sight. He teaches at Akron U and has one less degree than I have. I wouldn’t want his job, though we seem to have the same hard scrabble attitude. He scrounged all over Akron’s rust belt as his childhood activity, absorbing it and thinking about what it could be.

I’ve published pictures of BF Goodrich, transformed into important offices and medical suites, but with an atrium to the roof cut through the massive concrete floors, the halls featuring the massive concrete supports. We succeeded in remaking this town because we succeeded, the hard way, on purpose. Not me; I just moved back. Giffels has an attitude about that, though not bad. We’re acceptable.

Giffels has out a new book, Furnishing Eternity. I re-bought his old book (I gave my massive book collection to the local library two years ago), The Hard Way on Purpose, to put it back in my head. Perhaps I relate to Giffels because I’m doing much of my recovery work both the hard way, and on purpose. I can be really snotty with doctors and lawyers and adjusters when I tell them I cannot live long enough to re-learn what I lost, let along regain full use of a leg, an arm, a hand. “Think about that, you self-righteous SOB, and give me a righteous answer.”

This post is only about stuff. I’m up to Thursday on my calendar. It’s only eleven in the morning. Lynn and I were going to breakfast, but her cat is sick and she’s particular and the cat has a vet appointment. We go to Michael’s in the valley. Its owner is my age, single and looking for a datable person.

I don’t know why this is such an issue for me, except that Les died, and if I wanted to continue to share lunch and world views with someone who also put air in my car tires, I’d have to look around, or get lucky. I’ve not done the former because the latter just continues to appear. I’d have to call the average fifty percent. An overqualified former Goodyear engineer and I won’t describe the zero who fleshed out the percentage.

Giffels nailed it: “…they think we’re average. And we are…as average as a watershed. Some of us have more and some of us have less; some of us think this way, and some of us think that. If you add it all up and divide by two, you get something in the middle.”

Laura seems to read the blog on the way home from school. She knew about Roku’s when she came in the door last night. The Secret life of Grandma continues to blow away. Breakfast cancelled, I spent the morning on the phone with Spectrum, my ISP. Bored. So are those people in cubicles, solving problems. Often I get a knowledgeable young woman, always a pleasure. This morning I had Bob, from North Carolina. We pinged and tested and concluded the problem is Blogger; Spectrum is not dancing to non net neutrality—yet.

I switched to a person who could cancel my TV service.”You can save a lot of money over cable,” according to Miss Tenth Grader. I could save six dollars a month. The cable goes down, the internet goes up. Of course it does.

Last night I contemplated my empty day and decided I will finish the last half of the last sleeve I abandoned last year. Before I could never watch HGTV again. But now I can. Or maybe I’ll finish Seedtime on the Cumberland. I did quit the library book club; they’ll never read what I read. I still have HGTV. I do have to get up to the mail box and get that Roku. Now, that’s something to do.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Hooking up on Netflix

Laura has wanted Netflix for, oh, all of her life: All my friends have it. You could save a lot of money over cable. I’ll never ask you for anything else (I remember that ploy when her and Emily’s ears were double pierced!). You could see what you wanted (a great improvement over Hall Mark channel, I suppose, which is the only decent remnant in all the cable TV “upgrades.”)

I do not give a rat’s backside about the content of our television. I have not turned it on or watched since the day after the last presidential election. I have an unfinished sweater by my empty chair, proving I have not even watched HGTV in the intervening months.

But, Laura wants Netflix. I ask friends. “Oh, you just need a streaming device. Laura can do it.” I listen to rapturous recitations of this streaming device and watching Netflix on my phone, my tablet, my computer. “You need internet, too.” Check. “Laura can do it.”

Since Laura wants it and can do it, I put her in charge. “Find out how to get Netflix.  Ask your friends. Ask you siblings. Ask your cousin. Ask google.”

After a decent interval, I asked for a Netflix report. “I don’t understand what anyone is saying.”

After another interval, I did it my way. I called Netflix. I told Brie I was building from the ground up, information-wise. How did I obtain Netflix for my granddaughter? “Oh, she can do it….”

Just tell me.

You need to create an account. “As in a way to pay you?” Yes. Check.

You need a smart TV. “How do I know if I have a smart TV?” Does it have an HDMI input? “I see HDMI on the screen; I can look around and see if there is an HDMI plug in.”

Then you need a streaming device. This is the point at which I consider screaming whenever I engage in the Netflix conversation. “Yes, I’ve been told. What is a streaming device?”

Oh, a Roku, a Firestick, a Chrome….

“A thing! Where do I get a Roku, a Firestick?”

Best Buy, Target. Like that.

I thanked Brie. I hung up. I uttered my standby obscenity, which may show up in comments. I fired up Amazon and bought a Roku, for delivery today. I’m pretty good at setting up accounts, that sort of stuff.

Monday, January 8, 2018

A forgotten dispute

This post is to add some more opinion to John Grey’s review of the film Hostiles. More discussion will be interesting.

Date: Tue, 22 Apr 1997 20:07:32
From: C. Anthony Harding 
To: nativeweb
Subject: Seneca Tobacco and Fuel Tax Situation
This is a press release from the American Indian Movement in Cleveland, OH
Dated Monday April 21, 1997:

Cattaraugus Indian Reservation - On Sunday April 20, 1997 a group of 1,000 peaceful Seneca protesters shut down the New York Thruway. This protest turned into a violent confrontation after New York State Troopers attempted to forcefully remove the protesters with the use of pepper mace and batons.

The protest is for the violation of the Sovereign treaty rights of the Seneca Nation. Governor Pataki's tax policy is to force the Senecas to collect sales tax on gasoline and cigarettes sold on their reservation land. The state of New York has cordoned off the entire region and are arresting any native American Indian attempting to enter or leave the region. Several individuals attempting to walk out of the area to get to their place of employment have been arrested and subject to abuse at the hands of officials. At this time a temporary restraining order has been issued to allow heating oil only into the region. Failure of the Senecas to sign an agreement with the state of New York that violates their treaty rights have resulted in massive unemployment on the reservation and hardships for the small business owners. No news reports have been broadcast or printed due to the black out by the state officials. Thousands of motorists that have been diverted off the Thruway believe the cause to be road work. Road work it is, but it's not being conducted by the State Employees......

The above is twenty years old, and repressed. I only know because I was involved. I had the Seneca version explained to me by a Seneca, before a State Trooper threatened him with detention if he did not leave. I was on the Southern Tier, coming home from a show, and was diverted over the mountains by the protest.

I wrote of this adventure years ago, but my index is so trashed I can no longer find it. Perhaps someone recalls my recounting the adventure of the fires and explosions along the Southern Tier, as we drove past. The Seneca Nation was protesting the embargo of fuel oil by Governor Pataki all winter, in retribution for non collection by the Seneca Nation of United States sales taxes on cigarettes.

When it happened my brother-in-law got additional information for me from his truck driver network. My New York friends knew nothing of the problem and probably still do not.

I’m putting this out again as an addendum to John Grey’s review of the film, Hostiles and a response by a reader of natives not playing fair among themselves. I responded with what I remembered of the Pataki incident twenty years ago. Someone responded Pataki was a fair governor who did good things for the citizens.

Bringing me round full circle of a lifelong dislike of the government’s settlements with natives, and the general ignorance of the average citizen of the treatment of natives. As a nation we have a record of killing probably unequaled in history, of our native peoples.

http://sisis.nativeweb.org/seneca/rally.html The small clipping I located of the incident I saw.

Since I never can let well enough alone, this afternoon, at cards with the Methodists, I put a question to one of them, as follows: “Peter, as a man of color, answer a first question in few words. How has your race fared since ‘freedom’?”

“Worse than yours,” he replied.

“And,” I followed up, “how about native Americans?”

Long pause, and a harangue. “How do you compare genocide to slavery?” he asked. “At least you spared us women and children.”

I recited briefly my Seneca story. Peter, a native New Yorker, will reconsider his opinion of Governor Pataki. He remains firm on white privilege. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Frigid, frozen news.

I believe the news is frozen, too. Good, bad, indifferent, little has changed. Brannon is sorry he slammed Jr. in The Book. Your mother always said, “If you don’t have something nice to say…” I’ve violated that myself, on the whole with no regret. A fellow in Stockholm scooped some stray trash from the ground; it exploded and killed him. That’s awful. Sydey is still hot; Merkel courts the Social Democrats to form a coalition.

Not much new from yesterday, except the runways are operational at JFK. Dunkin’ Donuts is still eliminating artificial food colors. Millennials are buying cryptocurrency. Don’t know about that. I’m probably too old. But, and this is new, ‘wi-fi’ connects human brains and explains why we have gut feelings. I have believed our brains are connected for as long as I can remember.

In college a group of us were going to supper. One of us was missing. Against advice (we had to appear for dinner at a certain time), I went back for her, pounded on her door and eventually went in. She was asleep under the dryer and already had blisters. I just had a feeling.

Today we went out to catch up on errands. It’s 26 F out there; we got around and around and around. Miss Laura, after a three month hiatus, sucked it up and began driving again, a couple of days ago. I do not question why. We started at the grocery store, and as she pulled up to the same red stanchion she put through the radiator last fall, she shuddered. “I thought it moved!” But, it hadn’t.

Here is a good deal of our day, in pictures.

On the way down the steps, Pig, Toad and Lambie are recovering from being buried in snow.

The driver has salt on her new winter coat. It's not even a wonderful new coat, it's now a friend.

In the store, salt everywhere. Even on the floor and on grocery carts. Love the boots and socks.

Puffy coats everywhere. The woman in grey is fascinating. Her clothes match her beautiful hair, and the lovely scarf accents her face. Don't overlook her cool boots.

All this observation happens when grandma waits for the grocery shopper to come through the line.

Then we took Sarah through the car wash. That all is winter grime sliding down.

She looks swell now. I owed it to her. I say, "I take care of you; you take care of me." But, it's been too cold since Christmas. Laura cleaned off six inches of snow and one of window ice just to get us home from Wisconsin.

And, we used Emma's advice to thaw the shed lock with a sock of microwaved rice.  To the cat's great dismay, Christmas is over for another year.

Now we need only to learn how to "hook up" Netflix. Everyone says "Oh, you can do it," but neither of us has received a gut feeling about the process.