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Friday, October 20, 2017

How do they do it?

Years ago, when first appointed township clerk, I kept the old schedule. Up, up and away, out the door when working people leave. Eventually I realized the post office doesn’t start putting mail in the boxes before nine, and my morals began slipping. Thirteen years later I often was guilty of retrieving last week’s mail today.

Recently, over the last year or so, I’ve been asked to get up early a time or two, or three. Set the alarm sorts of early. When I’m down under the covers, I can tell the time by the car sounds. “That car leaves at eight, that car is pretty soon after. That one is before nine….” But why get up?

Once I could be up and gone in half an hour, and no one ever knew I cut it that close. It’s no fun drying your hair in an open window breeze below freezing, but….

Now leaving takes an hour, and generally more. I’ve tried telling the cat I’ll take care of his room when I’m back, but he’s not buying it. I can’t estimate the time, anyway. I’ve cut back on sitting and staring out the window, but that still sneaks up.

This week, and I’m including last weekend, has involved plenty of alarm setting. Delivery of the kid to her aid station last Saturday, to pass out water to runners in none to full Viking regalia, for the Viking Dash—quarter, half and full marathons. Full regalia includes a lot of fur.

An eight a.m. doctor appointment this week necessitated the alarm, as did an eleven a.m. appointment yesterday. Too many alarms; I remember sleeping, or not, the night before last. And last night, Kay called for a “tremendous” favor. Would I come over and let in the mouse exterminator at eight a.m. this morning. Why not?

Today, physical training at eleven. Lunch with Ann at noon, and send her back on her power drive from Wisconsin. I see she’s not becoming younger either. She stayed over at a friend’s in Indiana. My nap will happen until Laura comes home from school, before early delivery for band inspection for an away game, during which I will drive to the far end of Hudson and retrieve her best friend for an overnight.

Tomorrow someone will get the two of them around ten, for the drive to Haunted Cedar Point. Their return drive leaves at closing, midnight. I need to calculate what time to get up to return Victoria to her home by ten a.m. on Sunday. Oh, yes. Laura is visiting her siblings on Sunday; and on Sunday night we are going to Kay’s to schedule out their (Kay and Laura) Fall Hiking Spree.

My calendar is fairly vacant for next week, except a lot of sleeping, and forgetting the mayhem of the past week.

G'ma, France and Ann, a life time ago. Fifteen years, anyway.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


I read Al Franken’s book. Senator Franken. I have a lot of respect for Minnesota, including electing Franken. It’s wrapped up for Ann for Christmas. I read “Behind her Eyes”, for book club next week. Mark Twain said, I think in “Letters from Earth”, and I’m loosely attributing here, if you have a character and can’t figure out what to do with him, take him out back and push him down the well.” That will be my only remark on this book. Sadly, not only will no one get it, about twenty four of twenty five will be offended.

I haven’t pulled the zipper on Hillary’s packaging yet. I have Henry James “Portrait of a Lady” on my MP3 player, but cannot bring myself to go in and start sewing charity quilts again, and listening. I think I’ll buy a boxed set of Joyce Oates. Maybe I will buy a bookcase, though I swore off book collecting.

When you’re flying somewhere for Christmas, it makes more sense to ship the presents. Our carton isn’t full yet.

Laura asked me if I liked peach cobbler. Of course. Well, she thought she would make some. Do we have peaches? Oh, yes, she bought them at the market. Everything she cooks comes from Google. I simply have no kitchen cred, and was stunned when she asked if there was a good way to peel peaches, besides “peeling” them. Sadly, she bought no fuzz peaches, and had to peel. I told her about boiling water/cold water and skin slipping. That will be next time. So will brown sugar and sweet biscuit dough. But they were almighty good, irrespective. I went out in search of vanilla ice cream while the cook labored.

It’s Monday. Nowhere to go, nothing to do, so I drove to the post office to mail what could be mailed from home. I forwarded an insurance company letter to the Red Bus attorney. Not touching that with a stick. And, I mailed my on sale genetic test kit. Since I will never know why my grandfather married my grandmother, I’ll see how Irish I really am. The testing company divides Ireland into roughly four tiers, and I know I’m the top tier (Donegal) and the bottom (Cork). Or, am I?

I picked up my accountant, walking up the road, as she always does, and gave her a ride to the post office. I thought how I used to love driving around the township, taking pictures and posting them on the township website. No one seems to do that anymore. The only person who ever thanked me for the pictures was the husband of my troublesome trustee. Another unmissed bit of my job, though not by me.

I passed this Mennonite couple walking up the road. So unusual. See how they are in step. Beautiful. The husband had a pole, and I cannot imagine where they fished the bag of fish the wife carried. Or where they lived. I offered a ride, but was turned down.  I asked if I could take a picture. Only of their backs, and thank you for asking.

The only other picture worthy subject was on my favorite abandoned road, Wetmore. So, I came home and talked to my BFF, Carol, for an hour. “Carol, you spent your career in pharma. When will this end?” “I don’t know, Jo, I don’t know.”

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Leader of the pack (they won’t miss you when I’m gone)

Laura emerged from the band bus, bummed last Friday. That’s “despondent” in old people language. 

I’ve learned it’s better to pry into these attitudes than let them pass, and eventually got the full earful.

“Trumpets!” she snarled. Translation: guys who play trumpets.

“Jerks!” she responded to another pick. Translation: guys who play trumpets, behaving badly.

“Loud and stupid!” Wouldn’t shut up.” Getting somewhere now.

“About gays!” Aha; she went to a GSA meeting after school. GayStraightAlliance. I thought they just tie-died shirts at the meeting. Guys all around her on the bus, being loud and stupid about gays. They probably do know she’s a member, and think a good target. In which case they picked the wrong person.

But, something’s not right here. I went to the principal and the band director the beginning of last year, when Laura had been assaulted and, frankly, was terrified of starting ninth grade a year ago. As a result of my  meeting with the principal, the boy who assaulted her and the boys who bullied her literally are not to be seen. No shared classes. No shared lunch periods. They don’t even cross in hall ways. The principal promised me that would happen. But, band?

“I thought boys and girls were on opposite sides of the bus.”  A snort in response.

“Chaperones?” Front of the bus and uninvolved. They are supposed to be interspersed with the students.

“What was said?” “They were screaming at me, ‘How do you have sex with a trans? Where do you stick it?’ Stuff like that!”

When the jerk trumpets refused to shut up, she shut up and waited out the bus ride back to school.

Today we talked solutions. I sent an email to the teacher who sponsors GSA, explaining she needed to open a discussion and show the youngsters ways to deal with jerk trumpets. 

Then I sent one to the band director, telling her she broke the rules I knew were in place at the beginning of 2016, a year ago. Boys on one side of the bus; girls on the other; chaperones evenly distributed. I have witnesses (more than one, I hope.)

“And don’t mention I’m the only S in the whole group. Let them worry about breaking a bunch more rules. They won’t miss you when I’m gone.”

Summer's almost gone; winter's coming on.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Not again!

This is another of those ‘I wish I were what I was’. I’m on this continuum of living, but I’m missing the landmarks. I’m grateful to everyone who steps up and puts me on the right turn. I’m less disappointed in those who don’t.

It’s a new quarter at school for Laura, come Monday. I realize I must not have been involved when all the registration for this year occurred. It would have been at the end of last year, this April or May. Or the beginning of this year, June, July. Whenever, I was not in the room when she was assigned a gym class that could have been this summer and a study hall, in lieu of a computer class.

What’s done is done. I just finished tracking down her counselor. The same I went toe to toe with over Emily’s scheduling. You may remember this as the counselor who gave her no help in finding and applying for scholarships, and Emily and I did all the spadework. Dear god, why must I relearn all this, instead of having a practiced format.

Another day with nothing to do and all day to get it done. Actually, this is the fourth weekday of this week. The big day was Wednesday, an appointment with my PC for a four month follow up, then Laura’s counselor. That was a good outcome, though. Then band practice, and done.

At my doctor appointment, Dr. J said, “You know you’ve lost four pounds since I saw you last. Do you know why?” “Probably walking more,” I threw in. Life is better, for a month of Belbuca; I can walk a block and back. The truth is, I don’t eat enough, and was disguising it with ice cream. Hershey’s, two big scoops in a waffle cone, every Friday on the way home from taking Laura to marching band inspection.

She’s not coming home tonight; she has a GSA meeting, then inspection and another damn football game. We’ll be home late and up early for her to volunteer at an aid station, passing out water to folks who run marathons for fun, on the towpath. Laura’s Gay Straight Alliance makes more sense than running on dirt trails, for fun. No school tomorrow, so Friday night football is Thursday, this week. No Los Angeles Radio Theater to listen to.

I had texts to pick up prescriptions. I delivered my opinion of the quality of her work to the counselor who signed off Laura’s schedule, instead of me. I decided I needed a donut, and started a mental search for a shop with cream filled donuts, within easy reach. I needed gas, too, and stopped at Marathon. I glanced over at the store I never enter, and read the sign: Dunkin’ Donuts.

I thought I bought enough for lunch and supper. I didn’t.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Completely unexpected

When did something last come your way, from the blue? Unexpected. Joyful. Lifts the load a bit.

My life has been so full of children and associated problems for the last five or six years, I don’t know myself from them, at times. Three are down to one. Hamilton studying computer programming at Tri-C in Cleveland, where he also manages a Chipotle. Emily is studying computer programming at Hiram. Laura and I just rub along.

Beautiful day
Most of us remember the wall of craziness Laura encountered two years ago, during middle school. I couldn’t stop it; I couldn’t turn it around. In desperation, I just left it behind and started over. Laura was hospitalized for about three months, in lessening degrees of stricture, until we settled into a routine of seeing a counselor every other week and a psychiatrist every month. And, that’s the way it’s been for way over a year. We just do it.

Must arrive before school buses are two deep
Yesterday was the usual appointment with the counselor who walked this long path with us. I leave the house promptly at 2:30, to get in line at school to get her at three, to forge back through the inadequate infrastructure of Hudson to arrive at Children’s Hospital for our four o’clock appointment with her counselor. Get the ticket in the parking deck, through all the doors, down all the halls, check in and wait. Yesterday I forgot to get my knitting, but I took the Akron Beacon Journal from the wall pocket. I’ve stretched it into an hour more than once.

Not bad
I wanted to put together a Halloween post yesterday, and put Laura in charge of  pictures as we drove to the freeway. There’s one! Too late. Oh, well. There’s one.  We missed it. But, she did learn to zoom the lens, and took a picture of the crumbling bricks she has admired for a while.

Bona fide Halloween
When we checked in, Stephanie, the receptionist with red hair I wish I had, and I made our December appointments. A matter of honor with me, Laura does not miss school for doctor appointments. I own four p.m. appointments as far as they are open in her counselor’s calendar. The counselor came out for Laura, and asked if I had any issues to come in about. As usual I replied if there was anything, I was sure Laura would mention it.

Must capture holes in foundation
I read almost every column of that paper, because it did have to last an hour. I’d just opened up to and folded back Dear Abby and the funnies, when the counselor actually tapped my shoulder to get my attention. Would I please join them? Save the incident this summer, when Laura was being consumed by her phone, I cannot recall the interior of that office.

The gist of the summons: she and Laura think Laura has her affairs nicely in hand, and they would like to cut back to one meeting a month, in case something needs tidied up. I’m not surprised, but what an unexpected, pleasing announcement. Wow. How nice. We stopped by Stephanie’s desk and cancelled all our second meetings of the month already on the books, including the fresh December appointment.

Stephanie reprinted our schedule. “You are wasting paper,” Laura admonished. “I know,” said Stephanie, “but no mistakes this way.”

Monday, October 9, 2017

Corset strings

Like any problem, it’s a matter of identifying the boxes and ticking them off. I inserted myself into the childcare situation across the street, and then became the adult who would resolve it. Cathy is doing much of the legwork. She knows everything already, just doesn’t know how to put it together.

I was most of the morning gathering all the names and relationships involved. Cathy had a talk with the one father we know, who talks the talk and may walk the walk, if prodded enough by Cathy. He says he will “turn the mother in” to child services. Whether he makes the call or not, other cogs and wheels have begun turning.

We have one father for two of the children, and a grandmother for the third.

Boxes and tics:

No supper for the children: There is no propane for cooking (or heating, or hot baths!). Solution: propane is ordered for delivery today. Dad is paying, and taking responsibility for keeping the tank full.

Breakfast for the children: All cereal, milk and juice is transferred to the caregiver’s kitchen (Cathy).

Cigarettes and weed in the house: The Health District will make a visit one day this week. I know the agent; he solved the smoking in the office problem. He’ll solve this one, too.

Drug dealer at the house: This one was fun. I know all the officers on the force. I called the chief and said I had a job for his new detective. The new detective, plus side kick, spent one hour with the mother yesterday. The chief tells me the dealer will no longer be on the street. If transactions occur other places, the Health District cog is turning, and at minimum will keep the smoke outside.

The boys in school:  Tough. The older boy bullies the younger. They are half brothers. I have close to a graduate degree in “pass it down” bullying, so I’m sure the older is bullied himself. He tells Cathy he will be dead by 20, of HIV. What the hell. He is eight years old.  I have an appointment tomorrow with the school social worker to tell all I know about these two boys. The older boy has the grandmother. I don’t have her name yet, but the school may.

The school social worker is a knowledgeable and kind woman. She and I worked with the three grandchildren I brought into the school system, to help them adjust and assimilate.  If not, and you know I had one and a half abject failures to correct, she can to move these children along to another authority.

And I still played cards with the Methodists this afternoon.

If some suit from New Jersey shows up on my porch with a bogus complaint, what an earful he’ll have this time. My grandma says I can loosen the corset strings now. And, I'm not doing this any more.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Judgment passed

Years and years ago I learned the meaning of phrases like “There but for the grace of God go I.” So today a story about a Trailer Park, and I live here. There probably is no finer place in the world for meeting America. Every skin color you can imagine. LGB and T (“Oh my God, don’t tell anyone I told you I’m trans!” Still fear attached to T). Every degree of poorness to poverty.

The children are wonderful. They have no idea they’re poor, up to age two or three anyway. They play their games in the street, ride their bikes faster than we drive our cars through. Mom’s come home from work and herd a child or two or three into their home. Dad’s come home from work and come back out and fire up the grill and the neighborhood smells wonderful from dinner cooking.

Then, a mom who threw out a cat that Cathy and I re-homed. She may as well throw out the three kids as well, for all the good that roof does the three of them. Cathy started out watching just the three year old while mom cleans houses, through a service. It’s morphed into feeding all three breakfast, taking the boys to the bus stop, bringing the boys in at night until mom gets home. All for the same twenty dollars a day. If mom manages to get to work.

They boys do homework in the morning because mom wouldn’t let them in until dark. The boys get physically sick at school, and Cathy goes for them. Maybe because breakfast at Cathy’s was their first meal since lunch yesterday. Maybe because they like Cathy.

I’ve drilled Cathy in “No.” “No, I won’t take you to the gas station for cigarettes." We haven’t figured out “No, I won’t watch your kids while your drug dealer is here.”

Mama smokes, cigarettes and weed. She drinks with her boyfriends. She has new fingernails every week. I am such a cat, aren’t I? I cannot bear the thought of involving children’s services—yet. The police aren’t interested in marijuana—it’s penny ante.

The other day I found Cathy crying, holding a pair of flip flops that belong to one of the kids. Cathy has taught the little girl her colors, how to count. She takes her on the fall hiking spree in the metro parks, every day. “Look at what the child has to walk in,” she yelled at me, waving the flip flops. After supper Laura and I went to the shoe store.

Cathy was happy, and upset. “How can I explain these. They know I can’t afford them!”

“Say they came from Good Neighbors”; (a locally known charitable organization).

We’ll keep an eye on the kids this winter. Their grandma got shoes for the boys. We’ll see what we can do with her. And, I am calling the health department. The mom needs to quit smoking indoors. Other than that, I really don’t know what to do.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

You guys!

No one will be offended by this analogy, I’m sure. 

Last spring (though I have lost track of so much of this year), when the gop put out the first ACA repeal attempt, it seemed the entire list of gop-ers we were calling turned off their phones, their faxes, their email addresses. On Facebook came a share, to this effect: “Ok, Paul Ryon has gone radio silent. Here is his home address. Everyone send him a post card timed to arrive on Monday. Let’s have a hundred thousand post cards dumped on the end of his driveway.”

Mine was included.

I have struggled through a personal problem this summer, and I was as transparent as, well, a sheet of glass. There is a universe, though, and this week it has been sending really good stuff my way. Did you all get together and arrange a world-wide mail date? Thank you. We are burning up the return postal system with all Laura’s left over little round international thank you stamps. Back from her attempted international pen pal days. Thank you, thank you, and thank you.

The problem is coming to resolution. For the last two years more than a couple of friends have said, “This is none of my business, and tell me to shut up if I’m out of line, but, have you made plans for Laura?” Past changing a toxic environment and following her path to recovery, no, I haven’t.

The Red Bus business scared the bejammers out of me, when I was collected enough to think it through. There was dead and more to consider. Then, an incident this summer, in which the three family members on whom I might rely told me they would not have her. And half the time I couldn’t think clearly, on top of it.

I thought about her art teacher, Mrs. P. But Mrs. P. is moving house and starting her last one in college and all that stuff, and Laura only has two high school years left and I’ll be here and etcetcetc. My best friends are states away. Ann and I talked and Carol and I talked, and really had nothing more to say on the subject except we hoped I’d figure it out.

Then Laura smashed the car and Kay lent me one for two weeks. I helped Kay switch around her plethora of cars, and told her my dilemma on one of our rides. When I finally paid attention, I realized Kay was saying, over and over, “I’ll take her.” Laura, of course, was in complete agreement with that, and I called my daughter to tell her what I was planning, too.

Well, that backfired. I listened patiently, but ended the call when I was informed I was the villain who cut off Laura from all contact with the family. That was pretty much the last straw, and definitely the end of the conversation, toward the end of last week.

So, my sister bought a new house, which I knew. Saturday night I took a last look at Facebook, and read my sister thanking, by name, everyone of the family who helped her and Tom move in Saturday. My daughter, Laura’s mother. Bekka, Hamilton, Emily, Laura’s siblings, two of whom were my wards their high school years. I had no idea Saturday was moving day. No one called and asked if Laura could join the moving party. I stared at the screen a long time, and turned it off.

It is what it is. And, the postman filled my mail box this week with cards and letters and little presents. You guys are wonderful!

And, P.S., I saw Mrs. P. downtown today, and told her my solution.

“You know I would have Laura in a minute!”

“And, you’re my first back-up. But, I’ll still be here.”

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Venture Crew

We ventured into Garfield Heights last night, in the dark. It’s one of the conglomerate of southwestern Cleveland, post world war two, suburbs. The roads tangle, lanes end with reflective barriers. Poor roads, inadequate signage, unmarked alleys, three of which comprised the drive way into the community center. It’s not threatening or dangerous, it’s confusing and frustrating. We were in search of the Garfield Heights community center and our first meeting of Venture Crew 2309.  

They say Crew 2309 for short. They are Venture Crew to me. We walked into a room of teen age voices. Laura was a new face and adsorbed on contact into a mass of teenagers she knew not. I located the Scout leader I have met on and off for the last thirty years, was introduced to the mother of an eighteen year old Eagle Scout, who was pointed out to me, on the other side of the room.

I sank into a sofa next to the Eagle Scout mom, who also is a veterinarian and a Crew volunteer. For an hour my head swam in a wave of noise. The treasurer finished signing us up (and collecting dues). The scout leader next to me, and the one in front of me (whose sister I’ve also known for thirty years), and the veterinarian beside me told me of past adventures and what they hoped the Venture Crew might plan for this year.

In an hour’s time I arranged to never drive Laura to or from a meeting in Garfield Heights, and heard in minute detail last summer’s hike for two weeks in some mountain range in New Mexico (and the two month’s preparation (it involves red blood corpuscles, I’ve been told)). The other bimonthly meeting is at the Methodist Church, the home of card playing every Monday afternoon. I can certainly car pool there.

The meeting ended. Two things happened. I could not ascend from the depths of the sofa. The veterinarian whistled between her teeth. Her son appeared. “He’s trained to do this,” she said. “Can he pick you up?” Woosh, I was upright again.

Then, because they had not “appropriately” opened the meeting by pledging allegiance to the flag, they concluded with the recitation to a flag on the board, honoring veterans, and made of half a dozen twisted strips of red crepe paper over many, many stars and the black board, filmed by years and years of chalk dust. All as obscure as much of this country’s current moral sense, unless, of course, those young pledgers cared more about each other than our abused little pledge. Kept that to myself.

“So what did you and those three young women find to chat up so animatedly?”

“Band! They are in Woodridge band. We talked about what they do and what we do.”

Chicoma Mountain, New Mexico

Monday, October 2, 2017

Deja vue

It’s like November 9, 2016, isn’t it. Ground Hog day, all over again. I think tomorrow I’ll cash in my forever postcards and a small stack of uncashed checks accumulating in the junk corner and go back to the task of dialing the gop. And make another donation to Senator Brown.

Laura absolutely cringes when I launch into my best Janis Joplin: “Oh lord, won’t you buy me a color TV; dialing for gop-ers is waiting for me.” I live in a little blue pocket of Ohio, and have two blue members of Congress, though Josh Mandel seems to be mounting a strong challenge to Sherrod Brown. Portman, my other senator, needs to hear the president must be rebuked for bullying Ms. Cruz.

“I would like Senator Portman to make a public statement condemning the president’s words and expressing support for our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico.” I’ve learned from a friend of mine, it’s good to have them write it down, as often a necessary, until they can read it back. It could be a pleasant change from all the gun legislation calls they may be receiving.

Ann called me today, and made a reference to retiring. I reminded her, a trifle bitterly, I did not retire from my last job. Oh, she meant weaving, my last full time job. She just doesn’t understand how we “old ladies” cannot become accustomed to having nothing to do all day. She may be down in two weeks, to discuss this.

My only job tomorrow is to take Laura to a Crewmembers Venturing meeting. Venturing is a BSA off shoot for boys and girls. We missed the first meeting due to the car brouhaha, and the driv-ee is anxious not to miss sign up for Cedar Point Halloween. Laura has not accepted the driving anywhere since I got back the car. It will be dusk, driving to Garfield Heights tomorrow, but not six p.m. Wednesday, to band practice.

Quite the agenda, eh?

The Methodist chicken, refurbished for election day. Remember to vote in your own precinct, in November.

Past the law of averages

Gun violence will personally touch everyone in this country. Personally. Person. Son, daughter, mother, father, friend or neighbor.

I have a dream, sometimes lucid, of going round the corner to a phone and calling my mother. Now, what can I say?

The president thinks the response to suffering in Puerto Rico is outstanding.

They are so young, happy, and murdered in Las Vegas.

I can do so little. I’m going to another room to cry.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Saturday, in the sun

Another football game last night, another win. A conference game, to boot. I listened to almost all of M Butterfly, John Lithgow and B. D. Wong, waiting for the band bus. Laura got into the car just at the beginning of the end of the play, so I turned off the radio and we talked football and Saturday. We were home by 10:30, to bed and up today to zip through everything ignored last weekend.

Fall is on its second go-round here; the air at home is off and the heat on. But such a nice night; half a new moon. The windows were down on the Laura’s half of the car; kids are oblivious to lovely cold. Cold on Saturday morning, another matter.

We took the long way to grocery shop. First, a round international stamp and a stop at the mail box. A stop at Ace for three things, and I remember two. Since we were way down on the Ace end of town, a stop at Great Lakes Bakery. Laura, still not warm, found nothing on the day old rack that suited, so I suggested a loaf of challah. “Has lots of egg yolks,” I encouraged. “It’s a nice round braid,” she observed. I know; I used to make it every week.

The long way, back road trip to Krieger’s for groceries. I let Laura fall into and sort out her best method of grocery shopping. She’s been a while believing the meat counter at the back of the store is OK; good bacon, good hamburger, good pork, good chicken, good bacon. She finally believes it’s OK to spend “too much” if you’re within your budget. Budgets are next. We seldom go to Giant Eagle these days.

Tonight, Lexi’s birthday party. Laura’s not too tired from football sleep lag and I’m not too tired to take her. Lexi is having a character party; everyone is a character in a play and solves a mystery during the evening. Laura is playing a fortune teller. That’s all she knows. For a month I’ve inquired into a birthday present, but no response. Last night I was informed Laura has made a snitch necklace, drawn a picture and made a pendant. Grandma not necessary.

I’m close to the Moto Mod Hasselblad. Has a ring, doesn’t it? I was at Animal Control earlier, you may recall. It’s in a part of Akron reclaimed from our industrial past. This sort of building stops me in my tracks. The phone is OK, but doesn’t close in with any agility, and etcetcetc. Laura was on the opposite end of a row of buildings at Great Lake’s Bakery. By the time I zoom on the phone, the shot is gone. This elevator shot needed some zoom. My garden could use a Hasselblad, too.

Thursday, September 28, 2017


Earlier this week we exchanged a number of comments about the Kent State University shootings. 1970. Not nearly so remembered, but a part of my 1970, the bombing of Rodin’s statute “The Thinker” at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The bombing was in March, KSU just two months later, in May. I worked across the street, at the Freiberger Library.

The Weathermen, Students for a Democratic Society, Black Panthers, SNCC, the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee, all seemed a level above we intersection blockers who protested. Members of these organizations and more could be found in our student union, back in their infancy, posting their own meeting notices, and probably drawing away the more radical and angry among us.

Anti-war protests in 1970 were fueled by Nixon’s escalation of the war and expansion into Cambodia. The anger of the late seventies was more laser focused on injustice at home; we’d heard “plastics” as well as “Mrs. Robinson,” back in the sixties, and activists were slipping off into new corporate jobs. The war in Vietnam lingered; America moved on, buying homes and having babies.

Weathermen always seemed the most likely to me to have put the bomb at the Thinker’s base. Or anyone. The Weathermen always seemed very small to me, and looking them up just a bit ago, they were. The FBI didn’t think so, but it was 1970.

The Museum remounted the statue without repairs. A brilliant move that also preserved the artistic integrity of the work. Those of us who had the statue both ways appreciate its representation of the frailty of the social contract.

The Cleveland Museum of Art is mounting a new exhibition of work of Rodin, and in conjunction with that announced they had been contacted by someone naming a suspect in the bombing. The information cannot be corroborated, and remains hearsay. And, the “suspect” has been dead forty years.

The current nature and number of protests indicate how little has been accomplished. Minds must meet; it is the only solution. How long must it take.

''The Thinker'' by Auguste Rodin was photographed March 31, 1970, by Plain Dealer photographer Dudley Brumbach, days after a bomb blew out its base. It was a gift to the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1917 by Clevelander Ralph King. PLAIN DEALER HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPHIC COLLECTION

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Does this advance the story?

At cards on Monday, Nancy wheedled from me that I do remember how to read and in the last six months  read Lunch at the Piccadilly, because I saw its cover and waited weeks for it to come to the Peninsula library. The book is a tiny slice of life in your hand. Before you die, you will know this book. The slice of life will not be augmented or diminished, but you will have read a book.

I have taken to spending the last hour of drowsing in the morning in recreating the books lost in the Red Bus. I started with Middlemarch, which I recall as an absolute favorite. I cannot remember a single name. But I remember the younger sister called her older sister ‘Doty’, and I have built the action and the plot rather comprehensively. I may move on to Far from the Madding Crowd, or Stone Soup. I wonder if I will ever tackle Henry James, who started this. I suppose when I remember a title, I could start.

Nancy brought me her copy of the current book, A Long Way Home. The club meeting begins in forty five minutes. I want to go. The discussion lasts exactly one hour, according to my sponsor, and then everyone eats wonderful treats. But, at the end of the hour, I must drive fast to the high school to get Laura, then drive fast to downtown Akron for her appointment with her counselor, then fast back to the high school for band practice.

Scheduling therapy every Wednesday all summer has been great. Of course, I forgot school and band and life as I scheduled out through October. But, we’re tough. It will be part of what we remember about this year, “the year Grandma double booked Wednesdays.”

I’ve read book clubs have multiplied since the last election began; fueled, of course, by women. The more books women read and discuss, the more dissension is fomented, apparently. I’ve been opinionated all these years without a club.

The room was packed, about 25 of us for A Long Way Home. I introduced myself as someone who has lived here thirty years and is finally showing up. Then I settled back to listen. On the whole the women considered it a book of inspiration; a five year old pulling out street smarts that kept him alive until rescued to an orphanage. I look at how books are written, as well as the subject. So, I sat back and listened, on the whole.

I found the story of the five year old boy well presented. But the story of the adult boy, and especially the interminable Google Earth search for his home needed a major rewrite. I suggested, to a horror struck crowd, this part of the book does not advance the story. I was countered with “Well, it took him a long time to trace all those railroad lines,” and so forth. My argument fell on deaf ears, but not deaf lips.

For next month we are reading Behind her eyes. I’ll try. Remember, I didn’t make it through Lord of the Flies then, and probably could not, now. Which paragraph does not advance this story? Janie knows, I’m sure.

My Uncle Hank. Mom took this picture about 1935.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

What I’m doing today

Thumbing through Facebook yesterday, I stirred up the memory of Martin Agronsky. I couldn’t remember his name, and searched Gronowsky, fruitlessly, until it came to me. Those hosts and commentators were the social media of my parents’ day. Last night’s broadcast was discussed in the office the next day.

At five, six, seven I recall none of Agronsky’s commentary. He was at the beginning of a career that included Pulitizer journalism; I assume he was fairly liberal, probably more so than my father. Of the Kent State shootings, my dad said “They didn’t follow orders,” and I turned on him for the first time ever. “They did nothing to die for.” The end of my closet liberal self.

I was enticed back to Facebook at the beginning of the year, when we would show the new administration he couldn’t tell us what to do. One day Pantsuit Nation began showing up in my feed. A few reads and I knew I must join. But, it turned out I was already in because someone nominated me. So I nominated two people. I wonder what they thought, or if they were just pleased, like I was.

I’m happy to have been part of the glorious beginning of the rebellion, until the end of March and the major brain injury. Now, struggle as I may, I am not the same person. I joined the village book club, to force myself to read. They’re reading “A long way home,” and I must get back to it.

Every morning I read my email, my news feed, Blogger and Facebook, in that order. It’s “something to do” for a couple of hours of my day. Yesterday, another epiphany. Facebook is like my balance work at the gym.

An exercise involves stepping on a series of boxes. They are two, four and six inches tall. Kristen mixes the order, so I don’t get too cocky. I step up with one foot, the other follows. I step down. I move to the next box, which may be shorter, or taller, and repeat. The tallest box is the struggle I overcome, weekly.

It occurred to me, the boxes are an analogy of Facebook posting responses. The commentator ascends a box, makes a statement, moves along to the next box and repeats. Add to the growing conviction that Mark Zuckerberg knew full well he was illegally pushing the election, and I’m about done with Facebook. Too bad I cannot make a Joe McCarthy analogy.

I need to get Laura’s band uniform from the cleaner and read my book. Until later.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Martin Agronsky to Earth

When I was a child and walked uphill to school, both ways, my mom got up about six a.m., I’d guess, packed a lunch box for dad, filled his thermos with coffee, made breakfast for dad and me, and went back to bed. Dad and I ate our oatmeal while Dad listened to the news. I must have listened too; I remember learning AF of L/CIO, and, later on, there was a war in Korea.

Dad would push back his bowl, drink his coffee, smoke a cigarette, stub it out in the cream left in his bowl, and stand up to leave. Every morning he said, “When Martin Agronsky ends, you must leave for school.” 

Every morning I took the bowls to the kitchen, emptied the remains into the garbage, rinsed the bowls, and then sat on the arm of Dad’s Barcalouger, until Martin Agronsky said “…brought to you by the AF of L/CIO. I left for school.

That is a test; at the end there will be a multiple choice question.

Friday evening I introduced the cats, and there seemed no problem. Toby spent his night outside my door, keeping me safe; Gypsy spent her night on top of the kitchen cupboards, keeping away from Toby. 

I slept fitfully, and woke up Saturday with a gorilla on my chest, completely unable to breathe.  In my fiber career I spun pounds and pounds of dog and cat hair until I was too allergic to animal dander to carry on spinning hair.

I did wonder briefly, when I told Gypsy she had acquired a home, if a thousand square feet were adequate to house two cats. Now I can definitively say NO. Laura put out the cat; I texted my neighbor, and went back to bed, until time to take Laura to her homecoming festivities. Cathy and I agreed to start the cat removal business all over again, this morning, at ten a.m.

At eight a.m. I called my vet and tried. “Dr. Mike, I’ll have her spayed; can you see if some foster service is taking cats to re-home.” Dr. Mike was as blunt as the Humane Society and Summit County Animal whatever—a plethora of cats this year. He would spay and return her. That's not part of the test. I like Dr. Mike; I just said "No".

I asked Cathy to check with her vet, and spent the rest of the morning between the repair shop and my insurance company. The former failed to notify me my car was pushed out from today to Friday because the wrong hood had been sent. 

The latter wasted half an hour of my time attempting to talk me happy, until I hung up. Then the body shop called back and said my car actually will be ready Wednesday (at closing). I said if the paint was not dry, it would not change my rating of them.

Then it was time to play cards with the Methodists, and I had no intention of staying home. Right in the middle of a game of gin rummy, Cathy texted me she found a home in Richfield for Gypsy. That will amuse some readers, but it will not be on the test.

The test will be true or false: A rising tide lifts all boats. No, it can be multiple choice. Who told me that, my dad, or Martin Agronsky.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

From the ridiculous to the sublime

Back when I was a weaver I had a weaver friend with a house full of kids and husband and friends and noise. It was a nice place to go. The years went on, the kids thinned out and one day it was quiet, except for my friend, and a cat on the sofa. Karen called all the kids, who, she knew, took their cats and dogs, and no one claimed it. They all knew it, but not where it came from. “It just came from the shadows,” Karen said, “got on the sofa and became the house cat.”

Here’s a story about guilt and karma.

One neighbor brought home a kitten for her children, and consigned it outside when fleas were evident. The kitten survived and, according to my neighbor Cathy, who knows all the news, has had two litters. Those kittens have been taken in, or something. They’re gone.

Someone named this cat Gypsy. She is quiet, unassuming, non-demanding. She sits on porches in case a meal is forthcoming. I find her on my deck. She offers to come in. I say “No,” and she sits down again. She is tiny, maybe six pounds. In my mind’s eye she is a corner cat, like the one at Karen’s house.  I try not to get involved. I have a cat, and as my sister pointed out, I will not outlive my cat. I cannot be responsible for another cat.

The original “owner” offered to take Gypsy back if flealess, so I got a dose of medication, which Cathy applied. The cat is flealess, for the time being, but remains homeless. Cathy puts out a plate of food and retrieves it when Gypsy empties it. I’m not reliable enough to do that; my cat gets a fresh bowl of crunchies and a clean bowl of water every morning. Take it or leave it.

The open kitchen seems reduced to Cathy of late, who cannot afford to feed her own cats. I can, but would only be setting up a wild critter feeding station. Winter is coming on. I thought about setting up a house for the cat, but, again am only inviting wildlife. 

Come spring this little cat will be pregnant again. Sometimes I think I’ll just go across the street, kick in the door and tell that person how worthless she is. Fortunately, I have neither the balance nor the strength to take down a door. And, the four little girls are nice little girls.

Cathy and I have talked this to death. Yesterday I gave her my lovely cat carrier, asked her to put in Gypsy when she fed her, and I would take her to the Humane Society. My county is a long oblong; the Humane Society is at the northern border. I called ahead, but in twenty four hours had no return call. I found the building, and was turned away. “Oh, yes. You called. I just didn’t get around to calling back. We don’t have room.”

It was over ninety degrees yesterday. I headed south, for the freeway, and Summit County Animal Control, on, of course, Opportunity Parkway. I don’t know this part of Akron; it was reconstructed from the huge old B.F. Goodrich complex. There is no compass in Kay’s lovely car; I don’t know left from right anyway, and have never fired up my phone’s GPS.

I bet most every cat transported in a car howls. Gypsy said nothing. I apologized for the length of the ride, the cursing at all the detours (downtown Akron is being reconstructed), and the swearing at all the idiots who were as unhappy with construction as I. Gypsy said nothing. After several stops for instructions, we found Opportunity.

Gypsy waited in the car, all windows down. Not allowed inside. I stood in line for close to an hour as the single clerk labored away. At the counter I learned they are at capacity, and couldn’t take her. “But you are a taxpayer funded agency for animal control!” said I. I didn’t spend thirteen years in government for nothing.

They would take her to be euthanized. It would cost me $25. It was so hot; dripping tears were indistinguishable from sweat. I put my debit card on the counter. “We don’t take Visa debit cards; the charge is too high. Do you have a Master Card?” I took back my card and left.

This week we’ll get to the vet and transform her into a proper house cat. She and Toby came to terms in five minutes or less. He must remember being a four week old kitten in a Pittsburgh parking lot. He wants someone to lick his ears, too, like Ryon used to. As for leaving them homeless in the not distant future, I don’t think so. I can make arrangements. But, I’ll be damned if I pay another $50 per month to put a roof over her head. If asked, only one cat lives here.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Close call

We’re connected at the hip to our smart phones. Or there over the heart. Or back pocket, though I cannot imagine how that one works. Or just in the hand, and able to remember to pick it up whenever we move.

I’m on my second Motorola android. The phone store folks call them Droids. I had the first one at least five years, and gave it up only because the battery died. Unlike my previous flip phone, there is no replacing the battery of a smart phone. 

The phone world was juggling at the time between several operating systems. Blackberry was popular. My daughter, Beth and my friend Ann would never part with their Blackberries. I think Beth even had hers repaired, just to have that pull out keyboard.

I knew people who had I-Phones at the time, but they were so expensive! I picked a Motorola because it’s an American name that used to be in Chicago, Illinois. That was my rationale. That phone outlasted the Blackberries. “You still using this!” said the salesman, when it went down fighting, its battery deader than dead.

That was three years ago, just about the time Verizon removed the option of owning a phone. No, it had to be purchased on time, over the life of a contract. I circled the store and eventually selected a Samsung, based on cost. It was the cheapest.

How I hated that stupid little phone. Nothing about electronics is intuitive, in my opinion, and Samsung did not follow the protocol I’d memorized for my Motorola. I gave the Samsung to Emily and got the Motorola. End of phone drama, until Laura’s birthday, last year.

Laura had a flip phone to then, and I told her we had a long list of errands for the day and bring her phone, in the event I lost her somewhere. The penny never dropped until I told the sales person  that Laura was there to  get a new phone. The only caveat, a Motorola. It is one of my best surprises. I probably can’t beat it this year.

While she wandered, looking for a smart phone, I was literally drawn by the center store display of Moto Mods. All these catch words were new to me, but I understood one item simply by looking. The pistol grip of a camera. This Moto Mod was a Hasselblad. I thought about an old boss of mine who was also a photography nut, lending me his Nikon camera. It was so expensive, I ended my SLR photography days with my tried and true Minolta.

The Hasselblad was on sale for a hundred dollars. Of course, it involved the phone upgrade to the Motorola that could be Modified for other purposes. It was so tempting; it was like walking through treacle to get out of the store with only a new phone for an excited young lady.

For two weeks now I’ve been looking at an email: “You’re close to an upgrade!” I merely have to pay off the phone I have (which will be accomplished in next month’s billing) and the new Moto Mods are mine for the picking.

Damn, that new Hasselblad is beautiful! The email is still there. I’ve thought about it and researched it. So tempting. Lucky for me, no eyepiece viewfinder conversion. And Hasselblad doesn't appear to make the camera in red. I’ve dodged the bullet. But, what a beautiful piece of equipment.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Small mystery resolved

Remember the glass beads I heard falling, falling and clicking on each other, after the craniotomy, before I was conscious? I found them.

Today I had an EEG, which records brain wave patterns, and looks for, among other things, indications of seizures. My EEG ten or twelve years ago gave no indication of seizure activity and neither will today’s in my opinion. I see today’s test in a continuing pattern of the waste of taxpayer money. And mine, too, considering the cost of my supplemental Medicare insurance. But, …

I was in a recliner in a darkened room, and the technician recorded brain wave patterns on a computer behind me. For whatever reason I was asked to become drowsy over the hour long test. About three quarters through, I became aware of the glass bead clicking noise, back there by the computer. 

Occasionally I heard the sound of the keyboard strokes, but the majority of the sounds were of glass beads. In my mind’s eye there were no beads dropping, but no matter.

When the test was over, I quizzed the technician about the noise, and we got to the bottom of it quickly. It was the rapid clicking of her mouse, recording brain wave patterns. I tried it with my mouse here and had a more muted click, but I understood what was happening. The tech certainly had a task specific mouse that clicked easily and freely, unlike my very old mouse.

How interesting my brain used my curtain of beads to display images I’d seen of the National Mall during that day in March. I wonder how that translated in EEG brain waves.

Now I’m curious about the March readings. “Normal EEG, except connected by little glass beads.”

Monday, September 18, 2017

How to get up in the morning

People began calling me at eight this morning. I don’t recall the first, and would have to sort through my brain to recall the second.  Laura owes the first. Awake enough from the call, I was stripping down to shower, and thought “I didn’t hear her leave!” Sure enough, she hadn’t, two hours before.

It’s Homecoming this week, and today was Pajama Day (oh the games they play). I was pulling on yesterday’s jeans when she was in the door, and I left in my nightshirt, too, to drive her to school.  I remember, the first call was the drug store; the new synthroid script is ready.

My thyroid numbers continue to drop like a stone. I did new blood work last Friday afternoon. The new numbers were on my “chart” on Saturday, and my first thought was “Oh, shit.” I seriously cannot afford to lose any more weight, and the operative word is “afford.”  I’m from a size 12 to 8 over the last six months. Jeans are out of sight expensive, and I need to go look into 6. They’re like fifty dollars a pair and two pair are the absolute minimum, and etcetcetc.

At cards this afternoon, I complimented one of the women on her new bag. She responded since she has to wear the same shoes every day of her life, she would compensate with bags. I know I miss four inch heels, but since the Maytag suits forced me into trousers back in the eighties, I have not owned a dress.

When I joined the staff of my township, I did survey my closet. Jeans, jeans, occasional chinos. I thought it over, and decided if my jeans had a well pressed crease, a nice jacket and a nice blouse, they should pass anyone’s inspection. Four inch heels would have been mighty fine, too, but out of balance. Haha.

The next-to-last call was the neuro nurse practitioner. I thought we’d agreed  last week, there would not be another MRI of my brain when all they are missing from the one taken by, gasp, a competitor hospital, is the written report. Pick up the phone, please. I’d also resolved to my satisfaction the EEG tomorrow would settle the seizure question once and for all, and she need not renew the Keppra.

However, she’d had a talk with Dr. You Know Who (I had no idea) and his opinion was that two catastrophic brain events warranted continuing the anti-seizure medicine. Case closed.  I suggested I could just skip the EEG tomorrow, since the case was closed. “Oh, no. You need to have that!”

The last phone call:  the body shop. My car is in the line and work is happening. I can call Ken any time to see how it’s coming. Hurrah. I went to play cards.