WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here.
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Saturday, April 10, 2021
2. Are you able to ignore a ringing telephone? Define "ignore." Once I check who it is, I can be very willing to let it go voice mail.
3. How often do you allow a ringing phone to go to voice mail? See above. Last Tuesday was our local election. I got a ton of robocalls about the community college school board.
4. Do you answer your cell phone, out in public, every time it rings? Or do you silence it and get back to it when you’re in a more private area? When my phone is in my purse, I let my purse ring. When I'm out with friends -- which I haven't been in months -- I'll wait until our get-together is over before I check it.
5. How often would you say you’re on your home phone? Your cell phone? I still have a landline and during this year of working from home, I'm glad I kept it. Landline = personal; cell phone = work. Obviously I prefer the landline calls. They tend to be more fun. (Unless you want to discuss the community college board candidates.)
6. Do you like talking on the phone or do you view it as a necessary communication tool? Yes on both counts. Depends on who I'm talking to and what we're talking about. What I'm not a fan of is texting. It's so hard for me to compose a cogent message using my fat thumbs.
Key West Botanical Garden. I admit I was wobbly at first, but ultimately I performed admirably.
8. Do you own a bike? Nope.
9. Given the most popular New Year’s resolution of losing weight, would you consider putting bicycle riding as one of your exercise options? Why or why not? No. My mind wanders too much. I don't deserve to operate any vehicle in traffic.
10. If you had to name a smell that always makes you nostalgic, what would it be? What sorts of memories does the smell evoke? Black licorice. My favorite grandpa sucked on licorice throat lozenges. When I smell black licorice, I smile, remembering how much he loved me. Every kid should have someone like my favorite grandpa in her life
11. What did you do over the weekend? No detail is too small. This is your journal, so tell us about the mundane tasks in your life. Laundry. Hair cut. Talked to Henry on the phone. Watched my Cubs not do especially well in Pittsburgh.
12. If it weren’t for my blog, I’d keep a paper journal.
13. When was the last time you replied “because I said so”? Do you find yourself saying that a lot? Or do you prefer to tell people WHY you want them to do something for you. I don't recall ever saying that. Maybe because I've never been a mom.
14. What is the worst gift you’ve ever received? My friend Kathy loves jigsaw puzzles and so, when I had covid, she very kindly sent me a pair of them. I hate jigsaw puzzles. But she meant well, and I loved it that she was thinking of me. And, when things open up a bit more, the puzzles are going to Goodwill so someone else will enjoy them.
|I'm on the left, my mom is on the right|
Friday, April 09, 2021
The Bones (2019)
1) The lyrics compare a relationship to a house, saying that despite superficial problems like peeling paint or broken glass, the foundation can still be solid and strong. What home improvement project is next on your list? I am having my bedroom air conditioner re-installed with a bracket so it won't hang out the window at an angle. Not a very exciting answer, is it?
2) Maren Morris sings that she knows she and her lover can face any storm. Are you afraid of thunder and lightening? Nope.
9) Random question: What do you call that thing in your living room? Is it a sofa, couch, or a davenport? Sofa.
The picture is beautiful. Paul is beautiful. The sound is fabulous. Paul is fabulous.
I can't wait to watch the Cubs! (But I must; no game today.)
I still have to program Netflix* and Amazon Prime into it. And my DVD player is now a useless paperweight that will have to be replaced.
But these are quibbles. More channels, higher quality and a remote I can boss around. Welcome to 2015, Gal!
In the spring of 1965, 4-year-old John Kennedy Jr. was feeling overwhelmed at the dedication of the Runnymede Memorial to his father and instinctively grabbed Prince Philip's hand. It is against protocol for anyone to initiate physical contact with HRH. The Royal must offer his or her hand first. Prince Philip let the rules slide and squeezed back. I liked him for that.
Thursday, April 08, 2021
Ever since my friend Henry came home after his initial hospital stay -- the result of a terrible accident that left him in a coma -- I have been frustrated and scared. Because neither he nor his husband, Reg, have received the care and therapy they so desperately need.
Henry should have received occupational therapy or perhaps cognitive behavioral therapy. He has sustained substantial damage to his frontal lobe. He has trouble reasoning. He knows this and is trying to make sense of it, and he can't. This leaves him irritable and paranoid, and he forever sees himself at the mercy of dark forces. He needs help navigating his world. He needs to learn to control his anger, to reinterpret the distorted signals his injured brain picks up.
He has never received this care.
There was so much emphasis on getting him back from the hospital in Miami and home to Key West that it was not a priority. Since he has been home, he's been under the regular care of a family medicine specialist. No, it doesn't make sense. Henry should be consulting a neurologist regularly, one who can get him the therapy he needs.
First, this didn't happen because we were all joining Henry in the fiction that he didn't have a brain injury. I never thought this was the wisest course of action, but Reg did. Reg believed that once Henry accepted the brain injury on his own, it could be treated. I think that was a bad choice, but it was one made from love. I have always respected Reg's role as primary caregiver and have kept my mouth shut. To be honest, I would have re-enforced that diagnosis from the moment Henry came out of the coma, thereby normalizing it. But Reg wanted domestic tranquility and believed more in the power of peace than intervention. OK, what's done is done.
But it's now spring 2021, and all so nearly three years have gone by. Three years of Henry trying to do his much-loved job at the library, and failing. Three years of him lashing out at coworkers and patrons. Three years of the County he works for trying to figure out how to make the unworkable work.
Reg should have received support as a caregiver. It's not a talent, it's a skill. He's never learned it. He won't. I've recommended online support groups. His old friend Patrick has researched local Key West psychologists who have experience in this -- after all, many partners and parents in Key West have nursed loved ones through AIDS, and Florida has an aging retirement population. Reg won't do it. Patrick thinks it's because he doesn't want to confront his own drinking. I suspect there are issues from his past he's afraid will come up (I know Reg was sexually abused as a child).
Instead, Reg stubbornly insists on handling Henry's care by himself. He's not good at it. He likes to remind all of us (in Facebook posts) that he has cut Henry's hair and nails, changed his catheter, and nursed him through seizures. True. Laudable.
But he's short-tempered with Henry. He's positively operatic on Facebook, leaving long and rambling posts that violate his husband's privacy. He seems to live for the likes and heart icons of his followers. This is human, I suppose. But it's insufficient and a fucking waste. He needs real support, real care from professionals who are learned though not loving. It's available. He won't take it.
I have been afraid of two things. One is Key West hurricane season. Their home is not built to standards so if they are in the path of a storm, they'll have to evacuate. Before the accident, the last time evacuation was required, Henry and Reg joined friends of Henry's in a big, sturdy house. Three couples in the same home. Today, Henry is irritable, paranoid and argumentative under the best circumstances. This ramifications of this terrify me. I can see an angry Henry running out of the house and into the storm.
The second is that Henry will lose his job. He'll never get another, not in his condition. Reg is an independent bookkeeper and a bartender -- he works hard but all their benefits come from Henry's job. Plus, Henry needs the stability, the routine and the identity he gets from being a library assistant.
On Monday, Henry was placed on administrative leave. He argues with the patrons. His bosses say he is unreasonable. He says the patrons marginalize him because he is a gay brown man in Trump's America. He is wrong, of course. Do I believe the MAGA crowd is racist and homophobic? Well, they voted for a man who is. Do I believe they are Key West residents who frequent the library? Of course not.
Reg is furious. The county won't discuss Henry's employment dispute with him. Of course they won't. The people who complained about Henry have rights. I know this, I've been a boss and understand a little something of employment law. I could help. I could recommend that Henry (not Reg) request copies of the terms of his administrative leave. Maybe we could work on a plan that could satisfy the county and get Henry back behind the desk at the library.
But Reg is unreasonable. He wants to complain (and I appreciate how much he's hurting) but I don't want to listen. I don't want to hear how three years ago he shaved Henry's face and cut his nails and changed his catheter. I want to hear about the neurologist who is scanning Henry's brain for changes and prescribing medication accordingly, the therapist who is teaching Henry coping skills, the support group where Reg is gaining insights from other caregivers.
It's Thursday. Henry has not phoned me himself yet. And I'm not reaching out to him. Not this time. They are about to lose their health benefits and possibly their home (they need two incomes to make the mortgage and who is going to hire Henry now). I can't help them. I don't have a pot of money under my bed. I am 63. I am making the money now that will support me through retirement.
Lest you think I sound selfish, consider this: A week ago Tuesday, Henry had a tooth pulled. As soon as the procedure was scheduled, he called me to tell me how frightened he was. I sent him a get well card filled with turtles -- Henry and I have visited the Key West Turtle Cannery Museum -- and a $25 Walgreens gift card to pay for his antibiotics. Neither Henry nor Reg acknowledged it.
They're too into their own pain, their own drama, their own sturm und drang to appreciate what I can do to support them.
I love these men. I do. They are good people in a terrible situation. But they have willingly taken it from terrible to impossible, and I am learning my own limitations. I cannot help them anymore. They have to help themselves ... somehow.
There's a quote from the Old Testament I would to like to share with them:
The Lord said, "I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
It's my prayer for them. It doesn't have to be this way for them. God doesn't intend for it to be this way. They have made it this way. I pray they find their way out.
Wednesday, April 07, 2021
7-year-old Anthony Rizzo of the Parkland Pirates, posing with his father/coach, John.
Rizz today, still waiting for the Cubs to offer him a contract that is not an insult. I cannot lose him. It would break my heart.
Tuesday, April 06, 2021
Monday, April 05, 2021
When I worked on then Senator John Kerry's 2004 Presidential election campaign, I was among the volunteers who handled the money. In those long ago days, the contributions came in mostly by mail. I "second checked" the paperwork before we packed up the funds and sent them to the campaign office in Boston. Were the checks made out correctly and signed? Did the name/address on the check match the contribution form? Was the contribution form filled out completely? If something was amiss, the check was returned.
I know. I'm the one who returned the checks. It broke my heart to do because I also worked the phones, soliciting the checks.
You can imagine how this story about the Trump campaign disgusts me.
|Read the full article here|
Beginning last summer -- when the nation was in the midst of a pandemic and many were struggling financially -- the Trump campaign sent supporters emails with pre-checked boxes, authorizing recurring donations.
Donors were unwittingly making monthly campaign contributions, with funds automatically coming from their credit/debit card accounts.
"According to the Times, several banks and one of the nation's larger credit-card companies confirmed that, at one point late in 2020, these cases accounted for up to 3% of all fraud complaints received."
Donald Trump's campaign ripped off its own supporters, and had to be forced to refund the money.
The former President reminds me of Texas Guinan. During Prohibition, she greeted nightclub patrons with, "Hello, Suckers! Come on in and leave your wallet on the bar." They loved her audacity and kept coming back to her place to party.
Sunday, April 04, 2021
I used to love this movie. First when I saw it at the theater when I was still in high school, then in repeated viewings -- Blockbuster rental, cable and now, finally, DVR. I recalled it as suspenseful and fast moving, with a little romance thrown in.
This weekend, I thought superficial and not especially engaging.
How can that be? I adore circa 1970s Robert Redford! Sydney Pollack is one of my favorite directors! I always thought they did their best work together. And yet this weekend, I was all "eh."
And interestingly, Faye Dunaway -- an actress I usually dismiss as pretentious* -- struck me as warm and funny.
*Except as Bonnie. I loved her in Bonnie and Clyde.
Saturday, April 03, 2021
This is an Etsy bridal shower game.
2. What’s your favorite cocktail? It changes. This past week has been unseasonably cool here in Chicagoland and I thoroughly enjoyed warming up with a mug of spiked hot chocolate. The rum gave it a nice kick. Once spring starts feeling more like spring, and vaccinations enable me to go out with friends, I predict I'll switch to Negroni.
3. If you are alone for the evening, what do you fix yourself for dinner? I'm always alone for dinner. Especially because of covid. (You can't stop taking it seriously, just because you're bored with it.) Anyway, I usually make myself a main dish of some sort of protein (last week it's been chicken) and then I mix up the sides so I don't get bored: mashed potatoes, corn, peas, salad ...
4. What make was your first car? A Chevy Impala. It was a seriously big boat of a car.
5. What is your height? I always say 5'2, but to be honest, I haven't been measured in decades. I think I'm lying and I'm closer to 5'.
6. What was your least favorite toy as a child? I don't recall anything specific, but I did find jigsaw puzzles to be a disappointment as a gift.
7. What’s your favorite cartoon character? Mr. Peabody (and his boy Sherman, of course).
|Every dog should have a boy|
8. What’s your dream car? One that comes with a chauffeur.
9. What’s your favorite pizza topping? Sausage.
10. What’s your favorite sports team? I love any excuse to post a photo of my all-time favorite-most Cub, Anthony Rizzo.
11. What’s your favorite TV show? This Is Us.
12. What is your favorite ice cream? Mint chocolate chip.
13. What is your favorite song? All My Loving by the Beatles. The sweetest, most romantic song sung by The Cute One. The guitars sound very rough and jangly on this, but I'm so impressed by their harmonies. Remember, at the height of Beatlemania, they couldn't hear one another well over the screaming girls. Nicely done, Lads, nicely done.
14. What’s your least favorite chore? Picking up after myself.
15. What was your first job? Babysitting
I spoke to my friend Kathy last night, and it made me sad to hear her so sad. She's 73 and has had Shot #1. She's still self-isolating until two weeks after she receives Shot #2, which will put her into May. Of course this is wise, but it's getting to her. Kathy has had cognitive issues for a while, and the pandemic is especially difficult for her peace of mind.
For example, she told me how she misses her 55-year-old daughter, who relocated to Colorado. But, she said, she's glad that her daughter got out of "MAGA Country" (Illinois) to fulfill her dream of teaching Pilates and working part-time in a health food store.
What the ever-loving fuck? Illinois is MAGA Country? With a Democratic governor and two Democratic Senators? And there are three Pilates studios right here in my neighborhood! I pointed this out to Kathy, who was dismissive. She lives in DeKalb now, a college town 65 miles outside of Chicago, and she insists it's filled with "Trumpers." She says this makes her feel lonely.
DeKalb is NOT filled with "Trumpers." Kathy's adult grandchildren are anti-vax Trumpers and this makes her sad, but they do not represent her adopted hometown. It's the home of Northern Illinois University. There's an academic community and tons of students, two groups not usually found under MAGA caps. I pointed this out to her, too. She clucked.
She is sad and lonely and skeptical of her neighbors, but she shouldn't be! She shouldn't judge everyone in town by her adult grandchildren, though her adult grandchildren are the only ones she has consistent contact with. (Minimal physical contact, since they refuse to mask so she doesn't let them in her home. They talk on the phone regularly, though, and the kids are very good about helping her with her shopping.)
I recommended that, after she gets her second shot, she join a book or movie group through her library. Or maybe find someone to go on walks with her (she enjoys hiking around town and through the forest preserve). She doesn't want to spoil a nice sunny day listening to someone claim Trump was robbed.
Of course she doesn't. We're all tired of The Big Lie. But she likely wouldn't find a person like that! I sent her these screen grabs this morning. The first one is the final 2020 vote tally for the State of Illinois, the second for her new home.
This may sound corny, but it's Easter weekend and I especially want to be compassionate and helpful. I want to help Kathy with her feelings of isolation and "otherness." But I can't convince her that she's doing this to herself! That's she's judging a community of 45,000 by the four young people she talks to most often, her adult grandchildren.
But I can't reach her, and it makes me sad. I wish she believed in God. Maybe a nice, progressive worship community could succeed where I'm failing.
Friday, April 02, 2021
Saturday 9: Here Comes Peter Cottontail (from the archives)
1) Which do you prefer: colored hard-boiled eggs, chocolate marshmallow eggs, or plastic eggs with coins inside? Colored hard-boiled eggs. It once would have been plastic eggs with coins inside, if the coins were quarters, because I need them for laundry. But as a member of the condo board, I now in charge of collecting the quarters from the washers/dryers and taking them to the bank. I'm swimming in quarters now!
2) What's your favorite color of Peeps (yellow, purple, or pink)? Yellow. Though I must admit I don't really like Peeps and haven't eaten one in ... could it be? ... a decade.
|I enjoy Peep-inspired art|
3) All this talk of sweets is making Sam hungry. What's for lunch? Saturday I'll be having leftover barbecue chicken. I'm going to the dentist Saturday AM and, if he can repair my tooth himself and doesn't send me to the oral surgeon, I may not be in the mood for anything more. Sunday is Easter, and Easter means ham.
4) This song was introduced by country singer Gene Autry and it's still a favorite. Please share some of the lyrics. (And you're on your own; Sam didn't include a link to the song this week.) "Here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail. Hippity-hoppity Easter's on its way."
5) Gene Autry was so popular that a town in Oklahoma named itself for him. Have you ever been to Oklahoma? Nope.
6) He and his horse Champion also had a TV show. Can you name another famous horse? Velvet's beloved horse, The Pie.
7) Gene Autry also recorded "Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer," and it was, of course, wildly popular, too. Who is your favorite recording artist? The Beatles. Always and forever.
In 1950, the year Autry recorded this song, Diner's Club issued the
first credit card. Think of the last thing you purchased. Did you use
cash, a credit card, a debit card, an e-wallet service (Visa Checkout,
Paypal, Google Pay, Apple Pay ...) or a check? Cash.
9) Easter is recognized as the start of the spring season. What are you looking forward to this spring? The crack of the bat. Especially Anthony Rizzo's bat. He's my all-time favorite-most Cub. It looks like this could be his last season here, and I want to treasure every moment.
But that really doesn't matter, because baseball is back and the Cubs are home. With the Biden Administration's welcome emphasis on masks and vaccinations, I may even be emboldened to go to a game this year. How I missed the bricks and ivy last year!
Anthony Rizzo got a double with his first at bat and brought a runner home later in the game. He also participated in a rather balletic play at first. The game didn't end as I would have wanted, but still, it was baseball!
Cubs President Jed Hoyer told reporters that he is "very optimistic" that he and Rizz will come to terms on a contract extension. (See post below.) This is huge. I cannot accept that I just saw my all-time favorite-most Cub take the field for his last Opening Day in Cubbie blue.