Thursday, November 23, 2006

Darn, that hurts!

Everyone has those embarrassing moments that, by now, the rest of the world has forgotten, but live on in your memory and induce a cringe and a minor shudder each time they re-arise in your mind’s eye. Think how many guys watch video clips on TV and see the poor groom keel over just before the “I do’s”, and remember their own wedding with shame? After uncontrollable giggling at a funeral, fainting at the wrong time (among males, any time is the wrong time) ranks high among no-nos.

In my day, in the army, there was one forgivable, but not forgettable cause of fainting. In the fiery heat of the parade ground in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, or any tropical clime, the commands go :
• “Attennnn….Hut”:
• “Poortt..Harms” ;
• “ Inspectionnn… Harms”
• - a variable pause- followed by a repeat of,
• “Poortt …Harms”.

There is a brief nanosecond there after the last “Harms” during which you must remove your thumb from the path of the bolt crashing closed. If you fail, a searing pain shoots up to your shoulder, followed by a throbbing of the thumb, followed by a view directly into a blazing sun as you realize that you are flat on your back and your friends are stepping over you on their way off the field.

Now you have options – none of which solve your problem.
• Lie there until the sun goes down, then crawl back to the barracks.
• Get up and march off to your own music.
• Wait for a laughing medic, that by now you really don’t need.
• Lie there and cry for Mommy.
• Desert the Army and see if there are any openings in the CCC.

What ever you choose, the worst is yet to happen. You have to face the laughing and teasing in the barracks and the sarcasm of the sergeant.
* * * * * *
The only solace was that you knew that if they hadn’t done it themselves yet, they would.
Personal advice -- During the healing period, it is best not to try to use chopsticks.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Old Dogs Do Learn

After all these years of using the expression, "At your beck and call", it dawned on me that I never have heard the word "beck" in any other context. So I did the logical thing and looked it up. It means just what one would think it does, a beckoning gesture. But I am convinced I never heard anyone say, "Give me a beck." I think I took one too many Tylenol last night, because now I am wondering about the relationship between beckons and becks; and beacons and
beacs"? I must have something better to do.

For no reason, that brings to mind Quaker Parakeets. I spent the largest part of today searching for a picture I took several years ago of a Quaker Parakeet on a telegraph wire with a stem of three berries in his beak (that sound again!). I was very proud of that photo but I fear it is gone into a cyber wasteland somewhere. I did run across a very nice picture of this most beautiful of illegal immigrants. I don't know where I found it so I can't credit the photographer.

Quaker Parakeets, also called Monk Parakeets, first came to the US from South America as caged birds. But for all their beauty, they are loud, raucous talkers with unbeautiful voices. Soon, many were re-released into the wild in the states. They survived and colonies have formed in south Florida, the New York area, and even in the chill of the Chicago area. They travel and feed in flocks. They chatter as they fly and if a flock of green birds making a real racket zooms over your head, you can be pretty sure they are Monk Parakeets (named by someone with a sense of irony.)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Little Moments We Remember

When I was in the kindergarten thru 5th grade I took the school bus to school. On the spot designated as our bus stop near the bottom of our street there grew a large old beech tree (or was it birch?). In my senior year in high school the tree with the pretty white bark was still there. In a romantic mood one day I carved the traditional heart and arrow with my initials and my girl friend’s initials into the bark. The tree and the romantic scar on its bark have been gone for many years now, but I was always kind of proud to have left that sort of Norman Rockwell impression on the environment. By the same token, I have been glad that carvings on the sides of trees didn’t constitute any kind of legal document. That gal went on the marry someone else and had ten children.

Actually, something of a chill settled in between us very shortly after I left for college. We didn’t meet again until years later when I was married. My wife and I were invited to a party on the street where my old girl friend and I had lived. She was there. I introduced the ladies politely. With feline fangs showing, the old flame hissed to my wife, “My gracious, you look just like Mrs. L---.” To which my good wife replied, “I am.” And turned away.

Ps. My mother and my wife didn’t look at all alike

Friday, November 17, 2006


It has been rendered trite but -- There is no place like home! I have slept 38 hours a day since arriving home Wednesday night.
I got checked out by a doctor here and declared to have not opened any of the work sites of the Mayo Clinic doctors. Will now try to get back in the routine.

Hide in Public

More Than Donuts just posted a beautiful piece about New York City. She relates how NY residents see the city differently (or not at all) depending on their state of mind. Thus there are a limitless number of NY’s. Add to those, the NY observed by the commuters at various times of their days, and the sensations that New York generates are infinite.

I think the best memories may arise from little out of place things one sees, knows they are there, and accepts as a part of the city. A fellow named Joe and I used to walk downtown once or twice a week. We went south on Park Ave to about 34th St. Then cross town to Herald Sq. and duck into the Hudson Tubes to Jersey. On the cross-town street, I think it was 34th, there was a large, staid, old bank. Beside the road they had trees planted in very large containers (pots). One evening we noticed a small marijuana plant which had taken root in one of the containers. We amused ourselves by wondering if “pot” planted in a “pot” qualified as a “potted plant” -- and variations. All summer we would walk by that plant and occasionally comment on its growth. Many thousands of New Yorkers walked by that plant every day. Probably a conservative 95% knew what a marijuana plant looked like. I hesitate to understate an estimate of the percentage that used pot. But yet it grew undisturbed. Did it suggest that that the locals believed that rights were attached to “As he sows, so shall he reap?” Some one sowed and it was his right to reap?

Anyway, come fall, one week the plant was gone. In a small town you might ask around and try to determine who did it. In NY, it was gone and that was the end of the story.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Coming Home

It is Wednesday morning and we are going to give it a try.The doctor instructed me to pull over and walk a bit every 45 minutes. S has taken the precaution of checking the AAA book for motels along the way so if the 300 miles seems overly long, we can stop for a night. I am sure that the cats will be pleased to see us. I know that pleasant as this place is, I will happy to be home.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Good Ship Mayo

Quite a few years ago, we took a cruise that started in New Zealand and ended in Sydney, Australia. We had a ball and enjoyed every minute but only because we are the kind of folks that can see the humor in minor misadventures. We were lined up one morning as we left a port to go on a tour of the ships bridge. The group before ours completed their turn and passed us on their way off the bridge. We stood and waited for what seemed a long time when a junior officer came to us and said the tour was cancelled. No explanation was given . Later that day we were up in the Observation Bar with another couple and one of us said to no one in particular, “Wonder why we have stopped!” We had just started across the Tasmanian Sea. When we started moving again it was somewhat slower that our own boat (the Sally Forth, a twenty-eight footer) could putt-putt up Barnegat Bay. That afternoon we were drinking in another bar and started buying drinks for an older Irish comedian entertainer on the ship’s staff. He gave us the inside story. Coming out of one of the previous ports we had stopped at, we had struck a rock. The rock was clearly marked on the ship’s charts. Thus, the staff captain in charge at the time earned himself an automatic and immediate discharge complete with exile to his cabin until we reached the next port. This had all been of little consequence to the operation of the ship until we had reached the point where the speed was to be increased for the crossing of the Tasmanian Sea. At that point the bent drive shaft made itself known.

It was a slow and rough-rough several days to Hobart, Tasmania where we were told that engineers were being flown in from the US. Each passenger was given $150 credit at the ship’s store plus free bus tours to visit the sights of Hobart. These were exhausted before the drive shaft could be straightened. Every 12 hours our departure was extended another 12 hours . An upscale mutiny was whispered. People had tickets to the Australian Open the date of which was upon us. Lawyers had cases to argue on schedule. Businessmen had deals to close. Meanwhile, S and I were shopping at the kiosks that local merchants had set up on the dock. We took long walks up and down the hills of the delightful city of Hobart. We were having a good time. When the propeller shaft was finally jerry-rigged, the ship headed north to Sydney non-stop, skipping Melbourne completely( For Sale : unused Open tickets).

We stayed a few days in Sydney. We went back down to the dock to see the new passengers as the ship took off for the next cruise. We waved and shouted , “Good Luck!” as they left the harbor.

This morning, we went down to the pharmacy to get a prescription filled. Waiting, we sat in the main Mayo waiting room where new patients check in. As they were told that since they were “on standby”, they should get some lunch and come back at 1:00PM. S said she felt like we were in Sydney waving to the departing cruise passengers. True! They were about to find out something needs fixing and it is going to take longer than they think.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Well, the deed is done and we hope to get back to our routine life as soon as possible. We were startled Wednesday when the surgeon finished his description of what he could do which he thought might help. We asked when he could fit us into his schedule, expecting we would have to come back to Jacksonville. Instead, he said , how about Friday afternoon? We went into the hospital at 11 AM Friday morning and arrived back at the Inn at the Mayo campus about 2 PM on Saturday.

Since it is a 300 mile drive to home, I am not going to attempt to leave for a day or two. Also, I am sure there are lots of humorous aspects of this adventure to blog about, but that will take a few days of mulling over. I am sure you will be happy to know that there will be no pictures.

Thank you for the comments and e-mails.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

We Did it Before and We Can Do it Again

Ok, we will be off again for another week of playing test animal for the good folk at the Mayo Clinic. This week we hope to find out what they think they can do for us and when they might do it. While waiting between consultations I am building quite a stock of half formed ideas for future posts.

Have a good week with lots of accomplishments to feel good about.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


I did, why can't you?

Most states allow early voting and most states have weekend hours.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Cedar Closets

Do they still build houses with cedar closets? In fact, only one of the homes I’ve ever purchased has had one and that was a shore cottage. I think it was older than I was and all the aroma of cedar was long gone. For you of the younger generation, one of the plagues of “olden days” was the wool-eating moth. In Northern climes, wool was the primary fabric for winter clothing. During the warmer parts of the year when woolens were stored, they were vulnerable to moths (or the larvae of said moths). The first lines of defense against the holes caused by these hungry, mini-beasts were mothballs and flakes. Both were typically naphthalene and moth families disliked their odor. They usually found other quarters. This was not an altogether satisfactory solution to the problem because come fall, many folks were required to go to work or church in clothes that smelled strongly of something like cold medication.

The elegant solution was a closet lined with cedar wood planking. Apparently, moths were also put off by the somewhat more pleasant, fragrant (to people) odor of cedar.

Modern science has never proved decisively whether the demise of wool caused the demise of moths. In any event, a famine struck the moth population. Despite its best efforts, science has never succeeded in developing a moth species with an appetite for Orlon.