COLD MEMORY

I grew up in a very old, cold house.

It was first built in the mid 1800s as a four-room bungalow with a crawl space attic. At some point, owners raised the roof and built a small apartment under the eaves. One little bedroom, a miniature living room, tiny kitchen, and a bath. In front, there was a balcony just big enough for a single adult to stand and look down at the countryside.

This would eventually morph into our upstairs bedrooms. Two “kids” rooms so small the drawers were recessed into the walls to make room for beds, plus a slightly bigger space for my parents.

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The lower main floor expanded in all directions. From the original four modest rooms, it became seven. Each room was added to a different side of the house without regard for architecture or logic. It was a classic of “country” design based on utility alone. Eventually, the dining room had no windows and the large “salon” had but one small opening that faced north.

The downstairs was dark as night all the time. And chilly.

Two stairways twisted around each other, but there were eighteen doorways. You could get lost in the twisting hallways of that house. Some hallways ended at a blank wall. Perhaps they had gone somewhere … once upon a time.

My parents loved it. From the day we moved in, they began a series of renovation projects that would never be completed. I can’t remember when it wasn’t being remodeled. I still have a horror of home renovation projects.

One year, a slow-moving contractor left us without a wall in the dining room through a long, freezing New York winter. We wore overcoats from November till April when finally, the walls for the new room were added.

With all this renovating going on, you’d think they’d have put in a modern heating system at some point, but they didn’t. They kept the converted coal burner that probably was original to the house. The radiators were surely antiques, ornate, cast-iron relics from the turn of the century — possibly earlier.

That old furnace was barely able to heat to the first floor. The second story was effectively unheated.

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I was cold in that house most of the time. I developed a love-hate relationship with bathing. I loved being in a tub of hot water. It was the only time I was entirely warm. Getting in or out of the tub was terrible. The bathroom was frigid and I was a tiny, skinny kid. The kind of kid that is always being urged to eat.

Even today, I have trouble convincing myself to get wet in anything but the warmest weather. I have a knee-jerk reaction that getting wet equals chilled-to-the-bone. Until I develop some momentum, it’s a battle.

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It’s odd how old, nearly forgotten memories live on in our bodies. Physical memory is sometimes more powerful that more normal mental images. Some of my physical memories elude my conscious brain completely. I react, but I have only a dim, shadowy memory fragment of why. A lot of things I can’t remember are probably best left on the trash pile of personal history.

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One thing has come back to me.

I had a cold childhood. Cold at night, cold by day. Cold relationships with cold people. It shaped me in all kinds of odd ways that still linger as I trudge forward into my “golden” years.

ESCAPE FROM SPAMALOT

Back in the early 1990s, I donated $10 to a women’s group fighting to keep abortion legal and unencumbered. This $10 put me on the “potential donor” list of every single political organization from left to right. It was before the Internet really took over, so although it filled my mailbox with paper and killed a lot of trees, I could just throw the junk away.

Election day 2012

When we moved in 2000, most of the paper didn’t trail after us.

Some of us are slow learners. In 2011, I gave $3 to Obama’s campaign, and for the past four years, the amount of spam my tiny donation generated has been beyond belief.

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Apparently it’s policy for political parties to distribute our personal information to every pol and cause with whom they are even tangentially associated. It got to where my inbox had more than a thousand political spam messages every day. And the current presidential campaign hadn’t yet begun.

Last December, I blew up. I don’t know why I lasted as long as I did.

I spent an entire day unsubscribing to groups to which I never subscribed in the first place. These days, you don’t even have to sign or donate anything. All you have to do is visit a website. Someone will somehow grab your personal data and sell it. Which is how come I was targeted by all the parties. I was being spammed by Liberals, Democrats, Republicans, and Conservatives.

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It took me about 8 hours of clicking “unsubscribe.” Half of the sites asked me why I was unsubscribing. If I clicked “too much email,” they asked me if they sent less, would I stay subscribed?

If they had sent a lot less, I wouldn’t have needed to unsubscribe.

I unsubscribed to everything. Globally. From far left, to ultra right. My inbox stopped filling up every day.

Photo credit: CBS News

Photo credit: CBS News

A plague on all the houses. I won’t contribute to anyone’s cause or campaign. I won’t even visit their websites. And that’s a real shame because I used to really enjoy the political process and participating in it.

If anyone reading this is involved in political campaign management? You are your own worst enemies. Deluging supporters with junk mail and intrusive phone calls is a poor way to say “thank you.” It doesn’t get donations. It drives people away from your worthy causes.

You should think about this.

ODDBALLS OUT OF SEASON

CEE’S ODD BALL PHOTO CHALLENGE: 2016 WEEK 14

Sometimes, oddball is just life or in this case, the weather. On a Sunday in April, shouldn’t an oddball photo should show a world beginning to bloom? Yesterday, that’s what it was. But, speaking of odd, it snowed Sunday morning. It snowed Monday, too. Snow is very pretty, but it’s like a dress I can admire, but would never buy.

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Too … frilly? White? Cold? Wet? Unseasonable?

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Otherwise, life slouches along from day-to-day. Garry is still sick. Antibiotics and all.

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View from the upper lobby at the Dana-Farber hospital

It is worrisome that he isn’t getting better. If there’s no improvement by Tuesday, it’s back to the doctor for him.

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Bishop says “HI!”

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Robby says “HI” too

Maybe next week it will be flowers. I hope the snow doesn’t kill the flowers that have just started to bloom.

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The bench by the medical building

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