COZY MORNING

Garry was up early because he has a medical thing today. He wanted the extra time to have coffee, for showering and all that morning stuff. I lolled in bed for an extra hour, mostly because that’s how long it takes me to get my back functioning.

I’ve gotten pretty good at untangling myself. It’s all about positioning, taking the pill I sometimes don’t want to take, but if I take it, the day goes a lot better than if I don’t … and slowly stretching until things are more or less mobile. My back has been in poor shape since I was a teenager. I had my big surgery on it when I was just 19 and time hasn’t been kind to the bones.

Time generally isn’t kind to bones. Arthritis seems to be universal for damaged joints, whether broken by accident or surgically renovated … and often, just “because.”

Mine are a mess both because of surgery — and “just because.” Arthritis is not a special issue at our age. It’s not a matter of “if,” but more like “how bad” and “how much does it affect you.” It wasn’t too bad this morning. I slept on my back and generally, if I make myself sleep on my back, I wake up more mobile than sleeping on my side, which I find a lot more natural. My back doesn’t agree. There’s not much point in arguing with my spine. It always wins.

So we are off. Garry is getting a CATscan of his head to make sure he has all the requisite pieces for a cochlear implant. Then, in another few weeks, the first doctor’s appointment with the cochlear audiologist, then after that, the surgeons. This stuff takes a lot more time than people think it will.

When you have an emergency, everything happens in a hurry, but when you have choices to make, it takes time. And of course, it’s winter, so everything takes more time. Christmas vacations chop December into pieces and the hangovers from New Year’s take care of early January.

I remember waiting for my heart surgery. First, they hustled me along. Urgent, urgent, urgent … but they delayed it three-times. I had to delay it once because I had pneumonia. Heavy coughing doesn’t go well with heart surgery. It took — in total — more than three months between determining I needed the surgery and actually having the surgeon and me both available at the same time. Emergencies came up and for a heart surgeon, they are always first. Heart surgeons live on emergency schedules. By the time I actually got into the hospital, I was an emergency. You can’t always tell from testing alone — and that’s something everyone needs to remember.

This surgery for Garry isn’t an emergency, but it is not optional, either. It needs to be done. Hearing aids won’t work for him anymore, so it is this or a gradual  and close to total loss of hearing for him. He needs his hearing back. I need it back, too, though I wonder what it will be like knowing he really can hear me. I won’t be able to mutter under my breath all the time!

Our granddaughter sent me a note last night suggesting  we should have Garry run for president … because we know Garry could fix everything. I’m pretty sure Garry doesn’t think he could fix everything, but sometimes, I wonder. He’s been a pretty good fixer over the years — and even when he can’t fix stuff, he’s very good at getting everyone to CALM DOWN. In the process, he may be leaning towards madness, but you’d never know it to look at him.

A man with a poker face like that should have played poker. What a waste!

I’ll be back later, but not with more news. They never tell you anything at radiology. You have to wait for the doctor to officially tell you. Eventually, news will follow but do not hold your breath!

THE BEST OF 2017 – ONE OR TWO FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPHS

THURSDAY’S SPECIAL: MY BEST PHOTO IN 2017

Talk about a daunting challenge. My best picture for 2017! I think maybe I need to look for my favorite because I’m not sure what “best” would really be. Even “favorite” is pretty daunting. I know which was the most popular, but best?

I couldn’t do it. I got it down to two, but I apologize because I just couldn’t decide.

This first one is a favorite because it is the road on which we live with the sun going down. It probably isn’t “best” because it wasn’t taken with one of my better lenses and was a “grabbed” shot, less than half a mile from home. Taken mid January 2017.

But this final one is a picture I’ve taken almost every year for the past ten years. This particular tree is a sugar maple and on a good year turns completely scarlet. This year, it didn’t turn red, but pumpkin orange. In its own way, it is nearly perfect because it is exactly what I wanted.

October 11, 2017

GARRY’S PHOTOGRAPHS – MY FAVORITE AMONG HIS PHOTOGRAPHS

This is my favorite among Garry’s pictures. It is as good an autumn shot of the Blackstone Canal as I’ve seen.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

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BLOGGER AND A CAUSE

The question was: “Would you, if your day-to-day responsibilities were taken care of and you could throw yourself completely behind a cause, what would it be?”


The answer is … I wouldn’t. In the immortal words of Phil Ochs, “I ain’t marchin’ anymore.”

I marched against war and for peace.

I marched for civil rights.

I campaigned for universal health care and free care for anyone who needs it.

I marched against evil and for justice for my entire adult life and though the world has fallen into a terrible place, I’ve served my time and done my job. I’m tired. It’s time for the younger generations — those with stronger backs — to do the marching.

The worst part of this time is I’m not sure, after all the marching, if I accomplished anything other than making denim a fashion fabric. I think I’ve probably accomplished more blogging than I did by marching. There’s an irony in there and maybe I’ll find it. Eventually.

Photo: NY Times

I have discovered that the world spins on its axis and night follows day, whether or not I march. I do the best I can with the means at my disposal … which means I have a platform and I write. Every now and then, I dig a little money out of the emptiness of our “family wealth” and give $5 or $10 to someone who is fighting for a better world.

If you are going out there to do battle, fight the good fight. Know my best wishes and hopes go with you. Also, take sandwiches, something to drink, and wear your most comfortable shoes.

A GRAVEYARD DANCE

The year I was fifteen, I started my senior year of high school. That September (1962), while I was sitting and watching television, I found a rather big, hard lump near my right ankle. I checked the other leg. No lump there. It was a painless lump. Mom had me visiting a surgeon just a couple of days later.

It turned out to be non-malignant, what is called an osteochondroma. It was, however, pretty big. Big enough so in the short time between seeing the doctor and getting into the hospital, it more than doubled in size.  It had thoroughly wrapped itself around my fibula and the surgeon had to remove a piece of bone and replace it with a pin. I was in no mortal danger, but I was going to be on crutches for at least half a year.

Jamaica High School was (is) huge. Five stories including the basement (swimming pool level) and top floor — the tower where the choir and chorus rehearsed. There were no elevators. No handicapped access. It was also extremely crowded, no place for someone on crutches.

High School, really

Thus I came to be assigned a home tutor. I was not her only client and for reasons of her own, she decided to introduce me to another of her clients.

Mary was older than me, 18 years old. Which, at 15, seemed very mature from my perspective. She was a schizophrenic at a time when the drugs to control schizophrenia had not been invented. She was not at all violent. In fact, she was wonderfully sweet, a brilliant artist … and her view of the world was, to say the least, unique.

She loved cemeteries. Especially at night. One night, we went to see Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? which had just been released.

“Would you like to go?” she asked.

“Sure, why not.” I was always up for a movie. But this one, I didn’t much like. I still don’t. Just … not my cup of tea. Too creepy.

But my night of creepiness was far from over, because after the movie, Mary invited me to visit one of her favorite place … the local cemetery. Through which she happily danced, kissing each of the stones while declaring that these were the happiest of all souls.

Thus began my interest in cemeteries and tombstones. And the end of my brief relationship with Mary. I’m pretty strange in my own way, but that was a bit much for me.

We have great cemeteries here in New England. Old ones with wonderful tombstones, amazing old inscriptions. Come visit some time.