A LITTLE SOMETHING EXTRA – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Extra

It seemed a normal enough evening. Garry went to bed before me — he likes to watch old movies in bed — and I finished up posting pieces and then followed him in. Before getting into bed, I changed the setting to make it easier for him to watch the movie and for me to listen to my audiobook … and make one last check of the posts that go up around midnight.

Then, I sunk quickly into sleep.

All was going well until I woke up around five in the morning and wanted to raise the bed a little higher. It’s allergy weather and sometimes if my head is up more, I breathe better.

I found the remote (it’s a wireless bed), and pressed “Head-Up.”

Nothing happened. I also noticed that the light wasn’t on, so I figured it needed new batteries. It was early and I just wanted to go back to sleep, but I dutifully got up, found four new rechargeable AAA batteries and plugged them into the remote.

I pressed the button.

Nothing happened.

Having tried the first thing that came to mind, I had to move on to the second thing, which is to reboot the bed by unplugging it, giving it half a minute, and replugging it. This, sadly, required that I get Garry out of bed because I’m short and my arms are short and getting my arm behind the bed to get to the plug, pull it out, then replace it is not as easy as it used to be. Eventually, after getting Garry up, moving the mattress out of the way, finding my little Maglite, I rebooted the bed.

Garry had to push the plug into the wall for me. It was the angle. And being short.

Then, I grabbed the remote and pushed the button.

Nothing happened.

I went and found another set of batteries.

Nothing happened.

The remote control was dead. After a mere 19 years, it croaked.

Our bed came with a lifetime guarantee. The only problem with a lifetime guarantee is they last exactly as long as that company is in business.

Sadly, the “Adjusta” brand was no more. It had become part of some other company years before. I knew one day something would happen and I was pretty sure it was going to be the remote that went because the engine on the bed will probably outlast us.

We pushed the mattress back into a sleeping position. Garry went and gave the dogs a nibble so they would stop barking and he went back to sleep.

I, on the other hand, turned on my light, opened the Mac, and went to Remote.com, where I have always replaced all the remotes which Tinker (may she roam the fields beyond the bridge in joy) used to eat as snacks. One day, she ate all the remotes in the living room and that was a nearly $400 hit. But this was just a single remote, so I figured — $50? Maybe a little more?

Remotes.com didn’t have any. They had a picture of one, but if you clicked on it, you got an advertisement for the company now making the bed we already own.

Just one extra little something to brighten my night which was turning into turning to morning by then.

As Fandango said, “You can find anything on Amazon,” so I went to Amazon, typed in “Adjusta-Magic” and hit ENTER. And there it was. Our remote.

It turns out it is no longer made by the same company that made our bed, but since the company that made our bed made (still makes) beds for three other companies (one of which absorbed ours), they now made a “universal” remote that would work on ALL their beds.

The new one wouldn’t say “Adjusta-Magic” on it and there would be no light. It would instead have three buttons that would automatically adjust the bed for reading, and two sleeping positions. I was grateful our bed was not in some strange sitting up arrangement. At least we could sleep in it while we wait for the remote.

It cost $120 for the remote. There was no alternative. It’s the end of the month when we never have any money, so I used the credit card with the lowest balance and figured I’d done due diligence. NOW I would get some sleep.

I drifted off.

The phone rang. One extra thing? It kept ringing, so it wasn’t one of the fake calls that get cut off. I had to answer it. It was just nine.

It was the mason who wanted to know if our heating unit had its own vent or went through the chimney. I said I didn’t know (actually, I did know, but I was only semi-conscious), said I would ask my son … and before I dug into my pillows, I asked him: “Do I have your phone number?”

He told me to get it off the phone, probably assuming it was a cell, which it isn’t. It does save numbers, but not the way a cellphone does. It’s more complicated. A lot more complicated.

And the only number I could find wasn’t a real number. It was one of the fake numbers that we never answer. Because I had picked up the call, it had not recorded it. I didn’t have the number. When I thought about it, a few extra items dropped into my brain.

I not only didn’t have his phone number, but I also didn’t have anything on paper from him. We’d verbally agreed on a price (no, I didn’t pay him) and he’d verbally agreed to do the job … but he had done it all from his van. I didn’t have his telephone number, company, or personal name.

Oh good. Perfect. An extra special day was shaping up.

I assumed if the guy didn’t hear from me, he’d call back, but he didn’t. So I called the next guy on my list who said sure, he’d come and take a look. I explained that it was a small job, but I would like to do it before it became a much bigger job. His other mason lives right down the block, so it should be easy to come to look at the chimney.

This time, I got his name and phone number. For someone who deals a lot with details, I can forget even the basics of making an arrangement. Anyway, this time, I did ask for the damned phone number. All the other guy — whoever he was — had to do was give me the number and there would not have been any problem.

Except for the non-working bed and my lack of sleep, that is.

It was after 10 by then. The dogs were barking and I wasn’t getting any more sleep. At least the sky was blue. Today and tomorrow are the only two days this week that aren’t supposed to rain.

I wanted to go take pictures … but I’m waiting on Owen to come over and fix the leaking faucet in the kitchen since the leak is getting worse and I already bought the faucet. But Owen only has one weekday during which he can do anything — and he had to get to UMass for his own medical results and he had to do some grocery shopping and I can’t go anywhere until he lets me know if he’s coming or not.

Anything extra? At least the coffee was ready since I turned it on when I got up to give biscuits to barking dogs.

The remote isn’t showing up until early in May — but that’s not so far off, right? And who need photographs anyway. I can always shoot more birds. With the camera, that is, although these days, we have accumulated a huge number of Cowbirds and nothing else seems to get to the food bin except the bigger woodpeckers from whom even the Cowbirds back way.

Somehow, I have this feeling the day ain’t over yet. Not sure why, but there’s a bit extra on its way. A little something more. Exactly what, I’m not sure. But I can feel it in the air.

OILING DOWN THE ANGRY – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Oil on the water

Oil is supposed to settle down rapidly boiling water.

It doesn’t.

The water keeps boiling at the same level only there’s oil on it. Patches of oil. In my house, oil is olive (usually) but out in the Real World, ocean water glistens with oil meant to run trucks, cars, and heat homes. A good thing insofar as it was warm a few days ago, so I turned down the thermostat … and now, it’s cold.

Not bitterly, miserably dead-winter cold. No, it’s wet and gets into your bones. It feels a lot colder than it is.

Garry and I have been trying to figure out if we are suffering from the pollen (it’s high) and it’s from trees. We’ve got trees). That or one of us made unintentional contact with a sick person.

Garry pointed out to me since I had (recently) pointed the same thing to him (recently), that it doesn’t matter if it’s a cold or allergies. You feel equally crappy regardless.


NOTE: Anyone who says “Oh, it’s JUST allergies,” has never had allergies. An allergy is a cold that only ends when the snow falls. If you get sick and feel better three days later, you were sick. If you feel like crap but are still feeling awful three months later when the trees are turning, it was an allergy.


It’s probably the best part of winter that unless I actually get sick, which I do very rarely now (I think I had everything when I was younger and am now resistant to everything), I stop sneezing until spring comes again. In case no one noticed, it IS (technically) spring. I know this because during the two sunny days this month, I took pictures of our bunch of daffodils.

Since we are apparently allergic to everything and we live in pollen central, we suffer. Even the dogs suffer. Our dogs have sneezing fits. To be fair, our pollen is so bad that sometimes — about a week from now is my best guess, assuming it stops raining by then — the air looks like it’s snowing, except the snow is green. Everything turns green. The car is covered in green pollen.

Goldfinch flock – Sneezing?

Do the birds sneeze? That could really ruin the hawks hunting time. And if the little birds sneeze, it could make it hard for them to hide in the branches. But if ALL of them sneeze …

“The wood would resound with the sound of sneezing …”

I have sneezing fits. Sometimes I just keep sneezing for so long I forget when I started. It makes Garry’s hearing implements go crazy, so eventually, he has to cover his ears. If I get loud enough, he has to leave the room. I am a hearty sneezer.

Back to the oil. If oil theoretically makes boiling water settle down (I think it just pollutes it), maybe we should pour oil on each other. We could then be sick and slimy simultaneously. The dogs would love it and would lick every inch of us.

Yummy olive oil! We could stick salad to our arms and legs and be really green. I could wear a tomato hat and Garry could arm himself with huge cucumbers.

I think I’m losing it.

All I want are THREE SUNNY DAYS so I can clean out the garden. Is that too much to ask?

REDACTED READING – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Hoopla

I did a preliminary read on most of the Mueller Report last night. Not every word, but I did a speed read of most of it. I will have to revisit parts of it and read those sections more thoroughly. But it’s easy enough to get the drift.

After yesterday’s hoopla about redactions, most news organization have calmed down and realized that the majority of the report is not redacted. Most of the significant parts of the report remain intact.

Donald Trump and William Barr
(Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

Despite Barr and Trump’s victory dance and braying about how there’s “NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION,” there was a lot of attempted collusion and obstruction. That almost everyone in the White House isn’t in jail is that Trump’s illegal orders weren’t carried out.

They come, they go … The temporary cabinet of Trumpinski

Trump’s gang didn’t follow his orders. He ordered them to do something illegal, after which they outright refused, passed it along to a subordinate who dragged his or her feet and it never got done … or said “Sure, Boss,” but never got around to it.

What you get out of the report is:


A) Trump is a terrible president and everyone knows it
B) The people who work with him don’t respect him
C) The White House is a chaotic mess
D) Everyone knows they are working for a man who is clueless and quite likely stupid.

It’s not a flattering portrait of our orange president. That none of the Republican senators and other bigwigs are standing up to him will sooner rather than later make the Republican Party a non-Party. The shameless spinelessness of high-ranking Republicans is more shocking than the asshole president.

One asshole? We can deal with ONE asshole, even if he is supposedly the president. But a whole SENATE full of assholes? That is way over the line.

Ironically — and this may go beyond irony into hilarity in a dark way — Putin and the Russian Gang are disappointed in Trump. They wanted chaos, but they never imagined a presidency so awful they can’t even get in touch with anyone. They won’t talk to Pompeo. They want people who know what they are doing.

Hah!

They can’t make deals, they aren’t getting a “better relationship” with the U.S. If anything, it’s worse. The sanctions are worse, we are sending tanks into the Crimea (which Obama refused to do) — and you can’t trust anything Trump says.

What an embarrassment! You corrupt a country and instead of getting advantages, you are humiliated and wind up getting less than before. In fact, everyone gets less than before.

I guess they picked the wrong president to corrupt. They should have chosen to corrupt someone with a sense of honor. Corrupting someone who can’t be trusted to keep your secrets? Oops.

I thought the MOST fascinating part of the document was the appendices where there were virtually no redactions. You get to see all the questions Mueller asked and you can read for yourself that he felt the prez had either “forgotten,” “failed to have a clear recollection,” and “had only a vague memory because’ so much was happening.'”

Mueller felt he’d gotten as much information as he could from others who work with Trump. Since the prez “couldn’t remember anything,” there was little to be gained from having a major constitutional battle to get his testimony when (1) he couldn’t be prosecuted anyway (under the current “unofficial” rules), and (2) Trump lies all the time.

The ultimate question is a big one: where are all the honorable Republicans standing up to say that this man is unfit for public office, much less President. Where are “the good guys” in the party? Where are those people who care about the nation more than their party leader?

And as for the Democrats, get your act together. Figure out where you stand. If you really don’t know what you are doing — and a number of supposed people running for office obviously don’t know nothin’ bout’ nothin’ — we already have a moron in office. Don’t try to give us another one. Been there, done that.

I strongly doubt this country could stand another round of presidential idiocy, regardless of party.

The guy on Colbert last night (sorry, forgot his name) commented that being too incompetent to be properly corrupted or successfully collude has historically never (previously) been used by a president before.

We are so special!

IT TOLLS FOR THEE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Partisan


PARTISAN (pronounced: pardezan)

Noun
Synonyms:  Supporter, follower, adherent, devotee, champion, backer, upholder, promoter, fanatic, fan, enthusiast, stalwart, zealot, disciple, votary
2. A member of an armed group formed to fight secretly against an occupying force, in particular, one operating in enemy-occupied;

(can be named a terrorist by the opposition)

Adjective
3. Prejudiced in favor of or partial to a cause or policies.
Synonyms: biasedone-sided, colored, discriminatory, preferential, interested, bigoted, sectarian, factional, unjust, unfair, inequitable, unbalanced.

These days, I think this description fits almost everyone I know. What is more curious is how many people it does not fit. While we may be frantic and fearful about what is happening to our world, the vast number of people are completely apathetic. They don’t watch the news, don’t read a newspaper (on or offline) and essentially don’t care.

They do not believe that current events matters.

No man is an island - john donne
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions – John Donne

While this may be momentarily true, ultimately, the mess will smack them in the face. When their expensive college degree turns out to be nothing more than a gigantic debt they can’t afford to pay and their master’s degrees aren’t enough to get them a job that affords them the price of a rental apartment, it may dawn on them that what has been going on affects everyone.

When they turn on the water and mud slithers out and it’s beach weather during February in New Hampshire, it will matter. When Florida is not warm but has become a super-heated rain forest, it will matter. When all of our ocean is too polluted for swimming or fish and you have to wear a mask to breathe walking to your car, it will matter.

I have become weary of the uncaring.

They do not care not because they are too stupid (though we have plenty of them, too), but because they are too lazy to bother knowing. Mind you, within the same group of people, are some of the smartest potential young leaders of this world. But right now, I think the apathetic own the majority.

The apathetic majority remain non-partisan because they stand for nothing. Maybe it’s our fault. Maybe we failed to teach them that being involved matters, that “no man is an island.”

VEINLESS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Trickery (OR in this case, just tricky!)

Another day, another trip to the hospital. At least it’s something I WANT to do this time, but I will be gone most of the day. Sorry about that!

I was supposed to be at the hospital yesterday, but they got my tests mixed up, so it got canceled. The same tests, this time properly ordered, will be rescheduled next week.

It all has to do with veins and dye infusions.

I don’t have any veins.

Well, that’s not exactly true. I have lots of them, but they are all tiny and thready. Getting blood out of me is tricky (trickery?). I have often suggested I bring my own knife and slice off a piece of finger like I do at home. Just give me a vegetable to cut and I’ll produce gallons of blood.

Brivo CT325

Whenever I do that (which used to be often), there was blood absolutely EVERYWHERE. For some reason, the hospital never agrees. As I said: getting blood out is just a bit of trickery (and some nurses really have a magic touch for finding a viable vein) — a medical magic trick.

Getting a substance (any substance) into me is a nightmare. I have defeated two hospitals who could not find a usable vein and wound up infusing into my throat. Which, while not terribly painful, is really ICKY in every meaning of the word. And it looks ugly, too.

In both cases, it was that or die so I couldn’t argue the point … but this is a test. The reason they need veins is so they can put dye in me to make the test results sharper.

They should get Topaz’ new AI Sharpen filter. It’s amazingly effective and then, they could skip the dye and still have sharp results.

Regardless, I’m not going through the “hunt the body for a viable vein” experience again. Been there, done it, didn’t like it. We’re not doing hands, feet, or throat, sorry. If that’s the choice, whatever is wrong with me will just have to stay wrong.

I still have to be at the hospital in a couple of hours because I’m getting cortisone shots in my hips. Yay oh yay!

For the past few weeks, there’s almost no part of me that doesn’t hurt and last night I woke up crying because I hurt so much I didn’t know what to do. So of course, called the doctor as soon as he was open and said: “I cannot go on like this.”

More drugs are not an answer I would have to take a LOT more drugs and I’m already thoroughly drugged. I have to find a way to make my life less painful. I want to be able to walk. Even if it’s not a hike, just walk more or less normally for short stretches. Not such a big thing one might think.

So cortisone shots it is. For now.

I know the shots are not a cure. What’s wrong with me (entire spine riddled with arthritis) is painful, but not lethal. It won’t kill me. It might make me wish it would and it will linger on, getting worse as the years roll by. Not a pretty thought.

I remember being 30 years younger, living on Beacon Hill in Boston and hauling 40 pounds of groceries up the long hill to our apartment. Realizing my legs were like iron. I was muscled. Between hauling heavy bags up long hills, horseback riding, and walking everywhere in Boston because if you moved the car you might never find another legal parking space, I was in great shape.

The shoulder is an offshoot of horseback accidents. When you are riding, one of the things you learn is if you fall, hang on to the reins. If you don’t, your horse is going home. It’s a long, long walk in your riding boots back to the stable. It’s entirely possible you don’t even know the way back since as often as not if you are riding alone, the horse was your GPS.

In the course of falling off a few horses and grabbing reins on the way down, my shoulder got pulled out of the socket a few times. The surgery to fix that is normally not a big deal.

I should have taken care of it 50 years ago, but I didn’t.

I also have a left knee without an anterior Crucis ligament due to a bad fall — as well as the shoulder which could have easily been repaired when I was 25, but can’t be fixed now.

I waited too long. Like I did with my hands. Nine years ago they could have fixed the arthritic spurs but today, they can’t. It has advanced too far and I’m too old.

I yearn for those days when I had muscles in places I didn’t know you could have muscles.

I don’t have long-term answers. Cortisone shots a few times a year with some luck will help keep me moving. Nothing will repair the damage. There’s no surgery anyone is willing to do that will fix it. It has degenerated too far and the previous surgery caused as much damage as it supposedly fixed.

Right now, though, I’m glad enough that there’s even a respite — even if it’s just for a few weeks.

Long term? I am still working on that one.

PRONE TO READING THE MUELLER REPORT – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Prone

I had other plans for the day … and then I saw that the Mueller Report – redactions and all — was out. While I was prone to go grocery shopping, this changed everything for me. Garry is reading it. I am reading it.

If you have the time, read at least the first 8 pages (after the table of contents which, unfortunately, it not live). You’ll need to do a lot of scrolling and you might want to enlarge the type because it’s really tiny.

Redactions and all, it may not show Trump as an intentional criminal. It does show him as an incredible fool and about as “ready” to be president as my dog Duke.

Come to think of it, I believe Duke would make a much better president.

I also have a funny feeling that our government is going after social media, especially Google, Facebook, and Instagram … but WordPress played a big role in this mess, too. Read as much of it as you can. It’s heavy-duty stuff, so you are going to want to do it in pieces.

After you read pieces of it, you will find yourself prone and unable to breathe.

Holy moly! What a mess!

A PRIME DAY IN SPRING – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Prime

It was an absolutely PRIME day!

Not only did it start out sunny, but it stayed sunny. All day today. It was warm without being hot and the flowers began to bloom. There was almost no humidity.

The birds were singing. The winds were warm and a bit blowy.

Tomorrow it’s supposed to be even nicer. Sunny and warm, without the wind. It should be the most prime of prime days for all of spring and if I can find a little time between errands, it could be the best day to take springlike pictures.

A day for Goldfinch

And all I have to do, is get to the doctor to pick up a script, have the oil in the car changed (I don’t know where the time has gone!), go grocery shopping, put the new mailbox up, and go into starvation mode for the tests they are (finally) running on Thursday. These should prove, once and for all, whether or not I have brains in my head. Or maybe it’s just some old hard drive that got stuck there.

Oh and I really should back up the month of March before it becomes May.

House Finch and Cowbird

Thursday should hopefully be the last day I am spending at the hospital unless they find something I don’t want them to find. It’s why I hate testing. It’s not merely the time, inconvenience and the bill that always shows up eventually. It’s that I don’t want them to discover something unfortunate. So if all goes well, I should be able to stop visiting specialists and maybe save enough to get a pair of eyeglasses.

And pay the man who is going to fix the chimney. And buy a storm door for the house before winter shows up again.

The Mourning Dove has returned

We were at the doctor today, too — for Garry. Meanwhile, I’m trying to find a good injector of cortisone to see if I can get my hips and back to hurt less. It’s getting hard to get around. In 10 years, I’ll be unable to move at all and that is not a pleasant thought so I have to see if I can get arthritis to at least, slow down.

Another pretty red House Finch

So again, if I’m missing, it’s not lack of love. It’s just that the days are not long enough. It’s half past midnight and I’m writing tomorrow morning’s post because I know I won’t be able to do it at the usual time. These are the days when I begin to wonder if maybe there’s another way to deal with this.

Hundreds of unread emails and posts and news and photos to process … and I already know I’m not going to be able to do it.

Not what I had in mind, but at least, for two days, the sun is shining and look! The birds stayed and let me take their pictures!