Monday, November 23, 2015

You Heard it Here First

Whenever I’m lying down surfing TV for movies (which I do a lot these days),and I hit a film with the words “Heart’, “Neighbor”, “Wishes” or “Surprise” in the title, it’s a pretty sure bet I’m on the Hallmark channel.  Their productions are reliably upbeat, and they are well-done.  But –
here are the titles I jotted down a couple of weeks ago, of the movies they would be showing in the following 24 hours:

A Christmas Blessing
A Plum Pudding Mystery
Santa Jr.
Angels and Ornaments
Deck the Halls
The Christmas Secret
The Christmas Shepherd
Mrs. Scrooge
Mistletoe Over Manhattan
Finding John Christmas
A Christmas Wish
The Christmas Ornament

And that was two weeks before Thanksgiving. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

What Paper D'ya Read?

This blog was supposed to be about Getting Old, but I've discovered not all that many old people read blogs.  Most of you are way younger, and so I've been going easy -- but this new development does tickle my fancy and I have to share it with you.
Rather abruptly, I find myself depending on a Rollator, not only the little one in the house, but -- having got up the nerve -- a three-wheeled affair I can store in the car myself and trundle around in public.  I will not call them walkers, which brings to mind those aluminum thingies the old ladies danced with in The Producers.

 At any rate --
Every now and then I wonder, am I just faking?  Couldn't I just straighten up and walk?  And over the past few months, when I get the chance, I ask a Professional.  It's the answers that make me smile.  They remind me of the days when newspapers would offer widely varying  viewpoints, and it all depended on which one you read:
The podiatrist --covered by Medicare! -- says the problem is due to peripheral neuropathy (I do enjoy that term, the way the syllables roll off the tongue) -- my feet just don't feel the floor that much.

The orthopedist says it's because there's no socket left in the right hip. He points to an xray that means nothing to me and says "It's a combination of that and your back."
     At a recent meeting of the Hearing Loss Society of Rochester (why does my son think that's a funny name?) I put the question to our speaker, an eminent neurologist.  It's related to to hearing loss, he said, and tinnitus,  inner ear degeneration, the way you report hearing chimes when you turn your head. 
     Then last week I had a routine call-back with the cardiologist (things are just fine, not to worry) and he said balance problems are a side effect of those blood pressure pills.  But don't stop taking them.  It seems they've moved the goal posts once more and the bp recommendations are lower again.
So it comes back to What Paper D'Ya Read -- and whotthehell, there's a dance in the old dame yet.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Surprise!  Yes, all sorts of custom-tailored ads turn up when I read Facebook, most of them based on something I have searched recently -- Rollators, folding high chairs (great-granddaughter coming for Thanksgiving) etc.  But the most delightful ad showed up this morning, urging me to take a look at MY OWN EBAY OFFERING! 
Norm's dresser is empty now, and I understand Mid-Century Modern is in, so I thought I'd try it.  Lots of interest, no bids yet.  But nice to know Facebook is out there trying. 

Still thinking?
Buy it on eBay!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Leaves of Grass

Cable this morning had the damnedest movie I’ve ever seen so of course I stayed in bed till almost noon. 
The film involved
Brown University
marijuana (no, not up there, down in Oklahoma)
Walt Whitman
ancient Greeks
the Meaning of Life
prison stabbings
and just when I figured it was a comedy, people started getting killed so quickly I had trouble following the plot.
We even had that classic Hollywood death scene – we could see the blood spreading on the guy’s chest, so what did all the other characters do? 
They laid their hands soothingly on the victim and listened to his dramatic, perfectly articulated Last Words,
no one even trying to stanch the blood.
Meanwhile Susan Sarandon and Richard Dreyfuss were pretty much hidden in what amounted to bit parts – so anyhow, did any of you ever see it?


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Bobs and Bathrobes

No more complaining about that empty mailbox.  From now till Christmas, the mailman (as it happens, mine is a man) will be burdened with catalogs.  In the assortment that came yesterday is a new one, definitely on the classy side.  That bathrobe, for instance,  goes for $158. 
     But what I wanted to share with you is the copywriter's paragraph describing the collection of reading glasses shown just above it.  Or, as the copywriter improvises -- eyebobs.

     First of all, there's that mysterious sentence -- "Convertible to prescription by a qualified optician."  That sounds reassuringly scientific, but does anyone know what it might mean?  And  next, we're lacking any indication whether $79 buys one pair or five.  Then the copyeditor waxes mildly poetic naming the frame colors, but forgets to say "specify lens strength."  Perhaps the shipment will include an assortment? -- all the way from 1.25 magnification to 3.0, so you can move along as you start to develop cataracts?
     But my main point, the reason I'm moved to mention all this to you, is that the eyebobs shown are absolutely identical to the reading glasses offered for
                                        $1 plus 8 cents tax
                                     at my local Dollar Store.  
and come to think of it, I'm not sure they charge tax on medical items.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Problem Solved

The kids don’t seem convinced, when I tell them how much I don’t want any special celebration for my 90th birthday.  Among other reasons, there’s nobody to attend but themselves.  My friends and even my acquaintances have all died, or moved out of town to live near their daughters.  Nor am I happy with the idea of my coast-to-coast family trying to gather up here in Siberia in the dead of winter.  Nor do I have the stamina for much excitement these days.  Nor -- for that matter -- is that the day I want to reach -- I'm aiming for April 1.

But this morning I am excited – if they insist, I’ve found a way for them to mark the occasion!  Look at this headline!

 Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe to be Exhibited for 90th Birthday

Come on -- if they’re going to do that about a woman who has worn the same pair of earrings and triple strand of pearls every day for at least the past sixty years!

  I’m busy figuring out which pair of jeans should go on the  poster for Edith's Exhibition.  Possibly the ones that are so old they’re properly called


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Innocent Abroad

About the time I started high school, our family moved to a house on Lake Keuka -- just outside the village of Penn Yan, at the right-hand tip of the lake.  Keuka is surrounded by
hills, perfect for growing grapes, and during The War, with 10,000,000 men overseas, Penn Yan Academy was closed for a week or two in October, so that we kids could go out and bring in the harvest.  It was heavenly -- October sunshine, autumn colors, no homework and we were getting paid!
This view of The Lake I took in the 1950s -- wasn't Kodachrome great?
So when a brochure offered, among other day trips, one to Hammondsport (down at the other end of the lake) I looked forward to a whole day driving around , in the interesting company of people of a decent age (who else is free on a weekday?) with a lunch I didn't have to make myself and lots of views of the autumn lake. 
And -- this was a first -- I planned to finally venture out in public using a rollator.  On the Internet I found this  minor three-wheel affair-- light enough so I can take it in and out of the car.  It won't fit in the laughable "cargo" rear of my little Smart car, but it does ride companionably strapped in the passenger seat.
So -- right after breakfast I handed the rollator to the bus driver who stowed it (mine wasn't the only one) and boarded the bus.  Lots of grey hair there, a typical mix -- twenty-nine women and four men.  Everything looked fine,
and then our guide started handing out maps and brochures.
I hadn't paid much attention to the plan for the day's adventures, and now it appeared we were set for tastings at five different wineries. And that was just before lunch.
The first challenge was getting in to those wineries.  They're built near the grapes, and the grapes grow on slopes.  I learned a lot about how to handle that rollator. 
 And after I made it up there, I realized I had no idea how to behave at a wine tasting.  I started by drinking all of my first sample -- small as it was, it was probably as much as I'd ever had at one time in my life.  I could feel the effect almost immediately.  That was before I learned to say "just a splash", and before I noticed the slop jars my more sophisticated busmates were using for excess wine and the water they were using to cleanse their palates. And when I finally struggled back to the bus (learning a lot about how to use the rollator brakes along the way), the guide hurried up to my seat. "You forgot your goblet!"  

 Do you suppose  people cruise the Finger Lakes collecting a whole set?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Plus ca change

I'm reading a fine biography, finding a flock of quotes to share with you:
…huge vulgarity…shrieking unfitness ... for the office which he sets out to buy…absolutely without experience in office, impudently flaunting his wealth before the eyes of the people and saying “Make me President.”… 
…imbued with a belief in his own greatness, convinced that his unique powers of leadership could benefit the nation…thinking he could ride to the heights on headlines…
…many citizens...regard him as a rich man with sympathy for the masses…
…the adolescent’s capacity for seeing things in simplest terms – good or bad-- …
 …a little drunk with acclaim, with cheers…a vindication of his campaign of personal of the White House
…sincerely felt that the country needed him…
…a person...without a word or act in the public life of his country…could [he] by any possibility be elected  President of the United States?

we end with one last quote, from William Jennings Bryan, voicing his support for the Presidential nomination of William Randolph Hearst in 1904:
 ...the man who, though he has money, pleads the cause of the poor; the man who is best beloved, I can safely say, among laboring men, of all the candidates proposed...

And now here's Norm Lank, probably being told "YOU'RE FIRED!" in Trump Tower, June of 2002

Monday, September 28, 2015

Fall of the Sparrow

I came out here to the desk this morning -- well, let's be accurate, it was just past noon.  I mean to report on Old Age, so let's confess -- these days I mostly go back to bed after breakfast and watch tv movies right through to the end.  Then I wasn't sure what I was seeing through the window here so I went outside -- which sounds more impressive than it was -- I tottered outside with a cane.  And found this bird stuck in the peanut feeder

and definitely dead. 
If I had got dressed at a decent hour, I might have come out here in time to release it.  But that could have been even worse -- there was no way to free that bird from inside the feeder.  I had to tug hard to pull it through.  It would have been terrified to see me -- let's hope, at the end, it was only puzzled.  And I had to pull so hard it would certainly have died in my hand.
So the day started with a death.  Maybe a little death, but a big complete one for that bird.  It didn't know it was simply an expendable common house sparrow.  In itself it felt just as unique and all-important as an ivory-billed woodpecker would.  It was a whole world.  A few inches long, but containing the incredible spark of life.  Warm, operating smoothly, competent -- well anyway, up until the moment it was not all that competent.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Geese and Sassafrass

Earlier this month I tuned in on the re-runs of Ken Burns’ Civil War  just at the battle of Appomattox.  And sure enough, there he was, Ely Parker, the Seneca Indian who wrote out the terms of surrender for General Grant.  It took me back to the first time we ever heard about Ely Parker.
 In April 1965 I was out with a station-wagon full of kids, driving through the marshes west of here, looking at migrating Canada geese.  In those days geese all went South for the winter, and on the right day in spring, it was exciting to find huge returning flocks in the fields and ponds.  We’d start early, have a tailgate breakfast and follow the same country roads every year.
It looked like this one.
Then just for a different route home, I swung south on a road that led through the Tonawanda Indian Reservation.  And how could we not stop, at a weathered one-room log cabin, with a sign on the wooden porch.   I don’t remember what it said  – maybe that it was a trading post – at any rate, in we trooped.  I remember buying a cornhusk doll – “Don’t paint a face on it; it’s supposed to be blank” – and a fragrant clump of sassafras.  Dov says he still has a corn-husk mask, out there in Vancouver, and some sassafras with no frangrance left. 
The most fascinating part was the cabin itself, and the man who was there.  He had just returned, he told us, from Appomattox, where he played the role of his ancestor, Ely Parker, in a centennial re-enactment of The Surrender.  And he took us up the ladder to the cabin’s dusky loft, to show us an old trunk with "COL ELY PARKER" painted on it. 
Googling for a picture of the Colonel, I came across this:

The terms of the surrender were recorded in a document hand written by Grant's adjutant Ely S. Parker, a Native American of the Seneca tribe, and completed around 4 p.m., April 9.[18] Lee, upon discovering Parker to be a Seneca remarked "It is good to have one real American here." Parker replied, "Sir, we are all Americans."
Ely Parker fifth from right?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

No Longer Terminating

That meditation on "terminator" as contrasted with "exterminator" brought a detailed explanation from a PhD friend who specializes in Latin -- but today's mail opens the subject again.
      One problem with writing a blog intended for and about old persons is that it appears not all that many old persons read blogs -- most viewers of this one, as far as I can tell, have not yet reached a respectable age.  So I was particularly pleased, today, to hear from someone who tells me she has moved to a senior living facility.  Says her day's highlight there is feeding the ducks, for which she has even bought genuine duck food.  The card itself shows a grebe -- close enough for government work, as we used to say.
I would have guessed I was hearing from someone of a decent age in any event, for she writes in real handwriting, what I still think of as penmanship -- never even heard that word "cursive"  until a few years ago.  Besides which, she sends a post card!  With stamps on it!   I haven't had one of those in years, except possibly -- memory vague as usual -- when Connie wrote from Newfoundland. 
      But what I started to share with you is her excellent comment on the professional who got rid of those yellowjackets --
Wouldn't an ex-terminator be one who no longer terminates?
                                            Think about it.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Terminator in Action

At great risk to life and limb, I took six pictures of the yellowjackets swarming in the front shrubs, and this is all I got for my efforts.  You'll have to take my word for it -- they were thick here but they were evidently camera-shy.  As proof I submit the note left by the mailman (I know, I know, but ours really is a man), who suggested I put back the winter mailbox.  That's the box I nail up by the garage rather than shoveling, when the front walk is blocked by snow.  But I digress.
Those bees were just trying to make a living like everyone else, but of course I did call the exterminator, whom you can see in action here.  Pretty impressive.  Nice guy, too, but  when I photographed him without the disguise I had the video button on, so I can't show you he's perfectly normal.
 I'm left with just one question -- why is this guy called an exterminator?  wouldn't "terminator" do the job?  Doesn't he look like a terminator?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

More Wildlife Adventures

As you can see, I just filled the peanut feeder outside my window. 
Sloppy, though, spilled some nut halves on the ground.  And before I'd even got back in to my desk chair --