Almost the first question They ask us old folks when judging whether we're compos mentis is "What year is this?" and frankly, sometimes it's hard to remember. There was, after all, a time when 1984 stood for the far future, and it still feels weird to write 2016 on a check. As for what day of the month is it -- I've taken to marking the calendar -- only catch of course is that one has to remember to mark off the corner each morning. Which I didn't. So it was a total surprise to reach for the morning paper today and find a May Basket on the front door. It must have been the spirit of my sister, like me a transplanted New Englander -- but she died twenty years ago...
Two flickers! I just saw two flickers! For a week or so I've been seeing one, hopping along the back lawn like a robin, looking for ants (?) but now I just saw two at the same time. Maybe they're nesting here?
They hop in for a nervous second on the dying willow just outside this window, eyeing all the goodies -- the peanuts, the suet, the sunflower seeds -- but so far they're too jumpy to help themselves.
I reached for the camera so slowly -- this is my picture! It isn't one I googled! I got a picture of my very own flicker! Stay tuned!
A web site just now asked me to establish a security q&a: -- What was your favorite tv show when you were a child? First off, I was married and already a mother before I ever saw a live television screen -- which, as I think I told you before, was on a set facing out in a store window. We stood out on the sidewalk to watch some b&w dancing cigarettes. And then again, the way things are going right now I'm not sure I could remember a show even if I had watched tv as a child. My son has a friend who answers all security questions with the same word. It might be "cheese" -- or then again it might not (see failing memory complaint above.) At any rate, that's what has just become my favorite tv show. Also the city where my father and mother were married. Also my sixth-grade teacher's name. Cheese.
When I ran into this 1936 black-and-white film on tv yesterday, I was so astounded I didn't even make a note of which channel was offering it. I came in toward the end,
as a girl was making a dash across the room and out the window of a skyscraper. Soon after that a judge was sentencing a young man to an institution for the criminally insane for the rest of his natural life.
I clicked on the little 15-word description of the movie, and learned that it depicted the way
"young people go from marijuana to wild piano playing, hysteria and death."
Later I located these posters, according to which the movie should have been restricted to adults only, but there it was on tv in the middle of the morning where any kid playing hookey from school could view it. Wild piano playing!!
For the first time in years -- mainly to put off emptying the dishwasher -- I went ego-surfing. Just to see what would happen, I googled the name Edith
Handleman, which I haven't used since 1948. The third link down trumpted my full birth date in bright purple, so of course I had to click it, and --good grief -- there sure isn't any privacy left in this world any more.
Going further down the Google list, I find Norm's obituary. I discover that in June of 1943 I won a $5 award at the Penn Yan Academy commencement. (That $5 had, another web site informs me, today's buying power of $69 -- not to be sneezed at.) And then I find my great-grandfather -- Wolf Handleman. That's a name I only found out myself a few years ago. How does this web site know it? -- so I've got to click another link to see what's going on there. And before long I learn (which I never knew) that in February, 1916, my father left Montreal by railroad and entered the United States at St. Albans, Vermont. Now, of course, I have to google each of the kids. I may never get out there to empty the dishwasher.
No question, there's a Pot of Gold waiting for whoever follows through on this, and you're welcome to be the one. Internet shopping came along just in time for my Old Age, and since I moved on from canes (see this blog three years ago) I've spent hours online researching rollators. Some vendors call them walkers -- but I think of those as the aluminum things the Old Ladies danced with in The Producers. I prefer the word rollator, which I'll bet was a made-up trademark that wasn't properly protected, so it lost the capital letter and some manufacturer lost the right to exclusive use. My first one (see this blog three years ago) was a full-size affair that kept bumping into door frames and scratching furniture. So it's been limited to carrying in groceries. Then I spent a few Internet hours searching for the lightest three-wheeler (no seat). Found one that weights eight pounds, no more than a newborn baby, and I can handle it folded up in the car. And for around the house all day -- hang on, we'll get to the Fortune part -- I found a pediatric rollator just right for someone who is no longer five feet tall. At first the concept was pathetic, but then I realized that for a little kid who couldn't walk without it, this one would represent freedom, and I felt better about the whole thing. It's additionally useful for taking-it-from-here and carrying-it-there, which really constitutes the larger part of housekeeping. So anyway, here's what could yield you, as Dr. Johnson wrote, riches beyond the fondest dreams of avarice. Okay -- all those rollator ads list exactly the same set of advantages: *padded seat *removable basket *brakes * etc. But -- here's a closeup of my outfitted little companion: *the grabber tucks nicely in the back, because anyone who needs a rollator can't really bend down to pick things up *the flashlight is for times when one forgets to leave the lights on in the next room and is afraid of tripping *the timer reminds one that those eggs will be hard-boiled in twenty minutes (see blog two years ago). I'm not entirely joking. Some manufacturer could sweep the market with a deluxe fully-equipped rollator. All that's lacking is a niche for the smartphone. You're welcome to the idea -- now somebody, please do something about this.
Hip a bit touchy this morning but I know how to make it happy. Pills first, then a nice balanced breakfast to get them going -- egg salad sandwich, strong tea, tangerine. Just about empty the hot water heater filling my deep Soaking Tub, take off the necklace with the panic button and tuck it on the bath tray next to the book rack. I'd like to send you a picture of that well-equipped bath tray, which also holds some zippy reading glasses from the Dollar Store, but this morning, for some reason, the computer didn't want to recognize the digital camera. Anyhow, add on the portable phone -- don't want to miss out if I'm selected to receive a free weekend in the Bahamas -- and a little cup full of jelly beans from that big birthday-present jar. Then I mentally thank Norm for insisting, years ago, that we put in grab bars when we re-did this bathroom. And I settle down, warm, well-fed and feeling no pain, nibbling the first jelly bean, to continue re-reading Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz
Well, the celebration of this monumental birthday has lasted seven weeks now, and today's lunch with new old friends about winds it up. Michelle and Barak got in just under the wire -- they dropped this in the mail, I assume, last minute before they left for Cuba.
It's nice to see that they pay regular postage. Reminds me of President Truman, except that old Harry used to pull a 3-cent stamp out of his wallet and lick it. Time marches on, and the Obamas evidently own a Pitney Bowes meter.
You will remember I commented, a few weeks ago, that four well-wishers who wanted to send a 90th birthday card all ended up with the same one -- I was proud to speculate that we nonegenarians are so rare it's worth putting only one card on the market.That commercial card, the one with the candles, spoke admiringly of 90 years of memories, and was probably written by someone who doesn't know much about old folks, because lately I can't remember a thing.
But wait--there's more! The mail person has brought a hand-made greeting from Jeannie. This card, the one with the balloons, has a different take on the achievement. "Welcome to the 90s club" she says " Except for parts wearing out, it is not so bad..." Damn straight
as the kids used to say in the '60s.
When Avi was little, he wanted us to get a dog -- and he was quite specific -- a spotty dog. We said when he was grown up and had a house of his own, he could get a spotty dog, and with wisdom beyond his years he protested "But maybe then I won't want one." Same thing happened with me. How much I longed to ride -- just once -- in a rumble seat. They said that would have to wait until I was a little older. And of course by the time I was a little older, there weren't any rumble seats. Do the grandchildren even know what a rumble seat was? It's no fair -- these kids knew a vintage-car collector, and they got to sit in a rumble seat. I also remember the way suitcases were attached to running boards--not much security there. On a cross-continental trip my aunt parked outside a restaurant and had her luggage stolen. That would have been around 1929. So do the kids even know what a running board is? They know infants need approved carriers, and toddlers have special seats -- not in the front -- and we're not starting till you've all fastened seat belts. But what I remember -- it would have been during The Depression -- is a bunch of us piling on to the running boards and grabbing hold of window frames while the camp truck lurched down dirt roads so we could go pick sweet corn for lunch. And we survived just fine.
Four different people triumphantly found a 90th birthday card, and all four found the same one. I've joined such a select percentage of the population that only American Greetings feels it worthwhile to publish a card -- and they offer only one at that.
My pride in the achievement, of course, is not justified. All that's required is to breathe in and out approximately 756,864,000 times, according to my old-fashioned on-the-desk calculator. I forgot to add in for 22.5 leap days, but then again, I didn't subtract for the two minutes or so when I can't breathe during laryngal spasms.
There was a time back in college days when I wrote greeting card verses for 50 cent a line -- not that bad when minimum wage was 43 cents an hour. This card says "Ninety years of memories must hold so much for you." I don't know what someone got for writing it, but clearly it's someone who doesn't know much about being 90. I don't remember a damn thing any more. The Birthday Scrapbook everyone helped Anna assemble is full of delightful memories (no one sends anything to a Birthday Scrapbook but delightful memories) and they're a great gift because they're mostly things I've forgotten. Many Happy Returns to all of you!
This polite query came in today at www.askedith.com from a reader of the weekly newspaper column. Nothing has been changed but their names -- I did leave the mis-spelling of my own name. Dear Ms. Link, It has to do with the tax implications of a Condo currently titled in my mother’s name and Debby’s name in equal share. My mother is currently paying the mortgage on this rental unit and the loan is in her name only. The property income, expenses and mortgage have been included in my mother’s tax return. She is 94 years old. She no longer needs the tax deduction for income tax purposes. The purchase price of the Condo was about $145,000. It has a current market value of about $115,000 and the outstanding loan is about $120,000. The net income for the property is about zero. Debby and I could use some losses for income taxes purposes if they would occur with the transfer. Questions: 1. Should my mother transfer her portion of the ownership to Debby and transfer the loan to us also? 2. How would this be treated for our tax purposes? 3. How would it affect Muriel’s taxes? 4. Or should we just leave things as they are until Muriel passes? 5. We live in the state of Florida. Thank you for your time and consideration. Regards, Debby Smith It's signed Debby but I dunno. (see "Debby and I" line 11) And who is Muriel? (first appearance, question #3) And if Muriel is the husband's mother, how come he isn't the co-owner? (see question #1)
Well, I just had to share this with someone, so you're it. Sorry I can't seem to think of an appropriate illustration.
Okay, bite the bullet, call the
repairmen – or should one say repairpersons? The garage door openers don’t work right.They’ll open the door but the remote won’t lower
it.I have to drive off leaving
that gaping invitation to passing squirrels, raccoons and who knows what else,
to come in from the cold, go up in the
eaves and settle down in the crawl space.
Then again – and this one is really serious – the bedroom tv remotes don’t work either. Same problem with both of them, so I know it's not the batteries. So I resign myself to spending a
couple of hundred dollars.I don’t search the Internet – my generation
pulls out the yellow pages directory (which is smaller than it used to be) and
I call the garage door people with the biggest ad.
I’m sure they’ll try to sell me a new door, so I start right
out saying firmly:
door dates from 1954 and I don't want to replace it. But the remote doesn’t work
right.It’ll raise the door but it won’t
lower it.You have to…”
button inside the garage, and hold it all the way?” “Yes, that’s it!!” “Well, our
charge is $68 plus parts, $88 plus parts on the weekend.But all I’m going to do when I get
there is straighten out your sensors.” “???”
little metal things that stand up at the bottom of your door, to keep it from
crushing whatever's in the way?
Just go out and see if the red light’s on and if one of them
got knocked sideways.Then if that doesn’t
work, call me back.” It works. So there’s
$88 saved, right there.$68 weekdays.
cable is something else again, though.I
owe them an such an unconscionable amount every month that I’ve set up autopay just
to avoid seeing the bills.And the
problem is, I suspect, not with cable anyhow, but just with those remotes.But as I don’t know who else to call, I
bite the bullet again and phone TWC.
have to send someone over.The screen
says I’ve changed to a different channel, but the picture remains the same.I’m going to be out tomorrow; can we make an
appointment for the next day?”
happy to, but first, why don’t you try unplugging the set and letting it
re-boot?Then if that doesn’t work, you
can call me back.”
hardly believe it – free advice!Twice
in one day! Never mind free advice that worked!
to restore one’s faith in one’s fellow persons.
Several days ago the remote for the
kitchen TV disappeared.I looked all over, searched
through the trash can, but I’ve been pretty much getting along without
it– about all I watch in the kitchen is
CNN, and these days it’s all Donald Trump anyhow. To set the background – I take hot baths every morning and night, with a book on the bath tray.Right now it’s The Vicar of Wakefield, and I’m about to email a friend who’s an
English prof, because I can’t figure out -- is that novel for real or was it
intended as what Jane Austen called a “burlesque”?But I digress. So this morning I happened to take
a good look at the portable phone I keep next to the tub, thinking maybe it was
time to re-charge it back on the stand – and whaddye know – it was the remote
for the kitchen TV. I've been making jokes about
Old-Timers-Disease whenever I have trouble remembering a word (usually it’s
nouns, incidentally) but this morning for the first time I got genuinely
scared.That was just too close to the
classic car-keys-in-the-freezer for comfort. OTOH, I had remembered to send my
kids the “I’m still here, it’s okay” morning email.And I did remember to take the antibiotics before I headed out for the dentist – said
driving not quite as simple as it sounds.
When old friends meet now, just about the first question
is “So are you still driving?”That’s
the big dividing line, the next question being “but what about at night?” Sorry, digressing again… It occurred to me that the electric
Smart, which is in the garage, might not be the best bet, for the dentist’s
office is in Bushnell’s Basin, an old Erie Canal village
out by the Thruway.The Smart doesn’t
have all that much range, and the Thruway doesn’t come very close to Rochester.That was a getting-even by Governor Thomas
E. Dewey, after the Rochester
publisher Frank Gannett went after the Republican nomination and showed up
at the Convention with a live elephant.I remember as a child seeing pictures of said elephant on some front
page. So with just a cane I tottered out to the Chevy on
the driveway, only to find I’d brought the wrong car
keys.Back to the house, during which
trip it was clear I'd forgotten to take the morning painkillers.And the garage-door opener doesn’t work
right, and I keep forgetting to call the repairman.But anyhow – Let’s skip right to the dentist’s
office, where I manage three steps, wobble in, hang up my jacket(painful right arm will
no longer stretch up to those hooks, as usual installed by six-foot workmen)
only to be told by a smiling receptionist that my appointment is for
tomorrow. Today is Monday.
She phoned the pharmacist so I
could pick up more meds for tomorrow.And so back to Rochester,
where I circled Wegman’s parking lot til I spotted one of those Helpers and
got him to leave a shopping cart right by handicap parking.And where, when the prescription still wasn’t
quite ready, I went over and bought – it still feels pretty weird – a single baking potato.Weight .68 lb.Cost 69 cents.
Bought two bags of groceries in all. And the pills still not ready, I tried
the do-it-yourself blood-pressure machine.126 over 61. Maybe this would be a good day to buy a lottery ticket
But I didn’t.Drove home, realized I usually unload groceries
right into the rolling cart from the garage.Eventually figured out how to get those two grocery bags up the driveway
anyhow. And it’s not yet , so I guess this is just a Half-Day in the