Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Memory

Last night, lying in my bed of cough, sweat, and mucus induced misery, I flipped though the TV channels to find something to keep my mind off how much my forehead ached, the pain being caused by the roots of my teeth in my gums, and the almost uncontrollable tickle in my throat. I settled happily on "The Glen Miller Story" a movie I hadn't watched in 55 years.

I remembered it, though, very clearly. That movie is one of the stand-out memories of my childhood. Starring Jimmy Stewart and June Allyson, it recounts the life story of Glen Miller from 1929 until 1944 when he was lost in an airplane during World War II. I have few intact memories from my childhood and I don't honestly think I can tell much about the year I was eight, but I sure remember seeing that movie.

My dad, working for the local newspaper, used to get movie passes for the opening night / week engagement of the big movies in town. This was when going to the movies was an event. Your mother wore stockings (and girdle and garter belt), your dad wore his suit, and you wore your Sunday shoes. You drove downtown to the big movie theater -- each of which were done of in gilt and stars and had velvet seats even in the balconies.

Mother always had us on a budget so you never got popcorn and a soda. You just got to sit still for two hours and act like a grown-up. As I remember it, I loved movie nights. Sometimes we ate at the downtown cafeteria before the movie. In that case you were required to have the cheapest thing on the menu. You were warned by Mother that you couldn't order extra things like desserts or salads. Mother always ate the green stuffed pepper. Dad, who didn't like stuffed peppers, had chow mien. I liked the crispy noodles so much that I could ignore the mostly steamed celery in the dish and I would order my own plate of the gooey stuff, too. You were also allowed a milk and roll. Odd, having milk and a roll with chow mien -- but you got filled up. Then we'd walk to the theater.

Dad got three movie passes for us one Friday night in early 1954 to go see "The Glen Miller Story." We happily went. I remember being sad that in the end Glen Miller died. I also know that I sat, quietly absorbed by the film, without being reprimanded by either parent. I never was a problem in the movie theater because I knew that to get to go along, you had to behave.

The next day, Saturday, was a big event in my life. I had been invited along with a bevy of other little girls to a popular girl's birthday party. I don't have any idea who she was. I only know that my mother seemed to think I had finally arrived socially. We were to attend an appropriate movie after being served birthday cake and opening presents.

At the party, I think because some parent had complained about the "appropriate movie" we were to see, the plans changed and instead of the announced movie, we were all taken to see "The Glen Miller Story."

I clearly remember not wanting to go. I didn't want to see the life story of that poor dead man again. A shy kid, though, I couldn't tell anybody I'd just sat through the entire movie only last night. At the theater we were partnered with another girl and given a small box of buttered popcorn to share and a tiny drink of our own. I remember thinking, "Okay! I'll get some good popcorn and this will make up for the next two hours." Of course, the moment we sat down, my partner spilled the corn on the floor -- and then, hissed at me, "We can't tell. We just have to act like every thing's alright. It wouldn't be fair to ask for more." So I sat, huddled in misery, though the film waiting for Glen Miller to die again.

Last night, as I watched this movie, I was aghast. The movie is NOT for kids. Well, it's not like kids shouldn't watch it -- it's just that is has almost absolutely nothing in it that a kid would really like -- especially an eight year old. Just how fricking old was I at eight? I must have been the best darned well-behaved eight year old in the history of eight year olds.

The movie has almost no plot, just long, long, long sequences of famous jazz musicians playing. It runs 115 and maybe 20 minutes of that is plot. The rest is just 1940's music played by big bands. Mostly instrumental music. And at the end the hero dies and everyone cries.

I don't know of a single child that would sit through this movie today. Not one. And I did it twice in a twelve hour span and never once complained. No wonder I never watched the movie repeated on late night TV again. Poor kid. Poor, sad kid. I'm quite sure I wouldn't be so well behaved now!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

We're not getting better . . .

It's the flu -- the same one that nearly killed me late last winter.

We have the frickin' flu! in July / August!

We are both running temperatures of 101.8. We have aches, pains, chills, sweats, and worst of all -- our faces are full of snot in every single cavity (ears, eyes, noses, sinus, glands). We can neither lay down -- nor sit up! We are simply balls of complete and utter misery.

We are soooo sick

And we've had this damn flu already! How did we get it in mid-summer AGAIN?

However, a huge shout-out to my friend Fran. Last Sunday Hubby avoided church because he was too sick to go (this has happened three times? in our 10 years there -- and one of those was because of the aneurysm) but we knew that no one was going to show up today to sing -- or play for the service. So . . . Hubby dragged out of bed and I managed to go with him. Let me tell you, we were not exactly appreciated by anybody. One look at me and everyone said things like, "Oh my god you need to go home . . . you are so pale . . . you look terrible . . . nobody wants to see you like this . . ."

But I played through the hymns for practice and was sitting in my choir chair when I looked up and say my friend, and our old accompanist, Fran, settling into her pew. By the time I got to her, she didn't say anything to me -- just looked at me -- and stood up to hug me -- the only person to touch me all day. I cried. Well, the bad right eye wept more than it had before (another symptom of the facial misery) and the left eye had real tears.

So Fran played the service. Will didn't need to sing -- he couldn't actually -- and Fran, without complaining or telling us how "stupid" we were, simply supported and showed love and gave of herself. And played like an angel.

It's so good to have a friend who will come through for you -- and hug you at the same time. Thank you, Fran.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


One more week of summer and then back to work on a permanent basis. I'm not ready.

Hubby came home on Thursday night from his family reunion with a bad virus -- awful head congestion, low-grade fever, he lost his voice, coughing, earache, stuffy nose, sore throat, achy limbs. By Monday I had caught it full bore.

Also, we discovered, unhappily, that my stomach upset during the week he was away was caused by medicine interacting badly -- because Monday night I got the damned thing again, just 20 minutes after swallowing the pills. Seven hours of throwing up is NOT pleasant under any circumstance. With this dreadful virus, I have been laid low, down, and put out. The count has reached 10 and I can't get back up.

Somehow, this summer just didn't work out the way we had anticipated: slow, restful, lazy days of enjoying each other and our lives. Most of the summer I've been sick -- ridiculous as that is. For the first time in 15 years my blood pressure is normal. It's perfect, in fact. Mostly I run 120 over 80 and it seems the sicker I get, the lower it goes. Plus, since I've started back teaching, without doing anything different, I've lost 30+ odd pounds -- which undoubtedly helped the blood pressure.

I guess I can be grateful the bad back, the medicine interactions, and now this dreadful virus (OH GOD I'M SICK!) didn't happen while I was in school. I get to lay around in bed and not feel guilty that a sub was doing all my work. Of course, I don't do anything around the house, either.

The crowning glory to my summer woes -- the dentist decided I had a cavity that needs to be filled after I finally managed to keep an appointment with her on Tuesday. One more happy thing to look forward to.

So Fritzy, Hubby, and I lay around being lazy and indolent and gasping -- and NOT eating, because when it's 100 degrees and your kidney won't work (Fritz) and your nose won't breath (me) and your temp is at 101 at 3 p.m. (Hubby AND me), nothing sounds tasty.

And school starts in one week's time. I'm just not ready.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I am crawling out of bed this evening at 6 p.m. to walk the doggies once last time on my own. Then in my un-air conditioned auto, doggies and I are driving in 90 degree heat to get hubby from his wonderful stay in D.C.

Meanwhile we have had a horrible time all by ourselves in the heartland. Tuesday at 6 a.m. when dog walking I was fine. At 7 a.m. when I left for the dental school downtown for my semi-annual cleaning I was beginning to feel just a tad peculiar. By 8 a.m. when the dental student collected me from the waiting room I was feeling distinctly awful. When she pulled up my chart and announced, "Oh, just the exam, the normal cleaning, and then full-mouth x-rays," I had to demur.

"Um. Sorry. I don't think I can take the x-rays. With my gag reflex and the way I'm currently feeling, I think I'd embarrass us all."

So we agreed on only the exam and the cleaning. I never made it through the exam. I did make it to the bathroom where I threw-up several times. The student happily sent me on my way, grateful I'd made the bathroom in a timely fashion. I got to the parking lot and threw up again. Five times on the way home I had to pull the car over, open the door, had heave in the street. Every time I did, I hit the "heat seats" button on the door and wouldn't realize it until I'd start to even more profusely than I already was. By the time I'd get the darned thing off, I'd be pulling over to the side of the road again.

From there Tuesday morning was a blur. I threw up ever 20 minutes for three hours accompanied by profuse sweating. By noon I'd worn myself out to once every 20 minutes. By 2 p.m. I was mostly done, except for trying to swig of just a taste of water and now and then, and that would come back, too.

The doggies hovered over me on the bed watching in concern. They didn't demand and they didn't pester. They just watched my every move.

Finally at 3 p.m. I managed to sleep for an hour uninterrupted. Then I walked little Fritzy who is sick in his own right. Gus didn't get outside until 7 p.m. -- 11 hours without a pee. Poor little boy.

Wednesday I limped out of the house for the dog park at 7:30 a.m., after which we hit MacDonald's for two sausage biscuits for the boys and a huge regular coke for me (all that ice was heaven-- and it stayed down!). Back to bed we went. Every five hours or so I'd try to get up enough energy to walk the boys. Then we'd sleep. By 5 p.m. Gussie tried to run off with the neighbor; anybody that had a bit of life in them looked good to him. Chasing him, however, in my state was not pleasant.

This morning we had a bit more normal routine -- to the park, walks every 3-4 hours -- but not long and not energetic.

Meanwhile, Hubby seems to have a had grand time in D.C. with Sister. He's been to the beach across from Baltimore. He's seen a bit of D.C. - his knees decreed no line-standing, however. His oldest brother, 93, came up from Philly for a day's visit. He's gotten a cold. He shared family history and amazingly, enough, everyone seems to have done some talking to each other.

We are all waiting for him to arrive tonight at 9 p.m. He just called to say he was at the airport waiting to board his flight home. We have missed his steady influence and his dog walking skills terribly.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Traveling / Staying Home

I piled out of bed this morning at 4:10, flipped on the light, went to the john, swallowed a handful of pills along with a caffeinated diet coke, and fumbled my way to the car, after checking to make sure the U.S. Air flight was still flying. Hubby who had packed everything last night took his own morning meds, pulled on his clean undies, long pants, a shirt, some socks with loafers, yoked the dogs to their twin's leash, and picked up his suitcase. We made it to the car by 4:25 a.m.

The airport in our burg is miles and miles from home but we were there by 5:10, traffic being non-existent on a Monday morning pre-dawn. It took a bit to get him the wheelchair but soon he was being pushed through the sliding doors, away to get his boarding pass and in line for his 6 a.m. flight.

The dogs and I sadly drove home, muttering under our breath (me), and whimpering pitifully (them). One final stop at the dog park for a good morning pee and we drove home to await the car repair men who were picking up our only running car to see if they could get some repairs done on and thus give me safe transportation for the week.

I begged Hubby not to travel during the school year. The thought of my having to walk the doggies at 5 a.m. before leaving for school blew my mind. So he delayed this trip until school was well out, we had a running vehicle, and nothing big was planned.

Hubby is off to Washington, D.C. to see his elder sister whom he has not seen in 55 years. Frankly, it seems to me that if they hadn't connected in all that time, then what was the sudden rush? However, after she had contacted him this winter and they had talked on the phone several times, the bug hit him to pay her a visit - and the visit needed to be soon, for after all, he's 72, she's 98, and the brother they are visiting in Philly is 89.

I was "semi-" invited to visit with him, however, the doggies were definitely NOT invited as elder sister "HATES" dogs and cats and any kind of pets at all. Fritzy is really in such poor shape that traveling is out for him anyway and I certainly cannot board him in this condition, so I'm holding down the home front.

Except that things have not gone smoothly, as we had originally planned. The Lincoln is getting a new motor. The Aurora, sweet car that it is, is just too expensive for Hubby to drive, considering the amount of miles he enjoys traveling on a daily basis. At $100 a tankful, we need a car that takes regular unleaded and gets somewhat better mileage than the Aura does. Admittedly the Lincoln only gets two more miles to the gallon, but it does not require the premium variety gas. So "used" parts have been scavenged and the Lincoln currently sits in pieces at the mechanics, who is replacing the muffler and the engine.

We thought the Aurora, which is now designated as MY car, would be fine, but any car that is 13 years old and has sat for over a year pretty much un-driven will throw you a curve every now and then. Saturday night Hubby thought the water pump was going out. The car began to shake and rattle and make incredible noises. Sunday morning though the car was quiet except it now had no air-conditioning. Meanwhile we are replacing the motor-mounts on it and some screws that have mysteriously disappeared and there are other problems, though not serious, that have caused it to buck rather like a kangaroo on starting up. The mechanic pretty much knows what's what but the problem is finding the parts at a reasonable price for a car that is no longer in production.

So I'm currently carless and not sure exactly the ETA on my getting wheels back. Meanwhile, I'm walking the dogs separately. The tandem leash has been dismantled and I take Fritzy for a brief stroll. He has little energy and only wants to go a short distance. Gus, however, thinks we should be walking to the shopping mall for treats and then galloping home -- a distance of at least five miles.

Hubby called and safely arrived in D.C. in good time. He is staying with Sister and is unhappy that her house in without air conditioning. He first question was, "Do you have the car?" and when I said, "no," he thought I should call the mechanic and discuss what was being done. After listening to my silence for a moment, we both had a good laugh. I can take care of doggies and do early morning walkies and make plane / travel reservations on line - but I have absolutely no idea what makes a car run, other than the little fairies inside the engine that undoubtedly produce some kind of fairy dust to get a combustion engine running. He hung up then to call the mechanic himself.

Thankfully, Hubby is coming home Thursday night. Hopefully, we'll have a car by then. Or maybe Gussie will get to enjoy a really long hike . . .

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Summertime Lessons

Things are a bit slow around our house. We seem to be experiencing summertime indolence. We have not exactly become slothful, but we certainly fall into the lethargic category.

Hubby motivated me to purchase for HIM a round-trip ticket to D.C. to visit his sister -- whom he hasn't seen in over 50 years. She doesn't like doggies, so I'm staying home with the boys. Fritzy is unable to travel, anyway.

I have been working on some lesson plans for the fall, mostly because I need to submit them by July 21st. Without a deadline, who knows when I might have opened my word processing application.

Otherwise we mostly putter around, doing a little of this, seeing a movie here and there (Wall-E was charming to me and Hubby slept through it; Kung Fu Panda pleased us both), and trying to keep up with the wash. This has given me some time to reflect on the deep, meaningful, and pertinent knowledge that I've gained from my summer of leisure:

  1. Sometimes it's important to purchase new cookware. The stuff we have been using from the 1970's and '80's does not cook nearly as efficiently as the new stuff on the market now. I can get a full spaghetti pot of water boiling in less than five minutes. Who knew cookware had so improved?
  2. Laundry that sits in the basement for more than three weeks does not wash itself, darn it!
  3. More laundry trivia: the dryer heats up the house fiercely on hot days even when it is located in the far reaches of the basement; the new containers of laundry soap sold at the big box discount store are too heavy to lift; if the basement leaks during torrential rains the dirty clothes on the floor get dirtier and smellier.
  4. "Stumbling" on the web is an unending source of amusement. Witness:

    A teenager was stunned to find that a baby bat had been curled up inside her bra for five hours - as she was wearing it.

  5. Playing BigFishGames can also eat up enormous amounts of time and provide hours and hours of solitary entertainment (especially the hidden object games); these games are especially entertaining when one can't sleep.
  6. Melon seeds can clog up the sink even when one has a heavy duty garbage disposal.
  7. Eating the main meal at noon (or thereabouts) means one can have ice cream for supper.
  8. It's important to get up and celebrate a "feel good" moment with a terminally ill dog even when that moment occurs at 3 a.m. -- plus he might agree to eat some roast beef just because you've gotten it just for him, chopped it, and are hand feeding it.
  9. Reality TV shows are boring; I'm too old for the stuff shown in MTV and the WBC (except for Reaper, of course); and nearly all the CSI shows are too graphically violent for me.
  10. Procrastination is just too, too easy.
  11. Prices are just too, too high.
  12. The weather is too, too wet.
And finally -- the summer is just flying by. It was only June 15 minutes ago. Drat!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Traveling the Globe

I find, "stumbling" around the web, that I have visited 10 countries (and one of those is my own) in my lifetime so I've seen only 4% of the world. I'd better get a passport.

Here's the link so you can check out how you fare:

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Sharing a Meal

We had a very Zen 4th of July celebration last evening. Hubby and I supplied the food and our friend Debbie supplied the garden setting. The weather was perfect, the company fine, and even the exploding fireworks around us were not too annoying.

When we learned that Debbie's hubby was going to be away visiting his own mother over the 4th, we invited Debbie to share our Independence Day celebration -- whatever that might be. In my past experience, the 4th was usually a time to heat up the kitchen and sweat at the stove frying chicken and stand over the sink peeling potatoes and chopping celery and onions for salad. Initially I had thought, that to avoid this, we would just go out to eat. Then I saw Debbie's sister's garden.

Debbie's sister, also named Melissa, died almost two years ago, leaving Debbie bereft. It is her car that we are currently driving. Melissa was a neat person, full of wonderful stories that she told with a spirit of daring-do that carried you along in them. She and Debbie were very close, living only four blocks apart. Melissa left everything to Debbie, including her old dog, Gracie, and her house with it's perfect garden. Last week Debbie had to say a final farewell to Gracie and send her on to Melissa but the house is being maintained until Debbie decides to what purpose to put it. Meanwhile, avid gardeners, she and her husband perform love-labors to keep up the house and garden with its fountain, koi pond, and wooden gazebo. When we collected the Oldsmobile from that house, we sat for a spell in Melissa's garden, the first time I had seen it -- and it was certainly a place of sanctuary.

So it occurred to me that a 4th of July picnic might be just perfect in Melissa's garden and thus we planned our evening there, with Debbie's consent. I didn't feel like spending time in the kitchen and certainly was unable to stand for long at the kitchen sink, so we used our Sam's card to collect tubs of shaved ham, turkey, and beef along with thinly sliced cheeses and a package of rich buttery croissants. I melon-balled two exotic melons (a yellow canary and a Santa Claus) and got a package of Mount Rainer cherries. Hubby made a macaroni salad and we added in a store-bought apple pie along with some chilled diet Cokes and Starbucks frappuccino. It was a feast.

We sat under Melissa's wooden gazebo, noshing on our croissant sandwiches, enjoying the delicate breezes keeping us cool and relaxed. The koi pond, with its cascading fountain, made for the perfect backdrop of sound and sight. The blue snowballs were in bloom and the surrounding yard was a riot of greens and whites from all Debbie's plantings. Even the fruit trees were bearing plentiful apples. We told our stories of the past. We caught up on current events. We laughed. We hugged Debbie's remaining dog, Maggie, who feared the backyard explosions of firecrackers and bottle rockets.

Sitting together, sharing our lives, we ate and talked until the sun went down. It was a perfect celebration of the 4th of July.

Friday, July 04, 2008


Things to celebrate on this 4th of July, 2008:
  • Modem from Earthlink arrived yesterday, has been installed, and is working! We finally have connectivity!
  • Fritzy is hanging on. He's still eating poorly. He continues to have episodes where his legs just give out and he falls flat on his belly (all four legs just give out and he spread-eagles on the ground). He looks sad and he's become clingy, like he knows the time is limited now, BUT he's with us, he's loving us, and he still runs in the park every single day!
  • The new "used" car is running smoothly with lovely AC -- so driving around in our Aura is quite the pleasure. I can even drive it -- when I can pry it out of Hubby's hands.
  • I got a hair cut and feel much happier with the shag gone from my ears.
  • My back is better, not yet healed but considerably improved. The doc gave me a lovely renewable script for heavy duty muscle relaxers that help when I'm tired of the pain.
  • We are having a picnic supper of club sandwiches, Hubby's salad (whatever he chooses to make -- probably macaroni), fresh melon (crenshaw, honey dew, santa claus), Mount Rainer cherries, strawberries, and apple pie to celebrate the Fourth of July. A dear friend is joining us and we will sit around her gold fish pond an laugh and joke and tell stories.
Have a grand Independence Day!