Saturday, September 30, 2006

I seldom leave the house but yesterday was the last chance to get the emissions test and license stickers for the 14 year old Sable.

The longer I put things off the more I dramatize in my head awful scenarios of what might go wrong. It took an hour to get out of bed, another hour to prepare and eat breakfast and yet another hour to get dressed. It was 62 degrees out but I had to eschew socks because even the adaptive sock appliance couldn't get them on my feet.

I gathered cell phone,money,protein snack bar,documents and when I drove off it began to rain. This cheered me because the car was so dusty from sitting in the garage it was like a free car wash. I do right turns best so I plotted my route so that it was all rights.

When I tried to talked to the guy in charge he was not interested in my cautions so it gave me a great satisfaction when the low effort power steering warning siren began screeching like a colossal smoke alarm. Heh heh. Fortunately a girl drove it out and did not slam the power seat so far back it wouldn't go forward. Of course it passed.

Police were gathered up the road due to a minor accident but I was buckled up and had two more days on my old stickers before they could nab me. I made a complete circle of the route, going home with totally right turns. I went directly home to use the bathroom and plot out my trip to the license bureau when I ran out of steam. Plus my toes were cold.

So now I have two days to agonize over what might go wrong at the license place. And by the way the emissions test was $24.00. The two year sticker $55.00. And gasoline under $2.00 a gallon some places.
Life in the Midwest.

Friday, September 29, 2006

I had a magazine article writing professor who said people didn't want to read about disabled people. He based this statement on his own inability to sell an article he wrote on hearing problems to Reader's Digest. All the proposals I submitted to him were shot down and I withdrew from his course. This meant I couldn't graduate in June and had to stay over the summer and graduate in August. THIS meant I was flung into the arms of Black Cloud and out of writing.

Actually, one of the articles the prof wasn't accepting of was published by an Alumni magazine. Not Reader's Digest but it was glossier. Most of the courses I took in school got me grades and friendships but nothing that increased my knowledge. My mother was my best teacher. Both good and bad.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

My domino world is collapsing as I write. I was so encouraged by the appearance of Tabitha I placed a large order for groceries to be delivered today. Progresso soups, Pasta Voila!, roasted top round, yogurt etc. to be delivered between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The first domino clattered when I tried to drain the bathroom sink. The stopper was up but the water was pooled. Could Tabitha have clogged it? But it has always drained slowly. Today must have been building up for a year. The only thing that goes in that sink is soap, toothpaste and spit. I don't do hair things in there.

I went looking for the newest plumber number. Not in the card file, personal book or miscellaneous book. Not in the yellow or white pages that my squinting eyes could find. This guy was referred to me by my furnace guy. I have never actually used his services but he lives in the area and I like that image. "Hi neighbor! Got a teensy little drain problem. Could you take a peek on your way home?" Plumber was put on "hold for healing" status when the sink emptied after a mere four hours.

I set the next domino in motion by only having a glass of V-Fusion for breakfast. My thinking was I would eat good things when the Shnucks delivery came. At 2 p.m. I had an apple. By the time he waddled in I had to ask him to put the perishables away for me. He did it so agreeably I suspect he would have done it before if I had asked.

When I settled down to read Rebecca's blog it had VANISHED. Thankfully WW gave me a bone to chew on.

Someone told me about a meal delivery system called Seattle Sutton. I looked it up and the meals sound wonderful. Fresh...not frozen. I'll be looking into this after I get all the dominos swept up.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Tabitha cleaned today. She could not make it on Monday. Truck still not repaired and medical secretary schedule hinges on trading times with co-workers. She is moving on the first of the month so getting packed and out of her other house has been difficult. But it looks like she should be more reliable and cleaning on Mondays every two weeks.

$40 is what people pay for two hours work around here. I got my carpets vacuumed, bathrooms cleaned, floors mopped, mirrors washed and furniture dusted. She moved stuff. She didn't act like it was killing her and she didn't need to have media blaring to work. Her cell phone rang often but she only responded once and briefly. I was pleased with how things looked when she left.

Her kids are 19,16,15,13 and 11. She is borrowing the 19 year olds' new car until she gets her move paid for and can get the truck fixed. She seems to have a positive outlook no matter what are the obstacles. I think I was that way once.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Two of the criteria for moving from a condo to a house were it had to be all one level and near a library. The library was less than a mile.

I would select an author and read every book he wrote. Then every biography written about him. Then books by his contemporaries. During my Thomas Wolfe binge we vacationed in Asheville and toured his mother's boarding house.
I did most of my reading on the living room couch in front of the television between 7 and 9 p.m.

One of Q's earliest drawings is "Mom Reading On The Couch" with my toes spread wide apart.

Nowadays I don't read much. The eye specialist mutters about future surgery but not now. So I watch the television I didn't watch most of my life. It is numbing but provides company. Here is what catches my interest now:
Project Runway
The Soup
Gilmore Girls
Dirty Jobs
Thomas Wolfe would be not be impressed by my choices even if I spread my toes ever so provocatively.

Friday, September 22, 2006

I always thought the two easiest things in the world were to get married and to get pregnant. The two hardest things were to stay married and prevent pregnancy.

In high school only a couple boys asked me out and I was appalled at the prospect. My mother had made it clear that I was not marriage material as I was too frail for housework and I would be unable to conceive or carry a child. It made perfect sense to me. In college a fellow named Lou asked me out and was such fun and such a gentleman my mother agreed it was okay to date but marriage was still not in my future.

When Lou started getting serious and talking about our future together I stopped seeing him. I loooved kissing him but his priest kept getting in the way of that. My mother was always watching out the window and If it didn't bother her why would a priest care?

Lou loved to debate ideas and later went on to teach Philosophy. But to me it was too much like arguing. So I was ready to move on. Once I learned how to kiss it was a dating extravaganza for the next two years. When someone seemed serious I just moved on. My mom had explained good girls didn't do "it" and if I did I would die of pregnancy. I felt so lucky anyone would want to go out with me that just dating was enough.

Finally Black Cloud found me and faced down my mother's wrath and my father's concern, "That boy doesn't look you in the eye Baby." I explained all the negatives about marrying me but he was determined. And really, really cute. I thought well, maybe sex would be as fun as kissing. So we got married and moved far away from my friends and family.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

When I was in Journalism school I worked on the campus humor magazine "Showme". I was on the staff for the last two years it was published until it was banned due to poor taste. I still have the magazines and it is funny to think such harmless smut could have created such a commotion. But it was big stuff in the late fifties. Mort Walker who later drew Beetle Bailey was a contributor. One issue shows me modeling a skirt appliqued with a Snoopy dog drawn for us by Charles Schulze.

One night the editor had a paste up party at his apartment and one of his roommates was Dan. He said he was driving down to St. Louis that weekend and I could come along if I wanted. He was very polite and seemed sophisticated to me. He could drive the car while drinking a soft drink, smoking and switching the radio stations. I was dazzled.

He invited me out but my experience dating was limited and I didn't want to get in with such a cool character. This made me officially hard to get and worth going after.
He was on the GI Bill so periodically would have to take off a semester to work to pay his expenses. We ended up writing and going out around six months until I broke it off, He thought I was just being goofy and actually wrote me a love letter which he never sent.

Fast forward 10 years and I returned to the state two kids heavier and somewhat wiser. I was going through a box of letters to re-read the promises Black Cloud made me and there were all Dan's amusing letters. I called him and he was home on a Saturday night and without a wife or family. He fished out my letters from a dresser drawer and told me there was a letter to me there he wished he had mailed.

Within five months we were married. My mother said it was a miracle but I called it making my mistakes early and saving the best for last. And it lasted 20 years.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Q and I were visiting today when Tabitha called. She described a fuel pump problem on Friday and wanted to come out today. I said okay and there she was! After introductions I asked her if she had actually cleaned houses before. She said she worked for Dee's Superior Cleaning Service. Pandemonium!

When Q was a teenager a lady from her church started up a cleaning service and hired teenagers to work for her one summer. I was all in favor of Q being employed and out of her room. Turns out Q and Tabitha were both trained by Dee. They didn't work at the same time but compared notes about their mutual boss and what she taught them about cleaning. (Shout for shower doors. Johmson's wax for counter tops.)

Tabitha committed to every other Monday beginning ummm...well...she's going to call me.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Alas. Tabitha did not call or make an appearance. I am reminded of Son of Black Cloud during his years of seeking employment. He would hear of a job and ponder the idea a couple days. Sort of try it on in his mind. Then he would speculate on what the salary might be and determine his own worth. By the time he went for an interview he had already hired himself and was ready for promotion. The entry level jobs took too long to achieve his goal which was to receive a paycheck without actually leaving the house.

I think this is where Tabitha is right now. She probably doesn't have transportation or reliable day care. I understand how this works. And cleaning someone's house? What a comedown for a medical center receptionist. I tidied and dusted most of the day. Really felt I'd improved things even though there was no deep cleaning going on. Maybe I should put Tabitha on retainer to call me now and then and propose doing a good housecleaning. She wouldn't have to come. I'd pay her to be my tidy motivational speaker. But I draw the line at benefits.

Friday, September 15, 2006

If these posts were titled this would be "The Cleaning Woman Cometh". This house is easy to clean since it is all one level. There is an overhang of the roof which shades the inside enough that dust does not show.

When we replaced the main carpet years ago I requested anything that would hide chili stains and cigarette burns. I got a blue/brown mottled high and low pile design that showed absolutely nothing. It doesn't look new and the hall area needs to be stretched to get rid of a rumpled effect but I'm still happy with the choice. I sprayed Resolve once by the front door for whimsey but it really didn't need it.

There is no basement and the laundry room is next to the kitchen. That floor is a white Solarian tile that mops clean in no time. I have a dandy washable O'Cedar mop that can be pressed into a yellow plastic device that sits on a bucket and used to squeeze the mop damp. All with ONE HAND. After 15 years the floor still has its original shine.

The big deal in any house is not the cleaning it's the picking up. Unopened mail stacks. Filing accumulates. Trash accumulates. Places need to be found for things not needed. If you don't watch daytime television or get on the computer you can easily keep a house presentable. But this year I have been slowed down by power outages, poor health and a general ennui and asked around for recommendations for a cleaning person.

For a month I waited for a friend's C.P. to call me but when she did it was only to decline the job opportunity. She suggested Tabitha who returned my call after two weeks to tell me she was interested but unable to talk as she was at her main place of employment, a medical center. Two weeks later she called to set an appointment to "talk and get to know each other" on Friday or Sunday. We agreed she would call me Friday (today) to work out the time.

It is noon and she still hasn't called. Maybe we should have talked about money on the phone but she was at work and kept being interrupted. Whatever happens the house is picked up and looks spotless. I've had several imaginary conversations with Tabitha and frankly I'm bored with this whole "getting to know you" conversation. I'm ready to clean, baby.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

When people look at me with sad eyes I wonder how they would have looked at my mother. Her mother died when she was 15 and she quit high school to work in a hosiery factory. Her father abandoned the remaining siblings and they went to an orphanage.

When she was 17 she met and married my dad who had been raised dirt poor and left school in second grade. He came to the city and developed a drinking and gambling problem that stayed with him until he died of cirrhosis at 70.

My brother Jimmy died at age 5 of 7 contagious diseases. He was placed in the hospital with measles when my sister Dolores was 3 months old and picked up the remaining diseases which were on his death certificate as causing his death. He had golden curls and was an amiable little boy.

I was born 3 years later. When I was almost 13 I had polio and was 100 % paralyzed. I needed total care for the next year but little by little adapted to my disability. My mom felt it reflected on her parenting and when people would stare at me would say "She wasn't born this way."

While I was away at school my sister got her first car and picked a rainy day to drive up to see me. She was thrown from the car as it skidded on a turn and killed instantly.

So when my momma sang Poor Little Joe, "No mother to guide him, in her grave she lay low". She knew what she was singing about. She died in her eightieth year experiencing very little of what today would be considered as essential for happiness.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I've never understood why people curse. There are a thousand better words to describe what they are feeling. Why go for the common expression?

When I was little I stomped my foot rebelliously and said "I don't give a hell!" I was so embarrassed it didn't come out right. I was ridiculed for not knowing how to parse a proper curse. I never got over it.

Apparently my children curse behind my back. Q thinks the S expletive is more acceptable to me than the F bomb. Not so. Neither one is pertinent to the situation it is used to describe. Using either shows ignorance.

Teenagers were walking in a mall I was at and talking loudly. Mostly expletives. They just wanted to talk and didn't have the vocabulary to do it. Pathetic.

I understand when you get really, really mad you want to communicate that to someone. Sometimes cursing makes a point. But bleep bleep it people don't bleep for the bleep of it.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

My approach to life is based on the domino effect. If I lay low and don't make a commotion things will go smoothly. Today I was forced to have my '92 Sable inspected. It passed. 28,000 miles in the lifetime of a car doesn't make for problems. When they brought it back to me and I tried to move the seat forward it was stuck. "Oil ?" I opined. "No ma'am. Motor for seat may need replacing."

I could hear the dominos clattering endlessly down their inevitable track. A cat that purred contentedly for 16 years was starting to yowl. The long legged mechanic whacked on the lever a few times and got it to inch forward. If I had my way I would wedge a crowbar in there and be satisfied. But there still is left a state emissions test.

It is all planned out in my head. First I have to explain a super sensitive power steering add on that screeches like a ... um ... smoke alarm when you apply any torque to it. After they set it off they will remember the warning. Then they will get all comfy with their long legs stretched out and when I try to drive away I can't move the seat forward and can't reach the wheel. So I have to be towed.

But wait! Stay in my head. I have AARP towing and my AARP membership has lapsed. Will they come to my rescue?Plus I can't clamber up in a tow truck so I'm stuck at the emissions place with no Sable and no cash. And you can't imagine how inept I am at using a cell phone at my calmest.

So I'm putting off the emissions test until the dominos are in better alignment with my brain cells. It may take awhile.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I hate sympathy but even more I hate the blank look I see in professional medical folks eyes as they try to move me along their referral chain. No matter what my ailment the one I'm visiting can't deal with it. But some other fellow miles away may have the answer. "But you're my doctor," I whine. "Why won't you help me?" Blank look.

I put off calling for appointments as long as possible and am surprised when I do call and there is a three month wait.
Looking up phone numbers usually involves putting my blind nose next to the phone book to get the number. Then dialing the wrong number. Then getting in a pick the option merry-go-round. Phooey.

Friends give me the blank look too. They want a solid diagnosis with cure at the end. Why am I so cranky? Circling the drain takes much longer than I would have expected. And what I wear as an animated expression looks cranky to some. But no one mistakes it for blankness.

Monday, September 04, 2006

I led a sheltered childhood and was further sheltered as a wife/mom. When I started working as a social worker I couldn't believe people would pay me to come to an office each day. Initially I visited the county indigent in nursing homes. I investigated to be sure they were eligible for the $150 the county contributed toward their expenses. The state paid a little something but the homes seldom received more than $200 for their care.

The nursing homes had sucked up any nest egg they had. By the time I came by the old people were tied to a commode chair if they were incontinent or settled in iron beds with the bars up. There was no air conditioning and flies were everywhere. If complaints were made to the state, an advance appointment was agreed on and everything was deodorized and spruced up for the "inspection".

There was no place for these poor souls to go. The doctor who was overseeing their care was a part owner. Our state social work director resigned to become one of the nursing home directors. Newspaper articles were written and after ten years of documented abuse one of the worse homes was closed down.

I did a couple things back then I think earned my pay. A man got a sizable lump sum check from Social Security which the N.H. signed for him. When they wouldn't credit him with the money I notified the FBI and they did. I was given one day to move him and found a boarding house for him to live at. There was a developmentally disabled young woman who was being made to care for adult age deformed folks without pay. After a couple moves she got in a group home with good supervision and fun.

But other than these couple things I supported a system that still is in place.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

I believe in saving for a rainy day but not so much in planning for retirement. You won't believe it but by retirement you don't enjoy spending as much. You lack the energy to travel. You become preoccupied with health and medicine. The retired people in my neighborhood look out the window a lot. They watch television. The days pass.

But be sure to put money by for a rainy day. Rain happens.

Friday, September 01, 2006

My second claim to greatness involves the Hollywood starlet Barbara Bates. Again, there is no actual blood tie, but her career was followed intently by our family. Mother's Aunt Helen was divorced by Director Cecil Cohen so he could marry Barbara. For some reason I imagine Bates as the ingenue who stalked Anne Baxter in 'All About Eve" but that could have been Marilyn Monroe. Mother did not keep careful records on this illustrious connection. All I'm saying is people who divorced MY people added luster to our pedestrian existence.

I did not realize how major my third experience with celebrity was until I married a sports fanatic. "Tell me," he would beg, "Tell me how Wilt Chamberlain came to your dorm." I couldn't give enough detail.

I was working at the reception desk when someone asked me to buzz Barbara Golden. I did and her date sat on a wrought iron rail. When Barbara came out he leaned down and greeted her. When he stood he towered over her.
They left. It was the late fifties. If she became one of his 20,000 statistics she probably survived. I used to be able to describe his exact words and what he was wearing. I kept no record of this momentous occasion. A lesson to all persons touched by greatness. Document everything.