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Entering quietly

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Thursday dawns a humid and overcast 66°. The trees are in full leaf, and the yard is green. But Texas is still in a long drought, so we cautiously wait out the spring by avoiding garden shops and seed catalogues. Water is too dear to waste on much greenery. A modulating whine from Snookums morning run on the tread mill intrudes into the soft silence, and Kippur gently yeeps from her cage as she goes through another molt. Somewhere off in the distance, a diesel motor rumbles. Most likely a concrete pump in the development nearby. So much for my bucolic countryside and quiet country lane. The passing of an era goes lamented only by the aged.

And my old pick ’em up truck sits out in the yard where I left it yesterday after its annual bath. Today it gets a safety inspection. The sticker is two months overdue, and I hope to duck the law on the way to the inspection station. I feel like such a criminal! I considered selling it a few times since I usually put less than a thousand miles on it a year. It occasionally gets used to haul a sheet of plywood, or to run down to the village gas emporium for lawn-mower gas. If I am careless about putting the trickle charger on it, I get rewarded for my irresponsibility by having to put a new battery in it. Gone are the days of a $50 dollar battery. This year it was $125. *sob!*.

I must be getting stronger. Yesterday, under the loving lashes of the Big Nurses flail, I managed the full run of cardio exercisers without pain. Barely. And I managed to get all the way to the car afterwards without my rubber legs giving way before I got there. Still, I just sat in the car for a time and blew. I don’t think that I will ever return to 100% … but then, I never was that enamored of full bore living anyway.

Not much in the news today. Lots of political posturing. Even more inanities. The mid-week bloggers are few. And facebook is a wilderness. So I have run out of excuses to sit in front of the unblinking Cyclops and must cover my bod for the day’s routines. Would be that the world would be more accepting of a geezer in his underwear.

Good morning!

~r

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Cream cheese and soda crackers

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A late Tuesday morning greets me as I stumble out of bed after a sleep tossed night. Half a tub of cream cheese spread and a packet of saltines is not a good bedtime snack, apparently. But when you are retired, it matters little. Early or late, the world still goes on with or without me.

The routine either way is to pour a cup of coffee, and stagger down the hall to the studio and peek into your world. A fast scan of US news, then world news, and a special Middle East newsfeed. Then the blogs, and finally facebook, text messages and emails.

A period of coffee sippin’ and musing follows that, and perhaps a journal will follow. Most of my journals I call the coffee is good journals. A period beginning with the soft fog of morning reverie, and slowly solidifying into a plan of action for the day. I try to not have any contact with people until I am coherent, around ten a.m., and so my emails and telephone calls are much later in the day.

My lawn is mowed, and I can look with satisfaction out into a neat and orderly universe of swifts darting inches above the ground, mocking birds mimicking piercing calls and arguing with the cardinals. Kippur the Budgie fussing and scolding me. She is in the middle of another molt, and gets real cranky during them.

Another ten minutes, and morning talk radio will automatically kick on, and once again, the world will intrude into my little corner of paradise. But such is our world.

Good morning!

~r

Happy Easter, or Happy Astarte, or Enjoy the Day!

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… just started in on my second cup of coffee. It didn’t take me long to get thru the mornings news and blogs.

There is lots of blogs on Easter, the resurrection, and friends on facebook wishing me a Happy Easter. Not that I mind. I am happy to be wished a happy anything, ‘cept perhaps a Happy Prostrate Exam day. But I do find it a bit odd that Christians would use a pagan idol like Ishtar or Astarte to commemorate their god rising from the grave. Maybe someday I’ll investigate this mystery.

Today is going to be partly cloudy, with a one in three chance of rain. But the air is full of the sound of lawn mowers. Big ones, little ones, and grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr weed eaters, all beating back the verges of wilderness.

We are a curious lot too. We buy a parcel out in the wilds to enjoy nature, and set about civilizing it. Rattlesnakes got to go, but we set out baths and seed for birds. Coyotes are not appreciated, but we have tame dogs. And of course, field mice and rats need to be poisoned off. Snookums will NOT live with mice. Don’t water at night, because frogs multiply, and where there are frogs, there are copperheads and rattlers. Don’t leave lumber stacked on the ground. Keep the weeds mowed to provide a fire break, and cut down any cedar closer than 50 yards.

But all that is just distant musing on this soft Sunday morning. Soon, I’ll prepare for our First Fruits celebration at the shul. Two, maybe three hours out of the day. Then back this afternoon, put the new battery in the old pickup, maybe mow the front acreage if I have time.

Today is bath day for Kippur the Budgie. She really perks up on bath days, zooming thru the bath and flitting back up to the perch to shake the water off and fight with a few toys. Unless a really big bird perches on the porch handrail just outside the window. Then we get veeeeeryyy quiet and still.

So as the day slowly runs by, and the coffee nears the bottom of the cup, I leave you with a “Happy Easter” if you are so inclined, or greet you with “Chag Sameach” if that is your tradition, or enjoy the day off if that is your particular belief.

~r

Messy Musings

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Dowhrnowknower

OK … sit at the keyboard and type something. Anything to get the ball rolling.

That is the normal way I try to get off a journal. My studio looks out over the front yard, and that is the first thing I notice when I sit down with my coffee cup in the morning. To one side is Kippur the Budgie’s cage. That is why so many of my journals start off with the yard and the bird.

But some mornings, that doesn’t inspire me. I don’t wanna force my mind into composing sentences. I just want to sip coffee and vege. This morning was one of those days. I ditched services today for no other reason than I just didn’t wanna. I didn’t wanna shower. I didn’t wanna dress. I didn’t wanna load the car. I didn’t wanna spend four hours away from home.

But something always seems to impel me to write, even when I don’t wanna. I’ll bang out nonsensical pieces that I rarely share. Or maybe I’ll pick up an old piece and rework a few paragraphs. Politics used to be a motivator of mine, but I am to the point that I have given up, because nothing short of a bloody revolt is going to put our nation back on a secure path. And revolutions too often replace the bad with an even worse. And all in all, given the high level of misery in the world, does it really matter? I got mine, and I’ll die with as much of it as I can. Not that it matters even at that. I don’t have much in the way of new stuff, so probably when I pass, most of my “stuff” will end up in a landfill, and I’ll not care a whit at that point.

Anyway … to all, I wish a very great day.

~r

The mornings flogging …

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… today, my date at Cardiac Rehab looms like death over the left shoulder. Sitting here sippin’ my morning coffee as the clock ticks away toward that fateful moment when I climb into the car seat and start off to my appointment with perky Morgan, my “trainer”. Also known as Bruinhilda, the slave driver.

I try to focus on the mundane, such as noting that the pecan tree out front is in full dress this morning, the tree rose that ‘Becca the Beagledestructor chewed the bark off of is sending out canes with pink roses from the root graft, the bluebonnets and indian paintbrushes in the field are in full bloom, and the grass needs mowing.

But first, fifteen minutes on the recumbent, five minutes on the chest cranks, and fifteen minutes on the treadmill, cranking out electricity for the teaching hospital, all done under Bruinhilda’s flail.

Some days just aren’t for musing.

Each day I go a wandering …

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Layin’ low
Seeking out the places where the ragged people go
Seeking out the places only they would know
~Paul Simon.

I don’t know why, but ever so often I wake up and just want to disappear into obscurity, leaving everything behind. Everything. Hit the road with just a quarter in my pocket. I understand that husband who goes out for a loaf of bread, and just keeps on going for twenty years before his conscience makes him go back to his roots to see how much damage was done.

But I won’t. And this feeling too shall pass. Geezers just don’t do that unless something is medically screwed up in their brains. Gone are the days when I could hit the road, catch an occasional meal at the Salvation Army, and keep moving until my feet stopped itching. Snookums has me too spoiled for that. I have grown overly fond of clean sheets and hot showers. Not to mention regular food.

But I lovingly remember the sleaze, the anonymity that cloaked me, the city corner that faced the sunrise and brought warmth to a chilled soul where I arrogantly watched them wretched wage slaves zip by in their leased cars, and congratulated myself on my understanding of life.

Ah! To be young and stupid again!

Rusty Rehab

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Well, I survived the first day of Cardiac Rehab. Barely.

After proudly parking in the furthest reaches of the parking lot, I entered the Cardiac wing of the hospital and walked the entire length of the building to the entrance of the dungeon lab. I was greeted by the head of the unit, who knew who I was as soon as I walked in the door.

“Your cardiac pouch is waiting on the table, Mr Armor. Take it to the back as you were told last week.”

“You are that sure I would be here today?”

“Yes, Mr Armor. We know these things.”

In no time, one of the therapists had the tail of my t-shirt up and swiped a spot with a cold swab of alcohol and placed a telemetry sticker on my side, then snaked the leads down from the neck and snapped them onto the stickers. Then she tied on the pouch with my name on it and dropped the device into the pocket.

First off was the recumbent bike. Fifteen minutes and a very low setting. I was a little nervous at the thought of fifteen minutes, but actually it was not so bad. My legs were a bit wobbly and weak afterwards, and I wasn’t too sure I was going to be able to stand very long when the session ended, but I managed to walk across the room to another machine that you cranked with your hands, and sat down.

The therapist set it up, again at a low level, showed me how fast I needed to crank it, and I started cranking … I was glad that it was only five minutes. My arms still ache an hour and a half later.

Without pause, it was onto the treadmill. The therapist set it up for an easy pace, but failed to note that it was on an incline from the previous patient. “Fifteen minutes” she said, and pushed [START] about thirty seconds into the walk I knew I wasn’t going to make fifteen minutes. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to make five.

The therapist came over and noted the incline, and reduced it, and allowed me to reduce the pace a little. I still wasn’t certain I was going to make fifteen, but they asked me to try for twelve assuring me assured me that my heartbeat was in the target range, and I wasn’t dying. Cool. I hate dying.

My butt hurt. My hips hurt. My knees threatened to give out. Almost imperceptible after images of angina made my teeth ache. Breakfast sloshed around my jiggling belly and made me nauseous. But I stayed the twelve, and maybe, I could have made fifteen without collapsing.

And I was done. The expertly ripped of the telemetry stickers, retrieved the wires and sent me to the front with my little pouch where I pinned it onto the cork board. Waiting for me was the therapist. She assured me that they weren’t trying to kill me, and that merely being winded is not abnormal. Perhaps I could work just a little harder Wednesday? I dunno. I just barely made it today, but I said …. “maybe”.

The walk back to the car was precarious. I reeled down the hallways on rubber legs looking like a drunken sailor, and on out to the car, barely hanging on to my keys with my shaking fingers, and gratefully plopped into the waiting car seat. I had plans to stop at the hearing aid people for some minor adjustments, then down to the grocery for next Sunday’s breakfast fixings, and stop at the synagogue for a little bit. But they quickly got canceled. I was going home. Period.

The drive wasn’t so bad, and other drivers were probably happy that I wasn’t my usual aggressive self. Pulling into the carport, and staggering into the house kicking off my shoes as I went, I started this little journal. A few words into it, and I see Snookums car pull into the drive from her morning of foraging. Damn. Grocery day. It is a tad over a hundred feet from the kitchen to the car. And a tad over a hundred feet from the car to the kitchen. Snookums is preparing for Passover, so she had lots of stuff, and I am not feeling Sherpa like today, so it is going to take me six trips to unload her finds. I got the groceries, but the angina really started in, so I missed muscling the usual fifty pounds of dog food into the kitchen and let Snookums do it. I usually don’t permit her to do that.

Anyway, I slipped the suspenders off, and plopped down in front of the glowing Cyclops again to finish this post off. It is going to be a long 35 weeks.

~r