Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2018

Archive for the category “Hospitals”

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” Part Twenty – Eight

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” Part Twenty – Eight

At least the sun was shining and the winds were warm, out of the East, down from the Sierras. The fog was pushed out to sea hiding the offshore Farralon Islands from view. It made San Francisco seem like it was a part of the popular image of a Sunny California.

Luco wasn’t scheduled for release from the hospital for another three days, but he was raising such Holy Hell and threatening to crawl out of the place on his hands and knees that the medical staff voted to give him an early trip home.

“Mr. Reyes, as your doctor I must advise you to give us a couple more days to make sure that your internal injuries are on a healing track. But… as a member of the human race and someone who has to be around you all day I’d just as soon kick you down the stairs. Of course, I’d have to take a number and wait in line for the privilege.”

“Doc, I don’t mean to be trouble, but I hate it here. I’m feeling OK and I want to go home.”

The young doctor, who looked like he was there earning a merit badge, drummed his fingers on the side rail of Luco’s bed.

“Mr. Reyes, you may feel alright, but you’re not. Frankly, you’re lucky to be alive. If I sent you home alone you might end up dead on your bathroom floor before sundown. Of course, if I don’t let you leave, you might succumb to the night nursing staff.”

“I’ve been that much of a pain?” said Luco. He winced as he shifted his weight trying to get comfortable. Looking in the doctor’s eyes, Luco saw a mixture of professional concern and a weighing of the odds with a jury of his peers.

“Pain?”said the young man in the white lab coat. “Mr. Reyes, there was talk of starting a pool to predict which shift would report your sudden and unfortunate death. I’ve been here six years and I’ve never seen a grown man behave in such an immature and irritating manner.”

Luco blushed. He had never been a “good patient.” Even as a child being home sick from school could drive his mother to tears.

“Doc, I’m really sorry if I’ve been difficult. Do you think I should go and apologize to everyone?”

“No, Mr. Reyes, I couldn’t guarantee your safety. I think it best if I just sign your release and get you out of here. Who can tend to you when you get home?”

“I’ll take care of him, Doctor.”

Both men turned their gaze toward the doorway. There stood Marlee, dressed in tan shorts and a striped tank top. A large straw hat and matching bag completed the look.

***

“Oh, Jesus God, why didn’t you just leave me there to die?”

“I told you those steps would be rough, Luco.”

Marlee helped Luco ease himself down onto the sofa.

“Rough I could handle, but those last few steps…. I thought I was going to split open like a ripe watermelon.”

That’s why the doctors wanted to keep you a few more days.” Marlee spread a light throw over his legs. He had his head back, with his arm crossed over his eyes. “Inside, you’re still hamburger according to one of the Interns.”

“I feel like hamburger.” His eyes were closed.

The short ride home and the climb up the 18 steps from Stanyan Street had exhausted Luco’s body and drained his reserve of mental toughness. He fell asleep within seconds.

Luco had maintained that the vehicle that cracked and crushed his body had been steered with malicious intent. There had been no eyewitnesses. The people in the coffeehouse had nothing helpful to add.

The official police report concluded that it could come to no conclusion. There were no unusual skidmarks on the pavement. The intersection of Cole and Waller was busy during the day with diesel buses and tourist’s rental cars. Collisions and skidmarks were not uncommon. When the investigators looked at the scene they just shook their heads. The intersection looked like every other intersection in the city, except for the broken glass and the blood.

Marlee sat down at Luco’s desk and stared out the window. The grassy slopes of Golden Gate Park were still damp from the morning fog as it retreated offshore. The sunlight sparkled off the grass and made the world look clean and inviting.

She turned away from the window and looked at Luco’s sleeping form on the old hotel sofa. With his short hair and relaxed features he looked like a small boy napping. One part of her wanted to take him in her arms and rock him, nurturing, caring, protecting. Another part was coming to accept that she wanted to be held in his arms.

***

Marlee walked down Haight Street after getting Luco settled in and safe. The bright morning sun was shadowed by conflicting emotions. She and Pete from the cafe had arranged for a home healthcare staff to tend to Luco until he was farther along in his recovery.

She was comforted just knowing that he was alive and going to survive his injuries, but she was still scared for him. Luco was so sure that the driver of the van had hit him intentionally. The blend of relief and fear was exhausting. She hadn’t been able to sleep the night before. It was catching up with her now. A good solid week’s worth of deep, comforting, sleep would be good, but she needed to be back at Luco’s apartment. Five hours would have to do.

She made a short detour into the Haight-Central Market to get a couple of onions, some canned tomatoes and a green pepper. Tonight Luco was going to eat her Swiss Steak, whether he was hungry or not. He needed some red meat.

Standing at the counter, Mike, the young Lebanese owner rang up her purchases. He liked Marlee. She never gave him any grief and she never asked for credit.

“Hi, Marlee. How you doing? Don’t take this wrong, but you look terrible. Can’t sleep? Haight Street can get noisy at night.”

“It’s not the noise, Mike. I just haven’t had the chance to get any rest. Hopefully I can grab some this morning.”

As he listened, Mike let his eyes dart up to the large parabolic mirror in the corner. Shoplifting was an ongoing problem on the street and the mirror let him see clearly down both aisles of his small market.

Anyone who tried shoplifting from Mike had to be incredibly stupid. There was only one way out of the store and that was right past Mike and the 9mm pistol he kept tucked in his waistband. It was usually covered by his shirt, but not always. His eyes quickly scanned the store.

“I heard about Luco. Too bad.”

“It was horrible, Mike. He is a very lucky man, just to be alive.”

“A real shame. My brother got killed crossing Stanyan Street a few years ago. They never caught the guy who hit him. My Mother still cries about that.”

“My sympathies, Mike. At least Luco will survive.” She saw Mike’s eyes move up to the mirror. “He was released from the hospital yesterday afternoon. He’s not getting around too well yet. He needs time to recuperate.”

“Good thing he has a friend like you to help him out.” His gaze was fixed on the mirror. “Son of a bitch.”

“What?” Marlee turned and looked up at the mirror.

Crouched down in front of the beer cooler was Dennis Thayer. Marlee and Mike watched him slipping cans of beer into the pockets of his coat.

“Look at that. I finally let him back in here and the first thing he does is try to rip me off again. Marlee, here, take your groceries and get home. Me and this clown are going to have a talk and I don’t want you to be in the middle.”

“Oh, good Lord, Mike, be careful. Do you want me to call the police?”

“No. You go home and get some rest.” He smiled at Marlee, but his eyes stayed glued on the image of Dennis in the mirror. “It’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”

He unfastened the bottom two buttons of his shirt. Marlee could see the textured black grip on the pistol and the polished chrome of the barrel as Mike shifted it and flipped the safety to “off.”

“Marlee, please leave. Now.”

She picked up her plastic carrier bag and, taking one last peek at the mirror, left the store.

“Please be careful, Mike.”

Mike could see that Dennis was heading toward the front of the store.

Marlee hurried across the intersection, her keys out. Opening the front gate to the building, she glanced back and saw the front door at the market swinging shut.

There was little doubt that Mike could take care of himself, but it still made her uneasy. She knew, all too well, how quickly things could go sour and become deadly. Heartbeats are fragile.

“Sleep, girl. Get some rest,” she said out loud as she opened her front door.

Within three minutes the groceries were on the kitchen counter, the blinds were closed, alarm set and Marlee was underneath the soft blankets. Her breathing was slowing and sleep was only seconds in coming. Fives hours would come soon.

“Just a loaf of bread today, Mike.”

“Sure, Dennis. That’ll be $8.87.”

“$8.87? For a loaf of bread?”

“For the bread and for the three beers you have in your pockets.”

“What beer?”

Dennis smiled. He knew that Mike had seen him hide the cans. This was the fun part, the sport of it all. He saw that the front door was closed. It was just the two of them, alone in the store.

“Mike, I’m not trying to rip you off.”

“Thayer, I’ve had it with you. I take pity on you and let you back in my store and you thank me by trying to steal from me again.” He let his hand rest on the butt of the pistol so Dennis would get the message. “Either put the beers on the counter or pay for them. Either way, I don’t want you in here anymore.”

Dennis grinned and fondled the butterfly knife in his left pants pocket. He was enjoying this. The sight of Mike’s 9mm was an added treat.

“Are you threatening me, Mike?”

“Yes, I am you stupid junkie. You think this is a game show we’re playing here?”

Dennis’ smile vanished. Name-calling was out of line. This was just a game. There was no need to get personally nasty.

He pulled the cans of beer from his pockets and, one by one, slammed them down on the counter. They would be undrinkable for hours.

“Don’t call me names, Mike…ever. I don’t like being insulted. You understand me, you stinking camel jockey? There’s your beer. Why don’t you pop one open, Osama?”

“Get out of my store. Don’t come back. No more games with you. Go!”

Dennis pushed open the door. A bright orange Municipal Railway bus was stopped at the corner. He looked back at Mike.

“You’re right about one thing, Mike. No more games.”

Dennis quickly crossed Haight Street and headed down Central toward the Panhandle. He looked up at the 1298 Haight building. He saw the blinds snap shut in the windows of apartment number six.

“So, Miss Marlee, your macho stud is still alive. Don’t get too into playing nursemaid for him. It’s going to be a temporary job.”

It was a dry cleaner, working off $750 in traffic fines by picking up trash in the Park, who found the body of the sixteen-year-old runaway, stuffed into the trash bin behind the playground in the Panhandle.

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Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” Part Twenty – Seven

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” Part Twenty – Seven

The fifth floor of St. Mary’s hospital was indistinguishable from the fourth or the sixth. All of them had the same aqua and “seafoam green” colored walls, recessed lighting and the smell of disinfectant.

Using the hint offered by the helpful nurse in the Emergency Room, Marlee learned that Luco had been moved from “post-op” to room 534. With her heart in her throat Marlee took the large and spotless elevator up to the fifth floor.

Forcing herself not to run madly down the corridor Marlee walked along the painted line on the floor, gazing into each room as she passed the open doors. It was a slide show of semi-private tragedy. She was ashamed of herself for peeking into other people’s lives. Looking ahead she saw several empty gurneys parked along the walls and a large laundry cart filling up half of the hallway.

A man came out of the room just beyond the cart, and as he walked past her, Marlee could see that he was a priest. Doing some quick counting, she guessed that he had come from room 534. She picked up her pace. To Hell with decorum.

“Oh, dear God. Oh, dear God. Please, not Luco, not Luco.”

Another flicker of shame burned her cheeks as she realized that she was wishing the Last Rites onto someone else.

The door to 534 was partially closed. From inside Marlee could hear the sound of someone crying. Slowly, she opened the door, fighting back tears, and entered into the room. All of the lights were off, putting the room into shadowy darkness. The curtain was drawn around bed. Behind the thin green fabric there was sobbing and praying in Spanish. Marlee felt her knees buckle and she had to grab the back of a chair to keep from falling to the floor. A nurse, wearing a stethoscope, pushed the curtain back and saw the reeling Marlee. Over the nurse’s shoulder Marlee saw a gray-haired man on the bed, his eyes and mouth open in death. Gently stroking his papery cheek was the sobbing woman, a look of despair and unbelieving sorrow on her face.

The nurse pulled the curtain closed behind her and looked at Marlee.

“Can I help you? Are you all right?”

“Luco Reyes? I was told he was in this room. I’m his wife.” Marlee moved her left hand behind her back.

“Let’s go out in the hall for a moment,” she said and, taking Marlee by the elbow, led her into the corridor. Once there, she told Marlee the details of what had happened and about the treatment he had received so far. Marlee blanched, hearing how they had cut Luco open to repair his torn lung. His condition was still listed as “Serious”, but barring unforeseen complications, he would survive. Marlee shed tears of joy at this news and asked if she could see him.

“Of course, Mrs. Reyes.”

Silently the nurse took Marlee by the arm again and led her to a second bed sitting by the far window.

There was Luco. Marlee stood and looked at him. He was unconscious with a sheet pulled up high on his chest. He had an intravenous drip line going into his right arm. “He looks so small,” was her first thought.

Marlee took a side chair and sat down next to the bed. The rails were up and he looked like he was sleeping in an aluminum crib.

For the next ten minutes she just sat and looked at Luco. His face was scraped and there were small bandages on his chin and forehead. He was still under the lingering effects of the anesthesia. Lowering the rail, Marlee reached out and smoothed his hair.

“Oh, Luco. My poor, sweet Luco.”

Thoughts of their talk at Martin Macks the previous evening went through her head. “Was that only last night?” She remembered how they had both cried as they told each other the stories of their lives. She recalled the feel of his hand in hers as they walked down Haight Street and how very much she wanted to hold him, but didn’t.

Marlee looked at him and wondered about “unforeseen complications.” Was she going to lose this man from her life? Unconsciously she took his hand. His skin was warm and soft, just like last night.

“Marlee?”

She looked at his battered face. His eyes were slits. “Luco.” Her voice leapt from her throat. She lifted his hand and kissed it.

“Where am I? What happened?” His voice was hoarse. He struggled to focus his eyes, with only marginal success.

Even though his vision was blurred, he could feel her hand on his and turned his palm up, closing his fingers around hers. “Where am I?” She squeezed his hand gently and he squeezed back with a strength that surprised her.

“You’re in the hospital, Luco. You were hit by a car.”

“It must have been a tank.”

“You had surgery last night to fix some damage to your lungs, but you’re going to be fine.” Luco just nodded as he began to lose consciousness again. As the anesthesia wore off the pain medication mixed into his glucose drip would smooth the rough edges, but he would sleep for most of the day.

Marlee got up to lower the blind to keep the glare off of Luco’s serene and regal face. He looked like a king in Marlee’s eyes. Somewhere lost in his lineage, generations ago, there must have been royalty in his family. Even now the bearing and grace shone through.

It wasn’t long before hospital protocol geared up and a tall man in a crisp white linen coat escorted the new widow from her station at her husband’s bedside. As soon as she left the room two muscular men tenderly, respectfully, moved the lifeless body onto a gurney. They covered him with a fresh white sheet and took him away. Marlee could hear the squeaking wheels on the gurney as it rolled slowly down the hallway.

While Luco slept Marlee stayed by his side, watching him, willing him protection from “unseen complications.” Occasionally Luco would stir or moan softly and she would sit up straight and take his hand until he quieted again.

Seeing Luco so helpless and seemingly small in that large metal bed, with tubes running into and out of his limp and injured body, sent her back in time. Back to the night when she cradled the body of her husband in her arms, feeling his life escape, a modern Pieta.

Marlee wanted to crawl into the hospital bed next to Luco and hold him, to come between him and any harm. In her heart she had failed to save Phillip, but she would not fail again. Not this time, not today. Not with this beautiful, scarred soul.

The night before they had laid bare their deepest wounds to each other. It was then that she learned about the real Luco Reyes. It didn’t matter if no one else ever saw past the facade of the flirting, glib barista who traded unanswered invitations with the women who drank in his special brews. Marlee Owens would know the real Luco.

She saw that that cavalier behavior was Luco’s way of staying alive. Get close enough to smell the perfume, but not so close as to inhale the explosive aroma of the woman herself. That he would not, could not, allow himself to do.

Luco was stopped by the idea that to caress too gently, to hold too closely, to care too deeply, would be a betrayal to a Love who was gone and beyond return. All that he had left was the memory and if he let that go he would be lost. That memory was his anchor and he was afraid to search for another.

Marlee knew that she was battling a similar enemy. Despite her dreams of Phillip releasing her, she still held a tangible guilt about her feelings for Luco. In the years since Phillip there had been no one else in her mind or her heart. Now, however, this frail looking man the hospital bed had gently invaded both.

Luco moved his head and Marlee leaned forward. “Luco?” His eyes fluttered and opened. He looked into Marlee’s eyes.

“Te amo,” he whispered. Marlee understood the phrase and searched for the right words with which to answer. She found them deep in her heart. “I love you too, Luco.” She laid her cheek on his hand. He reached over and stroked her hair.

“Te amo, Alicia. Te amo.”

Marlee couldn’t move. Luco continued to run his fingers across her pale blond hair as he spoke in slurred Spanish to his deceased wife. Marlee’s knowledge of Spanish did not allow her to follow all of his words, but he said Alicia’s name several times. As he spoke silent tears spilled from her eyes. Each touch of his hand tore at her heart. How could she ever hope to find love with a man so married to a memory?

When Luco fell silent, Marlee moved his hand and sat back in the chair, looking at him as he slept once again.

Marlee wondered about what was going to happen now. In her mind it was clear that Luco was not ready to love her, or anyone. But she had spoken out loud the words “I love you” to him, even though he had not heard them, she had.

Deep within the hemispheres and ridges of his brain, Luco Reyes was moving from dreamless unconsciousness into a dream-hungry sleep. A mad projector in his brain was flashing images, sounds and people before his mind’s eye. Events raced by at an incoherent rate. Nothing made sense, but he understood that he was subconsciously reviewing and evaluating his life, judging himself in preparation for…for what he did not know.

He was seeing every moment of his marriage and as, in his haunting memory, he sat again at the horrible funerals in the chapel at Mission Dolores. He heard someone call his name.

“Luco?”

He knew the voice.

“Te amo.”

“I love you too, Luco.”

“Te amo, Alicia. Te amo.”

Not knowing how long he would have, he poured out his thoughts to his wife.

“Alicia, I need to tell you that I realize you told me the truth. I have been wrong to cling to you the way I have. It’s been unhealthy and unfair to your memory.

“Alicia, I have met a woman, a beautiful and good woman. She makes me feel like I did when I first saw you. We have talked and she has suffered a great loss in her life too. She understands even though I can’t explain it all to her.

“Alicia, I love this woman. I need this woman. I hunger for this woman.

“Know that I will always love you and Regalito, but this woman makes me want to live again.”

An unheard voice spoke to Luco from the depths of his life.

“Go to her, Luco. Love her.”

In the silence and dim light of the hospital room Marlee sat with her head in her hands, feeling lost in her California exile and thinking that she had lost again to Death. First it was Phillip’s life and now it was her own, to the memory of a dead woman.

She had come almost 3000 miles to get away from a lost love only to have it happen again, but this time it was far more cruel. The man with whom she loved and could not have, was in love with a ghost.

Her thoughts drifted to her cello and she wondered if it was to be her only source of loving sounds in her ear, responsive and giving in her arms and solid and sinuous against her skin.

Movin’ On up!

 

OH, BOY – HERE WE GO AGAIN. I got a phone call from one of my Doctors yesterday. I had been hoping that, maybe, he’d forgotten about what he had told me when I saw him last week.

“It’s been 10 years and I think that you need to have another Colonoscopy.”

Oh, Freakin’ Goody.

It has been ten years and I still have the pictures to prove it – a nice half dozen color photos of my nether regions.

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Am I Nervous?

 

I MAY HAVE HAD AN 8:15 AM APPOINTMENT, but that doesn’t mean I was ready to go at 8:15. It was a good thing that Dawn was driving. I was in no mood for having to deal with this whole surgery thing.

We were on time, checked in, and led back into one of those little curtained off areas where I was handed a hospital gown. I did not expect that. The Nurse, Techie, or Head Patient Wrangler told me that they were going to hook me up to a heart monitor and put a port into a vein – just in case.

Whatever. I was resigned to my fate.

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Look Into My Eyes

DRIP. DRIP. DRIP. Three drops for three days, but only in my left eye. My right eye is on its own – at least for the next two weeks. At that point it becomes Drip, Drip, Drip in the right eye.

By this time tomorrow I will have a brand spankin’ new lens in my left eye. Then for the next two weeks I will see better in that eye and still see crappy in the other. 

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Questions And Answers Beyond Me

I WAS UP EARLY THE OTHER DAY – a good half hour earlier than usual. So I went for my morning coffee. I now know why I was awakened so early. There was a reason. I was to be told a remarkable story.

It was barely 6:10 AM when I walked through the door at St. Arbucks and I was greeted by a friend I hadn’t seen in months. He had just popped in for a coffee and five minutes later we would have missed each other. I’m glad that we didn’t.

Terry is a retired career Navy man who moved back to the Midwest after 20 years of service. We sat down and he brought me up to date on his life.

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It’s Just A Game To Me

PICKLE BALL? I’VE HEARD OF IT. I’ve never played it. I have no desire to play it. It sounds strenuous and I don’t do strenuous any more. I’ve seen pictures of people playing Pickle Ball and at first glance it looks like a combination of Tennis – Ping Pong – and Cardiac Arrest.

The only reason I’m looking at it at all is that I know someone who is into Pickle Ball in a big way. He is always heading off to play here in Terre Haute (That’s French for “I’d like a Gherkin, please.”) or to take part in some National Championship tournament.

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The Sounds Of Silence

LAST NIGHT I WAS SITTING AND READING when out of nowhere nothing happened. It startled me. Everything was quiet. For the first time this month I didn’t hear anybody shooting off fireworks in the neighborhood. I got up and stepped outside. Nothing. No fireworks, no dogs, no traffic. I pinched myself to see if I was dreaming.

I am so used to the noise of life in the city that the quiet is a bit unnerving. I snapped my fingers just to make sure that I hadn’t suddenly gone deaf.

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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

I HAVE TO MAKE A DECISION. I hate making decisions. No, that’s not quite accurate. I make a thousand decisions every day and I don’t mind it at all. We all make a pile of decisions all the time without even thinking about it.

Every morning we make a decision as soon as we open our eyes.

Decision #1: Shall I get up or roll over and say the heck with it all.

And so it begins.

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Chapter 36 Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter 36 Continued

pull-tijuanaOutside, the sun was beginning to go down and an offshore breeze was finally cutting through the hot and hectic city. The shopping-mad tourists were heading home and the drinking-mad tourists were arriving. The mood in Tijuana was changing, like it did everyday at this time, from commercial cordiality to alcoholic depravity. The zebra-painted donkeys that pulled small carts along the avenidas so tourists could have some unusual pictures to take home to Iowa, were being replaced by other donkeys for another kind of entertainment that Tijuana was famous for.  

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Continued Chapter 33

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Thirty-Three

 

pull-taxiTomás wheeled his cab back over to the frontier and parked in the large lot right by the border that is reserved for taxis only.

“Señor, I am confused,” he asked Davis.  “What are we doing here?  What are we looking for?  Are you and the Señorita in trouble?”

“Yes, Tomás, but we’re not criminals.  It’s just that some people are looking for us.”

“Say no more, Señor.  I think I understand.  After all, I too, have in-laws.”

Davis let it go at that.  No sense in scaring him away.  Laura had already paid him for the full day.

“Tomás, I’m going to move up a bit closer and take a look around.  Don’t leave.”

“Señor, of course not.  May I come with you?”

“Sure, why not?  Come on.”  Another pair of eyes couldn’t hurt, Davis reasoned.

After Tomás locked up his taxi, the two of them walked up the ramp that crossed over the northbound highway leading to the Customs station.  Every few feet a young peddler approached them, offering a variety of last minute shopping opportunities.  Tomás shooed them away with a blast of rapid-fire Spanish obscenities.  Many of these merchants were ten years old or younger, and were often the biggest earners in their family.

From their vantage point Davis and Tomás could look into the plaza on the U.S. side of the border.

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Throwback Thursday from March 2016 – “Turn Your Head And Cough”

 

Turn Your Head And Cough

 

IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE I’VE HEARD THAT. I heard it this morning.

At 8:45 this morning I had a “Medicare Wellness Exam.” The last time I had an exam that thorough I almost ended up in the Army.

My usual visits to the doctor last twenty minutes or so. This one took an hour and a half. Of course, the first fifteen minutes were with the nurse who went beyond the usual questions. Most days it is, “Have you had any headaches?” Today it was, “Can you go to the bathroom by yourself?” She also had me reading the standard cliché eye chart to determine if I was blind or not. “Can you feed yourself?” “Do you fall over easily”

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Three Little Words

dnraI KNOW A YOUNG BLOGGER, whose work I really enjoy. Recently she mentioned that she had decided to sign a “DNR” form. For the uninitiated “DNR” stands for “Do Not Resuscitate.” It is an alert to medical personnel that the person who signed the form does not want any measures, like CPR, to be taken to keep them alive if their heart stops beating or they stop breathing. Serious business.

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An Encore Presentation  – “Hey, Butterball!”

Throwback Thursday 3

On Wednesday . ..

From November 2015

 

Brace yourself, America! It’s that time of year again when,a39f71f4-51bf-4f24-8b9e-4fe70b5801cb all across the country, people will be preparing Thanksgiving Turkey Dinners by the millions.

For most it will be a joyous chore to feed family and friends, but for many it will be a challenge comparable to trying to fly to the moon in a lawn chair powered by some helium balloons from the dollar store.

Despair not, help is available!

This year, as it has for the past 34 years, the fine folks at Butterball will be running their Turkey Hotline to answer questions and help salvage those Thanksgiving dinners for the less than expert chefs. Not everybody can be Julia Child – nor would you want to be – she’s dead.

Over the past 34 years the folks answering the calls at Butterball from mystified cooks have had to both give clarifying information and not scream or laugh out loud at the same time.

“I carved my turkey with a chainsaw. Is the chain grease going to adversely affect my turkey?” The answer is YES, don’t serve it or it might kill someone. I can’t think of a worse way to top off Thanksgiving dinner than having the diners keeling over at the table.

“How do I roast my turkey so it gets golden brown tan lines in the shape of a bikini?” The recommendation was “strategically placed foil.” I really don’t want to know why they wanted this information. That is between them and their therapist or defense lawyer.

And then there was the man looking for a quick way to cook his turkey who put it in the oven in the self-cleaning mode. While that certainly would be quicker than recommended by Butterball, so would napalm or a thermonuclear explosion.

Finally, there was the woman who called the Hotline for advice on how to get her Chihuahua out of the turkey. Let’s not go any further with that one.

Most of the calls to the Hotline are, Thank God, rather mundane, such as:

“How long do I cook it?”

“How long does it take to thaw out?”

Thankfully, there are very few questions that are matters of life and death. But as one generation of cooks learns the ropes, along comes a new crop of would-be Emerils to pull the pin on a turkey grenade.

In the last decade or so the concept of deep frying the Thanksgiving turkey has caught on. Unfortunately, it seems to be most popular with men who think that, since they can change the oil in the pick-up truck, they can deep fry a turkey. It’s just a different kind of oil. Right?

Deep frying a turkey brings its own set of caveats, warnings and instructions, none of which bear any resemblance to servicing the Ford F-150.

The Butterball people list them on their website and instruction #1 hints at what must be a recurring problem among deep frying novices:

#1 – Before deep frying – take the wrapper off of the turkey!

Really? You mean I shouldn’t leave the little net bag and plastic wrapper and labels on the bird? Why not leave it in the plastic bag from the supermarket as well?

When you try deep frying your first turkey it is firmly suggested that you wait until the bird is completely thawed – unless you actually want a geyser of hot, and possibly flaming oil, launched over you, the kitchen and, eventually, the smoking ruins of your house. If this happens you might ask the firemen who will be putting out your house fire if they know the way to the nearest Denny’s or IHOP. Both places will be serving Thanksgiving dinner all day long.

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Winning Isn’t Everything

smith1WE WATCHED A MOVIE TODAY. My wife, the lovely and healing up nicely, Dawn, and I turned on Netflix or Amazon Prime, or one of the other 7,375 online places you can find movies, and we watched, “Concussion.” It is a film that probably should fall into the category of “Docu-Drama,” rather than a straight “drama based – on” movie.

If you haven’t seen it I would urge you to do so. Will Smith is the lead and he has grown up and into a very fine actor. Alec Baldwin and Albert Brooks (of all people) are in the supporting cast.

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What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

4th7A LITTLE DRIZZLE NEVER HURT ANYBODY. This year on the 4th of July, the day for fireworks and celebration, we had low clouds and misty rain here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Has anybody seen my thumb?”).

The larger civic displays were postponed a day or more, hoping for clear skies. The rain, however, didn’t slow down the individual, beer-fueled, ad hoc, displays.

It seems that every year, rain or shine, there are countless people who think that they are qualified to fire off skyrockets and assorted quasi-military grade explosives in their backyards. The more alcohol consumed – the bigger the show.

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We Have A Solution. Let’s Go Find A Problem For It

Paint2I WAS WATCHING TV THE OTHER DAY when I actually saw something new. It was an ad from the Sherwin-Williams Paint Company. They were singing the praises of a brand new product: Anti-Bacterial Paint.

The commercial showed this stereotypical suburban mommy gleefully painting away. She was certainly better dressed for painting than I had ever seen before. There was no drop cloth either, so I must assume that this new paint was also Anti-Gravity and never dripped.

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We’ll Be Back After This Break

X ray shoulder2atlas THIS IS THE MORNING AFTER. The morning after the 28th Annual Strawberry Fest at our church that is. Preliminary figures indicate it was in line with last year which was one of the best. And this is in spite of my wife, the lovely and orthopedically hampered, Dawn, having one arm in a sling.

An event that serves 10,000 people in one day doesn’t happen overnight. It is like planning an invasion – with strawberries, biscuits, ice cream and whipped topping instead of bazookas and machine guns (although a couple of those might have come in handy).

The last few days before the event are fueled by Adrenaline and Panic. It was in this environment that painful realty landed on Dawn.

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The Way Of The Geezer

G8We are now well  into the new millennium and, like it or not, things are changing. One of the most notable is that the first crop of the “Baby Boom” babies is turning 70. The implications of this are many, but the one I think is most important is that this nation is going to be inundated by tens of millions of new Geezers.

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Cruisin’ For A Fair Irish Bruisin’

3ONE PROBLEM THAT I HAVE, among the multitude I must admit, is one that can be both embarrassing, along with the potential for getting my head kicked in.

I have the habit, unconscious though it may be, of slipping into whatever accent I hear around me. It’s a sort of a Zelig thing (Old Woody Allen movie, look it up). If I am conversing with someone from Louisiana it will take me just a few minutes before I find myself starting to talk like someone straight out of the bayou.

If I was on the other end of that conversation I would think that this fool (me) was either making fun of me or just plain nuts. I am not trying to make fun of anyone and, well – let’s not go there, OK?

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