Monthly Archives: September 2011
At least that’s what they say and they’re always right. I never knew who they were, but they seemed to have an anonymous authority that not even my teachers had when I was growing up and believe me, they had a lot of power. One word about the slightest deviance from the straight and narrow on my part and I was in trouble both in school and at home. Maybe that’s why I became a teacher: I wanted some of that power they wielded over the poor unfortunate charges in their care. Then I became a teacher and I learned not so much, as the kids say. Actually I never had a mean-spirited or unkind teacher until I had a certain lady for chorus in eighth grade who was the teacher from the Bad Place. I won’t go into what she said and did. It still makes me shiver. But with my other teachers, just the knowledge that they could ruin our lives was enough to keep us in line. But I digress.
I was thinking about things running in threes the other day, and they seem to do so. Take our recent spate of disasters: earthquake, hurricane and flood. Coincidence that we had three natural disasters and no more? I think not, Smilin’ Jack. Or that people we know in the church and community seem to die in threes. And then there are airplane crashes. We flew to Charleston, S.C. the same week that the Concorde crashed in Paris and a smaller plane went down. They delayed our flight for mechanical troubles and I was worried, but we got to Charleston and came back without mishap. It wasn’t our time.
I wrote about appliances and house systems and cars communicating with each other and failing one after the other. Probably just coincidence again, but as I wrote yesterday, our dryer stopped drying and then my dad’s Impala that I drive started making a loud and annoying clicking sound from the dashboard, even after the engine was turned off (the mechanic said it was the “blend door actuator motor” or something like that). Both were quickly fixed but I waited for the other shoe to drop. Sure enough it came last night when I wanted to finish a blog that I had started about noon. My computer was comatose and couldn’t be roused so I had a forced shutdown and it shut down all right. It restored itself to its noon time state and the work on the day’s blog was lost. I didn’t want to redo it since it had some detail in it so I did a simpler one about my dryer breaking. Then my color printer was affected by the computer’s misbehavior and kept insisting it was out of ink after I had installed four new cartridges. This is the printer I want to throw out of the second story window every so often because it misbehaves like this every so often. Then my good old reliable laser printer kept trying to come on and making horrible groaning sounds that caused the lights to dim. I was able to set things right with my computer, but I hope I won’t have to deal with any group of three disasters again any time soon.
Last week I was drying a load of laundry and went off and left the dryer running. This is not a good idea for a couple of reasons: the less serious one is that if you leave the clothes in the dryer after it is done, the clothes wrinkle. Then you have to iron them. That’s no big deal for me because I love to iron but most clothes these days don’t need ironing if you get them out of the dryer shortly after it does go off. In fact, I love to iron clothes so much and rarely have the chance to do so you can bring your wrinkled clothes to me and I will iron them and talk to you at the same time! Amazing, I know.
The more serious reason that I should not leave the dryer running is that it can catch fire and burn the house down. This I would not enjoy. We know someone who had their house burn down from a dryer fire, and we ourselves had the lint in a poorly designed lint filter catch fire. Fortunately all it did was burn up the wiring inside the dryer which meant we had to get a new one which was OK because we hated the old dryer about as much as I hate my color printer which is clicking and groaning and burping right now and telling me it needs more expensive color cartridges when I just replaced them. Excuse me while I throw my color printer out of a second story window.
All done. I feel better now. Anyhow, I came back to my running dryer after about three hours of supporting the local economy and found that it had not burned anything, including itself, up and that it was still running after three hours. That was because the clothes were not dry. The dry clothes fairies that live inside the dryer had noticed that the clothes were not yet dry and had not used their magic dry clothes fairy powers to shut the dryer off and wrinkle the clothes. The clothes were wet because the dryer wasn’t heating up. So it wasn’t a dryer. It was a spinner and a darned fine one at that. I guess it would have eventually dried the clothes by spinning them but that would have taken billions of kilowatt-hours of electricity and ruined our planet forever. And I would have been responsible. Glad I didn’t hit that last bookstore. Sometimes you just get lucky.
Readers of a certain age may remember a song called “Sixteen Tons” which went to number one on the Billboard charts in 1955 in a version by Tennessee Ernie Ford (readers of a certain age may remember him). I always thought the song was written by Merle Travis (inventor of “Travis picking” on the guitar, a finger style way of playing) who recorded and released the song in 1947, but George S. Davis, a folk singer and songwriter who had been a Kentucky coal miner, claimed on a 1966 recording for Folkways Records to have written the song as “Nine-to-ten tons” in the 1930s.
I was thinking of this song when, as part of my insulating the attic project (see yesterday’s blog, “Hot, Hot, Hot”), I decided to take down all but last seven years of tax return records. We moved into the house in 1988 and I think the earliest records date to 1981. There might be earlier ones buried beneath the others. I found it interesting that the assorted documentation associated with a tax return first fit into a shoe box, then a Girl Scout cookie box, and then a letter-sized storage box. That’s what I used last year, and I think I’m going to have to go to a legal-sized storage box this year.
Of course, I just can’t put tax records out with the other recycling: they need to be shredded or otherwise properly disposed of. We have a pretty good crosscut shredder, but it is an arduous process to shred thousands of checks (they used to be sent back with your monthly bank statement). My father (who I wrote about last week in Bring Him Home”) is staying with us in between a stay in Manassas Rehab Center after an illness which put him in the hospital and a place in about a month at Caton Merchant House assisted living. He wanted something useful to do so he offered to shred the contents of as many boxes as he could until he moved to CMH. I took him up on his offer and he’s done about three boxes in two days.
I investigated what it would cost to have the documents shredded by a company and the answer was about a dollar a pound. I weighed all the boxes and they came to 138 pounds (or .069 tons). I told my father I would pay him a dollar a pound to shred and he said he wanted time and a half for overtime. We are now conducting contract negotiations.I’ll let you know how it turns out.
I should say the current one since Trio, a grand dame of a calico, passed on this week. She was about a month over twenty-one years, which made her roughly 106 in human terms. She had a good life and a long one. There was no question who the alpha cat was when she was in the house. She was low-maintenance in a cat sort of way, visiting us and climbing on Becky’s lap as she grew older. Her coat and eyes were bright right up until the very end.
Up until the end she loved to lie in the sun in the back yard, even on the hottest days.
lebrates the wonder of life. Maybe it was a reminder that life goes on in spite of loss.
All things bright and beautiful
So can cardboard. The humble box made of layers of paper might not be much to look at, but try to imagine the world without it. I wouldn’t want to.
My dad, 86 years old, has been through some rough patches for about the last ten years. He took care of my mom when she was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. The strain probably caused him a (minor) stroke in 2003. He really didn’t let anyone know her condition, although it was evident something was wrong. Becky figured out what was happening and went with them to the neurologist who made the diagnosis. When my mom talked to me about it, she said, “I feel sorry for myself, but I feel even sorrier for all of you.” I was driving shortly after I got the news and Josh Groban’s “You’re Still You” came on the radio. I had to pull over to the side of the road. A family friend sang the song at her funeral and I still cannot listen to it today.
She kept falling and finally in about 2004 she was taken to the emergency room (it was on their anniversary date, February 15) and had to be placed in the old Annaberg Manor where she remained for several months. My dad visited her every day and stayed with her all day except for his own doctor appointments. I was retired by this time and would go over and sit with her when he had to be away.
He was determined to take her home and take care of her. She became well enough to leave Annaberg although she could not walk without assistance. They had sold the farm they lived a few years before but were allowed to stay on the property as long as they wanted to. While Mom was in the nursing home Dad bought a house at my insistence closer to us and moved there. When she was able to come home he took care of her there with the help of some aides who came during the day. He was hospitalized for a pacemaker implant in 2005, and some friends and I took turns staying with her overnight.
Mom passed away in October, 2007. Dad was completely worn out and hospitalized by pneumonia several times during early 2008. After we couldn’t locate him when we were out of town in the spring of 2008, we insisted that he relocate to a retirement home not far away. He had several falls and bouts with pneumonia in the next several years, topped off by a leg artery bypass last November which became infected. He wasn’t clear of that until March. He had several more hospitalizations for falls and hypertension during the summer and we started the process to move him to assisted living. About a month ago, he became dehydrated, fell, and had to be hospitalized. He was discharged to a rehab facility in town. Then he became hyper-hydrated which caused an electrolyte imbalance which caused him to be re-hospitalized. The hospital got things under control and he went back to the rehab place for three weeks of rest, p.t. and o.t. with the goal of becoming strong enough to live semi-independently in a nice assisted living place in town.
He was discharged yesterday and since his room at assisted living won’t be ready until late October, he is staying with us. I jokingly offered a cardboard box in the back yard, but we have set him up in the living room, converting it to a bedroom as we did when Becky was recovering from a hip operation several years ago and couldn’t use the stairs to the bedroom.
It’s good to have Dad with us. He and I have turned into jigsaw puzzle champs and enjoy watching the Nationals and Redskins play and doing our own color commentary on the games. He tells me stories from his earlier days that I have never heard before. If you want to talk to him, we had his phone number forwarded to ours so just call his number and it will ring here and he can talk to you. He would enjoy your visits, but please call to make sure he’s there.
I am touched and amazed by my father’s devotion to my mother, especially during her illness. He has endured all that has happened to him in the past ten years or so with grace and good humor (and a little grumbling). I respect and admire him for that, and I have found out in the past several years how much I love the guy. He is truly a great representative of the Greatest Generation. Welcome home, Dad.
Wash us clean and cleanse us.
A natural response to something like the 9/11 attack is not only grief and shock but also rage and a desire for revenge. Rene Clausen departs from these sorts of reaction and turn to expressions of faith of several sorts. The first section of Part 3 is totally unexpected: it came from an piece by a young woman, a Buddhist monk, who wrote a these words as a chant, a meditation. The words are simple: “May I be peaceful; may you be peaceful; may they be peaceful.” Repeated in a random fashion by the voice parts of the choir, the sound that results is a vast murmuring, ephemeral, distant, diaphanous, and soft. The individual words may not be distinguished and the result is an overall effect rather than a meaning. The chant is based on the structure of a Buddhist Metta Meditation–a three-part series of personal meditation.
The circle become wider through the succeeding verses. First “I,” then enlarging to include one other with “you” and finally to the whole world with “they.”
A baritone solo overlays the chant section. The words of many of the prayers in the work were the work of Dr. Roy Hammerling of the Concordia College Religion Department, who wrote the prayers for a series of services held at the college in the week following 9/11.
The words to the solo in this section are
Gracious and loving God, pour forth your mercy on us all. For those who have fallen and are lost, lost in the oblivion of rubble, blanket them with your eternal light.
Gracious and loving God, pour forth your mercy on us all. For those whose souls have turned cold and empty, grant them a large measure of your mercy, and a nutritious kernel of your kindness, grant them peace, grant them peace.
Gracious and loving God, pour forth your mercy upon us all. For those whose dreams are haunted, haunted by images of horror, enfold them in your loving embrace. Fill our hearts with your healing love.
At the end of the solo and chants, the choir moves to a statement: May I live with peace of heart,may you live with peace of heart, may we live in joy!